Chapter 9: Zumbrota
The next morning, I asked Viper if there was a way I could access the Internet without them being able to tell where I was using it from. He recommended using the computers at a public library. The next morning, after Snake and I cleaned up from breakfast, I had him take me downtown to the main library in St. Paul. I didn’t want to use my car, and I felt better if I was around one of the club members.
I logged onto my AOL account and went to the bulletin board that Were doctors had developed to trade information. I spent a while reading and catching up on the threads, and it was frightening. The disease or whatever it was, which we named Sudden Placental Ulceration/Detachment Syndrome, still had no known cause or cure. There were no known survivors, and no one had updated in days.
I tried calling Doctors I knew in Packs around the country, with no luck. Some phones weren’t answered, others were answered by someone who told me the Doctor was dead or had left. I tried my father again, several times, and no answer.
“Snake, can you do me a favor?”
He looked up from the magazine he had pulled from the shelf. “What do you need?”
I sat down on the arm of his chair. “I can’t get ahold of my parents, no one is answering at the clinic. It’s not like them, I’m worried. I want to go see them.”
“Where are they?”
“Zumbrota.” He nodded, it was about forty minutes south on Highway 52. “It could be dangerous, though. They could be staking out the place, if I’m seen it could be trouble.”
“We shouldn’t go alone, then.” He stood and pulled me after him. “Let’s see who’s at the Club.”
We drove back and found Moose in the garage, working on his motorcycle. He was what we used to call “big-boned” in school, he was about six-foot-two and three hundred pounds of intimidation, topped by an epic mullet. Hockey hair was a thing up north, and he fit right in with his blonde locks. “Feel like a road trip, Moose?”
“Zumbrota, Dewalt here needs to check in on her parents while staying out of sight.”
He tossed the wrench back in. “I can do that, I need to go to Rochester anyway.”
Rochester was another half hour south. “I just need you there until I know it’s all right, then we can come back on our own.”
“No problem. Are we expecting trouble?”
“I don’t know, Moose.” Truly, I had no idea. I was hoping that being with humans would provide me some protection, they wouldn’t shift in front of them, but that didn’t mean it was safe. If they decided to kill the humans, they could do anything. “We should be ready for anything.”
“Cool. I’ll grab my stuff,” he said.
“Me too. Wait in the bar for me,” Snake said. When they returned a few minutes later, they each had a long bag with them, and Snake had a 1911 Government pistol in a shoulder holster. Bikers learned to shoot left-handed and carried on the right side, that way they could draw and fire while riding if needed.
Moose went a little farther, he had a pistol under each arm. “You know how to shoot, DeWalt?”
“Hell yeah,” I said. “What did you bring for me?”
“You can choose from Colt or Springfield,” he said. Opening up his bag, he had two more pistols in belt holsters.
The Springfield was blued, but the Colt was nickel-plated. I pulled it out, ejecting the magazine and pulling back the slide to eject the round. I caught it in the air as I released the slide. I sighted along the top. “Oooh, mama like,” I said. “I need to get myself one of these.”
“I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “I get an employee discount at the range, I’ll replace it.” I set it down on the bar, threading the holster into my belt where my sweatshirt would cover it. I put the magazine in, racking a round into the chamber before engaging the safety. I ejected the magazine again, pushing the last .45 ACP round in, before slamming it home. I put my new pistol into my holster, and a spare magazine in my back pocket. “Do you have a permit to carry, Doc?”
“No, never needed one.”
“You should get one. I can give you all the forms tomorrow, you can file it by mail and have it sent to my gun shop. If you say you’ve been getting threats from patients, that should be enough for the Sheriff up there to sign off on it.”
“That isn’t a bad idea.” I was going to be spending a lot of time near humans, I couldn’t shift, and a pistol would even the odds if I ran into a wolf. He handed me a radio. “What’s this for?”
“Well, I figured you would want to stay out of the way until we know it’s clear. You and Snake can hang back a half mile or so while I check it out, and we can keep in touch on the way down so you can give me directions.” It worked well, we kept up a conversation on the way down, letting Moose drive ahead of us. When we got to the exit, we followed the road out of town along the river. We stopped a quarter mile before the turnoff to the Pack compound; if everything was all right, Moose would be stopped and turned around before he even saw it.
“Doc, the gate is wide open, no one here.”
My gut sank. “Drive down the road, the third driveway on the right is my parent’s house.” Never had I prayed so hard to be wrong. “Let me know if you see anyone.”
“I don’t see anyone, just a bunch of dead dogs. Your parents have some kind of kennel out here? Damn things are huge, they look like wolves, but they are bigger.”
“Get out of there, Moose. Something’s wrong.” A few minutes later, he drove back out. I looked over at Snake. “I need you to trust me, Snake. I’m getting out, I need you to come back and pick me up at,” I looked at the clock, it was just after noon, “five o’clock. Give me a call on the radio before you drive in.”
He looked at me. “I can’t leave you alone, DeWalt. Viper would kill me.”
“Then just stay here and keep the radio on. I’ll call if I need you.”
“Wait a minute.” He opened his case, pulling out an AR-15 with collapsible stock, it had a reflex sight and a carbine-length barrel. “Take this. Fire three times in an emergency.”
“Thanks, Snake. Stay here, please trust me.” I shouldered the rifle after getting out, closing the door I pulled on gloves as I prepared myself for what I would find.
