by Flying Fox
A shapeshifter attacks Budsworth, Ben, and queens. Budsworth is gravely injured in attack.
CHAPTER 11: DANGER ZONE
May 28, 1:42 P.M.
A midnight colored Lincoln car pulled up in front of the Foxvalley Sheriff's station. Smoke arose into the dark clouded sky behind it. The smoke lifted up from the ashes of the library from less a mile away. The back passenger door of the black Lincoln car weaved open. A black dress shoe ejected from the inside of the vehicle. It landed on the asphalt of the street below.
A man with an aged appearance stood up out of the car. From his pocket he pulled out a pack of Wayward cigarettes. He pulled one out and placed it between his lips. Out of his other pocket he removed a silver colored lighter. A bright glint blinded off it into his eyes. He raised the lighter to the cigarette hanging from his mouth. A flame sparked out from the small silver box and ignited of end of his cigarette. Slipping the lighter into his pocket, he continued toward the front glass door of the sheriff's station.
The door swung open as the man charged in. He took a quick glance down the hall to see if anyone showed up. To his surprise no one did show, which would make his job a whole lot easier. He barged into the sheriff’s office, and stepped up to a file cabinet behind the desk. He pulled out one of the cabinet doors and ruffled through the selection of folders inside. He pulled out one that read, "The Johnson Case."
The man flipped the folder open and continued to, illegally, search over the folder. He pulled out a page. "‘FBI agent believes the suspect is using a Native American legend as a red herring.’ Huh, not even close," The man read and mumbled to himself. With a sigh he placed the page back into the folder. A fireplace sat against a wall on the side of the room. The man pulled the lighter back out from his pocket. He raised it up to the corner of the folder. A flame spurted onto the corner and proceeded to burn through the folder and papers.
The man tossed the engulfing vanilla folder into the brick fireplace in front of him. The fire rolled over from the folder onto the untouched logs in the fireplace, spreading like a deadly contagion across the clean wooden logs. The black suited man stood over the blazing fire below, smoking his cigarette. After a few minutes he exited through the door of the sheriff's office. When he stepped back outside the black Lincoln waited, its engine producing a low rumble, as if excited for his return.
The man swung the back door open, and sat down on the black leather seat inside. He reached his hand out and slammed the back door closed again. In a fit of dust the car sped of down Sandhill Dr. It’s tires screeched on the asphalt of the street. They roared past the Sheriff, standing out in front of the remains of the Foxvalley Library. The older man’s gaze rolled over the man sitting in the seat in across from him. “Good job,” he said, “Now we just need to find that goddam librarian.”
Sheriff Abraham Henderson payed no attention to the black Lincoln sliding away behind him. He’s seen black Lincoln cars driving down the quiet streets of his small town, and it wouldn’t be the last he’d see. Deputy Gregory stood up out of the patrol car. Impatience bursted within him, if they didn’t get to the mountain lion sighting in enough time it’ll escape. There won’t be a mountain lion to hunt down. Anxiety clouded his eyes with every passing second. The only thing occupying the deputy’s mind was hunting that mountain lion that killed the hotel clerk before it mauls anyone else. He knew José, another good friend of his. He, José, Mills, and Gale used to go hiking up north around Bear Lake. Now Gale only remained, the town mechanic. His friendships with both Mills and José made hunting this mountain lion even more important to him.
Instead, the rarity of a fire in town occupied the sheriff’s head. It didn’t really make much sense for it to be an electrical fire, how did the wire get cut in the first place. What if someone cut it to make it look like an electrical fire? What if someone purposely cut the wire to cause the fire? These question only continued to cloud Henderson’s mind. “Sheriff, we should really get to this mountain lion before we don’t know where it’s at,” Deputy Gregory called.
Henderson did nothing in response. He only continued to stare at the piled of rubble in front of him. It didn’t make sense. He talked to Queens not too long ago. He couldn’t find any logical explanation for it. The ruble lied there, a mystery waiting to be revealed. However, Deputy Gregory was right. If they didn’t get to this mountain lion soon enough they’ll never find it at all. It would be best to take care of it before it got away, but what if the fire was arson. The arsonist might be just close enough so that they can catch up with them. If they went to hunt the mountain lion first, no telling that the arsonist would still be here in town afterwards.
Henderson had an important choice to make. He hated making important choices such as this. His decision was the best he could come up with. He had to find the origin of this fire. “You guys go on ahead,” he ordered, “I’m going to stick around and see what happened here.” The deputy nodded in acknowledgment. He opened the driver’s side door of the patrol car and slid in, slamming the car door closed behind him. The patrol car sped away a few seconds later. A cloud of dust spouted out from behind it’s exhaust tube as it pulled away down the street. Henderson watched as the car pulled away down the road, vanishing over the top of a hill.
He turned back to the pile of rumble in front of him. Smoke still flowed out from under the ruble. One of the firemen from the fire truck trudged through the leftovers of the library. He picked up a book off the ground. The book crumbled out of his hand, back to the floor from where he picked it up from. A crunch produced from under Henderson’s boot. His gaze settles on something he could barely see under his shoe. When he moved it out of the way the object came into view. On the ground was a crushed cigarette box. The lid of the box remained open and empty..
Henderson knelt down and lifted the box up from the sidewalk so he could take a closer inspection. It looked almost as if it hadn’t been there for long. A footprint covered over it, probably from Henderson’s own boot. Henderson gazed back out into the destruction of the library. He remembered Queens owned his own pickup truck, which he normally parked in the back. If that truck isn’t there maybe, just maybe he was still alive. He began to push his way through the ruble. Sharp pieces of broken glass, and pieces of shrapnel scraped his pant leg. They ripped through the seams, penetrating his legs. Scratches from the glass shrapnel began to leak thin lines of red down to the tongue of his shoe.
