Fiction Friday: Of Wolf and Man (pt. 1)

crime-tape
Photo by Scott Olson, Getty Images

It’s Friday already? Time flies when you’re having {a much needed and well deserved} vacation. Last week I talked about writing a larger story, and I’m still working on it! It’s becoming more of a monster than I thought {introduction and first scene and I’m over 2500 words. Gasp!} so I decided to post it in pieces. So without further ado, welcome to the first part of ‘Of Wolf and Man, a Sweetlake mystery’…

The mage took off down the dark alley. Apparently the meaning of the term ‘freeze’ was lost to this guy. Then again, I guess that if you’re a homicidal maniac who killed four people with dark magic you’re not going to be intimidated by a puny human cop. That’s alright, he wouldn’t be the first Dark Sorcerer™ I’d put behind bars.

I gave chase, following his fluttering deep-purple robes through the meandrous alleyways. He veered off to the right and I followed, barely able to throw myself backwards when a nasty looking spell exploded into a shower of purple sparks on the wall opposite of me, right where I’d been a moment before. It sizzled and popped as a portion of the wall was eaten away. The guy didn’t even look back, just kept running. Alright then.

“This is Harper, I’ve got eyes on the suspect,” I spoke into my enchanted headset. “He’s heading towards Greenstreet. Be careful, he’s slinging spells.”

“Understood,” Detective Grey’s gruff voice answered.

“You be careful too, T.J.” My partner Violet warned.

I grinned even though they couldn’t see it. “Aren’t I always?” The answering huff of laughter could have been from any of them, really. The mage made a hard right into a different alley and I pulled my gun as I picked up speed.

“Last chance, Deoradhan,” I yelled as I caught sight of him again, long robes flapping dramatically. “Stop, or I’ll be forced to open fire.” Instead of stopping he flung another spell at me. It went wide and sent a dumpster flying. I aimed at a wall on his left and released a warning shot.

Deoradhan ducked and flinched, but kept running.

Fine, the hard way then. The next shot I aimed for his legs, hoping to take him down. The bullet ricocheted off of an invisible forcefield around the mage and embedded itself into the brick wall. Acid and apples, the bastard was shielding. I could keep firing, hoping to wear him out by forcing him to expend his magic, but who knew where the bullets would ricochet to. No, I’d have better luck tackling him to bring him down physically. Usually when mages shield for high-velocity projectiles they can’t withstand the slow-moving mass of a humanoid body barreling through. Besides, between the shield and the spells, he was losing energy already. He was slowing down.

Holstering my gun, I sped up, making sure I was almost on him before I reached towards his collar. I’d hoped to drag him down, or at least introduce his face to a wall, but he ducked out of the way just before I could grab him. My hand tingled from where it had reached through his shields. We rounded another corner, the mage staggering as he took the corner too wide. I took a sprint and jumped the guy, working him towards the ground. We hit the floor with a thud, forcing the air out of his lungs. I sat up on his legs and grabbed his left wrist, reaching for my ‘cuffs with my right. “Myrrdin Deoradhan, you’re under arrest for the murders of Jane Porter, Sage Wintergreen, Drayce Andvari and Eirlys Deoradhan,” I clicked the first ‘cuff around his wrist, “you have the right –“

I didn’t get any further. He reached for something around his neck. I made a desperate grab for his arm but was too slow. A wall of force slammed into my chest and sent me flying through the dark alley. My breath was punched out of me and my head hit the ground. Hard. Everything went dark and blurry for a moment.

When I snapped back to reality Deoradhan was standing over me, wand raised and aimed at my head. He looked intimidating against the dark sky, his robed form backlit by the streetlights. My heart skipped a beat as I realised that this was it, I wasn’t going to make it out of this one. He never said a word, just grinned like the psycho he was and channelled his magic through the wand, the tip glowing a sickish green hue. The wand was too close to my face, I couldn’t duck out of the way and I knew that as soon as I moved, he’d let the spell fly that would undoubtedly melt my face off.

I refused to beg.

In fact, I refused to speak at all. This was a maniac that murdered four people, one of them his own mother. He cocked his eyebrow at me, as if daring me to say anything. I glared up at him, pressing my lips into a thin line. Nothing I said or did was going to stop him. We stared at each other for a long moment. His grin widened and he shrugged with one shoulder as if to say that it didn’t matter to him if I talked or not. That killing me didn’t matter to him.

I got ready to move, whether to try and sweep his feet out from under him when he was distracted or whether to at least try and roll out of the way, I didn’t know. But I wouldn’t just lay down and die. He opened his mouth to start to spell and I started rising up to do something when a dark form jumped Deoradhan, dragging him away from me.

