The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 3
Friends, Allies and Enemies

Chapter 3

 

Friends, Allies and Enemies

 

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Sheriff Hanks was sitting behind his desk in his office.  James came to the door and walked in.  The Sheriff motioned him to the desk and made a sweeping motion with a pointed finger indicating he wanted the door shut. 

 

James closed the door quietly and approached the desk and took a seat closest to the computer end of the Sheriff’s desk.  His boss had a look of disgust.  He was aggravated by something.  James considered asking, but he figured he would wait the Sheriff out.

 

The Sheriff was looking at his computer display, moving the mouse around clicking.  Finally having everything arranged he was ready to let James in on what he was doing.

 

“Saturday when I searched for any records for Snow T. Wolf in the national database the few results I received, none of them matched our young girl at the Galt place.”  The Sheriff informed James. “When I searched New York state, there were no results for any Snow T. Wolf.  No records from New York City either, nothing.  The passport records with the federal database said no records for that passport number existed.”  The Sheriff revealed. 

 

James mused on this.  He kept his thoughts to himself.  He wondered where the Sheriff was going with this.  The feds had taken over, there was nothing they had to do with this anymore.  Unless he had hard evidence that Snow was the identity theft culprit, they were off the case.

 

“Then Sunday, on national new no less, Jennifer Mitchell’s body is reported being found.  I went to my den and searched for information on the web and in the police files about what happened.”  Thomas turned the monitor so James could see it better.  He clicked on an icon at the bottom of the screen and brought up a window.

 

“I found this.  The body of Jennifer Mitchell was discovered buried in a shallow grave approximately a hundred and twenty feet from her original crash site three years ago.  Police records now state the autopsy on her revealed she died of a broken neck and severe head trauma, the results of her being ejected from her vehicle in the crash which they estimate occurred at around a hundred miles per hour.” 

 

The Sheriff stopped and looked over at James who was looking at the monitor, then turned his attention to the Sheriff when he looked at him.

 

“Okay.”  James said.  “So it wasn’t a homicide then.”

 

“Right.”  The Sheriff said.  “But somebody buried her, in a ‘shallow grave’ it says.”  The Sheriff clicked to a news images of the site her body was exhumed from.  “Look at that dig site, see the piles of dirt?”  He asked James.

 

“Yeah, what about them?”  He questioned.

 

“Doesn’t that look like a hell of a lotta dirt for a ‘shallow grave’ James?”  The Sheriff shot back.

 

“Not really, they probably dug in a lot of spots looking for the body.”  James replied logically.

 

“Look at these pictures.  There isn’t but one spot dug up.”  The Sheriff clicked on an image that had the hole in the ground well in view with a downward angle on the dig site.

 

“Tell me James, how deep does that hole look to you?  Does that look like a shallow grave to you?  Or a fairly deep hole?”  He asked his deputy.

 

James leaned in and looked at the picture.  “Maybe they dug deeper to see if there was anything else buried under the body.”  James said.

 

“Maybe, but why?  And that deep?  Once they found the body, why would they dig deeper, there’s nothing in the police records about digging past the level of the body.  The news may not have that information, but the police report would.  I even called and asked.  The officer I spoke to said they exhumed the body, nothing more.”

 

Sheriff Hanks looked at James, raised a finger and bobbed it at him.  “When I asked if they dug deeper than the body he responded no, there was no reason to.  When I asked why the hole was so deep for a ‘shallow grave’ he suddenly said he was busy and had to go.  Hung up rather quickly.”  The Sheriff told James.

 

He motioned back to the monitor.  “Now, judging from the size of the hole and the amount of dirt and what I can see from the photos in the news and police reports, that hole has to be at least ten foot or more deep.  The police report omits any reference to the depth the body was buried at.  Doesn’t that seem odd to you James that an official police report would omit that detail?”  The Sheriff asked.

 

James could see the Sheriff’s issue with the facts of the case and got the drift of what he was saying.  A police report would have that detail. “Yeah Sheriff, that does seem rather odd.”  James agreed.

 

Sheriff Hanks nodded.  “But the thing that really raises my hair is why did they start digging in the first place?  What made them, after this many years, go looking for the body and in the exact location?” 

 

Without waiting for James to respond he clicked to a new page, this time the BCA site. “An illegal alien was arrested Sunday.  She was apparently taken into custody after using a credit card in Jennifer Mitchell’s name.  She also had several other pieces of identification that had her name on them, including birth records.”  The Sheriff clicked another tab.

 

“Here it says this ‘unidentified woman’ was deported this morning.  No real name, nothing identifying where she was deported to, no country of origin, nothing.”  The Sheriff leaned back in his chair and faced James.  “She was arrested several hours after the report says they found the body of the real Jennifer Mitchell, not before.”  The Sheriff studied James a moment.

 

“All this since late Friday night.  All wrapped up in a nice little package with a pretty little bow on top.  The family has closure now, knowing that their daughter wasn’t murdered, instead she was just a blind drunk who killed herself and two other girls and made the fourth girl a window licker for life.  And with the identity theft culprit now deported, no tracks to follow, no one to question.  Not even a picture of the alleged identity thief.  Case closed.”  The Sheriff said with his face showing his emotion. 

 

He reached for the mouse and brought up another window.

 

“This morning I went and looked up records for this Snow T. Wolf again, this time starting with the passport number and lo and behold, complete records are now available.  The same with state and city records for New York.  Suddenly Snow T. Wolf exists everywhere.  Where she went to college, past employment records, everything.”  The Sheriff dropped his hands he had raised in mock wonderment onto the top of his desk and cupped one hand over the other as he looked at James.

 

“One hell of a snow job.”  James said.

 

The Sheriff snorted.  “Yeah, Snow job is right.”

 

“So, what do we do now?”  James asked wondering what the Sheriff had planned.

 

“Nothing.”  He said and stood.  “Case has been solved.  Justice has been rendered. Everything cleaned up.  Mr. Galt and his buddies saw to that.  That girl must be something important to have this done for her, and so quick.  Nothing, that’s all we can do, unless she frells up somehow.  And I suspect, her friends will clean that mess up too.”  He finished.

 

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Duncan was putting the dishes in the dishwasher as Snow handed them to him.  “That all of them?”  He asked her.

 

“Think so, I’ll run out to the deck and make sure.”  She said and bounded off.  At the deck she scanned around.  She spotted tongs on the side of the grill.  Grabbing them and looking around once more she was satisfied they hadn’t missed anything. 

 

She moved light  on her feet, she almost startled Duncan when she came back she moved so quietly. “Tongs.”  She said and handed them to Duncan.

 

He placed them in the top level of the dishwasher and having already placed a pellet in the soap slot, closed the door then pressed the appropriate buttons that began the cycle.  Snow was putting lids on several containers of leftovers, then stacked them up and put them in the fridge.

