The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 1
Friends?

Rewrite: 5/25/2014

 

The Protectors

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Friends?

 

 

He was sitting in his office staring at the reports and other paperwork in front of him on the desk.  He’d been staring at them for some time now as his mind wandered off.  The door to his office opened and a head popped in.  Taking in the face and the expression on it, it wasn’t good news Frank was about to give him.

 

“Bank Seven, solar flare.”  The man informed him.  His chest heaved with the disappointed sigh he let out looking at his boss. 

 

Shaking his head Duncan stood from his desk.  “Let me guess, seven, eight and nine are on the power grid unfiltered now.”  He stated looking Frank in the eyes. 

 

As Frank’s head started nodding his mouth opened slightly and his face became very disappointed with his lips pulled tight.  “Took out the light unit this time too.” He pushed the door open the rest of the way as he pulled his head back and turned towards the door out of the office area.  He looked toward Connie giving her a depressed quick smile as he headed back to where their problem was.

 

Walking to the door he followed Frank out and onto the floor of his lab.  His eyes ran over the layers of plants, they utilized standard lighting that had been on the market for years.  The messenger of bad news was on his way down the stairs heading towards the area the smoke was coming from along the back right hand side of the room as Duncan looked out over it.  Releasing his hand from the office area’s main door and letting it close, he turned to the stairs and followed after Frank towards the mess.

 

The control and power distribution panel was hanging open and burnt electrical fire smelling smoke was pouring from it, the circuit breakers on the front of the panel all showing their red flags from being tripped when the high voltage boards inside blew.  He looked over at the lights that this panel controlled.  He felt something inside him sink as he witnessed the smoke pouring from his invention.  Solar flare, what he and his people referred to one of his lighting units burning out as.  This time it was a total loss, controls and lights.

 

“Ninety-seven hours.  All we got out of her Mr. Galt.  Ninety-seven hours after we put her on line voltage, POOF!”  Frank’s voice carried his disappointment.  “Banks one, two and three are on generator power, four, five and six are on battery feed, these here are line and the last three are on filtered.”  He turned his face towards his boss.  “They’re all fine, no stress showing, no solar flares on any bank we put on those sources.”  He looked towards the smoldering mess of bank seven’s control box.  “Burnt to slag.”  He said as he shook his head.

 

The problem was the dirt in the line voltage from the power grid.  His generators were clean, as was the power from the batteries they used to provide clean DC voltage to the control boxes.  His filters cleaned the power from the grid good, they worked well only they were cost intensive for consumers.  His lights were exceptional, however, if a customer was unwilling to spend the money on a DC system, his filters or install generators, he’d be out of business in the lighting market.

 

It took a vast amount of power for his lights to provide the light they did, which in the hydroponics market was better than anything currently available.  “How’s the rectifier bridge coming?”  Duncan asked looking for some good news.  They were working on a solid-state solution to replace the battery system that would be more economical, and a way to reduce the power consumption of his organic lighting source.

 

“Rough, trimming four-forty three phase into DC, not a problem, would be great if we could get the lights to run on that, but for thirty-three hundred volts…”  Frank shook his head as he watched the smoke billow up.  “Need a better engineer than me to solve that problem.”

 

Duncan looked over at him, he understood his feelings.  “How are the other two banks holding up?  How long have they been online?”

 

Frank wobbled his head around as he looked over at the two banks on line voltage a ways down from them.  “Eight’s got the new protection circuitry on it for the lights, been running about thirty hours now, box is stable so far.  Cooler seems to be helping, but that’s an expensive addition.  Nine’s using the cross-over build, been running just over a hundred hours now, power packs are switching more.  Went a little over twenty-four hours between switches at first, now, every couple hours.”  He inhaled deep and let his breath out through pursed lips.

 

“Wont be long Duncan, they’ll blow.  Why the hell can’t the power company produce clean power like we do with our own generators?”  Frank started walking towards the control panels for the next bank down.  “The cooler helps, but the guts are still going to breakdown.  We need to reduce the draw, get the lights to run on less, produce the same.  Then we’re in business.”

 

The long distance transmission of the power, multiple substations, ground noise, even if the power company put out pure clean wattage, by the time it arrived at the lab, all the dirt would be back in the power.  If he could get the large light banks to run on three phase, or ideally on single phase two-twenty, their problems would be solved.  The lights Duncan invented were revolutionary, now he just needed to make them affordable.

 

“Want me to keep the other two banks on?”

 

Duncan walked up to the bank Frank was at and looked at the readouts on the display mounted in the panel.  He switched to the history of the component temperatures.  He compared them with the overall draw and output readings from the history.  “No, shut ‘em down.”  He looked back to the smoldering remains of bank seven.  “Shut the banks on the power grid down and clean up seven.  Shit.”  He gave Frank a look as he walked by.

 

What else could they do.  The other line voltage banks would die in a solar flare if they were left to run, the other banks were fine.  He needed those for testing the longevity of the lights and their output, even if they lacked seriously in the efficiency department.

 

Back in his office he pulled up his designs.  He looked down at the papers on top of his desk again.  Picking them up he stood from his chair and walked out to the reception desk Connie was behind.  His office was on her left, there was another office to her right that was currently unoccupied that should have a research and development person in it. 

 

“Connie, can you deal with these?  Just use your best judgment okay?”  He said to her plopping the papers on the elevated bar above her work area.

 

“Sure thing Mr. Galt.  I’ll get the ordering done yet today, and the invoicing in the morning.”  She said with her pleasant voice and smile.  She took good care of him. 

 

“Thanks.”  He told her then turned around and strode back into his office.

 

Sitting back down at his desk he looked to the drafts of his lights again.  “How can I get you devils to munch less and still produce?”  He muttered to himself as he launched his mind into his problems.  If it wasn’t for his companies hydroponic seed production for contracted seed companies, he’d be in the red.  But they were keeping him in the black, just barely.  He looked at the clock, would he stay late?  Grabbing his mouse he considered that thought as he exploded the views and looked at his lights in print form.

 

No, he’d head out about normal time wise.  Fall hours, less daylight.  He shivered. 

 

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“I’m thinking I’m going to work from home tomorrow Connie.”  Duncan told his administrative assistant, she really ran the place.  “Looks like we might have some weather heading our way tomorrow too, make sure they have the barns locked down good, shutter the windows, you know the drill.”  He said with a smile.

 

She returned a knowing smile.  “Will do Duncan.  Have a good night.”

 

He rapped his knuckles on the top of the reception desk and nodded.  “I might swing by around lunchtime, picking up supplies from in town.  Oh, if you think of anything we need that wasn’t ordered, shoot me an email.” 

 

“Will do Duncan.”  Connie replied then he turned and walked out the door.

 

He looked over towards the remains of the dead light bank, that’s what he’d be working on in his den tonight, tomorrow, it was what he did to counter the effects of insomnia.  He preferred working from his den at home over traveling to the lab.  His mind worked on his power problems as he descended the stairs.  When his slow downward plod finally took the test banks of lights out of his view he faced the door and went to his truck.

 

He stopped by the hardware store in town.  His lab was on the south side of town, his house on the west side, both over ten miles away from the rinky-dink one horse town.  His business was the second largest employer in the area, next to the sheriff’s department.  He chose the town for two reasons.  One, he already owned property in the area and two, it was far away from big cities and the mess they offered.

 

After he dropped off his order at the hardware store that he would pickup tomorrow he headed out the door.  “Evening Mr. Galt.”  Sheriff Hanks said to him as he passed by walking down the sidewalk towards the only diner in town.  “Sheriff.”  He answered with a head nod.  Duncan crossed behind the Sheriff and climbed in his truck and made for home.  Before he pulled out he considered picking supper up from Olivia’s Café.  It would be microwave dinner tonight though.

 

He pulled the truck into the garage and closed the door from the button next to the side door.  He looked around his yard as he walked.  His eyes walked over the light arrays of his design that hung from telephone poles across his acreage.  The black globes  looked ominous in the sun.  He unlocked the thick door and walked into his house.  Closing the door behind him and locking it he looked at the clock on the wall across from him and made a mental note of the time.

 

He’d worn a light coat that he hung in the closet before he went to his den and turned on his computer.  Sitting on the top of his desk to the right was a prescription bottle.  He picked it up and looked at it.  The pills were supposed to help him sleep.  Even doubling the dose didn’t help.  He looked at the date on the bottle.  They weren’t out of date yet.  Maybe he’d give them a try again, he hadn’t used them in a few months.  What he really needed was something to stop him from dreaming.

 

Setting the bottle back down he walked to the short hallway that went from his library into the kitchen.  To his right were two sets of stairs, one leading up to the second floor of his house, the other leading to his bunker of a basement.  The basement was original though the house wasn’t.  When he left the service of the CIA and built the new house, he added generators and an extravagant security system.  The basement was his main control room for both.

 

Duncan hated the hours of darkness between sunset and sunrise.  Going to the control panel that was in the first room in the basement he readied the generators for the night.  They would run at an idle state and stay offline unless needed.

 

Heading back upstairs he microwaved his supper.  When the beeper sounded on the oven, he took his supper from it, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and went to the den to eat while he worked.  His typical night since he moved out here.  Setting his food on the desk he turned on his monitor then checked on the exact time of sunset.  He looked at the clock in the den and set the alarm on his cell phone. 

 

Half an hour before sunset the alarm notified him and he secured his house then returned to the den and worked on his light problems, another night just like the last year of nights had been, and the year before that.  Shortly after midnight, he turned his monitor off and took his dirty dishes to the kitchen, rinsed them and deposited them in the dishwasher.

 

He’d leave them there to join his breakfast dishes.  He checked his security system over, making sure all was quiet on the outside then made his way to the bedroom.  Sitting naked on the bed he tried to clear his mind.  He thought about trying the pills again, then simply pulled the covers back and climbed into bed and hoped to have a dreamless night and actually sleep for more than four hours.

 

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The sandman was slow in coming.  The latest prescription, number nine or ten now, only made him constipated, made his dreams worse and did nothing to actually help him sleep.  He watched the projection of the clock on his ceiling slowly tick away.  At some point, the sandman finally took him.

 

It was the week of his 14th birthday.  His parents had planned for him to be out in the country as a special treat for his birthday.  He didn’t blame them, he was excited for the week.  They didn’t know, nor did he, that it would be the most miserable time and his worst birthday experience.  

 

Play time was not allowed.  His uncle, despite what he and Duncan’s father had talked about, decided that Duncan was lazy, too egg-headed and needed to learn to work.  There was to be no lolly-gagging on the farm, there wasn’t time for that.  Duncan would have to earn his keep his uncle had said.  His time to enjoy himself was allowed only after ‘chores’ were done. 

 

Being the new kid on the farm, the least desirable tasks were pawned off on him.  Once when he complained to his uncle about the treatment he received from the other kids, Duncan’s face was smacked. 

 

“Quit whining cry baby.”   His uncle yelled.  “Get your worthless ass out of here.  You’ll do whatever you’re told to here, else you won’t eat.” 

 

It was that night, after he was  deemed to be ‘as worthless as tits on a bore hog’, Duncan was made to sleep in the barn.  His aunt made a short objection, but her words were cut short when she too was smacked.  The other boys laughed at this.  The only daughter in the family did not. 

 

“Learn your place, woman.  This is a man’s decision.”  His father’s brother told the wife.  Her sons chastised her along with their father.

 

Duncan saw a different side of life that day, one that made him sick.  He had a new perspective on reality now.  That was day two on the farm.  His birthday party never happened.  The gifts his parents had left with the family for his birthday, had been sold; to ‘cover the cost of your being here’ he was told.

 

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Duncan was walking in the woods surrounding the farm alone after being sent away from the table because his presence made the father angry.  He tolerated no weaklings in his household.  Now in addition to being made to sleep in the barn, he would also eat after all the real men ate, in the kitchen with the women which is where a sissy boy like him belonged; according to his uncle. 

 

He and the two women would be allowed the leftovers from the men once they were finished.  In the kitchen the women busied themselves with dishes and cleanup duties until after they were ‘checked in on’ to make sure nothing was happening that the ‘men’ didn’t approve of.

 

With a finger on her lips indicating secrecy and silence, the mother pulled from the oven a fresh dinner that he shared with the two women of the house.  She softly explained the men-folk would be drinking beer and whiskey outback on the veranda for several hours now. 

 

After he ate, the mother hurried him out the side door of the kitchen.  “Make yourself scarce boy.”  She had told him.  Out of site, out of mind was his aunt’s logic.

 

He had been walking in the woods, maybe half an hour, when he heard the crunch of leaves and sticks behind him.  Fearing the other boys were in pursuit, Duncan darted off in another direction, away from the sound.  He could hear more than one set of feet in the woods.  He was getting turned around in the woods and wasn’t sure of the direction to the farm. 

 

Suddenly he was knocked to the ground.  The wind was knocked out of him. 