There was a sickening crack of bone breaking followed by a cut off human scream, probably Deoradhan. I got to my feet, the world swaying underneath me for a moment, and looked over to see Deoradhan on his back on the ground, a huge grey wolf sitting on his chest, teeth at his throat.

The mage was begging now, “No, no, no, please don’t let that thing bite me. I don’t wanna die!” He cut off with a choked sound, the wolf, well, werewolf really, putting a bit more pressure, but not biting down.

I staggered over to the pair and dropped to my knees beside them. “Like I said,” I started, yanking off his amulets when the ‘wolf moved out of my way. He sat back on his haunches on the mage’s chest, his tail thumping twice. “Myrddin Deoradhan, you’re under arrest.”

The rest of the arrest went smoothly. The ‘wolf moved out of the way and helped me roll Deoradhan over to his stomach. I cuffed him and took some time removing anything that looked remotely magical to me. I staggered over to the wall and sat back to wait until the other officers arrived. The ‘wolf climbed on the mage’s back again and sat back down, growling low in his throat every time he so much as twitched.

“Hey,” I told the ‘wolf, otherwise known as Detective Wilder Grey, “thanks for the save.”

He thumped his tail twice again, tongue lolling out of his mouth. It still looked weird, this huge, dangerous creature behaving like your average neighbourhood dog. Especially when they were just as intelligent in their wolf form as they were when human. Grey got up, still standing on our perp, and nosed the side of my head, whining softly.

I ran my hand through my hair, wincing as I touched the spot where I hit it on the street. My fingers were covered in blood when I pulled them back. “I’m fine, don’t worry about it,” I lied, everything was still swaying and I wasn’t sure I could stand up again.

The ‘wolf looked at me, unimpressed.

“I’ll get it checked out,” I told him, knowing he could hear the ambulance sirens in the distance.

Grey huffed out a breath as if to say ‘you’d better’, but sat back down.

I rested my hand on his shoulder for a moment, fingers clenching in his fur. Together we turned our heads towards the sound heavy footfalls approaching. Back-up had arrived.

***

The deputy standing by the yellow tape looked a little green, which was never a good sign near a crime scene, especially since the deputy in question is a werewolf. I was already regretting getting up this morning. “Morning, Feldt,” I greeted him, showing him my badge.

He looked it over for a moment before lifting the yellow tape and gesturing me through. “Morning, ma’am.”

I ducked under it and walked onto the crime scene, stifling another yawn. The showdown with Deoradhan and the following medical attention meant I hadn’t gotten home until around four in the morning. After that, my brother had woken me every two hours, at the doctor’s request of course, to check for a concussion. My poor head wasn’t concussed, but it wasn’t happy either, a splitting headache sitting just behind my eyes. So yeah, this morning was already off to a great start even before I got the call that a mauled body had been found in the Bent neighbourhood.

A man lay in the middle of the street in a large pool of blood, presumably his own. Dressed in slacks and a dress shirt that was once white, but was now soaked through with crimson. Spray tan and too much gold jewellery, I noted. Balding and what might have a been a bit of a pudge if his guts weren’t currently outside of his body. Most of his torso looked like it had been worked over with a meat grinder, which usually meant one thing: the killer was not human.

“You look like crap, Harper,” Detective Ian Andrews greeted me from where he was standing a few feet from the victim. He sipped from a Styrofoam cup which smelled like delicious, heavenly coffee.

Dammit, I should have stopped for coffee. “Not all of us can look like a spry 50 year old after chasing down a spree killer through dark alleys at three in the morning,” I told him, grinning.

“The secret is yoga and caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.” He took another sip. “How are you holding up?” he asked, resting his hand on my arm for a moment.

“I’m fine.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“A bit shaken up,” I admitted, “but I’ll be fine. Your partner got to me in time.”

“It’s never easy looking down a barrel of a gun, or in this case, the tip of a wand. We’ve all been there. But you’re still here, that’s what’s important.”

I clapped him on the shoulder. “So, what have we got?”

He accepted my not-so-subtle change of subject and dug his notepad out of his pocket. “According to the ID and wallet our killer so helpfully left behind, victim’s name is Donald Koppenhaver, 52 years old. Kravitz is working on his background back at the precinct.”

I nodded and walked closer to the body, being mindful of where I put my feet. “Do we know what did all this – ?”

“Carnage?” My partner, Violet Bluebell, said from where she sat crouched next to the medical examiner. She was dressed in a dark pink suit today, the purple silk shirt the same colour as the tips of her short curls. Most human professionals wouldn’t be caught dead wearing an outfit like that, but somehow pixies always seem to pull it off flawlessly. Violet once told me the colours remind them of the flower-petal clothes pixies wears in their small form.

