Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag - Chapter 12

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.

The snow buried the old workhouse. A faint light came from the windows in the old cafeteria. Teodor and Amanda hurried over the snow. Teodor kept his nose down. The snow covered most of the smells. He didn't smell anything new. But he wouldn't be able to smell the Hag anyway.

As they got closer to the old workhouse, he caught a whiff of vodka. Teodor lifted his head. Steopa stood in a grove just below the building.

Teodor approached Steopa. Steopa glanced at Teodor. “She is here.” he said in a low voice.

Amanda changed into the hybrid. “Where?” she growled.

Steopa nodded in a direction Teodor sat on his hunches and looked in the direction that Steopa pointed out. Across the snow, in the trees, shadows moved. A human would not have been able to see the subtle differences from the shadows from the trees, to the ones the Hag casted. To a werewolf, she was a slightly darker shade of gray. She had the same aura that Steopa had, but hers was lighter.

Amanda whined. Teodor shook his head. Steopa moved a little closer to the Hag. The Hag stopped. The shadows flowed around her like a long dress. She stared at Teodor, Steopa, and Amanda.

“What are you?” she asked. Her voice sounded as if the wind sucked it away.

Amanda stepped forward. “Stay away from those children.”

The Hag floated closer. “They have been thrown away. They are mine.”

Amanda growled.

“You are not Baba Yaga,” Steopa said.

The Hag stared at Steopa. She had no eyes, only black holes. “That is my sister.” She hissed, “How do you know her?”

“I do not know you."

“My name is my own." The Hag floated closer. Teodor realized that she tried to move between them and the workhouse. Teodor padded over to the side, blocking her advance.

“Smart dog,” the Hag said.

Teodor tilted his head. Does she not know what I am? He thought.

The Hag glided closer to Amanda. “Do you claim those children as yours?” she asked.

Amanda growled. “I will not let you harm them.”

The Hag laughed, a high screeching laugh, snow fell from the trees as she laughed. “You cannot protect them all.”

“What do you want with them?”

“All lost children are mine, or my sisters,” she said. “It has always been that way.”

Amanda growled and jumped. The Hag disappeared. Amanda hit the snow and rolled. Teodor saw the Hag reappear on the other side of Steopa. He jumped. Teodor felt the Hag's rags in his mouth. He could taste leather and acid. He closed his jaws as he landed. The Hag screamed. He pulled. The Hag screamed again.

Steopa ran over and tackled the Hag. She clawed at him, dragging deep furrows in his flesh. She brought her hand back, and shoved her claws though Steopa's neck. He hissed. With one of his hands he shoved her claws away from him.

Amanda raked the Hag. She fell on Teodor as her claws went through air. The Hag's fingernails tore into Teodor's hide, yet he could not see her. He yelped dropping the leather.

Steopa fell to his knees, holding his neck. Amanda howled and ran towards the workhouse. Teodor whined, jumping between Steopa and Amanda.

“Go!” Steopa choked.

Teodor bolted toward the workhouse.

Amanda yanked on the door handle.“I can't get in!” She screamed.

Teodor ran up to the door. He bounced off something that he could not see or smell. The children inside screamed. He knew that scream. A scream of pure terror. Teodor howled in frustration and ran to the large windows.

Through the window he saw the Hag. One skinned body laid at her feet as she picked up another child. Teodor threw his weight against the window. He bounced off it as if he had hit a wall. Steopa caught up with Teodor. Teodor changed to his hybrid form. He tried again.

“We can't get in!” He shouted to Steopa.

One of the children's bodies hit the window. It left a bloody trail as it slid down the glass. Steopa ran up to the windows. He bounced off the same invisible barrier. Steopa ran back to the forest.

The Hag picked up another child and sliced her skin open. Steopa yelled something, that Teodor could not make out. He spun around in time to duck. Over his head, flew a tree stump. Steopa skidded to a stop. The tree stump hit the window and broke the glass. Teodor covered his head and rolled out of the way. He hit the wall with his shoulder. The barrier was gone.

