Monday, June 30, 2014
Missed It By That Much
Morloxian had Maureen strapped down on the table and was reaching for his hypos when the sound of the first crash reached them. It was followed quickly by others, plus screams. The semi-werewolvan doctor shot a glare toward the door. “Not again,” he grumbled. “The mutants,” he explained to Maureen. “I can’t let them run loose like I could in Colorado. Too many civilians with cameras. So they attack the cafeteria.” He shuffled toward the door on bare, taloned paws. “Don’t go anywhere.”
The moment he left the lab Maureen attacked her bindings. On TV the heroine would grab a scalpel in her teeth and saw through the straps. Unfortunately, the Doctor hadn’t left any scalpels within reach. She had to settle with wriggling her scrawny body out from under her bonds. The buckets of sweat pouring off her helped immensely.
She had one arm loose and was working on the other when Morloxian returned, on the run. “Time to go,” he said. He ripped the straps loose himself. “Goddamn welcome wagon.”
He lifted Maureen off the table. Her feet touched the floor. She steadied herself and then rammed her knee into the Doctor’s groin. His lupine howl cracked on a warbling high note. Maureen was out the door before he finished collapsing.
One quick sprint into the hallway later, she saw what he was talking about. The hidden lab, so quiet and orderly when he’d dragged her off to his workroom, was now a chaotic arena peopled by silent men in black coats and monstrous eight-foot werewolves. The men were armed and the wolves had claws, so they were pretty evenly matched.
Morloxian’s human staff took no part in the melee. They were wisely running for the exits.
As Maureen watched, one of the men tossed his coat aside and shifted into a tiger. He and a mutant werewolf charged each other. Their roars were equally inhuman.
Yeah, the exits were looking really good right about now.
A flash of pastel color caught her eye. The ladies of the harem were taking advantage of the invasion to vacate the premises. Candi, leader of the group, spotted her and waved. “C’mon, hon. There’s a way out through Dracula’s castle.” She and the women ran on without waiting to see if Maureen followed.
Whatever “Dracula’s castle” meant. Maureen dashed after the women.
She almost made it. Right at the doorway a mutant werewolf suddenly appeared. Its dark fur had made it nearly invisible in the shadows. It clamped its furry paw over her mouth before she could scream. “Don’t be afrrraid,” it rasped, in a rough, labored growl of a voice with an odd trace of a foreign accent. “All will be well, Maurrrrrrreen.”
Her blood temp went down to absolute zero. She whispered against his paw, “Pete?”
“There you are. Good, you got her.” Morloxian ran at them in a painful shamble. He stopped well back from Maureen with his hand cupped over his crotch. “Goddamn tigers. Who let them in? Get out there and help clean up the mess. I’ll take it from here.”
He reached for Maureen’s arm. The mutant werewolf grabbed the Doctor’s arm instead. “You come with.”
“What? Wait, what are you doing, you stupid mutt! You do what I tell you. I created you!”
“Perrrrrhaps.” The creature formerly known to Maureen as Pete snarled into Morloxian’s face. “But I serrrve anotherrrrr.”
He slammed his fist against Morloxian’s head. The Doctor went limp. Werewolf Pete caught him and Maureen under his arms and changed direction, heading now toward a set of double doors at the end of a branching corridor.
Maybe she was delirious. Maybe she was panicking. But as she jounced beneath Pete’s arm, she thought she saw a familiar blond head at the end of the corridor. Desperately she screamed, “Ewan!”
# # #
The underground lab was a mess of flying, bloody bodies, some of them human, most of them not. Ewan figured the real humans had skedaddled already. If the monkeys had any real talent, it was a healthy sense of self-preservation.
Ewan wasn’t interested in them, or the monster werewolves, or the Tiger Yakuza, or even Morloxian. His nose sorted through the mess of scents for that one special perfume that wasn’t quite human or quite a she-wolf but already said home to him. He hugged the wall and dodged raging wolves and silent, lethal tigers and sniffed every door he came near. Deuce, no fool, followed his lead.
He caught a whiff of her scent at the head of a dim-lit corridor and risked a look inside. Something big and hairy had two bodies clutched under its burly arms. One of them shrieked his name.
“Maureen!” Ewan raced full out down the corridor. He had no idea how he was going to take on a giant mutant werewolf without any weapons. He’d figure something out when he got there.
The werewolf didn’t even look around. It jabbed its finger at a keypad in the wall. The doors slid open. The monster and its captives ducked inside just as Ewan reached him. Maureen strained her hands toward him.
Ewan lunged for the door. It slammed shut in his face.
He was pounding futilely on the metal when Deuce finally caught up. “How are you with electronics?” Ewan said, and pointed at the keypad. “Can you get this damn door open?”
Something inside made a noise that shook the walls. Both Deuce and Ewan froze. The echoes had not quite died away before they were overridden by a second noise, this one a heavy grinding. It seemed to be coming from the ceiling.
“You sure you want to go in there?” Deuce asked.
Ewan wracked his brain. He’d done more thinking on this case than he’d had to do in his lifetime. They weren’t going to get these doors open any time soon, that was certain. There must be another exit inside. A huge one, from the sound of it. “Where are we?” he asked Deuce. “What part of the course are we under?”
“I don’t think we’re under the course itself any more. If my sense of direction didn’t get screwed, I think we’re near the swimming pool. They filled that in years ago.” His eyes narrowed, and he said what Ewan was already thinking. “Or made a bolthole out of it.”
Ewan gave the unyielding door a final useless blow with his fist. He shoved Deuce ahead of him. “C’mon. Back outside. We’ll have to catch ‘em out there.” He thought of that first gargantuan noise. That hadn’t been any kind of engine he knew about. It had sounded—he swallowed—organic. Living. “Let’s hope whatever they’ve got in there can’t fly.”