Henderson stepped out of the ruble pile near the back of the lot in a cramped alley. The brick outer wall of Gale’s Garage stretched on the opposite side of the narrow alley between what used to be two buildings. He knew Queens normally parked his truck here at the mouth of the alley. Instead, now his truck had been replaced with a black Ford Taurus from 2011. Hope began to swell inside of him, Queens seemed to had not been there there when the building burned down, or that was what the absence of his truck suggested. Queens most certainly would have kept his truck behind the building yesterday before they apprehended him. Henderson didn’t really know much about him, he was too new in town for that, but what he did know about him (besides him being a total nutcase) was that he was overprotective of his belongings, and that includes his library.
Queens didn’t always seem as paranoid as Christopher Holt up on the hill. He was definitely still paranoid, but didn’t think the Russian and American governments teamed up to kill him for knowing too much. Henderson, for a while, believed Queens to be a reasonably sane person, but that stuff he heard come out of that librarian’s mouth earlier said otherwise. Even though he didn’t believe anything Queens told him earlier, there was one thing he had to admit, Queens must’ve known something for someone to go as far as trying to burn down the town’s own public library, but what if the fireman earlier was right. The electrical fire was plausible, but right after he left? It felt way too much of a coincidence to him. Something he knew forced someone to do this. Something he didn’t tell Henderson. Maybe he knew what was really going on here, just too afraid of someone coming to kill him. Maybe he worked for the kidnapper as some sort of informant and gave away too many clues.
Henderson stole another glance towards the car at the mouth of the alley. It looked familiar from somewhere. He glanced at the license plate. It read along the bottom, “NEW YORK” Henderson’s eyes widened to the size of golf balls. The reason the black Ford Taurus looked familiar to him was because it belonged the Budsworth. That meant he either he took off on foot, or had been kidnapped, but who could, and would, be able to overpower an armed FBI agent?
~~~ FBI agent David Budsworth~~~
May 18, 2:12 P.M.
Budworth’s sluggishly lifted from drowsiness, he felt as if someone glued his eyes together. His consciousness faded in and out, his vision blurred. The worlds felt as if it spun around him. A line of stained blood stretched down his pant leg. A bandage surrounded the wound produced by that rabid Native American with his damn pistol. Last Budsworth remembered he was attacked by Hackshaw in the library. He stormed in through the door, a pistol in his hand. Budsworth tried to pursue him, but only got himself shot in the leg again.
Fortunately, one of Hackshaw bullet’s from his pistol hit a lamp behind him. The unpleasant part was the lamp soared off the desk and slammed into Queens head (who tried to get ahold of the Police during the whole crisis), knocking him unconscious. Then Hackshaw tipped over one of the bookshelves. It slammed down of Budsworth. Large thick books tumbled out, slamming onto his head, rendering him unconscious by the end of the chaos.
Budsworth searched around the small room, trying to place where he could possibly be. Where would Hackshaw take him, his house was gone, burned by his own ignorance. The room appeared very dimly lit, less lit then a night occupied by a new moon. Dark red paint smeared the wood of the walls around him. Sunlight creeped in through cracks in the door directly ahead of him, and small holes and cracks in the walls of the tiny room. Budsworth tried to stand up out of the uncomfortable metal chair he sat on, but Hackshaw tied his hands together around the back of it. Wha-What the Hell? He thought, why in the would would that creep tie me to a chair? Budsworth’s thoughts were cut off by the fidgeting of the door knob.
The yellowish brightness from out side flooded his vision, blinding him. A large, dark human silhouette stood in the light, blocking part of it out of his vision. They closed the door behind them. “So your awake, huh?” The shadow asked in a rough, deep voice. Budsworth was sure Hackshaw stood in font of him as the shadow, however, it didn’t sound much like him. The voiced appeared more deep then him, almost sounded like every word from his mouth was a snarl.
“What is this? Let me go you bastard,” Budsworth ordered, but the shadow did no such thing. It stepped up to a dark workbench in the corner of the room. A sharp glint emitted from some utensil he picked up off the workbench. In his hand he held a thin knife, emitting the glare from the sharp end. Budsworth knew it was about to be blood-stained. The man glanced back at Budsworth. He almost feel back in his char in horror when he saw the man’s eyes. They were a glowing a brilliant blue. He didn’t even see pupils in his eyes, just the glow of a deep blue. They stared through him, down to his soul and back. It strikes him as unnatural and undoubtably one thing he never seen the likes of before. The blue eyed silhouette stepped up to Budsworth and placed the sharp cutting knife in his hands, tied behind the chair by a think rope. “Who are you?” Budsworth asked.
The door began to creak open again. This time Hackshaw slid into the room. This time Hackshaw really did stand in front of him. He could tell from his long hair, the darkness didn’t cover that, in-fact Budsworth could now see just about everything in the room since his eyes readjusted. Budsworth’s blood froze to ice when he realized the absence of the dark blue-eyed shadow. It no longer stood in there with him. Only he and Hackshaw remained in the room. The blue-eyed dissolved into the air like puddle of water in a drought. The knife was still in his hands, so the potential to get free way still on him. “Awake now, aren’t we?” Hackshaw asked.
Budsworth began rapidly slicing away at the rope tied around his wrist. The knife slashed through his skin, spilling a stream of blood. Budsworth tried his best to cover his bleeding arm. If there was one thing he didn’t want his nemesis to know it was that he held a knife in his possession. Hackshaw paused at the workbench. He slowly turned to Budsworth. “Are you bleeding?” He asked. Budsworth’s heart skipped a beat. How in the world did he know that?
The rope, tied around his wrist, slit and floated down to the ground behind the chair. “Not as bad as you will be after I’m finished with you,” Budsworth threatened. He darted out of the chair at Hackshaw. The glint of his blood covered knife shined in the light through the closed door. He felt the knife slice through something in the lack of light, like a knife through hot butter. Hackshaw let out a groan of surprise and pain. Budsworth felt something hard grab his arm. Hackshaw twisted it. Pain jolted from his shoulder through his arm. The knife slipped out of his hand and clattered on the wooden floor below. It landed on the floor with a thump.
