Amy looked out at the gathering haze from a seedy motel room on Highway 1, halfway between New Roads and Batchelor. A train could be heard but not seen from the railroad tracks adjacent to the highway. She had become a reluctant prisoner for her own safety for awhile now with a man that called himself Hunter. She was not staying at Point Breeze motel anymore so she could not keep tabs on Sarah and adding insult to injury she almost lost her car. After the close call at the library she was too afraid to go outside, afraid she’d get captured or worse. She had at least coaxed Hunter to pick up the car for her. He did the task with no questions asked hiding the car out of sight so it would not be seen. Only one more night before the full moon’s gravitational influences were in full swing, an illusion of fullness in the night sky when she looked up at the dazzling moon.
“Amy!” Hunter yelled out hoarsely.
Amy nervously sat her duffel bag full of reports on the bed and headed toward the kitchenette. Shaking the knobs on the electric burners ensuring they were off then headed over toward the sink turning on and off the water. She had to do something to burn off the nervous energy that put her on edge. Hunter turned immediately to the bathroom searching his pockets for his pills. He was jittery and shaking as he popped the cap off the container.
Amy watched him from the corner of her eye. He was pale and sweating and something about him chilled her to the bone. She watched him several seconds more as he unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. She was taken aback by his horribly scarred neck and shoulder. Beyond the scratches he had a tone, fit body. The beads of cold sweat made him glisten. She was startled when she saw the IV port in his jugular vein.
“Hunter!” Amy sympathetically reached for the IV port in his neck but Hunter quickly pushed her aside, “What is that? What happened?”
Hunter wiped his sweaty face on a bathroom towel and then pushed Amy to the side heading toward the bed. He threw himself down and started to unscrew the metal knee support beneath his pants. He gingerly straightened his bum leg on the bed then went to work unscrewing the long braces also beneath his pants. They fell to the floor with a clang as metal hit metal. He unbuttoned his pants and arching his back pulled them off.
“What the hell happened to you?” Amy looked on horrified at his mangled right leg. His knee was almost nonexistent a chunk of thigh muscle missing. The evidence seemed to point to the bite of a large animal. She could see silver screws that were embedded into his lower thigh and calf. “Who the hell are you? I mean I’m thankful for you saving me but…”
“Does the motel have Wi-Fi?” Hunter asked, avoiding her question as he rubbed his lame leg as if the injuries were new again and he was in pain.
“Yes, why?” Hunter was avoiding the question and Amy got the hint.
“Can you do me a favor? Can you go out to the truck and get my large olive green duffel bag and bring it to me?” Hunter wasn’t looking at her but instead concentrating on his half knee intently.
Amy did what he asked without a response, his military style duffel bag made her shoulders slump and the weight slowed her to a snail’s pace.
She finally emerged and recklessly threw down the bag. An involuntary sigh came over her, relieved as the weight lifted off her shoulder.
“Why couldn’t you get YOUR duffel bag, you know I’m not a....” Her voice trailed off.
She looked on horrified at Hunter’s violently shaking leg. His knee literally jumped up and down under his skin. Cold beads of sweat poured down over his entire body his hair matted and wet.
“You trust me?” His voice was raspy and shaky. He knew by her face she was hesitant, “I will tell you who I am… I mean I will tell you who I really am, and the whole story and what you’re going to do … but first I need you to get into the duffel bag and get out my black leather medicine bag for me and bring it to me.”
The pleading expression on his face and the look of an impending seizure developing on his now pasty body prompted her into swift action. She quickly rummaged through the many handguns, rifles, shotguns, an almost futuristic crossbow contraption, and hordes of ammunition until she finally found his medicine.
“Find the plungers that are filled with silver liquid and screw them into the port on my neck please!” His voice a low and deep almost growl; she couldn’t help but turn around and see his face.
His eyes glowing red, then rolling back into his head, drool coming out from his lips pooling on the edges of his chin. Amy was horrified; she was almost mauled at the library by monsters now she was shacked up with one!
“Please, just trust me!” His canine teeth were starting to lengthen and several teeth in his jaw started to bud, cracking his jaw.
Amy’s body headed toward him on autopilot a surreal moment in time. Like she was looking out from herself as she watched herself move in closer to this now dangerous Hunter. She watched as she unscrewed the caps and fit them into the port on his pale body.
A fur lined, talon claw backhanded her pushing her back toward the wall almost losing her balance on an end table. Hunter plunged the syringe down until the silver liquid went into his veins. He fell back in the bed as if he was pushed, the empty plungers still screwed into his body. He convulsed for a few horrible seconds then he was still. Hunter lifted his shaking human hand toward Amy.
