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The Beast in Me (completed)
I stepped up the front stairs. I didn't have to wait more than a few seconds for my knock to be answered and to be let in by Sheena. She pushed the door shut behind us and we just looked at each other for several seconds. Probably both recalling the recent horrible events that had us meet here like this. It was dead silent in the house. Then we fell into an embrace.
After a long time, Sheena was first to loosen her arms,
“So, how is Mandy holding up?”
I turned away, looked at the floor, and shrugged my shoulders. Diamond, Myrtha's cat, poked her head out of Sheena's father's bedroom door, hissed at me and darted across the living room into the kitchen. I suddenly perceived the emptiness of the house.
“How long d'ya think we need to play this game?” Sheena knew what I meant by that and sighed. “It kills me to know you here all by yourself.”
We had kept mum about the werewolf stuff that had happened the other night. According to the accounts that we had delivered to the police, Doug Seifert had been shot in self defense by Frank. Everyone knew that Seifert had always been a bit superstitious when it came to the wolf attacks in town. So, when his daughter had been attacked again, nobody was surprised that he had gone a bit beserk and blamed it on the strange newcomer, going as far as kidnapping and threatening Sheena. Even if not most people weren't approving of Seifert's actions, it didn't mean Frank was off the hook. He had stolen the gun he had been carrying from his father and he had been part of keeping us in detention and mistreating and threatening us at gun point. We didn't give him that much slack and told the police. The very least thing the police wanted was to talk to him. But Frank had gone underground since last full moon.
“You know that I can't tell anybody the werewolves took dad. Besides, I was explicitly not to go looking for my dad... if I wanted him back alive.” Last full moon, Sheena had to helplessly look how a giant werewolf - who else but my father in the guise of Zeus - had dragged Miles out of their house, shouting back at her not to follow or come looking for him.
“And you trust him?!” I asked rhetorically.
“No way. But I won't risk my dad's life if there is even the slightest chance I can get him back alive.”
“Werewolves slay, they don't take hostages.” It slipped out of me inadvertantly. Sheena snorted contemptuously,
“You almost sound like Myrtha, now!” Sheena was right. I put my arms around her again,
“Sorry, that was a cruel thing to say... I didn't mean it.”
“Yes, you did... because you're probably right and I shouldn't be so unrealistic. But hope is all I have left. Against hope.”
“So you're telling everyone he's on a long business trip.” I recapped.
“It's unsuspicious. Working for Zeus Fission, as he is. Your dad... in his human form, anyway... has that kind of reputation in this town. Anyway... like anyone would care much.”
I sensed a certain bitterness in her words. People were harsh in this town when it came to treating outsiders. Frustrated, I went back and forth in front of Sheena. Finally, I slapped my fist in my palm,
“Why don't we just go end this right now? Go to Zeus fission -- we know where is office is -- and then...”
“And then...?” Sheena gave me a long look. “Anyway, he hasn't been seen at the office all week. I know because I called his secretary... anonymously.”
“Uh-huh, this Zany...” I added, recalling the ridiculous name that Zeus had called the other female werewolf.
“Yeah. She said he was probably doing business in Edmonton either badgering or devouring the premier... her sense of humor, I suppose.”
“He'll be coming back at some point.” I said.
“Still, we don't know where he might be keeping dad and it might risk his life if we attack him. But, seriously, Ron: we won't be able to go through with this as people, as humans. We're not born killers.”
“You mean like Frank...” I snorted.
“Neither is he...”
“He shot down Seifert...” I insisted.
“To save you.” Sheena pointed out.
“I know...” I said subdued, and feeling my heritage weighing heavily on my mind, “The only real killers are us werewolves. But, at least, I'm glad two of them went down that night! Thanks to your brave actions.”
“I should have been there protecting my father instead...” Sheena said sadly. “...and then I almost lost you!” She gently stroked my neck at the place that had been wounded most badly. It was all but healed by now.
“You were just doing your duty as a veela!”
“Right. Sacrificing.” Sheena said bleakly.
“For the greater good... -- Well, anyway. If not now, when should we down him?”
“He's planning this Christmas Eve party for a reason. It's on full moon. That must mean wants us to meet as creatures of the night. I suppose he feels superior then.”