“Let go of my arm, asshole,” Budsworth grumbled. Hackshaw didn’t respond. Budsworth rammed his elbow into his face. It smashed into his nose. A thin line of red rolled down from his nostrils over his lips. He back handed Budsworth across his face. Pain jolted through the bridge of his nose. That was it, that was the final straw. Budsworth lifted his foot, and gave a swift forceful kick into Hackshaw’s stomach, forcing him backward. He stumbled back, his back smacked into the workbench behind him. He picked up an axe from the bench, ready to slash at the FBI agent to pieces. He swung, Budsworth grabbed onto the axe handle, shoving it away from his neck. He was shoved into the wall, trapped by Hackshaw’s weight. He kicked the Native American away of him, stealing the axe out of his hands. It didn’t take to long for the Native American to get back into the game. He then picked a larger stainless steel axe up off of the workbench. It made a loud SCREEECH on the wood as if slid off the bench.
“Ohhh shit,” Budsworth muttered under his breath. He rushed up to the door outside the room, it opened easily and didn’t appear to be locked. Hackshaw definitely know he was freeing himself when he made his way in. Budsworth slammed the door shut behind him and locked it. He leaned on the wall to the left beside the locked door, ready to bash Hackshaw’s head in with his axe if he needed to. The sharp edge of a giant axe crashed through the door, sending shrapnel stumbling to the forest floor. The axe lifted out of the door, then smashed through again. “Hackshaw, put down the weapon. Before I am forced to resort to lethal countermeasures. Just put the axe down and we’ll talk this whole thing out.”
“There’s no way to escape this Budsworth, I need to keep my town safe. Which means getting rid of you,” Hackshaw stated. Budsworth could hear the sound of a truck rushing up the mountain. The door fell off it’s hedges and toppled onto the forest floor. What happened next flashed by so fast and unexpected, surprise overcame Budsworth. Even after the incident it took him a few moments to comprehend everything going on around him. A large black truck flashed by, crashing into the Hackshaw and the shed. Hackshaw flipped over the top, first off slamming his body on the hood, then landing on and shattering the windshield. His body soared over the bin of the truck and smacked into on the ground behind the vehicle with a sickening thud. A strip of red ran down from his mouth. For a moment Budsworth believed him to be dead, but only until he started to rise back up off of the ground. His back haunched, with a steady flow of blood leaking from his mouth onto the grass of the forest floor below.
Budsworth heard the truck doors swing open, but he didn’t look. His eyes remained glued to the horrors of the Native American man in front of him. Ben rushed out of the leveled shed first. He rushed up towards Budsworth. “You alright?” He asked, trudging past the wreck of Hackshaw’s shed
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Budsworth answered. He gazed down at the impression on his wrist from his hands being tied together.
“You idiots!” Hackshaw scolded. He tried to stand back up, but seemed to be having problems, also his voiced seemed deeper than it did only a few minutes ago. His back hunched over. He held his hand on his knees, breathing heavily. “Do you know what’s you have just done? Queens, you yourself knows that ain’t no damn FBI agent.” Blood rolled out from his mouth as he spoke. Blood in gobs.
“Hackshaw, what is wrong with your eyes.” Queens asked. Budsworth could see it too, the pupils of Hackshaw’s eyes dilated. The irises of his eyes looked to be filling with brilliant red blood, glowing in the shadows of the forest. The more Budsworth watch the more he realized the Native American standing in front of his was no long just some man, but a monster, and figment of the supernatural. Something he didn’t, couldn’t believe to exist. No way the man he stared at could be real. He knew a logical reason hid behind an invisible corner.
“Go...” Hackshaw coughed another blot of dark red liquid.
“Seriously, what the hell is going on here?”
“Just get out of here!” Hackshaw shouted as loud as he could. The moment directly after he collapsed to the ground in a growing puddle of blood. The confused bunch followed his orders and rushed the truck inside the shed. Cries of agony pursued from behind. Budsworth flung open the driver’s side door of the truck and sat down on the vanilla colored seat inside. Panic swelled up inside him when he read the blinking green letters, “GAS TANK EMPTY” on the dashboard. Budsworth turned back to everyone else sitting in the truck.
“Gas is empty, I’ll get out and see what I can do. You guys stay in here, if you need to, lock the doors,” Budsworth said. He stepped back out of the truck, and knelt down to see under it. Gas leaked down from a rip in the gas tank into the wood shrapnel. Queens damaged the gas tank when he drove it into the shed. Brilliant, good going Steven... Budsworth thought. His blood turned to ice, the hair on the back of his head raised as soon as he heard it. The slight growl of an unearthly creature rumbled behind him. It’s breath brushing against him. They were too late, whatever had happened to Hackshaw already happened. The doors locked in the truck above him. Queens must’ve saw it, and locked the door out of fear. Locked Budsworth’s outside with the unearthly creature.
Budsworth wanted to turn to see it, but fear kept him still. His heart beat over and over. It only carried on, getting quicker with ever beat as the creatures breath chilled through the hairs of its neck. Wether he’d turn to see it or not it’d kill him, he knew it. The least he could do before getting ripped to sheds is turning to look his killer in the eyes.
Budsworth slowly rolled around in the splinters and various metal tools. Some sliced through his skin, trickling blood from his back. He picked a knife up off the wooden floor. Looked like the same one he used to cut himself loose. He could tell from the blood that stained the sharp edges. A snarling emitted from above him. Drool leaked onto his clothing from the creature standing over him. Standing on a pile of debris beside him was a black dog-like creature. It seemed to resemble something like a wolf, but much more terrifying. Blood rolled out of it’s gums and down its teeth. It piercing blood red eyes stalked him down.
