Hal pressed himself against the cold stone wall and tried to catch his breath. He had to risk using the torch on his phone. He didn’t want to run the battery down, but he needed to know if he was safe. The quick sweep of light showed bare stone. The fan vaulting overhead told him he was in the Chapter House. Surely Kirkstall Abbey was a safe place from werewolves. Surely they wouldn’t be able to come onto sacred ground.
Hal tensed as he thought he heard a growl
near the bare stone doorway, but his mind caught up with his terror and he
realised it was just the sound of a motorbike. He leant back against the rough
stone. Surely they wouldn’t come in here. This had to be a safe spot. He ran a reluctant
hand over his left forearm. It felt damp and sticky and far too warm. His body ached.
If he could just hold out until morning,
that would be alright, wouldn’t it? Hal knew he wasn’t thinking straight as
whatever was in that werewolf bite ran through him, but he felt himself holding
on to a tiny core of rational thought. Werewolves could cope with sunlight, he
thought, but this was Kirkstall Abbey. It wasn’t some remote spot out on the
moors but only ten minutes from the centre of Leeds and next to a busy main
road. Werewolves wouldn’t want witnesses, would they?
Hal found himself sinking down the cold
stone wall and slumping on the damp flags. All his bones throbbed and he
hunched smaller, trying to ease the pains shooting through him. He had been
bitten by a werewolf. His head felt like it was on fire. He felt his thirst was
ripping his throat but he didn’t dare look for water. He just needed to hold
out until morning.
Lord Marius looked around in irritation at
the man stumbling across the damp grass towards Kirkstall Abbey. “You are not
“I’m DC Jamie Flint.” He held out his hand
towards Lord Marius who completely ignored it. There was an awkward pause. “Sergeant
Anson is on leave at the moment. I’m covering for him.”
Lord Marius looked at him carefully. Jamie
was in his late twenties with thinning hair, an oversized uniform jacket and an
anxious expression. “Did Sergeant Anson tell you everything?” He asked.
“I’ve read the briefing notes.” Jamie
shifted uncomfortably. Half an hour earlier he had been trying to convince an
old lady to turn her music down because not all of her neighbours were fans of
Frank Sinatra. He had wanted excitement, but the brief skim of the notes left
by Anson hinted at more excitement than he ever wanted.
“Come this way.” Lord Marius gestured
imperiously and Jamie followed. They skirted the main building and headed towards
the river. A man in a battered raincoat and holding a large sports bag was
there surrounded by an orderly pack of very large dogs. “We have an incident
and I think it best that you deal with it.”
“Me?” Jamie nodded to the man standing around
the back of the main structure and automatically holding out a hand to the
nearest dog. They were immaculately groomed and in peak condition. “Good boy.”
“Don’t call him a ‘good boy’.” Lord Marius
said, sardonic amusement dripping from his tone. “That is Mark Davies, leader
of the local pack. I’m sure he will have much to say when the moon is not full.”
Jamie went cold. As the moon came out from
behind the clouds and added to the reflections of the local street lights, he
could see the pack a lot clearer. They looked like wolves. They looked like
very big, well-muscled, well-fed wolves. “I’m sorry, my mistake.” Jamie said.
What was it that they said in college? Never show fear. It was easier said than
done. The wolf gave a sharp bark. Lord Marius shrugged.
“Mark Davies is remarkably understanding.
Of course, he has a lot on his mind. Inside the ruins of the abbey is a man who
has been bitten by a werewolf. You need to bring him out.”
“Is he badly hurt?” Jamie asked. “Do I
need to call for medical back up?”
The man in the middle of the pack walked
up to Jamie and shook his hand. “I’m Dr Dave, and I’m the medical backup.” He
turned to Lord Marius. “The stray didn’t make it. His heart gave out. Perhaps
it was for the best.”
Mark gave a series of sharp barks, and for
some reason Jamie felt chills running down his back. “Stray?”
Dr Dave looked between Lord Marius and Jamie.
“You’re new, aren’t you. Never mind. In brief, a stray is a werewolf that isn’t
attached to a pack. They usually turn bad if they spend too long alone and this
one managed to pick up a case of white jaw – it’s a little like the werewolf
version of rabies, and there has been the first outbreak in decades running
around the country. It’s treatable, if caught in time, but the stray wasn’t
able to get treatment. He may not have even realised he had it. The trouble
was, the condition comes with delirium and hallucinations and he bit a normal –
someone who doesn’t know about werewolves. They ran inside the ruins.”
Mark gave a few staccato barks and a deep ‘woof’.
