In the Service of the Wolf (part xxvii)

27Feb19

wolf27Part I here

The night was still but it was not the owl screech that woke the man. Sundance inclined his head and sniffed. There was a tang of metal in the air. It was a bitter smell admixed with sweat, adrenalin and gun oil. Nothing about the smell should have been strange to him around the compound and it took a second of two for him to process. Some sixth sense tickled the back of his brain as he realised the scent in the air screamed strangers.

Outside, while the Navajo paused to drag on his pants, a line of people at a low crouch ran out of the trees towards a part of the fence part shaded by a tree. The moon, such that it was in its current phase, had yet to rise and low cloud shrouded the ranch in near dark.

Had she been looking that way Marsha McLeod might have seen the glint of light on a scope of the gun carried by the lead man, but her senses had kicked in time to alert her to the road beyond the gate. Given her previous failure she didn’t wait and grabbed at the gate phone to call it in.

The snip of wire to her right gave her pause but before she could spot the intruders Sundance burst from his room in the bunk house and gave out an unearthly scream.

Stacy heard the shout go up and immediately lunged for the window. It was hard to make out what was happening, but the sudden shot told her it was not good. In perhaps a minute she was dressed and half into her boots as she fumbled with the lock of her door. A wad of paper had previously jammed it unlockable, a trick she picked up in preparation for an unscheduled departure. Maybe this was it.

Alice was less alert and by the time Stacy reached her room the lawyer had yet to even scrub the sleep from her eyes with the back of her hand.

“What’s happening?” she hissed once she knew the person at the door was Stacy.

“Get dressed, it is time to go,” Stacy told her, only pausing to look over her shoulder for one of the others.

The roar of a shotgun and several screams convinced Alice that Stacy was right.

Two minutes later both women were running between the outbuildings trying to keep to the shadows while chaos reigned all around. Mostly there were shot guns and the odd pistol fired, but before the two escapees reached the fence some fool had opened up with what sounded like an AK-47 on full automatic.

“This way,” Stacy hissed as she spotted where the hunters had cut the wire, “We can get out.”

Alice stopped dead and wished she had hidden under her bed. The compound was a war zone and it was impossible now to know who was who in the darting shadows and screams. “Omigod, omigod, omigod,” Alice babbled and made to run back.

“Alice,” Stacy yelled as she seized the lawyer’s arm, “We have to go, now.” She gestured wildly at the dark patch in the grey that marked the fence.

The howl shuddered Alice’s soul; a long unearthly scream that hinted of hell and the wild, wild woods. It was enough. With one last look back Alice staggered after Stacy and in a moment she was running. All the while she muttered, “Omigod, omigod, omigod…”

*

The two women reached the wooded ridge in a stumble and Stacy pulled Alice down half under some shrubs. Behind them someone had let off some fireworks over the compound, or so it seemed to Alice. The sky was dancing with them scattering firelight every which way so that the melee of people fighting in the compound below cast violent shapes amid shadows that crossed and re-crossed. There were screams too, shrill enough to be heard over the explosives and gun fire. Alice turned to Stacy to ask what was happening but as she looked back for a second what she saw standing amid the fray made her freeze.

Like a hound from hell the wolf dominated the compound. Heedless of bullets the huge beast surveyed the chaos for a second and then with seeming relish howled.

“Alice, let’s go, let’s go now,” Stacy shook the lawyer into movement.

Alice nodded. Anywhere was better than here.

The next timeless age was lost in crashing through whip-biting undergrowth as they fled only God knew where. Alice was almost glad she could not see as she followed her friend.

“There must be a road,” Stacy asserted in a hopeless voice.

Alice agreed. The sounds behind them once fading now seemed to have become a pursuit as something crashed through the trees behind them. Alice thought of the wolf and ran onwards.

Somewhere there was another rattle of machine gun, but this time it ended abruptly, choked off unnaturally in its prime. In fact it only took a moment for Alice to realise that all the gunfire had now stopped altogether. Only ghostly howls and very human screams were left hanging in the night; screams and something heavy and fast crashing through the trees after them.

“Alice,” Stacy swallowed down her terror, “Alice,” she repeated, “Alice, run.”

They ran.

*

By the time they hit the hard forest road they had nothing left. Both Alice and Stacy collapsed in an air-sobbing heap onto the hard surface and clawed down every breath.

Somewhere above the half-moon had risen and was now playing hide-and-go-seek with the clouds. The sliver light caught the hard jet chips encased in the asphalt making them shine like gem stones. Only Stacy was aware that the sounds of pursuit had receded, although it was hard to miss the distant serenade of wolves. Whether in lament or triumph she could not tell. She wanted no part in their world. Instead she sniffed the air savouring every texture of pine and the deep brown earth the trees drove their roots into. By the time she was aware that they were not alone she was very calm.

The sudden burst of light from the jeep hurt her eyes and she sat up. The glare lasted only for a moment and then it went off.

“Well, well what have we here?” The voice was thick like bitter chocolate. It came from a large man hanging back next to the car, but from his smile Stacy knew he was Black.

“You’re Brady aren’t you?” Stacy felt her head pounding and somehow despite his smile she could taste his fear.

The man ignored her and turned his attention to a walkie-talkie. “Coleridge, come in,” he sounded desperate. “It has all gone to shit, I don’t know what the fuck is happening.”

“I think they are dead,” Stacy said, but her voice was off and she began choking.

“You’re gonna be dead soon, or worse,” Brady snarled, “When I find the boss I am gonna take you two bitches…”

Alice clawed her way on to all fours and began crawling away. She thought Adam and John and wished they were there.

“Going somewhere missy?” Brady chuckled, but was still more focussed on his walkie and hit the call button for another try for back-up.

