The following work is based on Sliders which is property of Universal/Saint Clare and the Sci-Fi Channel and the motion pictures “An American Werewolf in London” (property of John Landis, American Werewolf, Inc., Lyncanthrope Films, and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment) and “An American Werewolf in Paris” (property of Avrora Media, Stonewood Communications, Cometstone Productions, Delux Productions, Hollywood Pictures, and J&M Entertainment). The characters Quinn Mallory, Wade Welles. Rembrandt Brown, and Professor Arturo are the property of Universal/Saint Clare. The general premise is from the “American Werewolf” movies. The author has received no monetary compensation and no copyright infringement was intended. This document can be freely distributed with the condition that it is not modified or sold in any way.
The characters of Leonardo Wolf, Dawn Freeman, and Alex Freeman are property of Jason Donner… don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.
This story takes place during the second season of Sliders before they met the Kromaggs and about fourteen years after “An American Werewolf in London” but just before “An American Werewolf in Paris”.
Comments, flames, death threats, and marriage proposals can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now that THAT’S over with… on with the show!
Professor Maximillian Arturo was the last of the sliders to tumble out of the swirling vortex which shone an eerie blue glow on the darkened surroundings. He had the good fortune of landing on the soft earth beside a road. His compatriots, however, were not so lucky as the professor noted them nursing scraped knees and bruised elbows in the moonlight.
“Is everyone okay?” he asked just to be polite. Aside from the unfortunate incident involving the bullet in Quinn’s back, no one had ever really been severely injured after a slide. Asking if everyone was okay was just a silly little custom that had developed over the past two years.
“We’re just perfect!” Rembrandt Brown said in a more-than-sarcastic tone. “In fact, we’re out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the freaking night! How could things be any better!?”
“Sounds like somebody’s a little cranky,” Wade said playfully.
“These late night slides would make Ghandi cranky,” Quinn noted as he checked the timer. “Well, we’re here for four days. Unless you guys want to set up camp here…”
“No… thank… you,” Wade interrupted.
“…we’d better find a motel or something.” Quinn said finishing his sentence.
Arturo looked down both sides of the road. Aside from the unwavering glow of the moon, there were no lights at all. No cars… no towns… no nothing. “And which way do you suggest we go, O fearless leader?” he asked Quinn.
“We… We just walk down the road until we see a sign.” Quinn stated. “Then at least we’ll know where we are.”
“Ahh,” Arturo said softy. “Simple and eloquent. A plan if I ever heard one.”
Quinn started down the road and the other sliders soon fell in step behind him. They walked for what seemed like miles without seeing so much as a mile marker. Finally, among the pants of the professor and the occasional whine of Rembrandt. They came across a sign.
San Francisco…. twenty four miles, it read.
Wade threw her arms up in frustration, “Twenty-four miles!? I can’t walk another step.”
“Maybe we can find a house or another town or something,” Quinn offered. “What time is it professor?”
Arturo checked his watch holding at a lower angle to catch the faint moonlight on the face, “It’s… ahh… few minutes past three a.m.”
“A few hours ago I was snug in a bed,” Rembrandt pouted, “Now I’m stuck out here in B.F.E in the middle of the night…” he paused a moment, “I swear to god, Q-ball, you’ve got to put a snooze feature or something on that damned timer.”
“It’s on my ‘to do’ list, Rembrandt.” Quinn said chuckling.
Wade was rubbing her arms trying to ward off the biting cold of the night air when something caught her attention. “Guys?” she said. “Do you hear something?”
“Something like what, Miss Welles?” Arturo asked.
“I… I don’t know,” Wade answered, “It sounded like… I don’t know. Some kind of an animal.”
They stood there a few moments listening.
“I don’t hear anything, girl. Just a bunch of crickets,” Rembrandt finally whispered breaking the silence.
“Shh!” Wade said with more insistence.
They listened again for a while. Then the silence was broken by a noise.
“Ooooooooooooooo,” Quinn moaned, imitating a ghost.
Wade slapped Quinn’s arm. “Oh, that’s mature!” she said stomping down the road.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Quinn said laughing as he ran up to catch his companion.
The sliders walked together for a few more minutes. Then Rembrandt stopped and cocked his head.
“Guys,” he said, “I hear something too.”
Quinn stopped and looked at him. “You’re kidding!”
“No,” Arturo whispered, “I hear it also.”
Then Quinn heard it. A scuffle here… a twig snap there. There was definitely something there.
“What… is… that!?” Quinn asked putting large spaces between his words.
“W-Whatever it is…” Rembrandt said in a shaky voice, “…it’s circling us.”
“Don’t predators circle?” Wade asked softly.
“You’re thinking of sharks,” Quinn said in a vain but noble attempt to make her feel better.
The sliders got back-to-back as they listened for the intruder. Whatever it was, it was big and wasn’t human. No human could possibly make the sounds that were coming from the beast that lurked in the darkness.
“Look! Look!” Wade silently said. Her terrified voice was raspy and no louder than a whisper.
Quinn turned his head in the direction Wade had indicated and saw a silhouette of something in the distance. It was a creature unlike anything Quinn Mallory had ever seen before. Unlike anything any of them had ever seen before. Whatever it was, it was walking on all fours and kept it’s gaze fixed on the four sliders, apparently deciding when to go in for the kill. It looked like a big dog, but it’s head was more like that of a primate. At least the upper part of the head was. The creature had a long snout which sported a row of white teeth that shone brightly in the moonlight. It’s demonic appearance was heightened by it’s eyes. Both of them were a bright yellow and seemed to glow like fire.
“Oh, good lord,” Arturo whispered.
The creature stopped circling and growled silently. It was a deep and horrible growl that sent goosebumps up Wade’s arms. She fumbled around with her hand and eventually found Quinn’s. He squeezed her hand lightly. In all of the hopelessness of their present situation, just the touch of each other made them feel better.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” Quinn whispered, “Rembrandt, you run to the south. Professor, you to the West. Wade, you run to the East, and I’ll run to the North. With any luck, he’ll chase after me.”
“Why you!?” Wade whispered back.
“I was an all-star quarterback, remember?” Quinn answered. “I can outrun it.”
“Mr. Mallory, this is a wild animal… not a football player!” Arturo said objecting.
“Yeah man,” Rembrandt added, “He tackles you and the play is over… and I do mean over!”
“It’s either that or just sit here and wait for it to attack!” Quinn said offering up an undeniable truth. “We’ll make a break for it on the count of five. Ready?”
Wade tried to talk some sense into him, “Quinn, I don’t like this!”
Rembrandt stood there waiting for Quinn to say “four”. It was only when Wade screamed Quinn’s name that Rembrandt had realized what had happened. Rather than counting to five like he said he would, Quinn had took off down the road running at full speed. As, he was sure Quinn’s intention was, the creature took off after him.”
“Quinn!!!” Wade screamed as she made an attempt to follow him which was cut short by the arm of Professor Arturo as he stopped her dead in her tracks.
“No!” He shouted. “We’ve got to find help. Come on!”
“What help!?” Wade yelled.
Then, as if in an answer to Wade’s question, a pair of headlights shone in the distance. The car was moving down the road towards them at a great rate of speed.
Wade ran into the middle of the road, “Hey! Hey! Stop!” she screamed over and over again.
The car screeched to a halt right in front of her to a point that it actually bumped Wade in the knees. She fell foreword catching herself before hitting her chin on the car’s hood. “Are you crazy!?” the driver yelled. She was a young woman about twenty years old. She had blondish-brown hair and wore all black clothes and was quite attractive as Arturo would later note – then was not the appropriate time.
In the passenger side of the car, there sat a young man – also in his early twenties. He wore brightly-colored clothes, had light blond hair, piercing blue eyes, and seemed to be emitting a aura that said “keep away”. It was as if he had managed to gather darkness from the night and surround himself with it.
“Our friend is being chased by some kind of a wild animal!” Wade explained frantically as she made her way to the driver of the car.
The passenger looked up quickly as if someone had called his name. “What kind of animal?” He asked as he jumped out of the vehicle. “Like a wolf?”
“No… Yeah… I don’t know!” Wade said gasping.
“Where did he go?” the man asked.
Wade looked around the moonlit terrain. She wasn’t very sure where the creature had chased Quinn off to.
“Where!?” The man yelled as he grabbed Wade by the arms.
“He ran off that way!” Rembrandt said pointing. He had always been protective of Wade and he didn’t necessarily like the way the stranger had grabbed her.
The stranger let her go and then did something that seemed to defy all laws of sanity. He took off his shirt, shoes, and socks and then sprinted full speed in the direction Rembrandt had indicated.
Professor Arturo began to run after him hoping that he could help in some way, but the woman stood in front of him and raised her hand up motioning for him not to follow.
“My dear lady,” he said, “Kindly get out of the way!”
The darkness was shattered by a long howl as the man ran out of sight.
“It’s better if you don’t follow,” she said watching the man run into the distance. “Trust me.”
Quinn was running as if his life depended on it (mainly because his life did depend on it). He could hear the beast’s heavy footstep’s falling behind him and from time to time thought he could feel the creature’s hot breath hitting him on the back of the neck.
The animal didn’t seem to be tiring. The same couldn’t be said of Quinn.
He felt something swipe the ground just under his heel. It’s paw! Quinn realized. It wasn’t a very long realization because no sooner had Quinn figured out what had swiped at him, he was hit on the left leg by the other of the monster’s massive paws. This sent him in a graceless cartwheel spinning out of control and finally landing on his stomach – coughing and trying feebly to catch his breath in the cloud of dust his trip had left behind.
His mind caught up with what was going on and had just enough time to tell Quinn’s body to turn around, get up, and run.
His body only got as far as the “turn around” part before the creature pinned him to the ground.
The animal wasn’t in any big hurry to kill Quinn right away. In fact, it seemed to be studying it’s prey. Sniffing of it and trying to ascertain whether or not it was worth the chase. Whatever it was, it seemed to be an abominable amalgamation of a wild dog and a bear. Quinn had no clue as to what it was… probably some form of life that never existed on Earth Prime.
It growled and snarled to keep Quinn intimidated. It worked. He could only turn his head away as the animal breathed in his face and as the warm drool from it’s mouth dripped onto Quinn’s chin and neck.
“God…,” Quinn whispered. “God… God… God…”
And then the creature lunged foreword and sank it’s teeth into his left shoulder. Quinn screamed as the fangs of the beast buried themselves into his flesh. The pain in his shoulder was complimented by the piercing sting of the claws driving into his chest and legs.
The monster shook his prey and Quinn realized that it was trying to rip him apart, so Quinn took the only course of action he knew to take. He struck the beast across the face. He figured that even though he was sure he wasn’t going to survive, he wasn’t going to be an easy meal.
The beast repaid the favor by releasing Quinn’s shoulder and growling fiercely right at his face. Quinn just shut his eyes and waited for the end to come.
He felt an impact and for a split second, wondered if he was dead. It took him a few nanoseconds to realize that it wasn’t him who had been impacted, but rather the creature. It wasn’t hovering over him anymore but was apparently in a fight with another animal. Another beast like itself.
Quinn struggled to get up. The pain in his shoulder was excruciating but he still fought to get to his feet. He backed away from the fighting animals. Soon, without even thinking about it, he was running as fast as he had ran while running away from the creature in the first place. He saw light in the distance and ran straight for it. He didn’t know what the light was. He didn’t care. As long as he was able to get there in one piece, he would be thrilled.
“Help!” Quinn screamed over and over.
“Quinn!” Wade yelled when she heard his cry. She ran straight for him and grabbed him as if she was afraid he would be taken away if she ever let go.
“Ow! Ow! Shoulder! Shoulder!” He said sucking in air between his teeth.
Wade saw the gash and gasped, “Oh god! Come on, we’ve got to get you out of here. We flagged down a car.”
“Ah, just like I planned!” He said trying to be humorous.
“Mr. Mallory!” Professor Arturo called, “Mr. Mallory, you’re injured.”
“I’m fine!” Quinn assured him, “Let’s just get the hell out of here!”
“What was that thing!?” Rembrandt asked taking Quinn’s arm over his shoulder helping him to the car.
Quinn shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, “It was some kind of bear or something.”
They got Quinn to the car, but was stopped by the driver. She stared at Quinn’s injury as if she thought another head was going to pop out of it and say ‘boo’. “You were bitten?” she asked.
The driver shut her eyes and sighed. “Get in,” she ordered.
“Wait,” Wade said before she got in. “What about your friend? Shouldn’t we wait for him?”
“He’ll be fine,” she said as she seated herself in front of the steering wheel. “I hope…,” she added silently as she put the car in drive and stepped on the gas.
“You’re just leaving him behind?” Arturo shouted.
The driver said nothing as she drove slowly scanning the roadside visually. “No,” she finally said as she brought the car to a halt.
Wade peered out the window and saw the male passenger that had run off to Quinn’s aid earlier. He was hopping on one foot – putting a shoe back on. He waved as the car, approached them, opened the front passenger side door, and sat down.
“You okay?” the woman asked.
The man nodded. He was breathing hard and sweating as if he had just went though a great ordeal.
They drove in silence for a few minutes until Wade finally spoke up. “My name’s Wade Welles. This is Professor Maximillian Arturo, Rembrandt Brown, and Quinn Mallory,” she said motioning to each of her friends respectively.
“I’m Dawn Freeman,” the woman answered. “This is Leo… Leo Wolf.”
Leo turned and smiled at the sliders weakly.
“He was bitten,” Dawn said.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Quinn replied.
Leo sighed and then turned his head sharply towards the unoccupied center seat of the car. “I’m not going to tell him that now!” he said forcefully as if he was talking to someone who wasn’t there.
Dawn looked at him for a second, but then turned her attention back on the road.
“Uh… Where you talking to me?” Quinn asked.
“Just shut up, Alex!” he whispered. He turned back to the sliders and sighed, “Sorry, I was just talking to myself.”
“He gets that way sometimes,” Dawn added.
“I see,” Arturo said nodding. “What exactly happened to you back there, Mr. Wolf?”
“I tried to help your friend,” Leo answered.
“Do you usually strip down before helping people?” Wade asked.
Leo had apparently composed himself enough to hold a normal conversation. “Okay,” he said with a cocky smirk, “Number one – I didn’t strip down… not completely anyway, and number two – why are you complaining? I saved your friend!” He leaned back in the car seat. “What more do you want?”
“You didn’t save me,” Quinn said.
Rembrandt shifted in his seat, “He didn’t?”
“Who did?” Wade asked.
“It wasn’t a who… it was a what,” Quinn said turning his attention away from his injury, “It was another one of those things. I didn’t see you until you got in this car back there.”
Dawn gave Leo a sideways glance. “You might as well tell him.”
“Not now,” Leo said through clenched teeth. He then looked at the unoccupied center seat. “And you stay out of this!”
“Look, man, if there’s something you’re not telling us, I thi…,” Rembrandt then stopped in midword and asked, “Did that thing have rabies?”
“No…,” Leo said smiling slightly, “No rabies.”
“Yeah, and what are you? Some kind of a vet?” Rembrandt asked sarcastically.
“Not exactly, no”
“Will somebody please tell me what the hell that animal was?” Quinn asked as he turned his attention back to his injured shoulder.
Leo sat there silently for a few minutes.
“What was it?” Arturo asked as if he was as curious as Quinn was.
Quinn couldn’t take it anymore, “Dammit, tell me!”
Leo blew in frustration and then answered Quinn’s question. “You were attacked by a lycanthrope.”
Quinn frowned and leaned back in his seat. He looked at the gash on his shoulder again.
Professor Arturo scoffed at the idea. “A lycanthrope? That’s preposterous!”
Rembrandt was totally lost. “Lycan-what?”
“Lycanthrope,” Quinn repeated softly.
“What does that mean?” Wade asked impatiently.
Quinn touched his injury and looked back up at Wade. He licked his lips and his mouth slowly formed the word. “Werewolf…”
“Werewolf?” Rembrandt repeated in disbelief. “There’s no such thing.”
“Then you tell us what that animal was back there!” Dawn said defensively.
“What that animal is…” Leo said correcting her, “It got away. I couldn’t catch him. But I think this could be the one we’re looking for.”
Dawn looked at him and seemed to be shocked and delighted at the same time. “You saw the scar?”
Leo smiled and nodded. “Yep.”
“You’re saying that second creature was you!?” Quinn half-gasped, half-laughed, “You’re saying that you’re a werewolf?”
Leo nodded. “I have been for a little over a year.”
“Wait a minute,” Rembrandt said shaking his head, “If I remember my horror movies… since Quinn was bitten by a werewolf…”
“It’s only a matter of time,” Leo cryptically.
“Until what!?” Wade said in frustration. “Look, I’ve never seen a werewolf movie! Will somebody please fill me in!?”
“He’s been bitten by a werewolf,” Leo said pointing at Quinn. “So the next full moon… he’ll become one.”
Arturo scoffed again. “And I’m Count Dracula,” he mumbled.
“Well, when’s the next full moon?” Wade asked.
“Tomorrow.” Leo answered, “and two nights afterward.”
Quinn shook his head and snickered lightly. “This is nuts. I don’t believe I’m listening to this.”
“Neither do I,” added Arturo.
Leo turned to the back again, “Listen… uh…” He fumbled for Quinn’s name.
“Quinn,” Quinn finally said.
“Quinn, I know this is hard to swallow… hell, I didn’t believe it when I was first bitten. But I swear to you that everything we’re saying is true.” Leo’s voice took on a deadly serious tone. “The next few days are going to be hell on you… I’m not going to lie to you about that.”
“Swell,” Quinn sighed.
Leo continued, “But if you will just let me explain about me and what I am… I’ll try to help you understand.”
Quinn mulled it over. “Fine. Explain it to me.”
Leo smiled, “I will… I promise.”
“Mr. Mallory,” Arturo said in his you-can’t-be-serious voice. “You’re not going to seriously listen to this… babble, are you?”
Quinn looked up at his mentor, “Professor? Who’s the werewolf here? You or me?”
“Neither!” Arturo snapped. As an afterthought he quietly added, “I hope.”
They sat in the car a few more minutes. No one spoke a word except for the occasional mumbling from the professor debunking Leo’s statement about werewolves. Not a one of the sliders totally believed him… but not a one, with the possibility of Arturo, totally disbelieved him either.
There were too many unanswered questions. What was the creature that attacked Quinn? What had happened to Leo during those few minutes when her disappeared? Why had he taken his shirt and shoes off before running to Quinn’s rescue?
Either Leo and Dawn were just very, very, very eccentric, very convincing liars, or they were telling the truth.
It was three-fifty in the morning when they finally arrived at their destination – an appealing house in San Francisco. Somewhat gothic in appearance, but still inviting.
Dawn pulled the car into the garage and shut the door behind them. She got out and stretched. “I swear to god, Leo,” she said arching her back, “if you ever drag me out this late again…”
“Aw, you love me too much to threaten me,” Leo said smiling. His smile disappeared as he looked to his left and spoke to no one in particular. “The transition lasts six hours. It’ll be dawn by then. He’ll be all right tonight.”
Quinn cocked his head slightly. “Who are you talking to? I saw you doing that twice in the car.”
“An imaginary friend, no doubt.” Arturo mumbled softly to himself.
“I’m talking to Alex,” he explained.
Rembrandt didn’t know whether to laugh or not. “Alex?”
“He’s… a friend,” Leo explained. “And no, professor… he’s not an imaginary friend either.”
“You heard me?” Arturo asked in genuine astonishment. “I-I said it so softly I could barely hear it myself!”
“I hear everything,” Leo said leaving the subject at that. “Alex was with me the night I was bitten. We were driving in my car when we hit something. We got out to look at it and it attacked us.”
