This is the first time I use the first person in these stories though the prologue is in the third person. Unlike many of the later ones this is told by one person only so I name him as the narrator.
The dreams weren't unpleasant. But since Robby had gotten back from San Francisco, they had become so vivid it had been like being there, wherever there was. Tonight he had woken up and he knew the name of the girl he had been seeing in his dreams and what she was and why she was calling for help and even approximately where she was.
She was in Florida and somewhere north of Tampa. He got up carefully trying not to disturb Barry and Teddy who were in puppy form. Barry lifted his head and asked sleepily, *Robby, where ya goin'?*
Robby said in mind-speech, *I just have to do something, Barry go back to sleep.* He picked up his cell phone from off of his bedside table.
*'Kay.* and Barry yawned widely, his jaw closing with a click. Blue jumped down from the bed, landing with a gentle thump and followed him.
Robby looked at his watch, it wasn't as late as he had thought, only a little after eleven, so his mother and Paul should still be up. Sure enough there was a light under their door. He knocked, something Barry and Teddy would never dream of doing. He heard his mother say, “Come on in, Robby.”
Robby opened the door and stuck his head in. Both Hary and Paul were reading. “Hi, Mom, could you give me a hand, it shouldn't take too long?”
“Sure honey. What do you need?” as she got up putting on her robe.
“I want to access that Identikit thingy, that you use on the computer.” said Robby.
She rolled her eyes, saying, “I know you know the name so I'm not going to give it to you again.”
They went into the computer room, which had four separate computers. One each for Barry and Teddy, one that Paul and Hary shared and the most expensive and impressive, the one Robby owned. As a Werewolf Elder, he needed to have the best that he could get. While he had never used even a fraction of its capability, Elders didn't like to go around saying in hindsight, 'If only we had gotten this'. If they saw even a remote possibility that they might need something, they got it, if it could be gotten.
Robby booted it and when the password screen came up, he entered it and when Windows came on the screen, he clicked the Icon on the desktop marked IDENT. It wasn't actually on his computer, but at the police station in town and he was accessing it with a satellite Internet connection. When it asked for a password, he handed it over to his mother and she entered her police password. He could have used it since he knew it, but he would never have done so except in an emergency.
When the program came up, Robby closed his eyes to better picture the girl. She was Native American and she had dark hair and black eyes, with an oval face, though her complexion wasn't as dark as would be usual. It didn't take Hary long to get a good likeness on the screen.
She looked at the final result, “She's pretty. Where have you seen her?”
“In my dreams, Mom.” Robby said, letting her look at him for a moment before grinning and telling her, “Literally. Since I gained the gift of Healing, I've seen her almost every night in my dreams. But only faintly. Since I came back from San Francisco with Blue, the dreams have become more and more concrete and tonight I got the final information I needed. Her name is Jenna. She doesn't know her real last name, but she goes by the name of the man who captured her, a werewolf minister named Abraham Mitchell.”
“How old is she?” asked Hary. “She looks about thirteen or fourteen.”
Robby shook his head, saying, “Looks are deceiving, especially in this case, ten at the most, but at five feet five inches tall she's only a couple of inches shorter than you are, Mom. But then since she’s Sasquatch, she would be tall. She probably will be at least as tall as Mrs. Ross and perhaps taller.”
“You'll be going after the minister then?” A statement from Hary, more than a question.
“Oh, yes, I think I'll ask the Ross's if they want to go along. With the school holiday this Friday, honoring our esteemed ancestor.” Robby said with scorn, nostrils flaring, “I'd just as soon be out of town. I'll see if Ishmael wants to go along.”
Hary saved the picture to the hard drive and then got up. She told him, “Good night, Robby. I hope you aren't going to stay up too late?”
“I don't imagine it'll take more than thirty or forty minutes. Then I'll go back to bed. Night.” Robby said. Blue jumped up onto the chair that Hary vacated and Robby absently stroked his head while getting his thoughts in order.
