It took a few hours, but Bookworm finally sank into sleep again. It was a heavy, but unrefreshing, sleep, and she woke up again soon after dawn. Yawning, she left her room and found Orin downstairs, making some coffee in the hospital break room.
“Captain,” he said, “that Mr. Wright was here earlier this morning. Said he’d beaten off an attack at the asylum. It’s all right,” he hastened to add, drawing a cup of coffee for her, “they’re gone now. He was injured a bit, and came here for treatment. Probably back at his post now. I would have woken you, but he said we should let you sleep.”
Bookworm nodded, gulping down the coffee as quickly as its temperature would allow. Without a word, she slammed the cup down on the counter, stalked quickly back to her room, grabbed her rifle and dart gun, and exited quickly, heading for the asylum.
She did indeed find Mr. Wright in the asylum courtyard, standing watch as if nothing of note had happened the previous night. “Captain,” he said, nodding a greeting.
“Mr. Wright. I heard you were attacked?” Her tone was fairly abrupt, and she hoped that would convey her annoyance that she hadn’t been informed of this earlier.
He nodded, looking entirely unrepentant. “I’ll be scarred up for a bit, and the wounds are still sore.”
She stared up at him, and he returned her look calmly. Finally, she smiled wryly, knowing there was no point in trying to reprimand him. “What happened?” She listened carefully as he told her how two wolves had hopped the fence, and how one had stood by while the other attacked him. How he had seriously injured the attacking one several times, and how when he had finally aimed a shot at the other one, the first wolf had leaped in front of the bullet, taking a direct hit to the heart. How he was sure that that one was dead, but how the other had created a smokescreen, and managed to take the body away.
Bookworm shook her head at the waste of life, but said, “Well, I am glad you’re not hurt too badly. And thank you for keeping the asylum safe from them. I just wish… they didn’t push things so far.”
Mr. Wright nodded. “This is my job. I gave them fair warning that they could either leave on their own two legs, or in a box. One of them decided to test me on that, and I made good on my promise.”
As he was speaking, though, Bookworm’s neck prickled, as if eyes were fixed on her. Mr. Wright suddenly looked past her and growled, drawing his pistols. “There’s someone nearby?” she asked him quietly.
“At the gate, Captain.”
She whirled, unholstering her dart gun, but couldn’t see anyone. Suddenly, a voice came from beyond the gate, hidden by the wall. “Come closer.”
Bookworm warily drew a little closer to the gate. “What do you want?” she called.
“I decided to return the favor you gave to Percival.” A wolf’s paw suddenly appeared around the edge of the wall, pressing against it where the gate was set. It slowly withdrew, leaving a smear of red on the bricks. Bookworm got a sinking feeling in her stomach.
“When you see him in hell,” Mr. Wright growled, “you tell him that Black Jack ain’t a wolf to be crossed.”
“See whom in hell?” replied the wolf. “Percival is alive. So was the lad, when I left him. True, his wound could kill him, but that’s the favor you gave Percival.”
Bookworm sneaked a glance at Mr. Wright. The tall wolf looked started, but he replied, “I’ll put one between his eyes next time.”
“You are welcome to try, pup.” They heard a scraping of claws, and then the sound of a form running fleetly away.
Mr. Wright growled again. “They’ll come to fear the name ‘Black Jack.’ I’ll make damned sure of that.”
“Well. Disconcerting to know that even a direct heart shot doesn’t kill them.” Disconcerting was quite the understatement, but Bookworm didn’t want to let on just how worried – even fearful – she was getting.
“And a phosphorous shot, no less.”
“Unless… he was lying…”
“That I wouldn’t put past him. I saw that creature die. Unless they can bring him back from the brink… and they very well may have that ability.”
“Well, in their were forms, they have enhanced healing abilities,” she replied, remembering Kuga. “They may well be more enhanced than I’d realized.”
“It’s troubling, to say the least.” He stared grimly out the gate, then shifted his gaze to the blood smear. “Another, equally pressing issue is, whose blood is on the gate? Someone is wounded, or worse.” He walked over, and sniffed at the blood. “Human, by the smell of it.”
“I’d better go check at the hospital,” Bookworm replied, chewing her lip worriedly. “Whoever it is is likely to end up there.”
“I’ll come with you,” Mr. Wright replied, in a tone that left no room for argument. “I don’t think they’ll attack twice today.”
(To be continued…)