Wade looked at the car and noticed that it did indeed have a large dent on it’s front end. “A werewolf?” she asked.
Leo nodded. “It went for Alex first. I managed to get in the car and throw it in reverse, but it broke through the window and grabbed me by the arm.” He rolled up his sleeve and displayed a massive scar on his elbow joint and forearm. “I just kept my foot on the gas pedal and swerved until it let go of me. I got away and… Alex didn’t.”
Wade raised an eyebrow, “Yeah, but I thought you said you…” She stopped and smiled. “Oh, I see. He was your friend and he’ll always be with you in your heart.”
Leo looked to his left and smiled broadly as if an invisible man had just said something hysterical. “Ahhh… no.” He said. “Alex is here. Physically… so to speak.”
“Huh?” Wade said.
“He means his friend Alex is a ghost,” Arturo offered. “A ghost that only he can see, no less!”
“Alex was cursed,” Leo said fixing a steely gaze on the professor. “He was killed by a werewolf and is therefore cursed to walk the earth until the werewolf that killed him dies. And yes… only I can see him because I’m a werewolf!”
Arturo smiled in a patronizing way, “Well, now… that explains everything!”
Dawn stood against a wall – a lit cigarette in her hand.
“What’s you’re stake in all of this?” Quinn asked her.
Dawn took a puff, threw the cigarette down, and stepped on it. “Alex was by brother.” She turned and then walked into the house.
Quinn winced and wished he’d never had asked the question in the first place.
Arturo, in the meantime, had not finished with Leo yet. “Mr. Wolf….,”
Rembrandt chuckled lightly. “Wolf… that’s a very nice touch.”
“Leonardo Wolf is my name,” Leo responded harshly. “It has been since the day I was born.”
“No, I just mean… You’re name is Wolf and you’re going around telling everyone you’re a werewolf…,” he smiled and leaned against the wall, “That just seems a little contrived to me.”
Leo’s face darkened, “Any more contrived than the fact that you’re a black man named Mr. Brown?”
“That wasn’t very damned funny,” Rembrandt growled.
“It wasn’t supposed to be,” Leo answered. “Now, I’ll thank you not to make any fun of my name.”
Rembrandt got the point and nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“No problem,” Leo said.
Arturo continued with the question he had started, “Mr. Wolf, you claim to be a werewolf… yet it is a full moon tonight and you still look mostly human to me. Tell me… why is that?”
“I don’t think I like your tone, professor,” Leo sneered.
“That is a good question,” Rembrandt said coming to the professor’s aid. “Listen, Leo… you’re asking us to believe some pretty incredible stuff here. It’s only natural that a man of science like the professor here would have a few questions.”
“You’re right,” Leo admitted. “Professor, I’m sorry…. I’m just not used to explaining this to people. Hell, I barely understand it myself.” He took a deep breath as if he was gathering his thoughts and began to explain. “A lycanthrope’s biorhythms are controlled by the moon – don’t ask me how, they just are. As you can see if you’ll just look outside, the moon isn’t totally full.”
Rembrandt looked out a small window and nodded to the others. “He’s right.”
Leo nodded to him as if he was glad someone had backed him up on anything. “Now, this is the part I don’t totally understand…”
“This ought to be good,” Arturo said crossing his arms.
Leo continued as if Arturo has said nothing. “For some reason, I’m different from other werewolves. When a person becomes a werewolf, he or she becomes a mindless killing machine for however long the moon is full or near-full. This can last for up to five days.”
“But not you?” Quinn asked.
“Not me,” Leo confirmed. “I become a werewolf… but I keep my senses. I have a sense of right and wrong and I don’t kill people under ideal circumstances.”
“Ideal circumstances?” Rembrandt asked
“I’m still a wild animal, Mr. Brown,” Leo explained. “If I get too worked up or if I get injured, I loose control and lash out at whoever or whatever I can get my claws into.”
“You still didn’t answer my question,” Arturo stated. “Why haven’t you changed?”
“Like I said, professor,” Leo said with a smirk. “I’m not an ordinary werewolf.”
“Oh, of course not,” Arturo whispered to Wade.
Leo’s eyes shifted momentarily in the professor’s direction to let him know he knew what he just said. “I can maintain a small amount of control of my transformation up until the full moon. Then, I have no choice.”
“What do you mean you have a small amount of control?” Quinn asked nervously tracing the outline of the bite marks on his shoulder.
“Until tomorrow night, I can remain human as long as I want to but I can transform any time during the month if I get injured or if there’s an emergency.” he explained. “Sort of like I transformed to save your life, Quinn.”
“All right then,” Arturo said. “Change.”
“Of course not,” Arturo said smiling. In his mind, he has already proven that Leo was a fraud.
Leo was growing tired of Arturo’s prying. “I can only change when there’s a genuine danger to me or someone near.”
“Will I become like that?” Quinn asked.
Leo’s brow creased slightly, “What do you mean?”
“Will I become a werewolf like you… or will I become a killer?” Quinn asked frankly.
“Mr. Mallory!” Arturo exclaimed in disbelief that his prized pupil would ask such a stupid question.
Leo sighed. “I don’t know… but to be perfectly honest… I’ve never met another lycanthrope like myself. I’m sorry.” He rocked on his feet staring at the bite mark on Quinn’s shoulder. “Jeez, where is my head? We need to get that bite disinfected. Come on inside.”
“He’ll be there in a moment,” Arturo announced as he motioned for Quinn to join him and the others.
Leo nodded and went inside.
“Mr. Mallory…,” The professor took a deep breath and continued in a less corrosive tone. “Quinn. I’ve known you a long time… I’ve come to respect your knack for information gathering and the scientific method… You can be disrespectful, arrogant, and a real pain in the ass… but you are not a werewolf!”
“I can’t explain it professor,” Quinn said. He was visibly shaken by everything that had transversed in the past few hours. “But there is something about what Leo’s saying. Something deep down in my gut’s telling me that there is more to this guy then we’re giving him credit.”
“Quinn,” Rembrandt said softly, “Werewolves are nothing but myths. They’re thing concocted by Hollywood to sell costumes on Halloween. They’re not real!”
“In every myth there’s a nugget of truth.” Wade stated. “You told me that once, professor.”
“Miss Welles, you’re not helping matters!” Arturo fumed.
“No, she’s right!” Quinn said, “Look, we’ve seen some weird stuff since we started sliding. Maybe on our world, there really was a species of lycanthrope that died out years ago. Maybe they’re still alive on this world. You know the old saying… ‘There are more things in heaven and earth than in your philosophy‘”
“Quinn, You’re really shook up about this, aren’t you?” Rembrandt realized.
“You’re damn right I’m shook up,” Quinn said with a twinge of anger in his voice. “What if I do turn into a werewolf? What if I do become a killer?”
“Quinn…,” Wade said holding his hand. “We don’t know that.”
“Then I want you to promise me something before we do know,” Quinn said. “I want you to swear to me that no matter what happens the next few days… no matter what happens to me,” he put the timer in her hand. “If it comes down to it, you slide without me.”
Wade stared at the timer in disbelief, “Quinn…”
“I couldn’t go to another world like this,” Quinn explained. “Promise me that you’ll slide without me and get home.”
Wade said nothing.
“Promise me!” Quinn yelled.
“All right!” Wade shrieked. Then she repeated what she said in a softer tone, “All right.”
Quinn smiled and patted her on the back. “Thanks,” he said. “This is all probably in my head… but hearing you say that makes me feel better.”
“Look,” Rembrandt said. “Let’s get that bite looked at.”
Quinn nodded and all of them went inside the house.
They were greeted by the site of Dawn and Leo sitting at a table in the dining room. Leo looked up with a confused look on his face. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing, but what the hell is sliding?” he asked.
“You were listening to us?” Arturo shouted, “How dare you invade our privacy?”
Leo got up and stood in front of the professor. “I’m sorry… I couldn’t help it. Like I said… I hear everything.”
“You explain it to him professor,” Quinn said, “It probably will be easier if they know the whole story. I’ve got to dress this bite.”
“I’ll help you out,” Wade offered.
“We’ve got a first aid kit in the basement,” Dawn said getting up, “Come on… I’ll show you.”
Quinn and Wade followed Dawn down some stairs leaving the professor and Rembrandt alone with Leo who looked at both of them curiously as if to say, ‘…well!?’.
“Let’s see…,” Arturo said taking a seat at the table. “Sliding… Where do I begin?”
“Simple,” Leo said smiling slightly. “Start at the beginning and when you get to the end…. stop.”
When Wade had first walked into Quinn’s basement back on Earth Prime, she was so surprised by the gadgets and gizmos lying around, she called it the batcave. It was if she had walked into Dr. Frankenstien’s lab and she never thought that she would ever be more surprised more by the contents of anyone else’s basement again.
Leo and Dawn’s basement had proven her wrong… very, very, wrong.
On one side of the basement – the side closest to the staircase, there was set up a makeshift lab with computers, medical equipment, heart monitors… the works. The walls were a grayish-red color and the wood beams on the ceiling were covered with tabloid clippings – the headlines of most had the word werewolf in them. On a chalkboard lying propped up against a wall, there was a chart. Neither Quinn nor Wade fully understood what it was a chart of… it was just a pair of parabolas – a picture of a full moon had been drawn over the peak of each one. A new moon over the depression. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Quinn noticed a rather large article hanging on the wall dated 1982. The headline read Werewolf shot dead in London. Upon further inspection, he noted that the article was from the National Enquirer and began to doubt it’s authenticity.
Wade on the other hand, hadn’t noticed the article at all. Her attention was fixed on the structures on the far end of the room. They were jail cells. “These people are wackos!” she thought to herself.
“What is all this for?” Quinn asked fumbling with a rather sophisticated microscope.
“Leo’s hoping he can find a way to cure himself,” Dawn said pulling out a box with a red cross on it. “Take your shirt off.”
Wade took the first aid kit from Dawn. “I’ll take care of him,” Wade said.
“I’m a medical student,” Dawn protested.
“Yeah, and I’m very happy for you too,” Wade whispered, “but if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to Quinn in private.” She waited a few seconds and then added, “Please.”
“Sure, whatever…” Dawn replied. She walked up the stairs and closed the door behind her.
“That was kind of rude of you,” Quinn said playfully.
“Pretend we’re in an emergency room. The rudeness will fit right in.” Wade opened the box and started laying out bandages and antiseptics. “Take off your shirt.”
Quinn just raised his eyebrows and did as she commanded. Wade dabbed some antiseptic on a sterile cloth and applied it to the bite. “Hmm,” she said. “It’s not as bad as I thought.”
Quinn looked at the wound. Wade was right… it wasn’t as bad. “I could have sworn that thing ripped a hole in my shoulder. I guess I had so much adrenaline pumping through me that everything looked exaggerated.”
“I guess so,” Wade whispered.
Quinn saw her frown disappear for a second – replaced by a half smile. “What?” he asked.
Wade looked at him funny. “What?”
“You were smiling.”
“Oh, yeah” Wade admitted. “I was just thinking about that Earth we landed on where everyone was infected with that disease, the Q. You remember? Your double was patient zero?”
“How could I forget?” Quinn asked. “That was one of our first slides.”
“I just think it’s poetic justice that I’m here taking care of you after you took such good care of me on that world,” Wade reminisced as he threw the sterile cloth in the trash and started rummaging around the kit for a bandage.
“Wade,” Quinn said. “I wasn’t even around you that much on that slide. I was being held by the CHC… remember? My double took care of you.”
“You were there for me,” Wade asserted. “Even if it was just for that little while near the end of the slide. And you were there for me on the cannibal earth when I was recovering. You’ve… You’ve always been there for me.”
Quinn saw that her eyes were watering and knew she was trying to say something. “Wade? What are you getting at?”
She tried to covertly wipe her eyes and began bandaging Quinn’s shoulder. “If we have to leave you behind, I’m staying with you.”
“I’m staying with you,” she repeated more forcefully. “You’ve always been there for me and now I want to be there for you and don’t try to talk me out of it because my mind is made up.”
Quinn sat there silently for a few seconds mulling over what Wade had just said. “Listen to us!” he laughed. “Listen to what we’re saying! We’re both talking about staying behind… giving up our one chance to get home because two complete strangers have told us that I’m going to turn into a werewolf? Wade… it’s not going to happen.”
“Are you sure of that?” Wade asked.
Quinn took a deep breath as Wade applied the last bandage. “Yes, I’m sure.”
“Then why don’t I believe you?” Wade asked as she put the medicines back in the first aid kit.
There was a knock and Quinn and Wade turned to see Dawn standing on the staircase with a shirt folded in her arms. “This is one of Leo’s,” she explained. “I figured you wouldn’t want to put back on a ripped and bloody shirt.”
“Thanks,” Quinn said as he took the shirt from her.
“That’s a nice bandage job,” Dawn noted as she looked at Quinn’s shoulder as he put the shirt on. “You must’ve had a little medical training.”
“A little.” Wade said. “Actually, the bite wasn’t as bad as we thought.
“It’s his new metabolism,” Dawn explained. “He’s healing faster than normal. In another day, that wound will be completely gone.”
Wade shook her head and helped Quinn pull the shirt over his shoulder.
“You still don’t believe in any of this do you?” Dawn asked.
“Would you?” Quinn asked as he finished putting the shirt on. It was a tight fit as Leo was younger and somewhat smaller than he was.
“No,” Dawn answered frankly. “But I would be curious as to why so much blood came from such a small bite,” she said pointing at Quinn’s ruined clothing. “Unless I knew that weres have a faster healing rate and the bite really was as bad as you thought it was.”
Wade and Quinn eyed her as she turned and ascended the stairs. “You two going to stay down there all night or what?” Dawn called down to them.
“Parallel earths?” Leo said repeating what the professor had just told him. “That’s… That’s wild.”
“It’s the truth.” Arturo stated firmly. “In a little under four days, we’ll slide to the next world and leave you and your… your werewolf fantasies behind.”
“It’s not a fantasy!” Leo said matching the level of Arturo’s intensity. “I’m at least doing you the courtesy of listening to your sliding story. It sounds like crap to me, but I’ve seen to many things to just discount them because common knowledge says it’s untrue.” he calmed down a bit and gazed at the professor. “You’re a man of science. Right?”
“Right,” Arturo answered.
“And you agree that as a man of science, you could be called on one day to debunk held beliefs. Just like Gallieo, Columbus, or… what’s-his-name… then guy who found germs… uh… the milk guy.”
“Louis Pasture,” Quinn said following Dawn out of the basement.
Leo snapped his fingers. “Right… thank you.”
“I admit that as a man of science, I could be required to ask the world to change it’s view on things,” the professor confessed. “But we are not talking about the principle that the earth is round or that it revolves around the sun or that micro-organisms make people ill. We are talking about a mythical beast that never has existed.”
Leo smirked. “I didn’t think they existed either until I became one. You know what else, professor? Vampires… zombies… magic… it’s all real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
“You will forgive me if I do not accept evidence gathered by your own eyes, Mr. Wolf?” Arturo whispered.
Leo got out of his chair and towered over the professor. He was quite angry. “Then you’re a fool.”
The professor erupted. “How…. dare you!? I am a twenty year professor of California University where I have spent the better part of my life putting my considerable knowledge to good use and I will not be spoken to like that you insipid…. fraud!!!”
“Fraud!?” Leo yelled. “How dare you sit there and call me a fraud? You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’ve been through the past year!”
“Oh, should I feel sorry for you?” Arturo said sarcastically. “Oh, boo-hoo… I’m a werewolf and my best friend is a ghost whom only I can see…” He dropped his mocking tone and stared at Leo’s face. “How… boring.”
Leo screamed and slammed his fist into the table which shook under the strain. He face contorted and his nostrils flared. Professor Arturo and Rembrandt slowly stood and backed away. This puzzled Quinn because he had never seen the professor back down from anything… or anyone in the entire time he knew him. Wade looked in Leo’s direction and gasped. Quinn looked at her and saw that she had her eyes transfixed on Leo as if she was under a spell. He looked over at Leo and soon saw what all of the fuss was about.
Leo stood there as still as a post, the only indication that he was even still alive was the rapid movement of his chest and the beads of perspiration that ran down his face. The professor had made him angry… very angry. That was obvious and most of the time, that was normal.
What wasn’t normal was Leo’s eyes. They had mysteriously changed and had taken on a more demonic tone. They were bright yellow… just like the creature that had attacked them earlier that night.
“Oh my god…” Wade whispered as she drew his attention to Leo’s hands.
His fingernails had turned black and seemed to be growing longer and sharper.
“Leo…,” Dawn whispered. “Don’t loose control… they didn’t know.”
Leo’s breathing became more erratic as he slowly seated himself again. He clenched his fists into tight balls and covered his face. Dawn pulled up a chair and sat behind him. She put her hand on his shoulder and rocked him slowly saying, “It’s all right Leo… It’s all right.”
A few minutes later, Leo uncovered his face and opened his eyes. They were back to their piercing blue color and his fingernails had reverted to normal. It appeared that Leo was back under control (whatever Dawn meant by that).
“What happened to him?” Rembrandt asked in a shocked whisper.
“He’s approaching the peak of his lycanthropic cycle,” she explained. “It’s harder for him to maintain control over the transformations when the moon is almost full and getting pissed off doesn’t help much either. Tomorrow night, he won’t be able to control himself at all.” She brushed a tuft of his blond hair out of his eyes. “Are you okay?” she asked him.
Leo was still breathing hard and the sweat was still dripping off of his body, but he managed to nod an affirmative.
Arturo was speechless. Nothing in his vast scientific knowledge could explain what just happened in front of his face. All he could do was glance over at Quinn who was standing there equally as speechless.
“What can I do?” Quinn asked hoarsely. “What can I do to stop this from happening to me?”
“You’re not going to like it,” Leo said between gasps.
Quinn walked over to him and sat down in the adjacent chair. “Tell me. How can I stop this from happening to me?”
Leo turned to him. His eyes, though back to normal, made Quinn’s skin crawl. He could tell that what Leo was about to say couldn’t be good. “Find the werewolf that bit you,” he explained. “then cut out it’s heart… and eat it.”
Quinn stared at him blankly for a few seconds and then finally spoke in a raspy whisper. “You have got to be kidding me.”
Leo shook his head. “Dawn and I were out on that road hunting down the werewolf that attacked you… we heard about a few truckers who claimed to have seen large animals on that road they couldn’t identify.” he said. “But that’s not important right now. What is important is that we may be able to help each other, Quinn.”
Quinn could feel the blood rushing out of his face. “How?”
Leo leaned foreword and stared right at Quinn’s. His voice took on a sinister and no-nonsense tone. “Because I believe that the same werewolf that bit you bit me a year ago. We kill this bastard and we’re both free. We’re both human again.”
“So let me see if I understand you correctly,” Quinn whispered. “I have four days to track down a werewolf, kill it, and eat it’s heart? And this is the same werewolf you’ve been searching for over a year? And I have four days!?”
“I never said it would be easy,” Leo answered.
A strange noise awakened Quinn and he almost jumped out of his bed. A few seconds passed before he remembered all of the events of the previous night. The creature… Leo… Dawn… werewolves… He shut his eyes tightly and then opened them hoping that all that happened last night was a dream.
He saw his bedroom door open. Getting up into a seated position, he tried to get a closer look at who it was.
“Quinn!?” a voice whispered, “Are you awake?” It was Wade.
“Yeah, Wade,” he answered in a yawn. “Come on in.”
Wade walked into the room and sit on the edge of his bed. “Are you feeling any better?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he answered. “Confused… but I’m better.”
“Here, some light will make you feel better,” she said as she got up and walked towards the window.
Wade reached up and grabbed the top and the curtains and with a grand sweeping motion, she opened them and light flooded the room. “Better?” she asked.
