She held the letter in her hand, staring at it. She did not know how long she had stood there, with that piece of paper in front of her eyes. The sunlight poured in through the window, turned the kitchen into a sauna. She swallowed, a feeling of nausea threatened to overwhelm her and she felt herself leaning heavily against the kitchen bench. What now? Yes indeed, what now? She tried to think rationally, to make sense of it but she couldn't. It was impossible, they wouldn't be able to make it, not with him standing there without a job.
The letter looked so anonymous, so ordinary but yet it was the end, the brutal death of their dreams. The name of their bank on top of it, then their names. Dear Mrs and Mr Devon it said, as if they indeed were dear to those goddamn leeches. Oh it was so polite, so sugar coated she felt like retching but it all boiled down to one message. The monthly payments on their mortgage had doubled, it said a lot about the crisis in the economy and so on and so forth but she knew the truth. Their neighbor hadn't received such a letter, and they were in worse trouble than she and her husband. But of course it made sense, Mrs West owned the bank director, he was her second cousin and terrified of her.
She laid the letter down on the bench with shivering hands, it was all that bitch, all of it. Mrs West owned the sawmill and the city council and almost everybody in town. Becoming an enemy of that harpy meant that you no longer had a future in this town, that was for sure. She stared out of the window without really seeing anything.
The problems had started little more than a year ago, Mrs West and her sissy of a husband had been living out east for some years. When she returned she had immediately started with that favorite hobby of her, stealing the husbands of other women. She had a fancy for the really tall masculine guys with an air of wilderness and savagery about them and she had immediately gone after Rick. Shoroya had to grin, her husband was really exactly what Mrs West was after, tall, handsome and a bit dangerous looking with thick black hair and flint grey eyes.
Rick hadn't given in for her charms at all, he had just calmly told the bitch that he was a married man and that unlike certain others he did honor his marriage vows. Mrs West had tried again several times to no prevail and Rick had been both infuriated and frustrated. She had nothing that tempted him, that wrinkly old bat still thought that her money made her irresistible but Rick had confessed to Shoroya that he'd rather fuck a piece of wood. He had worked on the sawmill for five years and managed to become one of the most trusted employees and then suddenly he was told to leave. The excuses as lame as they were hollow. Mrs West owned the sawmill, and now she was punishing them both for the rejection.
Rick had claimed that he should have given in and fucked that bitch to death and Shoroya had laughed and replied that he would have done the entire city a great favor if he had. She doubted that that old slut would have been able to cope with his energy and endurance. Shoroya was working in one of the very few enterprises in the city over which Mrs West had no influence. The dairy fabric where they made cheese and sour cream, Shoroya had worked there ever since she and her husband came to this city and she was both well liked and trusted. But her paycheck wouldn't be enough to pay for both their mortgage and their everyday expenses.
Rick had tried to find new work elsewhere in town but to no prevail, others got employed but not him, they all knew. If they gave Richard Devon a job Mrs West would be at their throats right away.
She heard the dodge in the drive way, the rumbling V8 engine had always had a calming effect on her, he was home, it would be alright. She took a deep breath, stared at her own reflection, she looked tired, worn out. She needed it now, badly. She wouldn't be able to control herself for much longer without performing the rite. He would help her, as he always did. She was so grateful she had him, so very grateful. He came in, placed a small bag of groceries onto a table and he immediately sensed that something was wrong. He immediately came over, pulled her into a warm embrace. "What is it love?"
She took a deep breath. "The mother of all shit!"
She gave him the letter and saw how the flint grey eyes followed the lines of writing. He cursed and his deep growling voice told her how angry he was, but he was in control of himself, he always was, he had to be. "That old harpy has done it this time, she has us pinned!"
Shoroya swallowed. "What are we to do?"
Rick grinned, a wicked grin. "I know what I want to do, but we can't. Not this close to home and not her, do not shit in your own nest remember?"
Shoroya sighed. "Yes, the rules, but damn how satisfying it would be."
He kissed her brow, rocked her in his arms. "We do what we always have done, we are done here, it is time to move on!"
She nodded. "But this was our home, damn it, it even felt like a home! It feels like rolling over, baring our throats, if smells of defeat dear."
