Note: Walk is intended for mature audiences only
Val and Troy had discovered from calling Dr. Blake’s office that her last appointment was at a place called the Inez Wellness Home. Val had discovered an article from the local newspaper, citing that the local populace of Inez were protesting the asylum in their little town. There was even a photo of the townsfolk picketing the unsafe and improper heath codes in front of the guarded gates. It further stated that the Home’s operator, Dr. Seth Martins declined to talk to the press.
“We know that Blake was scheduled to be there in Inez about a week ago. And we also know that all the murders that occurred all last week were pretty much a straight shot between here and there.” Val looked over the map, noting were the creature had struck.
“The hunters’ info suggested that the creature was on the run, killing and stealing vehicles to travel further East. So, the creature was some sort of patient, based off of the clothes he was wearing and the ID bracelet. He took this Dr. Blake and escaped from the nuthouse. Then it’ll be a road trip through Pennsylvania’s most recent murder attractions to find her?”
Val grabbed her keys off of the table. “I know that it’s a bit out of range of our territory, but the owl’s only been helpful to our pack. Finding her may be important.”
“You don’t need to sell me. It sounds like fun.”
Eventually, the two made their way to Coudersport, finding no trace of Dr. Blake at neither the State Games land, nor the Lumber Museum. “All we’ve got before the nuthouse is Steve’s Cars, here.”
Val parked the truck around the corner. “Keep your eyes open for any Beetles.”
The pair jumped the fence and quickly transformed. Their wolf forms would allow them the greatest tracking ability. Sniffing the air, Val growled, “I smell remnants of the dead man and his dog.”
“This place is dirty,” Troy barked, noticing the layer of dirt on all the cars as he padded through the yard.
Val smiled, showing her teeth, “It is Pennsylvania, after all.”
Troy sharply turned, “Wait. I smell urine from a female. It’s riddled with panic and fear.” He quickly ran through the rows of cars until he came across a battered Volkswagen Beetle. The trunk had been closed and crimped shut by some powerful strength. He placed his ear against the car. Listening, he heard faint breathing, desperately faint breathing. Troy hoped for a response as he pawed the trunk, but there was none.
Val arrived, transforming to the near human Dalu form, she dug her grip into the trunk. “Help me, Troy.”
Troy felt the trunk start to give as his muscled strained against the metal, “C’mon, Val, we’ve almost got it.”
With a final heave, the trunk tore from its hinges, revealing the lost doctor. Val took her pulse and checked her breathing. “She’s on the verge of dying. She needs help.”
“You’re a nurse, what should we do?”
“I can’t do anything for her here. She needs to go to a hospital.” There were many things that Val would consider doing in order to keep her anonymity, but she wouldn’t allow someone innocent to die. Certainly not while she could do something about it. “Find a phone.”
When the police and ambulance arrived, Troy fed them a lie about having a road trip with his girlfriend and needing parts for his truck.
“Well, we found the girl in the bug for the owl. Don’t know how that helps us or our territory.” Troy was concerned about the cops having his and Val’s information. Maybe there was something Cain could do about it.
“Me neither,” Val replied once they were in her truck. She held up a day planner that she had found in the trunk with Dr. Blake. “Maybe there’s something here.”
“So does this guy look familiar?” Val flipped up a photo. It showed two soldiers. The woman in the photo was Dr. Blake, the same woman that they had saved from the Volkswagen.
Troy focused on the man standing next to her. “Is that our killer?” Val nodded. “Holy shitbombs!. You think ‘girl in the bug’ was there to spring her old army buddy?”
“Our guy’s name was Shelton Gaines. I don’t know if she was looking to spring him, but she was definitely looking out for his well being. She mentions a couple times that she owes him for something that he did when they were stationed in Afghanistan. Probably has something to do with this.” Val held up a purple heart medal. “It’s got Gaines’ name on it.”
“So Gaines gets sent to a nuthouse. Blake sees said nuthouse in the news for treating its patients like shit. She throws her weight around. Then what? She sees that shit is really going down and cuts the dude loose?” Troy shrugged, it was a decent theory. “What was his major malfunction?”
“Ah, that’s the kicker. The Inez Wellness Home is a privately run jail for the criminally insane. Gaines was found guilty of multiple homicide. Says here that Blake’s army buddy decided to kill a bunch of students outside of Penn State a little over a year ago.”
“A year ago, like theUncounted One year ago? Like in the Lost Ground year ago?" Val nodded her head in agreement. “So, Shelton may or may not have been a crazy son of a bitch.”
Val shrugged, “I think that’s pretty irrelevant now. What I think is that I don’t want to deal with a Gaines coming into our territory every other week.” She turned the ignition on her truck. “We need to take a look at this asylum.”
“Well, this isn’t creepy at all,” Troy sarcastically commented when they arrived at the Inez Wellness Home. It was dead center in what appeared to be an abandoned industrial park. The Home itself was a flat grey building surrounded by a large lawn, which was in turn barriered by a double wall of barbed wire ten foot fencing. Guards armed with rifles were at each corner of the property. Others were patrolling between the fences with dogs. He squinted. Then he squinted again.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m trying to see the Shadow.”
Val was surprised. It was a good idea. She breathed deeply, focusing her will and senses. Ken had been helping her with all things of the Shadow. When she opened her eyes, the physical world slid away and the Shadow opened to her. On the other side, the walls of the asylum were made of bleeding rusty iron. Mad spirits danced along the yard’s walkways.
“What are you people doing here? This is private property.” A pair of guards brought Val’s senses back to the physical world.
Troy could smell that they were not Uratha, but they had been in contact with some. “Sorry guys, I’m running low on gas. I saw the lights down here, so I thought there might be a station nearby.”
“There’s not, just head on back you came.” Val threw the truck in gear and they drove off.
“This place definitely needs some watching,” Val said.
“Head up the road a bit. I saw a place where we could lie low and still have a decent vantage point.”
While they were watching, Val received a call from Ken, asking where they were. Troy didn’t want to be bothered with the distraction of the call. He motioned to Val that he would be moving to another building. She quickly filled Ken in with as much detail as she thought necessary. “Wouldn’t mind some back up.”
“What’s this?” Troy spoke to himself as he watched an expensive sedan stop amidst the empty buildings after it left the asylum grounds. The trunk popped open and a patient jumped out. He nervously looked around his surroundings and then took off running. The sedan then drove off. “What the fuck?”
Troy’s thoughts were cut off when he heard four howls in succession. They were the howls of other werewolves. He remembered that Doc said that the two sinuous lines on Gaines may mean the Pure. Two of those howls were close to Val’s location. He took off running.
Val turned around and saw two dire wolves step out of the shadows. The full moon shone through the broken window, illuminating her. “Fine then, bring it.” She howled her challenge as she shifted into her war form.