Stephanie and Chuck must defeat their adversary if they are to live a free life together. Such a task involves infiltrating the enemy’s stronghold and surviving the countless guards loyal to their foe. Chuck has a plan to sneak inside, but Stephanie has only her doubts. If they fail, they both die.
The city was dark and empty as the lone vehicle slowly drove through the rough-looking neighborhoods. There were two occupants inside the vehicle, and one of them was very nervous.
“And you’re sure we were allowed to leave the town?” Stephanie asked Chuck for the umpteenth time that night. “I mean, I really don’t want to be dragged into jail for being accused of running. They’re probably going to do that anyway with Bob’s murder, but I’d rather it happen later rather than sooner.”
“It’s fine, the chief and judge signed off on the release,” Chuck promised her with an exasperated sigh. He really wished she would have agreed to be left behind at his place. At least then he would have had some peace in the car. The situation was tense enough as it was without her asking him again and again if they were going to get a warrant out for their arrest. “Now calm down and try to relax. We’re almost there.”
Chuck was at the wheel trying to find the location to the old gang hangout. The city they were currently driving in, the same where the last conference had occurred, wasn’t the main headquarters of the group. The gang merely had a base of operations for intimidating and eliminating enemies. He figured that if Gregory had committed the murder himself, he couldn’t have gone too far in two short nights. Even if he’d gotten a lackey to do the dirty work, highly likely, than he would still be close by to see the results.
The only problem was that Chuck was having a momentary lapse of forgetfulness. He just couldn’t quite remember which street the hangout had been in this big city. Perhaps it was the stress of the situation, the tense, beautiful woman behind him, or his own old age showing. Maybe it was all of those problems combined.
“Should we try looking for it another night?” Stephanie suggested to her partner. She wanted to enjoy one more night of his company before his almost-assured death by the hands of a gang of mean werewolves.
Her life had certainly weirded out lately.
“We could, but it’s just kicking the can down the road,” he pointed out. He peered out to the row of dark, tall tenant buildings on both sides. Chuck was sure it was one of these, but they all looked so alike he couldn’t be sure which one. Barging into the wrong one might attract the attention of their enemies and eliminate the element of surprise they were going for. Then again, if they were close enough to the hideout they could’ve already been spotted by the gang. “We have to get this over with so we can-”
“I know, I know, stop worrying about Gregory,” Stephanie finished for him. Her tone wasn’t annoyed, it was just strained. He’d told her enough times on the trip that it was going to be dangerous but necessary to probably kill Gregory as a warning to the rest of the gang not to mess with them. She slumped down in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest. “I just wish I could help you out more.”
“How about by looking for a door that has a Marley knocker?” he suggested to her. She glanced at him with a frown on her face. “It’s from the Christmas Carol story. The face on the door of Scrooge’s home is called a Marley knocker.”
“Are you sure you were ever part of a rough gang of werewolf street thugs?” she asked him. She could hardly believe anyone on the streets would be familiar with Dickens.
“I told you I turned over a new leaf.”
“Are you kidding me? I think you turned over a whole forest trying to get out of this group,” Stephanie insisted, and then she sighed. The young woman set her elbow on the window ledge and leaned her chin on her open hand. “Now all my troubles are dragging you back in.”
“Funny, I thought I was the one who scratched you, not the other way around,” Chuck quipped. Then he let out an exclamation which signified success, and he nodded at one of the buildings they were coming up on. “That looks like the one. I just need to figure out a way inside without being too obvious.”
The building was tall, four stories in height with a full, partially submerged basement beneath, and it was long at about seventy feet. It’d been built to comfortably house at least a dozen tenants and their families, but the whole place had fallen on hard times. The brick outside was chipped and several were missing. The concrete stairs leading up to the front door were crumbling and the windows were either boarded up or had dingy curtains hanging in them. He cringed when he recalled that once he had called such a dump home.
“You mean we,” his partner corrected him. He didn’t like where this was going. “I know I’m not an elite ninja werewolf assassin yet, but I can at least bring up your nice rear.”
“I let you come along because otherwise you would’ve followed me to the city and got yourself lost, but I’m not going to get you killed doing this raid,” he informed her.
“Then don’t get me killed. You should be careful enough neither of us has to worry about meeting the reaper,” Stephanie shot back. They drove passed the building and she caught a glimpse of a few people standing inside one of the front, ground floor rooms. “You think they’re werewolves?”
“That or drug dealers. The gang always liked to control every legal and illegal activity in their territory,” he replied. Stephanie stuck out her tongue in disgust, then she glanced up at the building again.
“You sure this is going to work? The sneaking part, I mean. Aren’t they just going to catch us once we’re inside anyway?” she wondered. He shrugged at her question.
“More than likely, but if they’re not expecting a frontal attack by us and we do manage to get in there deep enough to find Gregory’s room then we’d at least have a fighting chance,” Chuck explained to her.
“That’s a lot of ifs,” Stephanie pointed out. She didn’t like that many ways for their plan to go wrong. They were reaching the end of the block by now and Chuck stopped at the spray-painted stop sign. This was such a lovely neighborhood. “What if we just walked up there and you asked to fight him? Wouldn’t they agree to that?”
“Werewolf duels aren’t that gentlemanly,” he regretfully informed her. He took a right and slowly drove along the block opposite where the hideout stood. “He’s not just going to agree to fight me, especially when he knows what I can do.” Chuck found a parking spot on the sidewalk that was free of junk cars and overturned, burnt out garbage cans.
“Didn’t you ask what’s-her-name, Seville, what happened to the guy before Gregory took charge? He beat that guy to get to the head, didn’t he? If he did beat the last guy, why do you think you can be him?” she asked her partner after he’d shut off the car.
“That’s a lot of questions,” Chuck mused. He stepped out of the car without answering a single one. His eyes roamed the windows of the broken-down, tall buildings around them, and he saw no signs of immediate danger. He stuck his head back inside the cab and put on his most firm face. “Now you-”