He grinned and the grin was so soft and yet so sad. "I know, but it isn't. It is a new start, we do what we always do."
She swallowed hard and closed her eyes. The house was cozy and beautiful but there were no other way. "There is very little we need to bring along, the rest is just things we can get elsewhere too."
His voice reassuring. She shivered and leaned towards him, felt his strength as something as solid and real as the very earth itself. "Have you got what we need?"
He nodded. "As always, new papers, new identities. It is ready"
She had to sit down, stared at the familiar kitchen with blank eyes. "When?"
He sighed. "No point in delaying it, this weekend."
She stared at him, questions in her eyes. "Didn't we plan to….?"
He nodded. "Yes, we will kill two flies with one strike."
She felt a shudder fly through her again, the hairs did stand up along her neck and arms and she bit her lower lip. "You have found…one?"
Rick sat down, poured himself a cup of coffee and smiled, a thoughtful and yet grim smile. "Yes"
She took a deep breath. "And you are sure?"
He nodded. "Beyond any doubt, he is a legal target."
Shoroya closed her eyes, it was there again, clawing at her entrails, pulling at her very being. He put his hand over hers. "I can see it in you, how it hurts. But we don't have to wait that much longer now, it is okay my love, trust me."
She took a deep breath. "I do Rick, I trust you. But I wish it was another way."
He kissed her hand. "So do I of course, but we both know that there aren't. "
He got back up. "I will help you pack."
She kissed his hands. "You always do."
He smiled and kissed her brow. "It is my pleasure."
Shoroya lay next to Rick, listened to his slow steady breath and she tried to sleep but she couldn't. She should have gotten used to this by now. She had lost count of how many times they had done this. Left and turned their back to everything, home, friends, jobs. Here they had few friends and only she had a job. She had written a letter to her boss, explaining that some relative had fallen ill and that she and her husband had to leave on such short notice. The few belongings they felt that they needed were already packed into the dodge, it wasn't much. If need be they could survive in the wilds, and she sometimes wished that they could turn their backs to everything and do just that.
He moaned in his sleep and pulled her close, she sighed and allowed herself to relax. He was her everything, the only one able to understand, to cope with it all. To be with her was hard in itself, sometimes downright lethal but due to his own nature he could manage it. But of course it put strains on their relationship, and she was often in awe of how he managed to focus his energy onto the good things in order to forget about the less charming sides of it.
Shit, she should think positively, once she had done it again she would feel so much better and then they would look for a new place to live. Rick had thought about Canada this time, yes, that was tempting. Lots of wilderness, even cougars and wolf packs, it was an ideal place to hide and it had been a long time since they had lived there. She did slowly fall asleep, dreaming of white peaks and lovely landscapes devoid of humans. It was such a sweet dream.
The next morning they finished breakfast and emptied the fridge, most of the things there still stood where they used too and she swallowed hard and had to accept that it all was just things. It had no value except from the memories they carried and she would keep those in her mind.
Rick had rigged it all, the device was activated and he kissed her again. "Soon my love, tonight."
She shuddered, that desperate longing. "Yes."
They closed the door behind them, she didn't look back. It was just a house, just a place like countless others. Their neighbor saw them and waved her hands. "Hello Shoroya, Rick. Going camping?"
Rick grinned widely. "Actually we are going to Boston, an aunt of Shoroya has taken ill, pancreatic cancer, the entire family is going. She has got days left, nothing more."
Sandra gasped. "Oh dear, so terrible. Well, have a safe journey anyhow."
Rick nodded. "Thank you, and say hello to Dean, I guess we'll be back by the end of next week."
Shoroya got into the car, buckled up and he started it. She stared at him. "You are sure?"
He nodded. "Yes, it will blow up tonight, gas leak. There will be no doubt about it."
She took a deep breath. "That is great."
He kissed her quickly before backing out of the driveway. "It has to be this way dear, no DNA left."
She sighed. "Of course, I know, hooray for the modern age right?"
He grinned widely. "Yes, hooray!"
