In the Service of the Wolf (part xxviii)

06Mar19

wolf28Part I here

Garrick rubbed the bridge of his nose as he ran his eye down the line of corpses laid out in the barn, all of them hunters. Jared and Sundance had agreed that about a third of those that had come to town were now dead but that it most probably wasn’t over.

“A hard night,” Sundance said as he approached.

Garrick nodded. “How is Marsha and the others?” the old man sighed.

“Should pull through,” Sundance told him, but his eyes were on the dead. “Bad business and hard to keep quiet,” he said.

“That would be my next move if I were Coleridge,” Garrick sighed.

“Call the law, the real law I mean, yeah it figures,” Sundance agreed. “I already have a crew on it.”

“Take them deep into the woods,” the old wolf told his friend.

“What if Coleridge calls the Feds? I mean, we can clean up but if they get a warrant…” the Navajo eyed his chief with cold calculation. In the old days they would have scattered or at least farmed out the young.

“I am betting he won’t,” Garrick sighed; he wished he was as certain as he sounded. “The State troopers maybe, but what is he going to say?”

“It is what he will do next that worries me most,” Sundance intoned. His words sounded like a distant prayer and not addressed to Garrick at all.

“Nothing as unsubtle as last night that is for sure,” Garrick let out a long breath.

“What about the girl?” Sundance asked.

“Now that is an interesting problem,” Garrick replied, this time he was grinning. “She is with Augusta at the moment.”

“I will see to this mess,” Sundance nodded at the corpses. “The other problem is all yours my friend.” Then he turned to walk away and made a gesture to someone.

Just then there was a shout and someone backed up a truck as many began bringing in stretchers.

“Oh what about the other one?” Sundance asked as he paused and half turned back.

“You mean our troublesome Miss Eden, she is in good hands,” Garrick rolled his eyes. The lawyer was the very least of his worries and he was pleased to delegate.

*

Stacy sat on her bed in shock. There had been a man and some blood and she… she had been naked? The man was… she worked her mouth as if tasting something she could no longer taste. Why did that feel good? August had cleaned her up and given her new clothes. She lifted an arm to inspect the knitted sleeve of her borrowed sweater, trying to will into it some mundane importance; anything to recover normality. She remembered, she remembered it all, but it was just a story she had been told by someone else. It was too fantastical to be true so she could forget it couldn’t she?

Augusta came in with a tray and smiled. “Here eat something,” the woman offered.

“I think I already have,” Stacy replied and then giggled. The noise sounded overly high and strangled like she was an insane person.

“Why didn’t you stay here in the ranch where it was safe?” Augusta scolded.

“Safe?” Stacy giggled manically again and returned a cold grin under wild eyes. “They are all monsters here, didn’t you know?”

Augusta reached out and squeezed her arm.

“No, no, it is alright, I am a monster too,” Stacy continued.

“No,” Augusta said firmly.

“No,” Stacy laughed more naturally, she shook her head rapidly, “No of course not. It was just an old wolf. I think it attacked that man.” She switched to nodding woodenly as if that would make it so then her smile vanished and she looked stricken.

*

Not far away Alice sat on her own bed and stared at the wall. Okay, running was a dumb move, she decided. Stacy clearly has some issues and hadn’t been her best guide. She took a deep breath and ran through past events in her mind. This time she stayed detached and let her legal training kick in while she examined the evidence.

Coleridge had come looking for werewolves. Stacy had hinted at said werewolves and had been the one to call Coleridge. So two different people with past experience take this seriously; check. The town too, they are afraid of the Stones, they believe in this; double check.

“Okay,” Alice said aloud and took another deep breath. “Alice you saw both Adam Stone and Stacy Dane turn into wolves and then turn back again.” There she had said it. She could breathe again. “Damn it’s true,” she gasped and clapped her hand to her mouth. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, this is incredible.” She had to talk to someone.

Alice leapt to her feet and made for the door. After her break out she half expected it to be locked but it swung open easily and she stood in the door way contemplating the passage beyond. Outside she could hear someone loading up a truck and the compound was once again alive with activity. Augusta, she could talk to her. Now that she believed and the secret was out she could ask some questions, my God, she thought, her head was still reeling.

The door to the outside was also unlocked and she emerged into the sunlight as if seeing the world for the first time. To her left the bundles being hurled into the back of a truck looked like laundry, but after looking again she turned away. She didn’t want to know.

Around the yard were a few men and women all either chatting or dashing to and fro. All of them, she wondered, could all of them be like Adam? Adam and John and Garrick and… Jesus H Christ, of course they were. She looked at them intently trying to look past the mundane and catch a glimpse of the lupine magic within. Everyone looked defiantly normal.

“Hey, Miss Eden,” said a gruff voice, “Go back to your room.”

The man was one she hadn’t noticed before, but his tone and eyes conveyed impatient annoyance and an attitude that she didn’t want to mess with.