The creature stood huge, five feet from the ground. It’s shape teeth gleamed in the setting sunlight, and looked as if they could slice through the toughest of bone. Budsworth immediately thought back to the dead hotel clerk and the video they caught of his death. The creature standing in front of him looked almost exactly like the one seen in the video. The one that ripped a cavity into the man stomach for no other reason than some sick sport. He figured the creature in the video looked of that of a wolf, but didn’t really want to admit it. Wolves no longer even inhabited this area, but he knew damn well the creature standing over him wasn’t just some wolf.
Hackshaw transformed into it, like some sort of werewolf. It stood, growling over him, waiting for the perfect time to sink its sharp canines into the flesh of Budsworth’s neck. The only made Budsworth’s anxiety grow. The endless thoughts of what’d it do to him flashed through his mind. Was it just going to kill him? Or was it going to torture him first than killed him? Was it going to slowly rip his piece by piece like he did to the B&B clerk.
The world spun around in Budsworth eyes, he began to link things together. This thing may have killed the B&B clerk, but it did not kill Benjamin Karmin’s brother, or the bus driver. What ever committed that crime was much bigger than this. Budsworth found it hard to admit that the thing that killed Ben’s brother and that bus driver was more dangerous, but if it crushed a bus and cut a body in half there was no telling what else it could do, and beside that what really happened to those who disappeared? Now his investigation would end with him being a mutilated corpse in the wreck of a shed.
The creature snarled and growled again. It’s mouth stretched, revealing a devilish canine grin. Blood rolled down over its teeth, only dragging Budsworth impeccable death even closer. The creature shot forward faster than anything he’d ever seen. It wrapped its massive, deadly jaws around his neck. Budsworth was prepared to hear the snapping of the bones in his neck, but a fire burned within him. He felt as if something awoken within him. In a fit of rage he slashed the knife towards the creature, knocking it off of him. A streak of blood slashed across it’s chest from the knife in Budsworth’s hand. The creature lunged back, letting out a yelp of sudden surprise.
The sound of a gunshot interrupted their scandal. The creature stumbling back as shrapnel from a shotgun bullet slammed into it’s stomach. It stumbled back, it’s eyes clouded with rage. Christopher Holt stepped out of the forest aiming his shotgun at the creature. “Take that, you damned wolf!” He shouted. He rushed up towards the shed. His finger held steady on the trigger, he searched around from the creature. He turned to Budsworth, “Hurry up, grab the others and get up to my house,” he ordered. Uncalled for the moment, the creature slammed into Holt, knocked him out of Budsworth’s view, except for his jeans and boots. It began to violently rip him to shreds. “Help! Help, arrghhh!” He man cried helplessly.
The cries of man gave Budsworth a moment of hesitation. Budsworth knew that the only thing he could do is save everyone while the creature devoured the man’s already dead corpse. He stood himself up from his position. A strip of blood bled down his forehead. Sweat dripped from his hair onto his skin, sliding down his face, sometimes turning pink, mixed with his blood. Budsworth watched in horror for behind the creature as it ripped pieces of flesh off the man with its powerful jaws. Blood streaked across the grass underneath the dying man. When Queen saw Budsworth stand back up he unlocked the door, his eyes full of shock. As fast as he could, Budsworth opened the back door beside him to let Queens and Ben out. The whole front door of the shed laid on the ground in shambles, leaving them vulnerable to the monstrosity ripping the man to pieces outside.
Ben felt the vomit rising up his throat as he watched the man’s bloodied intestines being ripped out in front of him. “Just don’t look at it,” Budsworth said, trying to sound as calm as he could, but he could get those massive canine out of his mind. If that man wouldn’t had come and saved them he would’ve been ripped to shreds. They carefully snuck into the forest behind them. The creature ripped another piece of meat off the man, as it watched the three leftovers rushing into the dense forest. “What the hell just happened?” Budsworth asked, his breath heaving. He hoped Queens to know, after all he is the one who found the newspaper from 60 years ago with Budsworth in it. If anyone should know about the strange things that goes down in this town it should be him.
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like that before. The best that I can think of is Hackshaw might be some sort of shapeshifter.” Queens guessed. Budsworth could hardly believe what he was hearing right now. There was no way Hackshaw was a shapeshifter, they don’t exist, at least he wanted to believe that. Some lurking deeper within him told him Hackshaw just did attack them in the shape of a wolf, but how in hell could that be possible.
“Are you kidding me?” Budsworth asked, “Shapeshifters don’t exist. Are you even hearing yourself now?”
“Don’t worry Budsworth, you’re not left out of his supernatural theories. He thinks your a lycanthrope.” Ben interrupted.
“Shut up Ben,” Queens ordered.
“Oh yeah, right. It’s okay to tell the sheriff and me, but not the...” the snapping of a nearby stick caused Ben to clamp his mouth shut. They all three stared in the direction the sound came from. The creature howled. It sounded as if it where combing from all directions, like it brought it’s buddies with it for desert. Budsworth heart thumped beards then he’d ever felt before. That thing finished with he man, and now hunted them.
“Budsworth, we need to go,” Queens suggested. Budsworth agreed with the silent nod of his head. Whatever really lurked out there by that shed waited, still hungry and wanting for more human flesh and blood. It either found them from their squabbling, or it tracked the blood leaking from Budsworth. He glanced around, frantically trying to find somewhere to have a last stand, he had to find somewhere for them to escape to. If they didn’t they would be found the next day, lying on the ground as a group of bloody, mangled bodies, bleeding out into the grass. He could see the slight glow of a house on the side of the mountain up on the top, the back hanging from the slope on stilts.
“Common, we need to make it to that house up there.” Budsworth ordered. Ben and Queens followed closely behind him, occasionally glaring through the trees to the house about a little under a mile up the mountain. The three of them occasionally glanced behind them to see if something stalked behind them, but the savage animal remained hidden in the trees. Another fright inducing howl rang through the dense forest. Budsworth’s blood curled to ice.