Finally satisfied, he entered a web site name, stephenkingfiction.com and then clicked on forums and then Cycle of the Werewolf forum. He entered a very strange password. It was much longer than the normal ones used on web sites and the screen went blank and then white and a single sentence appeared. 'Yes, Elder, how may we help you?'
Robby began entering instructions and after five minutes he clicked enter. In a few seconds instructions appeared on the screen, 'Insert picture file.' and he did so, then clicked enter again. While he was waiting for confirmation of his instructions he opened his cell phone and dialed a long distance number. He heard it ring and a voice answered abruptly, “Reynolds.”
He said, “Robby Hansen, Sam, are you doing anything on Friday?”
Sam Reynolds said, “Nothing that can't be handled by my crew. Why?”
Robby told him, “I need a ride to Tallahassee, I thought I'd go in style. We'll pay for the fuel.”
Sam told him, humor in his voice, “Hell, what's a few thousand dollars between friends? How early?”
Robby explained, “Well, I'm arranging for a helicopter to pick us up and fly us to the city airport. That'll be around six. So, we should get to the airport by seven or seven thirty. File a flight plan for nine-thirty, just to allow for delays. There'll be four of us, plus one cat. I think it's going to be quick in and out, so if you'll wait in Tallahassee for us to get back, I would appreciate it. See you Friday.”
Not expecting an answer, Sam Reynolds being a man of few words, Robby hung up. As he did so, a sentence appeared on the computer screen. 'Instructions received and confirmed. Any additional instructions?'
Robby typed, 'No. Logoff.' and the white screen disappeared and the Cycle of the Werewolf forum appeared back on the screen. He clicked Shut Down and turned off the computer and went back to bed.
The whole school seemed abuzz with the holiday this Friday honoring the Founder of Benson. Every class but mine. I was one of the teacher's supervising the playground at morning and afternoon recess and at noon during the week.
I heard two of the kids from my class talking, during the morning recess, “Robby said that his ancestor was a f” and when he saw me he changed what he was about to say without blinking an eye, “skunk and Robby doesn't lie about things like that.”
It amused me that parents were so concerned with the language that was used on television and in movies, these days. In my two months of teaching, I'd learned that these kids already knew almost all of the words that they used in movies or on television. They might not understand them, but they used them, just like I had done when I was a kid. From what my father says, just like his generation did when they were kids.
conveniently forget about their childhood when it came to language.
Even if he'd said what he'd started to say, I would have ignored it.
That was the unspoken policy of the school board, unless it was directed
at a teacher, or blatantly done inside of the school itself, you ignored
the language the kids used.
The bell rang and the classroom emptied of kids almost like magic. Except for one. Robby Hansen had remained at his desk. I said, “Earth to Robby, the bell has rung, it's time to go home.”
Robby nodded, saying, “I heard it, Wil's taking Barry and Teddy home. How would you and Mrs. Ross like to go to Florida for the weekend? I've arranged to rent a mini-van in Tallahassee. We can then drive south.”
I sat on my desk. At three hundred and twenty pounds I didn't dare sit on one of the kids desks. Knowing Robby I said carefully, “Obviously, you have an ulterior motive. You only have that type of money to spend when you act as an Elder.”
He said, “True. It concerns one of your people and one of mine. Mine is a crackpot preacher to a bunch of religious nuts in some small Florida town. Now I couldn't care less about that, he's only uses his voice to convince them that he's their messiah, but he is also holding one of your people captive. That is a major transgression against Werewolf Law, to hold any were against their will, whatever form the were takes.”
He told me, “I've been receiving her call for help in my dreams since I was gifted with a Healer's ability, but the bond between Blue and I has made me more sensitive to her. Last night I learned her name and approximate whereabouts.” Robby described the dreams to me and I felt my eyes widen.
I was stirred with awe and my voice came out in a whisper, “A Dream Caster. Like your Healers, that ability was thought to have been lost generations ago. They used to keep our distant communities in touch with each other, but they could only speak with each other. She must have known that, yet she sent out a call for help the only way she knew how. Is she aware that she contacted someone?” (Note: communities is a figurative term, since Sasquatch never had villages. It actually refers to the large area in which they lived.)
