Nathan sat at the breakfast table with his parents. It was a bright morning, Jason had already left, and both of his parents looked concerned. It was obviously apparent that neither of them were quite sure why Jason had left so suddenly, and both were disappointed that hew didn't want to stay longer. Of course, since Nathan knew Jason best, they asked him about Jason's motives.
"So why did Jason leave so soon?" his father asked him as he scooped a spoonful of corn flakes into his waiting mouth.
Nathan was munching on his corn flakes at the moment, so he quickly swallowed and replied, "He got a letter from Greg."
"Isn't he living in Texas now?" his mother asked, joining them at the table, and then taking a drink of her orange juice.
"Yeah, he moved there about four years ago."
"That long?" his mother asked. Nathan didn't fault her for not knowing it, despite the fact he'd explained it several times. He liked his family, and he found no reason to be confrontational with them. However, he couldn't tell them the real reason, they wouldn't understand; Nathan didn't want to understand, he did not want to have to get rid of his dogs, they provided him the companionship he needed; becoming one of them was not something he wanted.
"Yeah, and he sent Jason a letter." Nathan added, bringing the subject back up.
"What was in it?" his father asked, stuffing his mouth with another spoonful.
"I don't know, Jason didn't tell me." Nathan shrugged.
"Did you ask?" his father continued.
"No, it wasn't my business."
"Good for you, Nathan." his father smiled at him. He then stood up, put his dish in the dishwasher, and cleaned his mouth off with a napkin. "Well, I'm off to the fields again. I'll see you all later."
With that Nathan was left alone with his mother, and he sat there wordlessly eating his corn flakes, until he too finished. He left, his mother not saying another word to him, both of them had their own chores to perform today. Life never stopped on a farm, especially during harvest season.
It was a beautiful fall day, the slight chill to the air reminding them that it was now October. He slipped on his jacket, and made his way out to the stables. Yesterday had been his day to muck out the stables. Now he had to curry all the horses, and to clean out their shoes. He enjoyed this job as well, for he licked to talk with them, because they were such wonderful listeners, and great companions.
After he finished his job, he rode his favourite, an Arabian mare named Bluespell. He liked to ride, it was a favourite pastime of his, and on his rides, he'd usually do a few of the minor chores around the farm, such as checking the mailbox. Today there was the usual cavalcade of junk mail, and bills, plus an interesting package that had been forwarded here from Jason's place, postmarked form Barken. Nathan thought this quite intriguing, as he could that there was definitely something inside the package, though he couldn't tell what.
He had a wild urge to rip open the package and see what had been sent to Jason, but his better judgement restrained him. He looked to see who's name had been on the return slip. It was Sheriff Pierre Davis. That was interesting, what would the Sheriff of Barken be sending to Jason that was of import? Of course the major irony of the situation was that Jason had just left to go back to Barken.
Nathan dismounted when they reached the house. Patting Alex and Kestrel on the head, he left them outside once again, much to their dismay, and he immediately set out to send it back to Sheriff Davis. After all, it would be nicer if Davis could give it to Jason in person, and not through some silly package.
His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode. Sitting there in his cell, his stomach already calling out to him. He was used to hunger now, so it didn't bother him as much as it used to. Today was an interesting day because he was not given any new dog food today. Usually it was Sheriff Davis's first ritual in the morning, to put out the dog food. However, Sheriff Davis was not doing that this particular morning.
It was a quieter day this morning than before, the whole police station seemed lifeless. He wondered if the gunshots he'd heard the night before had anything to do with it. He wasn't sure when it had occurred, sometime late at night. He'd been asleep, but the sound of a gunshot woke him, and he was sure the others had woken up as well. He had just barely been able to make out the screams and the shouts, though he couldn't identify who was doing the screaming. It lasted less than a minute, but the disturbance had made him realize just how vulnerable he was. If somebody came in here with a gun, he would be dead meat. He could do nothing to protect himself, he only had Sheriff Davis and the other Barken police officers to protect him from harm. At first he had hated the idea, not finding any humour in the irony of it; now, he found little wrong with it.
What could those gunshots have been? Did somebody get killed? Was it possible that Sheriff Davis had gotten killed in the fight, and that was why he didn't have any food? He felt as if some part of him was becoming empty, something in him was gone, after all, the hand that feeds him might just be dead. This thought terrified him in two senses. On the more rudimentary level, he was afraid he might just starve. On the more philosophical level, he realized that he was being trained, and now he had grown totally dependent on Davis for survival in every sense.
Tyler Goode sat in his cell, his mind trying to free itself of the fear of Davis's death. Looking at himself, he realized he had involuntarily undergone a partial shift. His hands were covered in fur, and so was his whole body. He could feel his face pressed out some, and his tail was twitching beneath him. Grunting in frustration, he held himself together, and forced himself back to completely human. There was no sense in giving them the satisfaction of knowing that he was succumbing to their curse. They were forcing him to, and he knew it, and yet he couldn't help but understand their desire for him to change. It made sense now, yet still a part of him refused to accept it at face value, he must resist the temptation as long as possible. His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode.