 

When she finished she became aware that Duncan was standing by the dishwasher, hand reached back on the counter, watching her.  A smile was on his face.  Snow cocked her head and considered his appearance for a moment.  She smiled at him. “What are you doing?”  She queried.

 

“Nothing.”  He claimed.  Then changed his mind.  “I was just watching you.”

 

“Watching me?”  She replied, a slight questioning look on her face.

 

“Yeah, watching you.”  He said with a soft laugh in his words.

 

“Why?”  Came her reply.

 

Duncan shrugged.  “No reason really, just happy to have company in this old house.” 

 

Snow shook her head with her own light smile and moved over to the island and picked up the dishrag she had left on the surface and began wiping the island top down. “Leave it.”  Duncan said.  “You can finish that when we get back.  Lets get your duds.” 

 

“My duds.”  Snow said mildly amused.

 

“What?”  Duncan said wondering what amused her.

 

“Oh, not a term you hear often, well not since the forties really.”  She answered.

 

Snow came up to him, waiting for them to leave.  Duncan looked down at her, his eyes moved to her neck. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.”  He said looking at her necklace. 

 

“About what?”  Snow asked, looking down her front.

 

“The necklace, the star of David.  Are werewolves Jewish?”  He asked.

 

Snow smiled openly.  “OH!  No, we practice no religion, I told you that already.  We take no part in human religions.”  Snow said as she touched the totem that hung in the middle of her neck.

 

“Though we do have Israel in our lineage, we are not Jewish, we are respecters of the Jews.  They are the holy people.  They are the chosen people of the creator.  Many of us wear this in respect of them.”  Snow informed him.  Duncan nodded and turned from her and started for the door.  They needed to get going before the town closed down and so they could be back well before sundown. 

 

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Snow stood beside the open garage door while Duncan backed the truck out.  Once he was fully clear of the garage, the door started to close; he got out of the truck and went around the front to the passenger side and opened the door for Snow. “Thank you.”  She said with a smile and climbed in.  When she was fully in he closed her door then re-entered the drivers side. 

 

They pulled down the drive as Snow looked around.

 

They had just turned onto the dirt road that led to the main road to town. “That was some quick thinking with the Sheriff.”  Duncan said to her.  “You’re cover story about hitching a ride here.”  He added when she looked at him quizzically, clarifying what he was talking about. 

 

Snow shrugged.  “Wasn’t hard, just told him what happened.”  She replied as she looked out the window again.

 

Duncan was silent for a moment.  Then he spoke to her with a tone of interrogation. “But you told me you hitched a ride on my truck.”  Duncan looked over at her.  “So you lied to me?”  He finished sounding a bit hurt.

 

Snow’s tone conveyed her agitation over his distrust in her. “No.”  She began. “Werewolves are incapable of lying Duncan.”  She said giving him a look.

 

“How could you have gotten a ride from someone in town and hitched a ride on my truck?”  Duncan demanded.

 

Snow looked back out the window shaking her head. “I never said I got a ride from anyone in town.  I said I ran up to a vehicle that was about to leave and offered them fifty bucks to give me a ride.”  Snow’s voice carried sadness and hurt that he was questioning her like this.  “The driver refused.”  Snow said.  Then she looked at Duncan. 

 

A single tear rolled down her face.

 

“Nothing I said was a lie.  I cannot lie.  I just told the events in a different order.  I did miss you because the Sheriff came up to your truck.  While you were talking to him, I made my way to the side of your truck where he couldn’t see me and I stood on the running board and hung on to the door handle and mirror.  You almost lost me when you sped up.  When you took the corner so fast, I flew off.  What I said was true, the driver I hitched a ride with did drop me off at the turn to your house.”  Snow looked away. 

 

Duncan felt his heart sink.  He understood what she meant now about perspective.  What she’d said about how people fill in details on their own from a little information.  He knew this from his years as a field agent.  It was basic stuff.  He didn’t have words to correct what he had done to her.  He doubted her, called her a liar.  His suspicious nature got the better of him.

 

“And I am a big chicken, I don’t like to be in the woods alone.”  Snow added.

 

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked the way I did.  It’s just, I haven’t known you that long, and… well, trust is something hard for me.”

 

They went on down the dirt road without talking.  They turned onto the tar top and pressed on towards town.  Duncan felt like an ass.  Determined to do better he asked his next question, this time with tact. 

 

He remembered when they first met.  She was outside the door.  He accused her of following him.  At first she said she hadn’t, then corrected herself because she had hitched a ride on his truck, not technically following him but as she put it ‘so yeah I did follow you I guess’.  Perspective.  She was being honest.

 

“When the Sheriff asked you about being from New York, how were you able to answer that question?”  He thought he was being tactful and showing interest in her strategy.

 

“That’s where you lucked out.  I really have lived in New York City.  Therefore, I can say I’m from New York.  I’m from Minnesota, Washington, Missouri and so on.  As long as I’ve either had a legal residence someplace or spent a full lunar cycle there, I can say without lying, I’m from there.  Humans do the same thing, ‘I was born in Minnesota but my family moved to Montana when I was eight, so I’m from Minnesota and Montana’.”

 

She looked over at him with a big smile, flared her hands out near her shoulders and bowed her head.

 

“I’ve been to Texas, for three days, but I can’t say I’m from Texas.  Question:  where did you go to college, answer: I went to Georgia State.  I have been to the campus, though I’ve never taken classes there.  It’s all about what you say, how you say it and how much you say.  Answering without answering.  Say as much as you can with as few words as possible. Let the other person do the rest.”

 

Snow looked over at Duncan, meeting his eyes with a face of sincerity.

 

Duncan glanced over at her as he drove.  “Sounds like a game to me.”

 

“Everything I have ever told you or anyone else has been the truth, from a certain point of view.  The answers depend on how the questions are asked.  It’s not something we enjoy, but it is necessary to protect ourselves and our clans as well as protect humans.  Sometimes you can answer a question to the satisfaction of the person asking it without actually answering the question and still be telling the truth.”  Snow told Duncan. 

 

She looked out the front windshield for a moment, moving her mouth as she mused.  “Ask me if werewolves are real.”  She said then looked over at him.

 

Duncan looked away from the road for a moment to look at her.  His brow was scrunched up in a puzzled manner.

 

“Go ahead, ask me.”  She pressed. Snow could tell he was wondering what she was up to, and curious. 

 

“Snow, are werewolves real?”  He asked.

 

“Werewolf lore is a product composed of fictional writing from many centuries of stories.”  She said.  “Is there anything false in that statement?”  She asked him.

 

Duncan smiled.  “No.”  He answered.

 

“Would most people take that as an answer?”  She continued.

 

“Yes, I suppose they would.”  Duncan replied, nodding his head with an understanding smirk.

 

Company games.

