A Lullaby For The Lost

Chapter 18: Call of the Wild

Chapter 18: Call of the Wild

Two fresh officers were sent to the hideout with a search warrant. Paul was the only one home to show them in by the time they arrived. It was New Year’s Eve, and Marko had no choice but to leave for work. His shift was scheduled to start at 10.

Paul watched with distaste as the two wolves in cops clothing tossed the place from top to bottom. Thorn looked to be resting on the couch. His eyes looked much better now. Only under close scrutiny could anyone tell that he’d encountered trouble earlier in the day. Despite his reclined state, the dog was warily tracking the progress of the officers, and watching every move they made. His prior entanglement wouldn’t stop him from protecting his blond haired master if called to do so.

“Hey, guys, I got some doggie biscuits here. Want some?” Paul chided, as he observed the officers rooting through his stack of heavy metal CD’s. What were they hoping to find, a stack of incriminating KIDZ Rock discs? Leah had never been that tacky anyways.

“Shut up, Death Breath,” One of them growled back.

“Where do you and the rest of your fang gang stash your coffins?” the other asked.

Paul hooted.

“We don’t have coffins, asshole. If you wanna know where we sleep, I’ll show you, but I’ll tell you right now, if you guys are wanting a threesome, I’m not into that kind of kink unless you can wait a couple of hours. Then, you can call me up at 1-900-Sex-MeUP and ask for Randy Ready….I might cut you a law enforcement discount….”

“You’re just a laugh a minute. Where’s your sleeping quarters, funny guy?”

Paul had few qualms about showing them the dark anteroom where the boys hung out each night. It was the one area of the underground sanctuary where Leah had never actually been. The two cops whipped out their flashlights and played them around for a few minutes, taking in all that there was to see, which wasn’t much. On the way out, they carefully examined the corridor leading back into the ballroom. Without any further words to him, they climbed back up to the main level. He could hear them bumping around on the first level of the chamber for a few minutes. Then, he heard nothing, but he could still smell them for a time. They were sniffing around outside. Thorn knew they were, too. His ears were pricked up in concern. At last, they left. Their smell faded into the distance. Paul went to his weed stash, rolled up a huge joint and began toking in relief. Then, he found his favorite cheesecake magazine and started leafing through the pages. He seriously needed to get himself in a dirty frame of mind to pull himself through his shift tonight.

^..^

Sam leaned against the railing of the pier, looking down at the water dejectedly. He had just visited the Frog brothers, but decided he wasn’t much in the mood for their company tonight. The sea lions below were begging for fish, and he tossed them some of the last scraps he had, thinking to himself that this was the last thing that his little girl had done before she’d…

What? Been devoured by a werewolf?

He and his friends had combed the beach, the pier, and the boardwalk several times over the last few weeks. There had been no sign of Leah. The cops had given up on the investigation, and now, maybe it was high time he did too. He knew the truth. Never once had his daughter called him on his cell phone, called her grandmother’s house or called her mom at home or at work. She was gone without a trace.

Sam knew the legend that the sea never gave up its dead, but he was still convinced that his daughter had never been a victim of the sea in the first place. Still, Santa Carla just as infrequently gave up its dead, either. He had known, from the first day that he saw the sign ‘The Murder Capital of the World’ spray painted on the back of the ‘Santa Carla Welcomes You’ sign that this was no ordinary town. Daughter or no daughter, he was beginning to relish the idea of returning home to the safety of San Jose.

^..^

Dwayne and David exited the police station, and David glanced at the time reading on his cell phone. It was 10:58. Paul would be getting ready to leave for work. He patched a quick call through to him to see how things went.

“Yeah, they were here, alright. They sniffed around, said nothing, and left,” Paul reported.

“Everything went okay, then?”

“I think so…”

“How’s Thorn?”

“He’s doing fine. You might want to pop by that butcher shop on the pier and pick him up a fat, juicy steak, though. He’s lookin’ kind of hungry.”

“I think they only sell fish there,” David said.

“Ask him if he cares….a nice bloody halibut steak will do him fine. A good change of pace. Thorn likes fish, don’t ya, Thorn…”

David heard the dog yip on the other end of the line.

“We’d better hurry, then. They’ll be closing up shop soon.”

“How did things go with Dwayne?”

“They went pretty decent, I think. We’ll fill you in later. Have an interesting night at work.”

