The Leprachaun story seems to have stalled out in my brain and I am suffering a book hang-over after reading Jennifer Harlow's latest offering, "Werewolf Sings The Blues." And if you have not read it, OMG! I lover her books, but this one's like a speeding freight train. It just sort of slammed into me in chapter 17 and didn't let go until the very last page!
So anyway. Book hangover, no more progress on the serial flash. So I dug into my files of half baked stories and pulled out something to share. Please pardon any typos; I know there's probably more than a few. I hope you like it.
Locker Room Hunting
The slow tick-tick-tick of water dripping onto soggy wood was the only company I had as I hid behind a ratty cotton shower curtain. The locker room wasn't filthy, just run down. The faucets all leaked, the cedar floor mats were all warped, and the tile that wasn't covered in wooden mats was cracked. Which probably explained the presence of the mats, I supposed. There was no mold or mildew, which I would have expected considering the constant moisture from drips and the air or general neglect about the place.
A snuffling sound joins the plop of water on wood. The werewolf has found her way out of her impromptu cage. She'd done it quietly, too. If not for the sound of her snuffling on the floor trying to catch my scent, I would have had no warning at all that she was coming. The tattered shower curtain bursts open and there she stands, growling fiercely in all her puppy glory.
"Oh, no!" I exclaim with fake panic. "She found me! Ah, ah! She's getting me!" I continue as my young daughter clambers into my lap and proceeds to give my face a thorough tongue bath. "Ack! I'm covered in Ro-Ro slobber!"
I giggle at the happy puppy noises she making and proceed to tickle her back. I had blown my mind when I discovered that Ramona, my two-year-old werewolf daughter, was ticklish in the ribs in both forms. How could I have known? It's not like I was a shape shifter.
My first clue that humans were not alone on this planet was when I gave birth to a wolf pup, the parting gift of my asshole ex. I had told him I was pregnant. He accused me of being a whore and trying to pin some other guy's brat on him because he couldn't knock me up. I found out later that it was incredibly rare for a human woman to be able to carry a werewolf pup past the first month. Something about our bodies recognizing the foreign DNA and rejecting it.
"I didn't hear you tip over the laundry basket this time," I say to her as I fondle her ears. She barks once and wiggles out of my lap backwards, her puppy tail wagging madly.
"Again?" I laugh. "We've been playing 'find momma' for nearly an hour, Ro-Ro!" She yips and spins in place. "Ok," I concede. "One more time, and then we get down to work." I pick her up and deposit her squirmy butt back in the empty laundry basket. She's getting bigger, about the size of a two-month-old malamute puppy now, so the basket's almost too small to present a challenge for her. I'd have to come up with something else for next month's full moon.
A burst of static from the intercom interrupted my thoughts. "Paging Rhonda De La Cruz. Ms Rhonda De La Cruz, please pick up a white courtesy phone." Another crackle of static signaled the end of the message.
"Well, shi-- er, shoot," I say, looking at Ro-Ro out of the corner of my eye. I didn't know how much she understood in werewolf form. She barely spoke in human form, mostly one syllable words. Especially swear words. I'd gotten pretty good at watching my potty mouth in front of toddler Ro-Ro, but sometimes I still catch myself slipping up in front of wolf pup Ro-Ro.
"C'm on, munchkin," I saw as I hoist her back up. "Mommy needs to find a white courtesy phone."
Luckily, I find one just inside the locker room I'd chosen to be our impromptu full moon puppy training gym. I wasn't ashamed of my daughter but I didn't want to parade her around in this form, either. According to my mentor and boss, Malcom, she was the only known full-blooded femwolf alive. And she was born, not turned. This made her incredibly vulnerable and made my job as her primary source of protection dicey. I preferred to leave her enmities unaware of her existence.
I take my call, retrieve my message--nothing important--and then smuggle my squirming daughter back to our room. Call me paranoid, but it seemed to me that the easiest way to locate me would be to page me. There was no good reason for anyone at this convention to know where I was at eleven 'o clock at night. It might be nothing or it might be something. Either way, I'd rather be back in my room with my stash of defensive equipment. Ro-Ro would just have to do her scent training there, where I could ward her.
I'm not a witch but I had spent the two years since her birth learning everything I could about things that went bump in the night. For instance, I'd learned that there was a good deal of defensive magic that could be done by non-magic users. Some runes that drew power from collective belief, some herbs that worked on a physiological level to discourage would-be attackers.
Powdered wolf's bane worked on werewolves the same way mace worked on humans. Peridot irritates tolls enough to make them steer clear of it. Undead and soulless things couldn't cross thresholds warded by salt. Tourmaline warded against psychic attack. There was a Norse peace prayer that, when chalked on a wall, cause those with ill intent to ignore you.
I had some of those tools with me at all times, along with my Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun. I couldn't very well set up a salt line in a public locker room, though, and never mind trying to chalk Norse prayers on damp walls. So, back to our tiny room with its double twin beds, microscopic 3/4 bath and arthritic a/c unit.
But first, a little parting gift. Just in case I was right. The spell was mostly harmless and would resolve at sunrise. It was enough to let me know if someone tracked my call to that particular courtesy phone. I may be paranoid, but that didn't mean someone wasn't out to get me.