 

“And, did I actually answer the question?”  She asked.

 

“No, you didn’t.”  Duncan responded.  “We do the same type of thing in the company.  Politicians are pros at that.  Double speak they call it.”

 

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When they hit town Duncan parked across the street from the bus terminal, which was nothing more than an old brownstone building in the middle of the block that had been modified into a bus station.  Snow looked around in thought from the inside of the truck once they were parked.

 

The building abutted the local clothing store.  On the other side of the bus station there was a small vacant half lot, about twice the width of a bus.  On the rare occasion that two busses were at the station at the same time, one bus would back into this lot.  In the winter they would also park there if they city was plowing the streets. 

 

People had complained about the disheveled look of the lot, being overgrown with weeds on the sides and nothing but sand where debris from the street seemed to accumulate.  Being the bus company didn’t actually own the land, they refused to improve it any. 

 

Several years prior the city put road base in the spot.  This created a dust and mud problem.  The speck of land technically belonged to no one as it had been part of an old easement to areas that no longer required it.  It was too narrow to be an actual street, so it sat.  The city finally annexed the land and put pavement on it to appease citizens and the business owners.

 

This is where Snow arrived in town after hopping a bus from a town about an hour south. 

 

The building on the other side of the bus station, next to the lot, was a barbershop.  Since the city had paved the area between the two buildings the bus drivers started parking there regularly.  This left the street open.  Olivia’s Cafe was next to the barbershop.  This was where Snow had been standing after leaving the bus when her picture was taken.

 

Snow had made change at the bank in the town she had just come from.  The teller recognized her from a flyer that had been distributed to banks and credit unions in the state to be on the lookout for her. 

 

The teller had notified the police in the town.  Being the town was rather small, they were waiting for the Chief to come in from fishing.  He was the only police in the town.  Most of the law enforcement was via the sheriffs department a good hour and a half drive away at the county seat.

 

When another business owner the teller had warned about Snow saw her leave on the bus, they called a relative in the town the bus was heading to and warned them about her. 

 

This person owned the local hardware store and was an armature photographer.  He had laid in wait for Snow, watching from the front display window of the hardware store.  She unknowingly had provided him with the perfect shot of her.  She had walked out onto the sidewalk down by the café and was looking around the town waiting for the bus driver to open the luggage compartments of the bus. 

 

Duncan had been parked just down from the hardware store when she first spotted him that day. 

 

She had just stowed her duffels in the bus station and walked back out to the street.  She had tried to pay a man to give her a ride to the address on the card her grandfather had given her.  The man refused and had said ‘he weren’t giving no ride to no freak.’  She had crossed the street back to the bus station in hopes of getting a local map or maybe directions to the address. 

 

That’s when she spotted Duncan.  She knew it was him when she heard the person who helped him carry out his packages say ‘thanks a lot, have a good day Mr. Galt.’  The hardware store owner had called the Sheriff, notifying him that a criminal had come to town on the bus. 

 

The Sheriff had just arrived in town and was walking towards the bus station when he came upon Duncan and his gun.  The Sheriff had parked in the post office parking lot to keep his cruiser out of sight and not spook the perp.

 

Snow looked over at the station.  So much had changed since she first blew into town three days ago.  Now she was safe to be seen and move about.

 

“Go on, get your stuff.  I’m going in there, I’ll be right out.”  Duncan said pointing to a shop just a few yards down from where he parked on the same side of the street.

 

Snow could feel the eyes of people that passed the truck on her.  This was a simple country town.  Girls that looked like her weren’t common.  She looked out the side window of the truck before opening it.  A mother with her son, maybe twelve or thirteen were walking by.  The boy was gawking at her.  Snow heard the mother reprimanded the boy.  ‘Don’t stare at that.’ The mother said to her son. 

 

Snow threw open the door and got out.  She closed the door and walked towards the back of the truck while Duncan got out and walked passed the front and towards Tannin’s Art and Antiques.

 

“Excuse me, you, lady with the boy.”  Snow said loudly towards the woman who had passed the truck.  The woman stopped and turned around.

 

“Yes?”  She said in an annoyed voice, pulling her son close to her to protect him.  Her eyes looked Snow up and down with a condescending expression on her face.  It galled her to be speaking to someone of Snow’s kind.

 

“I’m a person, not a ‘that’.” Snow said to her.

 

The woman’s son smiled large when she said this and gave her the thumbs up sign.  Snow smiled at him and waved.  The mother grabbed the boy by the arm and pulled him after her as she stormed off.

 

Snow moved down the block and crossed the street to the bus station.  She could feel the eyes of the station attendant on her as she walked passed towards the lockers.  She dug two keys with blue tags that had locker numbers engraved in them from her pocket.  She turned her head slightly when she knelt down to put one of the keys in its slot and observed the attendant head into the office out of the corner of her eyes. 

 

He looked at her through the window in the office.  He picked up the phone and dialed three numbers.  Snow guffawed softly as she opened the first locker and pulled two duffle bags out, one rather large one and one smaller.  Then she opened the second locker and pulled a backpack and another large duffle bag from it. 

 

She hoisted the backpack, which was of the larger hiking variety, onto her shoulder and slipped the opposite arm through the other strap and bounced the pack into position on her back.  Once in place she ushered one of the large duffels and the smaller one together so she could grab both of the handle straps with her right hand, and the final duffel with her left. 

 

Her luggage outweighed her.

 

Snow walked up to the counter where she could see the man who tended the counter in the office, he was still on the phone.  She set the duffel in her left hand down and used her free hand to ding the service bell that sat on the counter.  The man in the office looked out the window and nervously talked on the phone then hung up quickly.

 

When he came to her from the office he shuffled his feet and his face twitched.  He was clearly not a calm person and his eyes said she scared the living shit out of him.

.

“Yes, yes, can I help you… miss?”   The little man said in a nasally voice as he stammered.

 

“I just wanted to say thank you for taking care of my stuff.  Do I owe you anything for the extra days in the lockers?”  She asked.

 

“Oh.”  The man squeaked as he looked over at the lockers, back to her then around the area behind the top of the desk and finally back to her.  He wouldn’t look her in the eyes.  

 

His eyes fell on her lips, her ears, her nose, never to her eyes.  

 

He fidgeted his fingers the entire time. “No, no, you don’t owe anything, that’s fine, ah, thank you for asking though.”  The nasally man said.  He was maybe in his mid to late fifties, thin and wrinkled.  He smelt of cigarettes and cheap aftershave.  Snow smiled and grabbed her duffel then started for the door.

 

“H-h-have a nice day.”  The man called after her as she left.

 

Snow didn’t look back, but she heard the office door open and close again.

 

Out on the street Snow focused for distance and looked around at the shops.  She looked into windows, looking for who was looking at her. 