“Always do…”

David then turned to Dwayne, who looked rather conservative himself, dressed in his leather jacket, with a long sleeved, white thermal T-shirt visible beneath it, and his long dark locks pulled back into a ponytail to hide the bald spot that David had inflicted when administering first aid to him the night before.

“We have an errand to run, and then you can feed. I’m sure you must be starved.”

“I can hold out. Where to?”

“Paul wants us to get your dog a nice, bloody Halibut steak at the butcher shop on the pier before they close.”

“What time is it now?”

“About eleven,” David replied.

“They might already be closed,” Dwayne replied.

“Maybe. It is New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to tell. Some folks shut down early; others stay open later to drum up more business. At any rate, if they’re closed, we’ll just take what we need. Never had a problem with that…”

He let off with a sinister chuckle, and they took to the air. Neither of them had bothered with their bikes that night, since they were parked in the City Garages, which were so close to the Police Station.

From up above, they could see a few scattered bon fires lit on the beach. One of the dwindling ones would be the one that was burning the evidence that he, Paul and Marko had fed into it; disposing the last traces of Leah’s presence in their cave. By now, all scent of hers would be charcoaled beyond any ability for werewolves to sniff it out. What they couldn’t see from their airborne vantage point was that they were being followed. The Commissioner and his men decided to track Owens and Runningwolf one last time before issuing a warrant to bring Jake Martinez into the station. The report they’d received from the two officers that had run the search at the vampire’s hideout didn’t wash with the earlier findings reported by the two detectives that had visited the hideout the day before. The vamps were up to something.

In order to track the fang faced bastards in the air, two of them had to take to wolf form, while the Commissioner followed behind in an unmarked squad car with the investigator’s clothing. Sometimes, shifting could be a damn inconvenience. Still, his men on four legs on the ground were just as fast and able to cover as much distance as the two vampires in the air. Erickson was able to track his detectives in the car quite easily, even if he couldn’t track the vampires. Soon, it was obvious that they would all rendezvous at the pier. How convenient.

^..^

Leah slept much longer than she should have. She rose and tested her weight on her damaged paw. A momentary surge of pain flared up her foreleg, but soon subsided. Each time she tested her weight on it, the pain grew less intense. She would be alright. It was mostly healed.

The smells of fresh fish and mortals lingered together from up above on the pier. Suddenly, she was ravenous. Licking her puppy sized wolf chops, she backed out of the safety of her hideout and cautiously sniffed her way out onto the beach. There was nothing down here that she could see, that was enticing. No bums, no garbage cans…but she knew where she could find some…

No restraint held her back. She had the impulses of an eight year old child, locked into the maturity of an eight month old wolf cub. Without an elder to guide her, she was reckless and foolish, and unschooled. Before she’d made it halfway down the blacktop of the pier, she smelled another familiar scent. It was mortal, but it was home. It was more familiar that the pack brother that had initiated her into her wolf-hood…

With a fast trot that denied any pain that she might be feeling in her lame leg, she made her way to the back of the pier, where a lone man stood tossing fish over the railing. She sidled up next to him and put her front paws up on the railing next to him, whimpering loudly to catch his attention.

The man looked down at her and smiled, tossing her a piece of fish. Leah devoured it hungrily, and then pressed her cold nose into one of his hands.

‘Recognize me’, she silently begged.

“Boy, you must really be hungry, you poor thing. Here. Have another. It’s the last one I have,” Sam said to the hungry dog, gazing at it…no…her…with pity. The dog took it politely yet eagerly and devoured it in two bites. Sam wondered what sort of dog she was. Not fully grown, by the looks of her. She had to be some sort of wolf breed, but not Siberian Husky…

She was lovely, whatever she was. Her fur was variegated shades of light brown. He didn’t think wolves came in those colors, and her eyes were two spectacular, luminescent, silvery discs. She would be a big dog when she finished growing, but Sam had a big yard, and she didn’t look like she had a home….

Suddenly, the dog looked up and made a strange noise in the back of her throat. It wasn’t a growl; it was almost a doggy question mark. Then, she tore off halfway down the pier, stopping at the butcher shop. Two gentlemen had stopped in front of the business, obviously looking to see if it was still open. Sam knew they had closed an hour ago. He knew this because he’d gotten his fish there about that long ago, just before they’d shut down for the night. Quietly, he followed her, curious to see if these men were the dog’s masters.

The she-wolf was circling them, whimpering at them and behaving towards them much the same way that she had when she’d encountered him. The dark haired man of the duo watched her antics for a few moments and whispered a name to her.

“Leah?”