 

While he lay on the ground gasping for breath, he stared up into the ravenous growling face of a large angry dog.  It wasn’t a dog his mind told him.  Far too big.  Wolf.  A timber wolf his education told him.  The eyes of the wolf were locked with his.  Duncan couldn’t help it, he pissed his pants.  When his breath returned he pleaded with the wolf.  “Please, I’m not a threat, please, please, don’t kill me!”

 

Duncan became aware of other sounds around him.  He cautiously looked around with his eyes.  He took in the sight of another wolf passing by.  This one was carrying a pup by the neck and was followed by two other pups. 

 

Duncan looked back at the wolf on top of him, locking eyes with it. “I understand, please, let me live, I wont hurt your family!  Please!”  He raised his hands, or more so put them above where his head was, palms out. 

 

The wolf’s open mouth growling lessened some then its mouth closed to a teeth baring snarl. 

 

Several other wolves ran past.  Duncan began crying when the wolf looked away and watched its kin pass.  He locked eyes with Duncan again, his eyes bode a warning to Duncan.  Stay away from us’ they seemed to say.  Duncan nodded at the wolf. 

 

The snarling stopped.  The threat in the eyes of the wolf was more than enough.  The wolf looked up past where he had Duncan pinned on the ground.  It’s expression softened as its eyes returned to Duncan’s.  The wolf seemed to comprehend that Duncan was no threat, to understand how he felt. 

 

It was strange, at some level, the two seemed to communicate. 

 

The others were now well passed.  The wolf was only protecting his own.  Duncan apologized to the wolf.  It was a strange interaction, Duncan didn’t know how, but he felt somehow the wolf understood.  It moved it’s face forward and licked the tears from the right side of his face and looked respectful at Duncan, then leapt off of him and was gone. 

 

Duncan lay on the ground shaking for several minutes.  Finally, from his back he looked around.  He was alone in the woods.  Duncan slowly got up.  He looked at the considerable wet spot that filled the front of his pants to the waistline and went almost to his knees.  Shame filled him.  At that moment he was glad he’d been moved to the barn.  Had he needed to go into the house, he was sure the results would’ve been unpleasant to say the least.

 

He looked around; he wasn’t sure which way was home, or to hell as it were.  He fumbled around the woods for about forty-five  minutes, only seeming to become more lost in the woods.  Night was coming soon.  He was starting to panic.  He’d begun running in one direction, only to reconsider and begin running in another.  He could see the direction of the setting sun, the only thing was, he didn’t know if that was towards the farm or away from it. 

 

His chest was heaving, his heart pounding with panic.  He heard a bark, a snarling bark.  His heart seemed to stop; he looked in the direction of the sound. 

 

There stood the wolf he recognized.  The one that had him pinned on the ground.  Its eyes locked on him.  He was standing sideways to Duncan, his head turned to look at him.  He moved his nose and mouth up in the air when he barked, then looked at Duncan. 

 

The wolf was about ten yards away.  After it barked, it looked away and trotted off slowly.  Then it stopped, looked back at Duncan and barked again then trotted a few feet again.  It did this several times, then stopped and turned fully around and looked towards Duncan.  The wolf started at him. 

 

Fear gripped him.  He wanted to run, but his feet wouldn’t obey.  The wolf came right up to Duncan, close enough he could have put his hand in its massive head. 

 

Then the wolf did something very unexpected.  He stuck his nose in Duncan’s hand and snorted.  Then he looked at Duncan and cocked his head.  Follow me.  Duncan felt it was telling him.  Then the wolf turned and started trotting away again. 

 

Duncan’s fear subsided.  He felt a strange peace, a trust.  Was the wolf really helping him? 

 

This time when the wolf stopped and looked back and barked, Duncan was able to move and followed the wolf.  It would trot ahead, then stop and look back.  This routine continued until Duncan could see through the fading light, the lights of the farm he had come from.  Relief flooded over him.  He wouldn’t die in the woods after all.  Though, considering the next five days there, it may not have been a bad way to go.

 

When Duncan looked to thank the wolf, he was alone.  He turned around and faced the woods and quietly said ‘thank you’ to the woods.

 

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The following morning Duncan asked if he could call his parents.  “You got money to pay for the call?”  His uncle had asked.  “That’s long distance, unless you have money to pay for it, you ain’t making no long distance call on my phone.”  When Duncan inquired about the cost his uncle said he would charge him ten dollars for the use of the phone and one minute of time.  He knew Duncan didn’t have that much money. 

 

When he talked to his aunt in the kitchen while they ate and the ‘men’ drank outside she told him that her husband kept the phone locked up so no one could use it but him.

 

Duncan kept thinking about the wolf, how it had helped him.  The eyes.  The power in them.

 

Duncan later requested a stamp so he could mail a letter instead.  You ain’t gettin no stamp, you don’t be needin’ to mail no damn letter, now get in the barn you bastard.’  Was his uncles response to that request. 

 

The following morning his uncle removed all the paper, notebooks, everything Duncan had to write on from the barn.  Fortunately Duncan had anticipated something like this and had hid his letter home.  That night, undercover of the dark moonless night, he made his way from the barn, down the driveway and the some three miles up the road to a neighbor’s mailbox. 

 

He had no envelope nor stamp.  He had taped the pages closed with duct tape he found in the barn and wrote the to and return addresses the same and put a quarter with the letter and a note begging the letter carrier to deliver it. 

 

He hoped it would make it to his parents before they left to pick him up.

 

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Duncan was sitting on the veranda at the front of the house when his parents pulled in the yard.  He was clean and well dressed, bags setting neatly beside the short railed steps leading onto the veranda by the front door.  His aunt and uncle were sitting in a swing bench talking and laughing while the other boys sat in chairs, all drinking lemonade and appearing to be one big happy family. 

 

The daughter sat smiling talking with Duncan.  It was all quite posed. 

 

His uncle had threatened Duncan, telling him that he was to tell his father and mother of the great time he had there.  He said if he didn’t he was to expect a visit from him in that city of his in the middle of the night.  He was told he’d be shown what a ‘Nam vet is capable of. 

 

When his parents car pulled in the drive, it stopped some hundred feet shy of the house.  Duncan’s father emerged from the drivers side.  The car remained running as he closed the door.  Duncan’s mother stayed in the car and he heard the sound of the power locks as his father strode towards the house. 

 

His gate was unusual.

 

Duncan’s father was considerably smaller than his brother, Duncan’s uncle.  While his uncle stood well over six foot, his father was a mere five foot seven inches.  The uncle was a mountain of a man, very muscular from a life of farm work.  His sons were of much the same build with only the youngest still under six foot.

 

“Get your bags, put them in the car, then get in with your mother.  I need to have a few words with your uncle Duncan.”  His father said about halfway to the house.  The laughter ended on the veranda.  

 

Duncan heard his uncle snort and say, “This ought to be good, get in the house boys, looks like Bradley is a touch angry with me.”

 

Duncan moved without a word.  He grabbed the suitcases and hurried towards the car.  As he passed his father he looked up at him.  He couldn’t remember what his father said, but he could remember his eyes and the look in them.  He had seen that look days before as he lay on the ground and stared up into the eyes of the wolf.  This time though it would be six threats against the one protector.  Duncan looked back at his uncle after he passed his father.  The man had his hands on his hips and wore a smug arrogant smile. 

 

Duncan feared for his father.

           

Once he reached the car Duncan’s mother popped the trunk for him to put his bags in.  He hurried them in and closed the trunk of the large Cadillac.  He heard the doors unlock as his mother made ready for him to enter the car.

 

“Something bugging you Brad?”  He heard his uncle say.  “Inside Russ.”  His father had said.

 

The two men started into the farmhouse and the two remaining sons followed.  “You ladies stay out here, my brother and I seem to have something to talk about.”  His uncle said with threat in his voice as they went in.  The women quickly ran towards the barn and went in.  Duncan had seen the cold fear in their faces. 

 

Shouting started coming from the house.  Then the sound of breaking glass and other items being knocked around soon followed.  Duncan started around the side of the car then burst into a run towards the house.  His mother had stepped from the car yelling after him to ‘get back here and get in this car’, she didn’t want him to see what was happening in the house.  She didn’t come after him though. 

 

Some things a boy needed to learn on his own.

 

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When Duncan arrived at the farmhouse he ducked in behind some bushes and peered in a window near where the sounds had come from.  They had oddly stopped.  He heard his uncle’s voice as Duncan saw the situation.  “You always were not so bright Brad.  Walking in here, six to one.”  Russ laughed. 

 

Duncan saw the two eldest boys behind his father holding his arms.  His uncle had his back to the window.  Duncan could hardly see his father as the others surrounded him.  His uncle was rolling up his sleeves, preparing to beat his father while he was held.  Two of the other sons were doing as their father was, rolling up their sleeves while the youngest who was Duncan’s age procured a bat from a closet.

 

“Just like when we were boys eh Brad?”  Russ said.  “Time to get your ass beat again.”  The group laughed.  His uncle started to put up his dukes, making ready to beat his father’s face.  “Your little pretty boy face won’t be the same when I’m done with you this time brother ol’ boy.”  His uncle stated as he moved in front of Duncan’s father.

 

As the others moved around Duncan was able to see his fathers face.  His eyes.  There was no fear in them.  Again, he recognized the look.  His eyes were feral.  There was no sign of defeat in his father at all.  His face was calm and his breathing was even and steady.  Something inside Duncan said his uncle and sons were outmanned.  Six to one, they would still come up short. 

 

Duncan had never seen his father mad before.  Never heard him raise his voice.  Even when Duncan had been bad and earned a spanking, he had never raised his voice.  Duncan’s father was always a man of control.  He metered himself in everything.  He never ‘lost his cool’.  Even now, he was calm and in control of himself. 

 

Duncan found himself smiling. 

 

It was at that point Duncan’s father saw him in the corner of the window.  His father looked him directly in the eyes and his mouth formed a light smile.  Then he winked at Duncan as his brothers fist came forward.  What happened next, at the time, was amazing to Duncan. 

 

He had always seen his father as a kind, somewhat meek man.  Not one to fight or cause trouble.  He never would have expected his father to be able to manhandle six muscle bound oafs.  But facts are facts, and he witnessed the events with his own eyes. 

 

When there was no chance of his brother stopping the blow, some inches from his face, Brad exchanged his position with that of the eldest son.  The concussive blow to the young mans face included the sound of breaking bones which resulted in Brad being able to free his left arm. 

 

The second eldest boy was stunned by what had just happened and failed to react quick enough to prevent the next action from Duncan’s father, which was to remove him from his standing position to that of a horizontal one and as a projectile towards Russ. 

 

The youngest did react, swinging the bat down towards Brad’s head.  Brad grabbed the bat with his left hand and thrust it backwards into the face of the operator, the flared butt end connecting with the young boys face just below the nose.  This action contained a considerable amount of force as at the same time, Brad’s foot connected with the under part of son number four’s chin. 

 

The youngest son’s face exploded.  The end of the bat made it about halfway into his mouth.  He was out of the fight.  Son number three lunged forward as the bat seemed to hover in the air, as did his father who had not a foot on the ground. 

 

Brad’s hands came together as the third son arrived, open palmed in a clapping motion on each side of the boys ears.  This was shortly followed by one of Brad’s knees connecting with the underside of this boys chin.  He flew backwards and past where son number two and Russ were righting themselves following the collision of the two, tumbling them to the ground. 

 

Brad retrieved the bat from midair and holding it like a battering ram, introduced the second son’s breadbasket area to the Louisville Slugger.  As the boy crumpled to the floor the contents of his stomach arrived slightly before the boys face.

 

Russ had turned his back on his brother, reaching into the drawer of a small table across from the window Duncan was observing from.  As his son landed face down in vomit, he turned and was holding a forty-five caliber automatic pistol, the hammer already cocked. 

 

Russ aimed the gun at Duncan’s father who moved in a flash.  His uncle had pulled the trigger, his father however had moved his hand forward placing the webbing between his thumb and index finger between the hammer of the pistol and the firing pin.  His father’s hand closed around the pistol.

 

Brad’s face was calm.  The clip fell from the gun, and with another sudden move, his father moved the breach back, ejecting the chambered round and locking the gun in a loading position.  Russ had a look of awe on his face as Brad calmly and with ease, removed the gun from his brother’s hand.

 

“Boys, collect your wounded and leave.”  Duncan’s father said to the two groaning boys who were still conscious.  Brad stepped back and locked eyes with his brother, allowing room for the two boys to retrieve the limp bodies of their siblings and retreat. 

 

That was Duncan’s cue to bolt back to the car.  He was about halfway to the Cadillac when he heard his father growl and roar.  This was followed by the voice of his uncle screaming and begging for mercy.

 

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Duncan sat in the back of the large Cadillac silently and stared at the barn where the ladies were hiding.  Inside the car he was safe from the sounds that were coming from the farmhouse.  His mother sat unmoving in the passenger seat ahead of him.

