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Full Moonster [BUREAU 13 Book Three] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Nick Pollotta

eBook Category: Dark Fantasy
eBook Description: 'Bureau 13' is the ultra-covert branch of the FBI assigned to handle supernatural criminals. The public doesn't know they exist, the President denies any knowledge of their actions, and not every Bureau 13 operative is a human being. Yet these wise-cracking, heavily-armed, federal agents are America's first, last and only line of defense against the growing tide of monstrous evil.

eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, Published: Double Dragon Publishing, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2009


32 Reader Ratings:
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Prologue

The scream came from out of nowhere.

Steadily, the howl of pain grew in volume until it split the forest night like an endless explosion. Rapidly increasing, the raw-throated cry of anguish wavered and wassailed until it abruptly ended in a meaty thump. In perfect harmony, the mountain cabin shook; pictures and diplomas went lopsided, mugs danced off bookshelves and the glass door of a surgical instrument cabinet cracked.

Quickly rising from her easy chair by the fireplace, Dr. Joanne Abernathy threw aside the medical journal and hobbled over to a window. Dear God, what was that horrible noise? Had somebody fallen off Deadman's Cliff?

As she drew back the lace curtains, the panels of thermal tempered glass segmented her view of the Canadian forest into tiny squares. Pressing her nose flat against the glass, the veterinarian frantically glanced about. Illuminated by the full moon overhead, the trees were frosted by the silver light making green seem black and black turn invisible. Completely filling the northern horizon was the ragged gray expanse of the MacKenzie Palisades; an irregular series of sheer angular foothills that bisected this isolated area of the Yukon wilderness like an insane granite wall.

Then the howl sounded again. Closer this time, and faintly overhead could be heard a jetliner streaking off into the distance. An odd thought came to Abernathy. The old woman promptly dismissed it as nonsense. Anybody falling out of a plane would be dead before they hit the ground from cranial blood loss. And afterwards? Well, you'd simply fill in the impact crater with a bulldozer and put a tombstone any ol' damn place that seemed appropriate.

However, if the noise of the passenger jet had frightened some poor bastard into tumbling off the cliff...

Hurriedly, the retired vet retrieved her teeth from a glass of water set on the stone hearth, pulled on her walking shoes and grabbed a flashlight. After forty years of birthing calves, inoculating sheep and fixing broken bones for both man and beast, there was little she couldn't patch. If the luckless son-of-a-bitch was still alive when she got there, they had a good chance of staying that way. As the closest thing to a doctor in these parts, Abernathy was duty bound to heal even incompetent hunters who tumbled off mountains. Darn fool was probably drunk. Frightened by a plane, indeed. Hurmph!

Pulling on a light cloth coat, the woman paused for a moment at the gun rack. This wasn't downtown Whitehead. There were pumas and grizzly in this area, neither of which gave a hoot about her Hellenic oath, but only how tasty old folk were. Bypassing the big bore 30.06 Winchester as too cumbersome to use with her arthritis, she started to take the Browning .22 carbine, but then decided no. It was only a varmint rifle and so incredibly lightweight that it floated if dropped in water. Obviously, a compromise was the answer.

Yanking open the hall closet, she retrieved a bulky leather belt from a peg on the wall. Dutifully, the vet strapped it about her waist and checked the load in the shiny clean Webley .44 revolver. She had never fired the weapon except in practice sessions and once, only once, to put a rabid opossum out of its misery. Afterwards she had burned the corpse and gotten royally drunk. As with all the women in her family, Joanne hated to kill anything. Being a pacifist just seemed to run in the blood.

Unbolting the front door, the woman clicked on the porch lights and stepped outside. The forest was strangely quiet. Weird. Testing the wind with a damp finger, she guesstimated that the noise had come from the direction of the old salt lick and started east. After a few dozen meters the trail angled off in another direction, so Abernathy took advantage of a fresh bear tunnel to continue towards the cliff. She moved fast and silent along the collapsed line of bushes that marked the regular passage of a large bear. A griz, perhaps. Thankfully, the droppings smelled old.

Minutes later, she found the moaning creature buried under a pile of leaves by a copse of tall evergreen trees. The white beam of her flashlight displayed little of the animal besides its hind legs, but those were enough. Joanne knew a wolf when she saw one, and this was the biggest ever. The paws were large as a grown man's foot. Enormous!