Budsworth soon came across a small shallow creek that split through the woods up ahead. The water rolled calmly off of small rocks and pebbles, producing beautiful miniature waterfalls. The house was definitely further than any of them thought. They could still feel the prying eyes of the creature. It stalked them out there from the woods, waiting for the perfect time to rush out, ripping their limbs off and tearing into their stomachs. They continued up the mountain, passed large rocks and old growth trees. A blanket of dead brown leaves from last winter flooded the forest floor. Small patches of green grass poked out through the dead layer of leaves, bringing little more life to the forest floor as they trudged on. Soon they finally stepped out onto a road that lead up to the house.
Relief clouded them. They were going to make it, or at least they thought they could. If only they didn’t stop to take a breath. Budsworth seen it first. It’s pricing scarlet eyes in the darkness. It climbed up out of the forest onto the gravel road ahead of them. It’s snout covering in drooling blood. Pieces of bloody flesh hung from the edges of the creature’s jaws. It’s hungry eyes still glowed scarlet red. “Okay, now what?” Queens asked.
~~~Sheriff Abraham Henderson~~~
Henderson trudged through the ruble of the fallen library. He lifted the burnt half of a table out of the way of the charcoal covered trapdoor. Good, it seemed that the basement remained intact even after the fire. An electrical truck pulled up on the side of the road. A few electrical workers stood outside discussing how to fix the downed power line. Henderson knelt down, and grabbed onto the handle of the trapdoor. He began his attempt to open the door. The trapdoor felt almost glued to the floor. Henderson finally pulled the trapdoor out of the floor using a fragment extra of muscle power. The light shining from downstairs lit hope inside of him. He descended down into the basement. The book still laid open, lying on the desk in front of him. The same place he remember it being when he left.
One of the file cabinet doors hung open. Vanilla folders lied scattered across the ground. What ever happened, Queens must’ve left in a hurry. What if he saw this coming? What if he knew that he knew too much, but what did he know? Henderson stepped up to the book and flipped it to the first page. On the front page it read,
The following is true discoveries made by my ancestors about the history of the small town of Foxvalley. All residents want a truth, even if they don’t know that there is a truth to be found. Well, the truth is the world is a dangerous place. Many things in this book could simply be legends, or may they be the truth? If there is one single truth to all of this it is that the town of Foxvalley is a special place. It has been inhabited over the years by men of every race and color. It is a magical place with a powerful history not to be trifled with. It is a true American dream town, but if that magic is mistreated it can become a true American nightmare. Every town has its darkness, this one’s has been produced by bad decisions over years, leading back to the Native Americans themselves. There is something that lurks out there in those woods, and one day it will strike.
Henderson closed the cover over the book. He always felt something in the forest surrounded the town. It didn’t always seem like just a forest to him. Through all the years of driving through it, it seemed like a real, living entity on it’s own. Could it be true? Is Foxvalley filled with some type of magic? Is that thing lurking in the woods already after them. He picked the book up off the desk and placed it in a bookshelf behind him. The map laid out across the table before him. Notes and everything scribbled down on it. Henderson stared down at it. Possibly it could give him a clue about what Queens could have known.
The map stretched out to as far a Guffey, a small town to the north. It was actually smaller than Foxvalley with a population in the double digits. The map showed a research facility on the other side of Thirtyone Mile Mountain. A blood red mark encircled it. Under it read, “Place of interest.” Sure thing, Henderson knew it couldn’t been Budsworth who killed the B&B clerk, but what if Queens was right that it wasn’t the same thing attacking everyone on the outskirts of town. The pieces seemed to fit together in his mind. That’s was it, the outskirts of town. The Johnson farm disappearances took place on the outskirts of town, as did the bus attack, but the Johnson’s farm sat on the opposite side of Foxvalley than the bus attack.
What if, who ever it was, was encircling the town, killing anyone it finds outside. If someone else where die tonight who would it be? Someone else who lives on the outskirts of town, like Christopher Holt. That’s it! The killer only attacked the people outside of town. That meant he had to get there as quickly as possible. Henderson rushed back up the stairs and knocked the trapdoor open. He hurried down the street towards the sheriff’s station. The sharp barking on a dog sidetracked him. Georgie, the border collie that belonged to Dale Patterson stood in the old man’s front yard barking at him. The red tint of his fur caught his attention first, George never had red hair as far as he could remember. He noticed the blood trailing across the road to the old Richardson’s home, reflecting the light of the sun. That was why Ben was there earlier, he followed the trail of blood and found his way into the house.
Henderson stepped up towards the house. The moment he stepped up to it a rotting windowsill cracked and fell onto the tall unkept grass. He stepped up the creaking and cracking stairs onto the porch. Large holes stabbed through the porch floor. Pieces of the roof above it hung down over him, rotting out as time went on. A strap of yellow Police tape still stretched out across the open doorway. Henderson draped it over his head and stepped in. The filthy, dust polluted floor creaked from under him as he pressed on. The darkness of th living room reminded him of the darkness of the forest early that morning, except darker. At least the moon shined down through the trees earlier that morning. Hardly any light flooded the house. Even sunlight shining in through the windows held nothing against the never-ending darkness. Henderson reached into his pocket, and pulled out his black LED flashlight. A light blue beam flashed out, slicing through the darkness, shining onto the room’s far wall.
A blue tarp covered a puddle of blood where the dead body from earlier laid. He pulled the tarp off the bloody wet floor. Laying in the center of the puddle sat a blood-stained wallet. Henderson reached down and picked its up. He unfolded it and stared at the driver license.