She got into a more comfortable position and placed her legs onto the dashboard. She was rather petite but elegant, with long black hair and creamy skin and those slant almond shaped eyes of soft brown. He stared at her. "My own little hunter."
She smiled back. "As are you, where are we going?"
He sighed. "You will see."
They drove for most of the day, did only stop to put gas in the car and eat. They drove east and turned into the mountains. He hadn't told her where they were heading but he never did until they reached the destination. He had looked at maps and even at satellite photos. He knew the area already and he found a side road and then he pulled into old forgotten roads used only by the lumber industry or local farmers. There were no houses but she saw lights ahead. It was some sort of a camp. Rick parked the car underneath a huge fir and immediately started covering it with tarp and camouflage netting. They put branches and straws into it and after just a little the car was almost impossible to see.
Shoroya stared at the lights in the distance, perhaps five miles away. "So, what's the deal this time?"
He sat down onto his haunches and opened a file. A photo was glued to it, a man with a very grumpy looking face, he did look like someone who probably never were satisfied with anything, and who constantly sought the errors of others without being able to see his own. She had met such people before. Rick made a grimace. "This one is a particularly nasty one. He is a teacher, teaches history and math and the students hate him. I don't blame them. He is very religious but he is a hypocrite of another world, I have tracked him on the web for a while now. He is nasty."
Shoroya licked her lips. "Tell me more."
He flicked a piece of paper over to her and she did read through it. It made her cringe. "He is pretending to be a twelve year old boy, or in some cases a thirteen year old girl. He has gotten a lot of pictures from unsuspecting kids and he is very active on some very disgusting forums and pages. I won't tell you even half of it."
She felt a bit sick. "Has he actually hurt anybody."
Rick nodded. "A twelve year old girl, two years ago. He raped her but the cops didn't manage to identify him, she went into shock and is still comatose. He left no DNA or anything. Then last year he molested a ten year old boy on the toilet of a train station. That was probably done on impulse but the kid didn't dare to tell anyone about it until it was too late. "
She growled. "The worst kind. Yes, he is a legal target, the evil ones are always the best right?"
He grinned, his eyes glowed in red for a second, revealing his true nature.
"Yes, we are doing the world a favor or what? The filth won't hurt another child again after tonight"
She got up. "The plan?"
Rick rolled the papers up, hid them in a secret compartment in the car. "I have made deal with the scumbag, I told him I was a fourteen year old girl and that I was attending that summer camp over there. I told him to meet me by the lake, over at the quarry at the end of it."
She grinned. "A nice choice, how much time do we have?"
He smiled, took a look at his watch. "Three hours."
She closed her eyes, she was sweating already and her skin tingled. "That is enough. So, let's get at it."
He smiled, his eyes gentle and filled with love. "Yes, let's."
He removed his watch, his clothes and rings, then he helped her undress and he caressed her lovingly, using hands and lips and tongue and she gasped with the bliss of it. She could let herself loose, didn't have to stop it. Only now could they go all the way, only now could they make love for real. It was so rare that they had this possibility and it had to be that more treasured. She had learned to satisfy him orally or with her hands for it was only intercourse that triggered her transformation but it didn't really fully satisfy in the long run. And he was so understanding and she didn't really miss anything except that level of total intimacy. She let herself get lost in their passion, in their unbridled lust and love and she knew that it was just the same to him.
It was hard on him, seeing her every day, wanting her and not being able to be with her, not the way he would have wanted anyhow. Theirs was a strange marriage indeed. It had lasted decades and still the flame was just as fierce as it had been to begin with, it would never burn down.
She moaned his name, heard him gasp as he released, they had learned to be quiet, to keep their voices down. She wanted to scream his name, let the world know of their love, of their pleasure but she couldn't. Also this had to be shared in darkness, in silence. She came several times and so did he, he was much more enduring than any human and the passion in him burned as brightly as any open flame. It took a lot to sate him and it was the same with her but they did match, completely.
She lay next to him, stared at the skies, the sweat made her skin shimmer and he was an amazing sight, the lean muscular body so masculine and so elegant. She didn't have to wait for long before she felt it starting, she had waited for too long, this would be a hard one. "It has begun."