Robby nodded, saying, “She is. She's also aware that I'm a werewolf, not Sasquatch, but she seems to believe that you can't lie using that ability and I must admit that I don't see how you could.”
I couldn't resist and I knew Carrie would agree with me, she'd been a bit jealous of the part I had played helping Robby deal with a drug pusher at the beginning of the school year. “My wife and I will be glad to go. Will it just be the three of us?” I asked.
Robby shook his head, telling me, “Four, I've already talked to Ishmael Wilkins and he's coming along. He'll follow us in a second mini-van, just in case we have to abandon the first. My contact in Florida will follow the radio transmitter that will be installed in the mini-vans, just in case we need extra backup.”
“I assume you don't intend for us to drive to Florida?” I said.
“True, a helicopter will pick us up at Seamus Riley's farm. They've landed there a couple of times before and then, well,” Robby said with a grin, “I think I'll leave that as a surprise.”
Knowing that I wouldn't get any more out of him about that, I asked, “What's this about your dislike of the founder of Benson?”
I was surprised when I saw the pupils of Robby's eyes enlarge with rage and he spoke very quietly, in a very dangerous voice. “Benson W. Hansen was the type of werewolf, that I would not let live, today. He settled here in the 1820's and they began calling it Benson's Place and then in 1850 it was officially named Benson. We have the diaries of his family and if there was ever a rogue, he was it. Of course there was never any hint of the fact that our family members were werewolves.”
Robby finished, his pupil's back to normal and his voice much more cheerful, “Funny thing but Benson Hansen just disappeared in 1851. There's a notation in one of the diary's from that time period saying that a wolf was found with its throat torn out.”
He left the room jauntily after the last statement. Obviously, he was very pleased with what had happened to Benson Hansen.
Carrie was thrilled with her first helicopter ride and we were astonished when we found out how we were going to get to Florida. In a small Lear Jet, no less. In the NFL I'd been on chartered jets many times, but this was the first time I had been in an executive jet. A werewolf named Sam Reynolds owned the jet. It served to drive home the point, just how powerful a werewolf Elder was. With a few days notice, Robby had been able to arrange for this type of travel.
Robby's contact met us in Tallahassee and drove us out to a farm, where there were three mini-vans for our use. One for Robby and us and one for Ishmael, both with hidden transmitters and a third van for the contact and his wife. They would stay about ten to twenty miles behind us, just in case backup was needed.
Robby gave me a map with the route that we would use and then we took off. He said that we were in no rush, so we'd stop early at a motel. He gave me one warning, before we started. “These vans have goosed engines, Steve and they're also roll stabilized so that they won't react to the wind like a normal mini-van. It might be a good idea to use cruise control at least at first, the power is deceptive. The pressure that you would normally use, could have you traveling twenty or thirty miles over the speed limit, very easily.”
I quickly found out how true his comment was, with almost no pressure at all the speedometer went to eighty and I hurriedly followed his advice. After a couple of hours travel and still not past noon, we stopped for the rest of the day and night. After a good lunch at the motel restaurant, which was a real surprise, since motel food was usually lousy, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the motel pool.
As was to be expected with Robby, who didn't have much physical modestly, his swimsuit was a brief Speedo. Carrie had an equally skimpy bikini, so I felt sort of odd man out in a swimsuit that reached halfway to my knees. Ishmael refused to get anywhere near the pool. Robby explained that he couldn't swim. I was surprised early on when Blue seemed about to join us, but Robby shook his head and was obviously talking to him and he settled down by the side of the pool.
Robby looked at Carrie and I, explaining, “You have to realize that Blue is not really a cat and he happens to love the water, though there are some breeds of cats that like the water. I had to tell him that the management would kick us all out of the pool, if he joined us. I told him I'd let him out later after dark and he could sneak a swim.”
We left at ten AM. Robby said we were close, maybe a hundred miles or so to go and as the drive continued, he said that he could feel Jenna getting closer and closer.