“Pills… please...” He was struggling to speak.
Amy was shaking almost more than Hunter but she managed to find three bottles of pills and walked over to the kitchenette to get a cup and water for Hunter to wash the pills down. She couldn’t help but notice the labels. Clozapine, Quetiapine, and finally Risperidone, she noted that all of the drugs were for schizophrenia. He choked them down and his breathing began to slow.
His cold, shrewd eyes began to focus somewhere on the corner of the wall. He began to speak but not to anybody in particular as he remembered the events that that were responsible for bringing him here today.
“In the year of our Lord, 1767, in the village of Ge’vaudan there was a beast terrorizing the land.”
Hunter turned to her his eyes focusing and spoke, “I am Andre Clairaux. Jean Chastel, I, and my older brother, Marco, all farmers by trade, were commissioned by the Catholic Church to dispose of the beast of Ge’vaudan. Just a wee lad then and the money would go far to getting my family out of the poor house you see but it will be forever seared into my mind.”
Then Hunter placed a sphygmomanometer around his arm and checked both his blood pressure and his heart rate, his pressure visibly coming down, “A strong, young farming man without fear. I thought I would live forever… and now…”
He smirked at the irony of this thought for a second and then continued, “My brother and I went to the church for confession, repentance, and Jean had three silver slugs blessed for luck. Then we were off to capture and kill the beast.”
“We were following the beast’s tracks before we realized we were far from home and the dark clouds made the sun dim too soon. No time to look for it or set up camp for the first time I felt a sense of my mortality.” Hunter said softly, his eyes narrowing, normalizing.
Amy gave more water to Hunter which he greedily sucked down then continued the story, “We cannot sleep lest the beast would sneak up and set upon us. We had to stay alert we were back-to-back with our arms on the ground just within reach. We had each other’s back, watching for a fluttering bush trying to distinguish every broken twig or rodent’s warning call.”
“Hunting for signs of the beast, Jean Chastel had yet to return to our “camp”. Just before the dawn apparently Marco, my dear brother, fell asleep and I felt my eyes getting heavy also. I heard a bloodcurdling scream that jolted me awake and to my horror I realized I must have dozed off. When I had thoroughly awoken the beast of Ge’vaudan had latched onto Marco’s throat, blood flowing like a collapsed dam Marco’s face froze in panic and his body went limp. In the confusion I managed to snatch up my gun and tried to take aim at the beast before I lost track of the monster. The beast doubled back and knocked me to the ground taking my breath away. The beast bit me on the leg, causing my firearm to drop.”
“Now woozy from blood loss, adrenaline kicking in I managed to run. Luckily the beast did not give chase. He was too distracted by the aroma of his fresh kill. I managed to take cover in one particularly sturdy oak tree. The beast’s head was down and its muzzle hungrily tore through my brother’s flesh.”
“I saw Jean at the top of the hill. He had already seen the conflict, prepared his gun, got out one silver slug from his pouch, loaded it into his muzzle, and he took aim. He waited until the beast’s eyes met his. One shot, one blessed lucky shot… The beast fell down. He returned home to a hero’s welcoming with the head of The Beast of Ge’vaudan and paraded it around the village. Meanwhile, I had gotten smuggled off to the healing hands of monks.”
“Shortly after this a great fever fell upon me and The Gods Light elders tended to my wounds. They put herbs and roots directly on my wound then placed a light silver mesh around my leg and The Gods Light elders fashioned crude silver braces in which to walk. Then they ordered me into a cave where they chained me to the wall for three days!”
“When the moon was about to crest for three nights the elders drugged me to the point of death. I guess they have dealt with this for millennia, but for three days I was in a stupor, a coma, with two armed guards watching my every move. When I came to my senses the elder told me I survived and no transformations came upon me. I traded my services for a deal that could quell my beastly urges.”
“So Jean Chastel got all the credit for killing the beast and I became The Hunter… A loyal asset to the church for all these many years…” Hunter’s voice trailed off.
Amy calculated the math in her head, and then spouted, “But that’s impossible!”
“Yes, yes. I’m still alive. I have seen the birth of a nation and many wonders in my years but eventually I weakened from age. Desperate to save me the elders would take me to a cave to restrain me for the cycle of the full Moon for three days and I would let loose the beast. They would leave me chained up until the cells in my skin renewed again. The new lupine-human would die out in 90 days. With massive amounts of herbs and medicines to kill any parasites that had escaped were pulled back by massive silver doses to the wound site. Then they were able quell the urge to transform for years until I needed renewing again.