 

“Linda, Tracey!”  Duncan heard his father’s voice yell drawing his attention forward.  He was about half way to the car and was standing at the edge of the path that led to the barn.  Duncan could see red on his fathers tight black shirt and pants.  The red was on his hands, arms and face also.  He was wet with sweat. 

 

The two ladies emerged from the barn, timidly.  Brad motioned them closer.  “It’s all right.  Come here please.”  Duncan’s father called out to them.  The two ladies moved slow the first few steps, then the daughter followed as the mother broke into a quick run. 

 

Duncan couldn’t make out what was said.  He watched as the two ladies nodded and cried.  When Duncan’s father turned and headed to the waiting car the two ladies ran back into the barn. 

 

When his father climbed into the drivers seat it was then Duncan noticed the seat was covered in plastic, he heard the sound of it and looked.  He looked to his feet with understanding.

 

A deep sigh came from his father and he hesitated a moment before putting the Cadillac into drive.  The car  made a U-turn in the yard and headed down the driveway.  His father turned up the road, opposite the direction they should have turned to head home. 

 

They turned left into a driveway across from a mailbox marked ‘Cromwell’, the one Duncan had placed his letter home in.  They went to the farmhouse.  They were warmly greeted by the couple there and their two remaining adult children. 

 

When young Duncan was introduced to their daughter Betty, he found himself having difficulty responding to her.  He was captivated by her eyes and smile.  He’d just recently started taking an interest in girls.  She was four years older than he.  Duncan thought to himself, when he was old enough to drive, he might have to come back and visit the Cromwell’s.  Especially Betty.

 

The family welcomed them into their home and his father went upstairs to utilized their shower while the family entertained their guests.  Once his father returned, the Cromwell’s served an early lunch after which the husband of the house and his father left the group.  They talked in a private room for about fifteen minutes.

 

“I’ll take care of it Brad, you can count on that.”  Mr. Cromwell was saying as they exited the room and the two men shook hands. “I know everyone at the bus station personally, my son manages the place.  Won’t have any problems arranging things.”  He finished.

 

Duncan looked at his father.  He had the look of a protector in his eyes still.  He though of the wolf again.  The power behind the look.

 

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When they arrived home, Duncan’s father took his bags.  “Get something to eat, you’re probably hungry by now.”  He said to Duncan with a gentle voice and a smile.  Duncan nodded and headed to the kitchen. 

 

He had grabbed some milk and cereal and mixed the two in a bowl on the island in the kitchen.  He had taken his first mouthful from the bowl when he noticed an opened letter on the table.  It bore an airmail next day service emblem in the upper right hand corner.  ‘Open Immediately!’ was written above the address to be delivered to.  It was postmarked from the area he had just spent a week in.  Milk dribbled down Duncan’s chin as he reached for the letter.  Inside the envelope he found his letter home and a note. 

 

He read the note that accompanied his letter:

 

Dear Mr. Galt, my name is Evelyn Wolf, this letter was in the Cromwell’s mailbox addressed to this address.  It had no envelope or postage, only a quarter I assumed was to pay for the postage.  Forgive me, but I did read this letter, I am paying to have it rushed to you.

 

In our area, we know how violent your brother is, and if your son is staying there, he is in danger!  Russ Galt is a cruel and evil man.  Please contact the Cromwell’s at the enclosed number.  They will be talking with the sheriff.

 

Evelyn Wolf.

 

Duncan began to cry.  He didn’t notice his father enter the room.  He felt his father’s hands on his shoulders. 

 

“You never know son, where you will find friends.”  His dad said softly.

 

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It was two weeks later Linda and her daughter Tracey arrived at their doorstep.  The marks of their trials clearly visible on their faces and arms. 

 

Brad had told them when they departed, should they decide to leave, the Cromwell’s would help them to the bus station.  Tickets for the two of them would be waiting and enough money to get them safely to the home Bradley and Connie Galt.

 

“You’re father said we could come here.”  Linda said to Duncan in a shattered voice.  Tracey looked empty and hollow. “Are your parents home?”  She asked.

 

“No, but you are now.”  Duncan said to her holding the door open and extending an arm of welcome to the inside of their house.  “Drop your luggage at the door, I’ll take care of it for you.”  He told them.  “We have a room waiting for you.”

 

“Thank you.”  Linda said with tears streaming down her face.

 

Duncan took their bags and led them upstairs to a large bedroom with two beds made on either side of the room complete with nightstands.  After he placed their bags by the door he told them he would set the table and put out some food.  He apologized for his lack of cooking abilities and his parents not being there. 

 

Tracey was silent, standing by the bags next to the door.  “You never know where you will find friends”  Duncan said to her and smiled.  She smiled back as tears began to form in her eyes.  Duncan left for the kitchen.

 

Duncan sat bolt upright in bed covered in sweat, his dream still vivid in his mind.  He looked at the alarm clock beside his bed, it was almost four in the morning.  He shook his head trying to clear the memories from his past that kept returning to him in his dreams.  He had other dreams that repeated themselves, this one was the least disturbing and the only one that was a real event.

 

Taking a deep breath he laid back in bed, waiting for his heart to stop racing.  He watched the display on his ceiling tick away, at 4:05am, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up.  He’d take his shower now and start his day.

 

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The chime of the grandfather clock in the living room whispered in Duncan’s ears.  He’d never made it to his lab like he’d planned, spending the entire day at his computer working.  The shops in the town would be closing soon, and Zed Diller would have his order waiting for him.  He saved his work, climbed from his chair and moved back looking at the monitor a few steps then finally turned and left the den.

 

He needed to get going now if he was going to pick up his order and be back before nightfall.  A storm was heading their way, areas along the path were already under severe thunderstorm warnings, his area still had the watch going.  The sky was still blue and clear as he looked up on his way to the garage.

 

He was a few miles down the main road into town when he flipped on the radio to listen to the weather report.  A car was coming up on him fast, it had it’s emergency lights on and Duncan pulled off on the side of the road.  The sheriff’s squad car blew by him, no siren only the flashers going.  “Must be a good sale on doughnuts.”  Duncan commented to himself with a smirk as he pulled back onto the road.

 

Town was quiet as he turned around in the street and parked in front of the hardware store.  Zed had his camera out again at the front of the store when he walked in.  “Duncan!  Was thinking you wasn’t gonna make it today after all.”  The owner greeted him as he walked in.

 

Duncan shrugged with his palms out near his waist.  “Got into what I was working on, lost track of time.  Had planned on swinging by the lab, that’s not happening now.”  He said with a smile.

 

Zed brought a cart filled with his order on it.  “I got the grocery items you wanted also.  Harland was coming this way anyways, so no delivery charge this time.”  He told Duncan as he handed him the invoice for his order.  He pulled out his credit card and paid, then Zed helped him carry his purchases out to his truck.

 

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The sky was getting dark; deep clouds were rolling in.  It looked like the thunderstorm was about to hit.  Nightfall would be in a couple hours.  Duncan had just finished loading his purchases into the back of his truck.  Days like this he was glad he’d made the investment of a cover for the box.

 

He released the straps that held the box cover neatly rolled up and unfurled it down the length of the truck bed.  Looking at the sky briefly he began snapping the cover over its payload.  He’d be home well before sundown, but he would definitely be carrying in his goods in the rain. 

 

A cool wind lapped at Duncan’s arms as the snaps grasped each other with their ‘click’ sound.  He acknowledged the smell of rain and looked towards the black edge of the grey sky again.

 

This is going to be a big one.’ He heard someone say.

 

Yeah, a real turd floater for sure.’ Another voice replied.

 

Huge low pressure ridge the weatherman said.  The first man commented.

 

May get a couple inches, we sure could use the rain, as long as there ain’t any flash flooding.  The second voice affirmed.

 

My south field is going to be a mud pit for sure.  The first voice stated.

 

Yeah, I best be gittin’ on home, get the horses inside.  The second man answered.

 

Catch ya letter Marty.

 

Take care Hank.

 

Duncan finished with the snaps.  Right you are, going to be a real turd floater.  He thought to himself, overhearing the two talking.  He’d checked NOAA this morning, storm was almost right on time. 

 

He looked around the small town; watching people as they scurried about making ready for the approaching weather about to hit them.  Even though he’d been a fulltime neighboring resident for over eight years now, there were only a few people he actually knew. 

 

Everyone seemed to know him though.  Small towns loved to talk. 

 

He knew there was a mystery about himself.  It wasn’t odd that he didn’t frequent town much, most of the families from the country only made a weekly or biweekly trip to town.  His were more of a monthly stop; he had most of his needs delivered even though he passed through town daily.  He wasn’t fond of leaving his property.

 

She doesn’t fit in around here.  He thought to himself, spotting a young girl, dressed in black denim and leather with silver snaps and buckles showing on the surface of her clothing.  Her skin was paste white, hair jet black.  Though he couldn’t see them from this distance, there was something about her eyes.  He could feel them on him.  She had jewelry in her ears and face.  New York gothic style. 

 

Defiantly not from around here. 

 

He looked away and hurried from the back of the truck to the drivers side door, looking back to her once as he moved.  Her eyes were still on him and she was moving in his direction from across the street and about a block down.

 

He opened the door quickly and reached behind the seat grabbing the sawed off 4-10 shotgun from its custom made holster on the side frame of the truck.  Duncan cocked the gun and pulled it up, out of sight of anyone nearby and keeping it behind the frame of the door of the truck. 

 

He looked back towards where the girl should be.  She wasn’t there.  He quickly looked around the area near where she’d been; then across the street to where he guessed she should’ve been based on how fast she was walking if she’d crossed the street. 

 

Nothing. 

 

“Is that legal length?”   Duncan heard a voice say.

 

Turning he looked over the door of the truck, the Sheriff was standing near the front of his truck next to the open door.  His eyes moved from the gun to Duncan.

 

Duncan looked back to the street behind him.  Still nothing.  He un-cocked the gun and shoved it back into the holster. “No.” He said without looking at the Sheriff as he climbed into the truck. 

 

The Sheriff's arm was atop the door but he quickly moved it when Duncan pulled the door to close it.  The Sheriff moved directly across from the door as Duncan put his key in the ignition and cranked the truck to life. 

 

He could tell the Sheriff had his hands on his hips while he watched him.  Duncan looked forward, not acknowledging the Sheriff any further, put the truck in gear and drove off. 

 

Its not sunset yet.  I was over reacting.  Duncan thought to himself as he drove towards home.  He looked at the now fully black sky.  Rain was starting to fall and thunder could be heard.  They can’t be out even in this light.  They wouldn’t even be up yet, despite the weather and the dark.  He assured himself. 

 

Duncan flipped a switch on the dash of his truck then stomped the accelerator of the truck.  It sprang to life shooting his speed up from the posted fifty-five miles per hour to a hundred and forty in seconds.  The radio couldn’t be heard over the power plant under the hood and the oversized exhaust it exhaled though.  He turned on the wipers and lights.  It was getting very dark.

 

He glanced in the mirror and saw headlights behind him.  They were keeping pace with him, not diminishing in the distance.  The Sheriff would have hit his cherry bombs by now if it were him.  Duncan thought. 

 

His turn was coming up soon.  He slowed as he approached his turn flipping the switch he had used back off.  He took the turn at sixty, watching the headlights approaching from his left.  The road normally would have been dust covered from him turning onto it, the main road was tar, his was dirt, the rain kept that down. 

 

He saw the Sheriff’s car blow by the turn.  He backed his hand away from the switch on the dash and put his attention back on the road ahead of him and accelerated hard.  Without looking, he flipped the switch on the dash again engaging the supercharger and nitrous.  He felt an urgency to get home.  It was too dark.

 

He turned into his driveway as the whine of the engine upgrades died down.  It was a full downpour now.  The storm had erupted into a full scaled thunder-boomer; high winds, raindrops the size of marbles and a night like sky lit by lightning.  Actual sunset was still just over an hour away. 

 

Duncan stared at the clock on his dash radio a few seconds after he had pulled into the garage.  Putting the truck into gear he backed out of the garage and pulled right up to the house and backed the truck to the step.  He only undid the first two snaps on each side of the cover and dropped the tailgate.  He jumped towards the door, unlocked it and propped the storm door open then began pitching his goods into the house. 

 

He wasn’t wasting any time.  It was too dark.  It was night dark, even though sunset hadn’t happened yet, better to error on the side of caution.  He climbed into the box, under the cover and pulled the last of his goods towards the tailgate and hurried them inside.  He slammed the tailgate shut once done and locked the house then quickly drove the truck to the garage leaving ruts from the effort in the yard. 

 

Closing the garage door with the remote, he didn’t bother to re-snap the cover down when he left the truck.  “Good enough till morning” he said to himself as he ran out of the garage side door, slamming it shut and continuing on at a dead run to the front door of the house. 

 

He already had his keys in his hands and looked around in a distressed manner as he let himself in.  The yard lights were already on.  Too dark.