The Hag screamed. Teodor jumped, changing into his wolf form as he entered the workhouse. The Hag spun around and hissed at Teodor. Teodor rushed her; growling, snarling, and barking. The Hag dissipated. The children that were still alive crowded together at the old stage. The stump laid against the other side of the room.

There were five skinned bodies laying on the floor of the workhouse. Teodor whined. Tasche patted his thigh. “Come here, boy."

Teodor padded over to Tasche. He hugged Teodor. “It's okay boy, you tried to scare her away.”

Amanda pushed the door open with her muzzle. She howled when she saw the bodies. Teodor tried to come over to her side, but Tasche would not let him go. His body shook as he cried. Teodor glanced out the window. Steopa stepped back into the darkness outside.

Teodor wiggled away from Tasche. He padded over to Amanda. He glanced over his shoulder. Tasche had turned to the rest of the children and made them move on to the stage. Some of the youngest ones screamed and cried.

Amanda padded over to the window. She placed her paw on the broken windowsill and howled.

Teodor came up to her and whined, “Stay here.”

Amanda licked his face then went over to the children. Teodor climbed out of the building. He could see the shadow of Steopa at the tree line.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag - Chapter 11

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.

A few hours later, Bilge gave Teodor some money, and he braved the now weakening storm to get some pizzas from a nearby pizza parlor. As Teodor walked back to the bar, he saw an older youth standing in the alley across the street. Teodor felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. There was something wrong about that young man. Teodor sniffed the air, all he could smell was snow, the faint odor of gas, and an unwashed human.

The young man pulled his coat closer to his body. Teodor studied the young man. He reminded Teodor of one of his brothers; a tall, thin youth, with a strong build. His youngest brother had the same frame, he liked to scout for the family.

Teodor turned down the alley and took the back way into the bar. The wind died down. As he turned into the alley, Teodor could not feel any wind. Teodor opened the back door. As he walked inside, he glanced down to the street. The young man walked by. Teodor ducked inside the building.

The boy on the couch hadn't moved. Amanda redressed his wounds, as Teodor entered. Trucker sat in front of the old TV. His face and hair were clean. He rocked back and forth on the floor. Gunner moved to the old armchair in the living room, and snored, still wrapped up in the blankets.

Teodor brought the pizzas over to the table. Trucker bounced up and ran to the kitchen. Bilge shook his head. “Settle down there."

Gunner opened his eyes, “Smells good,” He said.

Bilge handed out the pizza slices. Trucker took his full plate back to the living room and ate, while watching a program with puppets.

Teodor opened the last box for Amanda and him, sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, and ham pizza with no cheese. Amanda sniffed at her slice, then tore off a large chunk of it.

The boy on the couch groaned. Amanda took her slice with her as she walked over to the boy.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

Teodor grabbed a plate and sat down at the table, next to Bilge, “So do you think-”

A plate crashed to the floor. Teodor looked up. Amanda's plate laid at her feet in four pieces. She held her hand to her side. Her shoulders rising and falling with each breath. The boy stood up, a bloodied knife in his hand.

Teodor left the table, his chair flying out behind him. Trucker had scrambled across the living room floor and pressed himself against the wall. Teodor grabbed the boy, knocking the knife out of his hand.

Amanda raised her head, her eyes were yellow. She had controlled herself and stopped the changing. She pulled her hand away from her side, the wound healed.

Teodor twisted the boy around. “What the hell?”

“Let me go!” the boy shouted. He tried kicking Teodor.

Bilge ran up to Teodor and wrapped his arms around him. “Calm down, son,” he said. “They saved your life.”

“Fuck them!” the boy shouted.

Teodor raised his hand to strike the boy. Bilge shook his head. “Alright, We will just let you go out into the street as is. It's freezing. And you probably haven't eaten anything.”