Quinn nodded. “Wade, I’ve been thinking about what you said last night about staying here with me…”
Wade touched his lips with her finger – a universal sign to shut up. “Don’t talk about that now,” she whispered. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“Okay,” Quinn whispered.
There was a loud crash as something broke through the open window scattering glass shards over the hard wooden floor of Quinn’s room. As it skidded across the room, Quinn recognized it immediately as the creature from the roadside. It looked right at them, roared, and then charged. It was so fast, Quinn didn’t have time to throw Wade out of the way and she was struck down by one of the beast’s massive claws. Quinn couldn’t even scream when her head fell in his lap.
And then he woke up.
He wiped his mouth and chin off and saw that he had woken up in a cold sweat. He hadn’t had a nightmare that intense or disturbing since his father had died. He leaned back in bed and took a deep breath. His heart was beating a hundred miles and hour.
And then he heard it. It was a weird sound that he couldn’t account for. What is that? He asked himself as he got out of bed to investigate. It sounded like somebody was hitting a baseball bat against a garbage can repeatedly… but it wasn’t a harsh noise that hurt the ears… Quinn couldn’t understand it at all, much less explain it. He followed the noise into the bathroom. Nothing seemed unusual at all… but the noise was still there and louder than ever.
Then he saw it. It was the faucet… the water was dripping out at exactly the same beat the noise was. Quinn snorted and smirked. That can’t be it, he said to himself as he shut the water valve off completely but, much to Quinn’s surprise, as soon as the dripping stopped, the noise stopped.
As an experiment, Quinn turned the valve on slightly to allow the water to drip again. He listened and heard the same noise again… it was coming from the dripping water! Quinn was dumbfounded. He stuck his pinkie finger in his ear and shook it, hoping to dislodge something… anything that might be responsible for the change in his hearing. Of course, nothing came of it, so Quinn decided to let it be. He’d figure it out later.
He showered, put on his pants and the shirt that Leo had given him and headed downstairs. He checked his watch – it was nine twenty-five a.m.. Quinn wondered why he felt so rested after only five or so hours of sleep. He shook off that question too… he was hungry and hoped that Dawn and Leo were up and had fixed breakfast.
He turned the corner and quickly lost his appetite.
Quinn came face to face with something he didn’t expect to see when he woke up that morning. It was a young man… about twenty-something. He wore a brown plaid button-up shirt (unbuttoned) and a white undershirt. He had brown hair and brown eyes and he was covered with blood which no-doubt came from the three large gashes that ran down his face and neck.
“Jesus!” Quinn screamed as he backpedaled trying to get away from the walking corpse in front of him. He quickly came to a stop however when he tripped over something behind him and crashed to the ground with an audible thud.
Quinn lay there for a second and only looked up when he had convinced himself that he was hallucinating and that by all laws of logic, corpses don’t walk around.
The corpse, on the other hand, had apparently never read the laws of logic, because it was still standing there watching him. It slowly walked toward him, towered over Quinn and then spoke. “Are you okay?” it asked. It’s voice was unnatural… almost as if he was speaking through a large fan.
Quinn didn’t know what to do, so he just screamed again and tried to get away.
Wade awoke instantly when she heard Quinn scream. She put on only enough clothes to make herself decent and ran down the upstairs hall almost running over Rembrandt and the professor who had doubtless come out of their rooms to see what all of the screaming was about. Wade didn’t even bother to apologize when she almost knocked them down.
She found Quinn near the bottom of the stairs. He was on his back and screaming at nothing to stay away from him.
“Quinn!?” She said as she got down on her knees and grabbed his face trying to catch his focus.
“What the devil is he screaming about!?” Arturo demanded as he bounded down the stairs with Rembrandt right behind him.
“I don’t know!” Wade answered. She then lightly slapped Quinn’s face to get his attention. “Quinn!” she yelled, “it’s me!”
Quinn’s eyes flew open and he stared straight at her. “Wade!” he said in a tired and raspy voice. He took a couple of deep breaths and then stared back at the hallway…. the corpse was still standing there looking at him.
“Wade,” he gasped pointing to the corpse. “What is that!?”
Wade turned and gazed in the direction Quinn had pointed. “I don’t see anything, Quinn.”
“There! There! Right there!” He screamed.
“Quinn,” Rembrandt said softly. “There’s nothing there.”
The corpse spoke again. “They can’t see me Quinn. Only you can see me. The name’s Alex. Remember? Leo told you about me last night? The restless spirit…” He covered his heart and batted his eyes in an I’m-so-cute fashion. “The friend who’ll always be in his heart?”
“Alex?” Quinn said in disbelief.
“Alex?” Wade and the professor repeated in confusion.
Leo came down the stairs in a robe. His hair was dripping wet. Clearly, he had been in the shower when all of the commotion started. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“We don’t know,” Rembrandt explained. “Quinn just started screaming and we all came down here to find out why.”
“Leo,” Quinn said getting on his feet and pointing nervously at the apparition named Alex. “Leo, do you see it!?”
Leo saw who Quinn was talking about and walked over to him. “Make yourself scarce,” he said out of the corner of his mouth.
Alex rolled his eyes and walked into and through a wall.
“That was Alex,” Leo explained. “I know he looks like hell, but he’s a really good friend.”
“Alex?” Wade repeated. “Your dead friend?”
“Undead friend,” Leo corrected her. “Quinn could see him because he’s gone through the transition. Congratulations Quinn, you’re now a full fledged werewolf.”
And somehow through his near hysterical state, Quinn managed a weak reply. “Yippie,” he whispered.
“Quinn?” a voice asked as he managed to pull himself back to consciousness.
He opened one eye and looked around. He was lying on the living room couch. Wade was looking down on him, and from the sound of things, Leo, Dawn, Rembrandt, and the professor were in the dining room. “What happened?” he finally managed to ask.
“You were screaming about seeing something,” Wade told him. “Then you fainted.”
“Fainted?” Quinn repeated in disbelief.
“Sorry… passed out,” Wade corrected herself. “I forgot that men don’t faint.”
Quinn got up into a seated position and buried his head into his hands. “God, Wade… what’s happening to me?”
“You’re upset,” she said. “Confused and a little screwed up. Personally, I think it’s a nice change.”
“Well, I don’t,” Quinn whispered.
Wade cocked her head when she heard a deep growling sound come from Quinn’s stomach. “Hungry?” she asked him.
Quinn nodded and smiled. “Yeah… ever since I woke up.”
“Well, come on,” Wade said taking him by the hand. “Leo cooked breakfast while you were out.”
Quinn stood and stretched. “Wade,” he said. “We have got to talk.”
Wade took a deep breath. She knew what was on his mind. “Okay, let’s talk.”
“Wade, something’s happening to me,” he began. “I don’t know what… it may just be paranoia on my part. But it’s looking more and more like what Leo said is true.”
“I saw what happened to him last night,” Wade whispered. “I thought he was going to turn into a werewolf after his fight with the professor. Quinn…,” her lip quivered slightly as she searched for the words to say. “…I’m scared. I’m more scared than I’ve ever been before. This shouldn’t be happening to you…”
She sniffed lightly and Quinn hugged her. “This shouldn’t be happening to you,” she repeated in a softer voice.
Professor Arturo and Rembrandt sat across from Leo and Dawn over breakfast. Arturo’s eyes never left Leo’s face and Leo soon noticed it. “Am I really that good looking professor?” he asked putting his fork down.
“I was staring,” Arturo admitted in a low voice. “Forgive me. I was just thinking about your display last night.”
Leo stabbed his pancake with his fork and took a bite. He clearly didn’t want to talk about it.
“More orange juice, Mr. Brown?” Dawn asked.
Rembrandt smiled and held up his glass as Dawn poured for him. “Tell me,” Rembrandt said to her. “You’re not a werewolf, are you?”
“Me?” Dawn chuckled as she placed the pitcher in the center of the table. “No… not me. I didn’t transform last night. Remember?”
Rembrandt smiled slightly as if to say, “Oh yeah, that’s right… how stupid of me.”
“Dawn probably knows more about lycanthropes that anyone else in the world, though.” Leo said pointing to her.
“Well, that’s because Leo’s the only one who’ll let me examine him,” Dawn said as if to continue Leo’s thought.
Leo shifted in his seat. “Yeah, well…,” he stopped when he saw Quinn and Wade enter the room. “Good morning,” he said. Then he noticed Wade’s eyes were bloodshot. “Is everything all right?”
Wade nodded. “Fine,” she said.
Leo got up and fetched some plates for them. “I hope you like pancakes,” he said.
“Love them,” Quinn said smiling.
“Hm, a werewolf that can cook,” Wade said as she looked at her plate. “There’s got to be a television show in that somewhere.”
“So,” Leo said handing a plate to Quinn. “You met Alex this morning.”
Quinn’s face darkened and he put down his fork. “Can I please get through breakfast without hearing any talk of werewolves?” he asked impatiently.
Leo raised his hands slightly. “Sure, whatever you say.”
“No, professor… I’m not losing my mind!” Quinn yelled.
Arturo looked up in alarm. “I beg your pardon?” he asked.
“You told Rembrandt I must be losing my mind after what happened this morning.”
Wade raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Quinn, the professor didn’t say anything.”
“No,” Arturo confessed. “I did… but I said it so softly, there was no way Mr. Mallory could have heard me.”
“Hell, I could barely hear him,” Rembrandt concurred.
They all looked at Leo who sat there innocently eating the last bits of his breakfast. Finally, he spoke up. “He hears everything.”
There was a knock at the front door and Leo sighed in annoyance. “I’ll get it,” he said getting up. He walked to the front door, peered through the peephole, and them slowly opened it. Two people stood there – a man and a woman. Both of them had badges with them.
“Wolf?” the man asked. “Leonardo Wolf?”
“Yeah?” Leo said still keeping the door slightly closed.
“Can we ask you a few questions?”
Leo cocked his head. “About?”
The man looked annoyed. “There was a murder last night on highway one near Half Moon Bay. A witness placed your vehicle on the scene at approximately the same time the murder took place. Any more questions, or should we just forego the formalities and come back with a S.W.A.T. team and a search warrant?”
The man and the woman stepped inside after Leo finally opened the door for them. “Can I get you anything?” he asked politely.
Both of them said no. “I’m Detective Brady, this is Detective Harris,” the man said. “Tell me, Mr. Wolf, what exactly were you doing out on that stretch of road that late at night?”
“I was on my way back from San Gregorio,” Leo answered. “I was visiting some friends and I just stayed late.”
Leo looked over both of the detectives quickly. Harris was tall and somewhat attractive… she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous, though, but she had a pretty face and long red hair she kept neatly bundled in a simple ponytail.
Brady, on the other hand, could only be described as an out-right slob. He was unshaven, he had jet-black hair that was uncombed and by the smell of things… unwashed. Everything about him seemed to indicate that he didn’t give a damn about himself or his appearance.
Leo motioned for them to have a seat. “So who got murdered? If you don’t mind me asking, that is.”
“It was a hitchhiker,” Detective Harris said. “Of course we can’t give you the name because we haven’t been able to notify the family yet.”
“Of course,” Leo said nodding in her direction. “Well, I had five witnesses with me last night and all of them can vouch that we didn’t see anything like… you’ve described.”
“Can we talk to these… witnesses anytime soon?” Brady asked.
Leo frowned slightly at Brady’s corrosive tone. “They’re all in the kitchen,” he said.
“Well, tell them not to disappear in the next few days,” Brady commanded as he and Harris stood up. “We may have to question them.”
Leo nodded. “Fine.”
“Good day,” Brady mumbled as he walked out the door.
Harris lagged behind a bit as Brady walked out the front door. “Sorry,” she said. “He’s had a bad night.” And then she left.
“Who didn’t?” Leo whispered as he shut the door.
Dawn, Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt, and the professor entered from the kitchen. “What was that all about?” Rembrandt asked.
“There was a murder on the road we found you guys on last night,” Leo answered. “I’m no psychic, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that our werewolf was the culprit.”
“He may be using that road as a hunting ground,” Dawn offered. “There are a lot of hitchhikers and bikers on that road and it’s near deserted late at night. Prey and privacy. How could it resist?”
“It’d be perfect,” Leo whispered. “We should try scouting that place for clues. Anything the werewolf might have left behind.”
“Are you crazy?” Dawn asked. “You’re probably the top suspect in the murder right now. You go back there and they’ll think you’re some kind of a psycho serial killer.”
“What are we supposed to do?” Leo asked. “Let this werewolf keep murdering people? I don’t think so. If this is the werewolf that bit me and Quinn, we need to do something about it now and we need to do something about it fast. Otherwise, Quinn’s stuck here… probably forever.”
Quinn did a double take as the badly mangled form of Alex walked through the front door. “Leo,” he said. “I listened in on what the cops were saying. They said the body was torn to pieces… they doubt it was even a murder. More like an animal attack.”
“Good,” Leo answered. “That means they probably won’t be investigating.”
“To whom are you speaking?” Arturo inquired.
“It’s Alex,” Quinn answered him. “He’s right there.”
“Yes, and thank you for not running backwards and screaming this time,” Alex replied. “It’s bad enough being this way without having to worry about people doing that. It’s murder on my self-esteem.”
“Yeah,” Quinn said. “Sorry about that… you just… took me by surprise.”
Alex shrugged. “I have a tendency of doing that.”
Rembrandt, who could neither see or hear Alex, shook his head in amazement. “Man, sometimes even I don’t know what’s going on around here.”
“Mr. Mallory,” Arturo said hanging over Quinn’s shoulder looking in Alex’s general direction. “You can actually see this apparition?”
Alex raised an eyebrow. “Apparition?” she said. “What is this guy? Some kind of a brain?”
“Something like that,” Quinn answered in annoyance. “Professor, he’s standing right there. He’s got on a brown shirt, blue jeans, three scratches down his face and I can see him as clearly as I can see you.”
“Don’t forget to mention my charming smile and warm personality,” Alex said.
“Alex,” Leo said. “Did they mention where the body was found?”
Alex nodded. “Mile marker thirteen.”
“Well, let’s get going,” Leo said grabbing a jacket out of the hall closet. “We’ve got a little under eight hours until the moon rises, and then…,” he whistled slowly. “Look out.”
A half an hour later, the sliders, Dawn, Leo, and Alex were at mile marker thirteen on highway one. To look at the place, you’d never know what had transpired the night before. Never known that a human life had ended on that very spot. The thought of it had Wade shiver.
“Okay,” Leo said. “Spread out. Look for anything at all.”
“What sort of clues are we looking for?” Rembrandt asked.
“The most common way a werewolf selects his prey is to meet up with him while he’s human and then transform when the moon rises and kill him,” Leo explained. “I’m assuming that’s what happened here so be looking for tracks, torn clothing… anything that might give us some kind of a clue as to who the wolf is.”
Quinn started off in a direction with Wade. “Quinn,” Leo called after him. “Can I talk to you for a second? Alone?”
Quinn looked at Wade then back at Leo and nodded. They both started walking away from the road into some heavy overgrowth.
“You’re noticing things are different now, aren’t you?” Leo asked him.
“Different?” Quinn responded.
“Sight, smells, sounds…,” Leo said. “They’re all different to you now. Crisper… sharper. Admit it Quinn, you’re not doing yourself any good by staying in denial.”
“Sounds…,” Quinn whispered. “This morning I woke up because of dripping water in the bathroom. It was like a waterfall… but it was only a trickle of water. I… I really can’t explain it.”
“Hearing was the first thing I noticed,” Leo said. Then he motioned for Quinn to stand still. “Shhh… listen. Can you hear them?”
Quinn listened even though he had no idea what Leo wanted him to listen for. Then he heard them. Wade was saying something to Rembrandt about how worried she was about Quinn, to which he responded that everything would be all right. He could hear the professor offer up another lame, but creative theory to explain what was going on… something about drugs in Quinn’s food. Dawn was with him and she was saying something along the lines of “Yeah, okay… whatever.” He could also hear the undead Alex mumbling to himself about Arturo having called him an apparition. Quinn looked over his shoulder and to his surprise, he couldn’t see a single one of them… they all must had been two hundred feet away at that point.
“You could hear them, couldn’t you?” Leo finally said.
Quinn nodded slowly.
“Take a whiff,” Leo said. “Sniff the air. What do you smell?”
Quinn sniffed the winds and then grimaced… “My god, that stinks!”
“Landfill?” Leo asked.
“Yeah,” Quinn answered. “That’s what it is. A landfill… or a garbage dump. Are we close to any of them?”
“If you consider twenty-five mile close,” Leo said. “All of your senses have been enhanced, Quinn. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but you get used to it.” He kicked through the overgrowth for a few seconds and then spoke again. “Had any hallucinations or nightmares lately?”
“This morning,” Quinn admitted. “I dreamed that Wade got killed.”
“Scared the hell out of you didn’t it?”
Quinn nodded. “Is that normal too? The nightmares, I mean?”
“As far as I know,” Leo answered.
Quinn searched though the overgrowth for a while until he finally decided to ask a few questions of his own. “You said you think that this werewolf is the same one that bit you. Why is that?”
“When I came to your rescue last night, I saw that the werewolf had a scar across it’s stomach while I was fighting it.” Leo explained while he pulled a tumbleweed out of his way. “When Alex and I hit that werewolf with my car, we left it with a nasty gash across it’s midsection. I’ve always known that if I catch the wolf with a scar across it’s stomach, I’d be free.”
“Let me ask you another question,” Quinn said. “You sound as if you’re convinced that all werewolves are evil.”
“All werewolves are evil,” Leo stated firmly.
Quinn pointed at him. “You’re not! Let’s say that I become one… I don’t feel evil!”
“You don’t understand,” Leo said shaking his head. “The person may not be evil, but the werewolf is. And when a werewolf kills, it’s like a cocaine high for the person. Soon they’re hooked and purposely go out in search for victims. It’s the ultimate example of bad things happening to good people.”
Quinn frowned. “And when you track down these werewolves… what do you do to them?”
Leo stopped searching through the tall grass and looked squarely at him. “I try to help them… But if I have to I make it quick and as painless as I can. Better they die then any number of victims down the road.”
“And if I become a killer?” Quinn said. “What then?”
Leo took a deep breath and pressed his lips together. “Let’s just pray it doesn’t come to that, Quinn. Because, if I have to, I will take you down.”
Quinn and Leo stared at each other for a moment.
“Guys!” A voice called from a distance. It was Alex, running towards them. “Dawn and professor what’s-his-face found something,” he said. “I think you’d better come and take a look.”
They started of in the direction Alex pointed to. “So, Quinn,” Alex said casually (as casually as a walking corpse could say). “What do you think of the wide world of lycanthropy so far?”
“I’m trying not to,” Quinn answered his eyes fixed on the gashes on his face and neck. “Alex, what are you? Some kind of a guardian angel or something?”
“Or something,” Alex said snorting. “I’m undead and cursed to walk the earth in limbo until the werewolf that did me dies and by astonishing but convenient coincidence, the werewolf that did me did him too.” He said pointing at Leo. “He kills it, I’m free to finally rest and he doesn’t have to worry about an overabundance of body hair every month.”
“Must be terrible for you,” Quinn whispered.
“You have no idea how terrible it is for me,” Alex answered defensively. “I can’t touch anything… I can’t taste… smell… I couldn’t comfort my own family… or… be with a woman ever again. The only people I can talk to are werewolves and other deadbeats like myself. You ever talk to another corpse? It’s boring!”
“I understand,” Quinn said. He tried to put his hand on Alex’s shoulder, but it went straight through his body. He quickly withdrew it and held it to his side.
Alex shook his head and frowned. “You couldn’t possibly understand what I’m going though.”