 

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After the Sheriff watched Duncan head out he went into the hardware store to talk to the owner, he said he had a picture of a suspected identify thief.  His deputy had walked the back street behind the bus station and gone into the station to talk with the man running the place.  He was only in the store a couple minutes, Zed like to talk but he made his visit short.

 

His deputy was on his way up the sidewalk from the bus station when he left the store.  “Anything?”  He asked calling out to him as he approached.  The deputy’s head shook.  “Nothing Sheriff.”  He waited for the man to get to him then the two went back to their squad car.  His deputy asked him about what happened with Duncan Galt as they walked.  He gave him a brief rundown, mainly go get him off his ass.

 

Sheriff Thomas Hanks looked at the picture Zed had given him again then unlocked the cruiser and climbed in.  He pulled off heading the same direction Duncan Galt had gone on his way back to the Sheriff’s station in the next town.  Once cross the four lane that crossed the road they were on the Sheriff opened the throttle.  He noticed James look over at the speedometer.

 

“Going a bit fast aren’t you Sheriff, we’re not on a call.”  His deputy stated looking out the front.  Thomas inhaled deep and released his breath then accelerated more bringing the squad just over a hundred miles an hour.  He heard James scoff.  “We have a picture of the perp now, I think we should get that out on the wire as fast as we can, good enough for you James?”

 

The deputy shook his head and scoffed again.  “I think you’re just using that as an excuse, Sheriff.”  He answered.  “You’ve got a lead foot, we aren’t on a call, no reason for going this fast.”  He commented as the radar unit lit up with the speed of the vehicle they were approaching.

 

Both men glanced at the readout, 55 it said.  The Sheriff was reaching for his flasher and siren controls so he could pass the vehicle safely when the radar unit made a noise indicating a speeder.  The readout shot up to 147 mph.  The squad roared as the Sheriff put the pedal to the floor.  He could see it was Galt’s truck ahead of them now but he never turned on the lights.

 

He took his foot off the gas and let the car coast down as he watched Galt’s truck swing down his road home.  “Why didn’t you stop him?”  The deputy asked the Sheriff as they passed where Duncan Galt had turned off, rather abruptly.  The deputy’s face was excited and exasperated.

 

“Because, he was just on his way home.”  The Sheriff said in a growly voice.

 

The deputy looked out the back window with a confused look on his face, then over at the readout on the radar.  “He was over a hundred and forty Sheriff, that’s very reckless driving.” 

 

The Sheriff sighed and pursed his lips.  “He was in a hurry to get home.”  He looked briefly over at the deputy, then back at the road.  “And I don’t want to know why.”  He finished.

 

The two continued down the road in silence for almost five minutes before the deputy spoke again. “What about the gun?  You said it was chopped down to about a foot, for a shotgun, why didn’t you take it from him and arrest him then?”  His deputy asked without looking at him. 

 

He stared forward, his face set in an agitated serious manner.  The Sheriff chewed on his bottom lip.  He could tell by the deputy’s tone he was demanding an explanation, or else he’d be talking to the state office informing them of his failure to enforce the law, and talking to his union people too. 

 

He gave an angry exhale.  “James,” he started, his eyes glimmered slightly.  “what I am about to tell you, can go no further than this car, I would rather not tell you, but if I don’t you’ll be crying to the state about how I didn’t do my job properly and becoming even a bigger thorn in my ass than you already are.”  He looked over at the deputy. 

 

“We clear on that?”  he asked, looking back at the road then back at the deputy waiting for his answer.  The deputy had an angry look on his face as he stared forward.  “I said are we clear?  This never leaves this car.” 

 

“Yeah, we’re clear, Sheriff.”  The deputy said, finishing with a sour note.

 

“Mr. Galt, Duncan, he has a doctorate in bio sciences, some heavy stuff, with a specialty in forensic evaluation.  He’s no lightweight, he worked for the CIA, investigations, field agent.  I’ve seen some of his files.”  The Sheriff gave a glance over to his deputy.  “Before he started his research in agriculture and his business in hydroponics and growing better crops, which has been very profitable for him, he worked in very sensitive areas.  Very dangerous avenues, you get what I mean?”

 

“He was a federal agent, so?”  The deputy replied.

 

“Listen you moron, he wasn’t just an agent, sitting in some office, he was out in the field, he is very well trained, people like him don’t spook easily.  Back in town, he was spooked.”  The Sheriff looked over at the deputy who looked back at him, his face displayed his sore attitude.  “Sometimes kid, it’s best just to walk away.  I’m the Sheriff and I’m smart enough to know when to keep my nose out of things, sometimes it’s better if you don’t know.”

 

“I will be taking this to the union, and the state.  You neglected your responsibilities and are afraid to do your job.  That’s the way I see it.  That’s what I’m going to tell the state.”  He replied. 

 

“Do whatever you want James.  You’re just pissed I beat your daddy in the election is all.  You’ve had it out for me since I took this job.”  The Sheriff pushed back on the steering wheel as he leaned back in his seat. 

 

“Been nothing but a pain in my ass, everything I do that you don’t agree with, you go whining to the state or the union.  If I could fire your ass I would, but according to the union, I don’t have the grounds.  I use my best judgment in situations, and you fight me every inch of the way.  If you put your effort into doing your job and trying to understand why I do things, you might just make a good deputy.  Instead, you aren’t worth two squirts of piss as a deputy.”  The Sheriff ended.

 

“That’s abuse of a subordinate right there Sheriff.”  James responded.

 

“Whatever you call it, it’s the straight truth, you don’t have to like the truth, doesn’t change it any Jimmy.”  The Sheriff chuckled, he knew he hated being called ‘Jimmy’.  “Tell you what Jimmy boy, you go ahead and investigate Mr. Galt, with my blessing, I’ll turn over every file I have on him and the case is all yours.”  The Sheriff said with a smile as he looked over at him. 

 

They were almost back to their hometown now.  Another four miles.  The deputy’s eyes narrowed slightly.  “Why the hell would you do that?  This is a nothing investigation.  It’s an illegal gun.  I confiscate it and arrest him.  Case closed.  I do a job you failed to.  It would actually be good for me.” 

 

The deputy looked over at the Sheriff.  Suspicion on his face.  “Why would you turn it over to me?"  He asked. 

 

The Sheriff guffawed.  “It’s not that simple, he had pulled the gun, in town.  He was looking back at someone, or something.”  The Sheriff glanced over at his deputy.

 

“You need to find out why.  Why was he pulling the gun, you have a report that he had it out in town, you need to follow that up.  Who or what was he planning on using it on.  Why does he have it in the first place.  There’s a lot more to this than just a simple illegal gun, there is a target and a motive.”  The Sheriff wore a smile now.

 

“Fine.”  The deputy snorted.  “That still doesn’t answer why you would turn it over to me.”  He demanded. 

 

“That’s simple Jimmy.”  The Sheriff looked over then back to the road.  “Don’t you watch the movies?  In cases like this, it’s the nosy deputy that never comes back.  Then it’s a state problem, not mine.” 

 

The Sheriff looked back at his deputy as he tapped the brake to take the cruise control off.  He was chuckling.  Once he stopped his eerie chuckle he said “As a law enforcement officer, my job is to prevent trouble and deal with it when it happens, not to go out looking for it.”

 

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Duncan jumped over the supplies he had piled in the entry of his home only to jump back to the door to verify it was locked.  He looked out the window.  The rain was pouring down.  Even the concrete slab in front of the door that was under the extension of the roof that gave the building a six foot by six foot square covered entry was completely wet. 

 

He looked intently around at the yard to the tree line, the rain made it hard to see even with the numerous yard lights that burned brightly.  The yard had countless telephone poles planted in it.  Only a few had lights mounted on them.  The others had odd black devices that glimmered black in the light and rain.

 

Duncan made his way to his basement.  It was not a typical basement, once down the long stairs there was a short hall, maybe four foot in length, that led through a steel door that resembled a vault or bulkhead door on a ship.  The walls were very thick, as were the walls on the house. 

 

The room he entered into looked like a security control room, filled with monitors displaying all areas of the house and the yard around it, including the inside of the garage and the other three out buildings.  He checked indicators on some panels, then pressed some buttons.  Nodding at the displays ‘good, good’ he said and returned upstairs. 

 

He checked his clock and nodded. 

 

Near the entry, where his packages were still piled he opened a small hidden door in the wall that revealed a control panel.  He pushed a button and there was the sound of motors and clacking.  Steel curtains that looked like the doors of roll top desks quickly streamed down between the two layers of thick glass that formed the windows in the over a foot thick walls.  They rolled to the bottom and the sound of hooks locking into them securing them could be heard ending with a muffled clunk. 

 

He touched a few more buttons and other hidden panels opened in the walls in the rooms throughout the house revealing the hidden monitors of the security network.  They powered up and displayed the views of different cameras around the yard.

 

“One hour till sunset.”  He said to the empty room, with a nod he went to his pile of boxes and began putting his supplies away.

 

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All the boxes had been moved to the storage room and he had emptied most of them and put their contents in their proper places.

 

DING DONG  Chimed through the house, followed by what sounded like frantic pounding on his front door.  But that was impossible.  Duncan stood quickly and froze in place.  A shocked look mixed with horror on his face.  Had he looked in a mirror he would have seen all the blood had drained from his face leaving it paste white.

 

“Who in the hell…”  He murmured.

 

Duncan stepped without sound as he cautiously made his way to the front door.  The door was of the same design as the door in the basement only with the appearance of a normal entry door of a house with a half light window.  Only now a steel curtain that was locked in place obscured the view.  The house was ‘tank proof’ by his design.

 

Duncan looked at the monitors next to the door.  There were two.  One showed the view at the front door, the other the display from a camera that panned around the yard near the front door.  He squinted as he looked at the front door monitor.  There was someone there, someone he recognized.  It was the paste white girl dressed in black from town.  She had followed him here. 

 

Now he could see her strange eyes.  Her lips had several rings in them, her ears were covered in earrings of various types.  There was one ring in her nose between her nostrils that had a fine link chain that went from her ear to the ring.  All in a silver color. 

 

He could see her mouth moving as she pounded on the door, she kept looking behind her as though someone, or something, was coming for her.  Her face showed true terror as she pounded on the door again.  Duncan keyed on the intercom to hear what she was saying.

 

“Help!  Please help, let me in!  Is anyone there?”  She looked back and surveyed the area behind her.  When she looked back her face was even more panicked. “Oh no, oh shit!”  She half yelled then tried kicking the door in.  Her foot hit the door a lot harder than he thought she could kick. 

 

“That is a reinforced door miss.  You could drive a car into it and it wouldn’t give.  Who are you and what do you want?”  Duncan asked as he looked to the other monitor and took control of the camera, panning it around the area behind her to see what she was afraid of.

 

“Mister, please, let me in, I’m in danger, they are going to kill me please mister please help me, let me in!”  Her voice pleaded, full of terror. 

 

It sounded very convincing. 

 

Not seeing anything on the monitor, then checking his motion detectors, nothing.  He turned his attention back to the monitor with the young gothic girl on it.  “I must say, you do sound most convincing, however, I’m not buying it.  There is nothing out there.  You followed me here from town, now, you can go your way.  Enjoy the rain.”  Duncan said coldly but with a smile on his face. 

 

He opened a hidden panel under the monitors.  The panel had several controls on them, his finger was hovering over the one that was labeled ‘Venus’. 

 

Her eyes were not human looking.  He zoomed the military grade camera in on her to get a closer look at her eyes. “You’re not human, but you’re not one of them, least I think your not.”  He said only to himself.

 

“I didn’t follow you, well, I wanted to talk to you, I hitched a ride on your truck, so yeah I did follow you I guess, please, help me!”  She pleaded.

 

“Right, let you in so you can help your friends who are hiding get in with your help?  Sure thing babe, do you think I’m stupid?”  Duncan remarked to her.

 

She looked back towards the yard behind her again.  This time she held the look for a good five seconds.  “Frell!  They’re here, please, help me!”  She pleaded when she looked back to the door and pounded again. 

 

“I think I’ll just watch and see what happens, in here in safety.”  He smiled as he said that.  “I’m sure your friends will be upset with your failure, but I am sure you are in no personal danger.”

 

“Duncan Galt, Galt labs, former CIA scientist, left their service after unexplained events.  My grandfather saved your life.  Remember the large dog that pulled the ‘strange animal’ from you?"  She screamed at the door. 

 

Duncan was in a moment of shock but was suddenly broke from it as the motion detector alarms went off, all of them.  He jerked himself from the image of the girl and looked to the yard monitor.  “Frell!” He exclaimed as he saw the yard filled with familiar ‘strange animals’ coming from the tree line.

 

He hammered his finger on the button that was labeled ‘Venus’ and the yard became like high noon on the equator. 

 

He watched the monitor as the humanoid figures in the yard exploded.  “Bastards found me.”  He ejected in a voice that was as angry as it was scared.  “That bitch led them to me, she was one of them.  Hope you like the light of Venus.”  Duncan said as he laughed to himself in victory.  “Glad to know it works so well.”

