Authors: T. M. Wright,F. W. Armstrong
Book I of the
By T. M. Wright
Writing as: F. W. Armstrong
First Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press & Macabre Ink Digital
Reconstructed from scans by David Dodd
Copy-edited by Kurt Criscione
Cover design by David Dodd
Cover Image courtesy of
Emma Louise :
Copyright 2011 by T. M. Wright
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In Memory of Eric
who could have licked a thousand times his weight
This is a work of imagination. All characters and all events are fictitious. No resemblance to real persons or events is intended or should be inferred. The Eastman Kodak Company does exist; however, none of the events depicted here actually took place at Kodak Park, or anywhere else. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, including past or present Kodak personnel, is purely coincidental.
Harry Simons called, "Okay, melon-head, come on outta there. This ain't a
! Some of us got
to accomplish." Harry was a large, strong man, his face shot through with the lines of age and work and living, but his voice had a small whisper of fear in it, as if his gut was telling him something that his head was denying. His head was telling him that Halloween was a long way off, but that some people would do anything for a laugh, and his gut was telling him that whoever was idiot enough to go running around dressed like
might also be idiot enough to carry the act a little further.
Harry Simons liked his job in Emulsion Coating at Kodak Park. He liked the constant, comforting hum of the big, shiny, beige-colored machines; he liked the machines themselves—they were, he'd once told his wife, "like, you know, symbols of industry," which he thought was a good and true and simple observation. And he didn't mind the hours of aloneness here—because the big beige coating machines very nearly ran themselves. It had taken a while to get used to, sure. Several years, in fact. But he had grown used to it. He'd grown to prize it. Just him—Harry Simons—and the low, constant hum of the big, beige-colored machines.
"I'm gonna call security you don't come outta there real quick, Bozo!" he shouted into the midst of the machines. He knew it was an empty threat; this was
section, and no way was he going to let those numb-heads from security down here. He'd take care of
"I mean it, Bozo! You don't show yourself, yer gonna get hauled outta here by yer butt!" Again he heard the whisper of fear in his voice, louder now. He supposed it was because the low, hard, growling noise this creep was making was so damned… real. "And you can cut
out, too," Harry called. "
you think this is, a
'—" He stopped, thought that if he started repeating himself it would tell this clown he was scared ... almost scared…getting scared.
Harry wished, suddenly, that the light were better. For years he'd enjoyed the dull-yellow light that the recessed lighting fixtures in the high ceilings provided; he liked the way it bounced off the rounded, polished corners of the machines, as if highlighting them, while everything else—the gray tile floor, the blue cement walls—seemed to soak it up.
"Stop that!" he shouted, because the growling noise had grown suddenly louder, harsher, closer, and Harry heard something in it that made his stomach turn over and his head spin: he heard
in it; he heard
in it; he heard
So he turned; he didn't know if he was turning toward or away from the creature he'd seen only briefly, like some particle of dust darting across the surface of his eye. Too quick, he reasoned, too damned quick to really have seen what he thought he'd seen—the long, luxuriant, reddish fur, the wide black nose, the small, malicious brown eyes, the mouth that glittered with a hundred wonderfully pointed canines. Damn, it had looked so . . . so
, Harry thought.
He turned and started moving quickly toward his small steel desk at the south end of the huge room. He called matter-of-factly, as if deciding on the spur of the moment that this particular game had gone far enough, "Well, by Jesus, I'm gettin' my freakin'
!" which also was a lie. He had no gun; guns were not allowed in Kodak Park without authorization. And poor Harry Simons had never been authorized.
He got halfway to his desk before much of his stomach was ripped away, and he fell in awe and pain and self-pity to the gray tile floor.
~ * ~
THREE DAYS LATER: APRIL 10
The chunky man with thinning black hair and tiny green eyes thought Douglas Miller was conning him, and he didn't like it. His jowls quivered in anger, his brow pulled itself into a dozen thick white folds, and his beefy hands clutched themselves hard until the knuckles were reddish-gray. Then his heart began to race, and with what looked to Doug Miller like a monumental effort, the man forced himself into a kind of stiff calm that usually scared the hell out of his other workers, though Miller had never let himself be much intimidated by it. The big man said, "Tell me that again, and remember—if I can't have you fired (and I think I can), I sure as hell can make life miserable for you."