We passed a road sign that said Tenison, five miles. Robby explained, “That has to be where we're going, she's only a few miles away.” A few minutes later we pulled into Tenison. Pulling into parking spaces side by side, Robby snapped a leash onto Blue's collar and we all got out of the vans. About a hundred yards from where we parked, there was a preacher, standing and addressing a small crowd. They were obviously his flock, since they were all dressed up in their Sunday best. Robby looked up at me and grinned, “That's why I wanted to get here about this time. This is the way they start off their religious observances and the good Reverend chose Saturdays as their day of worship.”
Ishmael gave Robby a nudge and pointed with his chin across the street. Robby looked as did I and my eyes were good enough to see the name plate on his uniform, that said Sheriff. The name itself was just too small to read. Robby said, “Surprise, surprise. The sheriff doesn't seem to like the good Reverend very much at all. I like him already. Since this isn't the county seat he must be here just because of the Reverend.”
Since the sheriff was glaring venomously, in the preacher's direction I thought it was a pretty safe bet that Robby was right about how the sheriff felt. “Lets go see the sheriff, everyone. That everyone doesn't include you Ishmael,” Robby said wickedly, “I know just how comfortable you feel around strange law enforcement officials.”
Ishmael just glared at Robby, who chuckled. Carrie and I and Robby leading Blue on his leash, walked across the street to join the sheriff. As we got closer, I could make out his name, Larry Simpkins.
He got to his feet as we approached and asked, “Can I help you folks?”
Robby looked down at Blue and said reprovingly, “Now Blue, that's not nice, especially since he can't hear you. If you want to repeat it I'll let everyone in our little group in on it.”
*I have no objections. I just said he was the fattest werewolf I ever saw.* Blue said sarcastically. I was surprised to learn that the sheriff was also a werewolf and I could see that Carrie was equally startled.
Robby told him, with amusement. *Not true, cat. If that really was a beer belly it would have taken years to develop, a werewolf simply wouldn't live that long if he was fat. That's all muscle. I must admit its oddly distributed, but it's muscle.*
“May I help you, Elder?” said the sheriff, respectfully.
“Ah, I take it from that, that you weren't aware that the good Reverend is also a werewolf.” Robby said sardonically.
The sheriff looked at the Reverend with loathing in his face, saying, “No I wasn't, is he why you're here?”
“Yes, a good part of it.” Robby said.
“Let's go inside. Your friend across the street not going to join us?” asked the sheriff.
“He's somewhat uncomfortable in the presence of police officers. However he is quite reformed and also a Gypsy, so he can be relied upon completely.” Robby said, sincerely.
Inside the Sheriff's Office sub-station, the sheriff said to the deputy, “Ned, you go grab a bite to eat, I need some privacy to talk to these folks.”
“Sure sheriff!” said the young deputy, grabbing his hat and heading out.
The sheriff grinned, saying, “He's taken with the new waitress at the diner, so he goes there as much as he can. What exactly has Mitchell done?”
We saw a vision in our minds of the girl we had come to know as Jenna. The sheriff asked, with curiosity, “Jenna Mitchell, the minister's niece, what has she got to do with it?”
Robby said, flatly, “For one thing she's not his niece. There's absolutely no relationship between them. For the second she’s were and he's holding her against her will. She's tried running away a couple of times but being a wolf he caught her easily, because she can't change.” We saw Jenna again and this time the necklace around her neck glowed.
Robby explained, “That necklace around her neck is not tight, but it fits snugly. If she were to change into her other form, which is that of a Sasquatch, her basic shape doesn't change as much as werewolves do. Her legs lengthen and she gets fur all over her body. But one thing that happens is that her neck thickens about an inch to an inch and a half. If she were to change, that chain would cut her throat, as effectively as if it were a knife.”
“If you'd ever had a chance to examine that chain you would find there is no way to undo it, the only way to get it off is to cut it off. It would take a bolt cutter, like people use to cut off thick padlocks, a wire cutter wouldn't even leave a scratch.”