 

He was enjoying his success and victory when he became aware of a screaming voice coming from the intercom speaker.  His attention was drawn back to the monitor that was focused on the front door.  The girl was curled into a ball, covering her eyes with her hands and screaming at the top of her lungs. 

 

That’s really and odd saying, top of ones lungs, when you think about it, wouldn’t you be using the bottoms actually?  Expelling all of the air to scream?’ Was the thought in Duncan’s mind as he looked at her.

 

“She’s still alive?!”  He said loudly in a shocked voice.  “She can’t be one of …”  Duncan didn’t bother to finish his thought.  He scrambled to the control panel. 

 

Calmly he pressed a button labeled ‘door shields’ then looked back to the monitor.  Steel curtains hammered down around the covered entry from the roof above, securing the girl from the critters outside, and cutting off the intense light.  The only light now was from the porch light that was mounted in the ceiling of the overhang that made the covered entry.

 

Duncan looked at the monitor again and the young girl still in a ball displayed as his mind raced.  The information she yelled out about him, wouldn’t be hard to find out, most of it anyways.  But there was more than just the ‘strange events’ that had happened, and she had mentioned it.  A small detail he never mentioned to the company, or anyone else.  He’d kept his mouth shut about being helped by another unexplainable creature.  The words of his father ran through his mind again.

 

What were his options?  Raise the curtains and send her to her death?  Reporting the incident to the company… he wasn’t keen on a one way trip to South America, and he couldn’t just leave her in his entryway.  Looking back at the control panel, after a moment of hesitation, he pressed the button that unsecured the door itself and one that said weapons. 

 

The steel curtain could be heard sliding up from the door and the pins anchoring the door clicking into an unlocked position.  A small door opened beside the front door, inside a sawed off shotgun much like the one in his truck.  Duncan grabbed it, cocked it and then unlocked the deadbolt and knob lock of the front door. 

 

He aimed the gun out the door as he opened it.  He stepped back when his eyes took in the animal face that greeted him, but he held his fire.  Slowly the face returned to that of the girl he had seen in town, and spoken with through the monitor.

 

“What the frell are you?”  he shouted at her.

 

“You know what I am mister Galt.”  She huffed back in a husky voice.  “Just like you know what was chasing me, and what’s hunting you.” She stood and the two faced off looking at each other.  The girl was breathing heavily and soaking wet.  Duncan’s palms were sticky and cold as he held the shotgun on her.  “May I come in?”  She finally asked.

 

“Cross the threshold if you can, without an invitation.”  Duncan said to her. 

 

The girl rolled her eyes at him.  “That’s only supposed to apply to vampires you know.”  She said.

 

He was held, not in her gaze, but in her face.  There was something about her face that made him… trust was too strong of a word; feel not threatened?  Her face seemed familiar to him, he didn't know why.  Something inside said she wasn’t here to kill him, rather the opposite.  “Yeah, and you’re a pretty little werewolf.  Enter if you can, without my permission.”  Duncan iterated. 

 

“Fine!  I was only trying to be polite.”  She responded as she opened the storm door and stepped across the threshold.

 

Duncan stepped back as she moved inside and raised the shotgun up as he would if he were putting it to his shoulder had it had a stock.  “I think the time for pleasantries was passed some time ago.”  He said as he gazed at her and blinked a few times.  He could smell her now, her scent had a calming effect.

 

“Well, you did call me a pretty little werewolf, I thought we were being polite.”  She retorted as she reached back to close and lock the door. 

 

“Stating the obvious is just that, stating the obvious, doesn’t imply being polite.”  Duncan stated.

 

The girl stepped forward and as she did Duncan stepped back.  She looked at the monitors, then at the control panel.  As she reached for the panel Duncan yelled, “Keep your hands off that!”

 

She gave him a sideways glance.  “I would have asked permission, but we aren’t being polite.”  She replied.  Duncan watched her intently as her finger moved over the button that said it secured the front door.  He gripped the gun firmly but held his fire.  She pressed the button and the sounds of the door being secured returned.

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-The-Protectors-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

“Are you going to keep that thing aimed at me the entire time?”  She asked with an unimpressed candor.  “First, it wouldn’t kill me, piss me off yes; second, you have that loaded for cruor combibo, not for my kind.”

 

“For what?”  Duncan asked squinting at her, not understanding what she said.  “Cruor combibo, blood suckers.”  She informed him. 

 

“Latin, yes.”  He wasn’t fresh on his Latin. 

 

“Sorry, vampires.  Cruor combibo.”  She said.

 

His eyes walked over her face again, he couldn’t help feeling they’d met before.  She’s not pretty.’ Duncan thought as he lowered the shotgun, “You’re beautiful.”  He said, finishing his thought out loud.  He stammered a bit, not intending to say his thought out loud, and became embarrassed when he realized he did.

 

The girl scoffed with a head wag.  “Please, you don’t have to try and flatter me, I’m a werewolf, we protect humankind from vampires.  If I were here to kill you, I would have by now.  As I said, your weapon is no threat to me.”  She stated as her nostrils faired.  Duncan raised the shotgun again.

 

Her face gave a quick look of shock and surprise as she looked at him and took in his scent.  “You’re aroused!  You really do think I am attractive!”  She commented with her surprise blatant in her voice. 

 

“Why does that shock you?  You’re young, attractive.  How could I not notice that?”  Duncan replied.

 

“Well, not as young as you think.  It’s just that no one has ever found me attractive before.  Least not in my clan or those of my kind.”  She said. 

 

“Well, I guess that still holds true then, because sister, I ain’t one of your kind.”  He stated with chide. 

 

Looking at him with a slighted face she crossed her arms and leaned back slightly from her waist with a foot forward that she started tapping as she looked from the end of the shotgun to his eyes.  He stared back at her and adjusted his grip on the gun.  I must be out of my mind.’ He thought to himself as he stared at her.  After several moments of standing and staring at each other, with a snort he lowered the shotgun from its aim at her midriff.

 

Duncan reached past her, keeping his eyes on her, and put the shotgun away.  Once in its place and the panels closed he quickly moved away from her.  She was still dripping from the rain and forming a growing puddle on the linoleum floor of the foyer .

 

He returned his eyes to hers.  “Who are you and what do you want with me?”  Duncan asked.

 

The girl’s defensive expression faded from her pale face.  Her frame and being seemed to become stolid.  Though she didn’t actually move any, she appeared to wilt.  Duncan’s experience told him this was uncharacteristic of the ‘young girl’.  Her eyes moved down. 

 

Her eyes.  Duncan remembered back to his boyhood days.  Until he moved here his life had been that of a city-dweller.  His country life experience had been limited to the week at his uncle’s farm being mocked by his country cousins who taunted and teased him because of his lack of knowledge of the woods and farm. 

 

His dream ran through his head, it was the one that reoccurred the most.  He was thinking about the time in the woods, when the wolf had him pinned.  Looking up into its eyes, He remembered the eyes, how they looked and how they stared at him.  Their threat, and how the wolf in the end had helped him.

 

“Could I at least get a towel?”  The girl asked.  Duncan snapped back to reality.  Her eyes, they were like the wolf’s.  The wolf had helped him.  His memory softened his stance some. 

 

You never know where you will find friends.  His fathers words from so many years back echoed in his mind.  He gazed into the girl’s eyes.  It wasn’t just the look the wolf had that reflected in them, the grey and yellow, they were the eyes of a wolf.

 

“Oh, sorry, yes.  Wait here, I’ll get you a towel”  Duncan said to her as he finally took note of the puddle she was in.  “You’re probably chilled to the bone now too.”  He said as he moved off towards the bath. 

 

She gave no reply. 

 

When he returned she was staring at the yard monitor.  The lights were still on.  “Here, a couple towels, and um, a robe….”  He said to the girl and slid a chair to her.  “Take your boots and socks off, I’ll take your coat and hang it to dry.”  She smiled softly and did as he suggested, then applied the towels to her soaked clothes as Duncan reached for the controls and turned the Venus lights off.

 

“If you head to the light in the hall, I have the shower ready for you, you can disrobe and set your clothes outside the door and get showered and warmed up while I run your clothes through the washer and dryer.  Robe is hanging on the back of the door, you can use.”  He was starting to act like a good host, the tension between them eased a bit. 

 

He still didn’t trust her.

 

“Thank you Mr. Galt.”  She said as she stood and bowed from the waist lightly then made her way towards the bathroom.

 

While she showered Duncan prepared her clothes for the washer, ensuring everything was out of the pockets.  Some of the items were, odd, to say the least.  A corked bottle that by the lack of smell from the contents he thought to be water, cell phone and some cash.  Nothing he would have considered dangerous. 

 

There were two daggers, one on each of the outsides of her boots.  They were small, the blade barely 4 inches long with a short handle, they had an odd color and were very light.  Probably decorative for the boots given her manner of dress.  He turned the boots upside down on a rack to dry. 

One item that did catch his eye was a laminated card.  It was only an inch or so wide and about two inches long.  He missed it the first time he checked the pockets of her denim coat because of the heavy fabric and it was small and thin.  He noticed it when he grabbed the coat to place it in the front loading washer.  He felt something stiff in the pocket.  The card was a laminated piece of paper with his name and address on it.  Nothing more. 

 

She carried a wallet.  He considered going through it, she had left it in her pants.  He stopped though.  Finding things when they should be expected to be found was one thing, digging into her wallet, that was pushing the line.  She did make it clear she was looking for him. 

 

She had done him no harm, and she wasn’t one of ‘them’.

 

After he loaded her clothes into the washer and started its cycle, he ventured into the kitchen. “I wonder what werewolves eat.”  He said to himself.  He felt, for some reason, human was not on the menu.  “Do you eat fruits and vegetables?  Or is it a carnivores diet?”  He pondered out loud. 

 

He considered this while he made a cracker and cheese tray with cold cut meat.  “Dogs will eat more than meat, I would have to assume wolves would too.  They are closely related.”  With that thought in mind he sliced some apple, pealed an orange and put some broccoli with dip on the island.

 

She took some time in the shower.  The washer had finished and he was transferring her clothes to the dryer when she emerged from the bath, he returned to the kitchen to find her stretching in the doorway running her hands over her hair.  Her shoulder length ebony black hair was still wet but mostly dried by a towel and slicked back, she’d apparently forgotten about the robe.

 

He cleared his throat while putting a loosely fisted hand near his mouth and turning away from her.  “The robe is on a hook…” he moved his other hand and pointed fast towards the bathroom door, “on the back of the door.” 

 

He couldn’t help himself, though very quickly, he had looked.  She was small in build, in all the right places.  When she turned, he moved his eyes, just to make sure she was going to get the robe.  Her bottom was fantastic though.  He looked up her back, watching the muscles move.  He looked away as she reached the door and started to turn for the robe.

 

“Really?”  She ejected.  “A pink fluffy robe?”  She laughed lightly.  “Defiantly not my normal attire.”

 

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”  He said with a stoic voice.  She had the robe on but hadn’t closed it yet.  She clearly hadn’t taken to the modern fad of shaving he noticed as he looked away again.  “That was my wife’s.” 

 

She didn’t say anymore about the robe.  Bad timing.  Her humor would not be appreciated.  Realizing this, she turned her attention to the island in the kitchen she stood near with the prepared food. “May I?”  She asked in a soft, relaxed and humble voice pointing at the food.

 

“Of course.  I put it there for you.”  His voice, stoic and cold. 

 

“Will I be dinning alone?”  She queried looking at him, cocking her head slightly and raising an eyebrow.

 

Duncan hadn’t eaten since… yesterday.  He hadn’t though of himself when he made the food.  “If you wish, didn’t know if you wanted company while you ate.”  He pointed at her and moved his hand up and down indicating the open robe.

 

She smiled at him.  Her smile said that she felt slighted by his demeanor.  He was keeping her at a distance, not just physically.  She moved to sit on one of the bar stools around the island.  Once on the stool, the shortness of her stature diminished, giving her a taller appearance.  When she looked at him, her eyes looked older.  They weren’t the same as when they first met.  They were no longer the eyes of a wolf.  They were blue, a deep sapphire blue and looked human. 

 

“No need to be rude Mr. Galt.”  She said after she was comfortable on the stool.  “Please join me, you need to eat too.”  She had become stoic also.  “Though I do not appreciate the comparison to that of a dog, yes, wolves are very closely related.”  She turned her face towards him.  “In answer to your question Mr. Galt, yes, I do eat fruits and vegetables as well as meat.  I eat the same things you do, Mr. Galt.” 

 

Duncan looked at her.  He stood motionless for almost a minute.  Finally he moved to her side and took one of the stools and moved it to the other side of the island so he could sit across from her.  “What’s with your eyes?”  He said after he sat.  “They aren’t the same as when you intruded my home.”

