I tried to look casually acquainted with the weapons Lindy had handed over to me from the back of her SUV. As we loaded up for werewolves and 'what have you' I wondered how she knew to pack silver coated bullets. I was figuring they were only coated, but time would tell -- I guess. The 'what have you' was scaring the piss out of me already and we hadn't gotten to the fun part. I hadn't had such 'fun' in years, and as I got older, I found I really hadn't missed that crazy ass shit from West Virginia, or the constant brushes with death I'd experienced while tagging along with Lindy, Dean and Ginny all those years ago. Hell, it hadn't even been a full day since I'd first laid eyes on her and already chaos was reigning prime. The way things were happening, I really should be selling tickets to this shit because nobody would believe me if I told them. It's times like this I wondered why I hadn't invested in one of those personal 'go' cameras used by wannabe stunt men and those whose future held internet clips of man's innate quest to thin the herd one sperm donor at a time. But even while I had really forgotten how crappy this nonstop excitement was in reality, at the same time we'd fallen into a way too familiar rhythm. Neither Lindy nor I trusted Grant, yet here we were, ready to go find werewolves, along with flying and talking birds as our helpers. Oh yeah, possibly telepathic birds -- I stifled a groan and a whimper. I wasn't doing well. But from what Grant had told me, if I died, at least my grandma would be able to buy all the leather bags she desired -- Louie the stupidly overpriced import and those whatchamacallit Coach bags, whatever they were. My mind kept picturing an old kinda stage coachy thing with a leather strap -- an old fashioned duffel bag like in black and white movies. But I knew she'd be okay. That meant more to me than I thought. I guess I was growing up.
Lindy looked at me very closely and after she seemed to be finding some trace of information on my face, started laughing at me while saying, "You are such a damned fool. We may not survive this shit. I don't have a clue why all these werewolves are around and from the way Grant is acting he isn't so happy with all this activity and he doesn't know what's going on either."
She was still quite the burst of happy news just as before -- she now was older, but she still had a bite. That could come in handy, along with all the toys she brought with her to the dance. Before Grant came back to talk to us she handed me a small hand-held torch. Like one of those used to melt shards of metal into other bits of stuff that I like never touched. I thought the best use of torches like that were when used to make crème brulee and other exotic desserts my grandma had introduced me to at the fancy places she liked to go eat at sometimes. Those were the ones when I broke out the coat and manners. She'd never steered me wrong with food.
Grant slowly came back towards us, while the creepy birds stayed on the edge of the yard furthest from the house rather than where we were standing, in front of Lindy's SUV that she'd parked backwards in the carport. His face was tight and his mouth dead flat. That didn't bode well for any of us, but I saw no reason to rush him. I'd already slipped the hand-held small torch into my front right pocket and the knives in my left. The gun had been handed over to me in a belt holster that latched onto my belt and away from valuable parts of my personal real estate. The speed loaders went alongside the knives that were cutting sharply into my thigh a bit, so they would now keep the blades from digging into me anymore. Mentally I noted that I needed to find something way better to either wrap around the sharp knife points or keep the weapons in my hand. I'd worry about that later. The look in Grant's eyes wasn't reassuring.
"The good news is that we have some back up coming here in the next half hour." He had a look that meant there was bad news not far behind and it wasn't. "Bad news -- the fur folks are less than ten minutes from us here if they continue in our direction."
Lindy nodded and said, "So are they traveling in a straight line or wandering around as if searching for someone or something?"
Damned good question. Grant winced very slightly but both Lindy and I caught it and she asked, "Straight for us, huh?"
It really wasn't a question. I thought it was nice that she framed it like she was expecting an answer. Not too shocking, but Grant answered anyways, "Yes."
That made me uncomfortable. Lindy smiled wider and said, "Cool. Love this vacation." She wasn't kidding. The weird birds all nodded and smiled. I didn't fucking know birds smiled. I know that I wasn't smiling.
"You have a plan?" Lindy asked with a slight edge to her voice. It took me a moment to identify what was going on with her. She was extremely excited. Grant was pacing between us and the birds, taking his time in answering her. They pretty much were all ignoring me, which worked. I didn't need to be the focus of any of this crazy shit. Like what I wanted ever had mattered in life.
"I do." Finally he spoke, and the birds stepped closer to us as if they needed to give him support. And 'cause they called him the Mistress' pawn, maybe they did.
Howard seemed to nod to me as if he was saying, 'Yep' to me. Chills ran up and down my spine and I wanted to run off into the night, away from all this crap. To my utter horror, Howard seemed to pick up that stray wish, and stepped away from the rest of his feathered group and a ways closer to me now. Ice water seemed to run through my veins while mosquitoes swarmed us. It had to be over ninety degrees and probably ninety percent humidity. A warm drop of sweat chased my chills, making me shiver.
