The werewolf is being perused by two parties; Thad and the Collegium. Who will find him first? Can anyone stop his rampage?
“Buena dios, Senora,” Thad smiled, and nodded, as the door to the landlady’s apartment slowly opened.
“¿Que?” The landlady asked. Even out of uniform she knew he was a cop. Her eyes flickered, scanning the area. Did anyone see him; know she was talking to him.
“Por favor,” he said, and then paused, essentially reaching the limit of his Spanish. He sighed mentally, and promised himself once again to study the language. “¿Habla Ingles?” He asked hopefully.
“No.” She shook her head.
He sighed again and pulled out the picture of Rodriquez. He was going to have to try to make do with pantomime. “Senor Rodriquez,” he showed her the picture he had gotten from the school. “Dos ocho,” he pointed towards the nearest apartment door and hoped she figured out that he meant apartment number twenty-eight.
She frowned at him for a moment before she figured out what he meant. “Irse.” She shook her head.
“Irse,” he repeated, confused. He racked his brain for a moment, and then a thought occurred to him. He held up his right palm and ‘walked’ two fingers of his left across it, then pointed out to the parking lot.
“Si.” She nodded, held up her hand and pantomimed a square and pointed to the lot.
“Desconocide.” She shook her head again
“Mucho gracias. Adios.” He nodded again and started to turn and leave.
“Adios.”He heard the door click shut before he had gone three steps.
Thad sighed as he collapsed behind the wheel of his Skylark. Somehow he wasn’t surprised. The address the school had given him was old too. At least they had had a forwarding address though. This time, the trail ran cold. Rodriquez’s license was expired and the address on that was even older than the one the school had. His vehicle registration, also expired, showed this address. Oddly, he had no known police record. Thad started the car and backed out of the parking slot. This case was going to be a lot harder than he had thought it would be. As he pulled onto Route 50, Thad glanced briefly at the late afternoon sun and grimaced. A quick check of his watch confirmed his suspicions. It was getting on towards suppertime.
The slant of the mid-autumn sun told the young girl that it was getting late as she started her three-quarter mile walk home across a corner of Langley Oaks Park from her friend’s house. She knew the sun would be setting shortly so she stepped up her pace, trying to cut the normally twenty minute trip down a bit. With supper hour so near, the boys that were usually playing ball in the park were absent, so only the birds and squirrels watched her hurry past.
Halfway across the park she noticed a young Hispanic man strolling nearby. She stopped and looked a second time.
The Hispanic man noticed her watching him and smiled at her. He altered his course and came towards her.
“Good evening, Senorita, it’s a lovely night, isn’t it?”
“Yes, ..it is,” she answered slowly.
“Taking a walk?”
“No. I’m heading home; home for supper.”
“Perhaps I could walk with you,” he suggested, making a tentative reach for her arm.
“No, it’s okay.” She shied away from his hand. “I live just up the way, on Turkey Run.”
“Oh,” he cooed, “that’s still quite a bit away. I insist, you must let me walk with you.” His smile widened a fraction. “You never know what you’re going to run into.” He caught her arm in a firm grasp and slowly pulled her towards him. The steady pulling brought his other hand, and the knife it held, into her line of view. “Scream,” he said as she started to open her mouth, “and I’ll cut your pretty throat open. Stay quiet and I might let you live,” he told her as she steered her towards a nearby tree.
She whimpered softly as he pushed her against the tree and started cutting off her clothes.
He smiled and gave a throaty laugh when the knife blade drew a thin line of blood as he sliced her bra and panties in one move. Placing the knife against her throat he pushed her to the ground on top of her damaged clothing. She began crying when he knelt on top of her and fumbled one handed with the zipper of his pants.
The crying became silent sobs as he started to have his way with her, the knife always touching her throat or breast.
Bending closer he started nibbling at her ear and neck, a soft grunt echoing in her ear with each thrust of his pelvis. She closed her eyes and tried to turn her face away.
She wriggled fruitlessly as the grunts became louder and more frequent. She could feel something hard, metallic like, beneath his shirt digging into her chest with each thrust.
“Yes,” he purred, feeling her struggle. As his blood began to course rapidly through his veins his grunts started to form into almost words. “I lied,” he said smiling as he felt himself start to reach his peak.
Her attacker’s grunts becoming soft growls and a shift in the feel of his shirt drew the girl’s attention, however unwillingly, back to him. She slowly opened her eyes, rolling her head back a fraction. She came face to face with a large greyish dog. A dog whose narrowed eyes and canted ears could only mean pleasure as he released himself into her. A scream tore its way out of her throat. The scream was cut short when the beast suddenly lowered its head and closed powerful jaws on her neck, severing her wind pipe and carotid artery.
The animal did not pull away when the girl’s blood began spraying about. Rather he lowered his head again and reveled in it, occasionally licking at the blood on his muzzle.
After he had finished with the girl’s body, and resumed human form, the man began collecting her clothes. The sound of approaching voices spooked him, causing him to leave, and abandon part of the clothes.