 

She put the piece of apple she was munching on down then placed her elbows on the top of the island and rested her chin on the folded tops of her hands. “Mr. Galt…”

 

“My name is Duncan.  You know that, I’m not fond of being called Mr. Galt, thank you.”  Duncan interjected cutting her off, tossing the laminated paper at her as he spoke.  She looked down at it  then eased herself off the stool enough to reach for her wallet sitting down from her on the island. 

 

She sniffed the surface of the wallet on both sides then opened it and sniffed it on the inside. “Thank you Duncan, for not going through my wallet.”  She said, with just a note of appreciation in her otherwise stoic reply.  When she looked at him again her eyes had changed.  They were green this time.  “Is this better?”  She asked.  “Or perhaps brown?”  She said as he watched her eyes become human brown.

 

“Enough tricks, what do your eyes really look like?  And what does it matter anyways what color they are?”  His voice was angry now. 

 

“I’m sorry.”  She said as her eyes changed again.  “I thought a more human look would make you more comfortable than my natural eyes.”

 

Duncan sighed.  He looked to the top of the island and moved his lips, angry at himself as he moved his head slowly a little from side to side.   Looking at her he said, “Just leave them the way they naturally are, I’m not a fan of things that are fake.”  He looked off to the side and dropped his hands onto the top of the island.  “I like the way they looked when we met.” 

 

She sensed a change in his mood.  “I actually find the eyes of a wolf…”  He hesitated a moment.  Then he looked her in the eyes.  “I find the eyes of a wolf more, I don’t know, more secure, solid, protecting.”  He looked exasperated.  He grabbed a cracker and put some meat and cheese on it.

 

The two ate in silence.  She finished her apple and moved to the broccoli.  He joined her in the food readily.  It felt good to eat. 

 

When she started on the crackers, cheese and meat she asked for something to drink.  “There’s glasses in the cupboard there,”  He pointed to a cupboard.  “water and ice in the door.”  He finished pointing to the dispensers in the refrigerator.

 

“I was thinking something other than water.  Think I’ve had enough of that for one day.”  She said with a light laugh.  

 

“Well, that’s about all I have, I don’t have any milk or juice, only other thing in the fridge is beer.”  Duncan sounded both vexed and apologetic.

           

“I’ll have a beer than, imported?”  She asked.  “Yeah, imported and no, you’re a bit young for beer, don’t you think?”  Duncan said with an almost fatherly tone. 

 

“I’m eighty-seven.  I’m older than you.”  Came her hard reply.

 

“Yeah, sure you are kid, what do you take me for?  You can’t be much over sixteen or seventeen.”  Duncan retorted. 

 

“You know what I am, you even called me a werewolf yourself, a pretty little one if I remember.”  She was becoming angry with his attitude.

 

“Right, werewolf.  I believe that.  Right along with the tooth fairy.”  He sat up looking at her with his challenge issued.

 

“Your yard is filled with lights, Venus lights?  Why?  Just to make your garden grow?  At night?  Or is it to destroy vampires you know are hunting you, Mr. Galt?”  Her face was covered in disdain for him, her voice sharp, edged by his sudden turn to a disbeliever.

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Some crazy girl comes in here, making wild claims about being a ‘werewolf’ and now is telling me I’m a vampire hunter.  I have half a mind to call the cops right now, have them take you someplace where you can get some help!”  Duncan growled.

 

She stood, and with a gesture from her hand, gave him the middle finger.  Duncan snorted a laugh and waved her off as though he viewed her as a trite child.  Her robe dropped to the floor.  Duncan’s eyes widened. 

 

Before he could object, her head rolled back, arms extended out to her sides down towards the floor.  Hair sprang from every part of her flesh.  Hair?  Fur.  She grew larger, and was soon covered entirely in fur and stood to the ceiling taking form as a large humanoid wolf.  Elongated mouth and nose like that of a wolf, long arms, long slender muscular fingers ending in razor sharp claws. 

 

She turned towards him and snarled looking down at him.  Duncan recoiled from her.  Had he pushed her to far?

 

She turned away from him so she was sideways to him again.  The form reduced itself, herself.  Now standing in the place of the large werewolf creature, was a normal looking timber wolf.  The eyes were hers.  A peace flooded Duncan.  He looked ashamed.  He looked away from her, down at his lap.  When he looked up, there was the girl again, tying her robe back on.

 

“I’m sorry.”  He said.  “People would think I was crazy if I told them what I knew.”  He sighed, stood up and walked to the fridge.  Looking back towards her but not at her he said “Sometimes I think I’m crazy.” Duncan returned from the fridge and set a beer in front of her, he moved to his side of the table and opened his beer.  “So, who are you?  And why are you seeking me out?”

 

She took the bottle and looked at it.  It had a ceramic cork with a rubber seal and a small metal latch that held the cork in place.  Defiantly not a cheap American brew.  She popped the top and took a long draw from the pint sized bottle.  When she finished she set it down with a long ‘Ah’ sound. 

 

“Now that’s a good beer” she said.  Duncan merely observed.  He was a bit shell shocked at the moment, reflecting on the past.  After a short time, and a bit more dining, she spoke again returning him to the present.  “I was born, Madelyn Johansson in nineteen-twenty-five.”  She took another long drink and then continued. 

 

“I am a first born alpha werewolf, which has more downsides than up.  I’m known in my clan, or pack if you will, by my clan name Sadness.  I’m too dark for their liking.  You see, as a people werewolves are a happy, almost festive people.  We were put here to protect humankind, not to hunt it as most legends say.”

 

“Protect?”  Duncan asked. 

 

“Hm, yes.  We are the counter to the minions and servants of the darkness, the cruor combibo, blood suckers or vampires as they have become known.” 

 

She leaned into the island as she looked hard at him.  “Bargainers of souls to be more exact.  They are evil incarnate, which only the undead can be.  Werewolves are not undead, we are quite alive.  We are the ‘tutela of animus’, guardians of souls.  Back in the beginning, after the fracturing, evil was allowed to roam free, devouring whom it could.  To counter this, protectors were created.  Wolves.  They advised humans, alerted them to danger.”

 

“Over time though, the link between humans and their animal counterparts weakened.  The telepathic link eventually became nonexistent.  To counter this, a human and a wolf were melded by the Light creating a new protector for humankind, the werewolf.  Even now though, unless provoked, wolves will leave humans alone.  Sometimes even helping them.”  Looking back to the island she started eating again.

 

Duncan surveyed her, looking her over as he considered what she’d told him.  “So, you protect human kind.  How exactly do you do that?” 

 

She finished chewing and drank some beer clearing her mouth.  “By keeping the servants of the darkness from getting their only commodity, the human soul.”

 

“Our souls are a commodity to you?”  Duncan interjected with a tone of disgust. 

 

“Pardon, in the spirit world to the darkness, yes, the most precious of commodities.”  She stopped and looked firmly at Duncan letting the gravity of the statement set in.

 

He looked off and thought, remembering back.  “And you led them to me.”  He muttered with a shake of his head. 

 

The girl scoffed.  “Led them to you, no, they’ve been hunting your ass, come on Duncan, you didn’t actually think they forgot about you.  From the looks of this place and what you do, I know better.  So do you.”

 

“It’s been almost nine years now, I was actually hoping they had.”  He looked back at her.  “So what exactly is hunting me?  The vampires?  These minions you called them?”  She stopped moving for a moment and looked at him.  She didn’t look him in the eyes, more like she was contemplating exactly what she would tell him about what she knew and the situation they had ended up in.

 

“Ah, well.  Yes?  You pissed off a couple of big players in the game of souls, and the minions are sending their vampires out to get you.  They’ve just been waiting for the right time, trust me, they’ve never forgotten about you.  These things never forget.”  Her voice was somber.  Memories of her own dealings showed on her face. 

 

“You make it sound like vampires and minions are two different things.”  Duncan commented.

 

“They are.”  She informed him as she turned her eyes to him.  “Maybe I should start with a bit of a history lesson, then you can fill in the rest on your own, or something like that.” 

 

Duncan made a thinking face, nodded a couple times as he considered what she said then looked back at her.  “Okay, probably not a bad idea I guess.”

 

“Okay.”  She grabbed a piece of apple, a wedge of orange and a hunk of broccoli and arranged them on the island with the broccoli between the two fruit pieces.  “The Light, or creator, made the creation, humans.  It also made a helper for itself to work the night shift.  The darkness.  They used to work together until the darkness became jealous of the Light.  The darkness betrayed the Light and tricked the creation into disobeying the Light.”  She started.

 

Duncan nodded.  “You’re talking about God and the creation, torah stuff.” 

 

She started shaking her head fast.  “No, no, lets stick with reality here.  This has nothing to do with religion, that’s a human creation.  Think of it as an intelligent being that brought order to chaos and made stuff.”  Nodding again he agreed.

 

“When the creation disobeyed, it caused a separation.”  She put a finger on the orange.  “Darkness ends up in its own world here.”  Then the moved her finger to the apple.  “Light is over here, and the broccoli is our area of existence.” 

 

“Earth is green, gotchya.”  He commented.

 

She snickered at him and went on.  “In between is… separation.  The darkness can’t directly get to our world, nor can the Light.  So, the darkness created minions in the between space that he used to focus his power to make minions in our world.  The minions in our world make vampires to do their dirty work.”  She picked up the orange and ate it.

 

Smiling at him she asked “Make sense?” 

 

He nodded and ate the broccoli.  “Yup, basic… well human religion stuff I guess from my perspective.” 

 

She raised and eyebrow with an agreeing expression.  “Well, there is some truth in all stories, even the vampire and werewolf ones.  But they get twisted through time and human perspective.”

 

“Another?”  He asked pointing at her empty beer. 

 

“Sure.”  She answered handing him her empty.  Once he returned from the fridge she got to his answer.

 

“Prith is a minion between worlds as it were.  Hondigahl and Alexander are two of the minions on our side.  You destroyed Hondigahl’s coven and killed Alexander’s favorite pet and general of his dragons.”  She finished. 

 

Duncan looked down at the counter.  He nodded.  “And for that, they’ll keep hunting me.”

 

She nodded herself now.  “Exactly.” 

 

He looked up at her.  “So, how exactly do werewolves fit into this?”  He asked.

 

“We counter the vampires and minions.  They try to make deals for human souls, we serve the Light and try and stop that.  The vampires and minions have other servants, they’re called day walkers.  They’re slaves that can walk in the daylight, not fully turned.”  She let loose and exasperated sigh.  “It’s all part of the darkness trying to destroy the creation and harvest souls.  They use tricks, they can’t out right lie in their deal, a contract for a human soul has to be willing so they entice humans with money, power, sex, drugs, all kinds of things.”

 

Duncan understood that much from lore.  “And werewolves stand on the other side and fight that.”  He shook his head.  It was a bit much to accept, but so was what he already knew from experience.

 

She looked at him with a face of assumption of facts.  “Being dead, has a lot of drawbacks.  Such as never being able to set foot in sunlight again.”  She looked over at the door.  When she looked back at Duncan she had a puzzled look on her face. “Venus lights.”  She said.

 

“Yes, my creation, very intense light, mimics sunlight to almost exact.”  Duncan replied. 

 

Her head cocked in thought.  “Yes, that has never worked before, simulating sunlight and actually having an effect.”  She said as she looked over at the control panel again.  Then she snapped her attention back to Duncan again.  “Why Venus light?  What does that mean?”  She posed to him.

 

“Heh, well, rather simple you see, the light emits at the same intensity as if you were standing on the surface of Venus, provided it wasn’t covered in clouds that is.”  Duncan informed her.

 

She looked at the back of her hands, the part that had been exposed to the light when she covered herself.  They were bright red from the light, an instant sunburn.  “So I see.  But how did you get it to work?  We’ve tried to simulate sunlight in a mechanical way before and it never had an effect, what did you do?  How did you test it?”

 

Duncan looked a bit sheepish right now.  “Actually, I didn’t know it would work.  Tonight was the first time I actually had to use it.  Haven’t had to face a vampire since, well, since I last faced one.”  Duncan’s face held pain. 

 

He changed the topic to the lights.  “They’re LED lights, organic LED type.  I redesigned them from the computer field to use in my plant research facilities for growing.  Very effective.”  The young woman was taking a keen interest in what he was telling her. 

 

Duncan explained.  “They produce their own light, however, I created a design that allows the addition of massive amounts of electricity that exponentially increases the output.  Normally putting large amounts of amps and volts into an electronic device would melt it to slag.  This design simply emits light as a form of self protection.” 

 

He motioned towards the door.  “As you saw, the result is very intense.  Naturally I have kept this to myself.”  Duncan finished with a smile, the girl however failed to acknowledge his patting himself on the back.

 

“Organic, that must be the key, since it’s organic, it has essence of true light in it and that is carried through into the light!”  Her voice was filled with glee on this understanding. 

 

“Ah, yeah, I suppose, since its organic, true light, okay.”  He wasn’t feeling much appreciated at the moment. 

 

He started to think and consider the recent events and the story relayed to him.  The girl chattered on about the lights and what her clan had tried.  He really wasn’t interested.  Then a thought struck him.

