Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dark World: The Werewolf Who Came to Dinner

(The story begins here.)

“I hope Victor doesn’t mind sharing a room with me,” Darren observed as he helped set up an extra bed in the guest room.

“We have few visitors,” Antonin said, “seldom more than one at a time.”

“At least I don’t snore.”

“Dr. Fleming has spent the night here before. He doesn’t snore either.”

“No, I wouldn’t expect him to. It’s too unevolved.”

A chime, clear but not quite shrill, interrupted, and Darren glanced at the other man, who seemed only mildly surprised. “Your other friend has awakened, I think: that alert means an acceptable change in vital activity.” He looked around, annoyed. “We cannot very well fit another bed in here, however; he shall have to remain in the infirmary.” He headed for the door, Darren at his heels.

“I believe Victor and I would both object to sharing a room with him anyway.”

“Does he snore, then?”

“Perhaps slightly. The larger problem is when he howls.”

A moment later they found Dvorak and Fleming examining Lassiter, who claimed complete ignorance of events since leaving Fleming’s lab. He also claimed extreme hunger, which led Dvorak to prescribe dinner for him, the better to observe his condition.

Darren thought Dvorak’s slight glance and smirk in Fleming’s direction suggested another reason, and Antonin confirmed the suspicion sotto voce as they repaired to the dining room. “The master wishes to make a game of this. I have never seen Dr. Fleming so nervous before, and the opportunity is too tempting.”

Sure enough, at the table Darren found his friend glancing now at Lassiter (or rather his hair), now at Darren. He met one such gaze with a confident smile and a slight shake of his head. He certainly did not sense the approach of evil, and there was a further consideration that was reasonable if not absolute: all the previous “irruptions of evil” they had experienced or heard of occurred outdoors. Even Lassiter had admitted that a werewolf was not likely to enter a building it had not recently occupied.

Dvorak, meanwhile, was proving expansive as host. “We seldom entertain on such a scale. I hope, Mr. Lassiter, that you will not mind a night in the infirmary?”

“I’ve had worse nights. I’d rather not be restrained, though. It’s probably not necessary.”

“I’m sure it won’t be. The infirmary, like all the rooms here, is a small fortress. Do you agree, Victor?”

“As he said, it shouldn’t be necessary to restrain him—not for some weeks, anyway.”

Dvorak smiled. “I am used to more substantive threats, especially from the Germans. Their memories are long; fortunately, their minds are weak. Even here they occasionally try to exact vengeance; I doubt the supernatural shall succeed where German ingenuity has so far failed.”

Next: Points of View

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