Moonsilver Transfusion Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Victoria coaxed me and Secret out into the hallway to let Cliff put on clothing. Victoria laughingly told us that we had to let the big man grapple with his big thoughts for a bit. I did not like the hallway, people stopped in their tracks to stare at me and the collar around my neck itched. Every breath brought a new sour flavor of sickness and I couldn’t stop human me from trying to piece together the ailments. While textures of trauma and pulped tissues were familiar, the humans that rested here stank of more subtle diseases, those of corrupted flesh. Human me supposed cancer or a heart disease ward, but I didn’t care.

Cliff came out radiating an anxious tang. Victoria took his elbow. He huffed a little, but didn’t object as she guided him down the hallway.

“So,” he said after a few steps of silence. “I guess I’m joining the pack on the full moon? That’s what that means, right?”

“Maybe? I don’t really know. Abby probably knows more, you’ll have to grill her when she’s in a talking mood again. It took months for me, but Abby also gave me her blood before she’d become what she is,” she said. “I just got back this morning myself, and then Abby had to deal with an irate neighborhood, so we’ve been preoccupied. I only got the Cliff notes, haha, about what happened while I was gone.”

“Heard that joke before.” He grumbled. “Where the heck did you go, anyway?”

“That’s a pack mystery. Tell you after the initiation,” she said.

As we entered the parking garage, I stopped abruptly, my hackles rising along with a growl in my throat. A scent that I definitely did not like tickled my nostrils, a definite human scent, nothing wrong with it except I knew I didn’t like it, no face or name.

“What is it?” Cliff asked.

“I think she smells reporters,” Victoria said. “A news van followed us here.”

No. I stamped one paw and looked back at her. That wasn’t it. At least this wasn’t a reporter I recognized, this scent was something else. I bit at the leash and tugged it.

“Not a reporter?” Victoria inhaled as she looked around. “I just smell humans and car exhaust.” She leaned down and unclipped the leash, whispering, “Try to stay out of sight.”

I answered with an affirmative wuff and dashed in the direction of the hearse. We’d parked in the far corner of the garage. The short three-story garage was rectangular in shape, with a central ramp for driving between the floors and a single lane of parking around its edges. Stairways at all four corners of the building, with a single elevator at the stairs closest to the hospital’s main entrance, which we had just used. I had three approaches to the hearse, circle around to the left or the right, or go up a level and use the stairways. The last option was a no go due to the incompatibility of paws and doors. I took the left; that would give me a view of the car along a shorter side of the garage. Victoria and Cliff started down the right. The familiar but unplaced scent grew as I trotted across the pavement. Before the corner I threaded myself down the narrow space in between front bumpers and concrete. Cleaned the license plates of a few trucks with my fur squeezing past, but made it to the corner without trouble. Carefully peering beneath the cars, I spotted movement near the hearse. Two pairs of feet, one clad in shiny black shoes and the other sneakers with a green fluorescent sole.

“That’s one of them,” a voice whispered.

“Take what we get,” a second, deeper voice responded.

“Stay professional,” the first warned. “I’ve got no more favors to call in.”

“Have a little faith, bro.” The second chuckled.

The pair rushed out from their hiding place behind an SUV. Slinking forward, they came into my view. The shoes belonged to a heavyset man with a neatly trimmed red beard, wearing a gray suit, the sneakers to a thin man wielding a shoulder-held camera. Despite the new professional attire, I finally recognized the duo as the Higgins brothers, Slade and Nigel.

“Miss Quintine, I’m with KAT-U news! Would you care to answer a few questions for the general public?” Slade called out in a folksy drawl.

“Most likely not, and I do not consent to be filmed,” Victoria answered coolly. From the soft clip of her boots, she was a little more than halfway to the car.

Slade spoke quickly. “You are frequently seen in the company of Abigale Night; are you the Black Wolf? Were you involved in summoning the demon that injured the father of two girls and destroyed their house?”