Lord Marius nodded. “Quite.” He turned to
Jamie. “The pack can’t get into the building as it is too holy. They can manage
most churches, but there have been some great, if unknown, saints here over the
centuries who have left their mark and it is out of bounds to the pack.
Besides, they can’t risk getting the white jaw themselves. Dr Dave can treat
the man if he can reach him, but he may need help restraining the victim. I’ve
asked for help from the Knights Templar, but they’ve been caught up with a nest
of vampire fledglings in the north of the city and it will take time for them
to get here.”
“Will you be able to save him?” Jamie
Dr Dave looked worried. “If I get to him
in time, I can treat the white jaw. I can’t stop him changing, but Mark is a
good leader and will look after him. I just need to get to him.”
Another deep ‘woof’ from Mark was
translated by Lord Marius. “And as he transitions – which may be tonight or at
the next full moon, depending on his infection – he’s going to be affected by
the site. He won’t be able to stay there long.”
“How many exits can he reach?” Jamie asked.
“Just this one.” Dr Dave said. “We’ve
blocked all the others with silver, so he should come out here.”
Jamie was not reassured by the uncertainty
in the doctor’s voice. He looked over the ruins. Kirkstall Abbey was a mass of
broken walls, uncertain pillars, dark shadows and council railings. The roof
was intact over large parts of the medieval building, creating unlit, inky
caverns. In the uncertain light, it was impossible to check all angles. “I
think I need more support. Like, animal control…” He flinched as Mark took a
pace forward and growled. “Sorry, but I don’t know what I can do.”
“You can help save a man’s life.” Dr Dave
Jamie peered into the matt black shadows.
He couldn’t see a thing. He pulled a torch from his belt. “What are we waiting
for?” He had never been so scared in his life.
There was a yelping sound from within the
building, then a growl. The pack took a collective step back as the whimpering
and yelping came closer. Dr Dave pulled out a syringe. “You may not have to go
Jamie stared, transfixed, as a huge,
bedraggled wolf limped out, its left foreleg stained and matted with blood and the
great jaws drooling foam. He groped for his taser. “Everyone stand clear.” Did
he give the standard warning to a rabid werewolf? Where was the damn taser? He
took a quick look around. All the wolves were standing, alert and with hackles
raised. Lord Marius had taken a step forward and had a large and illegal knife
held in front of him. Dr Dave was moving slowly towards the new werewolf.
“Hello, I’m Dr Dave. Let me help you. All
you need to do is relax and I’ll…” Dr Dave paused at the rising growl from Hal.
“I’m DC Flint.” Jamie dredged up his
courage and stuck to his training. “If everyone stays calm then no-one will get
hurt. Lie down on the floor…” Jamie stumbled to a halt. Hal didn’t have any
hands to keep in sight. He had four paws and a tail that was stiff and angry
looking. The huge head turned towards Jamie. He took a breath. “Stop there.”
Jamie held up the taser. “Get down on the floor and allow the doctor to give
you treatment.” His hands closed on the handle of the taser. “Police! Taser!
Taser!” And Jamie fired.
To his horror, the werewolf didn’t go
down. For a few awful moments, Hal twitched, then instinctively the new
werewolf ignored the shaking running through him and crouched to leap.
going to die.
Jamie thought as the werewolf seemed to rear up, almost in slow motion, Then he
recoiled as a shot rang out next to him. Whirling around he saw a thickset man
with a shaved head and neck tattoo lowering what looked like an automatic
pistol. Jamie looked back at Hal. The werewolf lay limp with a dark stain
spreading over the thin fur.
Mark bounded up to the shooter, barking
urgently. The man nodded. “It’s okay, it was only loaded with lead. Everything alright?”
He looked questioningly at Jamie.
Jamie looked over to where Dr Dave was
checking over the victim as the rest of the pack gathered around. He nodded. “I
think so. Thank you, I think you saved my life. I’m DC Flint.”
“Sir Dylan, Knights Templar.” He held the gun
pointing at the ground, showing an uncomfortable familiarity with it.
Jamie took a breath. Less than an hour ago
he had been dealing with a delusional ninety-year-old and her traumatised
neighbours while Frank Sinatra had been belting out at window shaking volumes.
Now he had seen a werewolf. He had not only seen werewolves but he had called
one a ‘good boy’ and lived, tasered one, seen one shot and seen the shot one
starting to regain consciousness, although looking a lot less feral but seriously
frightened. In front of Jamie’s horrified eyes, the battered wolf flowed until he was a naked man, blood
smeared over his arm and chest, curled up and shivering. And Jamie was standing
next to the man who had shot him without hesitation.
Jamie dragged all his training, all his small
experience and all his time as a copper and turned to Sir Dylan. “I hope you
have a licence for that firearm.”