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22 November 2017 @ 11:11 am
_Stone_ part 14  

I don't know what I saw, but I'd been changing, got my paws out of the ropes, started taking off my clothes. I can run much faster in dog form, but not when I'm trapped in a pair of jeans."

A long silence.

"They saw you . . . " Kris prodded.

"Yeah . . . are they dead? I just ran . . . didn't stop to check. Ought to have grabbed my clothes, or at least my wallet . . . and then the dogs found me. Fortunately just one at a time."

"Yeah. They're dead. Why didn't you go to the police?"

"I was too tired to change back. It takes so much energy, and I was hurt . . . I heal fast, especially in dog-form. But it was still five days before I could change."

"And by then, you'd hitched a ride down here, away from them."

He looked up, startled. "That was the idea, but they're here. In Phoenix. At least seven of them." He blinked. "But you're a cop, aren't you? You can take care of them, right? I know where those seven live."

Kris felt like he'd been sucker punched.

"How did you find them? Were you looking for them?"

The boy shook his head. "I spotted one . . . I didn't think he'd seen me, but . . . I was talking to Rachel. I left, thinking he hadn't seen me, but he went and talk to Rachel. And followed her home."

Kris froze.

"So I tracked him. There's three houses . . ."

Kris scrambled to grab a pad of paper and wrote down the addresses, asked for the address of the warehouse in Albuquerque . . .

"I tried to send that in anonymously, but nothing happened. They must have thought it was just a silly joke. There's a place in the desert I followed them to yesterday. They're getting a dancing circle ready. It's outside of highway 303, north of highway 60 about eight miles."

Kris swallowed. Had to reach for the professionalism that had become second nature. "I'll send this out . . . minus all mention of werewolves . . . Shit . . . and get Nicole and Rachel out of here for a few days . . . " He met the boy's eyes. "You can stay at the house. We may need your help. The mess in the desert? That was pure self-defense."

Leo shook his head. "It'll never come to trial. I'll stick around as long as I can, but I'm not going to disappear into some government laboratory."

"Umm . . . I . . . don't think we've got . . . anything like that." Crap. I've fallen into a horror flick.

The boy started laughing. "Maybe, maybe you should find out." He pointed at the dash cam. "Show them that."

"I'd rather just shoot myself." Kris sighed. "Right, so you can't change very often?"

"Not when I'm injured, dehydrated, and starving. Now? No problem. So if you don't mind? I'll just sack out in your yard and go to work early."

"Why there?"

"Because my first paycheck wasn't enough to rent even a cheap apartment, and everything I own is in Albuquerque."

Including his wallet with his ID in the police evidence room there.

"Right. Back yard until I get the ladies someplace safe." Kris put the car in gear, and headed for the house.

He left the dash cam running, and presumably recording whatever Leonard Stone was doing in the back seat. When he pulled into the garage, it was a dog that jumped out of the back seat.

Nicole and Rachel were still up.

"Listen . . . " He trailed off. How do you tell them a dog warned me . . . "Umm, a case I'm working on has gone sideways, and there a good probability that they know who's investigating them. I was followed both away from here and back. I need both of you to leave, to go someplace safe for a couple of weeks."

Nicole looked worried, but Rachel was sitting up indignantly.

"I just started a new job. I can't go away for a couple of weeks!"

"It's . . . "Kris eyed the dog. Stone will be there . . . "I think you'll be fine so long as you stay away from here."

Rachel glowered, but reached for her laptop. "How about a hotel? There're some just off the freeway, maybe a mile . . . "

Stone interrupted with three sharp barks.

Kris eyed him, then turned back to Rachel. "Stone says three miles to be safe."

Rachel sputtered and Nicole laughed. "All right smart ass. For that, it'll be Wee Quiva."

Rachel eyed her.

"Upscale Hotel and Casino. We'll go in the morning, after the Bad Guys have followed Kris to the office."

Rachel typed away at her comp . . . "Ooo! Nice! There goes my first paycheck, which I haven't even got yet. I'll meet you there after work. Umm, do they allow pets?"

"Stone can stay here with me. And really, it should just be for a couple of days. I need to write some stuff up, if you two will excuse me?"

