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The Beast in Me (completed)
I headed toward the bridge. It lay deserted now. At the top of its broad arch I could finally make out the figure of my mother in the distance. She had made it to the town square by now. Slowly moving toward the reception building, obviously looking for my father.
But then something happened that I hadn't counted on. Out of nowhere, it seemed, the bodies of five or six beasts popped up in front of me, creating a furry and impenetrable wall for me to pass. I glanced back and saw two more of them coming from behind, cutting off any path of escape. But I didn't want to escape. I needed to get through.
Then one of them came forward in the pale moonlight. It was Zany, I recognized. She looked at me strangely, almost fondly,
“So you finally found out about your parentage, I take it... Zeus told me he had almost forgotten.”
“Parentage? Zeus? What's going on here? This place seems to harbor more dark secrets than the average Canadian small town.”
I scanned the rest of the pack and wondered whom the poor souls belonged to before they had been transformed. I just hoped that Mandy wasn't one of them. Zany said cryptically,
“Jack Mansdale's plan to humiliate Sawatzky backfired.”
I looked at her blankly,
“To rape Sawatzky's wife” she added lightly.
My mouth fell open,
Zany grinned a werewolf grin,
“You still don't get it, do you?”
The others sneered and looked at each other. I was confused. Then sounds from the hotel room, where Sheena and my father had relocated to, wafted over. All this talk about my own background was highly interesting but I was badly needed at other places. My sick mother had surely entered the reception building by now and was looking for my father. Sheena was preparing to vanquish whom she thought was Zeus. But in reality he only seemed to be an ordinary human who just wanted to make some noise.
“You're not Jack Mansdale's son! I thought you'd gathered that by now!”
I stiffened with shock, while I heard the voices from up in the hotel:
“Your neck feels stiff, Mr. Mansdale. I should give you a massage.” Sheena suggested. She looked over to the bedroom. It had a large window and a balcony door. It stood ajar. Diffuse moonlight streamed in.
“That sounds wonderful, dear. You're gorgeous. I suppose, room service will take another few minutes more before dinner is ready to be served.” He got up from his soft chair and looked admiringly at Sheena. “How did you think they took it? Was I good?”
“Excellent, Mr. Mansdale! You showed them who's in charge.”
“Please, call me Jack!”
They slowly headed toward the bedroom.
“Too bad only that Gene Sawatzky never showed up...” he muttered.
“Nor did my father...” Sheena's voice was weak and trembling.
“I guess it was too much to bear. Seeing his power finally crumbling.” He continued as if he hadn't heard Sheena.
“Did you... I mean he probably deserved...” She was playing her role despite herself, trying to keep her composure. Thinking of course that hat he had lied to her and that her father had been killed by Jack Mansdale. Now only having revenge left. For the good of the village. Or so she thought. Jack Mansdale sat down on the king sized bed and settled on the soft matress of the bed, facing away from Sheena. She rolled down the collar of his shirt and put her hands on the back of his neck and started kneading. I could almost feel her determination form.
“I think, I can do this myself, Ron...” I heard the wind whisper in my ear. “...and get it over with.”
From her pocket, Sheena had slipped out the letter opener that she had swiped at my father's office earlier. The blood in my veins froze. She held up the blade and saw its silhouette forming against his back. The shaft of metal felt heavy in her hand. She examined the sharp tip in the dimly lit room. It was only inches away from the man's heart, ready to pierce through his shirt.
“You know, a similar party took place here, years ago...” Jack Mansdale chuckled as if remembering an old story from his life, “I was so much younger... Don't stop! That was nice. Right there” he said and pointed to a spot on his shoulder. He was already missing the soft touch of her hands.
Zany bared her teeth,
“What's up?! Can't take the truth?”
I blinked and focused my attention back on her,
“Out of my way! This can wait! Why should I even trust you?”
A growling went through the pack. They made threatening movements toward me but didn't dare pass Zany before she commanded them. I was more than eager to destroy the pack if I could but there was no time. I couldn't let Sheena stain her hands with the blood of an innocent person. At least he wasn't the werewolf we has been looking for.
“There is no `then', cub! This is it. We're here to finish you off. Whether you get to know the truth or not!”
But then, one of them charged forward, right towards me. In the blink of an eye, I had shifted my weight. His jump missed me by half an inch and with my shoulder I deflected him, using his momentum to send him over the edge of the railing and splashing into the ice cold river. With a fading howl of despair he was washed away with the stream and there was silence again. The others didn't even flinch. One down, I thought, and the rest of the pack to go, I gulped. It would be quickest to play along,
“So what's the story? Who's my father?”
Zany nodded in delight.