Henderson’s eyes widened with shock. The familiar Native American face of Hackshaw stared back at him. When he originally picked the wallet up off the ground he fought it belonged to the dead teen. Did Hackshaw have something to do with the teenager’s death. Last Henderson saw the dead body it didn’t look like the work of a human. He remembered the horror of the scene he faced. Blood everywhere, entrails sprawled out across the floor. The poor bastard looked like something mauled him. If Henderson would’ve found slits and gunshot wounds on the body he’d be more willing to believe a human committed such an act. Could he have links to the thing that mauled the B&B clerk too. The mauling looks like they could be from the same creature... or mountain lion. Who the hell am I kidding, Henderson thought. He knew damn well a mountain lion had nothing to do with the death of the B&B clerk. He didn’t want to believe the supernatural, but what if Queens had a point? What if the true monster wasn’t Budsworth, but Hackshaw?
Henderson blasted through the front door of the abandoned house, stumbling down the stairs onto the street sidewalk. He darted off through the doorway on his way to the sheriff’s station. Budsworth sat somewhere, held against his will by a monster, the something that killed the B&B clerk and the kid from the bus. Only one person could help him now, the one person who knows Hackshaw the most, Steven Queens. First he had to get to Holt before anyone, or anything thing, else did. Henderson flung open the glass door of the sheriff’s station. He snatched a pair of car keys hanging beside the door.
The door into his office opened as he made his entrance. From the corner of the room he grabbed his rifle, and stepped out of his office. His secretary, Mrs. Randal stepped out of her small office space into the corridor. “Sheriff Henderson, you missed your one o’clock appointment,” she notified him. Henderson almost forgotten all about the appointment he had with Mr. Copper. He wanted to schedule an appointment for today to discuss the recent disappearance of his son, but, unless the ambulance arrived to pick him up, and if he was right about what was going on his son was in danger. He called about it directly before Christopher had called about his visitor.
“I don’t have the time now, Mary,” he said, “I’ll get to it later.” He rushed out the door into the descending daylight. The sheriff’s patrol car sat out in front of the sheriff’s office. One of the deputies must’ve brought it back to the sheriff’s station during his time in the library with Queens. Henderson opened the driver’s door of his patrol car and plopped down onto the seat inside. He slammed the door shut and backed the car out onto State Road 9. The car sped off in a fit of fury. The sun began to set, sinking beneath the cover of the mountains. Impending storm clouds roared from Canon City. A red canvas blanketed the sky in the setting sun.. According to the clock on the dashboard it was 5:12 P.M. All of the attacks so far only happened at night, which meant he needed to get up there as quickly as possible.
~~~FBI agent David Budsworth~~~
Holt’s residence, Colorado
The descending sun made the whole situation ever more dire. Not only was some deranged wolf-like animal hunting them, but night descended on them as well. The lights of the house up the hill still remained active, lighting up the peak of the mountain it rested on. A beautiful view of the town below glowed in the shadow of the mountain forest, but wonderful scenery was the least of Budsworth’s worries. The creature they fought so hard to escape stood a few feet up the road, staring them down. It’s eyes told whole story, which one am I going to rip to pieces first, they showed. The creature stalked ever closer.
“You know what?’ Budsworth asked the others, “I so wish I would’ve grabbed that guy’s shotgun.” It was too late for such a thing now. They knew all too well in a few moments this one creature would pick them off one by one, ripping their guts out and pouring them all over the asphalt road.
“Any plans?” Ben asked. Budsworth wished he did. The only thing he could think to do now is what his instinct told him to do... run, but his feet never budged from that spot. He looked around, through the forest beside them, to the house in front of them, to the town behind them. His eyes brightened, an idea concocted in his mind, an idea that may just ensure their survival long enough until they stood a chance.
“When I tell you, run up the road around it. You go from the right. Queens, you go from the left. I’ll follow you from behind. Once you’ve past the thing get to the house as fast as you can. If I’m not there behind you close the door. Got it?” Budsworth asked. Queens nodded, but Ben seemed a bit hesitant. “Go now!” He ordered. They both fled towards the house in opposite directions. The creature stopped in the middle of the road watching them, confused in the strange sudden behavior of it’s prey. The wolf-like creature let out a cry of surprise as Budsworth slammed in foot into it. It stumbled back, slamming it’s body onto the trunk of a tree. The hateful blood red eyes stared back at him. Budsworth knew his time to break for he front door of the house ran thin. He fled as fast as his feet would carry him. The creature trailed close behind him.
“He’s coming,” Ben announced. Queens starred, his eyes wide, at the sharp red eyes in the dawn. No way Budsworth would make it in time and not let that thing in. Budsworth rushed rushed up the stairs onto the deck. Surprise hit him hard when he smashed into a closed front door. The thud on the front door shocked Ben. “Wha... what are you doing? You have to let him back in, he’ll die out there.” Ben asked.
“Budsworth told is to close the door if he couldn’t get there in time. If I let him come in here he still wouldn’t have made it, and that thing would be in here with us,” Queens tried to explain.
A throbbing pound pumped in the back of Budsworth’s head. Now he knew what it felt like to run into a closed door at full speed. Though, he never even tried it, because he was clever enough not to. His vision blurred. What originally hovered one pair of blood red eyes in front of him now looked like six. That door really did a number on him. He couldn’t even remember where his was. The painful beating in the back of his head continued to be the only thing occupying his mind. He couldn’t even hear anything but the pounding in the back of his scull. The shadow stalked closer towards him, up the stairs, onto the deck with him.
Budsworth tried to back away from the creature, but his back already made contact with the wall of the house behind him. Budsworth felt like crying out, ordering the creature to back away from him, but his mouth froze shut. An overwhelming fear kept him from speaking. Visions of death ran through his mind. A nightmare image of someone crying out to be left alone, blood gurgling out of their open mouth. A sharp pain infiltrated his body over his abdomen. He could see the sharp claws of the creature slashing into his stomach. Blooded spilled out of the puncture wounds in his skin. It painted the floor a bright red. Budsworth tried to gather as much strength as he could. He flailed at the creature, knocking it off of him.
