(The story begins here.)
“Pushed over that tree? It doesn’t look weak enough!” Dr. Fleming said.
“I suspect the other one suffered the same fate,” Darren replied. “I’m used to such tricks in places where larger animals are available, but here the claw marks were at the right height for a man.”
A chill came over them suddenly, and Darren bolted to intercept Lassiter, who had left the car and was walking around in a daze. Darren felt almost the same: the morning light had dwindled unexpectedly to twilight, and he knew he had to get them all in the car and out of the area immediately.
“What’s going on?” Dr. Fleming muttered, and his voice was as close to panic as Darren had ever heard. Even during the werewolf attack he had been calmer than this. “How did it get dark so suddenly? There are no clouds, no eclipse…” His mind scrabbled for some foothold in the situation, and he remembered as a child being told that if he would look up a chimney during full daylight, he would be able to see the stars in a night sky. He had experimentally disproved the notion, to his regret. “Night has come. But how?”
“It’s the wind that bothers me,” Darren said, trying to steer Lassiter into the car.
“What wind?” the doctor asked. “I don’t feel anything.”
“The wind, Victor, that is ruffling Mr. Lassiter’s hair.”
It was true: Lassiter’s hair was blowing in a breeze that stirred nothing else.
Dr. Fleming glanced about, and his gaze fell on a prominence he had somehow not noticed before. On it stood a woman with long, raven hair. Could she be the one Lassiter had described? No; for how could anyone speak of this woman without mentioning her great, dark eyes? They were pools of night, enveloping and overwhelming all else, calling something forth from the depths of a soul the doctor denied he had. He stepped forward…
“Resist!” Darren’s voice commanded as his steel grip seized the doctor’s shoulder.
Dr. Fleming felt as though waking from a deep and terrible dream—but he was the sort who always wakened instantly and in full possession of his senses. He was also in possession of a gun, and it was aimed at the strange woman. “Who are you?”
She smiled. It was neither happy nor sad but beguiling, like a void that drew all into its emptiness. “Yo es li desir, li destine de tot homes, de tot animes.”
“You are not the desire or destiny of this man or this soul,” Darren called back.
She glanced at him but fixed her gaze on Lassiter. “Veni, accepta li don. Revela li potentie de—”
If Lassiter accepted the gift, the power he revealed was not good: he screamed and doubled over, clawing at himself. “I’m burning! Burning from inside!”
“The silver!” Dr. Fleming muttered. Darren was already half dragging the squirming man to the car, where he stuffed him in the back. The sight roused the doctor to a full awareness of his danger. He adjusted his aim. “Madame, I am scientifically trained to be a crack shot. Surrender, or I fire.”
She spread her arms, and a wolf-like creature emerged on either side. Still her gaze and her smile seemed to draw something within the doctor, and it was less because of his iron will than his strict training that he aimed between her eyes and pulled the trigger.
Next: Practical Theology
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