“Actually, I do.” Quinn maintained. “A few months ago, there was a power surge in the wormhole that emptied me out into a dimension within a dimension where no one could see me and I couldn’t touch, smell, or taste anything. Maybe that’s sort of like the astral plane that you’re occupying now.”
Alex looked over at Leo. “…the hell did he just say?”
“Beats me,” Leo answered. “Just smile and nod. He’ll shut up eventually.”
“Leo!” Dawn called out as she saw he and Quinn approach. “Look at this.”
Dawn held up a gold chain bracelet with a name plate.
“All right, score!” Leo said as he took it from her and read the name plate. He frowned and grimaced. “Damn!”
“What?” Quinn asked.
Leo handed it to him. “It’s only got the initials and not the name. A.D.B”
“A.D.B.?” Quinn repeated. “Well, it’s a start. At least we know the werewolf is a woman.”
“Don’t be so sure of that, Mr. Mallory,” Arturo said as he held up his wrist revealing a similar bracelet with the initials M. D. A. inscribed on the nameplate. “I got this from young Miss. Jenkins on my birthday – thought a bribe would help her grades. Identification bracelets were all the rage on our world, I’m sure that the same is true on this one. My question is, how do we know this came from your… werewolf and not from the victim?”
Leo held up the bracelet revealing that the chain had been stretched and broken. “It takes a lot of force to do this. Like a muscle expanding during a transformation.” He took a deep breath and held the bracelet to the sunlight. “No… this is from our werewolf. I’m sure of it. Now all we have to do is find out who A. D. B. is.”
Alex sighed. “Leave it to me,” he said.
Alex walked straight into police headquarters and headed for the offices where he knew the two detectives that had dropped in on Leo that morning had stored their case files. Hopefully, that would lead them to the mysterious A. D. B.
He walked into a narrow hall, walking casually past policemen and other officials until he saw something that caught his attention. In an open office, there sat a tall black-haired lanky man sitting on a desk. To his side, was a woman. Red hair… her arms were crossed and her head was lying to one side as if she was bored. Sitting in a chair in front of them was a thin man with short curly hair. He was wearing a black suit – tacky as hell – and held a piece of cloth to her forehead. Alex knew exactly what he was. He was one of those – quote-unquote – psychic detectives.
He walked into the office and decided to watch the “psychic” perform for a few minutes.
“Dis cloth…,” the psychic said with a thick accent. “It came from dee victim.”
“Hit!” The lanky man replied indicating that he was correct.
“Her dress,” the psychic continued. “…vas ripped by her assailant. A man she knew. I see dee word…” he opened his eyes in an exaggerated fashion. “I’ve lost it.” he sighed. “Something in dis room is giving off negative energy. Some… kind… of… entity…” The man arched his left eyebrow and stared right at the tall lanky man. “It is you!” he said. “You must leave!”
“Mr. Yappi,” the man said. “I’ve told you before that I am a firm believer in the supernatural.”
“So you say with your mouth!” Yappi replied. “But I know your kind… you cynics make me ill. Please leave!”
The lanky man looked over at his partner and sighed. She smiled lightly as he left the room.
Alex shook his head. “You fake-ass psychics are what make me sick, and I’m dead!” He put his hands on his hips and walked around the room a few times as Yappi tried to read more from the cloth. “Listen, pal… you want to do something remarkable? Tell me where I can find Detective Brady’s office.”
Yappi threw the cloth onto the table. “Next floor, office 223-A!” he yelled. “Now, either shut up or leave!”
“Uhh… thanks.” Alex said sheepishly as he backed out of the office.
“Mr. Yappi, who are you talking to?” the woman asked.
“Some smart ass,” Yappi replied.
Alex made his way up the stairs and into another hallway where he finally found office 223-A. On the door was a nameplate that read Detective Austin Brady. He walked through the door and moaned at what he saw. The office was a mess. Files were strewn about like confetti.
“Oh, great!” Alex yelled as he stepped into the office and began visually inspecting the files (at least the ones that were open since, being undead, he couldn’t very well pick them up and open them). “How am I gonna find anything in this pig pen?”
A few minutes later, he gave up, plopped down on the floor and rested his head on his hands. “This sucks!” he mumbled.
“This sucks,” Wade mumbled as she hit a button on the remote to change the channel.
Quinn walked into the den to find Wade watching television on a large projection screen. “God,” he said. “Is there anything this guy doesn’t have? Where does he get his money?”
Wade sighed as she watched the TV. “Leo’s dad invented some kind of a plastic they use in all kinds of cars on this world. His whole family’s rich.”
“And just where did you hear this?” Quinn asked.
“From Dawn,” she answered.
Quinn seated himself next to her and sighed. “What are you watching?”
She shrugged. “Some show about this guy who’s an alien and he runs around saving people and teaching them about life and stuff like that. Looks like a Starman rip-off to me.”
They watched the program a few minutes before Wade finally shut the TV off. “Hey, I was getting interested in that!” Quinn protested.
Wade snorted. “You were not!”
“You’re right,” Quinn admitted. “Is it just me, or does it seem weird that we’re stuck here while an undead companion of a guy who claims to be a werewolf is at police headquarters trying to dig up some information that might lead us to another werewolf?”
“This entire slide has been nothing but a never-ending stream of weirdness,” she answered.
“Wade,” Quinn said after an uncomfortable silence. “You remember that you promised that if you had to, you’d slide without me.”
“I remember,” Wade said nodding. “Do you remember that reserve the right to change my mind without any prior notice? Well, I’ve done so and if you stay, I’m staying.”
“You’re not staying,” Quinn asserted.
“I am too!”
“Dammit, Wade!” Quinn yelled. He stopped himself before he totally lost it and calmed down. “Sorry…,” he said. “Wade, I had a dream this morning that you got killed. It was the worst nightmare I’ve had since my dad died.” He took a deep breath and continued. “If anything ever happened to you because of me… I’d never forgive myself.” He lowered his voice to a near whisper and looked away from her. “I feel bad enough for taking you sliding in the first place.”
“Quinn, listen to me,” Wade answered. “I’m going to tell you something. I know you’re going to say I’m just telling you this to make you feel better, but I swear to God that it’s the truth.”
“What is it?” Quinn asked with genuine curiosity.
Wade took a deep breath and spoke. “Sliding… is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Quinn stared at her in silence.
“Well? Say something.” Wade prompted.
“I believe you,” he said.
“You do?” Wade said aghast. “You believe me when I say that sliding is the best thing that happened to me?”
Quinn smiled. “No, I believe you just said it to make me feel better.”
Wade giggled and slapped him on the leg. “Jerk…” she jested. “No, listen. If I had never slid, what do you think I would be doing today? I’d still be working in the computer store for that putz, Hearly… or worse, I’d have gone off and gotten pregnant like my mother did, ended up with a kid, and never have had a future.” She touched his hand. “Quinn, I’ve seen more in the past two years than most people have the good fortune to see in an entire lifetime. No matter what happens to us in the future… no matter what I say then… Right here… Right now… I’m glad I slid.”
Quinn smiled at the simple logic of what Wade had said. “You’re serious? You’re really glad to be along?”
Wade nodded. “And it’s not just me either!” she continued. “Think about Rembrandt. I know he complains about sliding a lot, but think about what he was doing back on Earth Prime. He was actually expecting to make a comeback singing the national anthem at Candlestick Park, for god’s sake! I mean, I love him to death and I think that God has blessed him with a beautiful voice, but let’s face it… his career was over. At least he got to taste fame a couple of times on the slides.” She thought a while and then spoke again. “And the professor? He’d be back at the university, lecturing to idiots like Bennish and spending his life alone. Quinn, we’re all the family that man has anymore.”
“We’re all the family any of us have anymore,” Quinn said taking Wade’s hand and squeezing it gently.
“And now you see why I want to stay with you,” Wade said returning Quinn’s gesture by taking his hand in both of hers.
“I know why you want to stay,” Quinn said withdrawing his hand and standing up. “That’s exactly why I can’t allow it. Let’s just try to make the most of our last few days together.”
Quinn took Wade’s chin in his thumb and forefinger. “I still haven’t given up hope that you’re going to be all right,” Wade said barely able to choke back the tears. “I won’t give up that hope, Quinn… I won’t give up.”
Quinn kissed her forehead softly. “Thanks, Wade…,” he whispered.
Alex was down to the twenty-ninth beer on the wall when he saw the door to the office open. “About time,” he grumbled as he rose to his feet.
It was a mild shock to him when Detective Harris came in instead of Detective Brady, but since they were partners he shook it off and thought nothing of it. “Hey there,” he said falling in step behind her. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting for you to show up?”
Harris, of course, said nothing as she made her way to Brady’s desk. A disgusted look crossed her face as she wiped some crumbs from off of Brady’s chair before sitting down. She picked up a file that was closed and began to flip through it. Much to Alex’s good fortune, it was the file he was looking for.
“Yes!” he said. “I love you!”
He moved to a position behind Detective Harris and looked over her shoulder. Much to his dismay, she had placed her hand over half the file and was reading it very slowly. Alex was running very low on patience. “MOVE YOUR DAMN HAND!!!” he screamed into her ear hoping that through a great cosmic anomaly, the sound of his voice would somehow reach her brain which would respond by commanding her hand to shift slightly so he could glimpse at the suspect list so he could find the elusive A.D.B. Of course, that didn’t happen.
Then the phone rang and Harris leaned foreword to answer it. “Detective Brady’s office… this is Detective Harris,” she said. “Yes sir… We’re working that case together. No sir… as of right now it looks like an animal attack.”
Harris eyed the file and Alex knew she was talking about the murder on highway one. He crossed his fingers and closed his eyes. “Tell me about the suspects… Tell me about the suspects… Tell me about the suspects…” he repeated over and over again.
“The suspects?” Harris said into the phone.
Alex’s eye’s popped open and his jaw dropped. He soon figured out that whoever Harris was talking to had asked about them and that she hadn’t heard him at all.
“Well sir,” Harris sighed. “Like I’ve said earlier… this is most likely an animal attack and not a murder… yes sir… yes sir… I understand.” She listened a few more seconds and then pulled a few copier sheets from the file. “Well sir, one of the individuals we questioned is a young man named Leonardo McKinsey Wolf…”
“Duh,” Alex said to no one in particular.
“Yes sir… Leonardo Wolf. He was the kid who… yes sir… Alex Freeman.”
Alex rolled his eyes. “Oh…. gee, thanks for bringing that up.”
“We only have one other suspect sir,” Harris continued. “A truck driver named Anton Damon Black.
“A.D.B.,” Alex said smiling.
“I’ve informed both Mr. Wolf and Mr. Black that we might have to contact them in the next couple of days,” there was another pause as she listened to the voice on the other end of the line. “Mr. Wolf lives in a house here in San Francisco and Mr. Black is staying at the Motel 12 on Tennyson.”
Alex smiled. “The Motel 12 on Tennyson… Thanks babe.” He then turned and began to walk out the door. But then Detective Harris said something that grabbed his attention and wouldn’t let go.
“No sir,” she said. “For some reason Detective Brady said he wouldn’t be available for the next two nights… No sir, he didn’t give me a reason.”
“Those are full moon nights,” Alex realized. His eyes wandered the office until he found a certificate with Detective Brady’s full name on it. “I’ll be damned,” he whispered as he read the name to himself. “Austin Diller Brady… A.D.B.”
Leo was sitting at the dining room table studying the bracelet they had found earlier that day hoping that maybe he would come across something that would jump out at him and tell him who the werewolf was and where they could find him. Of course, nothing did… but he still kept looking and hoping that he would find that all important clue that would lead him to the creature so he could end his nightmare and finally go back to being a normal human being who didn’t have to worry about the full moon or loosing control of the beast that dwelled inside of him.
He put the bracelet down and rubbed his eyes. It was a good thing he did too because if he hadn’t, he would have never noticed Quinn and Wade sneaking out the front door. “Where are you two going?” he asked them.
“Out,” Quinn said reaching for the doorknob.
Leo got up and quickly walked to them. “Out? Out where?”
“To eat,” Wade answered with annoyance dripping off of her words like honey. “Just the two of us.”
“Are you going to try to stop us?” Quinn asked him.
“No,” Leo said raising his hands slightly, gesturing that he didn’t want to fight. “No… But if you insist on going out, please be careful. Sunset is in an hour and the moon is going to rise at eight-thirty. Be back here at eight.”
“Eight,” Quinn echoed. “I’ll be back.”
“Quinn,” Leo said in a dead-serious voice. “If you’re not back here by eight, I’m going to come looking for you. If I have to…” he took a breath and gathered his thoughts. “I won’t let you hurt anyone. Please understand that.”
Quinn led Wade out the door. “Fine,” he said.
Quinn and Wade strolled down the walkway and to the sidewalk. He only stopped and turned around briefly when Leo called out to them. “Beware the moon, Quinn,” Leo said. “Beware the moon.” He then turned around, went inside, and shut the door.
Wade tugged on his arm and Quinn started walking with her again. “I saw a steakhouse a couple of blocks from here when we drove in last night,” she explained.
“Sounds good,” Quinn replied.
Wade held onto his arm and rested her head against him… all she could think about was the fact that this could be their final few days together.
All Quinn could do was watch the sun slowly descend towards the horizon. Leo’s words to him repeated over and over in his mind. “Beware the moon, Quinn. Beware the Moon.”
“The only thing I see that is remotely unusual about Mr. Wolf’s blood is a slightly elevated white blood cell count,” Arturo said as he peered into the eyepiece of Dawn’s microscope.
Dawn had heard enough of Professor Arturo’s theories of how Dawn and Leo were somehow hoaxing the sliders into believing in werewolves so she showed him the lab and gave him access to all of her research hopeing that it would shut him up. It didn’t.
Rembrandt had tagged along, and although he didn’t understand a tenth of anything the professor said, he was fascinated by the newspaper clippings about werewolves lining the walls and wooden beams. He read each of them carefully – giggling at a few of them.
“I think that the key to understanding lycanthropy is in the D.N.A,” Dawn explained. “But I don’t have the equipment or the know-how to do anything about it… not yet anyway.”
Arturo looked up at her and took off his glasses. “I say, if Mr. Wolf is so intent on curing himself, why not go to a real doctor? Uhh… no offense, young lady.”
“None taken,” Dawn replied drawing his attention to a newspaper clipping on the wall. “Back in 1982, a man named David Kessler was attacked and bitten by something he claimed was a werewolf. He tried to get help… even wanted the police to lock him up. But once he transformed, he was shot dead.” She took a deep breath and continued. “Alex and Leo were… Alex and Leo are best friends and I swore that I would take care of Leo as much as I could. I owe my brother that much.”
“I wouldn’t think that a werewolf would need someone to take care of him,” Arturo sighed.
Dawn smiled a bit. “You’d be surprised, professor.”
“You must have loved him very much,” Rembrandt offered.
“Who? Leo?” Dawn asked.
Rembrandt turned from his article and faced her. “Your brother… Alex.”
“Oh,” Dawn nodded. “I’ve always heard that twins are supposed to have some kind of a psychic connection with each other. You know, when one is in pain the other one is supposed to feel it?”
Arturo nodded as he glanced over the chart with the moons and parabolas on it. “Yes, I’ve heard such tales.”
“Well, Alex and I never had that kind of connection,” she admitted. “But when he died, I know a part of me died with him, and never before in my life have I ever felt so alone. But then Leo came along and gave my life a purpose.” She cleared her throat and looked back up. “Besides, I believe Leo that Alex is still around and he talks to me sometimes through him.”
Rembrandt felt uncomfortable and wanted to change the subject as quickly as possible. “Uhh… so, what are the cages for?”
Dawn walked over to the cages and placed her hands on the cold metal bars. “Leo locks himself up during the peak of his lycanthropic cycle,” she explained. “He never wants to take the chance on hurting me or anyone else. He’s always afraid of losing control.”
“But there are two cages,” Arturo observed. “Why is that?”
Dawn bit her lower lip. “The other cage was for Marti.”
“Marti?” Rembrandt repeated.
“She… was another werewolf,” Dawn explained never taking her eyes off of the empty cell. “Another werewolf that hated what she was. She hated killing and she wanted a cure, so she lived here for a couple of months. Then, one night… during a partial full moon when she had transformed and Leo didn’t… she broke out.”
Rembrandt swallowed hard. “Leo… he didn’t… kill her. Did he?”
Dawn continued with her story. “Marti went rampaging through the city and Leo went out after her, but when he found her he… he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t bring himself to hurt her. She got away and we never saw her again.”
“What do you think happened to her?” Rembrandt asked.
“Who knows?” Dawn said shrugging her shoulders. “Either she went off somewhere where she was sure that she wouldn’t harm anyone… or she took her own life. Committed suicide. For many new werewolves, that’s what happens… they just kill themselves.”
“What a sad and pitiful existence,” Arturo whispered. “To be forever trapped between the mind of a man and the instincts of a beast. I truly feel for them.”
“You mean you believe it now?” Dawn asked.
“No,” the professor answered. “Not one iota of it.”
Leo checked his watch. It was seven-fifteen… forty-five minutes until the time he told Quinn to be back at the house. From his vantage point on the back porch, he could see that the sun was burying itself into the horizon turning the sky into a brilliant orange glow. The city skyscrapers in the distance illuminated and a few stars could be seen in the bluish-black of the Eastern sky.
He listened and heard scratching and clawing at the wooden gate at the far end of the small yard. It didn’t surprise him one bit though, because he knew exactly what it was.
A small dog poked it’s head out from under the gate and squeezed it’s body through the hole. It had white hair complimented by sporadic tan spots. It had black circles over it’s eyes and small pointing ears it kept folded back on it’s head. The dog ran right up to Leo and sat in front of him wagging it’s tail and panting.
Leo grinned and scratched the dog behind it’s ear. “Hey, Maggie,” he whispered. “Your folks know you’re out here?” He knew the dog and it’s owner. He also knew the dog had a tendency of escaping from it’s yard and coming to his. Leo always assumed it was because the dog could sense what he was and thought he was some kind of a kindred spirit or something.
“I tell you, Maggs,” Leo whispered as the dog jumped into his lap. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Quinn didn’t ask for any of this.”
Maggie growled and the hair on her back rose. Leo turned as saw Alex standing behind him.
“You didn’t ask for it, either,” Alex said softly.
Leo sighed and petted Maggie trying to make her calm down. “It still doesn’t make it any better. I don’t know Alex, I just feel responsible… I know I shouldn’t… But I just do.”
“It’s because you’ve got a good heart,” Alex said seating himself next to Leo. “I’ve always thought that’s why you’re different. You’ve always had a good heart. You’re always the first guy to give all of the money in you pocket to the guy on the street… you take care of any mongrel that you come across.”
“You talking about the dog or Quinn?” Leo asked.
“Both,” Alex answered.
“Yo-hoooo!” a voice called from Leo’s gate. “Leonardo, is Maggie in your yard?”
“Yes, Mrs. Weaver, she’s right back here. Come on in,” Leo called back.
Mrs. Weaver pushed the gate open and entered Leo’s yard. She was a large woman… about fifty-something years old. She had lived there since long before Leo had moved in. She was a nice lady… but she was an awful snoop. Alex suspected she had purposely let Maggie out of her yard so she could see what Leo was up to.
“There you are!” She exclaimed picking up the dog and hugging it. “Mommy’s wittle baby went a-walking didn’t she? Didn’t she?”
“Dude, she’s making me sick,” Alex mumbled.
“Thank you for finding her for me, Leonardo,” she said shaking his hand. “So what are you doing out here?”
Alex threw his hands up. “I knew it!”
“Just… thinking,” Leo answered.
“Really?” Mrs. Weaver said seating herself on the steps. Had Alex been alive, she would have knocked him down. “What about?”
