Shadow of the moon, p.3
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       Shadow of the Moon, p.3
 

         Part #12 of Nightcreature series by Lori Handeland
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Chapter Three

 

  Leaning over, he brushed his lips across mine. In our business, we never knew when simple chores, such as retrieving a computer from the car, might separate us forever.

  He didn't bother saying be right back. We tried not to make promises we weren't sure we could keep.

  With Will gone I got antsy. I'd never been very good at waiting, was even less adept at keeping my hands to myself. I searched the papers on the desk and found nothing interesting--schedules, insurance info, not a word about boxenwolves anywhere. A tap on the computer keyboard did not bring the screen to life. I would leave that for Will.

  Wandering back to the tinted glass door, I shrugged and tried the knob. It twisted.

  "Uh-oh. " I set my free hand on my gun.

  "What are you doing?"

  I jumped then scowled at Will. "What did I tell you about sneaking up on me? Make noise like a normal person would. "

  "Normal white person. Indians move like the wind. "

  I rolled my eyes but didn't argue, because he did. "We forgot the first rule of breaking and entering. "

  "Which is?"

  "Try the knob first. " I pushed, and the door swung open.

  The corridor beyond was brilliantly white and glaringly empty. Every door gaped wide. I didn't like it, but I took a deep breath, drew my weapon--who knows how fast whatever we might encounter could move--and said, "Let's go. "

  Will set his computer under the receptionist's desk and followed. He left his weapon in its holster. He'd never been very good with it. Will Cadotte was much better at hand-to-hand.

  As we moved down the corridor, every room not only appeared empty but, upon further checking, was empty.

  "Maybe everyone got better," Will murmured.

  "Then where are the doctors, the nurses, the janitors? Whose cars are those in the lot?"

  "Got me. "

  I liked this place less and less the longer we were there. Each room had been lived in, if you could call being incarcerated in the equivalent of a padded room "living. "

  I pointed to the camera in the corner of the hallway. "There has to be a security office somewhere. " The red light was on. Tape was rolling.

  "I saw cameras in all the rooms, too," Will said. "Wonder what that was about. "

  "To keep track of patient care, or lack thereof. We need to find the other end of all those seeing eyes. "

  As we'd checked every room, every closet, every nook and cranny on the main floor, when I found the door that led to the basement, I started down without hesitation.

  "Hold on. " Will laid a hand on my shoulder. "Do you watch scary movies?"

  I glanced up. The bright light from the hall flared around his head, casting his pretty face in shadow. "Why on earth would I watch a horror flick when half the time I'm living in one?"

  "The most important rule forgotten by stupid heroines everywhere is: Don't go in the basement. "

  I hated being called stupid almost as much as I hated being called a heroine.

  "I've got a gun. " I lifted the weapon.

  "You always do. How many times has a gun been useless against the monster du jour?"

  More than I cared for. Still - "We can't just leave. You want to tell Edward we were too frightened to go in the basement?"

  He took a deep breath then let it out. "You could tell him. "

  "No thanks. " Edward was often scarier than anything we uncovered on the job.

  Will fumbled behind me, and light flared above and below us.

  "See. " I gestured with my gun. "Nothing scary down here. "

  Although I had to say that the extreme cleanliness was disturbing. Didn't all basements have their share of cobwebs, dust and rats? Apparently not the basement of the Riverview Psychiatric Clinic.

  I reached the bottom of the steps and was blinded by the brilliance. Everything was painted white--floor, ceiling, walls, doors. There were two. I opened the first, leading with my gun. The lack of light in front of me after having so much behind me made me blink. Nothing jumped out and said "Grrr. " All I heard was the low rumble of machinery.

  "Furnace," Will said.

  The second door revealed what we'd been searching for--the security office--also darkened so the screens were easy to see. The place was empty as the rest of the building. The echoing silence and shadowy atmosphere gave me the urge to tread lightly and whisper. I guess that wasn't a bad thing.

  "Check all the screens," I murmured.

  One glance and my unease deepened. While we'd been inside, dusk had fallen. As previously mentioned, bad things happened after the sun went down.

  "We'll need to pull up what was recorded in the last twenty-four hours. "

  Will nodded, heading to the left while I went to the right. It only took me an instant to locate the camera we were looking for. "Hell," I muttered, and Will immediately joined me.

  The apparatus had been mounted on the rear wall of the hospital and pointed toward the forest. I understood why. Any security issues approaching from that direction would come out of the trees. Any escaped prisoners - uh, I mean patients - would head directly for them.

  So, were the beings emerging from the evergreens formerly patients or upcoming security risks? Considering they loped in our direction on four paws, it didn't really matter.

  "Wolves," Will murmured. "A lot of them. "

  "Mmm," I said, not bothering to count once I hit a dozen. I didn't have enough bullets to kill them all. Who would have thought we'd be attacked by a herd?

  I should have. It had happened before.

  Inching closer to the screen, I squinted in a vain attempt to see their eyes. Were they wolves, werewolves or something completely new and different? Hard to tell from here.

  "Let's go. "

  "I don't suppose you mean home?" Will muttered.

  "Do I ever?"

  He sighed, but he followed me from the security office, down the hall, up the steps, then toward the back door. As we went, we checked our guns.

  "Not enough bullets," Will said.

  "Make them count. "

  "Then what?"

  I patted the pure silver knife at my waist. "Then you get behind me. Find a room with no windows. Lock it. "

  "Shouldn't we call Edward?"

  We'd reached the rear entrance to the clinic where a bank of glass overlooked the trees. "Too late. "

  Dozens of wolves blocked the exit. Darkness threatened, but there was enough light left to reveal their eyes.

  They weren't human.

 
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