There was a long pause and then the guttural, growling voice spoke again.
But it seemed less annoyed, even somewhat less rasping as it replied, “It’s not a
bad idea. It might even help when the woman comes in the morning—”
“Ad the girl! She’ll be so sweet . . . and the games we can blay in the
dark . . .”
“All right! All right!” the guttural voice growled. “First we have to check the
alarm, see if it’s one you know.”
“Okay,” The second voice gasped triumphantly. “Should we Change?
“We stay like this, half-changed,” the growler said. “When she sees us
like this she’ll go crazy from fear.”
“We can play good wolf, bad wolf. She’ll run right into our arms.”
“She’ll scream,” rasped the growler, “Scream and beg. No help will come.
Together, he and the other werewolf slithered through bushes, heading for
* * * * *
Downwind, Damon smiled a very sharp-toothed smile.
* * * * *
Bonnie could see nothing, could hear nothing now from the front of the
library, but she was sure she’d heard a Tick.
What could it mean? There was no illumination in the main room of the
library from either overhead lighting or flashlight, and that would be the first thing
a teacher or janitor would do, wouldn’t it? Turn on some kind of light.
Unless the person wasn’t coming to ensure obedience to the school rules.
Unless the person—the thing—had come for her.
Bonnie didn’t believe in ghosts, not really. But inside her mind were
hundreds of locked doors, each of which held behind it a boogeyman. They were
bogeymen she had shut firmly behind doors when she was a child, but at night—
at night they had a tendency to come out.
And so did Bonnie’s own instincts, like those of a cat. In fact, when the
bogeymen unlocked their doors and came out at her, she became more animal
than human. She simply let her own instincts take her where they wanted.
The overhead light in the computer wing went out.
And Bonnie’s instincts, in two bounds, took her ten feet to the right.
Bonnie landed on palms and tiptoes, feline, as she heard a crash.
Something had landed on her chair. And—it had splintered the chair to
“Hey, girl—come this way. There’s an exit!” whispered a human-sounding
voice. In fact, it sounded like a nice boy, not much older than Bonnie. But
Bonnie had an instinctive distrust of the voice. It was too much of a coincidence
that a nice boy should have come in with a monster.
Rapidly, on hands and knees, she began to scuttle away from the voice
and the chair. She found a dark corner in the children’s section to defend herself
in. Lightly and softly as a spring leaf she slipped under a child-sized table.
“You—you monster,” the nice voice was saying. “Take me! Just leave the
girl out of it!”
“The meat is sweet;” chanted a guttural voice. “And so is the smell of fear
so near.” It began to laugh insanely.
“I’m not afraid of you,” the nice voice said. Then another whisper. “C’mon,
kid. I’m not going to hurt you, I promise. Head to my voice.”
Bonnie didn’t move. Not simply because she didn’t trust the nice voice.
She didn’t move because she couldn’t. Her muscles were frozen in place, while
her mind whirled.
Meredith was right Meredith was right why was Meredith always right? By
the time someone found Bonnie, Bonnie would be a pile of cracked and polished
bones. and Meredith would only know then that Bonnie had just pretended to be
convinced that spending the night at the library was a really stupid idea.
Bonnie was good at talking fast—even to herself. All that went though her
head before the echoes of the nice voice had faded.
She was wedged into the corner now, under the table, protected on three
sides but wide open on the fourth. And she had no weapon at all.
Timidly, like spiders that she sent out scurrying on missions in opposite
directions, she tiptoed her fingers away from her. She knew Mr. Breyer and Ms.
Kemp kept what they could see of the library spotless. She also knew that they
were both short-sighted and that there was a whole treasure trove of garbage
underneath the library tables.
After a moment her terrified left hand came into contact with something
that rolled slightly and was high and curved and—oh, God, it was only an old
plastic cup, a big one, sure, but what was it going to do against an enemy?
Beware! Or you will feel the wrath of my dread fast food cup!
But her trembling right hand came across a real find. A ruler. And not just
any ruler, a steel-edged one. Hurriedly, she switched the objects in her hands,
since she was left-handed, just as the nice voice reached the end of the table on
her right. “Quick,” it whispered, “reach for my hand now.”
There was no way Bonnie was going to reach for his hand ever, but
especially not now that his voice had taken on a glutinous, sticky quality, as if he
were trying not to salivate.
“We’re heeeeere,” said a lower-pitched voice from the left. It seemed to
be coming closer and closer, just at the same pace of the nice voice.
And then there was a sound from the table.
The noise sounded on her right.
The noise sounded on her left.
Like a piece of sharp bone or claw being tapped on the table top.
Okay. There was no way for Bonnie to avoid the truth now. There were
two things in the dark with her, and they were getting closer and closer, and she
could barely see out between the two child-sized chairs she’d scuttled past
before getting beneath the table. Something was weird, she realized suddenly.
When she’d dashed under the table, she hadn’t been able to see at all—it had
been a blind, instinctive rush. Now she could see, if just faintly, from the library’s
But she’d bet that the two things could see much better in the dark than
she could. They knew exactly where she was. And this hunch was terrifyingly
confirmed when the next tick came from the back of a chair—lower than the
They’ve found you.
They can see you. In one minute they’ll cut off your only means of escape.
