Part 4: The Wolves Howl

Reading Time Approx: 8 minutes

My head hurt a lot.

There was a giant knot right above my temple which got progressively more painful every time I prodded it. My Supermart 13 shift was, well… have you ever been to Supermart 13? That’s what it was, only with a sore head and not enough sleep. I was really looking forward to getting home to my comfy bed and crashing for the evening. At least until I remembered Steven.

You remember Steven, right? He’s the guy who started all this. He’s also the one I blame for the fact that when I finally got home, my house was trashed.

The door, an admittedly flimsy thing, had been ripped off its hinges and then… jumped on? Inside was no better. My sofa had been slashed and ripped to shreds. I didn’t even want to look at the rest of the house. And there was Steven, standing in my driveway and looking bewildered. You can’t blame me for being a little cross.

“What happened?” He asked. I ground my teeth.

“Rough neighborhood.” Was all I said. And apparently he found that entirely credible because he dropped the subject and went straight on to what mattered to him.

“Have you found out anything?” He stared at me, thumb picking at the nails of the other hand. The intensity was rather unnerving. I glanced at my ruined home and sighed. There was no way to put this off for a more convenient time.

“Not a lot.” I admitted. “But enough to know that your girlfriend got mixed up with something.” Steven didn’t blink, still worrying at his fingernails. He didn’t say anything, just waited.

“But not enough to know what it is.” I continued, feeling the need to fill the silence. His face drew into a frown, obviously unsatisfied with the answer. He must have moved at some point because now he was uncomfortably close.

I resisted the temptation to point out that I was doing him a massive favor right now and to be grateful for anything he got. But my frustration must have shown because he stepped back and made a visible effort to calm himself. I guess I shouldn’t take up playing poker.

“Um… what will you do next?” His voice trembled a little as he battled his emotions.

“My research.”

It came out harsher than I intended. The boy seemed to be genuinely worried about his girlfriend. But I was tired, and sore and in truth more than a little angry at myself for walking into this mess without doing more background work.

“Ever heard of Armann Flosason?” I asked, making a conscious effort at a more neutral tone. Steven shook his head, there was no sign of recognition on his face. Well, it was a long shot.

The conversation dragged on for several more unproductive minutes. I finally persuaded Steven to go away and leave me in peace. Mainly by suggesting that he could help me tidy up the disaster that my house had become.

The mess was so bad that I wasn’t even sure where to start. The door would need to be replaced obviously and from the look of things the sofa was a lost cause. Yet more money I didn’t actually have.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what had happened though. I certainly didn’t need magic to confirm it. My eyes told me everything I needed to know. The sofa pillows were ripped up by claws. The door had been smashed like it was made of balsa wood. No human could have done this. I still don’t know who they were or if it was the same one who had attacked me last night, but the wolves had visited.

First on my list of tasks was an emergency text to Mercedes asking her for everything she could dig up on Armann Flosason. I was praying that wouldn’t be a complete dead end because it was the only lead that I had.

For once luck was with me and they hadn’t touched my computer. Which meant that while I was waiting for Mercedes to work her personal brand of magic, it was time to try out my own research skills. The camouflage spell obviously wasn’t going to keep me safe from werewolves. I needed something more specialized for the task.

And yes, I was avoiding cleaning up. But wouldn’t you?

The answer, like most things in life, was simple. I needed a way to block the werewolves sense of smell. Turns out hunters have spent a lot of time coming up with ways to confuse animals sense of smell. But I didn’t feel like messing around with urine.

So, instead, I decided I would simply mask my own smell. Just a slight variation on my camouflage spell was all that was required. Even better I could layer it on top of the die and add it to my existing one.

With that problem solved and feeling like a top notch wizard, I turned my attention to ways that I could discourage wolves from coming anywhere near me. Looking at what they had done to my house and picturing those same creatures attacking me left me with cold sweats.

It hadn’t escaped my notice that tonight was a full moon. Apparently that wasn’t the only night they were active, but it figured so prominently in all the lore it had to be significant.

Since they knew where I lived, I needed something that would scare them off if they attacked. Unfortunately wizards don’t get to throw fireballs and lightning bolts. I remember feeling quite disappointed when I discovered that. We can, however, work with both fire and lightning in other ways.

It took several hours to figure out the specifics, but by the end I’d come up with a few different spells that might come in handy in a pinch. I just wished I had more time to test them out. You know what they say about playing with fire.

It was my phone that woke me. I peered at the screen until it came into focus. I didn’t recognize the number, but it looked like they had been trying to contact me for a while. I was ready to go back to sleep when it rang again. I can take a hint.

“Hello.” I mumbled around my strangely swollen tongue.

“Mr. Brodie?” The voice sounded young and vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. My brain still wasn’t awake enough to form a coherent response so I waited for more.

“It’s Julia… from Naomi’s apartment?” Okay, now I was awake. Even before this call I had been convinced that girl knew more about what was going on than she had told me. She was just too much of a nosey neighbor not to.

“Hey Julia. What can I do for you?” My voice cracked, throat clogged with phlegm. I held the phone away and hurriedly cleared my throat.

“Well… I wanted to talk to you… about Naomi.”Julie was either a really good actor or genuinely nervous about this conversation. Which raised all sorts of questions.

