Authors: Glenn Rolfe
Stan recalled Randy joining the force shortly after graduating from college. He was a pussy then and a pussy nowânothing more than a scared kid hiding behind a badge and a gun.
The patrol car left Stan's field of vision.
Now let's see what little Miss Big Tits is up to.
Joe Fischer was pulling his Range Rover into the parking lot of Mel's CafÃ© when the voice of Deputy Hines broke across his radio, “Sheriff?”
He picked up the two-way. “Go ahead, Hines.”
“All's clear out by Mel's. Where do you want me to head now?”
“Take a ride out to the lake. Looks like the storm's coming in. It's almost five. I want you to make sure everybody's out. And if you see Sonya there, I want you to take her back to my house. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. What if she's not there?”
“Then you send everybody else home and head over to the town line and back.”
“Roger that, Sheriff.”
Joe stepped out of his truck, put his hat on his head and headed for the doors to the cafÃ©. Deputy Clarke informed him that he had given Mel a ride in to work. He said she was too nervous to stay at home.
The thought of the beach made him nervous. It was a popular place for young adults to hang out, just about the only place in Gilson Creek. With the rain coming down, maybe they would all head for cover. Still, he was worried; even the rain did not possess the power to completely dampen teenage hormones. There were bound to be a few stragglers. Emerson Lake was secluded, surrounded by woods and a little too close to Old Gilson Creek Road. He should have left Clarke out there earlier, or just had the balls to close the beach for the whole damn day.
Stan Springsâhalf man, half monsterâstood in the living room of Melanie Murdock's home. Beer bottles on the glass coffee table. He counted seven empties in all. He hadn't pegged her as someone who would get drunk by herself. He sniffed the air. Cigarettes and Old Spice. So, the sheriff really was shacking up with her.
He followed the faint scent of sex to the bedroom. The flannel sheets were tossed about. A torn condom wrapper sat just below the edge of the bed.
Stan took a step forward. Something sharp jammed his bare foot. He looked and discovered a gold pin stabbed into it. Not just any gold pin. A grin broke out upon his face.
The gold pin was of an eagle with its wings stretched out in flight. It had been his before he had passed it on to Joe Fischer upon resigning from active duty. He knew that his former deputy was sentimental, but to still be carrying this around with him after all this time?
How pathetic. This is going to be easier than I thought.
Stan dropped down on all fours and let the hulk within come out. Maybe her escort would ride her home upon his white horse. There would be plenty of punishment to go around.
Stan bowed his head as his body cracked, stretched and shifted into its full monthly form.
Deputy Hines stepped onto the beach. He glanced upward at the darkening clouds. Lightning flashed out over the deserted waters of Emerson Lake. It had begun to sprinkle on and off over the last thirty minutes. It wouldn't be long before they got blasted by the full brunt of the storm. Young and old couples alike were already packing up and heading out. He continued to scan the few clumps of groups that remained for Sonya, and Alex McKinney. He watched from the bottom of the steps that led up to the dirt parking lot behind him. There was only the one entrance/exit. If the kids were still here, they would have to pass by him to leave.
He saw plenty of blondes, but no Sonya. None of the boys quite fit Alex's build, either. He looked beyond the dwindling crowd and saw the patch of woods known as the Lookout. There were a few kids gathered around the outskirts. He decided he'd better go have a closer look.
Hines noticed the
looks cross each of their faces. He smelled the weed as he stepped to the nearest member of the group, a short, blonde-haired girl maybe fifteen.
“Any of you kids know Alex McKinney or Sonya Fischer?”
A tall, lanky boy with brown hairâRandy couldn't believe how much the guy looked like Shaggy from
âspoke up, “Yeah, man, I know them. They in some kinda trouble?”
“No, no, it's nothing like that. We're just trying to figure out their current whereabouts.”
The short blonde next to Shaggy turned to Hines. “That's the sheriff's daughter. Shouldn't you guys know where she is at all times?”