“Fuck you!” The boy struggled to get out of Bilge's hands.

Gunner walked over, standing between the boy and Trucker. “I know you,” Gunner said. “You're the one that always is the lookout for the dealers.”

“What about it?”

“How many times has the Woman chased you?”

The boy stopped struggling. The boy glanced down at Amanda, then back at Gunner. “You've seen Her?”

“She tried to kill me last night,” Gunner said.

The boy's eyes went wide, “No one survives her.”

“Well, we have two here that are living proof that you can,” Bilge said.

“I saw her a few nights ago,” the boy said.

Amanda glanced up, her eyes had changed back to their crystal blue. “Why did you stab me?”

The boy didn't answer.

“Because when you run with the River Rats,” Gunner said, “An adult over you means trouble.”

“Yeah,” the boy said.

“What's your name?” Bilge asked.

“T-Boy,” the boy said.

Teodor glanced at Amanda. How come everyone they had met lately had nicknames? Teodor thought.

“T-Boy,” Amanda said. “You had a nasty knock to the head, you should rest for awhile.”

“I have to get back.” T-Boy said, “They are gonna come looking for me.”

“Who?” Teodor asked.

“The River Rats,” Gunner said.

Bilge let T-Boy go. “Then you better leave.”

Amanda stood up, “I don't think so.”

Bilge shook his head. “Let him go, Amanda.”

T-boy picked up his knife and ran towards the door. He slammed the door behind him.

“Good riddance,” Gunner said.

“Are they really that bad?” Amanda asked.

Gunner and Bilge nodded.

“I had them trash my place just after I opened,” Bilge said. “Because I wouldn't let them drink here.”

Trucker tugged on Gunner's blanket. “Do you think they found the others?”

Gunner shrugged, “I don't know.”

Amanda turned her head to Teodor, “We should go and see.”

Teodor nodded. “Yeah.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag - Chapter 10 Part 4

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.

Teodor looked up and down the street. He didn't see anyone. Teodor changed his hand into the hybrid form, the part wolf and part human. He spanned his fingers across the furrows. He could not cover the hag's span.

He heard the clinking of glass behind the building. Teodor pulled his jacket around him tighter and walked to the alley way. He peeked around the side, the wind scraped across his cheeks.

A young boy pulled the empty bottles out of the garbage and threw them in a gunny sack. At first Teodor thought it was Trucker, but this boy had red hair. He wore a stained and torn army surplus jacket.

“What are you doing?” Teodor asked.

The boy looked up. He grabbed his sack and turned to run. Teodor stepped into the alley, just as the boy slipped on the ice and fell backwards. The sack crashed on the blacktop. The boy's head hit the pavement. He didn't move. Teodor ran over to him.

A pool of blood formed on the ice underneath the boy's head. Teodor cradled the boy's head and lifted him off the ice. He took the boy inside.

Bilge blew into an empty shotgun shell at the bar. He looked up. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, another one?”

Teodor nodded, “He slipped on the ice out there, banged his head.”

Bilge shrugged, “Take him upstairs, I should start a day care.”

Teodor carried the unconscious boy upstairs. As he brought the boy inside Blige's apartment, he glanced at Trucker and Gunner. Both of them looked at the boy in Teodor's arms and then at each other. Gunner looked like he could kill the boy with his eyes.

“What's he doing here?” Gunner asked.

Amanda ran over with a dish towel. “What happened?”

“Slipped on the ice outside,” Teodor said.

“Lay him down,” she said.

Teodor placed the boy on the couch, then turned to Trucker and Gunner. “You guys know him?”

“Yeah, he's a River Rat,” Gunner said.

“They aint supposed to be in this part of town,” Trucker said.

“They don't care about that,” Gunner said to Trucker, then he turned to Teodor. “Call the cops, he's gonna steal anything not nailed down.”

“Can you get me another towel?” Amanda asked.