Leo could see that there wasn’t going to be any getting rid of her. “Just things,” he said. “I was just watching the stars coming out and… thinking.”
“I couldn’t help but noticing that you have company,” Mrs. Weaver said casually. “Are you having a family gathering or something?”
Leo shifted and cleared his throat. “No… they’re just friends.”
Alex couldn’t take it anymore. He bent down in front of Mrs. Weaver and stared right at Maggie. The dog didn’t like Alex at all and had no problem showing it as she began to wiggle in her owner’s arms.
“Maggie?” Mrs. Weaver said in concern. “Maggie, what’s gotten into you!?”
Alex began making faces and growling at the dog until he finally got her so worked up that she began snapping at him. Had Alex been alive, it was certain the dog would have taken his nose off.
“I think your dog is having a breakdown,” Leo said smiling at what Alex was doing.
Mrs. Weaver held onto Maggie tighter and got up. “I guess so. I suppose I’d better take her home. I’m sorry to cut our visit short, Leonardo.”
“Oh, I am too,” Leo lied. “Good night, Mrs. Weaver.”
“Good night,” she called to him as she walked out the gate.
Leo sighed and looked over at Alex. “Thanks,” she said laughing. “Did you find out anything from the boys in blue?”
“Plenty,” Alex answered. “We’ve got two possible candidates… a truck driver named Anton Damon Black…” “And…?” Leo asked impatiently. “And Mr. Congeniality, himself. Our own Detective Brady.”
“Brady?” Leo whispered.
Alex nodded. “Leo, the police might have screwed up and assigned the murderer to investigate the murder! And Leo, if he is a werewolf… he might have seen me listening in on him in the car. And if he did…”
Leo sighed and continued his sentence. “He could know that I’m a werewolf too.”
Quinn looked at the waiter with extreme annoyance when he brought them their food. “Excuse me,” he said. “I said I wanted it rare… okay?”
The waiter nodded and started to pick up Quinn’s plate. “Of course sir.”
Quinn exhaled in frustration and took the plate away from the waiter. “Forget it, this is fine,” he said as he picked up a knife and fork and began cutting away at his steak.
After the waiter had left Wade eyed Quinn curiously. “Now who’s being rude?” she asked him.
Quinn looked up quickly – a piece of pink meat was still hanging from his mouth. “I promised Leo I’d be back at his house by eight… it took them a half hour to get our food out to us and I didn’t want to wait anymore.”
Wade signaled to him to wipe his mouth which he did. “Quinn, you could’ve just gotten a salad bar like I did.”
“I wanted meat, Wade, not that rabbit food,” Quinn replied eating his meal greedily.
“Quinn,” Wade said with a wry smile. “Would you like me to get you a bib?”
“What?” he asked with a mouthful of half-chewed food.
“Look at yourself,” she said. “You’re eating like a pig!”
Quinn swallowed and opened his mouth to protest. He couldn’t though, because Wade was absolutely right. “Sorry,” he whispered taking out a napkin and wiping the greese off of his face.
“It’s all right,” Wade reassured him. “But if you do that again, I’m out of here.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Quinn said. He then checked his watch. Seven forty-two. Eighteen minutes to go.
“Where the hell have you been!?” Leo demanded as Quinn and Wade came in through the front door. “It’s eight-oh-five! Moonrise is in twenty-five minutes! I was about to go out looking for you!”
“Well, we’re here now,” Quinn said. “So just calm down. We made it back in plenty of time. Where’s Rembrandt and the professor?”
“In the basement,” Leo said as he took a blue robe out of the closet and handed it to Quinn. “Take off your clothes and put this on. Then meet me down there.”
Quinn raised an eyebrow as he looked at the robe. “Take off my clothes?” he repeated.
Leo sighed. “Quinn, when you transform, your body will change so rapidly that you’ll rip through your clothes like paper. Trust me… after my first transformation, I woke up naked on a beach. Confused… disoriented… and a good ten miles from home.”
“I still get a kick from that story,” Alex said laughing. Quinn didn’t even know he was in the room until he spoke – it startled him slightly.
“Too bad the police didn’t get a kick out it,” Leo said to him. “Now, Quinn… just do as I say. I’ll meet you downstairs… but for the love of God, hurry!”
Leo ran upstairs and out of sight. Quinn looked at Wade and smiled. “Wade,” he said. “I’ll see you in the basement.”
In his room, Quinn removed his shirt. He stopped, looked in the mirror and thought about the bandages covering his shoulder where the creature had bit him the night before. Slowly and cautiously, he removed them and was shocked by what he saw. The gash in his shoulder was gone. The only evidence of it’s very existence was a slight reddish discoloration in it’s general area. Quinn shuddered, undressed, put on the robe, and quickly headed downstairs.
Arturo, Wade, Rembrandt, Leo and Dawn were there as if they had been waiting for hours. Quinn eyed the cages… he suspected what they were for, but never bothered to ask. He didn’t have to.
Leo was wearing a robe like Quinn’s with the exception that it was red and not blue. He motioned to the open cage. “Get in,” he said.
“Is the cage really necessary?” Rembrandt asked.
“Yes,” Leo crisply answered.
Quinn stood at the cage door. “I don’t know about this,” he whispered.
Leo grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. “Quinn, let me ask you something… Have you ever killed anyone before?”
Leo’s question caught him off guard. “W-What?”
“Have you ever killed another human being before in your life?” Leo asked again.
Quinn exhaled. “Once,” he began. “We were on a world where San Francisco was part of the Republic of Texas. I shot a man… it was in self-defense.”
“And how did you feel about that?” Leo asked softly.
“I… couldn’t sleep for a week,” Quinn admitted. “The image of that man’s face came to me every time I shut my eyes.”
“Well, Quinn,” Leo whispered. “If you don’t get in that cage, you’ll kill people when you transform. You might even kill the people you care about. Rembrandt… Max… Wade. Can you take that chance?”
Quinn didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. He just stepped into the cage and shut the heavy metal door behind him.
Leo checked his watch. Eight-thirty. It was almost time.
Wade stood next to the cage. “Quinn?” she said.
Quinn touched her hands. “You still hoping everything will turn out all right?” he asked her softly.
Wade nodded as a tear rolled down her face.
“Good,” he whispered. “Now, get back… go over there with Remmy and the professor. Just in case.”
Wade squeezed his hand and finally let go. She slowly backed away until she was standing next to her friends. “Are you sure you don’t want to leave, child?” Arturo asked as he placed his hand on her shoulder.
“No…,” Wade answered him. “I told him I was going to stay, and I’m going to stay.”
Dawn, in the meantime, was locking the door to Leo’s cage. She looked up at him for a second and smiled as if she was reassuring him. He smiled back weakly.
Quinn went to the small bed up against the wall and sat down, carefully making sure he kept his legs together to avoid embarrassment. “So, how long is this supposed to take?” he asked to Leo.
“Don’t worry,” Leo said. “You’ll know it when it starts to happen.”
Quinn was about to ask Leo what he meant when a sharp pain careened through his body. He jumped to his feet, but the pain was so disorienting that he toppled foreword onto his hands and knees. Every nerve ending was telling him he was on fire and all he could do was scream. “OH GOD!!!”
Instinctively, Wade rushed foreword to help him, but Arturo held her tightly.
Leo watched Quinn collapse onto the floor. He could feel his own heartbeat increase and his breathing become more rapid. Beads of perspiration began to form on his face, chest, and forearms. He remembered how painful his first transformation had been and felt sorry for Quinn Mallory as he lay on the floor pounding his fist onto the ground.
The pain subsided for a moment and Quinn managed to open his eyes. He witnessed his own hand elongating – his fingernails turning blacker and sharper. He looked at his forearm and saw that it was beginning to be covered with a thick black coat of hair. He could hear crackling and popping sounds coming from every inch of his body… he didn’t know what was crackling and popping… and he didn’t particularly want to know either.
He glanced over at Leo. Aside from the heavy breathing and sweat, nothing seemed to be wrong with him. But then Quinn saw Leo’s legs bend backwards with a few jarring pops. Leo fell foreword, catching himself before he hit the ground. He moaned in pain showing all of his teeth which Quinn noted had become longer and sharper. He stared in quiet fascination as Leo’s face contorted and elongated to form a snout.
Another wave of pain hit him and he fell onto his stomach. He shut his mouth tightly and could feel with his tongue that his own teeth had become sharper. He tried to bring his hand up to hold his head only to find that his hand wasn’t a hand anymore… it was more of a strange and sick version of a paw with several razor sharp claws coming from each finger.
“Quinn!” Wade screamed.
Quinn heard a noise. He saw where it was going from… a short black-haired woman who was being held by a larger bearded man with a look of absolute astonishment on his face. Next to them was a man with dark skin… he had his mouth open. There was a woman too… blondish-brown hair… he couldn’t remember them… he didn’t know who they were… he didn’t know who he was… he didn’t know where his was… all there was was instinct… actions and reactions… Quinn was gone.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” the professor whispered.
In the cage that Quinn Mallory entered, there was now a large beast. Part dog, part bear, and part human. It stood up on four legs and shook until the tattered remains of a robe fell to the ground. The werewolf circled the cage a few times, then raised it’s head and emitted a deep howl that filled the room.
A few houses down, Maggie the dog’s ears perked up. She ran into the living room and hid under the couch.
Wade could barely breathe as she watched the werewolves inspect the cages they were imprisoned in. Arturo released his grasp on her and she slowly approached Quinn’s cage sobbing lightly. “Quinn?” she whispered. “Quinn, it’s Wade. ” She reached out her hand.
The werewolf crept to the bars and sniffed. Then he bore his teeth and lunged at her, striking the cage bars with it’s head. It fell to the ground momentarily, but then got up and growled at them in a deep voice. A voice that had just a hint of Quinn’s own voice in it.
The werewolf in Leo’s cage, however, appeared to be more docile. After circling the cell a few times, it stretched and lied down on the bed which creaked under it’s weight.
The werewolf in Quinn’s cage heard this and growled at him. The other werewolf just opened one eye, closed it, and then yawned. It was clear that he was still harboring Leo’s intelligence and wasn’t at all interested in fighting with the beast that used to be Quinn Mallory.
“Come on,” Dawn said patting Wade on the back. “Let’s get out of here.”
Wade nodded never taking her eyes off of the werewolf in Quinn’s cage. One tear fell down her face as she acceded the stairs.
Wade made her way to her room. She was still in a state of shock and had brushed off all attempts by Rembrandt and the professor to comfort her. She had been hearing talk of werewolves for the past two days and she had been mentally preparing herself for the possibility that Quinn would change… but secretly, deep down, she never expected it to happen and she didn’t realize that until it actually did happen.
She fell into her bed and began to cry as another deep howl came from the basement. She cried for hours until exhaustion finally caught up with her and she fell into a deep sleep.
Maximillian Arturo sat alone on the steps overlooking Leo’s backyard. He was staring at the moon as it lifted from the horizon and bathed the earth with it’s dull blue glow.
He heard the back door open and turned to see Rembrandt looking down on him. “Could you use a little company?” he asked.
Arturo nodded, but said nothing. Rembrandt sat on the step with him and looked up at the moon. “You okay, professor?” Rembrandt inquired.
“Mr. Brown,” Arturo began. “I have just had over thirty years of teachings shattered before my very eyes and I have just watched my prized pupil… a boy…,” his voice cracked as he spoke. “A boy… who is the closest thing I’ve ever had to having a son of my own, turn into a monster. No, Mr. Brown… I am not okay.”
Rembrandt patted him on the back. “It’s funny how things can change so quickly, isn’t it? When we first arrived on this world, I was complaining about having to wake up at two in the morning to slide and now… now here we are faced with one of our biggest dilemmas.”
“The world is all about change, Mr. Brown,” Arturo sighed. “As a man of science, I am naturally skeptical about many things… but skepticism all to often leads to cynicism… and that is how I am afraid I failed Quinn. God, I was so damned cocky and sure of myself that I never took Mr. Wolf at his word. If I had, who knows how things might have gone.”
“I’ll tell you how things would have gone, professor. Quinn would be down in the basement as a werewolf and you would be up here staring at the moon and coming up with a new way to blame yourself,” Remmy offered. “Come on, professor… you’re not superman. Dawn’s been looking for a cure for over a year. There’s no way you could have found one in a day.”
“Not in one day, no,” Arturo agreed. “But given enough time…”
“Professor, what are you getting at?”
Arturo took a deep breath. “Rembrandt. You and Miss Welles can slide without me. I’ll stay here and work on a cure for Quinn, and when I’ve done that… he and I will rebuild a timer and resume our search for Earth Prime.”
“No way, professor. Uh-uhh,” Rembrandt protested. “There’s no way in hell you’re going to send me and Wade out sliding by ourselves while you and Q-ball stay here. W-What if something happens to the timer and we need to make repairs? You think I can take it to a Maytag repairman? If you stay, I’m staying. Hell, I think Wade’s already made up her mind to stay anyway.”
Arturo patted Rembrandt on the back. “You’re a good man, Rembrandt,” he said as he stood up and walked into the house.
Rembrandt stayed outside staring at the moon and stars. “God…,” he prayed to himself. “God, we are really in a pickle now. If this is your will… if this is how you want the adventure to end, I’ll gladly put down roots on this world and you won’t hear one complaint from me. But what’s happening to Quinn can’t be your will… no one like Quinn should be made to suffer like that.” He was silent for a few seconds. A lone tear streaked down his face… a tear he didn’t even bother to wipe off. “God…, I know I’ve prayed and I’ve prayed that some day you’d guide us all home… but I’d give that all up in a second to save Quinn. Just… Just show us how.” he buried his head in his hands, finally wiping the tear away. “Even if it’s a chance in a thousand… please help us.”
Wade awoke to the sound of knocking at her door. “Wade?” a voice called out to her. It was Dawn.
Wade rubbed her eyes and looked around. It was daylight and she had apparently slept in her clothes.
“Wade? Are you up?” Dawn called again.
“Yeah,” Wade answered.
The door opened and Dawn walked in slowly. “The moon’s going down,” she said. “Quinn and Leo should be back to normal soon.”
Wade’s grogginess faded and the brain started to work again. “Quinn? Can I see him?”
“Not yet,” Dawn answered. “Give him a few minutes.”
Quinn spit weakly as he woke up with the taste of dirt in his mouth. He was lying face down on the cell floor, a puddle of drool where his mouth had been. His head pounded slightly as sat up and he realized that he had been lying there naked. Quinn spotted the robe on the far side of the cage and quickly put it on. It wasn’t very fashionable as the sleeves were now missing… torn to pieces by whatever the hell he did last night.
What the hell DID I do last night? He asked himself as he looked around the cage trying to recover his memories. He looked in the cage across from his and saw Leo. He was sitting on the bed (covered by what was left of his robe) and holding his head in his hands.
“Leo?” Quinn called to him.
Leo looked up. His hair was a mess and he had two dark circles under his eyes. “Good morning,” he said hoarsely.
“What happened last night?” Quinn asked as he examined the tattered sleeves of his robe.
Leo stood and moved his head around loosening up his neck. “You don’t remember?”
Quinn shook his head. “No… nothing.”
“What exactly do you remember?” Leo inquired.
“I remember talking to Wade… sitting down… and then asking you how long it was going to take,” Quinn answered.
“You transformed after that,” Leo explained. “You became a werewolf. Most new werewolves don’t remember their first time… but after a few more transformations, they begin to remember bits and pieces of what it’s like to be a werewolf and finally they remember the whole enchilada.”
“It actually happened? I turned into a werewolf? Oh, my god!” Quinn whispered covering his mouth with his hand. “Oh, my god!” he repeated as Alex came down the basement steps.
Alex looked at Quinn and then looked behind him as to make sure he wasn’t being followed by the creature from the blue lagoon or something. “You’d think he’d get used to me after a while!” Alex said to Leo.
“It’s early,” Leo said. “Seeing you when you were alive this early in the morning would have sent me into a cardiac arrest.”
“Oh, ha… ha…,” Alex said mockingly. “Let’s all pick on the dead guy.” He scratched the back of his head and then put his hands on his hips. “Did you tell him?”
“No,” Leo answered. “Not yet.”
“Tell me what?” Quinn demanded.
“We think we might know who A.D.B. is,” Leo answered.
Quinn jumped foreword and placed his hands on the cage bars. “Tell me!” he demanded.
Alex walked into Quinn’s cage and held up one hand. “It’s either a truck driver staying at the Motel 12 on Tennyson named Anton Black.” he raised his other hand. “Or, it’s a police detective named Brady.”
“The same Brady who you talked to yesterday?” Quinn asked Leo.
Leo nodded. “The very same. As soon as Dawn comes down here to let us out, we’ll go to the Motel 12 and see about that truck driver. If he checks out, we’ll talk to Brady.”
No sooner had Leo finished his sentence than the basement door opened and Dawn peeked through the door. “It’s okay,” she said motioning to the others to come in.
One by one, Dawn and the sliders came down the stairs. Dawn unlocked the cages and Quinn and Leo stepped out of them. Wade rushed up and embraced Quinn. It was a good five minutes before she let go.
“Quinn,” Wade said, her voice trembling. “It was horrible.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it,” Quinn said smiling. “I don’t remember a thing.”
“That’s probably best, Mr. Mallory,” Arturo said. “Because I won’t forget it until the day I die.” He then turned to Leo and shook his hand. “Mr. Wolf, I owe you an apology… what you have done for Mr. Mallory is commendable. You have my thanks.”
“It’s not your thanks I want, it’s your help. We may know who the werewolf is,” Leo explained.
“Who?” Dawn asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” Leo said. “First, I want to put on some normal clothes. I feel like this robe is going to fall to pieces any second.”
“I hear you,” Quinn smirked.
Leo glanced up at a wall clock. “Let’s hurry,” he said. “It’s already noon… we’re burning daylight here!”
A rather large, hairy, and mirror-shattering man answered the door of room 267 of the Motel 12. “Whaddaya want!?” he bellowed.
Quinn saw him and pushed Leo foreword.
“Uhh… Hi,” Leo said. “My name is Leo Wolf, this timid fellow here is Quinn Mallory. This is Dawn Freeman, Maximillion Arturo, Wade Welles, and Rembrandt Brown. Are you Anton Black?”
The man nodded and then gulped down a large quantity of beer from a can he was holding. “Yeah, what are you guys? Cops?”
“No,” Leo answered. “But I understand that you were questioned by two police detectives yesterday morning. Is that right?”
Black nodded. “Yeah… Something about a murder on Highway One yesterday night.”
“Can you tell us anything about it?” Leo asked.
Anton Black rubbed his temples and squinted due to the sun. “Listen, kid… I didn’t get much sleep last night and I don’t feel like playing games…”
“Hey, fatso!” Alex screamed at him. He was trying to see if Black could see or hear him. “You hear me you saschwatch!? Man, you are ugly! Why didn’t your mother kill you when she had the chance? Hey… sorry… I didn’t mean to insult your mom. I bet she was a saint.” He was silent for a second. “…damn Saint Bernard.”
“…so why don’t you get back on the school bus and go back home?” Black continued as if he didn’t hear the string of insults thrown at him by Leo’s undead friend.
“Forgive me sir,” Arturo said making his way to Black. “We’ve annoyed you and I do apologize. I suppose that’s what I get for allowing a junior reporter like Mr. Wolf here try and get an interview with you.”
“Junior reporter?” Alex repeated. “Did this guy hit his head or something?”
“Reporter?” Black said in confusion. “You guys are with the chronicle?”
“The San Francisco Chronicle, yes. I’m Maximillian Arturo,” he said shaking Black’s hand. “May we come inside?”
Black looked inside nervously. “Gee, I would love to give you that interview, Mr. Arturo… but now isn’t a very good time.”
