It was just three days before Paul and his mother's wedding and Robby had limped to Seamus Riley farm. Most of the pain was gone now, only the bite on his leg was still bothering him and even it wasn't that painful anymore. In another week the limp would probably be gone and he could start to do a little running to go along with the physiotherapy that he was already getting.
Robby was sitting in Seamus Riley's, neat little kitchen and eating a piece of the excellent cake that Seamus had baked and having some milk. Ruefully he wished that he had some of Seamus's ability to cook. Robby had the ability to burn water and knew it.
After taking a last drink of the milk and wiping off the milk moustache with a napkin, he looked at Seamus. Robby said, “I know Mom and Paul have already thanked you, but I wanted to thank you as well, for allowing the wedding to be held on your farm. Werewolves prefer to get married in the open air when possible.”
Seamus looked at the boy and said teasingly, “Suppose it rains? What do you do then, boyo?” He would never forgive the werewolf doctor who had cost his wife and baby their lives, but he had come to like the Hansen family and the other werewolves that he had met in the last three weeks, no longer feeling any bitterness towards them.
Robby shook his head, saying with a grin, “The Elders say that we won't get any rain here for the next week. They're different from the rest of us werewolves. They have special abilities. One of those is a weather sense and they're seldom wrong. Another main ability, well that's why I came here today, aside from thanking you.
He saif solemnly, “As I said Elders have special abilities. Normal werewolves can talk mind to mind, but the Elders power to affect the mind goes much deeper. The worse thing that can happen to a werewolf is to lose the ability to change. It can't happen by accident. It doesn't seem to have one specific location in the brain, so even a brain injury doesn't affect it. But two or three Elders working together can reach into the mind and block the ability to change. It's usually a temporary measure, to remind us that there is someone outside of ourselves, who has control over us.”
He explained, “When we see that we have done wrong and why, then it can be reversed. Judging from what you told us and from what my grandfather said, about two or three years after your wife and baby died, your lady doctor was judged to have transgressed Werewolf Law by the way she was acting. Her ability to change was blocked by the Elders, she was and still is too arrogant to admit, that the way she acted was wrong, so the block has never been removed.”
Robby said sternly, “Also when a werewolf shows such arrogance and doesn't change, after a time, the Elders consider them not worthy to breed, so they are Outcast. It doesn't mean that she can't associate with other werewolves. It does mean that no other werewolf is allowed to breed with her. So she has been alone most of her adult life, her arrogance includes the belief that ordinary humans are beneath her. Aside from brief affairs with humans, there is no way she would take a mate from among them.”
With glowing face Robby said, “And changing is glorious, Seamus. Most werewolves would do almost anything to hold onto that ability. So she has and is being punished, far, far worse than in any other way.”
Seamus Riley was silent, for a time and then sighing, “I wish I could say that I pity her, Robby, but I do not. What you have told me gladdens my heart.”
Robby nodded and said with a smile, “We werewolves are a bloody lot, Seamus, I tend to agree with you.”
To anyone not knowing what was going on today, it would have looked like a picnic. Except for the minister, everybody was in casual clothes. They were neater than expected at a picnic that was about the only difference.
“Hello, Robby.” said Dr. Hansen.
“Hi, granddad. It looks like you and the other Elders were right for a change.” he teased, looking up at the cloudless sky.
He gave Robby a gentle swat on the backside and gave a grin. He said, “I think the food may need rescuing.” he nodded over to where Teddy, was eyeing the tempting tables.
“Teddy,” Robby called and Teddy turned around to look at him. Robby crooked his finger at him. Teddy gave one more wistful look at the food and then began trotting towards his brother and grandfather.
Robby said sympathetically, “You can't have any of that food now that's for the reception, Teddy.”
“What's a 'ception, Robby?” Teddy asked.
Robby said, “That's a meal that's held after the wedding, to help celebrate the new marriage.”
“But I'm hungry now, Robby,” protested Teddy.
Robby said mysteriously, “I sorta thought that might be the case. I made arrangements.”
Stepping up onto the platform where the marriage would take place, he turned on the microphone. He said, “Attention, please, would all hungry kids age nine and younger gather at the picnic tables set up by Seamus's kitchen. Arrangements have been made to tide you over until the reception in a couple of hours.” He grinned, “Anybody ten or older, who doesn't have a medical condition, please suffer in silence.”
He got some scattered laughter from the adults present and a few dirty looks from those kids ten and older, but he wasn't affected by either.
Robby turned off the mic and jumped down from the platform, wincing a little when he landed. He clapped his hands, saying, “Come on, granddad, since you're the one who brought it to my attention, you're elected to help. Wil and Gary should already be there, controlling the ravaging horde. You too Teddy, you're under ten and you're hungry so this includes you.”
When they reached the two picnic tables, there were about twenty-five to thirty boys and girls gathered around Wil and Gary and they were somewhat overwhelmed. Robby put two fingers in his mouth and gave a shrill whistle, getting immediate silence, the younger children turning to look at him. He told them, “Everybody grab a seat. Anybody, who gets involved in a fight, I'll send back to his or her parents without eating. You get two sandwiches and a soda each. If there are any sandwiches left, those who are still hungry can draw straws to see who gets the extras. No seconds on the sodas, unless you spill yours by accident. Gary, Wil and I will serve, so there's no need to jump up. When you finish there's a couple of garbage bags, put your litter in that.”
Both Wil, who had four brothers and sisters and Gary were impressed with how easily Robby controlled the children. They knew that he was respected at school, but this was the first time they'd seen him in charge of a group of children.
They went into the kitchen followed by Robby and his grandfather. There were three coolers sitting on the floor. The first two were filled with sandwiches and the third was filled with pop. Gary and Wil staggered out with the sandwiches and Robby and Dr. Hansen carried out the sodas.
Robby said, “There's seventy-five sandwiches, all told. Four different kinds. Fifteen of each type. Egg salad, tuna salad, plain chicken and plain beef, with an extra fifteen of the tuna salad. When I figured out these might be needed, I contacted all of your parents, by phone or e-mail and I learned that none of you are picky eaters. Your parents feed you all four types that I mentioned. You'll all get one tuna salad and if you prefer one type above another and if you're lucky, your second sandwich will be what you want. Don't get upset if you don't get what you want. This is just to take the edge off of your hunger. You'll be eating in a couple of hours and there's all different types of food available.”
The food and sodas had been distributed and the kids were eating fairly quietly. That meant that you could talk to your neighbor if you were willing to yell and plenty of the kids were.
Robby had allowed the helpers one soda each as well, so he was sitting on a folding chair, at the end of one of the tables drinking his. He happened to be sitting beside David Simpson. David beckoned to him with his finger and he leaned closer so that their heads were almost together. This close they didn't have to yell; yet their conversation was private. David said, “Robby, I'm sorry about what I did. We got a new puppy and Eric said if Mom and Dad had heard about what I did, we probably wouldn't have.”
Robby asked, “I know he was really annoyed at you, the night I spoke to him. How many times did you get slippered?”
“Six. Twice a week for three weeks.” David said.
Robby winced in sympathy. David shrugged, “Dad or Jerry hit a lot harder.”
Robby asked, “Jerry has the right to punish you when you're at his house?”
David nodded, telling him, “Eric has the same right with Ricky, we're always at each other's place, so our parents decided that our brothers should have the same rights over us.” he traced his finger on the tabletop. “Robby, could you talk to Ricky. He hasn't been coming over for the last few weeks and I miss him. He knows how often I got punished by Eric and he feels he wasn't punished enough.”
Robby thought for a couple of minutes. He asked, “What if the punishment was evened out a little, would Ricky feel better?”
Daid shook his head, saying, “Jerry hits way too hard. Ricky might not feel he was punished enough, but I know that the two slipperings he got were as bad as four of the ones I got from Eric.”
Robby considered for a moment, then said, “Then ask Eric to do it, you just said he had the right to punish Ricky. Would he agree?”
David nodded this time, saying, “Sure, but only if Ricky agrees to it.” Normally David and Ricky would have been sitting together, but Ricky was half way down the table. He had circles under his eyes and he looked very much alone.
Robby nodded, saying, “All right, I'll talk to him and right now is as good a time as any. He's finished eating and I've finished my soda, so I'll take him into the house. But the three of you will have to arrange the time and place.” Robby said with a grin.
Robby got up and limped down to where Ricky was sitting. He tapped Ricky on the shoulder and when the younger boy looked at him, he leaned down. He said, “Ricky, I want to talk to you, will you come into the house with me.”
There was a look of dread on Ricky's face, yet he obediently got up and followed Robby. Inside Robby said, “Let's go into the spare bedroom, it'll be more private.”
Closing the bedroom door behind them, then going over to the bed, he sat down on the edge. He motioned Ricky over to him and took hold of the younger boy by the waist and stared into his eyes. Right now, they were very sad eyes. Robby said, “We made a deal, I gave you twelve strokes with a switch on your bare bottom and arranged for your brother to give you a couple punishment sessions. You kept your end of the deal, why do you feel so bad?”
“'Cause David got punished way more'n me and every time I look at him, I feel bad,” said Ricky, tears showing at the corners of his eyes.”
“But David told me that Jerry hits much harder than Eric.” said Robby.
“I know, but still…” and Ricky said and began to cry. Robby drew him into his arms and began to stroke his neck and back. Robby said earnestly, “What if the punishment is evened out a little, will that make you feel better?” He pushed the little boy back to a standing position. Tears were still falling, but he was considering it. Robby said gently, “David said Jerry hits way too hard, so I thought since Eric has the same right to punish you, he could do it rather than Jerry.” Ricky's face brightened at that, obviously he hadn't been looking forward to a couple of punishment sessions with Jerry.
Ricky nodded his head, saying ruefully, “Eric doesn't hit as hard as Jerry, but he still hits pretty hard. David said the first two times it was almost as bad as his Dad or Jerry. Eric's been looking pretty angry at me, so I 'magine, the first time will be pretty bad. But I'd feel lots better.”
Robby said, “All right, we'll give you a face wash and then we'll go back outside and you can make any further arrangements with David and Eric.”
By the time they got outside, most of the children were finished and long gone, most of them putting their litter in the garbage bags as they had been told. David and Eric were waiting and David's face lit up as he saw Ricky grinning from ear to ear.
Robby, who had been on the go for most of the morning, gratefully accepted Gary and Wil's offer to police the area, carried his folding chair over to where his grandfather was sitting on the lawn chair that Seamus Riley kept out for his use. Dr. Hansen, asked, “What was that all about, with Ricky Anders?” He had just retired a year and a half ago, he and his wife moving to Florida. Up to then he had been the town doctor and he still knew all of the adults and most of the kids.
Robby explained what had happened just before Christmas when Teddy had first started to control his change, bringing him up to date. Robby said seriously, “Ricky felt David had been punished more than he was and he was really feeling guilty and was avoiding David, so I suggested that he get a couple of punishment sessions from David's brother. You wouldn't think a kid would be anxious to be spanked, but his face was lit up with a smile.”
Dr. Hansen looked thoughtful. He said “You have wise ways about you, young Robby. This way they got punished at least as much as their parents would have done and it drove home the point much better. Knowing both families as you say, aside from the whippings, they probably would have grounded both boys and maybe forbidden them from seeing each other for a while. They might never have gotten back together, ruining a lifelong friendship.”
Gary and Wil came over then, doing up the garbage bags. Gary said, “The kids were pretty good, they only left a few things for us to pick up.”
He looked at Robby and saw a gleam in his eye. He shook a finger at him and said, “Now, control yourself, Robby, the doc said it would be another month at least before you were ready for any wrestling matches.”
Robby shook his head, saying ruefully, “Yeah, I know, besides I couldn't do it now anyway, even if I was able, not on Mom's wedding day. I better go collect the ring bearer and hand him over to grandma, so he still looks halfway decent by wedding time.”
himself to his feet and headed for the field where the wedding would
be held, to find Teddy. Gary looked after him and then looked at Dr.
Hansen. He said with respect, “Did you see how easily he controlled
those kids? Wil and I were getting mobbed. He whistles and speaks a
few words and they were as good as gold. You know, if he really cared
about winning, more than having fun in playground games, either David
or I would never be picked as captain for games. But most of the kids,
while they want to have fun, they also want to win, so he doesn't get
chosen as captain very often.”
Robby had loved walking his mother down the aisle, even though the aisle consisted of grass, but he was just as glad the wedding and the reception were almost over.
It had been a happy time for Robby, but it had also been stressful, still recovering from his wounds, he had found that a lot more had ended up on his shoulders than he had expected. That mystified him. Why people would come to an eleven year old when there were plenty of adults around?
Teddy said, “Robby!!” he looked at his little brother sitting beside him.
“Yes, Teddy?” he asked, smiling at the little boy.
“I thought there was enough food for everyone in the whole world, almost,” Teddy said and he pointed at the food tables, “and look there's only a little bit left.”
Robby nodded, saying, “It was good and it sure went fast. I saw Gary go fill his plate four times, I only managed two.”
Robby looked around and he realized that Gary and his family were gone, in fact all of the townsfolk were gone, the only ones left were werewolves and the Gypsys. He realized that the Elders must have shooed them away. While they couldn't talk to humans they could influence their actions to some extent, when there were as many Elders gathered for an event such as this wedding.
Robby saw Reverend Swenson make his way toward the platform. Turning on the microphone, the Reverend began speaking, “Some of you have perhaps noticed that the only humans left here are Gypsys. Well we have another ceremony to perform today and it has nothing to do with the wedding; it concerns our people, werewolves. Would the Elders please join me on the platform?”
Two men and two women got up and walked to the platform, one man and women standing on either side of Swenson. He continued, “We have been watching this one since he was born, for many of his ancestors have been Elders. We know when one of our own uses the Death Chant and less than a dozen have called on it in the last fifty years and he is the only one to survive. We ask him to become a new Elder.”
Robby with a chill going up his spine realized that they were talking about him. Without being called, he stood up and made his way to the platform. He stood facing them and after looking at each of them in turn and bowing, Softly he gave the answer that he knew was expected of him, from the teaching that his mother had been giving Paul and Robby. “I accept, knowing the responsibilities that will now be mine. I will not shirk my duties, knowing at times I will have to judge my own kind.”
Robby bowed his head again and the five reached out and put their hands on his head and with care they ventured into his mind, opening up new channels and giving him the knowledge that an Elder would need.
They withdrew their hands speaking, in mind-speech, *Welcome, young Elder.* From now on Robby would be able to use mind-speech with any werewolf, no matter which form they were in or he was in.
He turned to face his people and he bowed and they bowed back. There would be no applause, werewolves considered this too solemn an occasion. He looked with love at his mother and Paul, he knew that this would not have happened at this time without both of them permitting it.
Things changed little for Robby; he was still a schoolboy recovering from injuries. He could of course speak mind to mind to any werewolf and whereas before he would know a werewolf only when he saw them change, now he could see a glow around those who were werewolves. Talking to Wil, he found out that was the way Gypsys recognized werewolves and he now knew Gypsies, as they knew werewolves.
By the time that his grandfather called a couple of days before Easter, he was completely recovered from his wounds. His grannddad told him gravely, “Robby, we ask that you perform your first duty as an Elder. There are others available, but you know about the situation, from your friend Seamus Riley.”
“Estelle White, the doctor is dying and she would like to make one more change before she dies. We would like you to see her and decide whether she should be granted her wish. It only takes one Elder to remove the block.”
Robby asked, “Are you sure that I can be fair and objective about this, granddad? You know I have a great deal of sympathy for Seamus Riley.”
His granddad told him, “We think you can Robby. Your mother has five hundred dollars in expense money for you; if you need more or anything else get in touch with our contact in the city. Also, she has the Doctor's address. Good luck, young Elder.” said his grandfather, hanging up the phone.
“How are you going to go about it, Robby?” asked his mother, looking at him.
Robby told her, considering. “I think I'll ask Ishmael to drive me. We can take Wil and his sister Cary with us and we can stay with their family like we did just after you and Paul got back from your honeymoon, so you two could get to know Teddy, without me hanging round. If we leave Thursday after school, we can be there for supper and have a good nights sleep before I have to see the doctor, on Friday.”
After an excellent supper, several other Gypsy families joined them for a party. They seemed to be having a good time, but Robby could tell that they were faking it. They seemed quite agitated, especially the older ones. He looked at Wil and Ishmael with a questioning look and they both shrugged their shoulders, showing their ignorance.
Robby stood up and putting two fingers in his mouth a shrill whistle piercing through the room. He waited for silence and then standing with his hands on his hips, Robby said, “All right, there's something wrong, would someone like to tell me what it is?” He looked at the man and the woman who were considered the leaders of this family and they looked at each other and they nodded.
The man looked at Robby. He told him, “There's been nine attacks on men and women over the last twenty-nine days, all either elderly or sick and all in the same area. Two of the people died. They were both Gypsies. We think that there's a vampire stalking the night.”
Robby felt the hackles on the back of his neck rising and there was a snarl on his face and his hands were clenched tight. He saw the Gypsys move back from the sudden threat he embodied. Robby took several deep breaths, calming himself down before saying tensely, “Sorry, an instinctive reaction, werewolves don't like vampires one little bit. Every three days, that's a little excessive for a vampire. Once a week or every ten days would be more normal. Also they usually choose strong, healthy people.”
looked over the people. He asked, “Would one of you show me where
the last victim was attacked.” He got a reluctant nod from one of
them. He looked at Wil and Ishmael, asking, “Would you care to join
us, if he/she is so cowardly that he's only attacking the sick and the
elderly, they're not going to attack four people, even if two are children.”
Neither hesitated, Ishmael because he wasn't afraid of anyone living
dead or undead and Wil because he was Robby's friend.
At the scene of the last crime it only took Robby in wolf form, a few seconds to determine why the vampire was feeding so often. When they got back to the apartment, most of the people had left. Only the family plus the two leaders remained.
Robby told them gravely, “I could scent the reason that the vampire is feeding so often. We call them the undead, though that's not really true. They are just as alive as we are, but their metabolism is slowed down, so that they live a very long time. Eventually even their bodies wear out and they try to prolong their lives for as long as they can. They believe they sold their souls to the devil for that long life, the ability to change and the extra strength and they don't want to face him any sooner than they have to. I could smell the decay of his body and he doesn't have long.”
Robby paused for a moment before explaining, “But by that, I'm talking in vampire terms. If he continues to feed as often as he has, he could live as much as fifty years. At the normal feeding rate, it would probably be five to ten years. But he, I'll call him he, it's easier, he's caught in a feeding frenzy and that mean he's gotten stupid. He's feeding on a regular basis and in a fixed place. He won't move on until he gets frightened, or until we send him beyond the grave. Pass the word. Everybody is to stay off the streets tomorrow after dark, that especially means the sick and elderly. I'll see if I can't come up with a decoy by then and we'll see if we can trap him.”
Robby said, “This is the address, Ishmael. I guess you'll have to drive around the block until we're finished. C'mon, Wil.”
Wil asked nervously, “Are you sure, Robby? This is werewolf business.”
“Yes, I'm sure. This is Gypsy business as well, you're here for Seamus Riley, Wil.” Robby said earnestly. They entered the apartment building and rang the doorbell and the door was opened by a woman in her late fifties, gaunt with illness. She looked the two boys up and down and Robby skimmed the surface of her mind. He said sternly, “I see you still have the arrogance that caused your punishment, Estelle White, why should I remove the block?”
The doctor told him, “Come in, Elder, we'll talk and then you can decide.”
As they entered, Wil was expecting a dressed up place with fancy, breakable ornaments, all over the place. He was surprised to find a nice homey apartment. They entered the living room and Robby was delving deeper into Estelle's mind now, he was suspicious. As soon as he received confirmation, he withdrew. He and Wil sat on the sofa and accepted the tea that was offered, liberally served with milk and sugar.
Robby took a sip, not really noticing the taste and then stared at Estelle. “Where's the boy?”
She stared at him. She said, “I was a little doubtful when I saw you. I've never heard of an Elder so young. I don't doubt any longer.” She called, “Barry, would you come in here please?”
A little boy ran into the room. He was dressed in red shorts and a red and white T shirt but was barefoot. When he saw the strangers he stopped and looked at them shyly. He was dirty, but just the normal accumulation a boy would acquire in a hard mornings play.
Robby smiled, his eyes sparkling and the boy was charmed and he came right to the older boy. Still a little shyly, he said, “Hi, I'm Barry White.” and he stuck out his little hand.
Robby told him gravely, “Hello, Barry White, I'm Robby Hansen. Since it was a new moon last night you must have been changing for about the last three or four days. How do you like being able to change?” he asked. Barry looked at his mother, his eyes wide.
She said, reassuringly, “It's all right darling. He's a werewolf too.”
“It's glorus!” said Barry ecstatically. “Mommy can't change any more. She said she did somethin' bad when she was young and they took the 'bility away.” he finished sadly.
Robby pointed at Wil, “This is my friend Wil, he's a Gypsy, they're the only humans who can always tell what we are.”
Barry shook his hand gravely and Wil got a lump in his throat. Robby picked the little boy up and sat him on his lap to the little boy's obvious delight. He looked at Estelle, “Italian, Greek?”
She was impressed and she relaxed, this boy was smart, obviously the Elders hadn't sent him because they considered him the second team. Estelle told them, “Italian. I went to a conference five years ago and met an Italian doctor. I told him I was Outcast, yet that only seemed to make him want me more. I never told him about Barry's birth, because if he was willing to break our laws, I didn't trust him.”
“I gather Barry is the primary reason that you wanted to see an Elder.” Robby stated. “You want me to take care of him?”
Estelle nodded saying seriously, “Yes, the primary reason, but not the only one, I would like to change one last time. I've never kept secrets from my son. He knows I'm dying and he knows that changing one last time would kill me, but as he says its glorious. If it's done around a full moon we can talk once mind to mind.”
Robby pursed his lips, “Estelle, you haven't changed, you're still the arrogant bitch you've always been, so I'm not inclined to just give it to you, but you can earn it.”
Her face which had started to grow gloomy, brightened again. “How may I earn it?”
“A vampire has been stalking the area in which my friend's family lives.” Robby said, his face calm but Wil saw in Estelle and Barry's faces what had shocked his family in Robby's the night before. Their faces were savage with hate. “He's been attacking the sick and elderly, so you would make a good decoy, if you're willing. It's quite possible that you could get killed in the process.”
Her voice was cold, her face had relaxed a bit but was still hard with hate, “Being able to help kill a vampire, would be almost as good as a last change and maybe I can get both.”
Estelle told him, “This makes your mother Harriet Hansen and your stepfather, the sole executors of my estate, it also gives them temporary custody of Barry and the decision to make it permanent, if they decide to do so, otherwise it leaves the picking of his new parents to them. My lawyer is a werewolf and a friend, though he's been trying to get me to repent for the last twenty-five years, so he's aware that special provision need to be made for Barry. I'll see you just before dark then.”
Robby nodded wordlessly, they shook hands with Barry and left. Ishmael was just coming around the corner and stopped and they opened the door and climbed in. Robby got a piece of paper with an address on it and asked Ishmael to drive to that address. It was a pawnshop and it had a closed sign on the front door.
Robby told them he'd call when he wanted to be picked up and ignoring the front door went down the alley beside it and knocked at the side door. It was opened quickly, by a man who was also a Gypsy. By the name of Edward Franco. He gave a nod of greeting, asking, “Yes, young Robert Hansen, how may I help you? Surely you haven't spent the expense money yet.”
“No, I want some vampire hunting equipment.” Robby said simply.
“Ah, yes, I heard about the attacks. Is it part of our responsibility?” the man inquired.
Robby told him intently, “I would have gone after him, anyway. But the fact that the two who were killed, deliberately it seems, were of your people. That brings it under my responsibility,” his eyes were chill, “and allows me to call in help.”
“Who exactly do you want me to contact?” asked the Gypsy with curiosity.
Robby said, “Unmarried, loners, the more antisocial the better, just in case someone gets killed. I think this is an old dying vampire, so its not as dangerous as would normally be the case, but accidents happen.”
“And you expect these type of people will help?” asked Edward skeptically.
grinned, saying, “Obviously you have never been involved in a vampire
hunt. They will consider it an honor and they'll even cooperate for
a while, just to make sure they stay in the hunt.”
They were five of the scruffiest, ugliest looking bunch of humans or werewolves Robby had ever seen, but the hunger of the hunt was already on them. The biggest of them came to his feet with a snarl, “What kind of joke is this? A kid. You expect us to take orders from a little kid?”
Robby locked eyes with him and began to press with his mind. He was more stubborn than most, but finally the pain in his head got to him and he said ritually, “I acknowledge your right, as my leader, for this hunt, Elder.” and he sat down, Robby letting the pain fade from his mind. Robby looked at each of the other in turn. They met his eyes, but there was no additional challenge.
Robby said with amusement, “I asked our friend to chose the five worst SOB's he could find. Well it looks like he succeeded. As I told him I think the vampire we're hunting is old and weak, but I could be wrong. If you get killed nobody's going to miss you, but I would prefer not to lose anyone.”
They were in Estelle White's Caddy and it was just after dark, soon it would be time for her to act as a decoy. It was only a couple days after the full moon. Wil and his sister Cary were babysitting Barry, since this would be a night he would be changing.
Estelle asked with curiousity, “What was in those capsules that you gave me? As a doctor I guess I should have asked first.”
Robby told her, “Just concentrated garlic. Even a lot of werewolves think that vampires are afraid of garlic. Not exactly true. If they get it on their skin or if they ingest it, it prevents them from flying or changing. It'll slow them down a little and even a little garlic in the blood is enough. They're still five or six times as strong as most humans and about three times as most werewolves, so they're certainly dangerous. But we're almost as fast as they are and the werewolves I chose are certainly far stronger than the normal werewolf. If this vampire is as sick as I think he is, he won't have nearly as much advantage as a normal vampire.”
Robby held up a little spray can, about the size of a small can of deodorant telling her, “We'll be all around you. This stuff almost destroys a human or werewolf scent so he won't be able to smell us. If he decides to break your neck or something like that before he feeds, you're dead, but he hasn't done that so far to any of his victims, so if you don't struggle too hard, it's unlikely that he'll do so with you.”
He looked at her, saying dispassionately, “But lady I don't really care. I'll feel sorry for Barry, but I feel nothing for you. You deserved your punishment and you haven't changed. You raised a nice son, I'll concede that.”
Estelle gave a nod of understanding, saying, “I know my faults, Elder and I do not apologize for them. However, knowing them, I've tried to make sure that my son didn't share them. I didn't have as long a time with him as I wanted, so now it's your responsibility to make sure that he grows up to be a nice young werewolf.” She got out of the car and Robby followed. He sprayed himself all over and put the can in his pocket and after pulling a stocking mask over his head and putting on gloves, began following her. She didn't have to pretend to be ill, for much of her strength was gone.
hadn't been aware that there were five werewolves besides himself out
there around her, he wouldn't have been able to find them, so at one
with their surroundings were they.
Finally, after a couple of hours he saw a shadow swooping down on Estelle. Pausing long enough to make sure that the vampire had fed, Robby gave his shrill whistle and five spotlights focused on the vampire. He could tell immediately that he had been right about the vampire being close to the end. His hair was sparse and lank and he was incredibly gaunt.
Robby pulled off the mask and pushed it into his pocket, pulling out the large silver crucifix with one hand and the automatic pistol with the other. A second whistle and they began to move in on the vampire. They saw him leap into the air in a futile effort to fly and that moved him away from Estelle White.
He obviously tried to change, for there was a sudden panic on his face. He stared at the approaching beings. Then sarcastically he said, “What do you intend to do with the guns. Do you have silver bullets in them? That just works against werewolves.”
Robby said gravely, “Actually that's just a myth, sure a silver bullet will kill a werewolf, but they're no more damaging to us than ordinary bullets. No I think the bullets we'll be using will be much more effective than that. I know that a stake in the heart will kill a vampire. We've proved it enough times and these guns, they carry wooden bullets, dipped in Holy Water.”
The vampire screamed, shrill with fear, “My children will come after you!! They will find you!!”
Robby shook his head saying seriously, “Oh, I don't really think so. If they're not loyal enough to take care of you in your dotage, I don't think they'll be loyal enough to come after your killers.” He raised the automatic and they all began firing. Fired by compressed air the bullets didn't have the velocity of a normal gun, but it was quite adequate for the range. A coward the vampire had been and a coward he died, huddling down trying to avoid the wooden bullets. But one of them obviously struck his heart since he abruptly went to dust.
Personally, though the other werewolves were disappointed, Robby was just as happy that they hadn't faced a vampire in his prime. He certainly wouldn't have gone after him with only six werewolves. He said to the others, “Do what you want with the guns, there's a solvent on the bullets that dissolves them after twenty-four hours and the clips can't be reloaded. And if you really want an air pistol, there are ones just as good on the market. I would however, if I were you, make sure that your fingerprints can't be found on them. I'm sure that you're wanted for crimes somewhere, so the best thing would be to dump them into the river.”
“Anytime I need some no-account, scumbags to fight a vampire, I'll be sure to give you a ring.” he finished off grimly, “Next time I'm sure it's not going to be as easy.” The five gave him a look for a moment and saw that he was serious. After giving him off-hand salutes they turned and walked away, planning to make a stop by the river before they went home.
“Ishmael,” Robby said, “you're really very good, but you scraped your shoe just at the last minute. Tsk, tsk, what would your former partners in crime say?”
He listened with interest as Ishmael told him exactly what they would have told him. Robby said with obvious amusement, “Well I'm always glad to learn new things, but I'm sure my mother and new stepfather wouldn't approve. Let's see if the good doctor is still alive and if so get her home to her puppy.”
Apparently, she was fine, since she was already sitting up as they made their way to her side.
Estelle White was lying on the couch, her son Barry lying beside her. Robby told her, “The block has been removed and as you start to change you'll find the link between you and Barry is far more intense than any you've ever felt before. He will always know, because he will feel it, that you died happily.”
Robby watched her start to change and because it had been so long, it took much longer than normal, but finally she was a full wolf. Robby wasn't listening in, that was private between her and Barry. Estelle finally stopped moving and then breathing. He blinked back tears for Barry, as he began to yowl with grief and Robby picked him up and snuggled him in his arms, the yowls changing to pitiful whines.
Robby heard her lawyer come up behind him. The man told him, “I'll take care of everything. Her body will be cremated and her ashes scattered in the wind, as she wished and a headstone set up in her family plot. Aside from Barry, she was the last of her family. I won't report her death until you have time to get Barry to your home, Elder, it'll be less complicated that way.”
leave around five, so Barry will be changed back into a boy.” Robby
Barry was exhausted from his grief, both in puppy form and human form and had slept the whole trip. Yes, he would remember that his mother had died happy and in the future that would be a comfort, but right now he was a four year old boy who had just lost his mother.
Robby thanked Ishmael for the ride and then lifted Barry carefully out of the car, trying not to wake him. Wil got his suitcase out of the trunk and he and Cary followed Robby up the walk. It was just coming up to eight o'clock, so his mother and stepfather wouldn't be awake yet, though Teddy might be.
Cary took Robby's key from around his neck and unlocked the door. He wasn't surprised when he saw Teddy sitting on the bottom step, in his pajama bottoms. Teddy was quite good at being quiet on Sunday mornings, hopeless at all other times. His eyes got big when he saw the boy in Robby's arms. He had always wanted a little brother.
Teddy got up and came over to his big brother and the other older kids. Seeing that the boy was asleep, he asked quietly, “Is he for us?” he asked with suppressed excitement.
Robby set Barry down on the sofa and pulled off his shoes. The boy turned on his side and curled up, sticking his thumb in his mouth. He said soberly, “Temporarily at least, Teddy. It's up to our parents to decide whether it'll be permanent. When he wakes up, don't ask too many questions, his Mommy just died and he's very sad right now.”
Robby looked at Wil and Cary, asking, “Are you two staying the day, or are you heading for home?”
They looked at each other and Wil said with a grin of amusement, “Oh, definitely staying the day, we've got to see the end of this.”
Robby said, “Thanks… I think. I hate to wake them up right now, but they should learn about Barry from me before he wakes up. Teddy's pretty good on Sunday's, even Easter Sunday, but with another kid in the house I imagine the noise level will go up dramatically. Keep an eye on them and keep it down until I get a chance to tell them.”
“Teddy,” Robby crooked his finger at his little brother and the boy who had been kneeling in front of the couch, staring enchanted at Barry, looked at him. Teddy jumped up and came over, Robby bent down and whispered, in his ear. “Teddy, he's a werewolf too, so you can change in front of him.”
Teddy's eyes grew even bigger and he spun around in glee, losing his balance and landed on the floor on his bottom, giggling with joy.
Robby gave a knock on his mother and new stepfather's bedroom door. “Come on in, Robby.”
“How did you know it was me?” he asked absently.
Hary said, with a grin, “Now, Robby, you're not thinking this morning. When did Teddy ever bother to knock?”
He slapped himself on the forehead and grinned, “I guess it was a dumb question, Mom.”
“How did things go?” asked Paul.
He sat on the bed and told them most of it.
His mother looked at him suspiciously, “Robby maybe I shouldn't say this, but you lie very well, where you have problems is when you try skirting around an issue.”
He shrugged and explained about Barry. She looked at Paul and then back at Robby. “Well we can certainly take him temporarily, but I...”
Robby was shaking his head. “You're not thinking, Mom. She deliberately broke an Outcasting. At one time both she and Barry would have been killed. We're a little more civilized now, but no werewolf family would accept a child of an Outcasting. Only an Elder's family can do so without stigma and I told Estelle that I would take care of him. I told Teddy that it would be temporary, but he is under my care until he's an adult.”
Hary looked at him and he stared back at her steadily. Paul began to laugh. “It isn't quite the way that we had intended to add to the family, but it's a start.”
She asked, “What if his father comes to claim him.”
Robby's voice went chill, “He had better not. I can understand Estelle's wish for a child, but he knowingly broke an Outcasting. If he shows up, he'll find there's another kind of Outcasting. We'll see how he likes being locked in a wolf's body, until he asks for forgiveness.”
his hand and he relaxed. Cocking his head he began to grin, “I think
Barry is awake and getting to know his new brother. I can hear giggles
and yapping. Perhaps we should go down so I can introduce you to your
The three boys moved into a bigger bedroom after they got new bunk beds for the younger boys to go with the double bed for Robby. Robby could have moved into a bedroom on his own, but he put it off for a while. He knew he would have felt lonely and when he felt the need for privacy, he would move into a room by himself.
Seamus Riley and Robby were sitting in lawn chairs watching the little boys playing. Seamus said to Robby, “At least the woman did one thing right in her life.”