“He's not doing much now,” Teodor said, grabbing a dish towel off the counter.

“Those kids are into some really bad stuff,” Gunner said.

Teodor handed Amanda the dish towel. “They can't be that bad.”

Gunner stood up, wrapping his blankets around him. “Maybe not, but they work for some of the gangs, and others.”

“They're always trying to get us to join them,” Trucker said. “If we don't, they beat us.”

“Do you think these are the kids that stabbed Jazz?” Amanda asked.

Gunner's face went white. “You know what happened to Jazz?”

Amanda glanced at Teodor, with a panicked look. Teodor braced himself. Gunner's stance changed. He tensed. He squared his shoulders and stared at Amanda. Gunner let the blankets fall open, “What happened?”

“We found him begging," Teodor said. "Someone had stabbed him in the side. But the hag killed him.”

“And you couldn't stop her?” Gunner asked.

“She's quicker than us.”

“But you scared her away,” Trucker said.

“Maybe they didn't,” Gunner said. “They didn't tell us about Jazz, either.”

“How would we have explained it?” Teodor asked, returning Gunner's stare.

“Did you even try to help Jazz?” Gunner stepped closer to Teodor.

Teodor placed his hands on his hips. “We did, he didn't want our help.”

“Gunner, they saved your life last night.” Trucker said, his voice sounding quiet and far away.

“Maybe they are saving us for the Woman.”

“What?” Amanda threw down one of the bloody rags.

“What the hell?” Teodor asked.

“You two appear at the same time the Hag comes to our place,” Gunner said.

“We were looking for Trucker,” Amanda said.

“Why?”

“We wanted to make sure he was okay.”

“Bullshit,” Gunner said.

“Hey,” Teodor said. “Believe it or not, some adults don't want to hurt you.”

“Oh, so we are your charity cases now?"

“No. Look, you may not believe me, but I had a bad family too. I can relate.”

“Bullshit.”

“I'm a werewolf, we're not supposed to be nice,” Teodor said.

“How many times did you dad beat the crap out of you?” Gunner asked.

“He wouldn't beat me, he's send one of my brothers to teach me a lesson,” Teodor said.

“Big fucking deal."

“Yours used his fists, or maybe a belt? Mine used claws, teeth, fists, and knives. So stop playing hurt little boy.”

“Teodor!” Amanda stood up.

“I watch out for the rest of the kids, asshole,” Gunner said.

“And the Hag is hunting you down like small animals, and you're scared.”

Gunner clamped his mouth shut, his body shook either from his temperature, or his anger. He glanced over his shoulder at Trucker. “Yeah, I'm scared."

“I'm sorry about Jazz,” Teodor said, “I am sorry you are getting hunted, but Amanda and I will help you.”

Gunner wrapped the blankets around him. “What about that one?” He asked, motioning with his head towards the couch.

“I couldn't let him freeze to death out there. Maybe they are being hunted, too?”

“They have adults watching them."

“Yeah, but you made it clear, they don't care about the kids.”

Gunner nodded, he turned around and sat back down at the kitchen table. “Yeah, if they aren't bringing enough money in from begging or stealing. They are turned over to some other people.”

“What sort of people?” Amanda asked.

“Bad. Trucker escaped from them.”

Trucker nodded, his face turned ashen. “They wanted to sell me to this guy, who...” he said. His eyes start to water.

“How old are you?” Amanda asked.

Trucker bit his lip and swallowed, “Eleven.”

Amanda covered her mouth. “Horrible.” She whispered.

Teodor put his arm around Amanda.

Bilge walked into the apartment. He paused. “Did I miss something?”

Gunner pointed to the boy on the couch, “That's a River Rat.”

Bilge looked at the kid, “One of those, he's not going to be trouble in the state he is in now.” He walked into the kitchen. “Trucker, go take a bath, I got some clean clothes for you.”

Trucker slid off the kitchen chair and left the room.

