Lake County Gazette, Oct 16 — Police Blotter section
Two days ago Walter P. Brown called the county police complaining a wolf was raiding his chicken coop taking a number of chickens each time. He states "The wolf walked on two legs, instead of the usual four." The sheriff's deputy investigating reported there were "definite wolf tracks" in the area of the coop. Farmer Brown alleges it was not a wolf, or a man, but was instead a "werewolf".
I arrived in Lake County with Pete Franklin and Father George Garls, about noon on the 25th of October. It was a couple of days before the full moon. In accordance with our orders, we obtained rooms at the Easy Rest Motel, one of those dilapidated old motor hotels which is not much more than a series of one-room cabins with only outdoor access.
I could tell, by looking at the bed, that these rooms had seen better days. The bed looked like a bias relief map of the Colorado Rockies, and the wallpaper was a faded yellow with what appeared to be an all but eroded floral pattern on it. I picked up the phone and asked the clerk to make sure I was awakened by six p.m. The clerk told me she would call and wake me at the requested time.
I removed my clothes, and laid on the bed. As I had thought, it felt like a bed of rocks. It took me longer than my normal ten minutes to fall asleep.
I woke on my own about 5:30, called to cancel the wake-up call, and decided to shower. While showering, I sensed something watching me. I checked the room and found nothing, so I returned to the shower, still feeling watched.
When I stepped out of the shower, there was a high degree of mist in the bathroom, higher than normal for one of my showers, and I still sensed the presence of something in the room with me. I went over to my suitcase and took out my talisman in case the hotel room was haunted. Was it, or was I just being paranoid?
We met at 7:30 and drove to Buzz's Place, the local greasy spoon. Buzz's Place was a flat-roofed one-story cinderblock structure that was once painted white but was now faded and worn to the point of disaster. The outside of the building had definitely seen better days. We walked in and were immediately assailed by the combined scents of stale grease and old cigarettes. A palpable blue haze burned our eyes as we made our way to a table roughly at the center of the room. I picked up the menu from the table, looked it over and decided on the Fish-Sandwich deluxe before passing it to Pete.
Pete looked it over and chose the Bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich before he passed it to George. George had just decided on the Buzz-Burger deluxe when a kid barely out of diapers walked over and said, " Hello, I'm Buzz. Are you ready to order or do you need more time?" We ordered. Buzz repeated our orders back to us, and we said "Right," almost in unison.
While we ate we listened in on the conversations of the other patrons hoping to hear something useful. Most of what we heard was the usual chatter about who was doing what, where and with who. We learned that this community was as much a Peyton Place as just about any other small town in rural America.
I had finished my fish and was polishing off a triple-scoop hot-fudge sundae when a young lady stumbled in and dropped. Her face matched an albino's hair. I ran over to her and began first aid. On closer inspection, she was approximately twenty years old, with bleeding from the left upper thigh. I called for bandages or something I could use to stop the loss of blood and sent Pete to the van for the first-aid kit. Buzz tossed me the few clean dishtowels he had handy as Pete returned with the first-aid kit.
I opened the kit, grabbed the scissors, and cut the fabric away from the wound to give us a clearer work area. Pete rinsed the area with sterile saline, and as the saline rinsed the wound I saw what looked like a bite from a large dog, wolf, or small bear. I slapped a pressure bandage on the wound and hoped it would be enough.
After we slowed the blood loss she started coming around. She babbled hysterically "A wolf. A wolf. A wolf. A wolf. Out there. A wolf. The Lewis Farm. It walked like a man. A wolf. Can't be a man. Big teeth."
I calmed her and asked, "What's your name?"
"Okay, Patty, I want you to relax," I said as I covered her with the thermal blanket. "An ambulance will be here in a little while to take you to the hospital. You're going to be okay, I promise.
"I need to ask you a question, Patty," I said. "You were at or near the Lewis farm when you were attacked by a wolf that walked like a man. Right?"
"Yes," she said.
"I needed to make sure. I'll let the paramedics know what happened, just relax."
While we waited, I sat with Patty and lent her some moral support to help counter the shock she was experiencing. When the ambulance arrived I advised the medics of the particulars. I asked the medics which hospital she would be taken to, and once we knew where she was going, we left Buzz's heading to the Lewis farm. We cheated on the speed limit in our haste to get there and ended up throwing out the anchor in an attempt to stop at the driveway. We ended up finally stopping about half a football field past the drive.
We set up detection and surveillance equipment following the standard operating procedure, and waited to get a picture of the background energies (both magical and psychic). The magical energies were so high we had to adjust the scale until the equipment was set on logarithmic, the highest scale, where each additional number represented a ten-fold jump in the signal's intensity, and it was still at the high end of the scale. A one on logarithmic is roughly equivalent to the natural energy put out by a stadium full of non-magical or non-psychic people.
