Chapter Thirteen, Part One




 
THIRTEEN
 
Night of the Werefox
 
    “I cant find my gun,” Deputy Reese shouted, extricating himself from a mud puddle and reaching for an empty holster.
    “Get them out of here!” Street ordered.
    As the deputy scrambled to start the squad car, the Beast sprang up and lunged again, this time toward Street. She fired again, and again it collapsed. She put two more rounds in the creature, but it began to rise once more. I looked to Reggie, who was watching the lights of the deputy’s car disappear over the horizon. Would he run, like he did from the Litter? If he did, could I make it to the car in time to save myself?
    “Do— something!” I shouted.
    “Run, Sam,” he said.
    That’s it, I thought. Run and hide, like before.
    “Run now,” he insisted.
    “Where?” I asked.
    “Get in the car, Sam.”
    “What about Detective Street?”
    “Take her with you,” he said, his voice deepening to a growl.
    “What are you going to—”
    “Go now, Sam!”
    I dashed toward Street.
    “Detective,” I said, tugging at her sleeve. She put another shot between the Beast’s eyes that seemed to merely ricochet off of its skull.
    “You two get in the car!” She insisted. Her eyes were wide. She was making direct hits, then watching the creature shake off what should have been fatal wounds. She was shaking visibly. It must have been torture.
    “I think Reggie has this one under control,” I said. The Beast was still struggling to get up as Street prepared to take another shot.
    “You’ve got to be kidd—” She turned her head and saw that Reggie was transforming. His body hunched, his face sprouted fur. His back arched and his unnaturally long fingers first reached skyward, before grasping his body tight as he screamed in agony. As his frame shrank, his normally lean muscles bulked up. His face contorted, his already ponderous nose and jaw lengthened, his teeth protruded. His whole posture altered. Thick, bristling hairs sprouted from every exposed inch of skin.
    He stood there, his shoulders heaving. Clouds and dust swirled around him. His face was nearly human, but covered all over with coarse grey and black fur. His teeth jutted from an overbite my son’s orthodontist would have used to buy a second boat. His arms bulged from his ragged shirt sleeves, the tattered ends of which draped over him and fluttered around him. His long fingers clawed the air. He was four and a half feet of pure bestial power. He crouched, preparing for a leap.
    “Oh,” Street said, and finally allowed me to pull her towards the car. The massive foxlike creature regained its footing just as Reggie finished his transformation into his “half-form.” I had hoped that the Beast might prefer to pick on someone closer to its own taxonomy, but I was wrong. We reached the car just as the Beast found its feet. Reggie leaped towards him. His clothes, shredded and now two sizes too big, billowed in the windy night air. I tried to watch the spectacle taking place behind us while fumbling to unlock the car door. Reggie landed with a thud right where the Beast had been a second earlier. The Beast had moved to one side in the blink of an eye, and was now rushing towards us.
    I dropped my keys.
    Reggie’s second leap put him right on top of the Beast, who was barely a foot from us. I stood, slack-jawed, barely aware that Street was yelling at me. The two animal combatants struggled in the mud with each other. Reggie gained the advantage and lifted the Beast from the ground, throwing him towards the house. In his half-form, Reggie had the upper hand. It helped that Reggie actually had hands, while the Beast had only claws. The Beast hit the wall of the house, and crumpled. Reggie turned to me, his face an inch from mine. The saliva on his teeth gleamed in the moonlight. His breath was hot, and despite his lack of height, he backed me up against the car door. A single clawed finger prodded my shoulder.
    He growled.
    I winced.
    “It’s an electric lock, you idiot.” Reggie said, then turned to defend us once more.
    I picked the keys up and pressed the button. Street scrambled into the passenger side as I managed to get myself into the driver’s side. Just as my door closed, the Beast came hurtling through the rain, ramming Reggie into my car door with a thud, a snarl, and a crunch. I turned the key in the ignition and the creosote bushes in front of the car’s headlights leapt into view.
    “Wait,” Street shouted. “We’re not leaving him here.”
    “Like I said, I think he has this one. This is his world.” I threw the engine into drive and the car started moving.
    “What the hell is going on, Brown?”
    “It’s such a long story,” I sighed, giving the car some more gas. It was hard to get moving in the mud.
    “You two told me there were no such things as werewolves! Am I going insane?”