Robby handed the envelope, he had taken out of his bag, before we got out of the vans and handed it to the sheriff. He opened it and looked at the papers inside, his eyebrows rising. “How real is this?”
Robby told him, “The court order is completely legitimate, the birth certificate is a total phony. However, if you look in any computer database in the state you'll find Jenna listed under that name, so in that sense it's as legitimate as the court order. There's no way you could prove it was false.”
“Do you want this served?” the sheriff asked cautiously.
Robby shook his head saying emphatically, “Hardly!! As long as he's their minister, his congregation would support him completely. To try to serve that court order would be futile, you would end up with a police standoff, which is something we want to avoid. No I intend to discredit him and once he's discredited we can take Jenna without any problems.”
Relaxing a little now that he knew he wouldn't have to serve the court order, the sheriff asked, “How do you plan to discredit him? That's often a difficult thing to do with the type of religious nuts who make up his congregation.”
“But then,” said Robby, almost caressingly, “Most of them don't have a minister who's a werewolf. At the service this afternoon, I intend to force him to change into wolf form. I'll lock him into that form for a couple of weeks and by the time he can change back to a human, they'll want nothing to do with him.”
A smile began to grow on the sheriff's face. He said, “And of course, if his congregation talks about it, it doesn't matter, because no one would believe them anyway.”
I had to admire the plan, so simple and easy to put into action and as the sheriff said who would believe a bunch of religious nuts. Only other religious nuts. Only one possibility bothered me, that cameras might be in the meeting house. The sheriff assured us that one of the things Mitchell preached against was the making of any type of images, including photographs, videos, movies and television.
We only took one of the vans, Ishmael and the sheriff joining us in the one we were using. He directed us to the minister's Meeting House. We pulled into a hiding place just off the road and when we got out, we could see we were well hidden. The four of us who were weres changed into their alternate shape. Carrie and I into Sasquatch and the sheriff and Robby into wolves. The sheriff didn't have such an odd shape in this form as he did as a human.
Carrie looks much like I do except for the breasts, covered with a dense thicket of curly black fur but somewhat lighter than mine, which covered her whole body, including her face, which is more apelike than a humans. Her black eyes are enormous, but somewhat smaller than mine about one and a half times the size of a normal human. Our vocal apparatus is somewhat primitive and while we can make vocal sounds that mean something, we can't talk but must use mind-speech. Her teeth are smaller than mine, only a very little larger than a humans and though she had enlarged canines they were also much smaller than mine. Her legs were a few inches longer in this form and her crest was a more subdued rose color and only four inches in height rather than the six inches a male sported.
Jenna's fur as a child, would be a dark brown and the crest, would be even more muted, just showing a few red highlights among the brown. A female's manual dexterity was much better than a males, since their fingers only thickened a little bit and their claws were more like fingernails.
Even in daylight and despite the crests we could disappear in a forest and Robby and the sheriff were even more invisible. Ishmael really surprised me, for a human he was very quiet and the clothes he was wearing blended in very well.
I got the job of carrying Blue. I told him, *You're perfectly capable of traveling by yourself.*
Blue said complacently, *I'm a cat, Robby calls me a few names every once in a while, but he usually forgets lazy. Never walk when you can ride.*
We could hear the preacher's voice thundering out as we approached the Meeting House. He might not believe in pictures, but obviously, he had no objection to a good PA system.
We gathered together in a group about ten yards from the edge of the woods, in a small clearing. Robby laid down head on his paws and began to chant with his mind. Directed mainly at the preacher we only caught the edge of it. *Change, Reverend, change into a wolf.* Each time he repeated it, it was stronger and Blue jumped down from my shoulder and moved until he was in physical contact with Robby. After a few minutes, if I could have changed into a wolf, I would have, so strong was Robby's command, yet I knew it was only a fraction of what was being felt by Mitchell.
Robby stopped and I heard a young girl's voice screamed shrilly in apparent panic. “A demon, run!!”
*Good girl, Jenna keep it up.* Robby said with approval as the congregation began to stream out of the meeting house, hopping into their cars and taking off, evidently very anxious to get out of there.