Bilge sat down at the table. “Guns are loaded,” he said, pulling out a pack of his thin cigars, “If she comes back, I'll shoot her again.”

Gunner reached for one of the cigars. Bilge slapped his hand away.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag - Chapter 10 Part 3

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.

Teodor picked up Trucker. He snored in Teodor's ear, as he carried him upstairs. Trucker seemed so light for a child his age. Amanda went up the stairs ahead of them to Bilge's apartment.

This apartment had never seen a woman's touch. A small pile of dirty dishes sat in the sink. The kitchen wrapped around the edge of the room. A bare table, except for salt and pepper shakers made out of beer bottles, sat next to the kitchen counter. The living room had a couch, a TV, and a small bookshelf.

“Gunner's sleeping in Bilge's bed,” Amanda said.

Teodor put Trucker down on the couch. Trucker rolled over and curled up. Amanda covered him with an afgan from the back of the couch.

“He tries to be tough,” Amanda whispered.

Teodor put his arm around her, “All of them try to be,” he said. “Living on the streets does that to you.”

“Does he even have a family?” she asked.

Teodor shrugged. “Not anymore.”

Bilge came into the apartment, he put his keys down on his small table. “I got some more blankets and such.”

Amanda took Teodor's hand, “We could stay at our new place.”

Bilge shook his head, “I want us all together, I don't think that bitch is done with us.”

“Um, could you not use that word,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because I am really one.”

Bilge lit one of his slim cigars, “Yeah, I don't want to offend you.” He grinned.

Teodor walked over the window and looked out, the snow covered the street. The wind would blow the snow around in small little whirlpools. Teodor ran his fingernails down the glass. That Hag is out there, he thought. The next time I see her, I am gonna bite her.

"You coming to bed?" Amanda asked.

Teodor turned around. "Yeah."

"You got the guest suite," Bilge said.

Amanda rolled her eyes. "Its a closet, but nicer than our bed at Chaser's."

Teodor took her hand. "See you in the morning, Bilge."

He woke up with his arm around Amanda. She had curled her body around his as they laid on the blankets on the floor. He smelt coffee brewing, and pancakes cooking. His stomach growled. He smiled. Sometimes its nice to be able to eat human food, he thought.

“I could make a smiley face if you want?” Bilge's voice drifted from the kitchen.

“Make a mean face,” Trucker said.

“What about yours?”

“Just plain,” Gunner said.

Teodor sat up and shook his head. His black hair fell into his eyes, he flung it back. Amanda rolled over. Teodor tucked the blankets around her and walked into the small kitchen.

Gunner sat at the table, wrapped in a blanket. Trucker drank a large glass of milk. Bilge stood at the stove, flipping pancakes with an expert flip of his wrist.

“Smells good,” Teodor said. He sat down and nodded at Gunner, “You feeling okay?”

“Hungry and cold,” Gunner said.

“You sure you want some pancakes?” Bilge asked Teodor.

“After the kids eat,” Teodor said.

Gunner reached over for a cup of coffee, his hands shook. He took the mug in both hands and lifted to his lips. Bilge flipped the pancakes on to a plate and handed it to Trucker. Gunner put the cup down, he looked at Teodor.

“Did you guys get her?” He asked.

Bilge paused in flipping his pancakes. Teodor shook his head, “Just scared her off.”

“What ever you did, thank you,” Gunner said.

Bilge put a plate down in front of Gunner. “Looks like we are snow bound today, schools, work, everything is shut down.”

“I have to go soon,” Gunner said.

“Not in your state,” Bilge said.

“He's right,” Amanda said.

Teodor looked over his shoulder. Amanda brushed her hair out with her fingers. “Look, you had mild hypothermia, you are still recovering. You stay where it is warm and dry.”

Bilge motioned to the window with his hand, “Look out there, it's not fit for man or beast.” He winked at Teodor.

Amanda sat down at the table, “Who was that woman?”