Alex looked over at Leo and Leo motioned for him to go inside Black’s room to check things out.
“Oh, sir…,” Arturo said shaking his head. “We were going to do a front page story on the beast you saw.”
Wade kicked him on the back of the leg. Aside from them and the two detectives, no one knew anything about a beast.
“Beast?” Black whispered. “How’d you know about that?”
“Then you know about the… uh… animal?” Quinn asked.
“What I saw on that road wasn’t no animal like I’d ever seen!” Black whispered. “It ran in front of my truck on highway one near that moon city… uh…”
“Half Moon Bay?” Dawn asked.
“Right,” Black said. “I thought I was crazy… I didn’t tell the police about it or nuthin’. But I swear to god, the thing I saw was bigfoot or a werewolf or somthin’.”
Alex walked out of the room. His face was a mixture of embarrassment and a near fit of laughter. “It’s not him,” he managed to squeak out.
“How do you know?” Quinn whispered.
“I know because the thing was as big as a damn Volkswagen!” Black said responding to Quinn’s question to Alex.
“I know…,” Alex snickered motioning back to the room with his thumb. “Believe me, I know.”
“The thing I saw wasn’t no damned dog or coyote,” Black said finishing his answer.
Quinn finally realized that Black was talking to him. “What? Oh, right… thank you. Pro- uh… Mr. Arturo, I think we’re wasting our time here. This man is clearly insane. Bigfoot? Werewolves? I don’t think so.”
“Mr. Mallory, we still may be able to…”
Quinn grabbed his arm and pulled him to the stairwell. “It’s not him, let’s go!” he said through clenched teeth.
“Ahh…,” Arturo sighed. “Mr. Black, I’m sorry for wasting your time, but we have to go. Bye!”
Leo, Dawn, Alex, and the sliders quickly walked away. “Wait!” Black yelled out after them. “What about my interview?”
They all piled into the car. Leo, Dawn, and Alex up front and the sliders in the back. “Okay, Mr. Mallory,” Arturo began. “Exactly why did we have to leave so quickly.”
“Don’t ask me,” Quinn said motioning to Alex. “Ask him.”
“Who?” Rembrandt asked.
“Alex,” Leo said. “What’s the deal? What did you see?”
Alex cleared his throat. “Uhh… Mr. Black was… uh… keeping company.”
“Company?” Quinn repeated.
Alex looked at him and made eyebrows. “Company…,” he repeated again putting an overly sexual tone on the word.
“Ohhhhh…,” Quinn and Leo said together.
“Oh?” Wade said. “Oh? What?”
“There was a woman in Black’s room. It’s pretty unlikely that a man of his… uh… unique physical attributes would be able to find and pick up a woman in just one and a half hours after the moon set,” Leo explained. “She must have been with him all night.”
“The poor woman,” Alex added.
“So…,” Wade said. “There’s only one suspect left.”
Leo nodded. “Detective Brady himself.”
Dawn took a deep breath. “Okay… how exactly do we go about confronting a police detective that is most likely a werewolf – even though we don’t know that for sure, without tipping him off that we know what he is all while avoiding a trip to the funny farm?”
Naturally, no one had an answer.
The blue sky was becoming gray. Drizzle began to fall as Leo drove into the garage. He checked his watch… it was already three o’clock. “Well, that was a phenomenal waste of time,” He sighed as he put the car in park and closed the garage door behind him. “If anyone has any bright ideas, now is the time to tell me.”
“We could confront the man,” Arturo offered. “We could tell him that we know what he is. At least then, we wouldn’t be sitting here worrying about what to do.”
“We can’t do that,” Dawn countered. “We let him know that we know and he’ll lock us up! Or worse, he could expose Leo and your friend as werewolves. They’ll be shot and dissected.”
“I don’t think like that plan,” Quinn mumbled as he sat up in the back seat. “What about his partner?”
“Harris?” Leo asked.
“Yeah,” Quinn said. “Why don’t we talk to her. She’s got to know something is up with him since he conveniently makes himself unavailable during the full moon.”
“You want to tell a police detective that her partner is a werewolf?” Rembrandt asked. “Do you have any idea how she’ll take that?”
“We don’t have to tell her he’s a werewolf,” Wade offered. “We… We could tell her that he’s involved with the murders.” Her eyes went wide as she got an idea. “We could say that we saw him on the highway the other night!”
Leo thought about that. “We could tell her that I didn’t want to say anything to her yesterday morning since Brady was right there and that I was scared to come forward… but you guys convinced me. Wade, that just might work. At the very least, they’d take him off the case and keep him under surveillance.”
“And when he transforms tonight, they’ll know!” Dawn said smiling.
Leo opened his door and stepped out of the car. “I’ll make the call,” he said as he disappeared into the house. Dawn followed him in.
“Mr. Mallory,” Arturo called to Quinn. “Mr. Mallory, I thought that you should know that we’ve all made a decision.”
Quinn looked at them. “What decision?”
“If we can’t find the werewolf that bit you, we’ve all decided to stay here,” Rembrandt explained.
Quinn frowned and shook his head. “No,” he said. “No, I don’t want all of you giving up your ride home for me.”
“Qunn, shut up!” Wade yelled.
Quinn couldn’t remember Wade exploding like that before. It caught him off guard and he promptly did as she commanded.
“We decided this…,” Wade said. “We’ve decided that we’ve come to far and have been through too much to just up and abandon you. Quinn, we’re a family. We’re a weird family, but dammit, we’re all the family we have.”
Arturo put a hand on Quinn’s shoulder. “And you know how stubborn I can be once I have made up my mind,” he whispered.
“I checked the billboard charts,” Rembrandt said. “Lot’s of room for a good singer here. Hell, I may try for R&B or Gospel this time around.”
“Guys,” Quinn whispered. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing to me?”
“We’re annoying you,” Wade answered. “Doesn’t sound like that much has changed.”
Rembrandt held his hand out. “You know the old saying Quinn, we’re not strong alone…”
Quinn took it and held it tightly. “…we’re strong together.”
Rembrandt and Quinn hugged each other and before anyone knew what was happening, Wade and Arturo joined in. They were four friends facing an uncertain future… but they were determined to face it together.
Detective Harris was once again appalled that the conditions of Detective Brady’s office. The room seemed to belong more to a bear than a man. She glanced at the empty pizza boxes and soda cans littering the shelves and floors and at the files… some of which were no doubt important… covering the desk like a miniature landfill. This was not a place she necessarily liked coming to.
Brady saw her enter and held up a white bag – the bottom half of which had become transparent with greese. “Donut?” he offered.
Harris crinkled her nose. “No, thank you Austin. I just had lunch.”
“Your loss,” he mumbled as he gobbled it down.
The intercom beeped. “Detective Harris… Line one. Detective Harris… Line one.”
She glanced at Brady’s phone. “You mind?”
Brady shook his head as he sucked the last bit of sugar glaze off of his fingers.
“This is Detective Harris,” she said as she picked up the receiver.
“Detective Harris,” the voice on the other end on the line said. “I have some information about the killing on highway one.”
“Hold on,” she said as she pulled a pen and a notebook out of her jacket. “Okay, tell me what you know.”
“First I want you to tell me something,” the voice said. “Is Detective Brady in the room with you?”
Harris glanced at her partner for a second. “Yes.”
“Then we can’t talk now. I’ll call you in five minutes… make sure you’re alone.” And then the line went dead.
Harris pulled the receiver from her ear and stared at it as if to say, “Why did he hang up on me Mr. Phone?”
“What was all that about?” Brady asked.
“Uhhh… I don’t know.” Harris answered. “Sounded like someone was going to give me a tip but changed his mind. Something about the death on highway one.”
“Hmmm,” Brady mumbled. “We don’t need any information about that anyway. It was an animal attack. Let animal control mess with it.”
Harris nodded in mock agreement. “I have to go and run off some papers. You want anything?”
Brady shook his head. “Naw, you go on ahead.”
Harris picked up a few papers out of her file and walked out the door. She checked her watch… four more minutes and the mysterious caller would be calling again.
The intercom beeped again. “Detective Harris… Line one. Detective Harris… Line one.”
“This is Detective Harris,” she said strumming her fingers on the vacant deck.
“Are you alone?” The voice asked.
“Yes,” she answered. “Now, who are you and why didn’t you want Detective Brady listening in?”
“This is Leo Wolf,” he said. “And I didn’t want Detective Brady listening in because I think he’s somehow involved with the killing.”
“Leo Wolf?” She repeated. “Didn’t we come and see you yesterday morning?”
“Yeah,” Leo confirmed. “So you can see why I was unwilling to say anything then, what with Detective Brady standing there and all.”
“Detective Brady is a fine man,” she scowled. “So if you have anything to say about him, you’d better make it good, otherwise I’ll find you and throw your sorry ass in jail for… for what ever the hell trumped up charges I can find against you!”
“I think I saw Detective Brady on the highway the night of the murder,” Leo said. “So did the other passengers in my car. Maybe you could take him off the case or keep an eye on him or something.”
“Kid, there is no case!” Harris replied. “It’s closed. Animal attack… period.”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?” Leo asked her. “I can hear it in your voice… you think something else is going on.” he was silent for a second and continued. “My friends and I… we found an ID bracelet on the highway.”
“A what?” Harris demanded.
“An ID bracelet. You know, they’re those little gold chain things with the…”
“I know what an ID bracelet is,” Harris snapped. “What does that have to do with the case?”
“It had the initials A.D.B. on it and I believe your partner’s name is Austin Diller Brady.” Leo explained. “Look detective, I know that you feel you have a responsibility to defend your partner, but…”
“I don’t have an obligation to defend anyone,” Harris sneered. “You have evidence that Brady is involved, and I’ll nail his ass to the wall.”
“Good,” Leo said.
“But… I find that you’re jerking me around kid, and it’s your ass I’ll nail. Got it?”
“Got it,” he answered.
“What do you suggest, Mr. Wolf?” Harris asked.
“Well, what did she say?” Quinn asked after Leo had hung up the phone.
“She wants to meet us here two hours,” He answered. “She sounds unconvinced, but open to reason. Right now, she’s all we got.”
“Two hours?” Arturo repeated. “It’s already three-thirty now. By the time she arrives, it will be five-thirty. Do we have the time?”
“Moonrise isn’t until eight-thirtyish,” Leo said. “Surely we can get this over with by then.” he stopped talking for a second. “And if we can’t convince her that her partner is a werewolf, I’m sure that seeing Quinn change into one will change her mind.”
“What do you mean ‘When she sees Quinn change?'” Wade asked. “You’ll turn into one too.”
Leo shook his head. “Not tonight. My lycanthropic peak was last night. From now until the next full moon, I can control the transformation.”
“Come one, come all… see the incredible Quinn Mallory change into a werewolf right in front of your eyes,” Quinn mumbled. “Five dollar admission… discount for senior citizens and armed services.”
“If I thought being on display for one night would lead to a cure for me, I’d do it, Quinn,” Leo said frankly. “Actually, being on display for one night could cure both of us if we get the werewolf, so I’d suggest you grin and bear it. Besides, it’s just one person.”
“She’s a cop,” Quinn stated. “And didn’t you say cops shot that werewolf in London?”
Leo nodded. “I didn’t say it was a perfect plan.”
Two and a half hours passed. “I don’t think she’s coming,” Wade observed.
Leo checked his watch and saw that it was already six-oh-nine. “She’ll be here,” he reassured her. “She was so pissed off at the fact that I even mentioned that her partner was in on this that I thought she’d come here to personally wring my neck.”
Then there was a knock at the door and Leo jumped to his feet. He opened the door and saw Detective Harris standing there in the rain with another man… a uniformed policeman. She looked distraught but far from angry. “Sorry I’m late… May… May I come in?” she asked feebly.
“Yeah,” Leo answered softly. “Get out of that rain. Are you okay?”
“No,” Harris said. “No, I am not okay.”
After she took off her overcoat, Leo led her to the dining room where Dawn and the sliders had gathered. “Detective Harris, this is Quinn Mallory, Wade Welles, Rembrandt Brown, Maximillian Arturo, and Dawn Freeman.” he said gesturing to each one respectively.
Harris nodded acknowledgment. “This is officer Biggs,” she said introducing the young policeman that came in with her. “Mr. Wolf, I… I owe you a big apology.”
Leo looked at the others uncomfortably. “Huh?”
“I…,” she took a deep breath and continued. “Detective Brady and I have been partners for two years and I never saw it. After you called, I looked through the files and saw other animal attack cases on highway one… all which were investigated and closed by Detective Brady. All of those deaths happened on nights when he was off duty and couldn’t be accounted for.”
“You think he did them all?” Wade asked.
“I don’t know,” Harris whispered. “I don’t know anything anymore. But I do know that Austin… I mean, Detective Brady knows I’ve been digging. He’s not an idiot, he probably knows that I’m onto him and if he does, he probably knows that you’re the ones who tipped me off.”
“Detective Harris is requesting that you all be taken into protective custody,” Biggs explained. “We’ve arranged a safehouse for you out in San Gregorio just in case Brady tries to make a move against you. The only people who know about it’s location is Detective Harris, and myself… it should be safe. I suggest you pack enough clothing for a day or two until he is apprehended.”
“Wait,” Arturo exclaimed. “Mr. Mallory here has a rather… unique medical condition. It will be necessary to keep him confined and quarantined once we get there.”
“What sort of medical condition?” Harris inquired.
“Oh, nothing serious,” Leo answered. “I’m sure everything will be fine. Max here is just being overprotective of his nephew, that’s all.”
Harris nodded. “Okay, we’ll be waiting for you out in the car. Don’t waste any time.”
“We won’t” Leo called after her.
After Harris and officer Biggs had left, the sliders turned their gaze on Leo. “Man, are you nuts!?” Rembrandt yelled. “It’s two and a half hours until moonrise and we’re taking Quinn to a house in the middle of nowhere?”
“He’ll be fine,” Leo maintained.
“How can you be sure of that?” Arturo asked.
“Look, I haven’t been a werewolf for a year without learning a few tricks.” He said as he went to the hall closet and took out some rope and handcuffs. “We’ll tie him up for tonight. San Gregorio is only about twenty miles from here, we ought to be there in plenty of time. Besides, we back out now and Harris is going to start doubting that something is amiss with her partner.”
Leo packed the items into a brown duffel bag and zipped it shut. “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.”
“I sure hope to hell you do,” Quinn answered before going upstairs. The other sliders followed with Dawn bringing up the rear.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Alex asked as he entered the room.
Leo looked at him quizzically. “Where’ve you been?”
“Out,” Alex answered.
“Out,” Alex answered again. “So, what’s going on?”
“We’re being moved to a safehouse in San Gregorio,” Leo explained. “They’ve made their move against Brady.”
“All right!” Alex exclaimed.
Leo smiled. “This could all be over before we know it, Alex.”
“Hey,” Alex said in an introspective tone. “In case this is about to be all over and I don’t get a chance to tell you later.. I just wanted you to know that you’re the best friend I ever had, Leo. You’re the only one who could ever put up with me and… I’m gonna miss you pal.”
Leo bit his upper lip. In the excitement of the past couple of days, he had forgotten that if he ceased being a werewolf, he’d be saying good-bye to his best friend… forever. Words circled his mind like a whirlwind, but all he could say was… “I’m gonna miss you too.”
Harris and Biggs had drove up in a police van so there was plenty of room in the back for all of the sliders plus Dawn and Leo. It was apparently a prisoner transport since there were bars on the windows and a steel cage separating the back from the front. There was also no way to open the back doors from the inside.
It was raining furiously now with periodic flashes of lightning and thunder. Rembrandt mused to himself that the only thing that had been missing until now was a good old-fashioned lighting storm. Now it was here.
Leo checked his watch again. It was now seven o’clock. They had an hour and a half to reach the safehouse but since he had made the trip in less than a half an hour many times before without speeding, he wasn’t really worried.
They left the city limits and met with very little traffic probably due to the fierce storm that howled outside… the winds seemed to threaten to roll the van over.
For the first time, Wade realized that they were on highway one. That made her exceedingly uncomfortable… but she dealt with it because it was the quickest route to their destination and the sooner that they got Quinn secured, the better.
With the exception of the wind and rain beating against the van and the occasional chatter on the police radio there wasn’t a sound spoken. Wade was holding Quinn’s hand. Both of them were nervous, though neither was sure which one was the most nervous.
“Could we speed things up a bit?” Arturo demanded. “At this rate, we’ll reach San Gregorio around the next millennium!”
“Look at the road, Mr. Arturo,” Biggs said. “It’s a solid sheet of water… if I push more than forty miles per hour, we’re going to be risking an accident.”
“It is Professor Arturo, you blithering idiot, and I know ninety year-olds who drive faster than this!”
“Look,” Biggs said. “I’m new on the force and I don’t want any accidents on my record!”
“I suppose that’s the kind of talk we could expect from a mere rookie,” Arturo grumbled.
Biggs frowned and stepped on the gas petal. “Happy now?”
Arturo sat there for a moment listening to the sound of the engine. Finally he spoke. “No,” he said.
“You’ll have to excuse him,” Wade said. “He’s in a bad mood.”
“Don’t make apologies for me, young woman!” Arturo yelled.
“And don’t make me sock you in the jaw, professor,” Wade countered.
The professor scowled at her. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“I would too,” Wade replied.
“Guys!” Rembrandt yelled. “You want to tone it down a bit before someone gets upset and angry and does something he knows he’s going to regret in the morning?”
Wade and Arturo backed off of each other.
“Look, guys…,” Rembrandt whispered so only the occupants of the back seat could hear them. “We’re all on edge here, but fighting with each other isn’t going to help matters at all.”
“He’s right,” Leo whispered.
“Oh, don’t tell us what’s right and wrong, you’re the one who got us into this mess in the first place!” Arturo said in a louder tone.
“He didn’t get you into this mess at all! He’s the one trying to get you out of it, you moron!” Dawn yelled.
“Moron!?” Arturo erupted. “I have you know, young lady that I have more brainpower in an old toenail clipping than you can ever hope to have in your entire trivial little life!”
“Shut up!” Quinn demanded. “For god’s sake, will you people just shut up!?”
“Here here,” Biggs said from the front seat.
Quinn lowered his voice back down to a whisper. “Guys, this is no time to start coming apart now. We’re not strong alone, we’re strong together… remember?”
Arturo opened his mouth to protest, but then realized the logic of what Quinn had said. “You’re right, Mr. Mallory. Mr. Wolf…. Miss. Freeman, please accept my apologies.”
Leo and Dawn nodded indicating that they had accepted his apologies.
“Professor,” Wade said. “I’m sorry for threatening to punch you.”
Arturo smiled. “You never would have done it.”
“Yes, I would have,” Wade maintained.
“No, you would have not.”
“I sure would!”
“Miss. Welles,” Arturo said softly. “This is silly. Let’s stop fighting over something I know you wouldn’t do.”
“Fine,” Wade said. “…and I would have.”
Arturo turned to say something to her when Biggs slammed on the brakes. “Hang on,” he said. “We’re getting into some water on the…” And then the van began to hydroplane… slowly skidding out of control.
“Seatbelts!” Rembrandt yelled as he fumbled to put his on.
As most of the others already had theirs on, it was no problem… Quinn fumbled to get Wade’s buckled before he realized that he had unbuckled his own a few miles back because it had tightened and had made it very hard to breathe. He searched in vain for it finally crying out, “I can’t find mine!”
The van was skidding sideways by now and finally hit the mud of the bar ditch with a force that sent it into an out of control roll. The unbuckled Quinn flew up and hit the ceiling hard before slamming down into the seat. He then flew up again and landed across Wade and Arturo’s laps. Arturo quickly grabbed him by the midsection and held him with all of the strength he could muster.
