The moon wanes overhead as Vincent leads Leila and their small group onward towards answers. The trail finds them in a dark wilderness at the edge of a haunting lake. A thick fog forces them into a company of a strange man who leads them to his home on the waterfront. Strange visions and flitting shadows haunt Leila as Vincent feels there’s something not quite right about their host and the fog that surrounds them. Dark secrets wait for their reveal as Leila learns that her role as a proxy can bring terrible consequences.
The dream again.
I stood in the valley of death and saw that it was different. The mountains and endless nothingness were covered by a thick mist. I couldn't see my hand in front of me. The canyon was obscured. I didn't dare move for fear the dream would end with a sudden stop in the river of lava.
"Hello?" I called.
My voice echoed across the white expanse and answered me back with its mocking tone.
"Fate marches on beyond our control."
The voice came from close beside me. I gasped and jumped away. My hand flew to my gun, but holster and weapon were gone.
A circle of fog parted and revealed Vincent. No, he wasn't the Vincent. He was something else, something darker. The Dark Vincent stood with his side towards me. His head was tilted back and his eyes looked up at the invisible sky. They were white eyes, and his hands were more like long claws.
I frowned and moved closer to him. "What are you talking about?"
"The fog grows thicker. He comes," the thing replied.
I pursed my lips. This felt like a bad Shakespeare play. "Tell me who you are and what you're talking about."
The Dark Vincent tilted his head towards me. A grin spread across his wide lips. "Are you prepared for the reflection?"
"Stop spouting your nonsense and answer my damn questions!" I demanded.
He chuckled. The fog floated between us and hid him from my sight.
A hard bump jolted me awake. I sat up in my car seat and looked around. There was the same bleak scenery outside the windows of Quill's car. Row after row of trees lined either side of the road and stretched up the sides of the cragged mountains that loomed over us in the distance.
"Good morning," Quill greeted me.
I glanced to my left at my driver. Quill sat at the wheel with a smile on his face. The clock on the dash read five in the morning.
I collapsed against the back of my seat and ran a hand through my hair. "Damn dream. . ."
"Now that you're awake, do you mind an interview?" he asked me. "You've been in my car for three hours now and I still haven't gotten much out of you."
I leaned my head back and sighed. "Only if I get to interview you."
He grinned. "That's fair. And to show you what a good guy I am, I'll let you go first."
"How the hell did you find us?" I asked him.
He chuckled. "That's an easy one. The paper got a call from some hiker who said he saw you guys earlier that day. He got your face from the papers and wanted a load of cash in exchange for an interview."
I closed my eyes and a smile curled onto my lips. "Maybe I should ask for the same."
"You're getting a free ride, and food, whenever we find somewhere to eat," he pointed out. His eyes flickered to me. "You have any more questions or is it my turn?"
"You didn't finish your story," I told him.
He shrugged. "I figured you guys would set out for this highway at some point, so I drove out here for a few hours. I was heading back home when I heard on the police scanner about a fire in that town-what was it's name?"
I opened my eyes and pursed my lips. "Celatum."
"Yeah, that place. Anyway, I thought maybe some people tried to get the reward the hard way. That's when I found you guys. Is that all you wanted to know?"
"You said something about Fox coming after us. What was that about?" I questioned him.
"You know that Fox owns the paper, right?" he asked me. I nodded. "He's suppressed a lot of stories in the paper that's included your ‘werewolf.'"
I raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound like a smart business move."
"Exactly. I've been doing some digging and found out he's got some stock in Legenda Labs," he added.
I raised an eyebrow. "What's your point? He probably has stock in every business in the city."
"He's got a personal vendetta against your boyfriend there," he pointed out.
I glared at him. "He's not my boyfriend, he's a lead."
Quill grinned. "Sure he's not. Anyway, the paper trail connecting Fox to the Labs didn't tell me what they were studying. I tried to get one by Reggie that included the eyewitness accounts of a large animal escaping from the labs, but it was nixed. That makes me think Fox is hiding whatever the Labs were experimenting with."
I glanced over my shoulder. Vincent and Bram sat in the back seat. Bram leaned against Vincent's side and both of them were fast asleep.
"What were they doing there?" I whispered.
"What was that?" Quill wondered.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. "It's nothing. Anyway, how far can this tin can go?"
He glanced down at the fuel gauge. "That depends on if we find a gas station somewhere in this wilderness."
"How far did you drive before you turned around?" I asked him.
He shrugged and looked back at the road. "About twenty miles less than we've gone now." His eyes flickered over to me and he scrutinized my appearance. "So when was the last time you took a bath, anyway?"
I couldn't help but smile. "Does hiking through rain count?"
"Not if you smell like that."
"Then some time last week."
"If you're going to be in my car then that has to change, and soon," he insisted. "Anyway, I think it's my turn for some answers."
I folded my arms across my chest. "That depends on the questions."
"What do you know about those murders? The ones in the alley," he asked me.
I glanced out the window. The trees swept by as shadowy ghosts. I'd forgotten about the first time I saw Vincent as he truly was.
"I was there when they happened, and so was Vincent," I answered.
"And?" Quill persisted.
I looked away from the window and shrugged. "And Vincent turned into a werewolf and tore them to pieces."
Quill raised an eyebrow. "Did you eat a lot of mushrooms in the woods?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not high, and I'm not crazy. Vincent's a werewolf."
Quill glanced in his rear view mirror and smirked. "No offense, but he doesn't look like he could whip an alley cat, much less the thugs that got torn apart," he commented.
"If you don't believe me then just let us out here," I told him.
He held up his hand and shook his head. "No, no, it's all good. So he turned into a werewolf and tore them to pieces? Why?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe he was hungry."
"Were those guys in the alley after him, or you?" Quill wondered.
I frowned. "What's that got to do with anything?"
He chuckled. "Nothing. So where'd you get the Pipsqueak with an attitude?"
"Celatum. Things got a little hot for him so he left with us," I explained.
"That didn't happen to be that fire, would it?" he asked me.
I shook my head. "No, that was our brush with the authorities."
"They were so fond of you they wanted you to stay?" he teased.
"Something like that."
"Anyway, where are you and the legend headed now?" he wondered.
"Wherever his ‘feeling' takes us," I replied.
Quill raised an eyebrow. "‘Feeling?' You guys have been following a ‘feeling?'"
"Tell me about it. . ." I muttered.
"Actually, I'd like to hear about it," he requested.
"That's all I know. He has this ‘feeling' that's guiding us," I told him.
Quill frowned. "Not much of a story."
My eyes flickered to him. "You're obsessed with stories. You know coming with us is foolish, right? We're fugitives."
"Yeah, but an exclusive will get me a better pension and you guys off the hook," he pointed out.
"So you don't believe we broke the law?" I asked him.
He snorted. "I think you probably jaywalked, but murder? Please. I've interviewed murderers. They might not kill their victims all the same way, but there's a look in their eyes that tells you something's not quite right. You and your boyfriend there don't have that look."
"He's not my-"
"All right, that guy back there," he corrected himself. "Anyway, I don't think you guys did anything bad enough to warrant a warrant, and that means there's a story behind this that I want to publish. That's why I'm playing chauffeur. At least until we're all out of this mess."
"A big ‘if'. . ." I murmured.