Trucker shoveled more pancakes in his mouth and shrugged.

Gunner put his fork down. “I don't know. All I know is she is killing more and more of my friends. And no one will help us.”

Amanda reached over and patted his hand. “You just needed to find the right people.”

Trucker looked directly at Teodor. “Or other things.” he put down his glass of milk. “Don't you recognize them?”

Gunner shook his head.

“Trucker I don't think-” Amanda said.

“They're the wolves,” Trucker said.

Gunner studied Teodor's face, “I thought I dreamed that.”

“You're not freaked out?” Teodor asked.

Gunner shook his head, “I've seen freakier shit.”

“I find that hard to believe."

“Live on the streets for a while, you'll see.”

“How long have you?” Amanda asked.

He thought, “Four years now.”

“What about your parents?”

Gunner shook his head, “Just my mom, and she's the one that threw me out, so you tell me.”

“Sorry,” Amanda said.

“Teodor,” Bilge said, wiping his hands on a rag. “Can I talk to you?”

Teodor agreed. They walked to the other end of the living room. Bilge lit a thin cigar. “Do you think she will be back?”

"Yeah, I do."

“Well it's gonna be hard for her to come in here.” Bilge smiled. “We have to salt the sidewalks.”

Teodor chucked. “That's a good idea,”

Bilge grinned, with the cigar between his teeth, “While you go do that, I am gonna make sure my gun is loaded.”

“Okay.”

Teodor found his jacket on the floor and put it on. Bilge followed him down stairs. The rock salt next to the back exit. Teodor opened the door, a blast of wind pushed the door and out of Teodor hands. He grabbed the door and forced it close.

He shook out the salt on to the snowy sidewalk. The wind blew most of the snow away from the front door, but left an icy patch right in front of the bar. Teodor pulled his collar around his neck. He glanced at the windows around the door. Four deep furrows, where the hag had dragged her fingers across the window. Teodor reached up and ran his fingers along one of the depressions. His finger sunk down to his first knuckle.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag - Chapter 10 Part 2

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.

Teodor jumped and aimed for the Hag's neck with his teeth. But she was gone, dispersed by the wind as it roared by the bar. Teodor howled in disappointment. He heard stray dogs take up his howl. Good, he thought, they can look for her too.

He turned back around, kicking the door shut with his back paw. His clothing was in shreds, but he didn't care. That damn Hag showed up here and tried to kill the children. That bitch, he thought.

Teodor turned back to his human. Bilge came up to the door, holding the shot gun in the crook of his arm.

“You alright?” He asked Teodor.

Teodor nodded.

“You're a bit naked."

Teodor looked down. He pulled up what remained of his pants. “Sorry.”

He glanced at Amanda, she had turned her attention back to Gunner. Trucker bit his fingernails, hiding behind Amanda.

Teodor held out his other hand to Bilge. “Thanks for not shooting me.”

“It wouldn't have worked anyway.” Bilge said, taking Teodor's hand. “I don't have any silver.”

Teodor chuckled. They shook. Bilge looked out the window. “I thought it was her, but I wasn't certain.”

“You knew about the Hag?”

Bilge nodded. “It would have been an insult to my family if I didn't.”

Amanda looked up. “Can I move him somewhere warmer?”

“Yeah,” Bilge nodded. “Let's get that boy into my apartment. I got an electric blanket.”

Amanda nodded. “That would be good.”

She picked up Gunner. Teodor watched Bilge's face. Normally a woman the size and build of Amanda would not have been able to pick up a nearly full grown teenager. But Amanda had been strong before she became a werewolf. Teodor grinned at the look of slight shock on Bilge's face.

“Are all of you that strong?” he asked.

Teodor laughed. “Actually, Amanda here is a Midwestern farmer's daughter. She's used to throwing hay bales around.”

Bilge chuckled. “I have heard stories about farmer's daughters, but...”