Just then he heard footsteps coming down the hallway. They were definitely a man's step, not the same delicateness of a woman, but they were definitely muffled, it sounded like a man who naturally walked silently. Tyler stepped up to the front of the bars. It took him a moment to recognize the oncoming man, it wasn't Sheriff Davis, he knew that immediately, but otherwise he couldn't tell who it possibly could be. As the figure drew nearer though, he saw the face, he saw the lines crossing it, knew it to be an angry face, knew it to be the face of Randy Kempe.
He came right up to their cells, closed off the jail, locked it, and then turned to them. He with the push of a button, opened the cell doors. None ventured out.
"Get out here." Randy called out to them, his voice revealing a hard edge that sounded as if on the threshold of spilling over.
Tyler gathered his courage, and stepped out the door. He was joined by the others. Harry Carello was of course still a dog. Tyler wondered about him, why stay a dog, what was he feeling that made him stay so. Neither him nor Brad nor Tony felt so inclined. Then again, they had only once before been released from their cells, and that had been only to keep them in separate chambers. Now Randy had released them for some purpose, he was not sure what.
"Sit down." Randy told them, his tones even, measured, yet threatening.
They all sat down on the stone floor, being used to it now. Randy looked down on them, his snarl hard to contain. He looked from each one of them to each other. He smirked slightly when his gaze passed over Harry, but otherwise he remain unchanged.
"Now, who escaped that night? Tell me his name." Randy commanded.
"No way." Brad replied first, while Tyler and Tony just looked at each other, debating without words whether they should tell.
"Whoever tells first, I'll let go free." Randy then offered. Tyler and Tony looked to each other again, debating whether they should tell simultaneously.
"Let me ask you some questions, and then I may tell." Brad spoke up again. "Where is Sheriff Davis?"
"That is not your concern." Randy told him quite testily.
"Of course it's my concern, he didn't feed us this morning, does he expect us to starve to death in there." Brad pointed out.
Randy restrained himself, and then repeated, "What is his name? Tell me now!"
"Where is Sheriff Davis?" Brad Toke repeated, unfazed.
Randy kicked Brad in the face, his eyes livid, the pupils flooding them. His face became slightly canine, ads did every aspect about him as he stood there enraged at their silence and Brad's pestering. Tyler was now too scared to tell him the answer, and a cursory glance at Tony told him the same thing. Harry was growling at him.
Randy slapped Harry in the side of the face, hard. Harry went down, his tail between his legs. Tony and Tyler cringed, hoping they weren't to be hit next. Randy looked over them all, "Now tell me what his name is!"
"I don't even know who you're talking about." Brad replied, standing back up.
"Don't even start, Brad." Randy looked him in the eye. "I can kill you with my bare hands."
"Then do it." Brad called back to him. "I have betrayed Cherry, there is no more life for me anyway."
Randy held his breath, getting his temper back in check, when suddenly he spun about on his heel, his other foot connecting solidly with Brad's chest. Brad was flung back into his cell, his head slamming hard against the wall. He slumped to the floor, shaking his head slightly. Tyler and Tony began the long crawl back to their cells. Harry slinked off back into his as well.
"Fine. I offered you freedom for a simple name, and none of you can give it. You can never go back to Cherry, why stand with them? They'd kill you just as quickly as they'd kill me. Tell me, who escaped that night, I know you know, so tell me." Randy tried to reason with them, still having yet to close their cells.
Tyler cleared his throat a bit, a lump forming in its place. Randy looked over to him and Tyler felt as if he would wilt under that gaze. "You can never imagine who it is. No long time resident of Cherry, that is who he is."
"The name." Randy stressed.
"El... no I can't tell you, you're not Sheriff Davis." Tyler said, feeling a bit of relief for having finally said it. He finally had gotten it out of his mouth, he had said it, but hadn't, and now he was free to rot in his cell some more.
"Fine." Randy walked over, and closed all the doors. "Stay in your cells. I may be back, and you may get fed." he then left them all alone to dwell on the incident. Tyler sat back in his cell, relaxed, and tried to think through everything that he had to. could he really in good conscious tell anybody but Sheriff Davis? No he couldn't. There was simply no sense in telling anybody else, after all, he hadn't come up with reasons to tell anybody nut Sheriff Davis, so until Sheriff Davis again asked him that question, he would not tell a soul.
His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode. His name was Tyler Goode.
What a happy day! The drug dealers had been captured, the set up had gone smoothly, no complications, and soon they would be behind bars for quite a good long time. No more would they permeate the culture with their poisonous gifts. No more would they destroy the lives of thousands of families across their nation's capital. Of course there were still others out there, but each one that fell was progress.
Sitting in his office, he enjoyed the sweet smell of victory. It was a common scent for him, but each time it got better. He didn't like to lose, and of course he was one of the best in his field. He refused to let it go to his head however. He knew that he was one of the best, but he was not going to flaunt it. Now he was just relaxing between his next job.
