Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dark World: Werewolf at Bay

(The story begins here.)

“There was a man named Althaus who was our liaison with the German government,” Lassiter continued. “I never understood his role; looking back, I no longer believe that he was a government man himself. He seemed more like an archeologist, always concerned with possible relics and with interviewing the locals. He acted a little less obnoxious than the others when I told my tale. He didn’t appear to believe me, but he didn’t laugh or call me insane, either. Afterward, when the others avoided me, he invited me to his tent for a talk—irrelevant matters, mostly. He kept coming back to my ancestry, especially after I admitted having German relatives. The curious thing was that he seemed to know it already, even though it shouldn’t have been in my work record. I think they preferred people with a Germanic background to those without; I’d beaten out a Frenchman for the surveying job, even though he’d been living in Germany since the War.

“But Althaus got out some wine—good stuff, too: the Germans generally have good beer but lousy wine—and we got chatty. He asked again about the ravine: could I find it again? I said it was large enough to be on our map. Then he showed me the map. Where the ravine had been, the map had only a gully.

“I offered to take him to the ravine. It was getting late, but there was time to take him to the edge of it, anyway. I certainly didn’t want to be there at sunset. He accepted my invitation and brought some of his men along. We reached the spot within the hour, and I headed into the ravine, though it was beginning to get dark, and the place did look different.

“There was no ravine.

“The gully from the map was there instead, taunting me. The hills were the same; I looked carefully at the one I had rolled down. At first I was too busy to notice the growing shadows. I did notice something else when I looked back.

“Althaus and his men had guns out. Was it a precaution against the approaching darkness? Althaus himself dispelled the idea. ‘Turn back, Herr Lassiter, and try the ravine again. Perhaps it will be there for you this time.’

“I protested that I had been telling the truth about it, that I wasn’t mad. He laughed. ‘I know, Herr Lassiter, and we wish to see it ourselves. Look again; can you not hear it calling to you, coming for you?’

“I did. There was something like a wind behind me, though I doubt anyone else could have felt it. It was the breeze from an opening door, and though I didn’t want to look back, I had no choice.

“The woman was behind me, still on the top of the hill, her hair blowing in a wind that existed for us alone. ‘Fugi, idiotes! Fugi del furie de—’

“She called them—or all of you—idiots and told you to flee,” Darren said. “‘Flee the fury of’ something. I wonder what? Werewolves?”

“I don't know,” Lassiter said. “Althaus called, ‘Fraulein! Come down to us now, in the name of—’

“Wrath shone from her face. ‘Li nómine del diábol!’ she cried. Their guns were aimed at her, but the unearthly gale swept through me, transforming me instantly, not in the minute or so it usually takes. I leapt at them, ignoring the bullets and screams that were equally futile, and entered my first night as a wolf.”

Next: Werewolf at Large

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