The rate of Victoria’s boots striking the concrete increased. “I don’t give interviews to shotgun wielding maniacs who shoot out the windows of my car. Tell your station to send actual journalists instead of crackpots.”

Slade walked out from the cars, toward Victoria and Cliff, brandishing a KATU news microphone. I dashed across the lane and circled around the noses of the parked cars to flank them. Nigel stood between the bumper of the hearse and the SUV parked beside us. I ducked low and peered between his legs. Victoria led Cliff toward the hearse. Her purse hung heavy on her shoulder, probably containing Secret.

Slade ignored the jab, stepping squarely into Victoria’s path, “Miss Quintine, the public has the right to know about dangerous creatures within their midst. Are you a werewolf? How frequently do you consort with the undead? Why are you considered a co-defendant in the Portland vs. The Andrew Millar estate case?”

I snuck up behind Nigel, looking for a way to disrupt this farce, tapping human me to make sense of his gear. Yet no wires presented themselves to pull. The camera appeared to be self-contained.

I growled a warning and watched him flinch in surprise.

“Abby, don’t touch him!” Victoria called out, shoulder checking Slade to get around him. I heard the pop of the hearse’s electric locks.

Nigel spun around, pointing the lens of the camera down at me and my bared teeth.

Cliff’s hands clapped around either side of Nigel’s ribs, “You are in my way, man.” With a smooth motion, Cliff half shoved, half lifted Nigel to the side. Cliff rushed down the space between the hearse and the neighboring car and opened the passenger door. I sprang into the seat and then to the back, he followed, throwing himself into the seat and slamming the door. Victoria tossed her purse after me, which landed with a merf of annoyance.

“Hang on,” she barked as she started the car, revved the engine, and backed straight out of the parking spot. Slade jumped in front of the tailgate forcing Victoria to stop suddenly, causing me to fall onto my side and the purse containing Secret to tumble.

“Mew!” Secret protested as angry growls burst from both Victoria and I.

“I see you there, Abby Night! I see what you are. You can’t hide from the light!” Slade pounded on the rear window.

“Vainglorious idiots. Abby, stay down,” Victoria said, easing the car back, pushing Slade with it, until the hearse’s long nose was clear, then turned out into the lane. Through the tinted windows I saw Nigel back up to the concrete wall, filming the entire thing. Slade continued shouting as we drove out of the garage.

When a news van did not suddenly appear in our rear view, Victoria gave a relieved sigh.

“Do you two deal with pushy news reporters often?” Cliff asked after a few moments.

“Those were not TV reporters,” Victoria huffed. “They’re ghost hunting vloggers. Abby and I tangled with them when Little Nick was rampaging. Now they make videos reporting on Portland’s werewolf problem; they’re who outed Abby as a werewolf in the first place. They seemed to lose their relevance after Abby stopped those zombies from shooting up the MAX. If they somehow got hired by KATU, that’s going to be a problem. Shouting “I don’t consent” doesn’t work on TV stations, just the streaming algos.”

A rustle of fabric announced Secret’s return to human form as she pounced the rear of Victoria’s seat.

“Oooo! If they’re back does that mean there’ll be more hunters to hunt?” she asked, the eagerness and hunger plain in her bright voice.

“Hunters to hunt?” Cliff asked.

“That’s not a good thing!” Victoria scolded Secret, and when she sank back with a disappointed frown on her face, swiftly changed the subject. “Hey Cliff, I just realized I’m driving us toward Cindy’s. I suppose you want to go back to your apartment instead?”

“Yeah. I’ll catch up with you all once Abby’s a bit more talkative.”

After swinging the hearse into a slightly not legal U turn, we made our way across a bridge to Cliff’s apartment. Upon arrival, Cliff realized he had absolutely no clue where his car was parked. The memory was lost in a cloud that had been Joy’s influence. He resolved to go looking for it once he checked in with Sophie at the NLR.

I really wished I had words at the time to tell him that Sophie wasn’t doing the managing at NLR in his absence. Cindy had been handling it.


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