Monday, February 17, 2014
Hasta la Vista, Baby
(We now rejoin our regularly scheduled serial story, already in progress)
Cochrane knew better than to put up a fuss when the police charged their motel room. An old hand at dealing with the law, he tossed his gun under the bed and then demanded to be taken to the hospital, citing his broken wrist. The rest of the team took their cue from him and dropped to their knees with their hands clasped behind their heads. An ambulance was duly summoned. The cops took statements and checked IDs while they waited for Cochrane’s transport.
Cochrane knew searching the room would come later, after they’d been hauled off for questioning. Let ‘em find the gun. It and the team’s knives were nothing, small fry in the order of ordinance. The real arsenal, with which he intended to assault Talbot’s Peak, remained hidden in the trunk of his car. As long as the cops missed that, his plans could proceed with only minor delay.
Around this time the desk clerk and the manager showed up and informed Cochrane and his henchmen they would have to vacate the room immediately, no refunds. Cochrane told them the sheets hadn’t been clean anyway. Then the ambulance arrived and Cochrane was carted off to the hospital, while the others were conducted to the police station.
At the end of the X-rays, shots and bandaging Cochrane announced his pressing need for a toilet. The doctor pointed him down the hall. His police guard had gone to get coffee. Cochrane detoured at the first side corridor, found a stairwell, and followed it to an emergency exit. He emerged into an empty night. Small-town cops, gotta love ‘em. They weren’t paid enough to be good at their jobs.
Shortly, safe in a Denny’s half a mile from the hospital and with half a cup of coffee in his belly, Cochrane took out the cell phone the cops’ pat-down had missed, and called Atcheson. His big blond aide-de-camp answered on the fifth ring. “Sir! Are you safe?”
“For the moment,” Cochrane said. “What about you? I take it you boys are in the hoosegow. This line secure?”
“Yeah, they’re questioning us. I’m alone right now. That damn dog in the parking lot, it … well, the cops are pretty much leaving me on my own until I can catch a shower.” He lowered his voice. “They didn’t get all of us. Pete and Maureen are still on the loose.”
“Have they charged any of you with anything?”
“Barry, maybe. Depends on if he had any weed on him. We all ditched our knives when we realized there were cops on the way. You were the only one with a gun.”
“Then you should be good where you are. Sit tight and don’t tell them anything. I’ll see if I can get in touch with Maureen and Pete. One of them will be by to bail you out, assuming the police don’t just release you. Technically we’ve done nothing.”
“Except fire a gun in a motel room.”
“They’ll have to catch me first.” Which was unlikely. Cochrane took a sip of his coffee. This might be the perfect time to dump his half-wit helpers. They’d proven marginally useful up until now, tracking down monsters for him to kill and doing far more tedious research than he would have himself. When it came to the crunch, however, none of them truly had a hunter’s heart. Except perhaps for Atcheson, who could be a bit too enthusiastic sometimes.
Yeah, he’d be better off cutting them loose. He knew what he’d be facing in Talbot’s Peak, and he’d always worked better alone. “Just keep your mouths shut,” he told Atcheson. “I’ll be in touch.” He cut the connection and deleted the team’s numbers from his phone.
Better fuel up. No telling when he’d get a chance to eat again. Then hike back to the motel and pick up his car. Then on to Talbot’s Peak. Once there … Cochrane scowled at the cast on his wrist and put a new name at the top of his list of freaks to wipe out first.
# # #
In the restroom of the diner across the street from the Rocky Top Motel, a stocky young man with glasses and dark skin took out a cell phone and punched in a number on speed dial. His name was neither Silent Sam, as Ewan Carter had dubbed him, nor Pete, as he was known to his cryptozoologist companions. They would have had trouble pronouncing his real name, or questioned the accent he hid by keeping silent as much as possible.
He spoke now into the phone, in terse Urdu. “The mission has been compromised,” he informed his true employer. “The team has been taken into police custody. The hunter has been taken to hospital with a minor injury. I doubt he’ll stay there long.”
“I agree. He’ll head straight for the Peak and wreak havoc. Let’s let him go about his business. Havoc fits well with my plans.”
“There’s more, lord. The wolf they captured spoke of a Doctor who created Hancock’s mutant werewolves. He later denied it, but still. This is the first true confirmation we’ve had regarding Hancock’s pet scientist.”
The other hissed in a quick breath. “Where is the wolf?”
“He escaped, lord. Apparently he had a cohort. I assume he’s on his way to Talbot’s Peak.”
“It always comes back to that cursed town, doesn’t it? Very well. Return to Talbot’s Peak. See if you can find that wolf, and keep an eye out for the hunter. Hancock’s scientist holds the key to creating an unstoppable army. I will have that scientist, and that key. And Talbot’s Peak, in due time.”
“Pete” bowed minutely over his phone. “Yes, Lord Ghan.”