Laying her flashlight on the rocky ground to shine on the wolf, the ranger gently brushed aside the leaves and uncovered the wounded animal. The beast whimpered at the intrusion, but offered no resistance. Black blood was matted heavy on the chest and there was reddish foam about its snout. Joanne frowned. Damn. Possible internal bleeding. There wasn't much she could do for that here. Glancing upwards, she was not surprised to see a leafy hole through the tree branches overhead. The ground here was a flat outcropping of stone, torn branches and smashed bushes forming a natural cushion under the dying wolf. Hmm, the angle was wrong, but the creature must have fallen off the cliff. What else made sense?

Keeping well clear of the dagger-sharp teeth, Abernathy examined the beast closer. The wolf was shivering and panting, but its nose was bone dry. Trained fingers checked its ears and eased back an eyelid. Damnation, the pulse rate was down, while the temperature was up. The wolf seemed to be suffering from more than mere impact damage. Suspicious, the vet turned her flashlight directly on the bloody chest and got an answer. Yep, it was also gunshot. But the wound in chest was only superficial, made by a .22, or .32 at the most. Ye god, were the frigging poachers using poisoned bullets again? Anything to save the pelt from additional damage. Damn them. There was a difference between hunting for food and killing for fashion. Morally, ethically and legally.

Furious, Abernathy hoped that the slug hadn't hit any bones so the ballistics lab of the Royal Mounties could get a good reading off the round. With any luck they would be able to track the poacher's by the identifying marking from his/her rifle and slam the stupid sonofabitch into jail! Wolves were an endangered species, protected by international law!

On the other hand, if there were massive internal injuries compounded by poisoning, there might be nothing she could do to help. Tentatively, Dr. Abernathy drew the Webley .44. Unexpectedly, the beast extended a shaking paw to gently touch the gun barrel and push it away in an amazingly human gesture.

In ragged stages, Abernathy holstered the handgun and knelt alongside the wolf to tenderly stroke its head. A hot tongue licked at her wrist.

"Okay, lupine," she softly crooned. "No mercy killing. I'd rather not anyway. Somehow, I'll get you back to the cabin and fix you proper. Qui, mon ami?"

There was no response. The wolf had fallen unconscious.

Realizing that time was now against her, the elderly vet moved fast. Placing her pocket handkerchief on the oozing wound, she cinched her belt tight about the chest. The wolf stirred and mewed in pain, but did not lash out with its deadly paws and the bleeding slowed.

Using her belt knife, the woman split some of the fallen tree limbs and crisscrossed the branches through the sleeves of her coat to jerry-rig a drag. Gently, she rolled the huge animal onto the makeshift litter and the limp wolf actually seemed to assist in the task. She smiled at that. Either this was a hell of an intelligent animal, or else somebody's escaped pet.

Buttoning the coat closed to keep the wolf in place, Abernathy grabbed the pockets of the garment and began the arduous task of dragging the wounded beast through the woods. An hour of backbreaking labor later, the panting vet and patient were at the cabin. Gasping, the elderly woman thanked God for the new bear tunnel or else she never would have made it here. The colossal animal must weigh a hundred kilos! Almost as much as a full-grown man. Maybe more.

The shed at the rear of the cabin was on ground level, easy to get into, but unheated. So the oldster nearly busted a gut hauling the hairy giant up the inclined wooden ramp used for conveying fireplace logs into the house.

As she closed the front door, Dr. Abernathy took a moment to catch her breath. Getting the poor thing onto the dining table was out of the question. The surgery would have to be done here in the living room. It would be messy, but the battered rug had seen worse. Her monthly poker game with the local Eskimo tribe always added a few more beer and bloody-nose stains to the overlapping montage on the old Sears two-ply. Someday, she really would have to give the rug a serious cleaning. Or maybe just burn it and buy a new one.

Retrieving her medical bag from the hall closet, Abernathy loaded a glass hypodermic needle with a clear liquid, tapped out the air bubble and injected the moaning animal with 10cc of morphine. Audibly, the beast sighed in relief as the pain diminished. She followed with a wide spectrum antibiotic. The bacteriological compound was an inexpensive sulfur mixture; trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. The only type she could afford. It wasn't as powerful as the new crystal silver formulas, but it didn't require refrigeration after mixing and would do the job. Wisely, she decided that the distemper and rabies vaccine could wait till later. Step one: get that bullet out.