This time the body wasn’t even cold when the police arrived. Someone had thought they heard screaming and had called 911. The dogs followed a deer trail to the Colonial Farm. It stopped cold in a small parking lot. The speed and joy with which the dogs returned to their handlers when they were called off diametrically opposed their behavior while tracking the killer. They’d had to be called back on line numerous times. Even the most skilled hound had been very reluctant to work the trail.
“Here’s another one for you, Thad.” Rhea tossed a copy of the Times onto the squad room table, a grim smile flashing as she sat down next to him.
Thad picked the paper up and scanned the headlines. After nearly a week of silence, the killer dog had apparently moved south, killing a teenager in Langley Oaks Park. For a change, this time part of the clothes could be found, torn, next to the body.
“That’s one pup that gets around,” Rhea mussed when he lay the paper down on the table.
“They’re assuming it’s the same animal,” Thad said quietly. “It may not be.”
“Sure, two different dogs are going to do the same kind of damage.”
“A dog attack, is a dog attack,” he insisted.
“All right people, let’s settle down,” the shift sergeant stepped up to the front of the room, effectively silencing all discussions. He glanced at his notes and began the briefing. “Item one: We’ve all seen or hear the reports about last night. …”
“Hey, Sarg.,” one of the uniforms called as the briefing concluded. “Homicide done anything on the Jacques murder?”
“How do you solve a case with no evidence?”
“Officially,” the sergeant cut in, “the case is still active. But, after a month and still no solid leads, they are moving on to other, more pressing, matters. Anything else?” He asked, looking around at the swing shift crew. He nodded when no one else spoke. “Okay, let’s hit the road people, and be careful out there.”
Four days after the Langley Oaks death, the police were still searching for some solid clues in the park deaths. There was no indication of whether the deaths were caused by one dog, or by a rouge pack.
The setting sun cast gold rimmed shadows on the pages of a news paper being read by a young Hispanic man in Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. He laughed softly to himself while he read. Reading the news was almost as much fun as stalking the girls. Laying the paper aside he noticed a young Asian woman walking towards him on the pathway. He rose from the park bench gently fingering the wolf’s head amulet he wore as she came nearer.
“Good evening, Senorita.”
“Can I help you?” The woman slowed, eyeing him cautiously.
“I was going to ask you that question. It’s starting to get late. Perhaps I can walk you to your car.”
“No, thank you.” She side stepped and tried to continue down the pathway. He backed up a couple of paces to stay in front of her.
“Well, then would you like some company on your stroll.”
“Thank you, I prefer to be left alone. Now, if you will kindly get out of my way, I will go on my way.”
Rather than move off the path, he stepped in front of her, placing a hand on her arm near her wrist. She paused, looked at the hand, then at him.
“You can either remove it, or lose it.”
“You think so?” His answer was to tighten his grip.
She looked him in the eye, took a half step backwards pulling him towards her slightly. Raising her arm in an outwards circle she caught his wrist between her thumb and forefinger. Her other hand came up to grab the other side of his hand and wrist. An inside twist and half shove forced him to his knees.
He attempted to pull his hand free. Then, when that failed, he reached inside his jacket with his free hand and pulled his knife. A slash in the direction of her stomach resulted in an instinctive release and back step. Springing to his feet he made a lunge towards her. She again took a step back, give herself some room to move, then dropped her left hand to block his knife. A continuation of the blocking motion pushed the knife wielding hand outside the range of her body. He jumped back a step and then came at her from a different angle, knife held high this time. She raised both arms, crossing her wrist to form an x and trapped the descending knife. Seeing that the position left her somewhat exposed, he doubled up his fist and slammed it into her abdomen, knocking the wind out of her. Taking advantage of her doubled over position; he shoved her to the ground. She managed to get her head up as she landed and butted him in the face, bloodying his lip. He snarled in pain and anger and pressed the knife hard against her throat.
“You’ll pay for that, bitch,” he growled as he ripped her shirt. Pinning her down with a knee in the stomach, he transferred his attack to her pants. They parted with a satisfying rip under his knife.
Seeing that his attention was slightly distracted, the girl reached up, grabbed two handfuls of lank hair, and pulled his head down towards her. A second head butt resulted in a bloody nose for him and a hard slap to the side of the head for her.
Figuring that this one was going to be tough, he decided to keep the knife right at her throat. This limited his movements only slightly. Balancing on one knee, he undid his pants and freed his half-ridged member. He turned his attention back to her, before she could try some other trick on him. Blood from his nose ran down onto the amulet swaying between them as he began drawing images on breast with the tip of his knife. With each pendulum like swing, more of his blood dripped onto the amulet.
His victim stopped her struggles, staring in shock as Rodriquez began transforming. The amulet, now covered with his blood, melded into a coat of gray fur. He stopped thrusting, a puzzled whine issuing from his throat as the transformation finalized. The girl, seeing a wolf where a man had been, began screaming in fear. The wolf jumped back a couple of steps, whines growing louder. The girl decided to take advantage of the apparent opportunity and stated to roll to one side and stand up. The puzzled whines became snarls of rage in response to her movement. He sprang for her throat silencing her mid-scream. The lifeless body fell to the ground landing on the knife Rodriquez had held on her.