 

She focused on the photographer.  The hardware store.  From across the street, over the hood of the truck, she focused in.  Sure enough, there was someone in the window closest to the truck she and Duncan arrived in. 

 

The front of the hardware store had a front that angled out to make the front of the store stick out, so the display windows were more prominent.  The door was in the center of the display windows and was inset from them.  The front of the store extended out a good three feet from the other flat faced stores on the street. 

 

An assortment of plants filled the platform set right at the height of the windows on the inside of the building.  More plants hung down from above.  The brick fascia rose up two feet from the sidewalk and the windows took over from there.  Behind the foliage Snow could see a lens aimed at her.  She could see a finger moving down, taking her photo.  She stared right into the camera.  When the operator of the camera realized she was staring right at them, the camera lowered and the person quickly moved from the window. 

 

Snow crossed the street to the truck, opened the tailgate and stowed her duffels in the back.  Duncan had snapped the cover down before they left.  She was just closing the tailgate when Duncan returned from the antique shop, a plastic bag in hand with a box inside.  He came to the truck and put the bag on the back seat of the crew cab truck.

 

“Get everything?”  He asked.

 

“Yup.”  She replied.

 

“I’ve got to get some things from the hardware store.”  Duncan said.

 

“Great, I’ll come with you.”  Snow replied somewhat monotone.

 

Duncan smiled as she came to his side.  He stuck his elbow out and she put her arm in the space he made for it.  The two walked the short distance to the entry of Diller’s hardware.  Duncan loosed her arm to open the door for her and followed her in. 

 

As Snow walked ahead of him into the store, his eyes moved down and took in the sight wrapped in tight black studded jeans.  His eyes followed the well rounded twitch of her bottom as she walked until he was greeted by the owner of the store.

 

“Hey, D-Duncan!”  The middle aged man in a red and black checkerboard shirt said. “Didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”  The man looked over at Snow as she passed.

 

Snow continued on down the narrow isles as Duncan went to the counter that sat about ten feet from the door and against the side wall of the store. “What can I get for you today?”  Snow heard the man ask as she descended into the bowels of the store.

 

“I need some mailbox letters, the inch and a half size, black on white and some small brads.”  Duncan requested.

 

“Oh, right back here along the back wall we have the mailbox stuff, follow me.”  The proprietor said as he led Duncan back. The man was showing Duncan his selection of letters and numbers, some on a metal placard and others that were just a thin plastic decal.

 

“Is she with you?”  The man asked Duncan as Snow walked into the back isle.

 

“Yes, that’s my girlfriend, Snow.”  Duncan answered.  “Why?”

 

The man looked back to Duncan as Snow left the isle. “Oh, I just saw the two of you enter together,” the man chuckled awkwardly, “didn’t want to assume you were together if’n you wasn’t.”  He finished then went back to helping Duncan get the letters he needed. 

 

It wasn’t much more than five minutes before the proprietor and Duncan returned to the counter.  Snow had put several items on the counter for purchase.  A roll of duct tape, some scissors, paraffin wax,  a pair of work gloves, a spool of thin galvanized wire and a small notebook.

 

“Ah, find everything ok miss?”  The man asked her with a nervous flutter in his voice.

 

“Yes, I did find everything.”  She said and looked at him hard. Duncan flashed a questioning look at her when she spoke.  Her voice was venomous.  There was implication in her voice.  Snow looked back down at the counter.

 

The owner of the store became a touch flighty.  He was put off by her tone, the way she said her words, especially the way she emphasized the word ‘everything’. “Good, that’s, good.”  He responded as he looked down at Snow’s items.  “Is there anything else miss?”  He asked tenuously. 

 

“Cartridges, I need some cartridges.”  Snow said and looked up from the items she was messing distractedly with.

 

“Cartridges.”  The man said, his voice and look said he was unsure of what she meant. “What kind of cartridges would that be miss?  For a ladies razor?”  He reached, trying to be helpful.

 

Snow’s face was cold, emotionless. “Fifty caliber APC, hollow point.  The ones with the large hole.”  Snow said calmly.

 

The man looked at her, obviously shocked by her request. “Yes, ah, we have those…”  The man paused and looked over at Duncan who had stepped back and was observing the interaction.

 

Duncan didn’t know what Snow was up to, but he had learned everything she did was for a reason.  He had come to understand her better.  Whatever she was doing, he had his mind set he would let it happen and he would observe and not interfere.  Snow knew what she was doing, and if the reason didn’t become self evident, she would explain it to him later, plainly.

 

The proprietor was clearly worried about Snow asking for bullets. “What do you need them for?”  He asked.

 

Snow looked at him with a look that conveyed a ‘what are you, stupid’ message. “A gun.”  She replied.

 

The proprietor gave a nervous laugh.  “I assumed that miss, wasn’t trying to be rude, are you using them in a rifle of some type or a pistol?  We have two types of… cartridges in the style you’re asking for.  One is better for rifle.”  He explained.

 

“Pistol.”  Snow told him.

 

“And do you have a carry permit?”  The proprietor asked, clearly becoming more nervous as the interaction went on.

 

“Do I need one to purchase cartridges?”  She shot back coldly.

 

“Well, no, not for cartridges, you don’t need a carry permit, but you do need to be eighteen years old to buy them.”  The man shifted his weight on his feet.  “I was asking because most people use their permit to verify their age.”  He filled in with a nervous laugh, attempting to cover himself.

 

“Right.”  Snow said and reached for her passport.

 

She handed it to the man, his hands shook slightly as he took the document.  He opened it and grazed over the document until he found the date of birth.  His eyes showed that he was surprised to see the age she was.  He glanced at her then back to the passport.

 

“Very well.”  He said to Snow.  “I must say, other women must be jealous of how young you look.”  The man added in a feeble attempt to give her a complement as he handed her passport back. 

 

He turned around and picked up a key from the cupboard below the glass covered case above that held the boxes of cartridges.  He unlocked the sliding glass panels and looked back at Snow and gave a reassuring smile.  His hands moved slow as he appeared to be looking for the right box of shells.

 

“Top shelf, far right second stack from the right.”  Snow said coldly.

 

“Right, yes, here they are.  Box of fifty alright?”  He asked.

 

“Fine, five.”  She snapped.

 

“Five boxes?”  The man asked as he looked back over his shoulder to make sure he had heard her right.

 

“Five boxes of fifty cartridges is what I want.”  Snow said slowly and clearly enunciating every word while holding her stare on him.  She remained motionless otherwise.

 

As the proprietor turned around with the boxes of shells he looked to Duncan again.  He placed the boxes with Snow’s other items next to Duncan’s bag of letters and box of brad nails.

 

“Are these together or separate?”  The proprietor asked looking at the items on the counter.

 

“Together.”  Snow said before Duncan could say the same thing.

