Read The Howling II Online

Authors: Gary Brandner

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Horror

The Howling II (9 page)

BOOK: The Howling II
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“Lieutenant, do you want to talk to that woman now? The one who says she saw an animal?”

Karyn looked up sharply.

“No,” MacCready said shortly. “You take her statement, that’s all we need.”

“What’s that about an animal?” Karyn asked.

David gave her a warning look.

“One of your neighbors said she thought it looked like a big dog that jumped through the window and ran away from the house when the people came in.” MacCready dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand. “People sometimes see things like that in moments of stress.”

“But is it possible,” Karyn persisted, “that it was an animal?”

The detective shook his head. “There are no dogs anywhere around here as big as the one she says she saw. And besides - ” His eyes flicked toward the archway beyond which lay the blood-spattered tarpaulin. “There’s no dog I ever heard of would do that to a human being.”

“What about a wolf?” The question was out before she could think about it.

“Karyn, please,” David said.

Lieutenant MacCready answered her question seriously. “No way. Wolves need wilderness. The only wilderness around here is that patch of trees over beyond your house, and nothing bigger than a ground squirrel can exist in there. No, what we’re looking for here is a man. A big, powerful man. Probably a psychopath.”

“I hope you get him, Lieutenant,” David said fervently. “Mrs. Jensen was like part of the family.”

“Don’t you worry, Mr. Richter,” said the detective, “we’ll get him.”

Karyn turned away from the men. Through the window she could see the moon shining intermittently through the broken clouds. No, you won’t, Lieutenant, she thought. Not this one.

Chapter 14

AFTER THE POLICE and the television people and the neighbors and the sightseers left, David picked up his son from the neighbor’s house and took Joey and Karyn to spend the night in a hotel. The next day they took Joey to stay with David’s sister, who lived across the lake, in Bellevue. Then they went down to the police station and answered more questions for Lieutenant MacCready. Finally, late in the afternoon, they went back to their house.

David strode around briskly, talking in a very businesslike manner. “We’ll have to get the window replaced first thing. And new carpeting in the hall. The stairs and the wall will need a thorough cleaning.”

“Do we have to settle it all right now?” Karyn said.

“The important thing,” said David, “is to get on with our lives. Get Joey back home and everything back to normal as fast as possible.”

“No, David,” Karyn said softly. “It won’t work. Things will never be back to normal. Whatever that is.”

“Please, Karyn, I know this is a terrible blow. I feel it too, believe me.

But it won’t do any good to dwell on it.”

“Don’t you understand?” she said. “Don’t you know what it was that killed Mrs. Jensen? No, it was not a dog, and it was no psychopathic killer, either.”

“You don’t seriously believe - “

“I do. The wolves of Drago are here. The werewolves. They’ve come for me.”

“You’re upset. I’ll call Dr. Goetz. He can prescribe something for your nerves.”

“Dr. Goetz can’t do me any good now. No one can. They’ve found me, and there will be no rest now. What happened to Mrs. Jensen is my fault.”

“That’s crazy talk. It was a prowler, more than likely.”

Karyn took both his hands in hers. “It was no prowler, darling. I know that, and I think in your heart you know it too. As long as I stay here, there is danger. Not only for me, but for you and Joey, too.”

“What are you saying?”

“I have to go away, David.”

“No!” he cried.

“I have no choice.”

“But - where will you go? How long will you stay?”

“I’ll stay until this thing is over, one way or another. And I think it’s better if I don’t say where I’m going right away.”

“I can’t agree to that.”

“Please, David. I promise you I’ll let you know as soon as I can. Meanwhile, the fewer people who know where I’m going, the harder it will be for anyone to follow me.”

“I’ll go with you,” he said. “We’ll fight this out together.”

Karyn shook her head. “No, darling. Joey will need at least one of his parents with him. He’ll need your strength.”

“Karyn, I can’t let you just - walk out this way.”

“I have to,” she said. “It would be too dangerous for you and for Joey if I stayed here. If you love me, David, don’t try to stop me.”

He put his arms around her and pulled her tight against him. “If I love you? My God, Karyn, I love you more than anything in the world.” ,

Karyn let her head rest on her husband’s chest. She heard a sound she had never heard before. David Richter was crying.