“Are you suggesting he's afraid of us when he's human? Or when we're human? ...and thinks he can outsmart us... or overpower us as a werewolf?” I asked incredulously. Sheena shrugged her shoulders. I sighed,
“I felt a bit bad at the time but now I'm glad you convinced me to get a few bags out of the blood bank while there was the chance. I feel much stronger this time around.” I cracked my knuckles demonstratively. Sheena smiled,
“Good... you'll probably need all the strength you can muster. Even though the pack is decimated to three now, we'll need to get him to lower his defenses, too, if we want to stand a chance.” Sheena turned away and looked a bit uneasy.
“How do you mean?”
“It's a veela thing. I... I noticed it last time... It's... it's disgusting but it seems to lie in our nature.”
“What are you talking about?!”
“The ability to seduce males... and to lead them to there doom. Like the black widow spider or the praying mantis.”
“Oh, that...” I gulped. Sheena looked at me disturbed,
“I found out that your father is susceptible after our last encounter in his human form. I felt that he wished to see me again.”
“But he must know that you're a veela and would destroy him if you had the chance!”
“That's what makes veela seduction so powerful. And distasteful.”
I took a deep breath, unsure if I felt that this was a good idea or not. Apart from any disturbing moral aspects, there was a chance it could backfire. I didn't want Sheena anywhere near Zeus if I could help it and, yet, I didn't know of any better plan.
“Let's think it over a bit.” I suggested, putting off a definite decision for the moment. “Any news on how Myrtha's doing?”
“Dr. Winsley's sure that it was a stroke she suffered... but it's too early to say how much permanent damage there will be.”
“But she will survive...?” I asked hopefully. Mrs. Hensley was as old as Mr. Henderson, the eldest people I knew in town. Sheena sighed,
“Hard to say. I suppose her veela heritage has helped her make it this far... but everybody dies eventually, even Myrtha.”
We looked at each other, knowing that there was an exception to this rule. Sheena stood a chance for a shot at immortality if she only wanted. At the price of loving as a human, however incomplete and fallible that option turned out to be.
“Forget it, Ron! I'll never do it!” Sheena said with an air of impatience when I raised my eyebrows with discreet skepticism. “I'm... I'm a veela but only to a point. I made up my mind. You know that!”
“But say, if it were the only way to save Baskerville... or your dad.”
“I love my father above all measure, you know that, but...” Her expression melted when she looked deeply into my eyes, “I... I never hope it comes to that... having to choose between him and us. I know we can do this together. We'll get him back and end Zeus's terror.”
And then there was of course my predicament. I wondered whether her powers could have any influence on my fate, for better or worse. After all, veelas and werewolves were eternal enemies. Sheena becoming a ghost-veela might mean the end of me, too. But all things considered, was that the worst thing that could happen? I shuddered involuntarily when I caught myself thinking these self-destructive thoughts. I wished there were a way to separate the two pieces of my soul without destroying the good part. It must have shown because Sheena took my hand and said,
“Remember, it's not who you ARE, it's what you do what counts.”
Yeah, I recalled that: as long as we can make choices their is humanity left in us. I smiled at her and nodded. I felt better inside, now.
“But I'm keeping in touch with Brian and I'll talk to as soon as it's possible. Myrtha is our only real help that we got. He said, they ought to take her to the clinic but in the big city but right now we are cut off because there was a mountain slide that destroyed a stretch of the highway in the storm that night.”
“Yeah, I heard about that. Just lucky that the dam didn't break. Quite a storm you fabricated!” I said half-jokingly, half in awe. But Sheena was probably right about another thing: we'll have to finish this on our own. But then I remembered what Sheena had told me about that eerie night when she was fighting against two from the pack on her own.
“Tell me again about those what... mermaids? Did they really take the two beasts down with them in the lake?”
“They're called water-veelas not mermaids.” Sheena corrected a bit testy because she had corrected me earlier when I had used that term. Both amounted to about to the same in my book. But who was I to argue with the most powerful - and gorgeous - being I knew?
“But how come they have to live under water at all times? I thought that veelas had the ability to roam about freely... You can.”
“Water-veelas can't because... they're the souls of those born in a veela bloodline who have died. It's where they reside.”
“The souls of the dead veelas?” Aha, I thought, something like a veela heaven. But I didn't want to offend Sheena by using my layman's terminology. I suddenly realized something and gasped, “Then you must have met mother down there...”
“No... I didn't see her... or hear her this time... but she's among them, I'm sure.”
I sensed that Sheena felt uneasy recalling these memories.
“But did you... talk to them?” I couldn't help myself and pried some more.
