Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dark World: The Calm

(The story begins here.)
(The last recap is here.)

After an uneventful night, Dr. Fleming proved as good as his word, much to Lassiter’s annoyance. The latter found himself poked, prodded, and wired until he said he wished he could turn werewolf just to make it worth their while. To make himself useful and escape the fulminations inside, Darren decided to service the doctor’s car. He knew the doctor would insist on fine-tuning his work, but after all the driving they had done the last few days, a tune-up was called for.

Unfortunately, the peace of mechanics was short-lived, and Darren eventually had to go back inside, where the patient’s patience had deteriorated and taken the doctor’s with it. Lassiter showed “no discernable sign of significant anomalies,” Dr. Fleming said, and the insignificant anomalies were probably from the silver therapy.

“So am I cured?” Lassiter demanded. From the look on the doctor’s face, it wasn’t the first time, and the query had already worn out its welcome.

“I won’t know until the next full moon. Or until the witch comes looking for you, perhaps. What do you think, Darren?”

“I don’t know. The cases of shape-shifting I’ve heard of were simply demonic. This is more complex. At the very least, his sensitivity to silver when he is called implies something physical. I don’t think silver as such has any spiritual properties.”

“And yet you were quick to try it on the werewolf originally.”

“It was present, and it evidently wasn’t your idea. It seemed worth a try.” He glanced at Lassiter, who was busy stripping the doctor’s handiwork from his person. “Of course, since the call normally changes his body outwardly, perhaps it starts with a less obvious change—something that makes him sensitive to silver.”

“I’ve thought of that,” Dr. Fleming muttered as he tried to rescue his sensors from Lassiter’s irritation. “There’s just no way to prove it without the ‘call’—by which I suppose you mean either the full moon or the witch trying to summon him.”

“At this point I don’t think the moon will affect him. I suspect the moon triggered the demon, and the demon in turn triggered the change that made silver harmful. Absent the demon, the moon cannot effect the change. The witch’s call would, however.”

“I defy you to justify that rationally.”

“I can’t prove it, but it is reasonable. The moon by itself doesn’t change people into werewolves, and you’ve demonstrated that Lassiter is physically normal. There must be a change; the moon by itself cannot produce it; the witch’s call does.”

“If it weren’t for the descent into idiocy, I would invite you to prove that the moon doesn’t turn people into werewolves.”

“What I want to know,” Lassiter said, “is what we’re going to do about whoever drops in first. It’ll probably be the Nazis.”

“Perhaps,” Dr. Fleming replied, “but I fully expect Dr. Newman to show up. The Nazis probably know where I live; Dr. Newman definitely does, and he must suspect I’ve returned home.”

“Let’s try this,” Darren proposed. “Stay here until someone shows up or the moon becomes full—whichever comes first. After that, we may as well go hunting. I don’t think Newman or the Nazis know much, but perhaps we can use Neo Patwa to find Mantong’s men who deserted.”

“Rick Shafer knows a lot,” Lassiter said. “The only problem is getting him to talk coherently. And from what he said, he’ll be around.”

“I’d prefer the Nazis,” Dr. Fleming said. “Still, Darren has a point: we may as well rest and prepare. I doubt any of our enemies are particularly violent except for the Nazis, and they will need stealth around here. And once we’ve determined the moon’s effect, we can perhaps range as far afield as we like.”

And thus began their struggle with peace and relaxation.

Next: What Dreams May Come

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