I immediately dialed the Paranormal Research Institute on the cellular phone and asked for a scramble code to ensure a secure conversation.
"Thirty-nine-Alpha," was the response.
I typed 39A into the scrambler and waited until I heard it engage. "I need to report an event," I said.
The dispatcher from the Institute asked "Who, what, when, where, why, and magic or psychic?"
I replied, "Gamma team reports the mauling of a female Caucasian, Patty Baker, approximately twenty years of age by a possible werewolf approximately thirty to forty minutes ago. Map coordinates three-eight-seven by forty-five, template A.K. two three oh four. Why? Unknown at present. The magic reading is at the high end of the logarithmic scale. No psychic energy to speak of. Victim Baker reportedly taken to Lake County Memorial Hospital."
"Report received. I will advise the Director. Do you request assistance at this time?" the voice intoned.
"No. We are reporting as per protocol and will be sending in reports as necessary."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" I asked the guys.
George slammed the van into gear and we began to trail the magical trace - an easy job, as it was humongous. The trace took us up and down the hilly roads until we had driven fourteen and a half miles to a large creek where the trail vanished.
"Why would the trail disappear here?" I asked.
"Maybe it's not a werewolf after all" answered Pete.
George queried the computer for a list of possible causes, supernatural and otherwise. The computer churned through the database for a while and finally beeped to let us know it was done. George typed a command and the printer sprang to life, chattering with our information. As soon as the printer quieted he tore the print-out from the computer and read "Eighty percent probability a were-creature of some type, fifteen percent says vampire, four percent minor demon, and one percent other."
I said, "Okay, so it's either a were or a vampire.
Would you print up a list of possible weapons that would be useful against either one."
George typed a moment and the printer clattered with the answers. He tore the sheet from the printer and read, "The most effective weapon against a were-creature is silver.
The effectives against a vampire are Holy symbols and oak or birch through the heart."
We set up the remote sensors in a picket line. Pete said, "A picket line is the most efficient use of available supplies. We used to use it when we were practicing anti-submarine warfare. I remember any time we used any more sonobouys than we needed to we were fined for waste of government issued equipment. What you do is to set the sensors in a line and then, at one end of the line you start another line at ninety degrees from the first line".
We then waited until dawn with the slim hope that something might show up before sunrise. Nothing. We drove back to the Easy Rest Motel to rest up for the next night.
In the evening we set out to check our remote sensors and expand the picket lines for even greater coverage than we had last night. George programmed the computer to interpret the data and triangulate the source of each disturbance. He also ordered the computer to give us a list of probable causes for every energy variations that occurred.
An hour after dark, the equipment went wild. The meters were pegged, and the computer was chirping and beeping insistently enough to wake even me when I am sound asleep. George hit a couple of keys and the printer sprang to life. The printout reported a large source of magical energy 500 feet ahead, coming straight at us.
"Get ready," George said, "Here it comes!"
I hoped the blessings George bestowed upon the van earlier in the day would be enough counter magic to keep the thing from attacking us. We would know shortly.
"Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Holy Mother of God!!" George yelled as he watched it pass on the screens, leaving us untouched.
"Let's roll," I said.
Pete re-oriented the van so we were facing in the direction that it, whatever it was, went, and took off in chase. As we followed it, George asked us what we saw.
"I saw what looked like a dense version of the proverbial 'London Fog'. Thick enough I could have ladled it into a bowl, and about as tasty as pea soup is to a kid," I answered and glanced at Pete.
"The fog felt evil." Pete shivered "Evil with a capital 'E'".
Pete possessed the uncanny ability of judging how good or evil a person, place, thing, or spirit is or can be. The only time his talent failed was when he met Elizabeth. He fell in love with her and read her as good, but four months later she was caught by another Institute troubleshooter practicing black magic. Since then Pete has sworn off love.
We followed the thing with the hope of banishing or destroying it completely. George used the energy monitor program he had keyed in earlier in the evening (sort of like a radar for tracking magical or psychic energy) to track the thing and projected its course onto the local maps from the atlas program that the Institute supplied in the vehicle.
It led us back to the old Lewis farm. Preliminary investigations had revealed the entire Lewis family died under somewhat unusual circumstances. There were no living relatives willing to take over the property.
Pete drove the van to the end of the driveway and parked. We prepared for the assault that we knew would have to happen soon.
I opened a cabinet, took out a crossbow and about a dozen bolts. The bolts, made of birch, were tipped with silver and had a sliver from the cross used for Jesus' crucifixion protruding.
Pete took the Holy Water sprayer (it holds about 5 gallons of Thrice Blessed Holy Water) and pumped it up to full pressure. He pointed it out the window for a test shot. It fired a stream almost twenty feet. He adjusted it for a spray and tested it again.
"The sprayer's working alright," he said.
He also took a few oak stakes and the mallet once used by Van Helsing, the original vampire hunter, when he took on Vladimir, Count of Castle Dracula.