 

“Okay then, tell me this werewolf girl, if you are supposed to be the protector of humans, why did you need me to save you from the vampires in the yard tonight?  Why couldn’t you defend yourself and why weren’t you the one protecting me instead of the other way around?”  His voice was determined, he had her cornered on that one.

 

“Sheesh, really?  Tell me Duncan, had there been twenty men at your uncle’s house that your father had to fight instead of six, how well would he have done than?”  She looked intently at him.  “Six to one, not bad odds, damn good odds for me against vampires, fifteen hundred to one, not so good.  Perspective?”  She said curtly. 

 

“Fifteen hundred?”  Duncan stammered. 

 

“Yeah, second coven you’ve destroyed.  This time all in one shot, took them frelling bastards out in one flip of the switch.  Damn that made me… ah, feel good.”  She beamed and wiggled on her stool.  Just then the buzzer of the dryer sounded. “My clothes?” She asked. 

 

“Yes miss.”  Duncan answered her.

 

She jumped up and headed towards the laundry without a word.  When she returned she was fully dressed.  Her hair was fully a mess.  The girl sat down and drank from her beer.  She seemed to finally relax her frame completely. 

 

“So,” Duncan began, “what am I to call you?”  He asked more politely this time. 

 

She looked over at him and genuinely smiled this time.  “Well, I did deviate from that didn’t I.”  Duncan nodded slowly.  He had many other questions he wanted to ask.  How did she know of the events at the farm so many years ago for one.  Could she read his mind?

 

“Well, as I said, I was born with the name Madelyn, and my clan named me Sadness.  As you observed, I look rather young, for someone of my age.  Werewolves aren’t immortals though, that privilege or curse is reserved for the undead and those of the elf persuasion.”  She smiled a cantankerous smile. 

 

“Just kidding about the elf types.  Anyways, a change of identity is needed from time to time.  Especially as record keeping has improved.  Not so easy to change anymore.  For a while I was Jillian Smith.  When we first met, I was Betty Cromwell.”  She paused for the questions to fill themselves in.

 

Duncan looked off into space, then at her, taking his mind back to the day they dined at the Cromwell’s.  Betty, she was one of the adult children at the house.  They said she was eighteen then.  He quickly turned his eyes to the girl in front of him.  He looked at the scars on the left side of her face.  Take away the excessive gothic jewelry, even the hair was the same.  It was her.

 

Before he could speak she went on. “Sometimes evil just happens, some people just are evil.  For no real reason, they’re just are bad people.  Your uncle was one such person, and his two eldest sons were cut from the same cloth.  The other three had a chance.”

 

She took a swig from her beer knowing Duncan was listening intently.  “After your aunt left, I dealt with that evil.  No one should have to go through what your aunt and her daughter went through.  And if I didn’t act, the youngest three sons would be just as evil by association.  The other two were born that way.  That’s where the ‘accident’ at the farm came into play.  Claiming the lives of Russ and his two demon spawn.” 

 

The girl looked down at her lap.  She looked somber for a moment, then took a draw off her beer.  She lightly laughed.  “That chicken shit squealed like a stuck pig when I pitched his foul ass into that machine.  His eldest hit me so hard with a steel pipe it bent around my skull.” 

 

She shook her head and smiled.  “Should have seen the look on his face when I simply looked back at him and grabbed him by his flannel shirt, ‘next’ I said, he was so vile, he didn’t even scream when I pitched him in, just called me a cunt.”  She scoffed.  “The last one fell on his own, he came running up, thought he was somehow going to save them, tripped and fell in head first.  Don’t think he was bright enough to realize what happened.” 

 

She looked at Duncan.  “They were prime for harvest Duncan.  The minions were already eyeing them up as potential candidates.  Had they been smarter humans, they would have been marked a long time ago to become vampires.  They can smell darkness in humans.”

 

Duncan looked away.  He was happy to hear what happened to his uncle.  He had no pity for him.  He earned what he received.  At the funeral for the three, only a few family members showed up.  The preacher gave no eulogy.  He simply asked if anyone had any words to say for the departed.  No one spoke.  Not a tear was shed. 

 

The sale of the farm and equipment paid for both Tracey and Linda to go to college.  Duncan felt at least something good came out of the ordeal.  Both ladies were able to improve their lives after the living hell they’d lived through.  He never knew what happened with the other three boys.

 

“Currently my drivers license says I am ‘Jennifer Mitchell’.”  She said the name with a perky tone and bobbed her head side to side as she said it, mocking the name she now used.  “She died in a car accident.  She was an annoying cheerleader on her way to college.  I could smell death’s hand on her.  It was very strong.  I merely had to follow her.  And not long.  I ran into her and her friends at a roadside diner.  They’d been drinking quite heavily.”

 

She still hadn’t told him what to call her, he hoped there was a point to all this.  Pausing the young woman drank from her beer again. 

 

“Jennifer flew about a hundred feet from the crash, no seatbelt, I changed forms, dug a hole and stuffed her in.  Went back, took her place in the car putting one of the drunk dead girls in front, got in back with my seatbelt on and waited for the cops.  Only one other girl survived, if you can call being a vegetable surviving.  The cops bought my story, told them I was sleeping in the back, they tested me for alcohol, found none, so I walked.  Went to another state and got a new ID using Jennifer’s birth records and old drivers license.”  She finished her beer and took it to the trash herself this time. 

 

When she came back she stood in front of Duncan and stuck out her hand.  “Call me Snow.”  She said.

 

Duncan shook her hand.  “Nice to finally know what to call you, Snow.” 

 

She giggled.  “Sorry, not usually this chatty.”  They finished shaking hands and Snow sat back down.

 

“So what’s with the gothic look?  When you were born, jewelry like that wasn’t even close to being in style.”  Duncan posed.

 

Snow smiled and nodded.  “Yeah, what about that.  Heh, well, let me tell you, in the proper culture of the werewolves, it doesn’t stomach well either.  Part of the reason I was disavowed from my clan.”  She looked over at him and with a coy smile and stuck out her tongue revealing her tongue stud.

 

Duncan shook his head and laughed.  Just then the motion detector alarms went off again.  Both sprang to their feet and Snow followed Duncan to the nearest monitor.  Several humanoid forms could be seen moving near the tree line.  Duncan zoomed the camera in. 

 

“Vampires.”  Snow said.  “Guess you didn’t get them all, shit!”  Just then the power flickered and went out.  Blue emergency lights came on, giving the room a soft, almost passionate glow.

 

“Yeah, they are smart.”  Duncan said.  “Took out the substation.”

 

“Vampires aren’t as smart as you think Duncan.”  Snow said in a snap.

 

Duncan grabbed her by the shoulder.  “Come on, to the basement, my citadel is there.  And they can’t get to my generators.”

 

Snow followed Duncan as he led her through the soft blue lit rooms to the stairs that descended deep below the house, through the short hall and past the vault door which he closed behind them and secured.

 

“They’ll be expecting the lights again.  What they aren’t expecting is my sprinkler system.”  Duncan informed Snow then took to the control panel in the main room.  He checked the systems and took the generators out of idle and brought them fully to speed and online.  The blue emergency backup lights were replaced with the normal house lighting.

 

“Sprinklers?  You do know that water has no effect on vampires, right?”  She asked hurriedly.

 

“This isn’t just water Snow, its water and garlic juice for starters.”  He informed her.

 

“Duncan, garlic doesn’t kill vampires, hate to be the barer of bad news, “

 

“I know Snow, but it sure slows them down.”

 

“True, it messes up their senses, they can’t smell human, or werewolf.  Disorientates them too, messes up their radar.  But what good is that going to do, why not hit them with the lights again?”  Snow inquired.

 

“Because they’re expecting it, therefore they will be prepared for it and plotting to destroy the lights.  Obviously some saw what happened and told the others.  Holy water works on them, right?”  He asked turning to Snow.

 

“Frell yeah.  Holy water is like vampire Raid, kills vampires dead.  What, you have a reservoir of holy water here?”  Snow asked.

 

“Not exactly, but if water were to pass through a pipe, say made from holy items, the water passing through it would thus become holy, right?”  Duncan asked having never had the opportunity to test the theory, he was looking for some positive feedback on his attempt.

 

“A pipe?  Made from holy items?  What did you do, melt down crosses?”  Snow asked.

 

“Yes, crosses, crucifixes, stars of David, the works, made a four foot pipe out of them, two  and a half inch inside diameter and the walls are two inches thick, wanted to make sure it could handle the pressure with cheap soft metals.”   Duncan was still looking at her.  “Well?”

 

Snow had a perplexed look on her face.  “Duncan…”  She moved her head around grasping, “I have no idea, I’m only eighty-seven, that’s young for a werewolf, I have never heard of it being done before!” 

 

She looked at the monitor.  The forms had come closer, they still were a ways from the house, they were being cautious.  Snow didn’t know how many were left.  She was wrong about the entire coven following her and coming after them. 

 

“You’re ideas have been right so far, but, Duncan… I think melting them down, that might remove the properties.  I don’t think it will have the effect, it’s not the items, its the faith behind them!”  Snow told Duncan.  “Ground can be consecrated , I have no idea about symbols of human faith.”

 

Duncan and Snow watched the monitors.  After about five more minutes the forms finally made their way to the house.  Duncan moved a camera to get a better view of what was outside the living room window. 

 

There were vampires alright, one had procured a sledgehammer from someplace and was attempting to bust in the window.  He wasn’t having much luck, it was a clear Kevlar plastic, four inches of bullet proof window.  The best he could do is mark it up.  Beyond the window were the layers of steel. 

 

Seeing the window would not give, the vampire moved to trying to smash the wall of the house in.  The plastic siding cracked, but that was about as far as he would get.  The walls were made of layered plates like a master lock and were a foot thick.  The place was a fortress.  A very costly investment for Duncan that was now paying off.

 

“Engaging sprinklers, time to see if this works.”  Duncan announced then he pushed a few buttons.  On the monitors you could see the sprinklers come to life, high volume sprinklers spitting out water and garlic juice.

 

“They aren’t dying  Duncan, I told you it’s the faith behind the items, not the item!”  Snow screeched.  “Use the lights, what are they going to do?  Use them!”

 

“No, they are expecting that, they are smart, they have a plan for that, plus I don’t know how much the lights can take, this was theory after all.”  He answered.

 

“Duncan, vampires aren’t as smart at you think, look I don’t have time to explain right now just use the lights!”  Snow implored him once more.

 

“You said you need to have faith, right?” Duncan asked.

 

“Yes,”

 

“You have faith, don’t you Snow?”

 

“Yes, much Duncan, but what…”  Snow started.

 

Duncan grabbed her by the arm “Come here!”  He said, and reluctantly she followed. 

 

He took her to a small room with sprinkler equipment and pipes; it was small where they were but through a hole in the wall she could see large tanks.  He pointed to a pipe.  “This is the pipe made of the religious items, you have faith, put your hands on the pipe and do whatever it is you do with your werewolf faith!”  Duncan told her.

 

“Duncan!”  Snow cried.

 

“Do it, at least try!”  Duncan implored her.

 

Snow threw her head back and said words in a language of some kind, it involved a series of growls and snorts, then Snow put her hands on the pipe.  Her eyes softly glowed.

 

Duncan looked at her slightly startled, then remembering himself rushed out of the room and looked at the monitors.

 

It took a few seconds, he wasn’t sure if it was going to work, nothing was happening, they were disorientated for sure, running every which direction.  Then, they started smoking as though they were being doused with acid, just like Snow said.  She was making the water holy. 

 

He had done that for two reasons, one was to see if the pipe would work, which it hadn’t, then, to see if what she said was true; if werewolves truly were the protectors, a gift from the creator, then she would be able to bless the water going through the pipe.  At least that’s what he figured.

 

It gave full credence to everything she said.

 

“Keep it up Snow, its working, its working!”  Duncan bellowed towards the room where Snow was. 

 

Disorientated, the vampires were unable to run to safety.  Soon, all in the yard burst into flames in the rain and holy water. 

 

After a good long minute the motion detectors went silent.  Duncan ran into the pump room to tell Snow of their success.  The smile on his face dropped instantly when he saw her passed out on the floor, her hands still on the pipe.  “Snow!”  He yelled as he rushed to her. 

 

He pulled her hands from the pipe.  She was cold.  Her eyes, the irises had lost their yellow grey and had gone white.

 

“Snow!  Snow, Snow!”  Duncan called to her and shook her lightly. 

 

He checked her breath, she was still breathing.  He put his finger on her neck to check her pulse.  He jerked his hand away.  Not that he was a pro on pulses, but he had never felt one like that before, incredibly strong, and fast.  When he had his fingers on it he could literally hear it, it went though him loudly!

 

Snow moved slightly and groaned.  He touched her forehead, she was ice cold.  She groaned again then spoke faintly.  “I… I should have told…”  She started.

 

“It’s okay, Snow, don’t try and speak”  Duncan said.