 

The man began ringing up the items, reciting what they were and the price as he rang.  Then he informed the couple of the total, with tax. Duncan moved forward and was reaching for his wallet when Snow piped up.

 

“I’ve got it sweetie.”  She said.  Duncan stopped and looked away from her.

 

“And will that be cash, or uh, credit?”  The man asked, hoping she wasn’t using a card.

 

“Cash.”  Snow said and pulled out a folded over stack of bills that were about an inch and a quarter thick unfolded.  She pealed two bills from the bottom of the stack and dropped them on the counter.

 

Both men raised their eyebrows when they saw her bankroll. The man made the change then bagged up the items on the counter, Snow was holding the gloves and the roll of wire.

 

“Do you have a wire cutter?”  She asked the proprietor.

 

He looked at the items Snow was holding, not sure if she wanted to cut the thin round plastic cable tie that held the gloves together in a pair or the wire.

 

“Yes, sure do miss.”  He said and reached under the counter while Duncan took the bag from the counter

.

The proprietor handed a plastic grip handled, well used wire cutter to Snow.  She passed the gloves and wire off to Duncan and took the cutters.  She reached into her jacket pocket and took out a small black card.  The proprietor recognized it as an SD card, not unlike the one he used in his camera. 

 

Snow started clipping the card into small pieces letting them fall to the counter in front of the man as he realized it was the card from his camera.  His face was still.  He made no protest as she nipped the entire card up.  When she finished she politely set the wire cutters on the counter and looked the man square in the face.

 

“Stop taking pictures of me.”  Snow said in a voice that was lower in tone than her normal voice and carried a warning.  Her face and eyes were ridged and set.

 

Snow wheeled away from the counter and strode towards the door with an elongated stride, Duncan was smiling as he turned and followed.  By the time he reached the door he was fully laughing out loud.  Snow handled the situation well,  There would be no more pictures of her taken from the hardware store.

 

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Snow opened the door for Duncan this time, his hands were full and he was laughing rather hard and they left the store heading to the truck.  He set the bag on the top of the cover over the truck box and recovered.  Getting his breath he undid two of the snaps on the side of the truck and pushed the cover aside just enough to lower the bag in.  He closed the cover and turned to open the door for Snow. 

 

He looked past her as she got in, her eyes followed his.  Coming from the way they were facing, which was the opposite direction they needed to go, was a sheriff’s cruiser.  It was still too far away for him to see who was driving, could be a regular patrol.  As Snow looked over at Duncan he gauged by her look, it wasn’t. 

 

Duncan crossed in front of the truck and looked towards the cruiser moving rather slow down the street in their direction and climbed in.  With a deep sigh he fired the truck up and checked the mirrors while he moved the transmission to drive and made a U-turn in the nearly vacant street.  He watched the rearview mirror as he accelerated down the street, the cruiser closed in on him and followed him out of town. 

 

Duncan saw Snow was also watching from the side mirror on her side of the truck.  When they stopped at the stop sign at the end of town where the main four lane highway crossed, Duncan was able to see who was in the cruiser, Sheriff Hanks was behind the wheel and his sidekick James was in the passenger seat. 

 

Duncan looked up and down the highway which was clear and went across down the two lane road ahead of him.  He drove normal, he wasn’t about to give the Sheriff any reason to stop him. 

           

They were about five miles down the road with another eight to go till they reached the turnoff to the dirt road that led to home when the cruiser’s emergency lights came on.  Duncan and Snow both sighed at the same time. 

 

Duncan slowed and put his blinker on to show he was pulling over.  Once the truck was at a full stop both the Sheriff and James got out of their cruiser and started towards the truck.  James stopped by the rear wheel on Snow’s side, he adjusted his gun belt while he stood there, the Sheriff came up to Duncan’s door where he already had the window down.

 

“Something I can do for you, Sheriff?”  Duncan asked, he made no effort to hide the annoyance in his voice.

 

The Sheriff looked intently at Duncan.  He tried to read him for a few moments before speaking. “You have a tail light out.  License and registration please.”  The Sheriff asked putting his hand out waiting for the requested documentation.

 

Duncan was staring back at the Sheriff, matching his determination.  Without looking away Duncan reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a passport sized booklet and handed it to the Sheriff.

 

The Sheriff took the booklet and looked down.  The cover had the letters CIA on it with the logo for the organization.  The Sheriff’s eyes narrowed looking at the cover, with an exhale he opened the document.  He didn’t look at it long.

 

The Sheriff took note of the activation date, Friday, they same day he had been escorted off Duncan’s property.  He looked at the signature authorizing the ID, it was Deputy Director Clay’s.

 

“Here’s my ID Sheriff.”  Snow said, extending her CIA identification towards the Sheriff.  She held it in a manner that left the writing on the cover visible to the Sheriff.

 

Sheriff Hanks closed Duncan’s ID and handed it back to him.  “That wont be necessary.”  He said.  The Sheriff turned back towards his cruiser and walked away.

 

Duncan and Snow watched in their mirrors as he went back to the cruiser.  James turned and looked at the Sheriff who just pointed to the car.  Duncan couldn’t hear what the Sheriff said.  The two officers got into their vehicle and turned around in the road and headed back towards town. 

 

Duncan put the truck in drive and hammered the gas, when he looked over at Snow, she saw the big grin on his face, it matched hers.

 

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When they got to Duncan’s driveway he turned in and stopped at the end by the mailbox and got out.  He went to Snow’s side of the truck and undid the snaps by where he had dropped the bag from the hardware store at, he moved down a bit and undid a few more snaps and finally pulled the bag from the box and retrieved the small paper bag from inside. 

 

He opened the door behind Snow and pulled a roll of paper towels out, took one and put the roll back then he took the paper bag and went to the mailbox.  He wiped the box down on the approaching side and took items from the bag.  Curiosity finally got the better of Snow.  She undid her seatbelt and slipped out of the cab of the truck, back to where Duncan was.

 

Emotion hit her hard when she saw what he was doing. 

 

On the mailbox just below his name he put the symbol for ‘and’ then under that ‘Snow T Wolff’ indicating she too now lived here. 

 

Duncan was bent over rubbing the last letter on the box when she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a hug.  Letting go so he could stand straight the two of them backed a step from the box and looked at it.  Snow’s reaction told Duncan he had done the right thing.  It was a simple, small way to let her know she belonged here now, no more games, he was committed to their partnership, no more doubting her. 

 

A lot was said in a few letters.

 

When they were in the garage Snow took the bag from the hardware store with her to the house and Duncan let her in, he had his other bag with him.  They talked casually as they moved to the kitchen.  Snow picked up the rag she had left on the counter and tossed it into the sink.

 

Duncan looked at the clock on the wall of the kitchen by the fridge, then to the one above the sink.  Snow read the thought on his face.  Nightfall was coming in a few hours.  The idle conversation ended. 