Randy sidestepped the remark. “So have you guys seen them out here today?”
“Oh hell yeah, I saw Sonya here earlier. She was wearing this smoking hot-pink bikini. She was with Alex. They left after some guy punched Alex.”
“Someone struck Alex?”
“Yeah, it was the guy from the radio, Wild Ted. And then Alex and Sonya left,” the short blonde said.
“Thanks, kids. I need you to head home, as well. Sheriff's orders.”
“Can we go back to your place?” another tall guy with a Red Sox hat said to Shaggy.
“No, my ma's home today. We should probably go over to Leslie's.”
The short blonde agreed, “Yeah, we just have to put up with my brotherâ¦”
Their voices drifted into the background as Hines made his way up the incline to the Lookout. He stopped short of the shaded area. The space, shrouded by its forest canopy, sat dark and still. Goosebumps sprung to life on his arms. He did not care to go any farther. The sky above opened and unleashed the rain. He looked back toward the lake. The last few stragglers, towels held up over their heads, hurried for the exit. Randy turned back to the Lookout. Thunder cracked. Hines jumped halfway out of his skin. He gave a weak chuckle and then swallowed it like a glass of syrup. There was no one here. He skidded down to the beach and jogged toward the exit. The jog became a run. He did not look back until he reached his cruiser. Ted McKinney's Honda Rebel sat all by its lonesome at the rear of the dirt lot.
“One of us will be out here to escort you home. Just call the station when you're ready to head out.”
Mel followed Joe through the front doors of her cafÃ©. She caught him under the small awning, above the cafÃ©'s entrance, that sheltered them from the unwelcomed downpour.
She reached for his arm. “Are you okay, Joe?”
He was pretty far from okay at this point. His stomach felt like there was a knife resting in it. His head hurt like a son of a gun, and his hormones were all out of whack. He smiled anyway. “I'm fine, Mel, really.”
“Sonya's got a decent head on her shoulders. Alex too. I bet they're back at your house right now.”
“She's not answering her phone.”
“I can think of a couple reasons two teenagers wouldn't answer a phone.”
He shook his head.
He gazed into her brown eyes. She took both of his hands in hers, leaned into him and met his lips.
“Be safe, tonight.”
He nodded, kissed the back of her left hand and headed toward his truck.
She watched him get in and drive away.
Joe picked up his two-way radio. “Randy, any luck finding them?”
“No. Sorry, Sheriff. I talked to some kids who had seen them, but no one knows where they went, but there
something of interest.”
“They said they saw Ted McKinney slug Alex.”
“Ted hit Alex?” Joe cursed himself for not making Ted come with him.
“Yeah, his bike is still here at the beach, but I don't see him anywhere. Might have grabbed a ride home with this storm an' all.”
“I don't know. It's not like him to leave his bike behind. Strikes me as the type who'd brave the weather. You sure he's not there?”
“Beach is clear.”
Joe thought about what Olson had told him. That Ted had been looking for silver bullets.
“Randy, did you check that spot the kids call the Lookout?”
Hines shivered. “I gave it a once over. Nothing.”
“You're probably right. He probably got a ride home. Why don't you drive to the town line and back. Keep your eyes open. You see McKinney, Sonya or Alex, you radio me and then keep them with you.”
“Will do, Sheriff.”
Randy Hines took a deep breath, then, much to his own surprise, realized he was fine. The thought of being out on Old Gilson Creek Road alone scared him shitless, but he was tired of being afraid.
Fear had crippled him his entire lifeâwhen his dad whipped him bloody with his leather belt, when his dad threw fist after fist after fist into his ribs, when his teachers questioned him about the unexplainable cuts and bruises and when he heard his mother's pleas for forgiveness. It had gripped him when he tried to enter the funeral home where his father's body lay stuffed into a sealed casket. He'd halted outside the doorway, afraid the man would burst out and whoop him one last time.