“I want to see Augusta,” Alice stood her ground.

“Augusta is busy, hell, everyone is busy or else you would have a guard on your door. Didn’t they lock you in?” the man snarled.

“N-no, that isn’t necessary, I’ll go back,” Alice said hastily. Before people had ignored her now this man looked like he hated her. He wore an expression not unlike several others who looked in her direction. “Sorry, I’ll go back…” she repeated lamely and pointed unnecessarily at the door she had just come through.

“You do that,” the man said sharply.

Once in her room Alice sighed with relief. She had no idea what was going on or when she would be leaving but after the previous night she did not want to brave the woods again.

*

Stacy was quiet and hadn’t spoken for at least 30 minutes. Augusta was worried. She was about to try again to engage with the girl when Garrick walked in.

Augusta stood and ran to embrace him. She had heard he was alright but she hadn’t seen him since the fight. “Oh my love, I hate this,” she groaned as she crushed into her man.

“I’m okay, it looks like everyone is okay,” Garrick ruffled her hair.

“Marsha… she is still… she is in a bad way I think,” Augusta pulled away and addressed herself to pack business as she should.

“She will recover,” Garrick said confidently and smiled reassuringly.

“Save that for the others old man, I have seen death. I hope you are right, but what will be, will be,” Augusta chided him.

Garrick smiled briefly and then turned to Stacy. “What about our young fledgling here?”

“She is not coping too well,” Augusta whispered. “She is in denial for one thing. The gods alone know how she has existed before now or how anyone didn’t find out.” The matriarch drew in her brows in concern. “And in New York City,” she added in a tone of wonder.

“Leave me with her,” Garrick said in a reassuring tone, “I guess it is time to find out.”

“Garrick…” Augusta made to protest.

“Woman,” he warned, “Go.”

Augusta made an expression of surrender and shrugged. Then she left her husband and the girl to talk it out. Maybe Stacy needed tough love or maybe the man had something else in mind. His call, she supposed.

Once the door closed Garrick sat on the bed across from the dejected writer and smiled.

“How you holding up?” he asked.

Stacy shrugged indolently like a teen and didn’t look up.

“When did you first suspect that you were… different?” he continued.

Stacy made a pout which she drew into a frog face and then let her lips go with a pop. Still she didn’t look at him.

“It was easy for me, I grew up knowing. I couldn’t wait for my first hunt,” Garrick ventured. “Of course it was easier in those days. The frontier was new and the only people around were others like me.”

Stacy looked up quizzically. “I was born in New Orleans, my Mom always believed in magic and stuff. As a kid I used to hang with Indian kids, well Native Americans, you know in Arizona and then New Mexico. I used to learn all about the old ways, skin walkers… that sort of stuff. Anyway, we moved around a lot so I always felt different, you know,” she said.

“I can imagine,” Garrick said kindly.

“One day when I was… I don’t know, 15, 16… I woke up naked on my bedroom floor. I was covered in blood… like, like last night… there was a dead rabbit on the bed. God it was a mess. My Mom cleaned it up and we never talked about it. She knew didn’t she?” Stacy was looking down again and her voice was a monotone as if she was talking to someone far away.

“She must have,” Garrick said quietly, “It begins within a year or two of puberty; certainly by 16.”

“I ran away, well kinda, I went to New York, to college. I remember I rented this apartment with its own cellar storage. Mom told me I would need it. She gave me the money.  I think I kinda knew why, kinda…” Then she looked up stricken again and yelled, “But I didn’t. I had no fucking idea.”

Garrick winced. The words were coarse on his ears and usually not spoken by women in front of him. Not if they wished to go on sitting down. “But you were drawn to the supernatural?” he said, holding his temper.

Stacy nodded. “Always. I knew it was true, I just didn’t know why,” she said more calmly.

“That must have set you apart as a journalist,” Garrick said gently.

“That’s why I write books,” she snorted.

“I should read them,” the old man chuckled.

“You ever meet a vampire?” Stacy desperately wanted to change the subject.

“No, can’t say I ever have. Heard of them though,” he laughed, “They are very, very rare these days, but real enough.”

“I encountered one,” Stacy said, “Tracked him down. I wrote a book, but no one believed me.”

“Now you have encountered a werewolf,” he said evenly.

“Yah,” Stacy looked away again, but she nodded.

“Stacy, you know you are one too, don’t you?” he offered the words gently as if upon a plate of poisoned fruit.

Stacy startled and finally met his eyes. In an angry glare she yelled, “Fuck you, fuck you old man, I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want…” she continued to work her mouth silently as she searched for a lexicon of insults to hurl but instead she just looked like a drowning fish.

“You want to handle it that way, really?” Garrick sighed.

To be continued…



3 Responses to “In the Service of the Wolf (part xxviii)”

  1. I wouldn’t suggest talking to Garrick like that…..


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