 

Snow went back out to the truck and Duncan followed to help her bring in her bags.  He grabbed the smallest of the bags and the backpack and handed them to her, then he took the two large duffels and heaved them up.  They were heavier than he expected.  Either one of them would have outweighed Snow herself. 

 

He asked Snow if she would hit the button that lowered the garage door for him as they walked out the side door.  She set the small duffel down and activated it then picked the duffel back up and hooked a finger on the knob of the side door to pull it closed.  It bounced out of the jamb and she had to set the bag down again to make it latch.  Back inside Duncan asked if she wanted all her bags in her room or if she needed to use the laundry.  She told him the large bags went upstairs and she would change and use the laundry.

 

“Good idea.”  He ribbed her with a smile.

 

Duncan went upstairs while Snow changed in the library and took the rest of her clothes from the backpack and small duffel to the laundry and started a load of wash.  Even though most of the clothes hadn’t been worn, she still washed them after being stored in the bus station.

 

She hadn’t seen Duncan come down yet.  She heard a soft pounding sound.  She moved to the stairs and listened.  He was upstairs still and it sounded like he was hammering something.  She went up the stairs and saw him in the hall outside the door to the room she had been staying in.  Duncan looked over at her, he was smiling.

 

“What do you think?  You like it?”  He said.

 

Snow looked at the door.  On it was a plaque, black in color with gothic letters in white.  The plaque had Snow’s name on it.  It accented well on the white door.

 

“Thank you Duncan.”  She said softly.  He made the room officially hers now.  “I love it!”  She finished and started tearing up.

 

“Let’s get downstairs, probably hungry by now.”  Duncan said giving her a chance to break before she started crying.  He could tell she was fighting it.

 

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They were sitting in the living room finishing off the leftover salad from the night before with a couple fresh draft beers on the coffee table.  The news was on.  They were conversing about various idle chat things when Duncan finally asked a question he had been wondering about.

 

“Your necklace and jewelry, it looks silver, I thought werewolves were, well that werewolves couldn’t wear it.”  Duncan asked.

 

“We can’t, silver is an unholy currency, it is the price of a soul.  Also, in lore, it was paid, thirty pieces of silver, for a betrayal, the price of a soul.  Silver, not copper, is the payment to the ferryman on the river Styx.  There is more to it, but because silver is an unholy currency, being creatures of the Light, it hurts us, though not as bad as holy water to the undead.”  She explained.

 

She held her necklace in her fingers and looked at it.  “Most of my jewelry is platinum.  The studs are surgical steel.  Silver weakens us, where as holy water will kill the creatures of the darkness in fairly small amounts, a pint or so will do.”

 

She let go of her necklace and looked over to him.  “It would take a lot more silver by comparison to actually kill a werewolf, it’s more of a damage over time to us, the longer it stays in us, the more it weakens us, if weakened enough, just like blood loss to a human, we die.  Also a small amount of holy water has a similar effect on the undead if it were to be put inside them.”

 

Duncan nodded.  Snow seemed pleased he was asking questions and taking the lead in learning. “Robert Clay said you were supposed to bring me up to speed, you’ve told me a bit about you… and werewolves; so what have I gotten myself into?  What is it we’re supposed to do?  What are we up against?”  Duncan said after a few more minutes, muting the news.

 

Snow’s eyes widened in a ‘wow’ expression.  She stammered a bit looking off into nothing, “Sheesh, where to begin…” she muttered as she held her hands up with a look of uncertainty.  The questions he asked, there was a lot of ground to cover.

 

As he watched her, Duncan realized his questions required a lot of time to explain.  He’d made it sound like she could give a simple short answer.  “Why don’t you start by telling me the basics about vampires, how they operate and who or what we’re dealing with.”  He offered up as a starting point.

 

She sighed with a smile and looked over at him.  “That still leaves a lot of ground to cover, but we have to start someplace, right?”  She laughed softly.  “Why don’t we go to the deck, I’ll draft us a couple more beers and… well… class will be in session.”  She ended putting her hand on his arm and giving him a comforting smile.

 

Smiling back Duncan nodded in agreement.  While Snow went to the keg, he grabbed some chips and filled a bowl with salsa then moved out to the deck.  He set the bowl and bag of chips down and took his spot while he waited for Snow.  By the time he was situated in his chair, she came to him with two of the large glasses filled with freshly pulled beer and handed one off to him with a smile as she sat.

 

They both drank from their glasses, set them down and said nothing.  Snow was clearly trying to figure out where she wanted to start.

 

“Clay brought me in for a reason, must be something, or someone that is a hot ticket item right now.  What’s going on that he’d want me involved?”  Duncan said trying to start the ball rolling.

 

Snow breathed deep with a raised eyebrow expression as she looked at her glass.  “That’s a good question.”  She looked at him with a blank face.  “I’d have to guess Alexander.  He’s been up to something, we just don’t know what.”

 

Duncan looked back with serious eyes.  “Alexander, is he the one that I attacked, well, the CIA attacked?”

 

She shook her head as she drank her beer.  “No, well, and yes, but mostly no as to ‘attacked’.”  She sighed again.  “Hondigahl is who you technically attacked, it was his coven that you destroyed.  Your wife was merely hiding out at his place since he was closest.  But she belonged to Alexander, she was his second, the head of his dragons and personal pet of her master.”

 

“And… Hondigahl is a vampire?”  He asked.

 

Snow shook her head.  “Okay, lets start here.  I told you that the darkness is trapped in it’s own world, right.  Then there are minions that are separated from their master and our world, stuck in between plains of existence.  The darkness creates manifestations of itself in our world.  Hondigahl and Alexander are two such manifestations, they are very powerful minions of the darkness.  Your people and you, stepped on two sets of toes when they attacked.  You pissed off Hondigahl for destroying his coven, and Alexander for taking his prized slave from him.”

 

“Great.”  Duncan said with a snort.

 

“Alexander serves Prith, one of the minions trapped between worlds.  You hit a large coven, around two thousand vampires.  Most covens are much smaller, ones that are run by ancient vampires or elder vampires usually average around five hundred or so.  Regular vampires that are allowed to have their own coven typically have around a hundred or less, some as small as ten vampires.  This doesn’t include their day walkers which usually don’t stay at the coven itself.”

 

Duncan slid the bag of chips towards her.  She took one, tried the salsa and made a face.

 

“Hondigahl serves a different minion than Alexander, they are somewhat territorial so usually if one is in a city or a part of a large city, the others leave them alone.  Alexander though has been getting the minions in our world to serve him.  The whole purpose of the minions, aside from collecting souls for their master, is to try and find a way for the darkness to cross back into our world.  Prith is by far the strongest of the netherworld minions.”  Snow stopped, she stared at the table unmoving.

 

Duncan watched her, but said nothing.  He could tell something was bothering her.  After a few more moments she turned and faced him.