*You can come in, now, everybody's gone.* spoke a calm voice in our heads. Robby got up and began to run toward the door and we all followed him, Ishmael, who didn't have our speed, bringing up the rear. When we entered the meeting house Robby was halfway up the aisle, back in human form. He stated, “Don't bother struggling, Reverend, you're locked in position for the moment.”
When Jenna saw my wife and I, her eyes lit up and she ran to us. We heard Robby's voice in our minds, humor and compassion in it, *Congratulations, you've just become the parents of a very bouncy pre-teen.* and looking down into Jenna's eyes, I knew he was right. We had longed for children, finally we had one.
Robby said to Mitchell, “You've been a very naughty werewolf, Reverend, you know Werewolf Law forbids imprisoning a were against their will, yet you did it and as an Elder, I am here to punish you for it. Unfortunately, I can't really do what I'd like to do with you, but I can take away your ministry. You will be locked in wolf form for two weeks and if you ever try to approach Tenison, you will find that you will get very serious headaches.”
Robby told him sternly, “Your flock is gone. Reverend, when I release you I'd get gone if I were you. As soon as your congregation gets home they'll find themselves thinking about those shotguns and rifles they own. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't show up in a an hour or so looking for the demon who frightened them away. And don't come to Benson, we'll be taking Jenna there with us and I wouldn't want you to show up. You would have to go through me to get to her.”
“I release you now, Reverend, it's time for you to leave.” I thought for a moment that Mitchell was going to attack Robby, but the sheriff moved up beside Robby and the Reverend headed for the outside aisle, making his way toward the door, which we moved away from, to let him pass.
Once the Reverend was gone, Robby turned around and his face was very calm, big green eyes serene. “I think we had better leave as well. They would consider us even more of a demon than their former preacher.”
When we reached town we dropped a very cheerful sheriff off at his office and picked up the other van and headed North out of Tenison. Robby pushed a hidden catch and a small hidden compartment opened in the back of my wife's seat.
He took out a small radio. “E to C. Come in.”
“C to E. Receiving, you loud and clear.”
“There's a picnic area about ten miles or so out of Tenison, meet us there please.” said Robby.
I asked Robby, “Why did you warn Mitchell about Benson, he might come and try to get Jenna?”
Robby said earnestly, “I certainly hope so, since I went to the trouble of putting the exact location of Benson into his mind. Jenna's not safe while he's allowed to wander around free. While his transgression was major, it only allowed me to punish him in certain ways and none of them would have made Jenna any safer. If he comes to Benson after being given a direct order by an Elder, then I can punish him in any manner I consider appropriate and I can get him out of our and Jenna's lives forever.”
We were coming up on the picnic area and there was already a parked van waiting for us. As Robby indicated, we stopped beside the other van, Ishmael behind us. Robby said, “I'd like to use the bolt cutters, please.”
“Certainly, Elder,” and reaching into a tool box he passed Robby a pair of bolt cutters. They looked like a scaled down version of large ones you see on cop shows on television. Gently Robby fitted, one part of the blade under the necklace and pressed down cutting through the chain
Jenna began to cry from happiness, as he showed her the cut chain. He passed the bolt cutters back to his contact, “We'll be heading directly back to Tallahassee, after a few more minutes here. Contact Sam Reynolds and tell him we should be in this evening and if he has no objections to a late flight, I'd like to get back to Benson tonight.”
The first thing the three of we did after we got home was to lock all of the doors and spend the rest of the day in Sasquatch form, a delight to Jenna who hadn't been able to change for so long.
We found that Jenna's schoolwork was quite good, she had been home schooled and despite his other faults Mitchell had been a good teacher. So, we entered her in the fifth grade at the Benson school. We thought because of her size she might have some trouble fitting in, but Robby introduced her to the two boys who seemed to be the leaders of the fifth graders, Ricky Anders and David Simpson. They became an almost inseparable trio, so she had a much easier time than my wife did and I had done when we were growing up.
We can't say that it will always continue as well as it has, but with Robby on her side, it's got a very good chance.