When the phone rang, he knew that it probably meant he was going to be assigned another job, that was how it usually worked. He'd find the assignment folder in his mailbox, the phone call was only to tell him to go look in it. This phone call was nothing like that at all.
"Hello?" Will Bryant asked.
"Will?" a familiar voice asked. "Is that you?"
"Sheriff Davis?" Will asked.
"Yes. We need you." Davis called back. "We need you now."
"What's wrong? You don't sound too good." Will asked, the sweet smell of victory no longer in evidence.
"I'm at the Houston Medical Centre, in the Emergency Medical Care Ward. So are most of my officers."
"What happened?" Will asked, sitting up right in his seat. This was serious, he needed to get there now; he wasn't going to let a friend down.
"We were taken by surprise. I'll fill you in when you get here." Davis then coughed, and Will breathed slowly, hoping that he was all right. "Bring a doctor too, somebody who knows about Barken. Our doctor was injured, and is now at the Houston Veterinary Centre for an indeterminate amount of time."
"All right." Will told him. "When do you want us to get there?"
"As soon as possible. The killer is still out there." Davis added.
"I'm on my way then." Will assured him. "You hang in there."
Dr. Joey Vermiclin pulled the corpse out of the deep freeze, and looked to his two interns, Evan McReady and Rebecca Smith. "This one is a special treat for you all. She's been dead for only three weeks. Whoever figures this one out first, gets to see the creep show." Vermiclin liked to dangle the bodies of the two shape-shifting Barkenites before his interns as rewards for a good job done. It proved quite an effective draw, as they worked all the more feverishly on the body.
She was from Bangor, Maine, a social worker, strangled to death three weeks ago by one of her patients. Vermiclin had been able to tell that just from a cursory glance. There were other little things though that made her interesting, things that he had only noticed on a complete scan. Things about her life that were quite interesting. She had been intoxicated at the time of death. She had only just recently had her appendix removed. She was not missing her wisdom teeth (something he rarely ran into), and a few other minor details that he found quite interesting.
Of course McReady and Smith went right to work, checking over every part of her body, looking for bruises, and other lesion on the skin.
"She was in a struggle." McReady called out.
"Good." Joey told him, sitting down watching the spectacle.
"It looks like somebody hit her repeatedly, I don't think she fought back." Rebecca Smith called out, not looking up from the body.
"That's what the police thought too." Joey added.
"I think she was strangled." McReady looked at him as he showed of the marks on her neck.
"Score one for McReady." Joey said quite pleased. These were some of the best interns he'd had in years. He preferred it when his interns were right, because then he could show them neat stuff such as determining how long ago it was that the appendix was removed.
"Yes!" McReady looked excited, as he continued to examine the head. Smith sighed, shaking her head at Evan's antics.
Joey laughed a bit to himself, and then he heard footsteps coming down the hallway. Two pairs, one female, the other male. He could tell from the instep. He knew the woman's to be Julie, but the man did not sound familiar. He excused himself from the two interns, and went to see who it was.
It was indeed Julie, and she was escorting an unfamiliar man dressed in a hand-tailored business suit. He had a pair of sunglasses folded up in his breast coat pocket.
"Dr. Vermiclin," Julie introduced, "this is Agent Will Bryant of the FBI."
"Good to meet you Mr. Bryant." Joey offered his hand, which Will took. "How may I help you?"
"Excuse us Mrs. Wilder." Bryant turned to her, and she looked at Joey, that longing face of hers that said I love you, which incidentally made Joey sick to his stomach.
"See ya later Julie." Joey told her, and she sighed, leaving the two men alone. Joey turned to look at Bryant again. "So how may I help you?"
"You can come with me to Barken." Will told him.
"No way in Hell am I going back to that place!" Joey told him. "I suffer every weekend because of what happened there."
"You're needed there. They need a doctor who knows about them, plus, you'll be gone for a good long time, who knows how long you'll be needed." Will replied quite smoothly, taking Joey's objection in stride. "I don't know what happens to you on the weekend, but if you come with me to Barken, I promise it won't happen."
"She makes me be her dog every weekend, and you're asking me to go back to the place that caused it all? Are you insane?"
"No I am not insane. If you come with me though, you won't have to be her dog this weekend, and maybe next." Will told him.
Joey thought about that for a second. He was right, if he went to Barken, he would be free from Julie for a time. There was no worry about leaving his office, he could always have his assistant come in for extra time. His interns would do quite well too. He'd show them the creep show later. Right now, he had a place to go.
"I'll go with you to Barken. I take it you've been there before?"
"Yes. Last year, for about a week. Nice town, friendly folks."
"What breed are you?" Joey asked him slyly.
"I never changed." Will replied.
"Lucky son of a..." Joey restrained himself, then he added. "I have a few things to take care of, I'll be with you shortly."
Will nodded. They would be in Barken with luck by tomorrow.
The man walked into the pet store in Houston. He was immediately approached by a young lady who smiled at him. "Can I help you, sir?"
"Yes I'm looking for some dogs, can you show me your selection?" the man replied.
"Of course." the young lady led him towards the kennels. She couldn't help but notice that he had a limp in his left leg.