 

“Prith is the one who gave me the scars on my face.  Lucky for me these were claw wounds and not a bite.”  She said as she ran her fingers along the scars then looked off in thought again, remembering what happened he presumed.

 

With what he knew about vampires, the trouble he and his people had in their battle with them, he hated to think what the battle with a powerful minion would have been like.  And this girl, this woman, this warrior, she’d been face to face with this minion, close enough that he struck her face.  She had to be brave.  He wondered what she could have done to be cast out of her clan, someone who took on Prith and lived to tell the tale.

 

“So why have I been brought in?  You made it clear it wasn’t for my hunting abilities.  Why did Clay bring me onboard?”

 

When she looked back to him he could see she picked up on the implication he included regarding his feeling insulted by her reaction when he called himself a hunter.

 

“Robert, not Clay, Robert is the one who brought you in, Clay is the patriarch of clan Clay.”  She informed him.  Her eyes said she didn’t care for this person.  “As to why you were asked to work with us, I have no idea, I’m not even sure why I was brought in.  Maybe to protect you, not sure.”

 

Some time passed, Snow and Duncan talked and she told him some of the finer points of how to battle vampires, though it was from a werewolf’s vantage point, some of the information was useful for a human. 

 

As Duncan had already learned garlic, fresh garlic, didn’t kill vampires it only disorientated them.  This helped prevent them from flying, as she said before, it messed up their radar, and they wouldn’t be able to track the living, human or werewolf.

 

They moved back inside as night started to show its coming.  Sitting back down in the living room after the house was secured they started talking again.

 

Duncan questioned her about werewolves once being the guardians of vampires as some lore told.  Their hell hounds that protected them during the day.  Snow told him of how vampires had used the blood of downed werewolves to turn humans and mixed their own blood or brain fluid with it to make a werewolf they could control. 

 

This worked for awhile until, being creatures of light, they tried to return to the light but with essence of darkens in them, it drove them mad.  They eventually became half-lifes, not fully turned vampires, not fully turned werewolves.  They were alive and dead at the same time.  They could tolerate the light but in the end turned on their masters.  Light always extinguishes darkness she said. 

 

He asked about staking a vampire with a wooden stake through the heart, if that really killed them.  She confirmed that much was true.  She didn’t know the details as to why, only that wood had a detrimental effect on vampires when it entered their bodies.  Through the heart would kill them, though the heart was not alive, it did move the blood they harvested through them. 

 

Vampires, being dead, needed the blood of the living in order to revitalize their bodies.  Without it they would begin to decompose, unless they went into a dormant state. 

 

Vampires could expel all fluid from their bodies, saving only the red blood cells in their structure, the process had to be done quickly.  They could stay in this state for extended periods of time, not requiring any feeding or anything to sustain them. 

 

A vampire she explained, could remain this way for nearly a century.  Then when they needed to be rehydrated, another vampire would put the dormant vampire in a vat of fresh human blood extracted while the victims were still alive.

 

Duncan asked about the need for human blood.  Why did it have to be human. 

 

Snow explained that vampires absorbed the memories and mind of the living through their blood, she asked what he though would happen if a vampire absorbed the memories and mind of an animal.  ‘They would have the thoughts and mind of an animal.’ He’d answered.  She referenced him back to the hive mentality of the vampires.

 

“So why do you need a gun?”  Duncan finally asked her.

 

“I don’t have a gun.”  Snow said.

 

“But you bought shells for one, why do that if you don’t have one?”  He asked a bit confused.

 

“You have a gun, a Desert Eagle.  I bought cartridges for your gun.  You need some kind of protection when we go out, a way to slow them down until I can help you, or so you can stake them or hose them down.  Garlic is only good if you’re in close range.  And your shotguns with the wooden spike in the shell, not good at much of a range.”  Snow explained.

 

Duncan shook his head a bit in lack of understanding. “But, if holy water and wood are the only things that kill them…” He began

 

“Sunlight and decapitation.”  Snow interjected.

 

“Okay, I can hardly blow the entire head off with a pistol.”  Duncan argued.  “What good is a pistol with lead bullets against a vampire?”

 

“It isn’t.”  Snow said bluntly.  “It’s what you do to the bullets.”  She said smiling.  “The cartridges I bought have a larger hollow point than standard hollow points.  We put a drop of holy water in them, mixed with garlic juice, fresh squeezed not from a jar, wax seal it and you have a weapon that will damage them.”

 

She shrugged.  “It won’t kill them but it’ll sure slow them down and disorientate them.  And when the bullet hits them it will inject the mix into them, they wont be able to get it out.  The longer it stays in, the weaker they get.  This will give you, or me, or a rouge, a chance to take the head, stake them or give them a nice blessed shower.”  Snow said with a smile.

 

Duncan laughed.  This was just one of the many tricks she had up her sleeves he figured.  He was beginning to understand what a hunter she really was, and how her words calling him barely a rank armature rang true.

 

They talked well into the night while keeping a vigilant eye on the yard and the monitors.  Snow said they would be attacked again, it was only a matter of time.  She said the next time they wouldn’t be the lesser recon force, next time she said, the bad asses would be coming for them. 

 

She had told Duncan Alexander had a hard-on for him, she also added that Prith had a personal score to settle with her.  Duncan didn’t ask her what that score was.  He really didn’t want to know, he felt though in time, he would find out.

 

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The next day Snow accompanied Duncan to his facility on the other side of town.  It was some twelve miles outside of the small town and consisted of three large building.  Duncan showed her his designs for the lights that hung in his yard and explained how they worked. 

 

Snow took everything in and started drafting new designs for a more portable organic light device that wouldn’t need the large generators to be effective.  They worked together at the facility and in the one workshop Duncan had at his house.  They were becoming quite the team.

 

On one morning Duncan had come upstairs to talk to Snow.  Her door was ajar and swung open when he tried to knock on it.  There he found Snow standing by the bed, one of her duffel bags open and she was assembling a large crossbow.  The cross member was as wide as she was tall.  The bolts for the weapon that were laying on the bed were a good three feet long and over an inch in diameter. 

 

“Where the hell did you get that from?  Van Helsing?”  Duncan asked in a shocked voice.

 

Snow was dressed in tight black clothes, her pants had pockets that held weapons and vials, a large sword was attached on her back.  He was used to seeing her in gothic clothing, pants with chains, studs and spikes, common for the gothic look, but this went into an entirely different realm. 

 

Her shirt was skin tight, not the baggy style she usually wore.  Her belt was a utility type,  there were the hilts of knives and bottles protruding from the pouches.  He realized this was her combat dress.  Her appearance really made the situation he had gotten himself into hit home. 

 

Duncan walked in and past Snow who only looked at him, her face showed no emotion.  He sat in the lone chair in the room and watched Snow finish assembling the oversized crossbow. 