Going into the kitchen, Dr. Abernathy threw an assortment of instruments into a sterilization steamer and washed her hands. Returning to the living room, she switched on every light in the place. Grabbing a jack-and-shackle arrangement from the top of a bookcase, Abernathy knelt to tie the animal's fore legs to a plastic support. Carefully, she extended the framework to separate the legs and expose the chest for ease of accessibility. Gently, Joanne removed the belt and handkerchief and washed the chest wound clean with an astringent solution and white cotton cloth. The animal moaned weakly and she touched the big vein in a stiff ear. Pulse rate was low, but steady. She had bought some time. Hopefully it would be enough.

Rummaging in her medical bag, the elderly vet found what she wanted and used electric clippers to tenderly shave the area around the entry wound bare. Next, the vet packed the opening with #4 surgical sponges, finishing just in time for the sterilizer to ding.

Racing over, she used potholders to handle the hot instruments, and returning to the living room, she laid them down on a pristine rectangle of white cloth. Taking a slim steel rod in hand, Abernathy then softly spoke to the delirious animal as she began to judiciously probe for the bullet. Abernathy knew that wild animals responded to words and could feel your true intentions better than most people. Many a fur trapper faking friendship found that out the hard way. Wolves were smart.

Surprisingly, the elderly vet located the slug immediately, lodged just under the outer layer of fatty tissue, directly between the main lateral pectoral muscle and the forth rib. A glancing entry. Thank God.

Extracting the probe, Dr. Abernathy used long-finger forceps to carefully remove the silvery blob of metal. There came the expected well of blood with its removal, but that soon stopped. Wary of the poisonous coating, she placed the slug on a cotton gauze pad and then into a plastic specimen bottle which she dropped into a pocket. There, the Mounties would want to see that. Odd, though. The bullet didn't appear to be coated with anything, and the metal was surprisingly soft. The forceps had disfigured the material. Definitely not steel, or cold iron. It resembled silver. That gave her pause. Somebody had shot a wolf with a silver bullet? The breathing of the wolf increased and it moaned softly.

Shaking the wild thoughts from her mind, Abernathy pivoted to gather needle and thread from her medical bag. But as she turned to suture the wound the hole was already closed. Eh? Dr. Abernathy blinked to clear her eyes of the illusion. Yet the impossible scene stayed the same. The wound had shut by itself. Incredible!

Then as the dumbfounded vet watched, the bullet hole healed completely, without even the slightest puckering or discoloration of the skin to mark its presence. The hair began to grow with fantastic speed, filling the shaved patch in mere moments.

Horrified, the vet backed away from the undamaged thing lying sprawled on her rug and retreated to the bedroom. She slammed and locked the door in an automatic response. With shaky knees, the old woman dropped into a chair.

Dr. Abernathy tried opening her mouth to speak, but no words would come. Frantically, the veterinarian searched for a scientific explanation to the phenomenon, but none presented itself. Facing the mirror above her dresser, she examined the conjunctiva/rectus under her eyes, extended a tongue, then checked pulse and temperature. Mentally, she juggled a few algebraic equations, then nodded. Okay, not ill or blatantly senile. Well then, what had she just witnessed, magic? Preposterous!

Yet the folk who lived in the deep woods swapped stories about magical creatures they encountered. Beings who talked, or changed shape, or couldn't be killed; human ghosts, angekok, Indian spirits, the wendigo and countless sasquatch. But to actually encounter a ... a ... Werewolf?

Without conscious thought, Joanne Abernathy reached into the night table alongside her bed and withdrew a half-full bottle of Alaskan Gold whiskey. She pulled the cork with her teeth, almost losing her dentures in the act, and proceeded to liberally administer a heroic dose of liquid courage to herself.

Just then, something crashed against the locked door and began clawing at the oak planks in a wild frenzy of frustration.

Choking on the blended 90 proof, Abernathy dropped the bottle and took refuge behind her chair. Mon du! The beast was moving already? How fast did this thing heal? Carefully, she listened to the noises coming from the living room. It didn't sound as if the wolf was smashing furniture randomly. The animal's efforts seemed to be directed against that door. But why? It must smell her and desperately want in. To kill her?

Steadfastly denying that notion, the old woman grew adamant. No. The wolf was only disoriented from the morphine and the operation. The animal could have no wish to actually hurt her. She had saved its life!

Forcing herself to stay calm, Dr. Abernathy moved swiftly across the room and stood flat against the wall alongside the trembling door. She had to try reasoning with the creature. Werewolves were half human, so they must be able to think. A pause. Or could they? Which was the dominant half, man or beast? The vet didn't know.