Sheena had temporarily returned to her massaging again, not to arouse his suspicion. She glanced at the pointed weapon that she had laid on the top of the drawer next to the bed, waiting for the right moment to be used. Jack Mansdale continued his story,
“Old Sawatzky's son, Gene, that playboy. He had an easy life. His wife, she was my girlfriend in high school. But he took her. Blinded by the money, I suppose. I was devasted. I tried to fight him, win her back, even through my marriage. We belonged together, you know.”
“Not Frank's stepmother. His real mother. Cecilia.”
“Where is she now? What happened?”
“She... she died giving birth to that bastard... Sawatzky's son. I hope they track him down soon!”
With one ear on the strange conversation that had ensued in the hotel and another listening to Zany, my head was starting to spin. She hissed in a low, growling voice,
“Jack Mansdale hated Sawatzky. So much that he sunk as low as taking it out on his wife...”
“You said that already!” I scratched impatiently in the snow with my front paws.
“...but Gene Sawatzky reciprocated the same evening. There was this party that the Old Sawatzky -- his father, Garp -- was throwing, to celebrate the acquisition of the dam and the power plant. A true demonstration of power, if you will!” She hissed with pleasure.
“Reciprocated... you mean...”
“Come on, werewolves take what they desire, don't they?”
Back in the hotel, Jack stretched his back a bit before he continued,
“So I used politics, got into the town council. But I lost every motion that I ever initiated against his old man's company. It was like this family was bestowed with superpowers or something.”
Sheena gasped almost inaudibly.
“But when he gave this party... my eyes beheld her there again. Beautiful as ever. I saw she was having too much to drink and when I took her aside, she cried her heart out to me, telling me how badly Sawatzky was treating her. One day being kind, the next day a beast. Told me he was beating her. Then one thing came to another that night...”
“You made love to each other...?” Sheena suggested. Jack Mansdale stared at the wall in front of him, smiling,
“That's right. Love.” He turned around to look at Sheena whose mind was racing now. “You remind me of her.” He closed his hand around her wrist and pulled her closer. Sheena lost sight of the letter opener and lost her balance, collapsing on his lap. “I'll tell you another secret, little girl.” Sheena felt repulsed by the closeness to his face. “You may wonder why I have favored my daughter, Sue, before my... son. Why I don't want to talk to him or... have second thoughts being with his girlfriend.”
Sheena felt his grip harden around her waist. Why wasn't she using any or her powers, I wondered.
“Well, Ron is not my son... not my biological son, anyway”.
So, it was true, I squirmed. Sheena had become rigid on his lap.
“I found out one day when I took him to the doctor. The blood types didn't match. Priscilla must have gotten friendly with Sawatzky at the party. I asked her to distract him, not go to bed with him!” He said with a sneer on his face.
“Having to find out that way was devasting. I couldn't live with my family anymore and I left. But I wanted to remind myself of the day... feel the pain every day to stay alert and ready for revenge. So I named my company after the stupid, childish way that Ron kept calling this doctor who broke the bad news to me. I'll never forget his face.”
“Dr. Seuss...” Sheena whispered.
“Right on. But that was too profane. Instead I used the spelling of the mythological Greek Father of Gods: Zeus!” He smiled again and stroked Sheena's cheek.
“Poor, beautiful Cecilia. So much like you.” Athough he wasn't a werewolf after all, he didn't seem to have any qualms taking what he wanted, either. Not needing to take it away from a son made it even easier, it appeared. Sheena struggled to get free but he restrained her. “You like to be in the spheres of power, don't you? You practically invited me in here. It's not like I forced you, is it?”
“Well I...” then she stopped for a second, “Wait! But what about Frank, then?!”
“What about him? He ran off after I made that no-good pay a bit for his father's...”
“No! Don't you see? Ron's a werewolf but Frank is not!”
“Ron a werewolf?! What on earth are you talking about, young lady? Did you have too many sips of that Champagne?”
Everything became crystal clear to both of us, simultaneously. A cold gust of wind hit the bridge and tugged at our fur. I squinted and looked at Zany,
“So, then I am...”
“...Sawatzky's son, yes! Atlas is your father, that's why you're a werewolf!”
“...is Jack Mansdale's son. In those days, Zeus -- alias Horace Dragovi'c, alias whatever back then -- was the head of the hospital. He found out about the circumstances when the both of you were born.”
Sheena looked at Jack Mansdale and nodded. She had, of course, not heard a word of what had been said on the bridge but following Jack's story it became obvious to her, too,
“Wow, then Frank must be your son!”
Then there was a loud banging on the door and the next second it flew open. The heads of Sheena and Jack Mansdale whirled around and from the bedroom they saw Frank standing in the door frame, panting. He had a gun.
“I've got a silver bullet here to put right through your heart, Jack Mansdale!”
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