*****

The next morning Karyn bought a ticket to Los Angeles at the Western Airlines counter in the

Seattle-Tacoma Airport. She did not notice the old woman, bundled up in scarves, who sold paper flowers nearby. The old woman, however, paid close attention to Karyn.

Chapter 15

WHEN HER FLIGHT was announced, Karyn hurried to the loading gate, trying not to look at all the people saying affectionate goodbyes. She could still see the puzzled and hurt expression in Joey’s eyes as she tried to explain that Mom had to go away for a while. She had hugged him very tight and promised to come back soon. It was a promise Karyn hoped she could keep.

She found her seat on the plane and sat looking out at the rain-slick runway as the jet rolled into position for takeoff. She wished she could be sure this was the right thing to do. Running away, she knew, was never a solution, yet if she stayed to fight she would surely lose. If it were only herself she might have tried, but there were Joey and David to think of. Karyn was sure now that the wolf had been after Joey, and that only Mrs. Jensen’s courage and the arrival of the neighbors had saved the boy’s life. As long as Karyn was there, the people she loved were in danger.

At last the Western Airline jet received clearance from the tower and thundered down the runway and into the air. In a little while the stewardess came down the aisle, passing out plastic sets of earphones. There was no movie on the short flight, but several channels of recorded stereo music were available. Karyn chose a program of light classics and settled back in the seat, hoping the music would push the troubled thoughts out of her mind, at least temporarily.

But it was no use. Every time Karyn closed her eyes she would see the elusive face of the woman with the white-streaked hair. Or Roy Beatty, who was supposed to be dead, watching her from above. Or the impersonal gray tarpaulin spread over the floor where Mrs. Jensen had died.

How had they found her, Karyn wondered, the wolves of Drago? She was certain now that it was vengeance that had brought the horrors from the past so explosively into her present. Vengeance for her part in the destruction of Drago and most of the unnatural creatures that lived there. Most of them. But not all. Roy had survived. Roy and at least one other.

Marcia!

Karyn jerked upright in the seat so suddenly that the earphones were pulled loose from her head. She saw it now - the woman in the coffee shop, and on the street, and in the taxi. Darken that streak in her hair, take away the sunglasses hiding the green eyes, and you have Marcia Lura. But how could that be? Karyn had fired the gun herself, and had seen the impact at close range as the silver bullet penetrated the skull of the black she-wolf. Never mind how. It was Marcia. Marcia and Roy. And they had come for her.

Karyn sat back in the seat once more, her mind racing. It helped, if only a little; to know what she was up against. Maybe now she could make plans. The stay with her parents could be only temporary. If Marcia and Roy had found her in Seattle, they would find her again. She would not risk endangering any more of her loved ones.

On the telephone to her mother and father, she had been evasive about her reasons for wanting to visit them. They had not pressed her for details. Karyn resolved to stay there only until she could decide on a course of action. What it might be, she had no idea now, but she had to come up with something. She could not live the rest of her life in fear.

The plane made a wide turn over the San Bernardino Mountains and began the long descent to Los Angeles International Airport. Karyn smiled to see her parents waiting for her at the Western Airlines passenger gate.

Frank Oliver was tall and straight with fine white hair that was always carefully combed. His wife, Nancy, had a round, pretty face with smile lines etched at the corners of her eyes. She ran forward to hug her daughter as Karyn came through the walkway from the plane. Frank Oliver came behind her, reserved and dignified, but with the love showing in his eyes.

As they walked out to the parking lot where the Olivers had left their Buick, they all acted as though this were just a normal visit of a daughter to her parents. They compared the weather in Seattle and Los Angeles, they discussed the health of David and Joey, they talked about Karyn’s flight down.

During the drive to the Olivers’ house in Brentwood, all three ran out of small talk at the same time, and an uncomfortable silence enveloped them.

Karyn’s mother, sitting in the back seat while her daughter rode up front with Mr. Oliver, leaned forward and placed a hand gently on Karyn’s shoulder.

“Are you all right, dear?” she said.