"Hush, it's okay," Abernathy said in soothing tones. "There's only me in here. You're in no danger. I'm the person who saved your life. I took out the bullet. Remember? The old lady with the white hair? I found you in the forest and fixed your wound."

Silence.

"Remember? Please, remember!" she implored. "I'm your friend! Friend!"

A strident growl was the only response and the door violently vibrated in the framework as a hundred-plus kilos of muscle slammed against the stout portal. Again and again.

As Dr. Abernathy listened, the growls turned to slavering, a noise the vet had heard before in her work. The beast wanted what every patient needed after some serious blood loss and an operation. Nourishment.

She relaxed with the thought. Yes, of course. That was it. Hunger could make even the most mild of animals crazy. Well, born and raised French Canadian, Dr. Joanne Abernathy had the solution to that minor problem! However, getting to the kitchen was another matter.

The pounding on the door increased and the hinges started to rattle as Abernathy slid the bed in front of the portal, then tipped over her dresser as an additional barricade. Screws popped from the jamb and the door began to sag. Trying to control her panic with Lamaze breathing, Dr. Abernathy stood with one hand on the light switch and the other on the latch to the hallway door. Any second now.

In an explosion of splinters, the first door collapsed. Abernathy cut the lights, threw open the kitchen door, dashed through and locked it behind her. A moment later that door violently shuddered.

Moving fast, she raced to the freezer and unearthed a fifty pound slab of sugar-cured moose rump that the vet had won with a royal straight flush. Thank God for wild cards. It was a tight fit into the microwave, but she forced the roast in and turned the dial to maximum and high. Precious seconds ticked away as the tremendous haunch of meat was electronically thawed and the werewolf clawed a hole in the kitchen door.

With a musical ding, the microwave won the race. Yanking out the bloody roast, Dr. Abernathy slammed it onto the kitchen table and scooted into the living room, closing the flimsy louvered doors and slid the bolt. Designed more for decoration than protection, these wouldn't stop an angry human for very long. But at least the panels hid her from sight.

"There," she whispered breathlessly, as she pushed the sofa in front of the doorway. "That moose ought to slack the appetite of anything this side of a lumberjack."

Hopefully, the woman added privately. If not, she had a whole hickory smoked hog in the shed that was almost as big as the wolf itself! Odd noises came from the kitchen and she peeked in through a crack of the slats to see.

Standing in the middle of the floor, her patient dominated the appliance filled room. Towering some seven feet tall, the beast was much more human in its manner and stance than before. Must have disguised itself as a common wolf as a purely defensive measure, she deduced. A monster? Me? Sorry, mate. I'm just a timber wolf. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Padding to the table, the beast picked up the warm red slab of moose and sniffed at it appreciatively. Hesitantly, it gave the morsel an inquisitive lick. An expression of disgust crossed its bestial features and with a snarl he threw the massive roast away. A meaty cannonball, the haunch plowed aside pots and pans to careen off the spice rack and smash through the curtained window. In a shower of glass, the moose returned to its natural habitat and disappeared into the night.

Empty hands clutching at air, Dr. Abernathy backed from the door, cold terror chilling her bones. No. The wolf didn't want just any food. An old kill held no interest, it wanted fresh meat. Human meat! It wanted her. Alive.

A massive shadow darkened the louvered doors.

"Bon appetite, lupine!" Dr. Abernathy screamed, drawing the Webley .44 and emptying the handgun at the dimly seen figure. In spite of her anger, the veterinarian aimed high, trying to frighten the creature. Chunks of wood the size of saucers were blasted out of the slats and the animal on the other side howled in fury.

But as the hopeful woman holstered the revolver, a huge paw rammed into one of the holes, sharp talons clawing at the aged hardwood as if it was cardboard. When the cavity was large enough, the beast looked directly at the old woman, and it grinned.

Self-preservation overwhelming her natural reticence, Abernathy moved fast to grab the Remington twin-barrel shotgun off the wall rack and, without bothering to see if it was loaded, rammed both of the barrels into the wolf's face and pulled the two triggers.

The double explosion hurtled the man-beast from the ruined door. Blindly, the animal staggered about screaming and clawing at its face. But as the smoke of the discharge cleared, Abernathy saw the werewolf shake its head and the lead pellets scattered outward as if the beast was merely shucking water off fur.

Merde! Desperate, the oldster lowered the shotgun and glanced about the room. Damn few weapons here. Never needed them before. Pistol empty, shotgun same, no time to load the 30.06 rifle. Used the dynamite for fishing. Having little choice, the elderly woman ran out the front door. It locked shut behind her.

In the nighttime cold, without even a coat, her choices were even less clear. Escape on foot? Fat chance. Her horse, Tramp, was in the corral. No good. She had never learned to ride without a saddle. Yes, the jeep! But no, the keys were on the hearth inside. Damn! Damn! Damn!

The full moon clearly illuminated the yard around her cabin with a silvery-blue light and she cursed the orb in acidic French using a few choice phrases learned from a U.S. Marine who had accidentally cut off his hand with a chainsaw.

Then salvation exploded inside her mind at the memory of the woodshed. Frosty ground crunching beneath her shoes, Dr. Abernathy hurried across the few meters separating the cabin and the shed. Once inside, she swung the single thick door shut and dropped the big locking bar into place. A cord of split wood was neatly stacked along a wall while a few dozen smoked meats hung from the ceiling like so many condemned prisoners. The shed was a hundred years old, built to serve as an ice house in summer and to be a last refuge for settlers to hide in from attacking Indians, British troops and American Old West desperadoes. The walls were solid stone a good meter thick and the door was a seamless expanse of solid oak with four bronze hinges. Although werewolves had not been in the original design specifications, it would serve. Then again, maybe they had been. How long had these things been around? Since prehistoric times? Which came first, the were or the wolf?

A bellowing roar of rage thundered in the night, closely followed by the sound of screeching metal and the woman knew the beast was loose.

Praying silently, the vet backed into a corner pushing her way through the dangling assortment of salt haunches, homemade sausage and dried birds. She took a position by Big Boy, her prize dead hog. Wolves had great vision, but they tracked by scent. With any luck, lost amidst the dozens of smoked meats, her bodily odors would be masked. However, it was a feeble hope.

Even through the thick stonewalls, Abernathy could faintly discern the destruction of her jeep and the screaming death of Tramp. A tear welled in her eye and she used a sleeve. Unable to find her, the wolf was going on a rampage of destruction. Oh God, what had she unleashed upon herself? This was a nightmare! It seemed obvious now that the werewolf must have fallen from that passing jetliner and only the granite ledge had stopped it from forming an impact crater in the soil. If not, then the people who shot the beast would still be in pursuit. They had silver bullets! She only had the useless slug. Oh Lord, oh God, what could an old woman with arthritis do against a creature that took a 20,000 foot drop onto solid rock and was merely stunned?

Until tonight, Joanne Abernathy had never believed any of the wild stories told around the campfires. Monsters? Creatures of the night? Ridiculous! But now the elderly woman desperately racked her memory for any detail to help her in this fight for life.

Ghostly images of movie monsters filled her mind and Abernathy fought to rid herself of the nonsense and concentrate on what she had heard. Werewolves were ... what? People cursed by gypsies, or victims bitten by a werewolf? They only appeared during a full moon. Well, the moon was definitely full. Wolfbane! They couldn't stand wolfbane! Yes, but what was it? An herb? A root? A long drawn howl sounded from outside. Unfortunately, the encyclopedia was in the kitchen and that was no longer a proper environment for scholarly pursuits into toxic botany.

Resting her cheek against the cold stone, Dr. Abernathy let the rich flavored scent of wood and meat fill her lungs like a healing potion. Scenes of her youth flowed into her mind and Abernathy forced herself to concentrate on the present. She wasn't dead yet. Think, Joanne, think. Wait-a-minute, silver killed werewolves! Or was it only silver bullets? The vet shook her head. That didn't matter. She certainly had no silver bullets, and the slug in her pocket was too distorted to be used without being melted and reformed. Okay, any silver in the house? Silver knives? Goblets? Hell and damnation, this was a Yukon cabin, not the Montreal Hilton!

Wait! Digging into her pants pockets the vet found a fistful of change. Most of it dime and quarters! Those were made of silver ... no! Furious, she dashed change to the ground and tromped on the coins. Darn money was only a copper disk with a thin electroplating of silver! Utterly useless.

Suddenly, a throaty laugh came from the door of the shed and Dr. Abernathy knew the beast had found her.

The entire cabin shuddered from the impact of something on the other side of the barred portal, the cord of wood toppled over and the hanging meat danced a ghastly jig. In heart-pounding fear, Abernathy glanced about the enclosed structure, but there was no place to run or hide. She was trapped. This was it. Tonight was her final day. Here was where she'd die. That foul beast would be the last thing she saw before death.