All of that happened in less than five seconds before the van finally came to a rest on the side of the road. It had landed upright and aside from a few busted windows and a rather large dent on the front drivers side where Biggs was seated, it was in remarkably good shape.
The same could not be said for Quinn.
His head was resting in Wade’s lap. “Quinn?” She said softly after her heart stopped racing and her breathing came back under her control. “Are you okay?”
Quinn struggled to open his eyes. “W-Wade? What happened?”
“We rolled the van,” she explained. “But we’re okay.”
“Van?” Quinn responded weakly. “W-What are we doing in a van?”
“He’s delirious. Probably suffered a blow to the head,” Arturo noted. “He may have a concussion.”
“He’ll get over it in a little while,” Dawn said. “With a metabolism like his, he won’t stay hurt long.”
“Can’t keep a good werewolf down, huh?” Rembrandt mumbled to Leo.
Harris held her forehead and grimaced. “You okay, Biggs?” she asked her partner. “Biggs?”
There was no reply and she soon saw why. Biggs was lying foreword… his head was resting on the steering wheel. Blood was dripping out of a cut on his forehead – probably sustained when the cab crushed in on him. Harris leaned over and felt for a pulse.
“Is he all right?” Wade asked.
“He’s got a pulse,” Harris answered. “I don’t know if he’s all right.” She picked up the radio and tried it. “It’s dead. Looks like we’re stuck here for a while.”
“How long is a while?” Leo asked.
“A few hours until I can flag down a car.” she answered. “Don’t worry,” she said as she opened the glove compartment and grabbed a small back device. She then opened the door and stepped outside into the rain. “I’ll get you to the safehouse. You don’t have to worry about Brady.”
Harris shut the door behind her and ran back to the road with a visible limp.
“I don’t think it’s Detective Brady that we should be worried about right now,” Arturo whispered as he eyed Quinn’s body lying before him.
Detective Harris limped to the highway and peered in both directions. All she could see was an endless road disappearing into the night and sheets of rain falling from the sky. “Perfect,” she mumbled.
“We have forty-five minutes!” Wade cried. “Is there something we can do?”
“Is there anything we can do to delay the transformation?” Arturo asked.
“I was toying with the idea of using depressants to keep Leo below the transformation threshold.” Dawn answered. “There’s uh… there’s a doctor in Paris I talk to over e-mail who says that’s the key.”
“Do you have any with you?” Rembrandt asked.
Dawn shook her head. “No.”
“Well, a big fat lot of good that little nugget of information did us!” Arturo spouted.
“W-What about the blow to the head?” Rembrandt suggested. “Maybe that will keep Quinn from wolfing out.”
“Maybe,” Leo said. “But then again, it could cause him to change prematurely. I wish I had all of the answers for you, but I just don’t!”
“Well then,” Arturo said softly. “I see that we have very little choice in the matter. We must tell Detective Harris the truth… all of it.”
“Are you serious, professor?” Wade asked stroking Quinn’s hair gently. “We tell her that Quinn’s a werewolf and she’ll think we’re nuts!”
“She’ll think we’re nuts for forty-some-odd minutes,” Leo said. “Then he’ll change and she’ll have to believe us!”
“It’s a plan,” Rembrandt sighed. “That’s all I’ll say about it though… it’s a plan.”
Arturo groped for a handle to open the door. “Damn!” he whispered. “I forgot that this blasted van doesn’t have any handles. We can’t get out until the good detective returns.”
“So we’ll wait,” Dawn said. “Surly she’s not going to leave us alone for forty minutes…” There was a loud crash of thunder. “Will she?”
“If you do not mind, I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Arturo said. “Mr. Wolf, I trust you packed as Detective Harris instructed you to.”
“Yeah,” Leo answered.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a coat hanger or something of that nature, would you?”
“Why?” He asked.
“All will be revealed,” Arturo answered.
Figuring that he wasn’t going to get much more of an answer, Leo leaned over the back seat and pulled his duffel bag into his lap. He dug around in it until he found a pair of pants hung on a metal coat hanger. “What? Like this?” he asked as he handed the coat hanger to the professor.
“Splendid!” Arturo proclaimed as he proceeded to bend and unwind the coat hanger until it was a straight narrow rod. “I saw something like this in a Burt Reynolds movie once,” he explained as he guided the rod through the holes in the metal cage. The rod snaked its way towards the steering wheel and the professor grunted to himself as he tried to position it near the goal. It seemed to take forever. “Oh, where is that blasted detective!?” Arturo yelled in frustration.
Leo checked his watch. There was only thirty minutes to go.
“Ah ha!” Arturo cheered. “Now, let’s hope this works.”
Wade looked at what he had done and was totally lost. The tip of the wire was resting on the middle of the steering wheel just under the head of the unconscious officer Biggs whose chest was moving slightly indicating that he was indeed alive.
Arturo pushed it into the steering wheel and the wire bent under the force. “Damn!” He yelled as he twisted the rod hoping to get a better angle. “Okay, cross your fingers.”
He pushed again… this time achieving the desired effect.
The van’s horn blared into the night sky… It didn’t sound like a normal horn bast – obviously, it had been damaged in the rollover. But it did make a god-awful sound that the professor knew would attract Detective Harris.
Finally, the wire bent and fell into the front seat. “Oh… Blast!” Arturo cursed again. “Do you have another hangar?”
“No,” Leo said. “That was the only one.”
“Well, maybe she heard that,” Dawn offered.
Leo listened. “I can’t hear her coming. But then again, the rain’s coming down so hard, I probably just can’t hear straight.”
“It’s dark,” Rembrandt said. “She’s probably just having trouble finding the van again.”
They waited as the rain intensified and lightning struck around them. Finally, the sliding door – the one that opened to the back seats – slid open and there stood Detective Harris soaking wet and looking utterly wasted. “What?” she demanded. “Was that you who honked the horn?”
“Yes!” Wade said. “You locked us in here!”
Harris wiped her wet face. “Sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking. How’s your friend?”
“I don’t know,” Wade confessed. “But something tells me he’s going to be awful cranky in about twenty-five minutes.”
“What do you mean?” Harris inquired.
“She means: That man is a lycanthrope,” Leo stated. “A werewolf. And in less than twenty-five minutes, the moon is going to rise and he is going to transform. Tell me, will this van be strong enough to keep him inside?”
Harris stood there. Her mouth was open and she looked as though she was ready to laugh. “A werewolf?” she repeated. “That guy?”
“That guy,” Leo confirmed. “Is the van strong enough to keep him inside?”
“The van’s strong enough to keep anything inside…” she shook her head and almost smiled, “Is this some kind of a sick joke?” Harris asked impatiently.
“I wish!” Wade sighed still holding Quinn’s head in her lap.
“Look,” Harris said as she looked up into the sky as if hoping to ask someone up there why it was raining. “Everyone who can… come with me and help me flag down a car. I don’t like the way Biggs is bleeding and I’m sure your… werewolf there could use a doctor too. Then, all of you are coming downtown and I want some answers… and I mean real answers and not this werewolf crap!”
Arturo raised his hand to her. “Madam, I…”
“I don’t want to hear it… professor,” she shot back putting a harsh stress on his title. “I’ve have got one good nerve left and you are standing on it.” She motioned to the direction of the road. “Now, get moving and let’s get the hell out of here!”
Arturo decided that there was no use in arguing. Harris was obviously as closed-minded on the subject as he had been. “Come along, Miss. Welles.”
“No you are most certainly not!” Arturo roared. “When Quinn changes, you’ll be defenseless.”
“I’m staying professor,” Wade maintained. “When he starts changing, I’ll lock him up in the van… he won’t be able to get out.”
“Let’s move it!” Harris ordered.
Arturo looked back at her and then back to Wade. “Wade, please… don’t take any unnecessary risks.”
“Trust me professor, when have I ever taken an unnecessary risk?”
“All too many,” Arturo said as he walked into the night. “When I return I shall list them for you. Would you like them in alphabetical order or order of annoyance?”
Wade smiled at that for a moment, but then turned her attention back to Quinn. “Hey,” she whispered. “Are you still with me?”
“Yeah,” he answered. “My head’s still spinning, but I can think clearly now. Wade, go with them and leave me here.”
“No way,” Wade said. “I’m staying and for once, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“This road’s deserted,” Leo observed. “Everyone else must be smart enough to stay out of the rain.”
“Don’t even start with me, Kid.” Harris grumbled. She saw Arturo approach. “Where have you been?” she demanded.
“Young Miss Welles elected to watch over Mr. Mallory and your Officer Biggs,” he explained. “Now, would you like any more information? Shall I type you up a report?”
Harris ignored him and walked down the road.
“There!” Dawn said pointing. “Look! A car’s coming!”
Harris ran up to her and looked. Sure enough, in the distance a pair of lights glowed and were headed in their direction. Harris stood in the middle of the road and waved he hands. “Hey! Hey! Come on, stop!!!”
The car slowed and came to a stop on the shoulder. Leo ran up to the driver. “Oh, man are we glad that you…” He stopped and stared for he had seen the man’s face before.
It was Austin Diller Brady…A.D.B… San Francisco Detective and suspected werewolf.
Detective Brady pulled out a flashlight and shined it in Leo’s face. “Well… Well… Well… Leonardo McKinsey Wolf. Nice night for a little stroll, huh?”
Leo stared at him furiously. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Hey, I’m asking the questions here,” Brady said as he pushed Leo with his hand. “So don’t cop an attitude with me.”
“Don’t give me that detective bit,” Leo sneered. “We both know what you really are… we both know what you do…”
“Is that right?” Brady whispered. “Well, we don’t want you spreading that kind of stuff around, do we?” He looked up at his partner. “Harris, what’s going on here? What are you doing out here with these people?”
“I was taking them to a safehouse and we had a wreck,” she explained. “Do you have a radio in your car?”
“This is my wife’s car. Mine’s in the shop. This one doesn’t have a radio.”
“Look, Austin,” Harris said. “These people are nuts. They’re telling me that their friend back there in the van is a werewolf.”
“Werewolf?” Brady repeated, a small and sinister grin appearing on his face. “Well, that’s certainly original. Where is the van?”
“Back that way,” Harris said motioning with her hand. “Biggs is in the front… he’s hurt pretty bad.”
“I’ll check it out,” Brady said tromping through the damp grass towards the damaged vehicle. “Keep an eye on them.”
“Oh, don’t worry… I will.” Harris replied as she pointed her gun at Leo, Arturo, Dawn, and Rembrandt.
Leo glanced down at his watch… it was less than ten minutes until moonrise.
Wade glanced down at Quinn’s watch. The face had been shattered in the crash, but it still appeared to be working. She still had twenty minutes.
The wind wipped up again and rain began pouring through the open sliding door. “Quinn,” she said. “I’m going to close the door a little, I’ll be right back.”
Wade pulled the door to… not enough to lock herself in, but enough to keep Quinn and herself dry.
“That’s better,” she whispered. “How are you feeling now?”
“Better,” Quinn said. “The dizziness is gone.”
“Boy, when Dawn said you heal quick, she wasn’t kidding.” Wade laughed.
“How long until moonrise?” Quinn asked her.
“I checked your watch… I have about twenty minutes. I won’t leave you until then.”
Quinn squeezed her hand. “Thanks.”
There was a loud click as the sliding door was pushed shut by an unknown force. Wade lept up and banged on the window. “Hey!” she screamed. “Hey! Let us out!”
“You just stay put,” the gruff voice of Detective Brady replied. “I’ll be back for you later.”
“No! No! You don’t understand!” Wade yelled. “You have to let me out! He’s going to turn into a werewolf! Rembrandt!!! Professor!!! Let me out!!!”
Wade looked back at Quinn he was breathing hard and sweating just as he had done the first time. She bent over and checked his watch and was shocked when it still said eight-ten PM. “Oh, god…,” she whispered. “Your watch has stopped.”
“W-What?” Quinn replied weakly. “Wade, you’ve got to get out of here!” He managed to right himself and pushed on the sliding door with all of his might. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, a creature was struggling to get out…
“Detective Harris, what are you doing!?” Dawn exclaimed. “You said it yourself, that man could be a killer!”
“I’m thinking of a way to get all of you out of this!” Harris responded. “What am I supposed to do? Shoot him?”
Brady emerged from the darkness and looked over the others.
“How’s Biggs?” Harris asked.
“He’s breathing… other than that, who knows?” he responded. “What do you want done with them?”
Harris fidgeted. “I… uh… I’m going to take them downtown for questioning in the murder case we had out here. “Oh!” Harris said pulling the device out of her pocket. “I wanted to give you this.”
“What is it?” Brady asked as he walked over to her.
With a quick thrust, Harris pushed the device into Brady’s side. He howled with pain and then dropped to the ground.
“…the hell did you do to him?” Rembrandt asked in awe as he approached Brady’s fallen body.
Harris held up the device. “It’s a stun gun,” she explained. “You never know what you’re going to run across on a dark road during this time of night. Here, help me put him in the car… we don’t want him to drown out here.”
Brady moaned slightly as Leo, Harris, and Rembrandt pulled him to his car and sat him down in the back seat. Harris rubbed her temples and stretched. “There,” she said. “I guess that’s that.”
Leo leaned into Brady’s face and grinned. “I got you,” he whispered. “After all the searching and hoping, I finally got you, you bastard… all thanks to your little partner you couldn’t keep in the dark.”
“This him?” A voice asked from Leo’s side.
“Yeah, Alex… it’s him.”
“Funny,” Alex sighed as he looked at Brady’s face. “I always pictured him as a… better looking guy. Not this tub of lard. So, who do we have to thank?”
“Detective Harris,” Leo smiled. “This… This guy’s partner.”
Brady opened his eyes weakly and looked at him. He was clearly dazed… “I… don’t… have a… partner….” he groaned.
Quinn could feel the transformation begin to take ahold of him. He pounded on the caged window hoping that it would eventually give in from the force. Wade was also pounding on the same section. She was crying… tears rolling down her face. Quinn took one look at her and began hitting the door with all of his might. He knew that if he changed while in the van with Wade, she’d never stand a chance. He’d butcher her. He decided then and there, that if he could figure out a way to kill himself in the next few minutes, he would.
“What do you mean you don’t have a partner? What does he mean that he doesn’t have a partner?” Alex asked frantically.
Leo checked his watch again. It was a few mere minutes before the moon was to rise. “Brady!” He whispered slapping his face to get his attention. “Detective Harris is your partner!”
Brady shook his head weakly. “No… Ha… Harris is a transfer… we… were working this one case together. I never saw… her until yesterday morning.”
Alex and Leo looked at each other. “Hey,” Alex said. “Brady, can I ask you a question?”
Brady just sat there in a daze.
“Brady!” Alex yelled. “Leo, I don’t think he can hear me.”
Leo looked back at Harris who was taking to Arturo, Dawn, and Rembrandt. “But that means that Brady isn’t our werewolf. And it also means that… Harris lied to us when she said she’d been partnered with this guy for two years.”
Alex cocked his head. “You don’t think…”
“I do,” Leo whispered. “I do think!”
“But that means she can hear you! She can hear me!” Alex exclaimed.
Leo shook his head. “No, I can’t hear as well because of the rain. I’m sure she can’t either. Christ, I’ve got to get Dawn and the others out of here.”
“…and then you’ll be questioned about how and when you saw Detective Brady on the road,” Harris said explaining to the professor and Rembrandt about how they would be questioned regarding the events of the past few hours.
Leo walked over to them quickly. “Okay, Harris…,” he said. “I just have one question for you…”
“And what would that be Mr. Wolf?” she asked impatiently.
“Detective Harris, there is this big ass spider crawling on your shoulder!,” Alex yelled.
Harris looked quickly down at her shoulder and bushed it with her hand. “Did I get it?” she asked.
Arturo, Dawn, and Rembrandt looked at her as if she was insane. “Did you get what?” Rembrandt asked.
Harris’s face went sour as she turned and faced Leo and Alex. “Oh now, That was very clever,” she growled. “I had hardly any trouble ignoring your rotting little friend there when he was snooping around in Brady’s office. Punk even screamed in my ear and I didn’t even let him notice… but having him sneak up behind me. That was underhanded.”
“Any more underhanded than framing your own partner for murder?” Leo sneered.
“Ah, he’s not my partner,” Harris smirked. “I hardly even know the guy. I told him to meet me at the safehouse in San Gregorio so I could really nail him… make it look like a bad cop with a private vendetta who guned down a group of people in his own home… that’s the safehouse I was taking you to. I guess it was blind luck that we flagged him down… he must have been on his way back home. Now,” she held up her gun and motioned for Leo to get with the others. “Stay where I can see you.”
“What about that talk about Brady saying he wasn’t going to be around during the full moon?” Alex asked.
“I lied…,” Harris said with a smile and a playful shrug. “I had to throw you off somehow.”
“I don’t get it,” Rembrandt said. “The bracelet said A.D.B. and your last name is Harris.”
“Harris is my married name.” she explained. “The name I had when the bracelet was made was Annika Duncan Bright… my madien name. Funny… I’d always remembered to take that bracelet off before now.”
“What happened to your husband?” Alex asked. “You eat him or something?”
“Something like that, yes…,” Harris replied. “Now, I have a question for you, Mr. Wolf. Are you a werewolf too?”
“No,” Leo lied. “Psychic. Quinn’s the wolf.”
“Oh, yes… The injured boy in the van.” She giggled. She then snapped her fingers and continued with a mock concern. “Oh, too bad I had Detective Brady lock him and your other little friend together. It’s only about a minute to moonrise. But I suppose we can just hose out the van and it’ll be as good as new.”
“You evil bitch,” Dawn whispered.
“I am at that, aren’t I?” Harris replied.
Wade had resorted to kicking the window cage as her hands had become so scratched that hitting them against the window had become quiet painful.
“We’re almost there Quinn,” she exclaimed. “Quinn?”
Quinn was curled up in a ball. He was covering his face and seemed to be crying.
“Quinn?” Wade said as she bent over him. “Quinn, are you okay?”
Quinn lowered his hands and revealed that his eyes had turned a bright glowing yellow… his hands and fingernails began to change and his teeth began to elongate and sharpen.
Wade couldn’t speak… she couldn’t breath… she couldn’t scream… She just began kicking at the window again which refused to budge one inch.
Harris gritted her teeth and shut her eyes tightly. Leo motioned for Arturo, Rembrandt, and Dawn to run… he knew what was going on. The moon had just risen above the storm clouds.
As the others ran for their lives, Leo stood there and watched her. Harris opened her eyes and Leo saw that they had both turned a signature werewolf color. Her fingernails darkened and her face began to reshape itself.
“Detective Harris,” he yelled at her while he was sure her sense of communication was still with her. “You remember how I said I wasn’t a werewolf earlier?”
Harris laughed in a deep and perverted amalgamation of a laugh and a bark.
Leo shut his eyes and concentrated. He opened them and both were glowing a bright yellow. “I lied too.”
Harris roared and pounced on Leo who rolled out of the way… still transforming the entire time.
Both of their transformations complete, the two werewolves locked in battle.
Wade looked over her shoulder and saw that Quinn was in his full transformation throes. She kicked the door even harder but still got nowhere with it. Wade turned around and screamed when she saw Quinn towering over her… his face had contorted and was almost unrecognizable. His glowing eyes narrowed into slits as he raised one of his hands which now sported a set of razor sharp claws.
Wade jumped down between the seat and the door. She covered herself with her arms and hoped that the end wouldn’t be too painful.
The werewolf lunged foreword and ripped the cage from the window giving Wade an escape route.
“Go…,” The werewolf growled. “While you still can.”