Miller glanced quickly around the big man's office. His gaze lingered briefly on the nameplate at the front of the man's desk—"J. Youngman/Manager" —then on the backs of several small framed snapshots on the right side of the desk, then on the large square window that overlooked one of Kodak Park's many picnicking areas; several workers were there already, having an early lunch, enjoying the unexpected mid-spring warmth.
He took a breath. "Jack," he said, -there's a werewolf loose in The Park. The chances are good that it's just someone who
he's a werewolf, someone who likes to dress up like a werewolf, you know, someone who makes noises like a werewolf—"
Jack Youngman cut in, "You all think I'm pretty stupid, don't you? Admit it, you think I've got the brains of a doorknob."
No, you're smarter than a doorknob; I'll admit that!
But he said, "Jack, I'm just telling you what I've seen, and what I've heard. I think precautions should be taken."
Youngman closed his eyes lightly in an effort, Miller realized, to keep himself calm. When he opened them, Miller knew that he'd at last gone too far. Youngman rose very slowly from his big green
desk chair, came just as slowly, but with great deliberation, around the side of the desk, reached up—because Miller was nearly a foot taller than Youngman—took him by the collar, hard, stood on his tiptoes and hissed, "Get the hell out of here, dammit, and if you try to make me look like a fool again, I'll tear your throat out! I don't give a damn how big your fucking
torals are"—Miller had been into body building for a few years and he looked awfully overdeveloped—"
I'll have you fired. And that's a promise."
Miller valued his job, his yearly bonus, his friends at the plant, the security, so he nodded once, said, "Sure, Jack. You can let me go now," which Jack did, though with a small, sharp shove for emphasis, and Miller turned at once and quickly left the office.
~ * ~
"He didn't believe a word of it, Greta."
Greta Lynch, who was in her early thirties, short, brunette, her long hair done up attractively around a face that was appealing in a quiet, sensual, and therefore overwhelming way, sighed, grinned, and shrugged. "Maybe we should have said 'vampire,' Doug. Maybe he would have believed that. Vampires are easier to believe in."
Miller wasn't sure if she was kidding him. He was never sure how to react to her because she was smart, and liked a good joke, and sometimes, he thought, it seemed as if she were playing a joke on whoever was within earshot. He said, "Sure. I guess," and smiled in a flat, noncommittal way.
"I mean," she explained, "vampires are wispier, somehow." She fluttered her graceful hands in the air as if mimicking a bird. "They're more fantastic, so they're easier to be afraid of, and easier to believe in. And what's a werewolf? A werewolf's your basic supernatural grunt, he's a dogface, a slob. He's mundane, he's concrete, Doug, he's noisy and messy, and
. So naturally, if he existed, there'd be plenty of evidence.
why I think we should have said ‘vampire.' Maybe Jack would have thought twice about whether or not there's a vampire loose in The Park."
"You think he really would have believed that a vampire got Harry Simons?"
"He believes in flying saucers, doesn't he?”
“Lots of people believe in flying saucers, Greta.”
"Well, I do. Kind of."
Greta smiled. Miller usually liked her smile, because he could always see more than the hint of sexuality in it; now he thought it was condescending. She said, "Which kind do you believe in, Doug, the cigar-shaped kind, or the tea cup kind—"
"Give me a break, Greta."
She chuckled. "I'm only kidding." A short pause. "Harry himself thinks it was a werewolf that got him. Did you know that?"
She held her hand up, shook her head briskly. "No, really. He says it was a werewolf. He says he heard this deep kind of growling sound down there where he works, and when he went to find out what the hell was going on—"
"Greta ... "
"Don't interrupt me, Doug, I'm on a roll." She smiled again, playfully this time. "And anyway, he went to find out what the hell was going on and"—she growled suddenly, very deep in her chest, and grabbed Miller by the throat—"it
him." She let go of Miller.