Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dark Redemption chapter 8: Bedside Manner

Detective Isaac Masey examined the body. He'd seen dead bodies before, of course; he'd been investigating wolf killings for weeks now. In fact, this one looked in better shape than many; a naked woman with multiple stab wounds, found in an alley dumpster. There was a difference this time, though. This one was a wolf.

He could smell it. Her body reeked of wolfitude -- if that was a word. Just like...

He forced his mind off that line of thinking and concentrated on the case. "No identification, obviously," he said to the constable who had found the body.

"None whatsoever," the constable replied. "Except that funny collar."

Masey leaned closer to examine it. "There are markings on it..." He started and jerked back, his nostrils flaring. Silver!

The constable seemed not to notice his reaction. "Yes, some sort of heathen scrawls. Could be one of them satanist cults. Lord knows there are enough of them in this town."

You have no idea, Masey thought to himself. He furrowed his brow. That collar reminded him of what Lucinda had told him about that rival wolf pack; the one that had abducted her. The one that dared to... Isaac involuntarily felt his hackles rise in anger and forced himself to calm down. Look at this objectively. This is just another case.

He couldn't. He kept coming back to the same nagging question.

Could Lucinda have done this?

He would have to ask her some questions.
* * * * *

Cassandra moaned as she came to consciousness. "What happened? Where am I?"

"You lie quiet!" a stern voice with a Jamaican accent commanded. "You be in no condition to be jumping around!"

The pain in Cassandra's head when she tried to sit up convinced her that the woman was correct. She lay back down on the pillow. She blinked. She was in a bedroom somewhere, with old-fashioned wallpaper and a musty antique smell to it. A small black woman with her hair in a turban and festooned with multiple rings and beaded necklaces stood over her and placed her hand on Cassandra's brow. Behind the woman, Cassandra could see Strephon watching with concern. "Where are the wolves?"

"The wolves are gone. Don't you worry about them," the black woman said sharply.

"You don't understand! I need to write down the story! Get it to my editor! This is important!"

"Quiet!" the woman gave Cassandra a gentle but stinging slap on the forehead with her fingers. "Only one thing is important! That you rest and get better!" She turned to Strephon. "And you, Mister Strephon! You should know better! Didn't Tobias tell you the Big Dogs were out?"

Strephon bowed his head contritely. "Yes he did. I was unforgivably reckless. I apologize."

"Hmmph. Apologize to her!"

Tobias had helped Strephon bring Cassandra to his house and carried her upstairs to his guest bedroom. Grandma Simms had arrived shortly afterwards, whether at her grandson's summons or her own intuition Strephon didn't know. Tobias had then gone to take care of the wolf Strephon had killed. Strephon preferred not to know how Tobias managed that, but trusted his expertise and Grandma Simms' influence to ensure that the body was disposed of discreetly and effectively.

Strephon sighed. He sincerely disliked skirting the law like this, but saw no palatable alternative. Living as an immortal in a mortal world posed several problems, the chief of which was remaining beneath the notice of civil authority. He might easily persuade the courts that he had killed the woman in self-defense, but that would lead to other questions; questions which he could not easily answer. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave."

"What are you talking about webs? I'm talking about the girl!" Grandma Simms snapped. She took him aside and said in a more confidential tone, "The breath of the Wolf is on her. I don't like the look of those scratches. She doesn't have the Curse, but the Taint has touched her."

"She won't become a wolf herself, will she?"

"Prob'ly not. But it's left a shadow on her soul. Maybe she shake it off. She's young. She's strong. But sometimes, the Shadow can grow... make her easy prey for the Dark Things." Grandma Simms shook one of her many-ringed fingers at Strephon sternly. "You watch over her, Mister Strephon; keep her safe!"

Strephon gulped solemnly. "I will."

1 comment:

kurt wilcken said...

As I've mentioned before, several people were involved with the "Dark Redemption" campaign, each writing largely independent storylines with his or her own character. Detective Masey was a character from my wife's story about a Corporate Werewolf named Lucinda. Masey had come to Lucinda as part of his investigation of wolf attacks in the city and wound up becoming her chew toy.

I liked to have my plot touch tangentially on some of the other stories to help connect the shared world; sort of like the old Marvel Comics principle that when Peter Parker sneezes in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Reed Richard in FANTASTIC FOUR says "Gesundheit".

As we'll see, this got me into trouble in a later chapter.