Courage

By Cori Kane All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

7

Dean was on their way back to the inn when they noticed someone following them. At first, they thought it was a random someone walking the same way, but then they noticed that the streets seemed strangely deserted. It wasn't that late yet. Dean slowed their walk and so did the one following. They slowly turned and put one hand at their back where the gun rested against their spine. Dean squinted into the semi-darkness until they discovered the follower half-hidden by a tree.

“Why don't you come out of there?” they called out.

For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then the man came forth from behind the tree. It was a young man, early twenties, Dean guessed.

“Why are you following me?” Dean asked.

“Why are you here?” came a question instead of an answer from the young man.

“That's none of your business.”

“It's my business if you're here to kill my friends.”

Dean took a deep breath. “I'm not here to kill anyone.”

“Then you're not a hunter? Because that's what people heard you say at the bar.” The man stepped onto the sidewalk and came closer. His hands were balled into fists.

“I'm a hunter, but I'm not here to kill anyone. I'm here to prevent people from getting killed,” Dean said calmly.

“Is that why you're wearing a gun? Do you really think you could shoot me before I have my hands around your neck?”

“I'm wearing the gun for self-defense, not to harm anyone. Now, while I'm enjoying our conversation, I'm really tired and would like to go to bed.”

The young man laughed. “I don't think you have a bed to sleep in anymore. Grey doesn't take kindly to the likes of you,” he informed Dean.

They just barely kept from cursing. “I guess, I'll sleep in my car then.”

“I have a better idea. Why don't you leave? Right now.” The young man came closer and now Dean noticed three other men closing in as well. And if these guys were just a little smart, there was probably one behind Dean as well. Five grown men, not to mention werewolves, against one measly human. Dean calculated that they could possibly fire one shot before the wolves were on him.

“I can't do that, sorry. I have something I need to do first.”

“Then you leave us no choice, but to help you on your way,” the man said. He and his friends came closer still.

That was when Dean saw her. She was standing against a lamppost across the street, watching the exchange. It was the woman who had nearly run into Dean at the bar. They weren't sure how she fit into this scenario. Was she their leader or just a bystander?

Just when the first young man stood before Dean and was about to grab them or punch them or whatever he had planned, the woman across the street cleared her throat.

Dean just barely heard the sound, but their adversary whipped their head around like he'd heard a shot. A snarl escaped him at the sight of her.

Dean's heart skipped a beat hearing it. While they knew that these men were werewolves, it was different from hearing that sound, the untamed fierceness of an animal just behind that unremarkable human face.

“Okay, break it up, Tim. Go home now, I'll take care of our guest,” the woman said. Again it was barely audible for Dean.

Dean saw Tim's friends behind him hesitate, looking at Tim's broad back.

“We just wanted to make sure she was alright, walking so late by herself,” Tim answered and then laughed. “I hear there's dangerous animals come out at night.”

His friends joined in the laughter while Dean flinched. She, they thought bitterly.

“Better watch your back, hunter,” Tim warned under his breath, grinning before he turned and joined his friends. A fifth man walked by Dean, bumping into their shoulder. “Oh, excuse me, M'am,” he said, turning and grinning at Dean.

Anger was starting to burn in Dean's stomach. They almost wished for the fight now, wished they could do some damage. But, of course, that was their emotions talking. They wouldn't have stood a chance against these more than men.

“Hey,” the woman touched their shoulder, startling Dean. “Sorry, I...you all right?”

Dean nodded. “Alive and kicking,” they said. It sounded bitter.

“Guess you pissed someone off. Tim called you hunter. I guess that's not your name?”

“That's my occupation, one of my occupations.”

“Well, I guess in that case you should probably take their advice and leave. I won't be able to protect you if they really set their minds on hurting you, you know?” she told them.

“I don't need protection. I've been doing this for awhile and can look after myself,” Dean answered, their anger flaring again.

“Suit yourself. It will just be more paperwork for me.”

“Paperwork?”

“I'm the Sheriff of Courage,” she said.

“Sheriff?”

She smiled. “Did you think a peaceful place like ours wouldn't have one?”

Dean took a deep breath and became aware that they were still holding onto the gun at their back. They let go of it, stuffing their hands into their pockets. “I hadn't really thought about it.”

“Look, I heard what Tim said about the inn-situation. I could take you back to Cord's, he's got a guest room he might let you use for tonight. Though you should really leave tomorrow. You don't want to be in a town with werewolves who have grudges on you, not on a full moon night.”

“I still have something to do,” Dean said.

“Then you better do it before moonrise tomorrow,” she told them and they started walking the way Dean had come, back to the bar.


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