It only ended up making matters much worse as the sharp pain multiplied from that one part of his stomach. As the monster stumbled off of him, it’s sharp deadly claws raked across his whole stomach. Blood swelled out like a waterfall, drenching Budsworth’s dirty white dress shirt dark red. The creature now began to return to view in front of him. It’s sharp blood-stained teeth neared ever closer. It’s maw parted revealing it’s bloodied tongue. The creature neared closer to Budsworth’s neck, about to give the killer bite. Budsworth could just about feel the jaws of the creature close a round his neck. He knew it, the end awaited him. A deafening BANG rang through the forest. The creature lunged around, staring at something in the distance behind it. Red and blue lights shined on the trees surrounding the sheriff’s patrol car. He stood outside the car with a rifle in his hands. His rifled aimed towards the savage wolf-like animal.
Budsworth gathered his strength and reached into his pocket and pulled out his flip knife. The creature remained distracted by the sheriff. He sluggishly flipped the knife out. The sharp edge glinted in the sunset. Budsworth heaved towards the creature, flailing his knife at the It. It let out a yelp of surprise. Blood sprayed from its stomach onto the floor. It’s head flashed, it’s jaws sliced down through the skin of his arm before running off into the darkness of the dense forest. Henderson lowered his rifle. His eyes widened, filled with fear. He rushed to the stairs in front of Budsworth. Blood gushed from his abdomen into a growing puddle on the porch floor. Dark blackish-red liquid sank through his shirt. “Oh god,” he trembled. Henderson slammed his fist on the front door, waiting for Holt to answer the door. “Holt, let me in! It’s me, the sheriff.”
The bronze doorknob twisted and the door slid out of the wall, Queens peaking his head out, came face to face with Henderson’s furious face. “Queens?” He asked, “What are doing here? Never mind, help me get Budsworth inside. “ Queens stepped out onto the porch, then stopped dead in his tracks, frozen in horror at the sight of Budsworth bleeding out on the wooden boards. “Queens!” Henderson startled him out of his strange trance. He joined Henderson, standing next to Budsworth’s bleeding body. “It’s okay, everything is going to be fine,” Henderson encouraged, even though he assumed Budsworth probably didn’t hear him. His eyes were wide with shock, blood welling from the slit in his stomach. Henderson and Queens stood at opposite ends of him. They lifted him up off the floor, about ready to carry him inside.
Ben stood in the doorway. He watched as they picked Budsworth up off from the porch. Queens lifted him by his shoulders while Henderson hauled his legs up. Blood dripped from his suit onto the wood planked floor. A snarl came from behind them. The hair along Henderson’s neck stood erect in terror. He didn’t even bother to look behind him to see what horrifying monstrosity stalked behind him. Instead he ordered, “In the house, NOW!” The two of them stumbled into the house as quick as humanly possible.
Ben ran to the wall on the far side of the room. A rifle hung above a burning brick fire place below. He reached up and pulled the rifle off the wall. He’d never really used a gun before. This would be his first time. His brother used to go out with friends of his every Friday to hunt, so his brother used a gun before. He wanted to teach Ben to shoot. “Just aim and pulled the trigger. Trust me, the gun will kick, but when your a professional at it, like your big brother, it won’t bother you anymore,” His brother’s voice echoed through his memory. He never knew there’d be a day when he’d put his brothers shooting lectures to the test, but he never knew he’d be stalked by a giant wolf either. Ben sped back towards the front door. Henderson only just now shoved his way through door, carrying Budsworth by his black polished shoes.
Queens debated about where they should put him. “Maybe the dining room table, closest thing to an operating table I could think of.”
“No, I’m not putting a dying body on a dining room table where people eat,” Henderson answered. Queens stood for a long moment, his eyes wide. The thought now couldn’t escape him. Was Budsworth really going to die with his blood on his hands?
“Is he dying?” Ben asked, as if he read his mind. Shock hit him hard the moment he saw Ben wielding a rifle.
“He might if we don’t do something with the bleeding. Damn wolves, there not even supposed to be out here.” Henderson answered. That brought up another Question in Queen’s mind. What really stalked them from outside? Could he be right? Is Hackshaw really a shapeshifter, or was the sheriff right? The thing hunting them really was just a rabid lone wolf. They all stood still as soon as they heard it stepping up the stairs of the porch. Ben pulled up the rifle, aiming towards the front door. He hesitated in fright for a moment at the sight of the cold blood red eyes of his predator. “Ben, shoot it now,” Henderson ordered, flashing Ben back to reality. He pulled the trigger...
The sound of a gunshot rang through the mountains. The loud blast even awoken the townspeople from their attempted slumber, it frightened then. The bullet grazed the creature’s paw, slicing through its skin and nailing into the wood of the porch. Bright red splattered out from the slit in it’s paw and painted the boards scarlet red. Ben jumped at the only opportunity he had to slam the door and save them at the moment, but did he really save them all for the moment, they still didn’t know if Budsworth would make it? Henderson and Queens finally agreed to set Budsworth on the couch in the living room across from the fireplace. Henderson glanced around the room, puzzled by Holt’s absence. Confused why he didn’t come running down the staircase when he heard the door open, or the deafening shots of rifles. He must’ve heard it, but why didn’t he come asking questions?
Christopher Holt seemed like the last person he knew to sit around and let a question go answered. “Where’s Holt?” He finally asked Queens. He answered the door, so he must’ve knew.. Annoyance began dwelling up inside him. They still refused to answer his question, what happened to Holt?
Finally Ben answered, “he was killed by that thing out there. Hackshaw told us to get into the...”
“Wait a minute, you guys saw Hackshaw there. What happened? Is he the one that kidnapped Budsworth? Did that... thing, out there, kill him too?” Henderson asked.
“Not exactly,” Queens answered, “We hit him with our car.”
“What?” Henderson asked, “so, is he dead?”
“No, not exactly. He stood back up off the ground, his eyes were red, kinda like that thing out there.”
“Queens, don’t you dare tell me he’s a werewolf,” Henderson said.
