October Scene-Of-The-Month: “The Wolf”

The votes are in and once again The Wolf is the reader’s choice for scene of the month! Continuing with the way I’ve been doing it, this is the next scene in sequence from the last one, rather than a random scene. Enjoy!

The flatbed truck, ironically enough, reminded Greg of the pickup that had gone off the road. It was the same color, a muddy greenish brown, and just as battered, and he figured that if it happened to barrel-roll down a hill, it would spread just about as much crap out behind it.

“Man, I never seen nothing like that before,” the driver said again. “That trailer looked like God was using it for a football. You’re a lucky guy.”

“Yeah,” Greg said. “Lucky.”

They passed beneath the Interstate, the span high overhead, supported by massive concrete pilings covered with bird shit. The creek splashed alongside the road at this point, now that they had reached the valley floor. He saw clots of foam skidding along its surface and stuck up against rocks, remnants of the stuff that the helicopter had dumped on the burning truck and surrounding vegetation. He supposed there would be paramedics down there now, dropped in by parachute maybe, scraping the driver out of the remains of his vehicle. When they were done they would probably have about enough to fill a bucket.

They came to a cross street, this one paved with actual blacktop, and with a yellow line down the middle. Greg supposed that made it a highway. They turned left and headed deeper into the valley, eventually reaching a lakeside hamlet. Well, maybe it wasn’t really a lake so much as a big pond, a temporary pause before the creek continued its journey through the mountains. The road wound along its bank, cattails and rushes waving erratically as the truck passed. Might be a nice place to visit, except now they were going to be stuck at the lodge without a vehicle.

Greg lost sight of the pond as the road veered away from it and entered the town. He saw a single stoplight some distance away, but they weren’t going to reach it; they were approaching a garage whose sign matched the logo on the doors of the flatbed cab. Below the sign was a smaller one indicating that the facility was approved by the auto club, but he wasn’t sure how recent the endorsement was; the rusting metal plate looked like it had taken a blast of buckshot in the distant past.

The garage was across the street from a row of kitschy trinket shops that were obviously aimed at tourists, and flanked by a greasy spoon on one side and a small supermarket on the other. The driver guided his truck into the lot, deftly maneuvering between an old Volkswagen Beetle and an enormous SUV that looked like it should have sported light artillery. Once in the lot, he began a series of incremental turns that eventually got the truck’s rear end facing the larger of the two maintenance bays.

Greg got out of the truck and left the driver to work on lowering his vehicle while he went into the office. It was to the right of the garages, a small, square room with dark paneling and darker furniture, including a battered coffee table piled high with outdoorsy magazines. There was no one behind the counter, though there was an old bell there, the kind that you tapped with your finger to summon a bellhop. He gave it a pat, but instead of a light jingle, he heard what sounded like a school klaxon ringing in the garage. There was no immediate response. Greg turned away from the counter and noticed a pay phone nestled in the shadows near the restroom.

A pay phone. How long had it been since he’d had to use one of those?

Fishing in his pocket, he headed for the phone to call his insurance agent. Instead of a quarter, though, he came up with the item he had picked up from the road near the trailer wreck. He had completely forgotten about it when the police had arrived, but now he looked at it, wondering if he should give it back to them. A bullet, hand-forged, not smooth like the ones you saw behind the counter in the sporting-goods section.

“You own the SUV?”

He turned. A mechanic in grey, greasy overalls, looking for all the world like an older version of the driver of the flatbed truck, had entered through the back door, and was standing there looking at him the way a scout might look at a future first-round draft pick. “Yeah,” Greg said, putting the bullet back in his pocket. “That’s mine.”

“I got some bad news,” the mechanic said.

Oh no! Bad news from a mechanic! And you thought all the horror in this story was going to come from the werewolf!

The poll results have been reset, so feel free to start voting for the November scene-of-the-month.  As I mentioned a while ago, The Wolf is nowhere near being finished, but there are still plenty of scenes to go before we run out of story!

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