He got up, stared at her with compassion in his eyes. "I am here love, trust me, I won't leave."
She gasped, fought her way back up onto knees and hands, her head spinning, her body feeling sore, too small, twisted and wrong. "I know"
She saw that he took two steps back, then he shifted, to him it was quick, done in seconds. Suddenly a wolf stood where he had been, a wolf the size of a horse. He was black and wonderful with red eyes and the sparkly white teeth seemed to almost glow in the moonlight.
Shoroya had no voice while she transformed, she couldn't make any sounds and that was good for it was unbearably painful. She felt trapped inside of a cage of flesh that was being pulled and twisted and tortured and it took five minutes since it was more than two years since the last time she had done it. When it was done she just lay there, panting and growling and feeling confused and tired.
She shook herself, the good feeling came rushing, the feeling of finally being who she really was, of being in her right body. She got up, her tail swinging and she licked her mouth and snarled in anticipation. She was magnificent and she saw it in his eyes. A black panther, twice the size of a fully grown tiger. She grew with every transformation, she had started off as a normal sized cat but years had added to her strength and might and now she was almost as large as he was. The wolf growled affectionately and she purred and pushed her head affectionately towards him. The wolf nodded and she followed the giant canine on stealthy paws.
They ran through the forest and she felt free, unrestrained, happy. This was what life was supposed to be and she wished that they could stay like this but these days it was impossible. Someone would see them and panic would follow. She followed him and they found the quarry rather fast. It was closed, a place no longer in use and covered with bushes and old rusty equipment, it smelled of leaking oil and decay and they hid behind some boulders. The wolf nodded slowly, now it was a waiting game.
She sat down, licked her paws, stretched, familiarized herself with her body. There was a light in the distance, it moved and she tensed up. A car came up the old gravel road towards the entrance. It was a sedan, not new and rather worn, anonymous. There were thousands of cars like that out there. The car stopped by the small shack at the opening to the quarry itself, a man got out and she felt Rick's voice in her head. "Soon, follow my cue."
Franklyn Peters had been driving for hours, he was tired but filled with a tingling excitement, he was almost shivering. That girl he had chatted with, such a little slut. Of course she hadn't mentioned anything about what she really wanted but it was so obvious wasn't it? You could read it between the lines. She wanted to be fucked, they all wanted that. Wanton whores, that was all that they were, what all women were. Seductive daughters of Lilith, the devils temptresses, put here just to test the strength of the faithful.
Oh but he was strong, he wouldn't give in to the devils games, he would show his worth in the eyes of the good lord. He would punish her for her sinful behavior yes, yes he would. He always did, and it was such a gift to see how his sacred words changed them before he rid the world of that sinful tainted flesh of theirs.
He was panting, his pants uncomfortably tight and he already knew what he would do with this one. He had ropes and hand cuffs in the trunk of his car, yes, he would make her repent, again and again. He would purge his body of the sinful lust she installed in him and that disgusting tainted seed and she would have to take it all. He would cleanse himself, the whore of Satan would take all of the wickedness with her to hell where she truly belonged and he would be pure once more. Free to do more of the lord's good work.
Oh the sinfulness of the world, how he saw it every day. The wenches, whores. Low cut tops, short skirts and bikinis, they did it on purpose, to taunt and torment him. They didn't know that he was the lord's soldier, that he would rid the world of them, one at a time. His mission was holy and sacred, it could not be stopped by anyone. Oh there were good women out there but they all looked at him with such scorn, with disgust even. He didn't know why, but of course, they were all dry old spinsters with thick glasses and flappy sagging breasts. Why should he pay attention to those when there were so many sinful souls out there awaiting the good lord's judgment?
He took a look around, there was nobody there, had that little tramp been delayed, was she perhaps fucking the camp teachers? It wouldn't surprise him, she didn't know who it was that waited for her, her redeemer. He walked towards the remains of an excavator, the huge machine looked like the decaying skeleton of some huge prehistoric beast in the darkness, like a goddamn dinosaur or something. His colleagues had that expression of distaste on their faces whenever they spoke to him, they despised him. He was of course so much smarter than they were and he was a chosen one.