“Well... not in the sense like what we're doing right now... but, yes, they were communicating with me, guiding me. They can feel the danger that I feel and they can guide my instincts. Like a strong... collective inner voice or something. I dunno it's hard to explain. I just sorta knew what to do when the two werewolves appeared that night. There's this rickety old wooden bridge over the river... or was. I changed into my human form and let them trap me on it. Or so they thought. First they started swaying it and then they followed me onto it... “
I gasped. That sounded like a copy of the dream I had a some time ago.
“But the bridge gave way, collapsed under our weight, and we all plunged into the water. That's when I realized that the water-veelas had been guiding my actions. I... I couldn't really see them clearly... but they were there, shaping and reshaping. Some looked familiar but the images were constantly changing. But down there I felt their presence. It was intense, you know...”
I shivered when I saw the glow in Sheena's eyes. I knew she was reliving those moments right in front of me.
“What happened to the werewolves? Did the water-veelas...?”
“They... they disoriented the struggling werewolves, which kept them submerged until they finally had drowned. At that point - the werewolves lifeless and vanquished - the water-veelas just slowly retreated towards the dark depth of the lake again, taking the werewolves down with them.”
“...and didn't they help you up to the surface again?”
“No, I... I wasn't in any danger and seemed to have no difficulty breathing. I think I automatically switched back to being a veela down there - I didn't feel cold or wet. But I sensed something else...”
“They want me to be their leader... they want me to change, to become a ghost-veela, a permanent veela. I felt this pull or drag on my soul tugging me towards them as they sank away and the terrible thing is, I...”
“You what?” I held my breath.
“I considered it for a few seconds... that's what scares me. I told you, I made up my mind but, still, there I was mesmerized by that notion.”
“What stopped you?”
“Well, not knowingly. You were in danger. Frank was going to shoot you. So I needed to get up to the surface and transform you back to your human form, remotely. I knew he wouldn't shoot you then.”
“That was you?! How could you know that... being in the lake an'all?” I asked amazed.
“Ron, I'm a veela. I could follow the events at the house because the wind told the water and the water told me. I know it sounds crazy...” Sheena looked desperately at me, hoping I wouldn't think the same. But by now, nothing was surprising me anymore. Laws of physics were clearly not limited to the school stuff that Branagan wanted me to compete at in this Olympiad, if he had his way. I shook my head to signal that I understood that much,
“But in what way did that stop you? Your powers as a ghost-veela would surely let...”
“To ghost-veelas all werewolves are enemies alike. No distinction. I'm not sacrificing my love to you. Never. That's why I will never become a ghost-veela, an immortal veela.”
“Your mom... you won't be able to see her as long as you don't convert. That's what made you think it over, right? You'd like to see her again.” I understood her feelings exactly. Being so close to a re-union and yet so distant at the same time.
“I will... someday. When I die.”
“Hey! You said you switched me back to human the other night... didn't you consider switching Zeus to his human form when he took your father?”
“Don't think I didn't try everything... even though I knew that particular thing wouldn't work.”
“Why not?! If it worked on me...” But I suspected roughly what the answer to that would be.
“Werewolves can resist if they want to and are strong enough. You had no reason to resist but Zeus - if it was him - definitely resisted.”
“Whaddyamean, IF it was him?! Who else...?”
“Just a manner of speaking. I never came close enough to be a hundred percent sure. But given the power this werewolf displayed, who else could it have been, right? Werewolves are territorial beasts. There can be only one pack, one alpha beast in a given area. So yeah, it's a pretty sure bet, even though unconfirmed. Anyway, when he realized that I was on his trail he appeared very sure of himself and didn't even stop to look... I mean, he wasn't a bit afraid of me being a veela and right on his heels.”
“So... when did he tell you to stop following him?”
“He did stop on a hill at one point and growled at me... and... and then he just said that he'd kill my father if I followed any further... it was terrible. I saw my father lying unconsciously and helplessly over his shoulder... and by the sound of it... I mean...”
“Something in his tone suggested that he wasn't planning on killing him if I left him alone.”
“You mean... he might just want to transform him? Like Mandy... and the rest of Baskerville?”
Sheena looked at me with a confused mixture of guilt and hope,
“I stopped and let him get away. I felt it was the slightly better option. I dunno... maybe I should have fought it out. Maybe my father would have been better off dead...”
But I knew Sheena didn't mean it. She believed that there was hope for me. So it was only natural for her to believe the same went for her father. I nodded assertively,
“No question, I'd always trust your veela instincts. Don't worry, we'll sort this out.”
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