"Sure, no problem." The sisters exchanged glances and headed for the kitchen.

"God knows what the pair of them will cook up." Kris muttered, very quietly.

Stone thumped his tail, got up and followed the women.

Kris stepped into the garage and pulled the chip from his dash cam.

I need this backed up, and a carefully cropped part of it sent to Dr. Reid. My Boss, the Albuquerque field office.

He fished Wright's card out of his pocket.

Yeah. Even Wright, this isn't the time for inter-agency rivalry. I'll have to say I let Leonard Stone get away. But we've got addresses. We know there are at least seven men here, a couple dozen in Albuquerque—plus women and dogs—so more of them . . . in dog-form.

But do we have enough evidence for warrants? For raids? Well, I can always arrest Stone.

Kris snorted. He'd probably turn into a dog and woof at them, looking innocent. Dear God above, I'm going to wind up in the looney bin over this . . . nightmare.

And I may have to actually ask someone if there's a "Really Weird Stuff" division tucked away somewhere.

He plugged the chip into his computer and copied it.

Sealed the original in an envelope and shoved it under other things in the top drawer. Cut the start and finish of the video.

The report is going to be . . . really interesting . . . even without the no fireworks, no eerie lighting effects Hollywood-does-it-better transformations.

The subject, Leonard Stone, see attached file 1, seems to believe he actually is a werewolf. The attached dash cam recording, see attached file 2, includes his claim of being the intended victim, and to killing both the men at the site, as well as two dogs.

No one is going to believe this. But with some careful surveillance to confirm . . . maybe we can wrap this up in a couple of days.

And they won't find Nicole or Rachel.

He choked, swallowed bile. Remembered what had been done to the Forty-eights' other victims.

I will watch Nicole leave in the morning. I will follow her, watch for anyone else following her. We'll all be fine.

Stone identified the following addresses . . .

Kris typed in the addresses both here and Albuquerque. Finished the report. Hesitated.

Sent it.

All Right, NSA. You've got your SWAT teams in Albuquerque? Take them out. A couple dozen men, Stone said. Plus women and dogs. Then get down here and deal with the seven Stone's found, and any others in their gang.

And hurry!

He didn't sleep well.

Got up in the middle of the night to open his gun safe and stare at his deer rifle. His larger caliber pistol. Fast take down of a large dog. Or man. Hope I don't need silver bullets.

He loaded both and put them—and extra ammunition—in the trunk of his car.

I'll remind Nicole to take hers.

***

Thursday morning he followed Nicole for two miles, then turned for the office.

For a frustrating morning trying to talk to anyone in Albuquerque. "Thanks for the intel. We're too busy to chat. Go find Stone, I can't believe you let him get away, and stop bothering us."

Much peering at satellite photos, Google maps. Street views. Three houses in a row. landscaping no worse off than anywhere else in the desert.

The boss brought in sandwiches and they continued arguing, and watching the dash cam clip over again.

Masterson walked in, shaking his head. "We can watch them, but we can't do anything. Kris, I'll put people on Wee Quiva tonight."

Brad Cohen stopped the replay. "How'd he meet your sister?"

"They both work at Handyman Central on Bethany." Kris made a note. "I'll get, eventually, a warrant to see what employment history he gave them, what identification, since . . . well, the NSA by now, no doubt . . . has his wallet. Damn I'd like in on this."

He stared at the picture of the three houses. "Can we put a drone up to watch . . . "

Masterson was shaking his head. "I asked, and got an absolute no. The NSA owns this . . . operation."

Kris nodded. "I wonder if they're moving on them elsewhere? Get enough results and the announcement won't sound so bad. 'A Cannibal Cult that's been killing women all over the US for twenty years and we've finally got some of them' is not going to be well received. 'Most of them' will pass muster."

His phone vibrated in his pocket. He got a censorious look, but pulled it out anyway. Unknown number.

"Hello?" He kept it neutral, uninformative.

"This is Stone. Rachel didn't come back from lunch, but her car is still in the parking lot."



 
 
 
mbarkermbarker on November 22nd, 2017 11:25 pm (UTC)
Oops! We’ll have a hot time on the dance floor tonight?