You know how sometimes you think what you are doing just might not be the best idea?
Yeah, I was starting to think Edmond was right. He'd thought of it, but even he didn't think this was a good idea.
I sat alone inside a room. Maggie and Davis waited on the other side of the wall. Edmond had gone to scout, which I didn’t like much at all. I trusted him, mostly, but we didn’t know what was out there, or how many. He was, despite being able to talk, still a small cat.
He was also black and the night had turned dark, except for a slight glow to the city above us. I had to have faith in —
“Hey ugly!” I heard Edmond shout. “I’m over here!”
The thing growled and it was quite close. I stood. “Edmond! You idiot!”
Edmond streaked into the little room. “Get ready.”
He ran on through and I turned just in time to see something huge and ungainly jogging towards the door. It saw me and yowled, moving faster. I inched my way closer to the window.
Everything I’ve ever learned about werewolves — and the like — has come from horror movies, so yeah, I was clearly ready for this one. I couldn’t make it out, though. Were gorrilla? Was there such a thing? Or maybe —
Bear. I saw the shape more clearly as it came into the room and stood up on back legs. Big bear and it yowled again, an ear-shattering sound that no normal bear would make.
Mark stared for a couple pounding heartbeats. Frozen not so much with fear but with a numbing shock —
Magic. The yowling was a sort of weapon. When it stopped, he took a step sideways and saw the werebear’s head turn in that direction. Red eyes blinked but never lost track of him.
“Mark, get your ass moving!” Maggie hissed from behind the wall.
The creature never even blinked.
“It’s focused on me,” he said.
“Yeah, well great,” she said. “Get out of the way!”
He wasn’t certain he could. The creature was so locked onto him that if his arm so much as twitched, it did too. He wasn’t certain why it hadn’t attacked. It was an enemy. He felt the anger boiling off of it. The thing wanted him dead, though he suspected that was something magic had implanted in it. Sheriff Creston — Uncle Darman — wanted him dead. This creature was going to do it.
Why hadn’t it?
“It’s waiting for me to move. To attack or to run. Either one and it’s going to move too quickly for me to get clear.”
“I said this was a bad idea,” Edmond muttered. “Didn’t I say so? But don’t listen to the cat. What does he know?”
“Any suggestions, Edmond?” Maggie asked.
“Oh sure, ask now —”
“It followed me,” he said. “I can get his attention, even for just a second. Then you move, Mark. Move fast.”
“You, too — because we aren’t going to do anything until you are clear as well.”
“I appreciate it.”
I was aware of the soft pad of kitty feet to my left. I did not turn to look. I needed to be fully aware of the were-bear and the moment it lost attention in me — if it did at all. I didn’t like what I saw as the bear’s shoulders hunched and his mouth opened, showing a flash of bright teeth in the near-dark.
“Are you ready?” Edmond said.
“Yeah. But he doesn’t seem at all interested in you Edmond.”
“Oh, he will be.”
“Edmond —” Maggie and I chorused.
The cat leapt and bit the bear in the knee.
It howled and the attention shifted. I didn’t move for a heartbeat, about to leap in to help the cat, but the cat was smarter than me and had already rushed out the other side, the bear turning and then starting to turn back —
I threw myself out the side window.
“Do it! Edmond is out!”
Davis had been holding the spell in place. He let it go with a shout and a wave of his hands.
The building, which had been the tallest we could find in the area, came down as though a hand had flattened it. We all leapt backwards out of the way of the debris. I heard the creature scream in rage, felt a moment of pain — and then nothing at all.
“It’s dead,” I said over the sound of still falling walls. “Edmond?”
“Here.” He came around the far side of fallen building. “You know, all in all, that went better than I thought it would.”
Maggie picked him up and gave him a hug, which he protested, though not the bit of cheese she got out of per pack for him.
They had already turned to start away. “Best to get clear of such an obvious disturbance,” Davis said. He didn’t sound happy, and I knew he hated to kill anything. I tried to think of something to say —
A shape popped up in the path ahead of them. Human, but short — no, squatting. It had looked like a rock until he lifted his head.
“Bad, bad,” it said and stood. Human, Mark realized. “Bad, bad, you.”
I didn’t like the sound of that one. Mark moved up by Maggie. She had Edmond resting in one arm while she held tight to her staff.
“We are not bad,” Davis said.
“Bad, bad, fall from sky, you.”
“We are not from the sky city.”
I heard the rustle of voices around us, like a faint breeze that blew close by. I couldn’t begin to guess at the number, but it was certainly enough to be a problem. Edmond sighed and jumped down.
And hundreds of people stood all around us, lifting their spears into the air with a shout.
This was just not going to be my favorite place.
To be continued