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20 November 2017 @ 02:40 pm
_Stone_ part 12  

Chapter Sixteen Desert #1


2nd Tuesday

Tuesdays and Wednesdays were my two off days every week. I bought a bunch of jerky and nuts at a store on the way home from work Monday, and ate kibble for breakfast.

Then I hopped a bus for Sun City.

And for lack of a better idea, I hiked further out highway 60. Just because I'd tracked some Hunters headed this direction didn't mean they hadn't turned off somewhere. Or weren't coming out here regularly. Or ever again.

And yet, if they wanted solitude for summoning their Demon, the desert had plenty of places for them to be unobserved. But how far out would they go?

Where would they turn off the highway? North or south?

I stopped at a gas station and bought a cold soda . . . and spotted a rack of free touristy handouts. I sat in the shade and read them.

There was a big regional park to the south, outside highway 303, which was probably that overpass right there. With hiking trails and so forth. Too many people or a target rich environment?

There was a canal running roughly north-south down toward it that looked a lot more hiker and dog friendly than walking along the highway, so I headed for it.

There was a big subdivision on the east side of the canal, with a high fence and no shelter for a wandering dog. The west side looked like it just backed up onto desert. So I hiked a bit further along highway 60 and over the canal. Then I had to hop a barbed wire fence, but no big deal.

Two miles south, I found a taller than average bush and kicked back in a bit of shade. Chewed jerky.

Next time, maybe salami, cheese, and bread?

I closed my eyes. And just sort of felt everything around. The subdivision across the canal, people zipping around in cars. Pretty quiet in the middle of the day. If I was reading the map scale right, I should be able to feel the Hunters when they approached the intersection of 60 and 303.

And change . . . no, I'd change in a little bit. Be ready . . . again assuming they'd be headed this way in the evening.

But the dance was as the sun set . . .

I shivered, despite the heat of the day.

I sat and meditated.

Stretched and yawned. Opened a bottle of obscenely expensive water, chewed more jerky. Meditated. Watched the rush hour hit, cars everywhere.

And something . . . them? Getting closer at any rate.

I dodged into the thicker brush, undressing, changing. Hiding my clothes. A pause to "look."

Sick green auras, two miles away, moving to my left. Turning away from me. They'd left the highway, and were heading north.

I ran northeast. Two miles to the highway. Where I managed to not get hit by any cars crossing it. Half a mile to a road, yes this was the road they were on. I followed it past a ritzy entrance to some upscale subdivision. I kept running as the Hunters increased their lead and pulled away, finally out of range of my perception.


But I trotted along and followed the road to where it curved west . . .

There was a smaller lane going on straight . . . I checked it out but found nothing even though I circled out until nearly dawn.

There were no white glows in the cars. There was no brutal sacrifice last night!

So far as I could tell.

I panicked and ran back to my clothes and changed. Back over the fence and hustled into Sun City, took a bus down one stop past where I'd gotten on yesterday and hiked to the Kovac's. Rachel's car was parked in the street. Two brighter-than-most auras from inside.

I climbed their side fence and flopped on the ground to catch my breath. Then I changed and curled up to sleep until Rachel called me in the morning.

Wednesday. She had to work, I didn't. I crunched down kibble and flopped on the rug to nap.

Kris and Rachel went off to work. Nicole shook her head at me. "Tough day chasing cats Stone?"

"Woof!" Lions and Tigers and Bears, according to the Hunter I'd had that interesting chat with. And Octopi. Eww!

"I'm going to go grocery shopping. Are you going to be here when I get back?"

"Woof." I was totally pooped, and even going back to the library sounded like too much work.

I need to run with Rachel in the morning. Just in case I wind up running all over the desert on a regular basis . . . Which I'll probably be doing at least once a week until I find out where they are going.

Chapter Interlude



It was kind of strange, not seeing Leo at work.

And the dog disappeared right after breakfast.

Which is good, because Nicole isn't home alone all day with a werewolf. But what does a werewolf do on his day off? Okay, he's not at the laundromat.

After all, he's got clean clothes for the week . . .

She stifled hysterical laughter at the thought, and told herself to start paying attention to other things around her.

But why does the dog disappear every morning and come back at night?

To watch football?

She grabbed a sheaf of web orders and marched determinedly off to start filling them.

Her only problem was getting a lot of ogles from the men who worked there, enough to make her skin crawl a bit. And that was before George got fresh . . . and rude when she said no.

Wednesday morning, Stone was grinning at the sliding glass doors, looking for breakfast.

She eyed him, shook her head. "Anyone want to bet he'll find a way to get out within the hour?"

No takers.

But when she got home, there was the dog, reading the newspaper he'd spread out on the living room floor.

Nicole laughed. "Doesn't that look funny?"

Yeah. REAL funny.

She popped upstairs to change and the papers were gone by the time she came back down. She didn't ask. It was safer to just assume Nicole had been the one to tidy up.

And of course the dog was gone Thursday morning, and Leo was at work, polishing off donuts and brushing crumbs off his nice clean shirt.

She grabbed web orders and looked around for a cart. She ignored George as he started forward, grinning, to "help" her.

And there was Leo towing a cart. "Here you go." And all day long jumping in to fetch things from the warehouse for her with a cheerful smile, as if he liked to climb ladders and manhandle heavy boxes.

Damn it, why is the werewolf the nice guy.

The store was having a Three-Day-Sale so Friday, Saturday, and Sunday turned into a non-stop madhouse.

She spotted Leo several times, helping customers with items on high shelves.

She stayed late, not going home until the doors were locked each night.

And Leo was still working as she left. Cleanup and restocking.

Thank god for computerized bookkeeping, else I'd be up till one in the morning!

She really wasn't surprised when the dog failed to come home Friday and Saturday nights.

Probably sleeping at the store, or someplace near.

God, Rachel, listen to yourself! The dog is out raiding trash cans, chasing cats and looking for lady dogs in the mood to party. Leo, on the other hand, is sleeping wherever he lives.

At least I have Friday and Saturday off this week so I can relax.

And keep an eye on the dog.

Stone was still missing in the morning.

But he came back in time to watch the football game.

And eat pizza.

mbarkermbarker on November 21st, 2017 05:24 am (UTC)
He's a good dog! LOL... I am enjoying this...