“Oh?” I played it cool. Well sort of.

“Could we… ah… meet somewhere?” She asked.

“Sure.” I said. “Tell me when and where, I’ll be there.”

And so off I set for one more trip to Shepherdstown. Which was starting to eat into my gas allowance for the week. Before leaving I had briefly struggled with how to secure my ransacked home before settling for propping the door against the frame and pushing the damaged sofa in front of it. It’s not like there was much inside that anyone would want to steal anyway.

Julia had suggested one of the bars in Shepherdstown that is popular with students. The very public location seemed like a good idea to me. It would hopefully reassure her that I had no dastardly plans and also I wasn’t likely to be savaged by werewolves there either.

It was early when I arrived and the bar was almost empty. Perfect for actually having a conversation, which is not always an easy thing in student hangouts. Julia was waiting for me, drink already in hand. Something to calm the nerves perhaps? I smiled in greeting as I walked towards where she sat and she returned it half heartedly. The way she was sitting, so stiff and upright… definitely nerves.

“So…” I said, leaning back to look at her after ordering myself a soda. “What was it you wanted to tell me about Naomi.” I’m not much for small talk, but I was trying to keep my body language open and friendly.

“Did you ever meet her?” Julie asked, her eyes not meeting mine as she avoided my question. I shook my head.

“She had some… odd… friends.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that. For a start, she apparently thought me odd enough that I might have been one of Naomi’s friends. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?

“Odd how?” I asked, trying to get her to open up a bit more.

“Well. They weren’t students; I know that. One of them came to visit her just before she disappeared.”

I tried to control my excitement at that. Maybe I finally had a lead?

“What did he look like?”

“Older… A lot older. Long hair. Kind of greasy. I think he might have been Native American. He dressed like it anyway. But… that’s not why I called you. I saw him again last night.”

I really hoped my poker face was better than it had been with Steven earlier. I knew exactly where Julie had been last night. But she didn’t seem to know that I had been there. This was getting complicated. But also interesting.

“Where?” I asked. Hopefully not too eagerly.

“He broke into Naomi’s apartment.” Julia paused to drink from the glass she was cradling in her hand. “I called the cops.”

“Did they get him?”

“No.” She shook her head, fidgeting with her hair uncomfortably. “I don’t know how he got past them. I didn’t see him leave.”

Wolves probably don’t need to go through doors, I thought to myself. If only I’d had time to investigate after the police left. There might have been a trail of some sort to follow. I paused, drink raised to my mouth as it hit me.

Julia had described this man as Native American. There were Native American werewolves of a sort. Skin Walkers they were called. But that wasn’t the same thing as Lycanthropes. And, their powers had nothing to do with the moon. Realising that Julia was watching my expression closely I hurriedly turned my attention back to her.

“Do you have any idea what he was looking for?” I asked her.

“No… I thought… maybe you might?” Just then her phone rang. “Excuse me.” She apologized, stepping away from me for more privacy.

I watched her as she stood and talked on the phone. She had positioned herself safely out of listening range, but there was something about the way she held herself. Her head down, body drawn in on herself. It seemed to me that whoever was on the other end of that call was someone that she obeyed implicitly. Could it be she was more involved than she had let on?

As discretely as possible I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the pill bottle. This was going to look bad if anyone saw me. I removed the cap and made a pantomime of putting a pill in my hand and palming it into my mouth before putting the bottle away. Then, while Julia was still on the phone and no one seemed to be looking I dropped the aconite pill into her glass. It fizzed ever so softly and I fought the urge to duck and hide. But no one in the bar was paying me or the drink any attention.

Julia came back over a moment later, her conversation done. I smiled at her, trying to put her at ease although she seemed even more nervous now than she had before.

“So… this man. You don’t know his name?” I asked as though our conversation had never been interrupted. She shook her head then tucked her hair back behind her ear. She was either almost as in the dark as I was or lying with considerable skill.

“And the police didn’t find anything?”


I made a show of drinking my soda as I tried to figure out what to do next. Almost by instinct her hand reached for her glass and she took a sip. The reaction was instantaneous.

Her nostrils flared and a growling sound came from her throat as she bared her teeth at me. Several of the bar’s patrons rose to their feet in concern so I hastily masked my self-satisfied smile as Julia ran for the door.

“Curiouser and curiouser said Alice.” I muttered to myself. Were there two groups of werewolves at play in this town?

The patrons were still giving me nasty looks so I made a show of acting like a bemused boyfriend. Hey I’m not that much older than the average student! Left a nice tip for the bartender and headed for my car.

On the way, I pulled out my phone and checked to see if Mercedes had left me any messages. There were several.

Mercedes: Armann Flosason was werewolf!

By this point that wasn’t a surprise, but the confirmation was nice. The second message was more alarming.

Mercedes:  Lived in Jefferson County from 1865 to 1884. Believed to be the alpha male!

Presumably descendants of his pack were still in the area. Probably the same pack that Julia belonged to. The same Julia I had just spiked with aconite. Possibly the same pack that had destroyed my house. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea. I started walking faster but on turning the corner to get to my car I came to a halt.

There were eight men lounging around my car. Seven of them wore the state uniform of jeans, t-shirt and a cap. The eighth was wearing a suit and tie. This wasn’t going to be good.


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