“A partly religious sect they could not ignore the Scriptures. Nobody lives forever, everyone dies. The Gods Light elders frantically searched Scripture after Scripture to give me God’s blessing, but my body would die every time I transformed and thus begot a loophole to the rule; I guess I know the Gods Light saw it that way. Having been contracted by the Gods Light to find and destroy lycanthropes and occasionally vampyres as well. I would not get old as I fought the abominations with the blessings of the church…”
“For three days as the moon is about to crest it is as if I have a sports injury sensitive to moisture, my wounded leg would hurt and stiffen,” Hunter continued,” warning of imminent transformation which I could do something about.”
“As the years progressed The God’s Light improved the traditional herbs, advancing technology and procedures, operations and medicines. A modern silver ball inserted directly into my missing knee cap, silver shafts embedded directly into my tibia and fibula to quell the beast inside me.”
“They have gotten an amazing amount of information from me, from my many blood tests. Apparently the abundance of silver throughout my skin and bones coupled with an immense amount of drugs acts as an electromagnetic field and traps the parasites back into the wound. Only the brightness of the full Moon would awaken the larvae and flood my body turning to parasites in my veins but I have massive amounts of drugs to remedy that. It all started long ago with the Beast of Ge’vaudan.”
“So… you travel the around world in search of werewolves to kill… with your blessed bullets?” Amy scoffed.
“Well, not exactly, one particular ghastly night I soon found out that blessing the bullets was useless when I came upon one particularly nasty ancient werewolf. The blessed bullets stopped him, but just for a moment as he healed. In a last ditch effort I set ablaze the fields in a circle where the fire trapped the lycanthrope, but in doing so I was trapped as well. I was lucky enough to survive third degree burns as an inferno that I intentionally set burned the structures all around me.”
“I don’t know what it is about the silver, be it mystical or basic atoms that have an electrical magnetic charge, but it is death for vampires and apparently werewolves alike. In fact, from my vast scrapes and experiences it’s surprising that most of the ways to dispatch a vampire or a werewolf are alike, silver, beheading, burning, or a steak to their heart.”
“I don’t pretend to comprehend or understand the inner workings of the night dwellers.”
Amy tapped her foot on the ground rhythmically; it was a nervous habit she picked up when she was young. But it started to annoy Hunter.
He motioned to her to stop the tapping and spoke, “my colleagues have the great, great, great granddaughter of the first sorceress.”
“What?” Her jaw dropped, “you have...” she tried to wrap her head around the fact that she had seen not one but two actual immortal lycanthropes.
“That’s why I’m here.” He confessed when he felt sturdy enough he got up from the bed and sat down in a chair.
She pressed stop on her digital recorder which she had pulled from her purse at the beginning of the story and stood up wiping her hands on her shorts and after circling a few times collapsed onto the bed.
He produced a syringe and vile of lorazepam and codeine mixture, he tightened the belt against his arm until revealing veins came to the surface. Picking a good plump vein he then stuck a needle in his skin and pressed the plunger down.
The burning dizzying mixture reminded him of his mission, the ancient So-seti, and her escape, “The last time I saw her, So-seti, she was a frail old woman. We had a mixture of silver nitrate solution intravenously injected through her veins so she couldn’t transform and because of that she was aging. So-seti and I are not that chemically different. The Gods Light elders thwarted my infliction early before it spread, trapping it in my wounds.”
Hunter leaned his body against the chair, shoulders relaxing, his eyelids fluttering and starting to get heavy. Hunter passed out without even taking the syringe out of his veins. Looking at Hunter’s drooling face and hearing him snoring Amy pondered her safety.
From muscle memory alone before she knew she found herself dialing Captain Rogers’ personal home phone number, “Come on, come on, pickup, please.”
“Hello?” A familiar voice questioned. She instinctively hit end before she said anything. Her heart racing, it was the voice of Captain Rogers’ wife.
“I’ve got to get out of here.” Amy opened the curtains again and peered out into the night sky.
She had come face-to-face with both men… living, breathing, snarling beasts. Hunter a snoring and drooling shaking mess, no better than a junkie. She doubted her safety staying with Hunter. But the other one, Devon, seemed decent, moral, honorable, strong, and now he was missing.
“I really have to get a hold of Rogers.” She told herself as she took her purse, keys and her jacket off from the chair.
She flung open the hotel room door then paused a moment, second thoughts plaguing her mind. Was it a mistake leaving…? Andre Clairaux, the silent partner of Jean Chastel? She looked back, Hunter’s head slumped over and drooling.
“Thank you for saving me but I have to go.” Amy said shutting the door behind her.