“Guys, please.” Amanda said, sharply.

Bilge chuckled and ran to the back of the bar. Amanda followed, leaving Teodor and Trucker alone.

Trucker looked up at Teodor. “That was so cool.”

Teodor raised an eyebrow. “That was?”

“Yeah, you looked so mean."

Teodor chuckled. “Look, I have to find some pants.”

“I don't think Amanda minds."

“Yeah, but I am freezing my ass off.” He walked by Trucker and tossed Trucker's hair.

Trucker laughed.

Teodor went to the back of the bar. Bilge ran down the stairs. He threw a pair of sweat pants at Teodor.

“Just don't rip them out.” He said.

Teodor changed behind the bar. Bilge put the shotgun back in its compartment next to the wine bottles.

“I have to ask you,” Teodor said, as he tied the cord on the pants. “How did you know about the Hag?”

Bilge leaned on one of his knees, opening small locked cabinet behind the bar. “I saw her when I was a child. As soon as all the same things started to happen around here. I knew she was back.”

He opened the cabinet. Inside there were shotgun shells, a few trimmed twigs, a couple of small bags, and baggies of herbs and seeds. Bilge threw the empty shot gun shells in the cabinet and locked it up.

“I have always been prepared,” he said.

“What was all that?” Teodor asked.

“Trinkets. Weapons,” Bilge said getting up. “Stuff to fight off the real nasties.”

“But not werewolves?”

“Why? I have never had an issue with your kind.”

“Then you haven't met many of us.”

Bilge shrugged. “Perhaps. You are the first.”

“Then you lucked out.”

Trucker climbed on a stool. “Is Gunner gonna be okay?” He asked.

Teodor nodded. “Yeah, Amanda is amazing.”

“Is she a nurse?” Bilge asked.

“Was.”

Bilge opened a can of soda for Trucker. “Here you go,” He said to Trucker. Then to Teodor. “So what are we going to do?”

“About what?”

“About you and your girlfriend,” Bilge said. “I'm not going to have issues during full moons, am I?”

“It doesn't work that way.”

“Too bad, I thought the next full moon we could hunt down that bitch hag.”

“What is she?”

Trucker looked up. “Yeah.”

Bilge poured himself an orange juice. “My dad would have called her Black Annis, but Black Annis does not leave Leicestershire. Over the years I have found out she doesn't have just one name.” Bilge leaned against the bar. “I was six or seven, when I saw her. A friend of mine ran away from home. I found him by the old Strake's Canal. As we were talking, she came.”

Bilge took a long drink. “She ripped his skin off in front of me.”

Teodor glanced at Trucker. Trucker's face was one of the best poker faces Teodor had ever seen. He concentrated on drinking his soda, acting as if he had not heard anything.

“She came after me,” Bilge said. “But my dad showed up. That scared her.”

The wind hit the building harder now. The creeks and noises started to sound like the Hag came back. Teodor shivered, but not from the cold.

“She wants children that are alone,” Teodor said.

Bilge nodded. “Easier to get.”

Trucker put down his soda. “Your Dad chased her away?”

Bilge shrugged. “The shells were filled with rock salt. The only thing that seems to hurt her.”

Teodor tilted his head. “Really?”

Bilge nodded.

Amanda walked into the bar. “He's asleep and his temperature is rising,” She said as she sat down next to Trucker. “And those scratches aren't deep.”

She pointed to Bilge. “And you frightened me.”

“Sorry about that,” Bilge said. “You really thought I was going to shoot some of my favorite employees.”

Teodor reached over and took Amanda's hand. “Most of the time when guns are pointed towards us, we get shot.”

“Same here,” Bilge joked.

Trucker yawned.

Bilge nodded. “Yeah looks like we are going to have a sleep over tonight.”

Trucker laid his head down on the bar. Teodor smiled. “One big sleep over.”

Bilge finished his orange juice. “I'll lock up, you take him upstairs.”