“It’s true I saw it too,” Ben stated, sitting on a recliner next to the hallway. Henderson’s gaze fixated on Ben. He couldn’t believe what he heard coming from both their mouths. Now Ben stood on this crazy asshole’s side. He always seemed more intellectual to him than that. How could these idiots dismiss it as something supernatural so quickly. No way could that of which they claimed be true. Werewolves don’t exist. A high pitched howl rang through the walls of the house. The image of a frightening quadruped with a long snout, long sharp deadly teeth protruding. Holt’s blood coating them, pieces of his flesh still stuck in the sharp canine teeth that reflected the shine of the moon. It wanted them. It wanted to kill them. It wanted to eat them. God knows what other torture it wanted to put them through for saving it’s previous meal.
Henderson hurried up to the window blinds and slipped them closed. When they were open it filled him with the unsettling feeling of being watched as if something hunted him down like it’s helpless next meal. Ben picked the rifle up off the armchair it leaned on. The creature seemed to be returning he wanted to make sure he was prepared for the last stand. Queens closed the blinds beside the fireplace. The fire Holt started in it about maybe an hour ago gone out, now smoking remains of charcoal with the occasional glowing orange ember glowed inside. The moment he turned back to Budsworth he saw it. “Henderson, look at this.” He said.
Henderson’s glanced back at him, Queens pointed toward Budsworth’s arm. His eyes enlarged, but not filled with horror. Not this time, instead they expressed more of a wonderment. He looked down at Budsworth’s arm. “What the hell?” He mumbled under his breath. The hairs along his arms where no longer black, but rather a sharp orangish-red. Expect on his wrist, where the hair remained a dark black color. The tips of the hair on top of his head also glowed an orangish-red. Everyone, including Ben watched in confusion as the hairs along Budsworth’s arm slowly transitioned to an almost red color. Orange crept up ever hair of his body. Queen’s jaw dropped. Is Budsworth transitioning early? He wondered.
Henderson knelt down in front of the FBI agent’s wounded body. He unbuttoned the white shirt under his suit overcoat. The pink eyes of the fox below his shoulder seemed brighter, filling with illuminance. Queens stepped up behind him examining the body. “Queens, what is this? I can’t believe you, but at least you have a prediction, that’s more than I can say right now.” Henderson asked. He lifted an eyebrow at the glowing pick eyes.
“Under most circumstances I’d say he’s transforming, but if I’m right and Budsworth is really what I’ve been saying he is this whole time, then this isn’t right. The rival tribe werefoxes only turned every Saturday, which was last night, not tonigh,.” Queens stated. Henderson still could hardly believe his ears, but he admitted it, at least it made sense to Queens. He lowered his head in confusion, not a clue as of what to do. Queens could definitely see the look of stress stretching across Henderson’s face. He just opened his eyes into a deadly dangerous world of lies that left him speechless. The world of the supernatural, which he always thought of as fake and foreign, gleamed with truth right in front of him. Finally, Queens said something that made more sense, “We should do something, maybe call Doctor Reynard to come here and help us?”
Henderson wanted nothing more than to call the doc out here to take care of the dying agent, but he saw what that thing did to Budsworth out there. What if it did the same to the doctor? Putting here through that would be way too dangerous. “No, That thing is still there, and it might be trying to find a way in here to kill us all off. I can’t risk the doctor’s life to come up here and possibly have her guts ripped out by a savage wolf. Hell if that even if a wolf out there,” Henderson answered. Denial floated through his head. The world denied showing him the truth of its supernatural qualities, now he wondered how he could’ve been so blind. Ben set the rifle down beside armchair. He stepped up to them all, surrounding Budsworth.
“Anything we can do at all?” Ben asked. Henderson’s gaze drifted from Budsworth up at Benjamin, standing behind them. He staring back to the body dying in front of him. Maybe, he remembered some from military school, they taught him what to do in this type of situation. He lowered his head in an attempt to think. All the other things occupying his mind prevented him from a clear plan. He knew of the creature stalking them from outside, and he knew of it’s power. He knew, if it wanted to, it could come crashing through the window and massacre them all in seconds. That made another thought appear in his head. If the creature really could kill them in only a few seconds, why didn’t it kill Budsworth immediately?
It seemed to rip through him at such a slow pace, as if on purpose to make him feel all the pain it had to offer. Why? That wasn’t exactly normal wolf behavior, including the fact that they normally hunt in packs. Those blood-red glowing eyes haunted his mind, wait a moment, he thought, to hell that thing in the video’s the same thing. He recalled that the creature in the video did have the same blood red eyes, but he could distinguish one huge differences between them. The eyes of the creature int he video looked more cat-like, oddly. He only knew one canine with cat-like eyes, a fox. Could Queens be right? Did Budsworth been the one who ripped José to pieces? A normal fox didn’t add up, the creature in the video appear much bigger than any fox he’d ever seen. Even if the man dying on the couch in front of him really was a werefox, he couldn’t let him die.
He remembered of his time at the University of Denver. They didn’t only teach him law enforcement, but also some emergency medical care. The best solution that came to mind needed gauze to wrap around his waist and an antiseptic to use on the wound. His only hoped Budsworth wouldn’t awake in pain. Budsworth was a pretty large man, muscular wise anyway. He knew it would take a lot to hold him down if he can’t take the pain of the antiseptic. “Ben, go look for the bathroom. Once your in there try to find a first aid kit. If you can’t, try to find some gauze and a antiseptic around,” Henderson ordered. Ben nodded and rushed up stairs.
“Will it work?” Queens asked. Henderson stared back at the large streak across Budsworth’s stomach.
“It’ll have to do,” Henderson answered. “After that we wait...”
“To see if he makes it through the night...” Henderson answered. They both remained unaware of the blood-red glowing eyes watching though the only window with open blinds. The black wolf’s eyes burning in hatred, and something else... worry, as if it knew something evil approached ever closer threatening the entirety of human existence itself...