Karyn patted her mother’s hand. She tried to keep her voice casual as she answered. “Of course, Mother. I’m fine.”

“I mean really,” Mrs. Oliver persisted.

Karyn started to say something bland and reassuring, but it caught in her throat. She said, “It’s nothing too serious. My nerves acting up, the doctor says. I thought it would do me good to get away for a little while.”

“Is it the dreams again?” her father asked. He took his eyes off the road briefly to glance over at her.

“Yes,” Karyn admitted. “And other things. I’d rather not talk about it, though. Not right now.”

“It’s all right, dear,” her mother said. “We understand. You stay with us as long as you like, and if there’s anything at all we can do, you know we’re ready to help.”

Karyn turned in the seat to smile at her mother. “I know you are.” She reached over to touch her father’s arm. “You too, Daddy. You’ve both been wonderful when I needed you. I’m very lucky.”

For the rest of the drive, the conversation returned to inconsequential things. They pulled up to the big, comfortable house on Altair Drive, and Karyn was pleased to see it had not changed at all.

She moved into her old room upstairs in the rear of the house. The room brought back mixed memories: There were her carefree high school days with photos of friends tucked into the frame of the mirror, and posters of the Beatles and Joe Namath on the walls; then there was the nightmarish period right after her breakdown. In the shadows of the room lurked reminders of that time when insanity seemed the easy way out.

Karyn set about unpacking the few things she had brought with her, and concentrated on keeping her thoughts positive.

It was three days before Karyn finally began to relax. At the dinner table her father told a small joke, and Karyn found to her surprise that she was honestly laughing. It was the first time she had laughed naturally in weeks. She realized then just how tightly wound she had been. At last she was sure that coming home had been the right thing. That night she learned she was wrong.

It was the howling. At first, only half-awake, Karyn thought it was the dream again. She sat up in bed and stared at the window - a charcoal-gray square in the blackness of the room. She waited, praying that it had been only the dream. Then she heard it again. The deep-throated, tortured howl of the werewolf. It had no direction, but seemed to come from everywhere. And it was near. They had found her once more.

The werewolf howled no more that night, but Karyn lay tensely awake. By dawn she was exhausted, her nerves frayed.

At breakfast her mother studied her from across the table. Karyn was sharply aware of her pallor and the shadows around her eyes.

“Didn’t you sleep well last night?” Mrs. Oliver asked.

“Not really,” Karyn said. “A touch of indigestion, I think. I shouldn’t have gone back for seconds on your roast.”

She got no answering smile from her mother. Mrs. Oliver continued to study her daughter’s face.

“I thought that dog might have kept you awake,” she said.

“Dog?”

“Somebody must have left him locked out or something. He made quite a racket about two o’clock.” Then, casually, “Didn’t you hear it?”

Oh, I heard it all right, Karyn thought, only it wasn’t any dog. There was no point, though, in getting into that discussion with her mother. She said, “No, I didn’t hear anything.”

It was clear that Mrs. Oliver was not fully satisfied, but she did not push it. They closed the topic with a couple of remarks about how people should take better care of their pets.

The breakfast was link sausage and moist scrambled eggs. Ordinarily Karyn would have loved it, but this morning she had little appetite. She ate as much as she could, knowing her mother was watching, but finally had to push the plate away. She was spared answering further questions by the ringing of the doorbell.

Mrs. Oliver excused herself to answer it. Karyn followed her out to the living room and was introduced to a neighbor, Mrs. Gipson, a chunky woman whose face was flushed with excitement.

After briefly acknowledging Karyn, the neighbor turned back to Mrs. Oliver. “Did you hear about the awful thing that happened last night? Over at the Stovalls’?”

“No.”

“Somebody killed Zora Stovall’s horse!”

“I don’t believe it! That beautiful palomino?”

“That’s not the worst of it. You should see the way it was done. The poor thing’s throat and belly was torn right out. There’s two policemen over there now. They say they’ve never seen anything like it. They say it must be some crazy sadist like the one who was cutting up cows out in the valley a few years back.”

Mrs. Oliver glanced worriedly at Karyn.

“Have they any idea who did it?” Karyn asked.

BOOK: The Howling II
12.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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