Of course they did envy him, he had the power of the lord in him, was his knight. How pitiful they all were, how pathetic. Their empty little lives, dancing around that golden calf called money while he, he was guaranteed his place beside the lord when his time came to leave this tainted earth. But that wouldn't happen soon, of course not. He would live for a long time doing the lords work and when his final hour came he would be welcomed by the angels choir and the lord would let him rest beside him on the throne, he didn't deserve less.
He was getting impatient, then he heard a sound. A twig snapped and he whipped his head around, what he saw made him squeak like a bath toy and he pissed himself. His erection had disappeared like dewdrops for the sun and his legs shivering. It was a wolf, a giant wolf. There are no such things, the sane part of his brain tried to make sense of what he saw but couldn't. A wolf of Satan, black with red eyes, of course, his enemy tried to get rid of him. He had sent too many of the devils loyal temptresses down to him.
He pulled his cross out, backed away from the terrifying creature with the sacred symbol held high. "Be gone, spawn of hell, I command thee in the name of the lord"
The wolf laughed, no other word could describe it. It continued to walk forth while it licked it's jaws. The cross didn't work? He turned to run and that was the last thing he ever did. He stared straight into a pair of huge yellow eyes and a giant paw hit him square in the chest. He flew backwards, didn't have time to scream before powerful jaws closed around his head and crushed it like you would crush an egg. His last thought was "Why has the lord betrayed me?"
Shoroya spat, used her paw to clean her tongue and teeth of the disgusting blood and flesh. Humans didn't taste good at all, but it was needed. She felt better, her energy surged. Rick changed back, he was naked but it didn't bother him at all. He grasped the corpse and placed it underneath some unstable rocks, then he let a couple fall onto the head, made it look like an accident. As if the man had tried to hide something between the boulders and set off a small avalanche. When he was done nobody would be able to see the real cause of death and he walked over to the car, popped the trunk and grinned. "See? Hypocritical bastard"
He took out a small box, it contained some items that made him cringe, hairpins, jewelry, souvenirs and trophy's from the dead man's victims. He shoved the box into the dead guys hand and then he used a branch to remove their own footprints and paw prints. Shoroya stood there and he turned once more, bared his teeth. "Wanna hunt for real?"
She nodded. "Yes, lets. "
A short hour later they shared a rabbit and laid underneath a pine just relaxing. She purred and wished that she could stay like this forever. But it wasn't possible, it didn't work that way. She could choose when she wanted to change back now but it only worked one way. They would have to make love for her to become the panther again and she had to kill a human to take human shape once she was the cat. It was the way it always had been. It was the price she had to pay. They heard the sound of thunder in the distance and retreated back to the truck, it had started to rain now and it was really pouring down. When they got to the truck lightning shot through the skies and the thunder claps made the ground shake. Rick changed back and so did she, it always felt like a failure, like a defeat. She wouldn't feel that power again for a long time, not until they found another possible target. Never kill the innocent, that was their rule, always go for the one's whom nobody would miss and who 's death would benefit the world.
She shivered, got her clothes back on, he did the same and kissed her lovingly. "Feel any better?"
She nodded. "Yes, very much so."
He grinned and let his fingers glide through her hair. "You look better, years younger again."
She nodded and knew he was right, it had renewed her. "I know, but I still miss it, being who I really am."
He nuzzled her neck. "Of course you do my love."
The thunder got closer and they got into the car, they would spend the night there now. She pulled her blanket around her and leaned against him, he was as warm as always, like an oven. His eyes gazed out at the rain and the flashes of light. "That is one hell of a storm, I have never seen anything like it. "
She nodded. "Me neither, the forecast didn't tell of a storm?"
He shook his head. "No it didn't, it told of clear skies. Strange."
She was glad they were in the car, if lightning struck they would be safe there. The car worked like a Faraday cage and would protect them. Then there was an almighty crash and a flash so bright it made her blind for a few seconds. She squealed and held her hands in front of her face and the whole car jumped and she heard the tires explode. Holy heck, we been hit, that was the last thing she had time to think before the world sort of dropped beneath them and she felt Rick pull her tight to protect her. Then it all went completely black.