    I turned to her, sheepish. I didn’t want to say it. This part should have been Reggie’s job.
    “You’re not insane,” I managed to say. “Reggie’s a werecoyote. The other one’s Melvin White, I think. He’s, well, I guess he’s a werefox now? Sophia Renard, ah, made him into one.” I finally got some traction, and the car sped forward.
    “I am insane. This is ridiculous. We have to do something!” She pulled my parking brake and the machine lurched, then stopped.
    “Reggie told us to go,” I said.
    “We have to help him somehow.”
    “Your bullets are useless.”
    “I noticed.”
    “I don’t know what we’re going to—”
    “Sam?”
    The vehicle rocked with a loud thud and a yelp as one of the two monsters dueling outside hurled the other onto the hood of the car. I cringed. I heard the scraping of long merciless claws on metal. I shuddered just as I had when that brat Aubrey Kendrick had scraped her nails down the blackboard. The car shook again as the other were-thing jumped on top of my hood. The first began to claw its way onto the roof. I suddenly regretted owning a convertible. They used my poor car as their boxing ring. I couldn’t see what was happening, but I was tempted to drive forward again to knock the two of them off. They’d heal, right? My car wouldn’t.
    There was no need. Melvin managed to knock Reggie to the ground, and landed on top of him. The fox had the coyote pinned, jaws locked onto his neck. A flash of lightning showed me that Reggie was bleeding badly.
    Reggie claimed he healed quickly, and I had witnessed Melvin withstanding several gunshots at close range. But Reggie’s blood pooled beneath him, flowing from what looked to me to be a mortal wound. I forgot about my car. I forgot about my safety. Without thinking I unlatched my door. Only Street’s quick head and quicker hands kept me from jumping out to Reggie’s aid.
    The blood continued to pool, mixing with the rain. Reggie struggled less and less. Finally, he stopped moving altogether. His chest stopped heaving up and down. His body went limp and I let out a sob. My throat was tight, I could not breathe. Street held me firmly by the back of my shirt collar. Gradually she relaxed her grip, and laid her hand on my shoulder.
    Melvin, triumphant, let loose a long, loud howl. A howl that echoed across the playa.
    That wasn’t possible, was it? There were no sheer canyon walls, no high mountains for sound to bounce off of. Just some low hills and a bunch of empty space. Yet the howling continued. What was I hearing?
    First one, then two, and finally three werefoxes appeared in half-forms, and surrounded Melvin. It must have been the Renards. Melvin snapped first at one, then at another. He jumped towards the smallest of the three, probably Sofia. But he collapsed to the ground. Reggie’s fingers held firmly to his ankle.
    Reggie leapt up as the Renards descended in a furry of claws and red fur. The night filled with the chaos of growling, snarling, and yelping that accompanies any dogfight. Together, Reggie, Jack, Lupé, and Sofia carried Melvin away. I disbelieved. My breath was ragged. Detective Street may have thought I was having a heart attack.
    “I thought he was gone,” I gasped. My voice was hoarse.
    “Me, too,” Street replied.
    I blinked. Once I finally caught my breath, I laughed. Det. Street joined in. I found myself fighting for breath again, this time through the laughter, despite the tears still streaming down my face.
    “You can’t trust anything that boy does!” I finally exclaimed, slapping my hand down on the steering wheel.
    “You really can’t,” she agreed, as I began to drive. We rode a while in silence. Det. Street spoke up before we hit the Santa Fe city limits. “We cannot ever, and I mean ever, let Sandra know about this.”
    “That’s exactly what Reggie said,” I laughed. “You know, I always thought you had some idea about Reggie, you kept talking about him holding out, having a secret. I thought you knew there was something off about him.”
    “Oh,” Street said. “That? I assumed he was gay!”
 
*        *        *



2 Responses to Chapter Thirteen, Part One

  1. Muriel says:

    I finished reading Chapter 13 last night and I’m impressed. I like your humor, and the many plot twists are well done. I wasn’t sure I’d like a story with werecoyotes? foxes? (always the possibility of deus ex machina) but you do write well. So what’s the next one?

    • Greenbandit says:

      Thank you so much! I’m sorry it took so long for me to approve your comment. I’ve been away from the site for too long, it seems. And thank you for the lovely compliments. I really appreciate it.

      The “next one” will most likely be a collection of shorter stories featuring Reggie and Sam. Some of the characters from this book will reappear.

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