No one could be prepared for what I saw. My heart broke as I saw my friends, pack mates and parents dead and broken in the snow, on the porches and in the homes. Mixed in among them were a half dozen wolves I didn’t recognize, probably from whatever Pack overran my own. I was crying as I carried the dead wolves one by one into the Pack House. The nights were cold, the bodies stiff and frozen. I had to use shovels to break some of them out of the snow and ice.
The doors to the houses had been broken down, and the safe room breached. The safe was missing from the Alpha’s office, along with all the drugs from my father’s clinic. They had taken their time, ransacking each house for valuables and taking the newer vehicles with them.
If there were any people left alive, they were females that had been carried off, destined to be force mated and bred.
I moved my parents last, leaving them alone on a couch in the living room. My father’s throat had been ripped open, and my mother had been shot in the chest. I cried as I sat with them, stroking their frozen fur. It was all so stupid, so unfair. Our Pack was peaceful, my father helped everyone, and this was his fate.
When I was cried out, I knew I had to deal with all the remains in the house. I couldn’t let the police find them or do DNA testing on them. I grabbed the vehicle keys that were left and formed a roadblock along the driveway. I made sure no emergency vehicles would be able to get in, breaking off the keys in the ignitions when I had them in place. I then went to the garage and the storage buildings, gathering all the gas and kerosene I could find. I soaked the insides of the individual homes first, making sure they would catch easily. I waited until ten minutes before five before returning to the Pack House. I soaked down the basement good, before pouring the rest over the pile of bodies and my parents. Lighting a flare, I tossed it through an open basement window before tossing another through the door.
The flames caught immediately, driving me back. I turned my back on the flames, then went to the other homes and tossed a flare in each. When all the homes and outbuildings were in flames, I turned and ran.
I made it through the parked cars and locked the gate behind me, again breaking off the key before dropping the key ring. Snake was waiting, his gaze on the flames shooting into the air behind me. I jumped into the car, the smell of gasoline heavy on my clothes. “Jesus, DeWalt, you all right?”
“Just drive,” I said. I unloaded the rifle and put it back in the case, then pulled off my coat and gloves, placing them in a shopping bag that had been left in the back seat. We made it into town before any emergency vehicles could respond; I took the bag of clothes and tossed it in the bin behind the gas station. We headed north again, making the freeway as more fire trucks responded to the huge blaze we left behind. I finally collapsed into my seat, closing my eyes as tears started to fall.
“You want to talk about what happened back there?”
“No. It never happened.”
“Are you still in danger, Doc?”
“More than ever,” I said. I never asked him to take me to call my parents again, and he never asked about them. He knew they were gone. He just didn’t know the whole story.
Over the next two weeks I fell into a nice routine at the club. I had gotten to know them all now, and they were warm and accepting towards me. I was volunteering at the day care for an hour a day, and I helped Snake in the mornings with breakfast. He was rapidly becoming my best friend, with his wicked sense of humor and his penchant for finding ways to have fun while working.
We had a warm spell, which left the roads dry enough to get out and ride if you dressed warm enough. I had moved up from the piece of junk bike I had learned to ride on, buying a 1982 Harley-Davidson FXSB 1340 Low Rider. One of the lighter models, it was a lot more fun to ride. I got a deal on it, it was Teri’s first ride before she moved up to a more powerful one last year. They assured me that if I decided to move up, I could sell it for almost what I paid for it.
Now that I could ride, the Club voted me in as a member and presented me with my own cut, which had “Doc DeWalt” and a DeWalt power tool badge sewn on the left side. I was crying as they put in on me after the Friday night dinner; I loved the howling wolf logo, and they got in one more dig that I caught shortly after. Where the rank patch was, it didn’t say “Member” or “Prospect;” my official Club position was “Blacktop Surgeon.”
I love these people.
That Saturday afternoon it was going to hit sixty degrees, and you would have thought it was a Harley convention on the roads. We hit Highway 61, heading south along the Mississippi River, stopping in Red Wing for lunch and Wabasha for dinner. It felt great to be out with them, and riding in the back of the group was a real experience. No matter what else happened in my life, I knew that riding would be a part of it.
I also had a few items going I wanted to finish before Christmas. I had visited the Medical License Bureau, but unless I got married they weren’t going to change the name on my license. I did get my Permit to Carry and hit the range a few times with Moose to make sure I was proficient with it. I called back home and found out that Alpha Clark had returned but was still unstable. Beta Charles was not ready for me to return yet. Our incredibly expensive IV medication had also come in, and since they wouldn’t allow returns, Jessica had picked it up and it was in the fridge with the blood bags now.
Jessica was doing better, she had healed a few days later and the Alpha had apologized to her for losing his control. Charles gave me her private number and I called her up. I convinced her I was all right and caught up on the news with the Pack. It now numbered roughly half of what it was when I first arrived. All of the unmated females were being ‘snapped up’ by the remaining males, since their prospects for finding their mate were going away. She said the Alpha had even asked her if she would be interested in being his choice mate once the mourning period for Connie was over.
I prayed to Luna it wouldn’t happen. I knew she liked Carson, her guard, and told her she should think about taking him as a choice mate before her choices were taken away. Our options as shewolves were rapidly shrinking, and nothing could change that.