Stacy hadn’t moved and was still coughing. The flight through the forest had left her hot and sticky and despite the night’s chill she began tugging at her clothes, removing any that she easily could.

“Get back here you dog-struck bitch,” Brady called after Alice, who had barely gone anywhere on her hands and knees as she slowly crawled away.

“Leave her alone,” Stacy choked, the smoker’s cough had claimed her by the sound of it and she sounded like a man or some ravenous beast.

Brady turned to curse her but something stopped him. Something wasn’t right; the girl was half naked and dark somehow, even in the moonlight. She looked bigger too, much bigger. As he watched the young woman seemed to spasm in a coughing fit as she shucked off the last of her clothes, some of them tearing even though she did not use her hands.

The moon hid behind a cloud and Brady thought about the gun at his hip. When the moon once again emerged to light the scene Stacy was gone. Instead, regarding him with red baleful eyes was a wolf.

Brady gulped, all colour draining from his face. The waklie-talkie was useless in his hands. Coleridge could not help him now. He dropped it and found his thoughts twisting between jeep keys or gun as he hung for a long moment in indecision between fight or flight. He chose the gun.

The gun fired and Alice, who still on her knees, whirled around to look back. Terrified for Stacy, she was in full panic after the shot, but her friend was gone. Instead she saw Brady wrestling with a large wolf.

What happened next would stay with the young lawyer for the rest of her days.

For a long moment the battle between wolf and the large man seemed an equal one. Brady was still on his feet and still able to keep the thrashing wolf at arm’s length. Then perhaps in the struggle or because his strength failed he dropped to one knee and the wolf closed.

Whether the gurgling came from man or wolf, Alice could not tell, but a rapid twisting of the wolf’s head as it closed with Brady’s throat resulted in a hot dark spray that splattered the road. Alice could smell the stench and retched. But the wolf did not stop. As the man went down the beast tore at him, tossing him about like a dog might a stick, each motion accompanied by a wet tearing sound. There was no screaming; only the persistent growl of the wolf gave her any sound track as the life bled out of Brady.

Then Alice remembered to breath and began to whimper. She had no idea where Stacy had gone, and if she could only guess then she would run.

At the sound of the woman the wolf dropped the man and slunk low as it faced her. Alice was easy meat. It sniffed as if to confirm this and licked its blood dripping maw.

“Please,” Alice whispered, “Please go away,” she made a shooing motion with her hands.

The wolf crept forward as if suspecting a trap, all the while drawing in the scent of the night as it zeroed in on its new prey.

Alice whimpered again and thought better of running. Instead she backed away in a reverse crawl as she looked about desperately for a haven or something.

The wolf stopped a dog’s length from her and bared its teeth. Perhaps there was something in its eyes; confusion maybe? It hesitated.

“Alice, don’t move, there is a good girl,” a firm voice told her.

The timbre of the man’s words was confident and reassuring and Alice sobbed with relief.

“Alice, keep quiet and don’t move,” Garrick told her as he took careful steps to stand alongside her. Then he addressed the wolf. “Hey girl, shush, it’s all good honey, shush,” he said, his voice was smiling, although Alice could not see it.

What she did see was that the old man was naked. More than that his arms and face were darkly smeared. Alice could smell the blood.

The wolf growled, but hopped back a pace or two, its eyes never leaving Garrick.

“That’s it,” Garrick reassured the beast, “That’s it. Nothing to fear here,” his voice was soothing and he stooped and reached as if for a dog.

Only there wasn’t a beast. The wolf was gone. Shivering on the ground sat a blood-painted Stacy. She was naked and confused and looked as if her world lay dead on the ground like Brady behind her.

Alice could only gape and she made no sound or movement as Garrick hastily scooped up Stacy’s jacket from the ground and wrapped it around the girl’s shoulder’s.

Suddenly there were men all around them, some half naked; Jared among them.

“It was her, the lone wolf,” he gasped in genuine surprise.

“I suspected as much,” Sundance said sagely and nodded his head.

“You knew?” Jared accused his father.

Garrick nodded. “And Augusta, we knew it almost at once,” he agreed.

Jared looked about him at the other men in the shadows as if to reassure himself that he wasn’t the only one not to have known.

Only Sundance looked un-phased.

“The man is dead?” the Navajo tossed his head in the direction of the jeep.

“Yes,” Alice murmured, “Oh yes.”

“She is in shock,” Garrick sighed.

The group held their peace for a moment as if communing with each other or the night as the clean wind stirred the pine in a low shushing sound. In the pale silver light, unmoving, they all looked like pensive statues. Then the moon hid again and Garrick seemed to relax.

“Take the women back to Augusta,” he said.

“All of them?” Jared asked.

Garrick frowned and looked at Sundance.

“We captured some of the hunters. The man will die, but there are two women,” Sundance informed him.

“There are others dead?” Garrick asked.

Sundance looked grief-stricken. “Many, but some fled, we can’ find their leader.”

“I mean our people?” Garrick asked.

There was a long silence and even Jared looked strained.

“None dead so far, but three may yet die,” Sundance breathed, “Marsha among them. She was the only one wounded while in human form.”

“We should kill them all,” Jared growled.

“Perhaps,” Garrick snarled, “but this is not over.”

“What if they run?” Sundance interjected, he did not like where this was going.

“If they scatter then let them go, all but Coleridge,” Garrick told him.

Sundance nodded and looked relieved. “And the women?” he suddenly remembered.

“I will talk to them myself and see what they know. Let us see how cooperative they will be,” Garrick grinned evilly and Jared matched him. “Let’s wrap this up,” Garrick sighed.

To be continued



2 Responses to “In the Service of the Wolf (part xxvii)”

  1. 1 SubOne

    I look forward to reading your stories. I have recently found your blog. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: