Shaking his head, Harker stared down at Murphy and said, “You’re not going in search of this wolf, you’re just insurance.”
“Against what?” Murphy breathed as he gritted his teeth in pain.
“Potter retuning with the body of the wolf that’s been killing all the children of Little Hope,” he said.
“You must be smacked up to your tits on drugs if you think I’m going to help you,” I barked. “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.”
“Maybe another bullet may make you reconsider,” Harker said, waving the gun before Murphy. “Let me see, where should I put the next one?”
Covering Murphy’s body with his own, Luke raised his hand in the air and said, “Okay, Okay! We get the message. What’s the plan?”
“Plan? You’re not really going to help Sweeny Todd over there, are you?” I choked, looking at Luke but pointing at Harker.
“I don’t think we have much of a choice,” Luke shot back with a grim look in his eyes.
“Listen to your friend,” Harker said, looking at me with his rodent-like eyes. “Now, this is what I want you to do...”
“I don’t take orders from scum like you,” I hissed at him.
“Listen to him, Potter,” Murphy groaned in pain.
I looked down at Murphy and his blue jeans now looked black from the blood that continued to flow from the gunshot wound. His face glistened with sweat and he shivered in shock. Drake and Madison stood just behind him, their eyes fixed on mine. In the flicker of the light from above, their eyes appeared to change colour, blue, green, yellow.
Turning, I looked at Harker and said, “This had better be good.”
Knowing that he now had my full attention, Harker lowered his gun. He didn’t put it away altogether, but kept it pressed against his thigh. “You will go to the Wolf House with Madison and Drake,” he started.
“Why them?” I cut in.
“To make sure that once you are there, you don’t leave. But I also need to know that you’ve caught this werewolf,” he said.
“What are you trying to say, that you think I’m dumb enough to dress up the first person I come across in a fur coat and try and pass them off as a freaking werewolf?” I snapped. “Give me some credit. Unlike you three jokers, I think I can catch myself a Lycanthrope.”
“And your arrogance will be your downfall,” Harker said. “Don’t underestimate this wolf. We’ve tried to catch him for months but he has eluded us – kept one step ahead. This wolf is no fool.”
“So what you’re trying to tell me is that this crazed, homicidal child killer – this piece of filth – is mentally superior to you?” I asked with a wry smile. “He inherited the one and only Lycanthrope brain cell then?”
“Continue with your infantile remarks, if that’s what pleases you, Potter,” Harker said. “But you have three nights and three nights only to catch this ‘piece of filth’ as you so eloquently described him.”
“Three nights,” I scoffed. “Three hours should be enough!”
“Potter!” Murphy grimaced in pain. “Listen to him – he wouldn’t have stooped to this if he wasn’t desperate. Desperate men are dangerous! Desperate Lycanthrope are deadlier.”
“What wise words your sergeant has for you, Potter,” Harker said with that stupid grin of his. “You should listen to him. I’m not playing games.”
Knowing in my heart that he wasn’t, I said, “Why only three nights?”
“Unlike other Lycanthrope, this wolf is in some way affected by the moon,” he said.
“I thought all werewolves were controlled by the moon and had to dodge silver bullets,” I sneered.
“You’ve been reading too many fairy tales,” Harker sneered back. “However, this werewolf does seem to be affected by the cycle of the moon. The moon is full tonight and will be for the next three nights. This werewolf always kills on a full moon, so we suspect that tonight he will take another child to the Wolf House.”
“I don’t wish to point out the obvious, but why haven’t you just staked out this Wolf House yourselves?” I asked.
“Don’t you think that’s the first thing we did?” Harker grumbled. “I’ve had my best two officers, Drake and Madison, camped out at that house for weeks and still this wolf eludes us.”
Looking over at Madison and Drake, I said, “Perhaps your officers aren’t all they are cracked up to be?” I noticed Drake shift uncomfortably on the spot and Madison just fixed me with her yellow stare. I hated to admit this to myself, after all she was a Lycanthrope and was involved in this plot to shoot Murphy, but she was real cute. As if being able to see into my mind with that stare of hers, she suddenly smiled at me, and I looked away.
“So what happens if I don’t return in three nights with this child-killing Lycanthrope?” I asked Harker as I lit a cigarette.
“Murphy bleeds to death, and you and Luke are arrested for the murder of this poor man,” he said matter-of-factly as he glanced once more at the corpse. “And once you are in official police custody, it won’t take them long to figure out what you truly are.”
“What if you’ve got me all wrong?” I asked him, blowing smoke in his face. “What if I couldn’t give a crap about the old man with the gunshot wound or Brad Pitt over there? Let’s say as soon as I get away from here, I tear Madison and Drake’s throats out and leave them swinging from the nearest tree by their entrails?”
Within an instance, Harker raised the gun and pointed it at Murphy. Just as quick, I leapt across the underpass and stood in front of my friends.
Laughing aloud, Harker lowered the gun and said, “You’ll come back with this rogue Lycanthrope – I bet Murphy’s life on it!”
Knowing that I was beaten – we all were – I looked down at Murphy who lay propped in Luke’s arms. “I’ll see you in three nights, if not before,” I said to them.
“Potter, remember what I told you,” Murphy gasped as he gripped his leg. “No heroics, keep your temper, and catch that son-of-a-bitch.”
“We’re counting on you,” Luke said.
I looked at the both of them and realised the responsibility that had been placed upon me, to save my friends and stop the slaughter of any more children. Was I ready for this? I had to be.
“However touching I find your goodbyes,” Harker cut in, “you don’t have much time. The clock is ticking, so to speak. I have evidence to gather at this crime scene – the evidence that you’ve left behind, that is, and whatever I don’t have, I will manufacture. You have a Lycanthrope to catch, Potter.” Then wagging his finger in my face like a pendulum, he smiled and said, “Tick-tock! Tick-tock!”
I helped Luke carry Murphy to one of the marked police vehicles parked outside Little Hope railway station. Even though the night was cold and crisp, Murphy felt hot and clammy in my arms. He winced and cried out as we hoisted him onto the back seat of the car. Luke climbed into the front with Harker.
Leaning into the back, I gently squeezed Murphy’s shoulder and said, “I’ll come back for you, Sarge.”
“I know you will, Potter,” he whispered with his eyes closed. “I know you can do this.”
His obvious trust in me made me feel kinda strange. I couldn’t ever recall anyone really trusting me before. My own father wouldn’t have trusted me to look after the family pet let alone with his life. I wasn’t sure how Murphy’s faith in me truly made me feel. If I were to be totally honest, it rattled me a little. It rattled me because I didn’t want to let him down; what he thinks is important to me. I didn’t usually give a shit what people thought of me, but Murphy was different. I did care when it came to him. I knew that I had to prove myself – not just to Murphy, but to my friend Luke too. If I could do this – if I could catch this Lycanthrope and save Murphy – then I would be their equal. I didn’t want to be the new boy on the team anymore.
“You take it easy,” I told Murphy. Then closing the door I whispered, “I won’t let you down.”
I watched as the car pulled away from the front of the station, leaving me alone with constables Drake and Madison. They were staring at me with their brilliant yellow eyes and I barked, “What are you freaking looking at?” Then I was gone, striding away across the car park to the unmarked cruiser.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Madison called after me.
Without looking back, I shouted, “I thought you were in a rush to catch this relative of yours before he gets his claws into another kiddie?”
“We go on foot,” Madison said.
Turning, I looked at her and said, “Why?”
“Don’t you think the killer would smell a rat if he saw a car parked outside the house?” Drake asked. “This is meant to be a stakeout you know – like, undercover?”
Walking back towards them, I looked at Drake and said, “Listen to me, kid, I don’t know what it was like working for Harker, but I ain’t taking orders from you. The only person giving the orders out around here is gonna be me. Understand?”
“We are going to go on foot though,” Madison smiled at me with those eyes of hers. I wished she would stop doing that. It made me feel uncomfortable, like she was looking into my soul or something.
“Of course we’re going on foot,” I growled.
“Why were you going back to your car then?” Drake cut in and I couldn’t be sure if he was taking the piss or was he just a dumb arse.
Either way, I prodded him in the chest with a finger and said, “Look here, smart mouth, I’m getting pretty sick of you already. If you know what’s best for you, keep your trap shut and do as I tell you. I still haven’t forgotten how you pushed my friend into that corpse. So unless you want to end up like that body in the underpass, do yourself a favour and keep out of my face, okay?”