The name chilled Sam’s heart.

Suddenly, the dog stopped her strange antics. She rested against the man’s knees as though she was exhausted.

The other man gazed at Sam with cold, calculating blue eyes. Suddenly, another chill ran through Sam. He knew who he was. It was David!

“You don’t recognize your own daughter when you see her? She was trying to tell you something, you idiot!”

“What did you do to my daughter, you asshole? You were in the Frog brother’s store a couple of weeks ago wanting books on werewolves. Why, so you could turn Leah into one?”

“I had nothing to do with this, you piss ant. Actually, it was the Lt. Mayor’s son that did this to her. You might remember Dwayne here…you certainly didn’t do him any favors a few years back, but he did you one. He rescued your kid from a fate worse than death and nursed her back to health. Too bad she’d already been bitten. There’s nothing any of us could do about that…Once bitten, always wolf. Now, the cops are after him for a crime he didn’t commit, you self righteous little punk, so get off your high horse and give him a break!”

“You guys have had Leah all along?” Sam cried hoarsely, “Why the hell didn’t you say something? I’ve been pulling my hair out day and night with worry, thinking my daughter had been eaten alive…” His voice cracked with emotion that he’d been penning up for nearly a month.

“What were we supposed to say? By the way Emerson, we’ve got your kid, but you can’t have her in case she wolfs out?” David deadpanned.

“You didn’t think I’d believe you? I’ve fucking believed in vampires since I was fourteen years old, for Christ’s sake! I’m a god damned therapy case because of it! Are you out of your fucking skulls? Of course you could have told me! She’s my daughter! I love her more than I love my own pathetic life! Jesus! She’s the only thing I’ve done right!”

“Well, take a good look at her,” David taunted, “Cuz she’s gone to the dogs, Emerson.”

“Cut it out, David,” Dwayne urged.

David turned his icy gaze onto his eldest Childe.

“He deserves this. Do you know who this twerp is? This is the very one that…”

“I know who he is. I remember everything now. That bullet to my head did something to me…I can remember now. Maybe he deserved some payback, but fate has already meted it out. He’s suffered enough.”

“Oh, really?”

“Karma, David. I’ve always been a strong believer in Karma. What goes around comes around. Don’t keep playing with it.”

He then crouched down to the wolf pup leaning against his knees.

“Leah, can you transform back?”

She looked at him with a piteous expression and whined softly.

“She’s too weak. She had a scuffle with a dog earlier today, and I suspect she needs some good food before she can return to the form you’re more used to seeing her in,” Dwayne said stoically.

“What, like she has to make her first kill?” Sam asked breathlessly.

“Well, I’m not up on werewolf lore, but she needs raw, bloody meat. Something along the lines of what we’re here to get Thorn. We’ll get her some too, and see what happens.”

Before they had the chance to raid the butcher shop for cast offs, lights were shined in their faces. Behind the flashlights were the forms of Commissioner Erickson, and Detectives Branch and Montgomery.

“Would you look at this? Guilt by association. If I’m not mistaken, we have here one missing wolf child in the company of Mr. Dwayne Runningwolf and Mr. David Owens. What a surprise!” the Commissioner said caustically.

“Well, I guess that means the case is solved, and Leah isn’t missing anymore. I’m her father, Sam Emerson. I actually found her. My daughter came to me,” Sam interjected.

“Keep your trap shut, Emerson, or we’ll haul you in for filing a false report. Just let us do our job, and you stay out of it,” Erickson snapped.

“What? I did nothing of the sort!”

“I’m warning you. Not another peep!”

Suddenly, a growling was heard from the base of Dwayne’s knees. The Commissioner looked down to see Leah baring her teeth at him.

“Aren’t you cute? Don’t get cheeky with me, lass. I’ll teach you the meaning of ‘respect your elders’ if you insist’.”

Leah, of course, persisted with her teeth baring antics. After all, she’d whipped a hellhound into submission earlier that day. The only other werewolf she’d ever encountered had been a teenager. She had no idea how big a full grown, mature Alpha Male was.

David gazed at Dwayne.

“This is going to get ugly,” he told him.

Dwayne nodded and the two of them wordlessly shifted.

“Uh-huh..” Sam muttered, taking steps backwards.

“Don’t worry. This isn’t for you,” Dwayne told him, “But you may want to get out of the way. Things could get ugly.”

“You boys, it seems are breaking an edict. Harassing a mortal known to be involved in the events of the conflict at Gus Emerson’s house during the Summer of ’86,” Erickson taunted.