Then, it got the best of him the night he laid his eyes on the monstrosity that killed Deputy Brett Curry, nearly decapitating him in the process. He had fallen down and watched the rest of the impossible scene play out as if it were some terrible nightmare. He just sat there and watched as Joe shot the beast down from behind. He just sat there and watched as Joe burned the remains of the thing into a charcoaled mass of disgusting-smelling death.
Not tonight. No.
He wasn't going to let any more people down. As he had his mother, young Brett Curry, Joe and himself, far too many times to count. Tonight he would be there, standing side by side with Joe, defending his town, along with his honor and his pride.
Ted slung his bag of tricks over his shoulder. He stepped around the boulder he'd ducked behind when Deputy Hines came up to the edge of the Lookout. A nasty, musty smell permeated the space, stronger even than the ozone accompanying the rain. He stepped forward, crouched down by one of the trees, smoked a cigarette, and watched Hines disappear toward the parking lot.
He lit up another smoke and took a look into the growing darkness surrounding him. He thought of that old Nietzsche saying about the abyss. The eeriness caused his skin to crawl with maggots of fear. All of the hurt and hatred he felt for the thing responsible for so much pain in his life suddenly didn't seem like enough.
He took the army bag from his shoulder, unzipped it and pulled out the handgun. The cigarette between his lips burned. The smoke wafted into his eyes as he fumbled with the box of wolf killers and handloaded the magazine.
He slid the last bullet in and paused. He squinted his eyes and leaned forward. It was hard to tell for sure in the growing gloom, but it looked like there was blood splattered across the foliage around him. There was more in the dirt behind him. He stood and searched more of the bushes close by. The thin, dark trail began at his feet and led in two separate directions. To his right, a large gray rock sat behind crimson-spattered ferns. The other line of blood disappeared. He followed its projected trajectory and found the red-painted front of a pine tree.
Branches snapped to his right. He followed the loud sounds as they moved to his left with alarming speed. Ted crouched. He was no Houdini, but it was his first instinct.
The movements ceased. The Earth seemed to stop cold. His heart hammered against his heaving chest.
Something was bulldozing through the trees toward him. Ted jumped to his feet and wished for a trapdoor to open below him.
The shape emerged from the abyss. The beast's yellow eyes glared at him. The cigarette and loaded magazine in his hands slipped to the ground.
Jesus H. Christ Almighty.
Black lips pulled taut over a series of jagged, meat-shredding teeth. Midnight fur covered the hulking figure. And those eyes. The beast made its move.
Ted dropped down, snatched the magazine, slammed it into the Glock and rolled to the right in one fluid motion. He brought the gun up with his right hand and squeezed the trigger. The
was snuffed out by the beast's roar.
Ted registered the burning sensation at the end of his arm as the wolfman descended upon him and knocked him to the ground. Its massive arms swung once, twice, three times before it rose up and howled to the raging storm beyond the canopy of trees above.
The taste of blood, coppery and thick, was on Ted's lips. His palsied head rotated in the damp soil, his vision landed upon the severed armâ
he thoughtâstill holding the Glock he'd purchased to destroy the abomination. His last thought was of the Monsters Among Us website.
Ted McKinney's world went black.
After a quick, uneventful spin down Christie Road, Deputy Randy Hines cut down Jillison Lane and over to Park Street. He pulled up to the crossroads of Park Street and Old Gilson Creek Road. He could barely see anything through the rain pelting against the cruiser's windshield. He watched as the trees around him swayed wildly against the whipping winds thrashing them from side to side. He watched as the leaves that were being blown off the trees danced across the wet blacktop. It was all very mesmerizing, and far too much like one of the scenes from the nightmares that had plagued his recent dreams.
He took a deep breath and turned for another drive up Old Gilson Creek Road. He drove about half a mile down the road and pulled into the spot they used for speed traps. He killed the headlights, letting the darkness swallow him whole. He felt like a sitting duck, but the sheriff had assured him that he would be out to swap off with him after checking on his daughter. Hines just hoped that would be a lot sooner than later.