A great calm came upon the elderly woman, similar to the emotionless elation she experienced when performing a delicate operation. So what would be the final act of Dr. Joanne Gertrude Abernathy upon this Earth? Cowering submission? Hysterics? Suicide?

Several minutes later, the oak beam barring the door finally cracked and the wolf stooped over to enter the shed. Appended on a length of chain, the hundred kilos of hickory smoke, sugar cured, Big Boy slammed the beast in the face. Roaring in annoyance, the werewolf ripped the giant hog off the steel support hook and tossed the carcass into the litter filled yard. In the background, the cabin was on fire.

The dancing flames cast eerie shadows inside the darkened shed, but the wolf could still clearly see the old woman standing brazen. She held a machine thing in her hands.

"Okay, lupine, you want me?" Dr. Abernathy snarled. "Then come and get me!" With a snarl, she tore a piece off the machine.

The bold defiance puzzled the man-beast for a second, but as the elderly female did not hold the booming-device-which-killed, the wolf steadily advanced.

Yanking on the starter cord again, Abernathy got the chainsaw to come to deadly life. In a stuttering roar, the linked array of carbide-steel teeth moved in a thundering blur of speed, great billowing clouds of exhaust spewing from the rusty side-mounted muffler.

Brushing aside the brandished log-cutter, the wolf racked a paw at the woman's throat, but Dr. Abernathy raised an arm to block. The claws shredded cloth and flesh. Blood sprayed everywhere. Writhing in agony, Abernathy went sprawling upon the floor, trembling fingers trying to staunch the flow of blood from her slashed forearm.

The drooling beast came closer. Then from underneath, the old vet swung the small hand axe used to split kindling. The attack was so pitiful, the werewolf paused in astonishment. It was only for a single moment that he saw the tiny silver slug neatly impaled on the edge of the axe blade.

This was an impossible gambit and Dr. Abernathy's very last chance for life. A wild gamble on a possible flaw in the gypsy legend. A werewolf could only be killed by a silver bullet, that was stated plain and simple. No if, ands, or buts. Yet nowhere did it say the monster had to get shot.

Guided by the expert knowledge of a trained veterinarian, the axe blade sank into the chest of the beast, directly between the fifth and sixth rib, missing the sternum entirely and driving the misshapen silver slug deep into the animal's heart.

Galvanized into immobility, the wolf screamed in an amazingly human voice and its eyes rolled into its head until only the white showed. Dropping to his knees, black blood gushed in horrid amounts and the entire body began to shake.

In reverse motion, the full coat of hair withdrew into bare pink skin. The snout retracted and teeth blunted. The ears moved down the side of the changing skull, talons became fingernails. The Z-style joint of the lower canine legs twisted around to become a single knee. The body shortened, a face formed. And in mere seconds there lay on the floor of the shed a naked dead man with an axe in his chest.

Finished wrapping her plaid shirt around the gash in her arm, Dr. Abernathy climbed shakily to her feet and glared down at the would-be killer. Sacre blu, it had actually worked. Momentarily, she wondered who he was and what was his story. But Joanne Abernathy realized she would never know. He was dead and that meant she was safe. Safe!

Then the elderly woman frowned. Of course, she had the minor problem of a nude corpse on her hands and a home that resembled Quebec after the riots. But those were minor matters compared to the singular implications of her wound.

Deep as the slash was, the blood was slowing in an unnatural manner, which highly raised her suspicions. If the legends held true, and they had so far, then a bite from a werewolf made you one as well. But did getting clawed also result in the cursed transformation? Even if you killed the first werewolf? Was it an event chain that could be broken, or a series of isolated events each alone and independent. Dr. Abernathy didn't know, and wouldn't. Not until the next full moon.

Exiting the bloody shed, the exhausted woman stumbled into the yard and sat on Big Boy. The possibilities were endless and frightening. Every month to lose her humanity and become a non-sentient animal. To roam the woods and back alleys of towns searching for helpless people to slaughter. Then to eat.

Calmly watching her home burn to the ground, Abernathy came to a decision. No. It would never happen. Dr. Abernathy would not let that happen. She would wrap herself in chains every month. Get drunk. Use illegal narcotics to stupefy herself. Anything! But she would not kill again. Ever.

Facing the starry sky, Joanne Abernathy made a solemn vow. Doomed as an immortal slayer, a cannibal beast, the retired veterinarian would not rest until she found a cure for this artificial disease of lycanthropy. She would find it. Even if Abernathy had to move Heaven and Earth to do so!

Or even Hell, for that matter.


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