“We weren’t bothering him in the least. You guys, on the other hand, are defiantly breaking a law. Not counting Leah, you are assembled in a public place in City Limits in a group numbering more than two. If I’m not mistaken, the law applies to werewolves as much as it applies to us. Touché!” David cackled.

“Police work is exempt, you self righteous little prick.”

“Would you call this police work or police harassment?”

“I’ll give you police harassment!” Erickson threatened, suddenly shifting into wolf form. What emerged was a gigantic gray wolf. Unlike the others who had silvery eyes, his were a menacing, reflective gold.

“Bring it on, fleabag!” David yelled.

Two other wolves appeared at the Commissioner’s side. They were considerably smaller, but no less threatening. The two vampires sized up their competition. For the moment, it looked like David would be handling the Commissioner, while Dwayne would take on the two smaller flunkies…

But then Leah squared herself up, baring her fangs. For all she was worth, she intended to fight, too.

“Leah, NO!” Sam yelled.

Daughter paid no mind to father. Her blood was boiling and she was desperately hungry. Even the meat of her own kind would satisfy the urge to feed, as wolves were carnivorous beings. She was the first to spring. The agility of youth and speed of small size actually gave her an advantage over Branch, her chosen opponent, and she was quickly on his back, growling, and attempting to sink her teeth into the flesh on the nape of his neck. However, his superior strength soon won over, and he was easily able to flip his opponent over. A wrestling match between the two of them quickly ensued. Meanwhile, the vampires soon had troubles of their own. Just as David suspected, the Alpha Male of the wolves had David pegged as the Alpha Male of the Vampires. The wolf was the larger of the two opponents, but the Commissioner soon learned that David was the stronger of the two of them. While they grappled and fought, Dwayne and Montgomery simultaneously came to blows. Their argument was very short lived. No sooner had they started grappling did Dwayne get a hold of the detective’s neck in a choke hold and snap it. Then, he tossed the limp werewolf’s body over the railing into the ocean. For his trouble, he only had a few scratches.

David was airborne with his huge opponent. Huge jaws were snapping in his face, but for the moment, the Commissioner was failing to make contact. David’s face was bleeding from a few good scratches he’d endured from claw swipes during the course of the fight. Likewise, Erickson had a few bleeding cuts inflicted upon him from David. Yet it seemed that neither one could get the advantage for long. But, David did have one advantage that a werewolf would never have: opposable thumbs. Once they were airborne, David flew himself and his opponenent far out to sea. Then, he merely let go, giving his challenger a swift kick, forcing him to unhook any claws that might be holding him fast to David’s clothing. Then he watched as Erickson splashed down into the dark waters below. It wouldn’t spell the end for the Commissioner, but it would certainly give the Alpha Male the clear indication that he would never win a fight against the Alpha Male of the vampires.

That left Branch and Leah left fighting. Dwayne caught his breath and surveyed the scene. The two were still scuffling, and Leah seemed to be holding her own. Then, the elder dog nipped her on the scruff, paralyzing her, and did something so shocking that Dwayne found it impossible to get his legs moving in time. He understood the theory behind it, but it was so disgusting….

In his mind, Leah was still an eight year old girl!

The detective, who must have decided that he won the fight, mounted the smaller dog from behind to subdue her, and began to assert his dominance over her the way male dogs typically do to females…

“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY LITTLE GIRL YOU SICK ASSED PERVERT!”

Before Dwayne could react, or before David could get back from his engagement with the Commissioner, Sam Emerson hurtled himself at the detective werewolf that was yumping on his daughter, and roughly shoved him off of her.

Leah rose painfully to her feet and made an attempt to shield her father from the inevitable, but there was nothing her small body could do to stave off the attack.

Branch moved in for the kill. Dwayne moved in to intercept, but before he could pull the snarling werewolf off of Sam, the dog had already tore a hunk of jacket covered flesh from his arm. The dog was still snarling and foaming at the mouth, blood and gore dripping form his chops. Dwayne had him by the tail. He whipped him around, banging his head into the rails of the pier until his neck broke. Then, like his partner, he flung him into the sea.

“What did I miss?” David asked when he heard another plop go into the darkened waters.

“We’ve got trouble.” Dwayne responded morosely.

Sam was doubled up on the pier, clutching his bloodied arm. Leah was trying to nudge his hand away so that she could lick at it and try to heal it.

“Great. Like father, like daughter,” David sighed.