Tick. Tick. Tick . . .
“Come on out,” the “nice” voice said, and now it was no longer pretending
to be nice, but slavering and slobbering. “Come out and play . . . or should we
come in and get you?”
GET OUT! Bonnie’s mind screamed at her.
“I know some fun games we can play togeth—”
Bonnie shot out of the opening between the chairs like a rabbit across a
field. As she did, she flung out both hands—wildly, hysterically, not knowing
what she hoped to do with the objects but striking out with them anyway.
Meredith had once tried to explain to Bonnie that panic responses like this
had a purpose. When a conscious mind doesn’t know what to do, it resorts to
panic—trying behaviors that no sane mind would come up with. That
occasionally resulted in the discovery of a new and useful behavior, Meredith
said. Bonnie had never quite understood this, but now she was seeing it in
When Bonnie rocketed out of the space between the chairs, she thrust the
plastic cup with all her force to the right and it happened to catch the slavering
werewolf with its long muzzle closed. The force of Bonnie’s thrust jammed the
cup all the way up to the animal’s jaw.
With her dominant left hand Bonne slashed out with all her strength with
the steel ruler, catching the other werewolf directly across one eye. It gave a
screaming howl and reared back.
Then everything went white.
It went white because somebody—one of the two monsters, Bonnie
thought—had turned the lights on. They had nothing more to gain by darkness
so they might as well show their true forms.
Bonnie couldn’t help—no she really couldn’t help—but take a glance back
to see what their true forms were.
They were hideous. And they were very clearly werewolves. Bonnie
thought that all wolves were beautiful and that some people were beautiful, but
the creature you got when you combined them was absolutely hideous. Besides
being lank and hairy with too-long paws for hands and feet, their beautiful wolffaces
were horribly combined with round human-like skulls, and eyes that faced
forward, like a person’s. They stood in a kind of crouch, but Bonnie could tell
with one look that they were sinewy, built for speed. For hunting. For killing.
Just at the moment though, they were still.
“How did you do that?” one demanded. It was looking with its good eye at
the overhead light.
The other could say nothing, although a foam of white slather bubbled
around its mouth. Its long muzzle was stuck deep into the plastic cup, and
although its jaw muscles had tremendous leverage going the other way, to
crunch down, they were not nearly as effective in opening up. It looked a little
silly with its nose in the cup, trying to snarl and bite at the plastic, but it was still
scary enough that Bonnie saw a shimmering grayness before her eyes.
Oh, no, no . . .
It was all over. She was . . .
She was going to faint.
“Take it off this way, idiot,” the bleeding werewolf said and strode over to
the other. He closed his front paw around the cup and pulled. It took a little time
since the cup had become slippery with saliva from the first werewolf’s pawing.
Bonnie saw the people she loved pass before the twinkling grayness that
was her field of vision: her parents and her sister Mary, and Meredith and Elena
of course, and Caroline—sort of—and her boyfriend Raymond, and Matt
Honeycutt, who made such a cute quarterback with his blond hair, and Stefan,
that gorgeous new guy that Elena was trying to get, and the boy who sat behind
her this year in sociology. . .
“Too bright,” cried the werewolf who had been released from the cup.
“Who turned on the light?”
“Shut up,” growled the other one. It had black claws instead of fingernails
and now it tapped one of these against a metal bookshelf to produce the sound
Bonnie had heard before.
Its face was horrendous because of the wound that had cut one eye
almost in half and covered it to the muzzle in blood.
“Go ahead and look,” it said to Bonnie in its deep slow guttural voice. “I’m
already healing. You’ve done nothing but make me angry, and I promise you
that was a bad mistake. You are going to die . . . slowly. You are going to beg
me for death before you die.”
“Yes, yes, it’s time to start games,” said the other werewolf, sounding not
quite sane in its bloodlust.
Although all of Bonnie’s instincts told her running was useless, she turned
And instantly was caught about the waist and held immobile.
* * * * *
“Now, now,” Damon said and caught the fleeing red-haired maiden as she
started to dash beyond the bookcase where he was standing, letting his own
night-adjusted eyes get used to the light. They were fine now, but it had taken a
while. “There, there.”
He stepped out, still holding the girl, and then he gave everyone all round
a brilliant smile, which he immediately turned off like a candle being doused with
water. “Three may be a crowd,” he said to the terrified, swooning girl in his arms,
“but four is enough for a round of bridge, yes?”
“You bloodsucking tick—” began the guttural-voiced werewolf, as Damon
slid the fainting girl carefully into a chair. Head injuries could be dangerous and
might interfere with her ability to admire him.
“Now then, let me just train these two for a minute,” Damon said to the girl,
adding, “Bad dogs! No! Sit!” to the werewolves. He then gracefully got behind
the creatures before they could move and grabbed each of them with one hand
by the scruff of the neck. The next instant he was dragging them out of the door,
where he settled for one quick crunch at the back of the neck for each. They
turned back into their human forms after this, and disreputable, lowlife humans at
that. Their odor as humans was almost as bad as their rank scent as
werewolves, and that was saying a lot. Damon spat a few times, wiped his
mouth, and straightened and brushed his black cashmere sweater before going
back inside to see his maiden.