Joe pulled into the driveway of his well-lit home. He left the truck idling as he ran to the front door.
It was too quiet. Alex's car hadn't been out front. He stepped to the bottom of the stairs, and yelled up, “Sonya?”
Still no answer. He turned to face the living room again and noticed the yellow legal pad by his computer desk.
Don't be too mad. I know you told me to stay home, but Alex and I went to the cineplex to catch a matinee. Kim and Heath will be there too. We're all together. We'll be back tonight before dark.
He couldn't believe she had deliberately disobeyed him. My daughter, the rebel. And of course she picks tonight of all nights to play the female version of Jim Stark. The cineplex was in Hollis Oaks. They would have to take Christie Road or Old Gilson Creek. He didn't like the idea of either. He put the notepad down and headed out the door.
Across the street, he saw a light on at the Donavans'. He crossed the road, walked up the beautiful cobblestone driveway and stepped onto the porch. He caught the pleasant odor of Allan's smoking pipe.
Cherry Tree, Cherry Court?
He couldn't remember the exact name of the tobacco Allan had preferred as part of his after-dinner routine, but he had always loved that scent. He stepped up to the front door and knocked.
Allan Donavan opened the door, wearing a red robe; the pocket held his pipe. “Hello, Allan. I hope I'm not disturbing you.”
“Why, not at all, Sheriff. Just winding down the evening with a little television. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I was just wondering if you may have seen Sonya leave this afternoon. She probably would have left in a black Camaro with her boyfriend.”
“Oh, ah-yuh. I happened to see 'em headin' out while I was out here having my supper smoke. Why anyone would wanna go out on a night like this beats the sense outta me, sir.”
“Did you happen to see which direction they left in?”
“Ay-yuh.” He stepped forward and pointed away from the town. Joe's heart sank.
“Thanks a lot, Mr. Donavan. Be sure and tell the missus I said hello,” he said, turning to walk away, but then stopped to add, “Oh, and, Allanâyou and Dot stay in tonight, okay?”
“Oh yes-ah. As you can see, I've already got my 'jamas and slippers on. Dot's already nestled in, and I was just getting' ready to call it a night myself.”
“Sorry again if I disturbed you, Mr. Donavan.”
Allan walked the sheriff to the edge of the porch. “Nah, don't be foolish, Sheriff. You caught me just in the nick of time. We always go to bed a little earlier underneath that moon.” He looked up toward the slight illumination behind the clouds.
Joe followed his gaze. Then turned to meet the man's eyes. “Not a bad rule to follow. Well, you have yourself a good night, Mr. Donavan.”
“Good night, Sheriff.”
With that, Joe stepped back down onto the cobblestone and headed back to his house. He paused as he reached his truck. He sheltered his eyes and searched the nasty sky above for his nemesis. It was there, hidden behind the clouds. Shivers ran down his spine.
He didn't like this damn weather. He didn't like that his daughter had defied him, and he didn't like that she was out there, prey to whatever wickedness this night had to offer.
He needed to radio Hines and see if they had passed him yet. He'd drag her back here kicking and screaming if he had to.
The night sky had fully overtaken the storm-covered daylight as the werewolf finished devouring the flesh and blood of Ted McKinney. It was time to hit the town.
The creature that had been Nick Bruce sprinted through the forest, driven by a newfound lust for destruction. Every muscle rippled with new strength and fluidity. The blood that coursed through its veins and through its stomach brought with it an air of invincibility. The shot from McKinney's pistol had skimmed its shoulder. The wound burned, but it was nothing. Just like the four souls he'd already consumed.
The trees thinned as the soaked blacktop came into sight. The beast launched into the air and landed on the faded yellow lines. It placed one clawed foot before the other and lurched down the center of Old Gilson Creek Road, begging for an encounter. It would revel in being spotted, just so it could have another chance to show off its prowess. Its power. Its hunger.
The beast continued down the road in search of its next tasty thrill.