 

“Bite me, I’ll talk if I want to.”  Snow said and a faint curve of a smile formed on her lips.  “Should have told you, using pure faith…”  Snow started to cough.  “It, it takes a lot out of you.”  She laughed slightly.

 

“Snow, is there anything I can do?  Can I get you anything?”  Duncan asked in a worried voice.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t know!”

 

“I know you didn’t, now though, you can stop doubting me, right?”  Snow asked as she tried to sit up a little.

 

“Yes, yes, I believe you now, no doubt.  You proved it to me.”  Duncan assured her.

 

“Good, now get your ass up and help me get my ass up, then get me some water please.”  Snow said as she looked at him.

 

Duncan got up from beside her, took her hand and helped her stand.  Her strength was more than he expected, even in her weakened  state, she nearly pulled him over as he helped her up.  Once he had her up, she wobbled a bit and he let her put her arm around him and helped her walk to a chair.  Then he went to get her a cold bottle of water from the vault fridge.

 

They sat in the control area of the basement bunker.  Duncan didn’t say anything to her until she had recovered more. “So, we got ‘em did we?”  Snow asked.

 

“Yup, you got ‘em, didn’t work till you put your hands on the pipe.”  He answered her.

 

Snow was looking better, more life back in her.  Duncan didn’t know why but she had what he would call a cantankerous look in her face. 

 

He shrugged it off and busied himself with the monitors and generator readouts.  He soon became aware of a scent  in the room.  He tried to place it.  Was that the smell of melted vampire?  Couldn’t be, it smelt kind of sweet, pungent and sweaty. 

 

The vault was air tight anyways, just like the upstairs was once he sealed it.  He got up and walked around the basement area, trying to find the source of the musky sweet order. 

 

Was it from the sprinkler system?  No, nothing coming from there, not even a garlic smell. 

 

As he moved from the control room, the smell diminished, it was starting to fill the vault.  He was going to check the fridge but the aroma hit him hard when he entered the control room.  He liked the scent.  It was almost a perfume kind of smell, comforting. 

 

He sat down.  He looked over at Snow.  His face showed puzzlement, he knew the smell but under the current situation and the series of events couldn’t place it. “Do you smell that?  A sweet musky, pleasant smell?” He asked her.  “Are you wearing any perfume?  Scented oils?”

 

Snow laughed loud and hard.  She leaned forward and put her hand on his shoulder.  When she did, the intensity of the smell hit him full force.  Reality was just starting to surface in Duncan’s brain.

 

“Duncan, I’m very aroused right now, I’m extremely randy.  Killing vampires makes me horny.”  She  told him.

 

Duncan flushed red, he now recognized the smell, he had just never smelt it so strong before, however, he had never been around a horny werewolf before.  He also became aware of his own arousal.

 

“Okay, I think we are safe to go upstairs, don’t you?”  Duncan said standing up and walking towards the door, thus removing her hand from his shoulder tactfully.

 

When Snow didn’t reply, he looked back at her as he unlocked the door.  She had put her legs up on the chair he’d been sitting in and crossed her arms over her chest.  She looked pissed.

 

“Look, Snow, we just met, okay, I’m not about to have sex with you.”  Duncan said.

 

Snow guffawed at him.  “I never asked you too, nor do I intend to.  You take yourself to seriously Mr. Galt.  Werewolves aren’t like vampires, we don’t screw anything and everything, however, unlike prudish humans, we’re not afraid to talk about being turned on.  Wolves, Mr. Galt, mate for life, and a wolf you’re not so don’t get your testosterone all over boiled.”  Snow said mockingly.

 

Duncan looked to the wall, he felt slightly embarrassed, and slightly belittled.  He didn’t know what to say, so he opened the door and started to leave.

 

“Also Mr. Galt, it’s perfectly acceptable to admit you find me attractive, you could at least be honest to yourself, even if you can’t be to me.”               

 

Duncan stopped and turned back and looked at her.  “I did tell you so, you even said you could smell that I was.  What’s more to be said, Miss Snow?  Or are you trying to seduce me?”  Duncan said to her coldly.

 

“Seduce you?  Please, you seduce yourself, you look at me with hunger in your eyes, I’ve seen it.”  Snow said.

 

“Unlike you, Miss Snow, I am not an animal, I can resist my urges.”  Duncan stated, turned and strode upstairs.

 

“Bastard!”  Snow yelled after him.  She bolted through the door.  When she caught up to him at the top of the stairs she grabbed him and slammed him against the wall.

 

“What are you going to do Miss Snow?  Beat me up, toss me around the room to prove your superiority over a meager human?”  Duncan said to her angry face, with a calm cool tone.

 

“Listen you bastard, don’t ever call me an animal like that.  Don’t…”  Snow started to cry.  “Don’t act like them.”  She sobbed and fell against his chest covering her face with his hands.

 

Duncan suddenly felt ashamed of himself.  He didn’t know why, but he did know he’d hit a very sore spot with her.  Since he lost his wife, he had become cold to any affection, Snow’s being a werewolf didn’t help.  He put his hand on her back and walked her to a chair.  Snow sat down.  She regained her composure and sat silently.

 

Duncan finally broke the silence. “You’re right, I am attracted to you.  You are beautiful.  I was when I met you as Betty Cromwell.  Remember, I kept looking at you.  I was infatuated with you then.”

 

He sighed and touched her cheek.  “You crossed my mind daily for many years, and still have crossed my mind occasionally even after all these years.  I never saw you again, only my father went back for the funeral, because Russ was his brother.  He never went to the grave site though, and I’ve never even passed through the area again.”  Duncan said calmly, and honestly.

 

“My clan, they rejected me, cast me out.”  Snow began.  “I don’t fit in.” 

 

She looked up at Duncan. “I’m a born werewolf, an alpha.  Many don’t survive past their first year.  Werewolf society is very proper.  I’m sure you’ve realized, I’m not.  I fit the profile more of a rogue,

something a noble born first alpha is not supposed to be.  Mated that live past their time when their mate passes, they become rogue, commoners, non-alphas, turned that don’t take a mate they become rogues or renegades.  I’m an insult.”

 

Duncan studied her.  “Rogues?  Renegades?  So werewolves do go bad then.”

 

Snow thought for a moment how to put what a rogue was in terms this human would understand.  “When a werewolf goes rogue, they have different rules, they still must protect humans, but they can kill them too.  Often, they take out humans that are helping vampires but not as their slaves of the day.  If the human knowingly aids vampires, rogues deal with them.”

 

She stood with reserve and didn’t look at him as she took the last couple stairs up and walked to the living room.  Duncan followed slowly after her wondering what was going through her mind.  When she sat down on one of the couches, he moved to a recliner across from her, sat and waited.

 

Snow became distant.  “My mother is a turned werewolf, my father, is a born werewolf.  My mother is very arrogant, she looks down on humankind.  It is her attitude and actions that has held my father back in the ranks of clans.  I was supposed to be born an alpha male, and take my fathers place and mate with a born alpha female, restoring our clan among the clans, bringing my father honor.” 

 

She scoffed.  “My mother wanted this, she hoped I would die in my first year, leaving the lineage open for a male to be born and survive.  She has never let me forget that I failed to die.  It is her, not my father that brings dishonor to our clan.  Werewolves are very proper, but they are not to be boastful in their deeds.  My mother is a very proud person.”

 

“Isn’t there anyway he can… I don’t know, divorce her or some werewolf equivalent?”  Duncan asked.

 

“If it were allowed, he would divorce her, or kill her to restore his name.  But that would be the greatest dishonor a werewolf could do, we mate for life, whether we like it or not in the end.  Killing our mate would be suicide.  Sometimes the mate we chose, changes.  My father admits his mistake.  My mother has always been boastful and proud.”  Snow looked back to Duncan.

 

“It was my grandparents you met at the Cromwell farm, they lived a simple life.  My mother insisted on a more flamboyant lifestyle.  She demands the best in life.  My father accommodates her.  I changed, I became gothic, and freely displayed it.  Piercing myself,  forbidden among werewolf society.  I caused my own condemnation and being disavowed.  It’s a first born alphas place in their season to find a mate and leave their clan and create their own clan, expand the protectors.  My time came early, caused by my own actions.”

 

Her face became long as she remembered her past.  “My grandfather gave me that card with your name and address on it.  I was to find you and protect you.  The vampires are hunting you, they want you for what you did.”  Snow looked away from him and fell silent. 

 

They sat in silence for close to an hour.  Daylight would be soon. 

 

Duncan wasn’t even in the room mentally when he spoke. “I met my wife in college.  She majored in forensic sciences.  She became a pathologist, we both went to work for the government.  Top secret stuff.  We worked in what would be called X-file cases.  We were both CIA.  One day a corpse was brought in.  It had been sucked dry of blood.  The official reports said the blood had been boiled from the body.” 

 

Snow’s head dropped as she listened to his story.

 

“My wife was in charge of doing the autopsy on the corps.  The body was only a few hours old, but the organs, skin, everything was like it was mummified.  She was using a special mix of saline that contained plasma to bring the tissue to a state that she could conduct certain tests on it.  She had cut several samples from the body and used the mix on it and ran some tests.”

 

Duncan sighed deep as the memories ate at his spirit.

 

“The results were astonishing.  The tissue came back to life.  She had the chest cavity open and decided to see what would happen if she pour a substantial quantity into the open carcass.  The result really was astounding, and in the end, devastating.  The body came to life and attacked her.  She was saved by a guard who kicked the body back and opened fire on it.”

 

“My wife was hurried out and examined.  The body was taken to an incinerator and burned.  That much was a good thing.  My wife only had a small nick on the side of her neck.  No infection, nothing deemed dangerous.  She was held for observation for three days; since nothing happened, she was released.”

 

Duncan stopped briefly when Snow made a noise.  By the expression on her face, she had already guessed what happened next.

 

“I had been in the field, at the area the body was found, it was shipped right away to where my wife worked back in the states.  I reported on what had happened in the field.  My team was sent home, a mop up crew was sent in to destroy what we had found.  Some of them died in the operation.”  

 

Duncan looked at Snow for a moment, then to the floor in front of him.

 

“The agency declared the operation a success and destroyed all reports filed on what happened.  I was informed the events never took place.  I was told if I ever spoke of ‘this’ again, I would be in direct violation of national security orders and committed to an insane asylum in a foreign country.  It was never said, but I would have been lobotomized to protect the information.”

 

His face wend dark. 

 

“I returned home to find my daughter drained dry, and my wife standing over her.  She attacked me.  I shot her, I emptied the clip into her.  It didn’t phase her.  We fought, she knocked me across the room, everything went dark and she escaped.”

 

“I reported the incident to my superiors, informed them I had attached a tracking device on her when she attacked me incase she escaped, which I fully expected her to do after the events I was involved in over seas.  In the end, we were able to track her to the coven she was hiding at, we used the knowledge of vampires we had and exterminated all of them, including my wife.”  Duncan finished. 

 

It was several minutes before Snow spoke.  It was a hard story for Duncan to tell.  She could smell the remorse in him.  The pain.  The anger.  She spoke softly. 

 

“So, how does my grandfather fit into this?”  She asked.

 

Duncan was waiting for that question.  “Some of the coven survived.  Not all of them were at the location when we raided it.  We hit during daylight hours, for obvious reasons, not knowing that at times coven members would hide out in safe areas they had set up in case they couldn’t return to the main coven area before daylight.  Some thirty of this coven had been hold up in another part of town.  They often did when they partied on the weekends.  They would be out choosing choice victims.  Ones to bring into the coven.” 

 

“When they found out what happened, they came hunting the ones who took out their friends.  Somehow they were able to trace all of us.  One of the vampires found me and had grabbed me.  He intended to take me high in the air above the city and let me drop to my death, he said he wanted to hear me scream all the way down.”

 

Duncan looked over to Snow.  “Your grandfather, in your larger form, attacked the vampire.  Disemboweled him and removed his head.  That is when I started to believe in werewolves.  I never reported that event to the agency.”

 

Snow nodded.  Wise choice not to report that.

 

Duncan exhaled hard.  “I saw his eyes, I knew what it was, the eyes of a wolf.  That’s how I knew what you were when I saw you.  I’d seen a werewolf before.”

 

He shook his head and flared his eyes then ran his hands over his face and finished with a deep sigh as he turned his face towards her.  “You look tired.”  Duncan said looking Snow’s face over.  “I have a guest room if you want some shut eye.”

 

Snow smiled.  It had been a long time since she’d slept in a bed. “You’re a kind man Mr. Galt, thank you, that would be wonderful.”  Snow answered.

 

Duncan led her up the carped stairs, the lights came on automatically as they climbed them.  He showed her to a large, neatly kept room. 

 

Snow sniffed the air.  The room smelt new.  She could tell Duncan had never had any actual guests here.  The only human she could smell in the entire house was Duncan.  She wasn’t surprised, all things considered, he would keep to himself.

 

 

 

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