41 - The Werewolves

When a young Quaker girl is bitten by a werewolf, her family captures the werewolf and gets him to teach them how best to manage her new curse.

JOY-IN-SORROW (13, goes by JOY) is awoken by her mother PRUDENCE (32) in the middle of the night: her youngest sister, TACE, is missing, and Joy is needed to help look for her.

Tace has a small history of sleepwalking, and likely wandered out of the house in a dream. Still, the woods are close and wolves have been seen lately, so it's dangerous. Joy is given a lantern, and walks the woods with her mother, who carries the family's rifle.

They're attacked by a wolf, and Joy is bitten badly before Prudence shoots it and scares it off. Prudence carries her daughter home as quickly as she can.

Joy is tended to by her father, JONATHAN (40). Meanwhile, their neighbor ELIJAH (55) tells them he found Tace's body - and tells them from her sad condition, it seems likely the same wolf had gotten her. The community organizes a hunt, puts out traps and snares, does their best to kill the wolf.

Meanwhile, Joy's recovery is spotty. The wounds have healed quickly, but she's feverish, full of infection, and her family is warned to prepare for her passing.

A stranger, EDWIN, arrives in the community. Edwin is a hunter, and the community is glad to have him; they offer to pay him for his help. He's oddly heartbroken to hear about Tace and asks to see Joy.

When Edwin is taken to her, he breaks down in tears and agree find the wolf in exchange for room and board. Jonathan and Prudence insist he stays with them.

In the middle of the night, Edwin sneaks into Joy's room, but she's awake. He apologizes to her for what happened to her, which confuses her - it wasn't his fault. He tells her it was; that he was the wolf that killed Tace and hurt her, and that he's now passed the curse on to her. He's very sorry, but he's shocked when she forgive him - freely and easily. "You didn't mean to do it," she tells him, "So I don't think there's even anything to forgive."

Jonathan walks in the room and asks what's going on - Edwin isn't sure how much to say, but Joy explains everything he told him. Jonathan is a bit more troubled by this than Joy, and wants to discuss things in private - Joy insists the discussion happen with her there, given than it affects her too.

Edwin explains what he knows of the curse. He got it when he killed a wolf that turned into a man; since then, every full moon he turns into a wolf too, a strong one, and runs wild until the moon sets. He can't remember what happens when he's a wolf, but he's seen the aftermath often enough - it's like he intentionally hunts people.

If he wounds someone without killing them, they take the curse from him - he stops transforming, but they start. He's passed it on three times now, but after the first time when he realized what happened, he's started killing the victim before they can turn for the first time - it's better for him to carry the curse. He knows how to manage it, and can try to stay away from society during the full moons.

Jonathan also offers his forgiveness to Edwin - not just for his unknowing crimes as a wolf, but for his intention to smother Joy in her sleep. He asks Edwin to stay with them and help them learn how to manage Joy's new curse.

It's a lot for Edwin to handle - he's not taking it half as well as the family of the girls that he killed and cursed. Jonathan tells him to get some sleep and they'll figure things out later.

In the morning, Jonathan has already discussed things with Prudence, who is similarly understanding - if a little less willing to look past things. She's noticably more stern with Edwin now, and tells him he'll not be sleeping in the house any longer - they'll set up a bed for him in the stable.

Edwin asks what they want him to say to the rest of the town, and is further shocked when they tell him to tell the truth. "They'll all be afraid of Joy. They'll cast her out of the town." But Jonathan and Prudence don't think that will happen, and besides, they'll want the counsel of everyone else in dealing with this.

They call a town meeting, and there explain everything Edwin told them. Edwin tries to make himself as small as possible, but the town universally thanks him for agreeing to stay and help and assures him he's welcome to stay as long as he wishes.

Joy recovers enough to leave bed, but finds she has a powerful hunger for red meat. Edwin tells her this is normal and hunts venison for her. She grows a couple inches in as many weeks, even as Edwin seems to shrink and grow less muscular - more effects of the curse.

When the full moon approaches again, Joy is locked in a large, sturdy shed built for the purpose of containing her. Edwin offers to stand watch with a rifle so that nobody who's known her her whole life will have to be the ones to pull the trigger if she escapes, but they tell him no - nobody will shoot her if she escapes. Edwin is shocked; if she gets out, she could kill everyone here. They tell him they're pacifist, and won't raise a hand against another human being. If he feels the need to protect himself, he is welcome to, but he should feel no obligation to stand guard.

The time comes to lock Joy up. She cries, afraid she's going to hurt someone, but Jonathan and Prudence assure her it's not going to happen, and even if it does, it won't be her fault.

The full moon rises, and Joy turns into a wolf. She struggles desperately, tries to escape, but the shed holds firm. She awakes in the morning exhausted, but secure.

Months pass. Edwin becomes acclimated to the community and makes a life for himself there.

An old man in the community, ZEKE, takes ill and the doctor tells him it's likely his time to pass. Zeke asks if he can take Joy's curse with him when he does - if she passes it to him, and he dies of natural causes, will it go to anyone else? They ask Edwin, and he has no idea. They decide to try it - the next full moon, Zeke lowers a leg just within Joy's reach. It's a violent attack, and they almost drop him in, but with long staves they manage to push Joy off of his leg and get him away and bandaged.

He develops a fever, and Joy's size and strength diminish - she has indeed passed the curse on. Zeke recovers from the fever and even his previous illness fades somewhat - it seems the curse has reinvigorated him. He doesn't mind - he's glad to have taken the burden from Joy regardless.

His illness doesn't fully leave him, though, and after the next full moon, when he's locked in the shelter, they find him dead in the morning - it seems the transformation was too much for his body to take.

Edwin is worried, and keeps a close eye on everyone in the village - the only one to do so, as everyone else assumes the curse is gone. Edwin doesn't believe it, though, and is growing increasingly worried as the next full moon approaches. He insists they leave the shelter up, just in case.

The next full moon, Edwin locks himself in the shelter, and Joy joins him despite his protests - they're the most likely ones to get the curse again if it did pass to anyone. Or wait - the doctor joins them, in case the curse views his treatment of Zeke as what killed him. Then the men that lowered Zeke into the shelter come to, and Zekes family, and soon the shelter is full to bursting, with the entire town crammed in.

Edwin is afraid, flabbergasted - this defeats the entire purpose. If anyone here does turn, they'll kill everyone. Then Joy explains to him - they know, and they're okay with that. This way, though, if anyone here does turn, they won't get out, and they'll only hurt people who willingly put themselves at risk.

Edwin breaks down in tears at the selflessness of the people here and asks if he can stay here forever. Everyone is surprised that he felt the need to ask.

The movie ends before the full moon rises - not because it's a mystery if the curse will pass on, but because it doesn't matter.