Note: Walk is intended for mature audiences only
Val placed her hand to her head. It felt like a truck had jacknifed in her brain. “Ugh. What happened?” She turned her head, gathering her surroundings, reeling back when dead eyes stared back at her. “Oh, right.” She ran her tongue through her mouth and spit out as much of the flavor of the creature she had killed.
“Feeling better?” Troy offered a hand to help her up.
Val lifted herself off the ground. “So, what have you been up to while I’ve been napping?” Val took a closer look at their opponent. Perhaps it was its fear aura, making it look more powerful. Now, it looked like some poor deformed man.
“Yeah,” Troy took notice of Val’s observances, “that happened after he died. The snake arm, the mirror teeth, and all that shit just faded away.” He pointed at the man’s shoulder. There were two scars, a pair of sinuous lines, still raw and red. “There’s that. What’s more, he’s got Uratha blood on his clothes.” Troy motioned to some bloodstains.
Val also noticed something about the clothes. “He’s wearing scrubs, like a hospital worker, or a patient.” She checked the elongated former snake arm, then she checked the torn arm, finding the bracelet that she was looking for. “A patient.” She tore the small strip from the man’s wrist, pocketing the evidence.
“And a soldier,” Troy nodded at the Airborne tattoo on his forearm. He was no longer a soldier, but Troy still felt a bit of kinship with the dead man. Something had done this to him. He probably didn’t ask for any of this. “Back to the blood. I didn’t recognize the smell. Do you think we should try to track it down?”
Val yawned. “Honestly, no.” She attempted a weak smile. “I’m torn between the reason though. Either I’m tired past the point of caring or it’s too dangerous. Let’s get out of here.”
Troy agreed, “Let me take care of him, first.”
Scratching woke Val from her sleep. Looking up, she saw the spirit owl perched on her headboard. It’s razor sharp talons digging a gouge in the wood. “Who are you?”
“The girl is in the bug,” it said in its hooting voice.
“What? Seriously, bird, who are you?” There was a sound of fluttering and the owl disappeared back into the Shadow.
Val laid back down on her pillow, closing her eyes.
“Fuck,” Val opened her eyes realizing that she was wide awake now.
She put on some sweatpants and walked out to the pond. "Hey,Drowns-In-Lace, sorry we didn’t nab you dinner. I’ve got a question for you, though." She briefly wondered if spirits had sleeping hours. Val reminded herself to ask Ken about that when he returned. Quietly thankful, the fear spirit appeared in her Sunday church outfit, all clean and free from muck and creepy crawlies. “So, you seemed to know the owl?”
The spirit screwed tight her lips, deciding on what to share. “He is Eyes-of-Moon, a spirit of Owls and possibly something more.”
“I get the feeling that you don’t like him.”
“No, not I, nor many of the other spirits of this land. He was very knowledgeable and lorded that knowledge over all of us. I felt like he was trying to manipulate and rule over all of us.”
“So, if he was so smart, how did he end up in that shoal?”
The spirit leveled its gaze at Val. “I have no idea.” Her voice losing the school girl sweetness.
“Was he set up?” The bird, though more than a little loopy, had only been an ally to her and the others.
“He had very few friends. I would not doubt the possibility.”
The next night, Val left word with Doc of the Five Ardent Spirits to meet with her at the Horsemen. Troy went with her to the biker bar, but had trailed behind her. She took a stool by the bar, while he sat at a table where he had a good view of the room. Some of the working girls approached him, but Troy felt it was worth it to be able to watch his packmate’s back. You never knew how things were going to end when werewolves met up.
Three of the Five Ardent Spirits entered not long after Troy and Val’s arrival. Doc and Bender took the empty stools next to Val. Vic grabbed a biker out of the next stool over and slammed his head into the bar. “Barkeep.” He barked, “This guy’s had too much to drink.” He let the unconscious man fall to the floor. Val noted that they had decided not to bring Chuck, the one that looked like her father.
“I’ve got some news on that Fear spirit that you were looking for.” The other two leaned in to listen to Val and Doc’s conversation. “My pack killed the creature.” She described what they had found about the mirrored-teeth creature. She had made special note of the Gauru blood and the scarring.