George changed into the vestments he used for exorcisms. He took out and kissed the stole, white with an embroidered gold cross, before draping it around his neck.
I called the Institute and reported, "We have tracked the energy source from its daytime hiding place to the Lewis Farm. We are preparing to enter the house and confront it. We will call later with the results of our attempt."
"Message received. Your decision to confront confirmed by the Director."
I faced the men, "Well, gents, the boss says to do it to it."
I grabbed the crossbow, and George stood as Pete slung his equipment bag over his shoulder.
"Let's go!" said Pete.
Once ready, we began our hopefully silent approach to the house. What may have once been a smooth, well-maintained sidewalk was now nothing more than random piles. The grass was competing with the weeds for control of the most territory, and seemed to be fighting a losing battle. In many places the thistles were trying to out do the few remaining tufts of grass in the battle for air superiority. At the top of the path, standing guard, were two monolithic thistles dwarfing us like midgets.
The house itself towered over us with its peeling white paint and washed out blue trim. The porch was big enough to hold the entire Senate with room left for the press. Hideous baby-puke green shingles decorated the roof, and the gables had what appeared to be slits for aiming a rifle at any approaching enemies. The house looked like it had been built with defense in mind.
"This place reeks of evil," Pete whispered, "I feel it like thousands of spiders crawling all over me."
I shivered. "I know what you mean, but we don't have much choice. We need to catch or destroy the problem, before it gets any bigger."
We continued to the front porch, I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I signaled for Pete to pick the lock. Once he succeeded, I resumed the lead position.
I readied the crossbow; after all, who knew what might happen? I might get lucky and get it on the first shot, eliminating the need for further risk.
Pete opened the door so I would have a halfway decent shot at anything lying in wait for us. I cringed as the door creaked while Pete slowly pushed it open. I looked in. Nothing waiting to pounce. Thank Heaven. Pete opened the door the rest of the way. I cautiously proceeded into the room, hearing nothing save my own raspy breathing. I quickly glanced around the room. As I looked to the right, I saw some motion. I fired quickly and accurately. Glass shattered as the bolt struck dead center, the mirror in the corner of the room.
Pete laughed nervously "I hope you're ready for seven years bad luck. Starting with the loss of any surprise that we might have had."
"The damn mirror wasn't on the floor plans and you didn't tell me it was there," I said as I reloaded the crossbow.
Father George said, "Well, lets get to work," as he began the benedictional chant, exorcising the house.
While George was making the house fit for life, I continued my advance. I walked across the living room, tiptoeing around the shards of mirrored glass, and went to the next door. I raised my index finger to my lips and shushed for quiet, listening for noise from beyond the door.
Nothing. I consulted the directional detection unit (DDU) which showed the energy source to be somewhere ahead. Pete joined me as I opened the door. He went in spraying Holy Water at where we expected the thing to be.
He quickly glanced about the room and saw nothing more than a wet table and dripping chairs. The dining room had two slightly open doors, one to the right and one straight ahead.
The DDU indicated the energy source was ahead. We crept up to the door and let loose with a spray into the kitchen, soaking the area. It was for naught. There was nothing for the Holy Water to effect.
At the end of the kitchen, an open staircase rose to the second floor. We ascended the steps, my pulse increasing with each step. As we reached the landing we checked the sprayer to make sure it had enough pressure in it to spray the rest of the Holy Water. It did, but not much more.
As we continued, I was sure we would soon be confronting the creature because of the chills going up and down my spine. I climbed the last stretch of stairs with a great deal of trepidation, and tried to be as quiet as possible. The attempt was useless. As we reached the top step we heard a deep, guttural sound, growling menacingly.
Pete let loose a spray of Holy Water as he ran at the thing hoping to destroy it. Useless. The wolf spotted us. It sprang, trying for Pete's throat. I fired at the wolf with the crossbow, but only succeeded in winging it. Pete threw up his arm, blocking the gaping maw from closing on his throat. The jaws clamped down on Pete's arm like a power-vise. I heard bone crack and Pete screamed. I swung the crossbow like a club, knocking the wolf from Pete. It then went for Pete's legs, ham-stringing him with a lucky, albeit well placed, bite. I swung again and it retreated a few steps, eyeing me warily.
I took a defensive stance, legs straddling Pete, holding the crossbow in a position that would allow for more swings.
The wolf advanced and I swung my makeshift club at it causing it to retreat a couple of steps. The ritual of advance, swing and retreat lasted for a few minutes until the wolf gave up and left us. I called down to George "Wolf comin' your way, get ready."
The wolf bounded down the stairs, gave George a wide berth and continued out the front door, disappearing from sight.
I rigged a makeshift splint and bound Pete's wounds. I then called George for help in taking Pete to the van where I could use the first aid kit and properly treat him for his battle wounds.