Lindy noticed and hissed out, "Sammy, grow a pair." Yeah, she was a breath of sunshine and happiness. The excitement poured off her like an expensive designer perfume. Thank all that is good, I didn't start sneezing on top of everything else. Perfumes usually worn by my grandma's friends tended to make me sneeze my damn head off. Lindy's aroma was like gasoline poured over a barbeque pit. Strong and warm with a roar of chaos -- yeah like that.
"Okay, so spill, Grant. What's the plan?" She was now bouncing a bit, trying to pull back her excitement, but Howard and the other three birds were dipping their heads slightly in tempo with the music of her energy.
Heading away from the SUV and towards the front of the dark home he said, "We are going to set up a perimeter and wait for the reinforcements to arrive."
I just avoided slapping my forehead and exclaiming 'duh' by sheer will. He was my boss and that sounded like a lame ass idea to even me. To my shock Lindy nodded and said, "Let's hit it. Ten minutes isn't a long time to prepare."
She indicated the trunk of her SUV and said, "Do you mind if I bring a few things?"
Looking at the loaded bags beneath the dark cover Grant said, "Not in the least. Do you need some help?"
Politely Lindy declined and pulled out the bags, slinging two huge-ass bags my way. I damn near yanked my arm off hauling one of those bags over my right shoulder. She grinned at me and said, "Sammy, what, you need help?"
Her smirk made me further struggle to pull the other bag onto my left shoulder and ignore the popping sound in my joints. "Nah, I'm fine, Lindy."
Trying to not look like I was struggling, I stiffly walked behind Grant as he led us to the front door. The birds hung back, not following.
"What's with those guys?" I sputtered out. I swore I heard the girl birds giggle.
"They will be tracking the werewolves and let us know when they are in killing distance." Grant unlocked the door and opened it up while flipping on the lights both inside and the front of the house.
Lindy's gaze flew to mine. I was thinking 'killing distance?' Ours or theirs? while she hissed out, "Let's just put a bigger damn target on us." She tilted her chin at the white wash of bulbs lighting up the night. Shrugging, I wrestled the bags in and didn't speak. Lindy could lecture Grant. I wasn't sure where I stood with the whole thing, but I knew criticizing the boss would be a bad idea.
"Grant, kill the damn lights. I don't want to help them get here any faster than need be, okay?" Lindy made it sound like a reasonable request, while I knew that if he didn't shut them off she'd shoot them out. Grant paled slightly, so I think he caught her vibe as well.
He turned off the outside set while going into the room and flipping a switch in the kitchen before coming back to the living room and turning off the ancient set of track lights that had been blaring white into the world. The kitchen lights were softer, and now we were standing in the dark, surrounded by all of Lindy's toys. I didn't move for fear I'd stumble over one of the bags and stab myself with the knives in my pocket as I fell. My life was that way.
Grant seemed larger again, and I wondered what the fuck the 'Mistress' pawn' exactly was. The weird birds outside seemed to be part human, while he seemed less human in the dark. I felt like a kid underneath my bed waiting for the boogeyman to find me and tear my throat out.
Lindy hissed at me, "Stop it, Sammy. You're vibrating like crazy."
Another shiver added to my distress and Lindy growled.
Adding to the fun, I felt the clock in my mind ticking closer to the ten minute mark for werewolves to arrive. They were not coming to play with us, but to slay us. I wasn't able to stop shaking no matter how many weapons were within my reach. Werewolves and 'what have you' on their way and getting ready to kill us. Suddenly I had a sharp pain dash through my eyes and I could hear Howard in my mind.
"They are crossing the train tracks a block from you. Prepare."
Lindy shook her head and said, "Ouch. Grant, have them talk to you only. That hurts!"
She sprang around the room pulling crap from her black bags. Even in the dim lighting I could see she had small boxes and wires that were strung over the windows quickly and she put what looked like an oversized floor mat on the tile by the entrance to the home. "Sammy, this goes boom so keep your damn body away from it."
"Is that a mine?" I heard my voice crack on the word mine like I was thirteen all over again.
"Sort of. I made it for werewolves. Loaded with silver coins, shards of glass dipped in holy water and some other bits and pieces." She seemed proud of it, but I was forced to ask her, "Won't it hit us all?"
"Nah, it's faced to blow outwards towards the street not around the room." Flashing me a grin she added, "I think."
* Editor's Note: "All-Nighter" will be on hiatus for the next few weeks.