The medical examiner was gently pushing the vic’s chin back, exposing the ragged bite marks to his throat. “We think werewolf,” Layla Strong said as she carefully pulled a pluck of grey, bloodied hair away from the neck wound and put it in an evidence bag.

“Definitely werewolf.” Wilder Grey stated from right behind me. I jumped and glared at him, he gave me a shit eating grin in return. Freaking annoying stealthy werewolves. “I can smell it all over the alley. You alright?” he asked me.

“Yeah, thanks. And, you know, thanks again for – saving my life.”

He looked me over, concerned, and nodded.

“The fur is werewolf,” Violet said, “but we also found a long, grey hair and wounds that are consistent with a knife.” She gestured towards the mess that used to be his stomach.

“So either the werewolf shifted halfway through the attack, or we have two attackers,” I finished for her. “But why would he shift? If he already had a knife why not finish it this way? And if he could shift why not attack him as a wolf?” I turned to Detective Grey, “Would a werewolf and a human work together like this, normally?”

He shook his head. “No. We get pretty territorial over our kills. Unless they were both ‘wolves, but then they’d both be in the same shape.”

“Hmm. Anything stand out in particular?” I asked, “Any scent of shift-inhibitors or other drugs?”

“Nothing I can sniff out. A lot of people passed through here, but I don’t get anything out of the ordinary.”

“Alright.” I turned toward Violet where she was still crouched next to the ME. “What are we dealing with, emotionally?” I asked her.

“Desperation,” the pixie, the empath and the werewolf answered simultaneously. Yeah, that wasn’t creepy at all.

“But there’s also -” Violet paused for a moment, as if searching for the right word.

“Aggression,” Layla chimed in.

“Yeah,” Violet agreed, “like, the thrill of the hunt.” She made it sound like a question. “I don’t know, something feels weird about this.” She pushed her aqua and purple curls out of her face with her wrist. “I think I have enough for a reconstruction, though.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, holding her hands cupped towards each other. A tiny flicker of golden light appeared between her hands, blinking in and out of existence a few times before becoming a small ball of energy. The ball grew, the golden light reflecting warmly on her dark skin. She kept going, her face scrunched up in concentration, until it had about the size of a soccer ball. Then she threw her hands up, the energy flying into the air and bursting apart in a shower of golden dust.

Beside me, Grey sneezed. Werewolves always reacted weirdly to magic, especially the pixie kind.

The dust floated down, most of it disappearing before it could hit the ground. The rest seemed to cling to three invisible shapes, forming a wolf and two humanoid figures. The heavier-set man, meant to be Koppenhaver, started running, the wolf and the lithe form of the other human giving chase. Koppenhaver stopped and turned around, his hands help up in front of him. It looked like he was begging for his life. The smaller human jumped forward, grabbing him by the throat and slicing into his stomach. Koppenhaver fell to his knees, the wolf now going for his throat. The wolf rode him down to the floor, head thrashing as it tore off pieces of flesh. The lithe human stepped in again, slashing wildly into the prone form of Koppenhaver. It was brutal to watch, even acted out in sparkly glitter. Koppenhaver twitched one last time, then turned to dust once again, the other two shapes floating away on the wind.

Violet let out a sigh and listed sideways, the ME just able to catch her before she hit the ground.

“Violet!” I rushed over to her. She was still conscious, but she’d overtaxed herself. She’d had gotten just as much sleep as I had, but she’d been practising magic to boot. A glamour to calm Deoradhan down, a spell like this one to track my wild chase after him, anything to catch the guy. We were the same that way.

I turned towards one of the deputies standing around. “We need something sweet, fast.” A moment later a bottle of honeyed elderflower lemonade was pressed into my hand. I helped Violet take a few sips and gave her a couple of moments to steady again. Sugar helped, but she would be tapped out for the rest of the day. “You alright?” I asked her when she could sit up on her own again.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about that.” She smiled and turned away, running her hand through her hair.

I grimaced at the streak of red blood now running through the turquoise. “Sweetie, gloves.”

She looked at her hand for a moment. “Ah toadstools, this is just not my day.”

Slinging my arm around her shoulder I squeezed her for a moment. “Don’t worry, you did good. We now have a place to start.” Even though the reconstructions weren’t foolproof, magic couldn’t show exactly what had happened, but pixies could feel the emotions and the atmosphere of a place and cast an illusion of what most probably had happened. It wasn’t a smoking gun, but it was a start.

“There is something still off, though. Something I’m missing.” Violet’s hand clenched in her lap in frustration.

“We’ll figure it out. We’ll catch these guys.” And we’d better do it quick, I thought, because if these guys were as aggressive as Violet had shown, there would be more bodies before the week was out.

To be continued…. So tune in next week for part 2! Are you excited yet? {I am!}

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