“We owe you and yours for doing the deed. As for the scars, I haven’t seen that sigil, could be Pure.” Doc said after taking a long pull on his beer. "Been hearing that they’re repopulating out West just likeHeart-Drinker is doing here."
“Bitch.” Bender burped. Doc looked annoyed at his packmate. “What? She’s a bitch.” Doc nodded his head, signaling that he wanted to be left alone with Val.
“C’mon Bender, let’s go visit the kid who’s trying to look tough over there.” With that, the two nodded at Val and left to sit with Troy.
“Speaking of her, what do you think about being under the Legion’s umbrella?" Doc asked.
“I don’t want to be under anyone’s thumb.”
Doc nodded, “I hear you, I do. But you got to admit she’s strong, and she’s got a vision.”
“Look what her vision did to all the other packs,” Val finished her beer and stood up, “thanks for the beer. I’ll have to get back to you about that favor.” She walked over and jerked her head at Troy. Bender and Vic taunted Troy, holding up their hands like paws and panting with their tongues wagging.
“So, what do you think the ‘Girl is in the Bug’ means?” Val asked as she and Troy drove back to the Creed House.
As she was asking, Troy noticed an old Volkswagen Beetle approaching in the oncoming lane. He balled up his fist and hit Val in the arm. “Punch buggy…shit!”
Val slammed on the truck’s brake. She and Troy looked at each other, speaking at the same time. “The girl is in the bug!” She quickly turned the truck around and began following the compact car.
They followed the young man driving the car to a small cabin off a dirt road. “I’ll smell out the bug, you check out house.” Val ordered.
“Sure, no problem,Ken." Troy retorted.
Val flipped him her middle finger. She transformed into her wolf form and loped over to the car. There she smelled teenager. The car’s interior smelled of pizza and weed. The back seat had trash all over it. Hanging from the rear view mirror was an Autobot scent catcher. Val smelled nothing female at all. A woman was probably never in this car.
Troy returned to the truck shortly after Val did. “Anything?”
Val shook her head, "Let’s head to Ma’s. I’m hungry."
Walking into the diner, Troy glanced over to the Sherwood Inn. “Van’s still there.”
After ordering, Val closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat. Her training as a nurse kept her senses sharp about herself. Sounds of conversation began to drift to her ears. Most people were talking about family, cars, and other normal things. Yet, every now and then gossip about the body found in the park was to be heard.
“What’s going on there?” Troy’s comment caught Val’s attention. She followed his gaze across the street. Talbot was there, beating up either Jeter or Thompson. She was never sure which one was which. The guy slid to the ground after Talbot threw him into the van’s door. The other guy, again, not sure on either Thompson or Jeter, came out of the motel room. She couldn’t hear what Talbot was saying, but she got the gist through his gestures. He dramatically pointed at the man he just beat to a pulp, then pointed at the van, and finished by pointing at the road out of town.
“I’m going to talk to him,” before Val could stop him, Troy left their booth and walked across the street.
“Everything alright, Chris?” The van pulled out of the motel’s lot. “Those guys bothering you?”
Talbot was not even breathing hard, “They were starting trouble around town. Trust me, those two are bad news.”
“Did you know them from Philly?”
“Hard not to notice with all the decor in your bar.”
Talbot shook his head, “No.”
“Then maybe from your old parish?”
The bartender’s eyes narrowed, “What?”
“The cross around your neck,” Troy pointed. “Probably not, after all, that ass kicking you handed out wasn’t very priest-like, right?”
“Yeah, right,” Talbot said slowly. “Look, I got some work to do at the bar.” He left the lot quickly, tossing a suspicious glace back at Troy once or twice.
Troy returned to the diner.
Val greeted him with a look that spoke, ‘What the fuck did you do that for?,’ but said nothing. Instead she pointed at an article in the newspaper. It was about a missing woman named Dr. Linda Blake from the Pennsylvania Psychology Board. She had been missing for a week. It stated that she was an inspector of facilities, and listed a phone number for any information about her whereabouts. “Missing one week, about the same kind of timeline that our patient friend was on his murder spree.”
“Maybe she’s the girl in the bug? We’ll have to look into this.”