The wolf backed up several paces and shook the girl’s blood from his coat. He stood motionless for several minutes. Finally, he shook again, turned with a fear laced whine, and ran away from the body.
Portable floodlights cast a desert noon brilliance on the scene of the most recent death. Sgt. Panzer snorted, shook his head and sat next to his handler watching the human officers photographing and mapping the scene and body. Mills tapped his foot slightly in impatience, waiting for the officer in charge of the scene to tell him why he and Panzer had been summoned.
“Hi, Ron,” Thad and Rhea stopped next to Panzer. Rhea reached down and scratched Pan’s ears. He looked up and licked her hand then resumed watching the activity around him.
“Hi, guys. What are you two doing here?
“Dispatch called requesting off-duty units to come and aid in searching and securing the parameter,” Rhea added.
“We made the mistake of answering our phones when they rang.”
“Haven’t you learned to let your answering machines take your calls?” Ron laughed.
Another K-9 unit walked by with his handler, paused in mid-stride to turn and glare at Pan, a silent snarl exposing his teeth. His handler twitched his lead one time and they resumed walking to the other side of the scene where, despite the late hour, a crowd was starting to gather.
“Hey, Wilhelm, Yokama, you two going to just stand there talking, or are you going to do your jobs?” The voice of the watch supervisor rang across the scene. “Mills, get Wonder Nose over here.”
“Well, guess we better get a move on, before he really gets upset.” Thad said with a shrug. “Catch you later, Ron.”
“Okay, Mills, we want you to see if Panzer can track this dog. None of the other dogs have been able to follow his trail for more than a few hundred yards. And, it’s more than time to find, and stop, him.” The watch supervisor explained to Ron.
“Yes, Sir.” He nodded once and looked down at Panzer. “Okay, Pan, find him boy. Take me to him.”
Pan snorted, shook his head, and began sniffing around the body. After a few moments he turned and started heading in an southwestly direction. Minutes later, he paused next to an older model Toyota pick-up truck parked in a small parking area. He circled the truck once and paused again next to the driver’s door. Ron stepped back a pace as Pan began casting in an ever-widening circle to pick the scent up again. Finding it leading away from the tail of the truck, he headed out across the lot. The trial appeared to run cold after turning southeast and crossing the parking lot. Panzer cast up and down the gravel lot for several yards, trying to locate the dog’s trail. After several frustrating minutes, Ron called him back to his side.
“Pan, hold. Come here, boy.” Pan stopped, looked back at Ron for a second, and then walked over to his side.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” Ron turned to the supervisor, “but the trail seems to run into the street. There is little chance of Panzer being able to follow it across the road. The gas, oil, and rubber, from the traffic will have obliterated just about all of the scent.”
“What about picking it up on the other side?”
“Panzer was unable to pick up a trail on the other side. The dog may have run down the street for quite a distance before crossing, if he crossed at all. I don’t like asking my dog to try and track where there is little scent. It damages their confidence when they cannot fulfill their training.”
“All right, Mills, you’re the dog handler. If you say we can’t track the animal, then we can’t track it.”
Ron nodded and signaled Pan to return to his vehicle. On the way back, Ron absentmindedly noticed that Wilhelm was standing near the old truck, looking it over.
Has Killer Dog Moved north? All the papers were asking that question after the deaths in Langley Oaks and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. Only one paper, The Journal, theorized that it may have been two separate animals. Their argument was that the distance was too great for just one animal. Langley Oaks was inside the beltway, over twelve miles northeast of Fairfax and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve was almost about three miles from Langley Oaks. What they could not explain was the deaths at Great Falls Park.
“Second Killer Dog on the Loose” the headlines declared. Two more bodies were found within 36 hours. Both victims, young females, were found with their throats ripped open, near the camping grounds in Fairfax Lake Park of The papers and Evening News Casts warned residents to keep their pets inside, and to avoid any stray dogs seen in the parks and on the streets. The police were said to be intensifying their search for the killer animals. Special search dogs were being brought in from one of the local military bases to aid in the investigation.
Thad read through the articles and all the arguments about whether this was the same dog or not. He shook his head sadly, laid the papers aside and looked at the ancient book lying on the couch next to him that was opened to a page showing a diagram of a set of amulets. One of those amulets bore a very strong resemblance to the one that had been stolen from Professor Jaques’ home the night of his murder. He knew without a doubt that the attackers were one and the same. And that it was no animal that was doing the killing, at least not a wild animal, or a domestic animal that had gone rogue. It was a man, a man gone mad with power. Rodriguez had thought he did his research, but he hadn’t found all of the material. Some of it was very old and was not available in English, but in Old Deutsch. He was missing a very important piece of information; a piece of information that was going to cost him dearly in the end.