Wade looked up. The werewolf was standing there on all fours looking down on her it’s body was still undergoing spasms from the transformation. The voice was Quinn… but wasn’t Quinn. It was deeper and more forced. “Quinn?” she asked weakly. “GO!” The werewolf screamed. “Go… and…,” It fell onto it’s stomach in pain. “don’t… look… back!”
Wade climbed out of the window and ran. She could hear the beast growling and snarling behind her. She didn’t look back.
Leo was in the fight of his life. He never stopped scratching and biting at his opponent, but he was tiring rapidly. He forced the other werewolf onto her back and sank his teeth into the fleshy part of the neck. He looked down and saw the scar… the one he had given it when he hit it with his car one year earlier.
The female werewolf took advantage of his momentary distraction and kicked him in the midsection.
Leo howled in pain as her claws tore into his stomach.
“That was Leo!” Dawn exclaimed as she turned around and headed back for the fighting werewolves.
“Miss Freeman!” Arturo exclaimed. “What happens back there is out of our hands! We mustn’t go back!”
“What about Wade professor?” Rembrandt asked. “She’s locked in that van with Quinn… we’ve got to do something.”
Professor Arturo’s face contorted with shame and sorrow. “Mr. Brown, it may be too late for her.”
“I won’t accept that.” Rembrandt yelled.
Dawn nodded. “And I won’t accept that what happens to Leo is out of my hands! He means too much…” she stopped herself and continued. “He means to much to me to abandon him now.”
“Fine,” Arturo sighed. “What the hell? Who wants to live forever?”
The van shook under it’s weight as the werewolf tried to push itself out of the window that Quinn had torn open so that Wade could escape. In frustration, it roared and kicked the sliding door off of it’s hinges.
It plopped down onto the ground and stretched then it caught a scent… it didn’t know what or who the scent belonged to… but it was close… real close.
The werewolf sniffed the air and circled the van until it came up on the driver’s side and the unconscious Officer Biggs. It could smell the blood and liked it. The wolf licked it’s lips as it clawed at the twisted metal and broken glass trying to get at the fallen officer.
But then the wind shifted and it caught a new scent. It was another animal like the one in the van… only this one was younger and uninjured. It wasn’t very far away and would be a far cry easier to get at than the animal in front of him.
The werewolf howled and began to give chase.
Dawn had separated from Rembrandt and Arturo and quickly made her way to the fighting werewolves. She stopped in her tracks and gasped when she saw that each one was in a frenzy and that each one was covered in blood. She frantically searched for a gun or anything that might help her out but apparently, both the guns and stun gun had been kicked into the darkness by the two fighters.
Arturo and Rembrandt were almost out of breath when they reached the van.
“Dear god,” Rembrandt whispered when he observed the hole in the van where the sliding door used to be.
“Officer Biggs is okay,” Arturo said. “Apparently, Mr. Mallory did not wish to waste time trying to pry him out.” He bent down and peered at the ground. “Look here… look at these tracks.”
Rembrandt saw the sneaker prints in the mud. “Wade,” he said. “She’s alive.”
“Not for long, if we don’t find her,” Arturo said cryptically. “These tracks here… they look as though they are stalking her.”
“That way!” Rembrandt said and then he and Arturo raced into the night.
The cold wet air stung Wade’s lungs as she ran furiously to escape the monster. She could hear the grunts of something behind her and she knew it had to be Quinn… no, not Quinn… what ever that thing was, it could never be Quinn.
She stopped running for a second and decided to re-evaluate her strategy. One of these things had ran down Quinn and he was three times faster than she was. She deduced that she couldn’t outrun the werewolf, so she decided to outthink it.
She crouched down behind some bushes and waited for it. She put her hand in her pocket and fumbled for a gift Quinn had given her on a previous world… she prayed she had remembered to bring it with her.
Wade looked up and saw the werewolf when a flash of lightning illuminated the earth for a split-second. It was sniffing the ground and the air obviously trying to pick up Wade’s scent in the pouring rain. Every now and then, it would pick up her smell and bare it’s teeth… but with the wind and the rain, scents were being mixed and jumbled. It was hard to keep track of it’s prey… but not impossible as werewolves seemed to be the ultimate hunter.
Wade smiled as her hand found the small cylindrical object she had been hunting for. She looked at it as to make sure it wasn’t something it wasn’t and proceeded to do something a Wade of five minutes ago would have said she was completely out of her head for doing.
She stood up right in the werewolf’s line of sight. “Hey, big dog…,” she said playfully though not without a large amount of fear in her voice. “You looking for me?”
The werewolf cocked it’s head at this. It seemed that surrender was something that it had no concept of, but it didn’t really care as long as it got what it was hunting for. It glared at Wade and licked it’s chops in anticipation. It growled deeply and then leaped in for the kill.
Wade didn’t even try to run, all she did was hold out the small cylindrical object in front of her which sprayed a thin stream of fluid into the werewolf’s eyes.
As soon as the fluid hit, the werewolf lost all of it’s vision and cried in pain. It became disoriented and missed Wade completely landing instead in a giant pool of water with a loud and ear-piercing yelp.
“I’m sorry Quinn!” Wade gasped as she ran in the opposite direction and into a wall.
She hit the soggy ground and the wall spoke to her. “Wade, my child! I never thought I would see you alive again!”
“That makes two of us professor,” Wade responded as he and Rembrandt hoisted her to her feet. “Qui- The werewolf is back there. I gave it an eyeful of mace.”
“Good girl!” Arturo exclaimed.
“But considering what we’ve seen, I don’t think it’ll be affected for long!” she warned.
“Good point,” Rembrandt said. “Let’s get gone!”
Dawn stood there and watched in fascination and horror as the two werewolves ripped and clawed each other into bloody pulps. She knew that Leo was in the fight of his life, but couldn’t do anything about it… hell, she didn’t even know which of the two creatures he was.
And then something unexpected happened. Detective Brady, who Dawn could’ve sworn was still unconscious in the back of his own car, stumbled foreword with a gun in his shaky hand. He was visibly terrified and unstable as he just stood there and prepared to fire mindlessly at the two animals.
“NO!” Dawn screamed as she grabbed his hand and forced it down. The gun went off and struck the ground just below one of the werewolf’s feet, but both were so involved on the chore of trying to kill each other, it was doubtful that either even noticed.
Brady pushed her away and she landed on the ground hard. She caught her breath and opened her eyes and saw it… it was Harris’s gun. It had been kicked under the car and seemed to beckon to her to pick it up.
“Stop!” Dawn commanded as she drew the gun and held it on Detective Brady. “You fire that gun and I swear to god I’ll blow your head off.”
Brady stared at her and even laughed for a second as if he wasn’t sure if she was serious. “W-What the hell is this!?” He demanded. “What the hell are these things!?”
Dawn aimed the gun at his head. She could feel mud caked on her face and in her hair, but she wasn’t about to do anything about it now. “All that you need to know is that one of them is my best friend… and if you do anything to hurt him, I’ll kill you.”
Brady looked at her and then back at the battling werewolves and then back at her. “No!” he shrieked. “No! You’re with them!”
Brady then tried to aim his gun back at the werewolves but in all of the confusion and excitement, he didn’t notice that the virtual whirlwind of fur, teeth, and claws was bearing down on him. He screamed for as long as he could before having the wind knocked out of his lungs.
When the wolves got off of him and resumed their battle, Brady was unconscious again. Dawn couldn’t tell if it was because he was knocked out or if he fainted due to sheer terror. She didn’t necessarily care either.
All she did care about was the fact that Leo was in a life or death battle before her eyes and she had a gun. All it would take is one shot and it would all be over… the problem was, she couldn’t bring herself to squeeze the trigger for fear that she would hit and kill Leo.
“Come on, Leo… Which one are you!?” Dawn cried. “Give me a sign!”
The werewolf that used to be Quinn Mallory pawed furiously at his face trying to get the burning substance out of his eyes. Thanks to the werewolf’s unique and amazingly fast healing rate, the animal could see within minutes of being sprayed with mace.
The burning subsided and the werewolf began to sniff the air and search for the prey that had eluded him. Much to it’s dismay, it had no idea where Wade had run off to.
The rain had let up a bit and the werewolf listened for anything interesting. He soon heard something so interesting that the thought of hunting Wade was shoved completely out of his mind. There was a battle being fought between two animals… two of his own kind.
He bore his teeth and began running towards the sound as fast as he could partially out of curiosity… and partly because if there was a fight, he was determined to take part in it.
Arturo, Wade, and Rembrandt had seen the cars and even the two werewolves that were fighting nearby. They also saw Dawn standing there with a gun pointed at the animals and decided that it was safer to be near the human with the weapon.
Dawn spun towards them for a second. “Where’d you guys run off to?” She demanded as she trained the gun back on the wolfs.
“I was trying to keep from being turned into a chew toy,” Wade said trying to catch her breath. “One of those thing is Leo, right?”
Dawn nodded. “I don’t know which, though!”
“You don’t know which one is him?” Rembrandt asked.
“All werewolves look the same to me!” Dawn cried.
One of the werewolves sank it’s teeth into the neck of the other which howled in pain. Dawn knew the sound… it was Leo. She could hear his voice submerged in the cry. She took a deep breath, said a silent prayer, aimed, and fired.
The bullet caught the aggressor werewolf in the shoulder and it toppled backwards shrieking in pain. The other werewolf collapsed on the ground in exhaustion.
Dawn raised the gun and fired again at the agressor. She shut her eyes and hoped she had hit the right one.
“Look at that,” Rembrandt whispered in awe as he stared at the werewolf that had collapsed after the fight.
It was shrinking in size and reverting to a human shape. After a few minutes, the hair on it’s head had changed to a light blond color… it was Leo. He was bruised, scratched up, battered, and exhausted… but he was alive.
Dawn ran to him and hugged him. “Leo, oh thank god! I was so scared I’d shot you!”
“I was… scared you’d shoot me too!” Leo said gasping for air. He had dozens of scratches and bite marks on every square inch of his body and all of them were bleeding.
“Are you all right?” Arturo asked as he helped Leo to his feet.
Leo nodded. “I’ll tell you in a second.” He stumbled over to the other werewolf. He either didn’t know he was naked or didn’t care… all he cared about was ending the nightmare.
The other werewolf had long since turned back into Detective Harris. She was dead… shot in the shoulder and chest. Leo turned her nude body over and looked at her stomach. His heart sank when he saw what he was looking for.
“Leo?” Dawn asked in concern.
“It’s…,” He sniffed back a tear as he faced the truth. “This isn’t the werewolf that bit me. The scar I saw… it… it was just a cesarean scar. This isn’t the one.” He began to sob when he repeated what he had just said. “This isn’t the one…”
Dawn had taken a blanket out of the back of Brady’s car and covered him with it. “I’m so sorry,” she said as she hugged him. “God, I’m sorry.”
Leo took her hand and squeezed it after she wiped the tears off of his face. “It wasn’t the one, Alex.”
“I know…,” Alex said. He sounded nearly as upset as Leo was. “I knew the second she died.”
The sliders didn’t know what to say to him. They didn’t know what to say to anyone.
Dawn held him as the light rain fell from above. Never had he ever been so hopeful of finding the scarred werewolf… and never had his hopes been so mercilessly smashed. Through all of the emotion and the pain of his injuries, all he could do was sit in the light rain and weep.
“Leo!” Dawn whispered looking past him into the darkness. “Leo, look!”
Leo turned his head and saw another werewolf… the one that used to be Quinn. It was watching them from a distance… but if Leo had learned anything about werewolves during the past year, he knew that they are anything but casual observers. The werewolf in the darkness was ready to attack… and Leo was far to exhausted and battered to do a damned thing about it.
Wade saw him too. “I have an idea,” she whispered as she walked towards the snarling beast.
Rembrandt tried to go after her, but was stopped by professor Arturo. “No!” he said. “You could startle him into attacking her!”
“He’s going to attack her no matter what we do!” Rembrandt protested. “We can’t just sit here and watch!”
“I do believe Miss Welles has a plan,” the professor whispered. “Let’s just pray it’s a good one.”
The werewolf growled as Wade approached him. “Quinn,” she said. “Quinn, I know you’re in there somewhere… under all of that, you’ve got to be in there. I can’t believe that you’ve been just completely submerged. Look,” she gestured over to Harris’s body. “We caught the werewolf that bit you… we can cure you now. All you have to do is come with me. Let’s do this the easy way.”
The werewolf roared and took up a stance that told Wade it was about to attack. “Fine,” she whispered. “Then let’s do it the hard way.”
The werewolf jumped and landed right on her. Rembrandt and Arturo screamed her name and turned their heads away expecting to hear the werewolf rip their friend to shreds.
But all there was was silence.
And then Wade said, “You guys want to get this thing off of me?”
They turned and saw that Wade was pinned under the beast… but it wasn’t attacking her at all. In fact, it wasn’t doing much of anything at all. It was just lying there as if it was dead, but it’s chest was moving slightly – indicating that the wolf was still alive.
“Oh, my god, Wade! What the hell did you do!?” Rembrandt asked as he pulled the unconscious werewolf off of her. He saw that it was changing back into the familiar form of Quinn.
Wade held up a small black device. “I saw this stun gun on the ground while Leo and Harris were fighting and thought it might come in handy. You know?”
Rembrandt held his hand over his heart and took a deep breath. “Girl, if you ever do that again, you’re going to give the crying man a heart attack!” Rembrandt looked back to where the werewolf had fallen and saw Quinn lying face down in the mud. “Quinn…,” he whispered. “He’s human again. Does that mean he’s cured?”
Leo shook his head. “No, weres change back if their knocked unconscious… or if they’re killed.”
Wade bent over the body of Quinn Mallory and felt for a pulse. “He’s alive,” she announced.
“Then let’s get him to the house,” Dawn suggested.
“Put them in Brady’s car. There’s something I have to do first… for Quinn,” Leo said as he threw Harris’s body over his shoulder and began to walk out of sight.
“Where are you going?” Dawn asked him.
Leo turned and face her. “To hell probably.”
He walked out of sight. A few minutes later, a howl and the sounds of bones cracking could be heard from the darkness.
Professor Arturo knew what the sounds were. They were the sounds of a body being ripped open. “Give him a week and he’ll be running the place,” he mumbled.
“Hey, sunshine,” Leo said. “Wake up.”
Quinn groaned as he came around. He was lying in bed… light was shining through the open window. “Where am I?” he moaned.
“The house,” Leo answered as he handed him a glass filled with a dark red fluid. “Here, drink this.”
Quinn sat up and looked at the glass. “What is it?”
Leo grimaced. “Uh… drink it first.”
Quinn didn’t feel like arguing. He took the glass from him and for the first time noticed that Leo had several scratches and teeth marks on his arms… and a beauty of a bite on his neck on his neck. All appeared to be healing quickly, but he still looked as though he’d lost a fight with a weed-whacker. “What happened to you?” Quinn asked him before he downed the drink in one gulp. It tasted so bad, he felt as though he was going to throw up. “God, that was terrible. What was it?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Leo whispered. “For now, let me just say that that was your cure. If you don’t change tonight, you’re free…”
Quinn smiled and leaned back. “Thank god,” he sighed. “How long until moonrise?”
“About three hours,” Leo answered. “You’ve been out all day.”
Quinn’s face went sour and he looked back up at Leo. “Wait a minute, Didn’t you say that to be cured, I’d have to kill the werewolf that bit me and eat it’s heart?”
Leo nodded faintly.
“But you said that the drink you gave me was the cure.”
Leo shrugged. “Blender,” he said softly.
“Oh god… excuse me,” Quinn moaned as he ran to the bathroom to vomit.
Quinn stood in the cage as Dawn, Leo, Arturo, Rembrandt, and Wade watched over him. It was all a cautionary experiment… to see whether or not Quinn has truly been cured.
“How long?” Rembrandt asked.
“Soon,” Leo answered looking out the window at the rising moon.
“Are you guys sure you want to stay because of me?” Quinn asked. “You know… in case this cure doesn’t work.”
“I would like to see you try and stop me,” Arturo answered.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind,” Rembrandt said.
Wade touched his hands and smiled. “You stay, I stay.”
“I’m afraid none of you are staying,” Leo whispered. “Because the moon is up and you’re not a werewolf!” He opened the cage and shook Quinn’s hand. “Congratulations Quinn.”
Quinn smiled broadly and pulled Leo to him and embraced him. “I owe it all to you, bro!” Quinn released him and frowned. “I’m sorry that Harris wasn’t the one. I wish that things would’ve worked out for you too.”
“The werewolf that bit me is still out there,” Leo said shrugging. “It’s only a matter of time until I find him. Besides, not killing the werewolf means that I get to enjoy the company of my best friend a little while longer.”
“Yeah, where is Alex?” Quinn asked. “I never got a chance to tell him good-bye.”
Leo eyebrows arched. “Quinn, Alex is right there.”
“I… I don’t see him,” Quinn admitted.
“I guess that’s a good sign,” Leo said. “It means you really are cured.” Leo listened to something Alex was saying and then turned to Quinn. “Alex said to take care of yourself and not to scratch or lick yourself in public… that’ll make people think you’re some kind of freak.”
“Thanks Alex, I’ll keep that in mind” Quinn said.
“So what ever happened to that Detective Brady fellow?” Arturo asked. “Surly he can identify you.”
“Alex told me that Brady was so screwed up over what he saw that he didn’t even report what he had seen. The official report says that Officer Biggs and Detective Harris suffered an accident and while trying to get help for her injured comrade, Harris was mauled by the same animal that killed the hitchhiker,” Leo explained. “Biggs doesn’t remember a thing except for a bit about six passengers that Harris didn’t tell him much about in the first place, and according to Brady… he was never there at all.”
“Hey, speaking of memory,” Wade said. “What do you remember about this go-around, Quinn?”
Quinn rubbed his eyes and looked at her. “Bits and pieces… I remember chasing you… and for some reason, I feel like I should be really mad at you. Any idea why?”
“No,” Wade replied innocently. “None at all.”
“Well, it’s a late night slide… but I’m glad to be taking it.” Rembrandt said smiling as he watched the timer count down.
“Me too, Rembrandt,” Quinn admitted. “I’m glad we’re all taking it.”
“Hey, you take care of yourself, brother werewolf,” Leo said shaking Quinn’s hand.
Quinn grinned. “You do the same, brother werewolf.” He looked over at Dawn. “You two take care of each other.”
“Fifteen seconds,” Arturo announced.
“I’m sorry I was so rude,” Wade said as she hugged Dawn’s neck. “You’re a good person and I know you’re going to find Leo’s cure.”
“Thanks, Wade,” Dawn whispered.
“Three… Two… One….”
Mrs. Weaver looked out the window and stared at Leo’s house. “What the heck is that blue light?” She asked herself.
Dawn and Leo watched in amazement as the swirling blue mass took shape. One by one, the sliders lept into it each giving a final wave good-bye. Finally, the wormhole closed and Dawn and Leo were left in darkness.
Both felt as if they had to say something… both couldn’t possibly translate their thoughts into words. But then Leo summed up the entire experience simply and eloquently by cocking his head and saying. “Oh, well… that was pretty cool.”
Dawn smiled and hugged him.
“I don’t know about you,” Leo said scratching one of the scratches on his face. “But I think I could use a good night’s sleep.”
“Me too,” Dawn whispered.
Leo walked up the stairs. “Wake me when the next emergency happens.”
Dawn watched him ascend the stairs before walking into the den. The television caught her eye and she turned the volume up.
The announcer continued in mid-sentence. “-to have been a large animal terrorizing the small town of Durango, California. Police and animal control officials have been called in to investigate, but we have received reports that the animal is unlike anything anyone has seen before. In other news-”
Dawn turned the TV off and started up the stairs. “Leo!” she called.