 

The string was thick, extremely thick.  Duncan wondered how a person could cock such a weapon, the pullback on the string had to be immense.  Once Snow had it together, she put the front on the floor and put a foot in the stirrup on the front.  The back end towered over her head.  The entire thing had to be close to seven foot tall.  

 

Snow crouched down and grasped the bow string, then with her hands at her chin, stood pushing the string to the back of the bow which now was above her head.  She thrust her arms up and the string locked into the trigger assembly.  Duncan stared.  His eyes were opened to the true strength of the young girl.  What she really was burned in the image before him.  She was the hunter.

 

The doorbell chimed getting the attention of both.  He sprang from the chair and headed for the door of Snow’s room.  He brushed a hand softly across her shoulder as he passed. 

 

It was early morning, about seven-thirty, the house wasn’t in a secure state and the sun was fully beaming.  He looked out the window of the door and saw Sheriff Hanks standing there.

 

“It’s our local Sheriff!”  Duncan yelled back across the living room in the direction of the stairs that led up to where Snow was.  He had no doubt even over the distance her keen ears would hear him.  The door wasn’t locked, Duncan turned the knob and opened it.

 

“Duncan.”  The Sheriff said calmly.  His voice was low, his tone had no spite in it, he sounded like he would if he were talking to a colleague.

 

“Sheriff.”  Duncan returned with reserve, wondering why they were suddenly on a first name basis.

 

“Miss Snow.”  The Sheriff said as though he were greeting her, Duncan looked to the side, Snow slipped in without a sound or anything to alert Duncan she had arrived.

 

Snow was in normal clothes, for her. “Sheriff Hanks.”  Snow greeted back.

 

The entire interaction reeked of awkwardness.  The Sheriff looked away from them, nowhere in particular, and spoke as he did. “We’ve got a body in the cooler at my office.”  He stated then looked back to Duncan. “It’s torn up just like your agent here was.”  The Sheriff’s face was grim.  He wasn’t being authoritative at all. 

 

Duncan and Snow looked at each other.  Then questioningly back to the Sheriff.  They both had the same question in mind.  Why was the Sheriff telling them?

 

“What did the state say?  Did they send you here?”  Duncan asked, the Sheriff being here didn’t make sense, the state would have taken over the case.

“It’s Ken Malory, the local financial planner.  He was found behind his office this morning.”  The Sheriff said.

 

“I don’t understand why you’re telling us Sheriff.”  Duncan said.  “This is a matter for the local authorities and the state.”  He ended.

 

The Sheriff looked away again.  His lips tightened, he wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing.  He was taking a chance talking with Duncan and Snow.  “No, this isn’t a matter for my department, or the state.”  Sheriff Hanks looked back to Duncan, his eyes said he knew he was in over his head, that he was counting on Duncan and Snow, whatever it was they did, this was their area of expertise, and the people they were associated with.

 

“What happened here, wasn’t no damn cat attack, you and I both know that, neither was what happened to Ken.”  The Sheriff said to Duncan.  “I haven’t told the state anything.  The body’s in the cooler in the basement of the Sheriff’s station, my people have been told to stay clear of it.  No ones going to ask any questions when it’s removed or interfere in anyway.”  The Sheriff said to Duncan.

 

Duncan nodded.  He understood what the Sheriff was saying and respected him for it.  He was doing what he felt was best for the people he was entrusted to protect.  Sheriff Hanks had done what he had come to do.  He turned from the door to the Galt house and walked back to his cruiser. 

 

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When he arrive back at the Sheriff’s station there was a large black Suburban parked in front of the station with two black cars, one ahead of and one behind the Suburban.  Across the street from the Suburban sat a black Cadillac, the windows tinted near black.  Men in suits were hauling a body bag out, the back doors of the Suburban were open, ready to receive its passenger.

 

The Sheriff parked in the side lot next to the station where the off duty patrol cars were parked and walked to the front of the station.  He was about to enter when a man he recognized called to him.  It was Colonel Clay, the Deputy Director.

 

Sheriff Hanks walked over to him.  The Suburban pulled away as the two men met up next to where it’d been sitting.  Clay looked across the street at the Cadillac while Sheriff Hanks stood waiting.  He didn’t look over when he heard the door of the Cadillac open.  No one else was on the sidewalk in front of the station.  Only the Sheriff and the men in suits.  The man from the helicopter came out from the back of the Cadillac and walked over to where Sheriff Hanks stood with Clay.

 

“We’ll need any records, pictures, anything you have on this Sheriff.”  The man said.  He was dressed in an expensive suit, just as he had been when Sheriff Hanks first saw him at Duncan Galt’s place.

 

“There aren’t any.”  The Sheriff said to the man in a blunt voice.  “I had my people put the body in the bag you took out of here and we put it in the cooler, nothing more, no notes no pictures, nothing.”  Sheriff Hanks informed him.

 

The man smiled.  “That’s very good Sheriff.  Who else knows about this?”  He asked.

 

“Only the person who notified you, and his girlfriend.  I think you know who I mean.”  He responded.

 

“You made no calls to the state, anyone else?”  The man in the suit asked being thorough.

 

“Nobody.”  Sheriff Hanks answered.

 

“Good job Sheriff, you did the right thing.”  The man said.  He nodded to Clay then went back across the street and got back into the back of the Cadillac.  After the door closed the car pulled away fast.

 

Two men exited the Sheriff’s station.  Clay looked at them. “Are we good?”  he asked them.

 

“Yes sir, all set.”  One of them answered. Then the Director and the two men climbed into one of the cars left behind after the Suburban pulled away, then both cars drove off.

 

The Sheriff stood on the sidewalk and looked after the cars until they were out of sight.  He turned and looked at the station, considering what he had done, was it the right thing?  Time would tell he figured and started up the steps and went into the station. 

 

When he reached his office and went inside, sitting next to his desk were five good sized brown cardboard boxes.  The Sheriff looked at them with a question on his face.  There was no label on any of them.  The tops were taped closed with clear packing tape, nothing identified what they were or who they belonged to.  The Sheriff picked one up, it was rather heavy. 

 

Setting it on his desk he went around to the side he normally sat at and pulled a knife from the center drawer, extended the blade and cut the tape on the box.  He flipped open the flaps and brushed aside the packing material.  Inside was a silver hard case, like an equipment or tool case.  He pulled it out, moved the box to the floor putting the case where the box had been and opened the case. 

 

Inside this case was a camera set, like the one that had been taken from his men the night at the Galt place, only this camera set up was much better than the one they had lost that night.  The Sheriff opened the other boxes and removed similar cases, all with equipment in them, equipment that replaced the equipment that had been taken from them, and several new pieces that his department had been trying to get.

 

“Well alright then.”  The Sheriff said as he looked over the booty.  “I guess we’re good then.”

 

 

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