THE LONG WAY HOME
His house lay in complete shambles.
It had taken almost an hour to find it, but now Joe held the object triumphantly in his hand: a silver dreamcatcher.
The dreamcatcher had been a gift from Emily’s great, great grandfather.
Joe had only meet the man a couple of times, but the two men had hit off immediately.
That last time, the old man had somehow talked him into going hunting at the crack of dawn.
It was a good day for it, though, Joe remembered.
The air crisp, but not too cold.
And, the small forest was almost serenely quiet.
Joe—who had been certified a marksman in the army—kept missing the various deer that happened to cross his path.
The old man laughed, and said in his deep, low voice, “You’re either a bad shot or you have a big heart.
Joe laughed, and then confessed, “Just seen Bambi one too many times, I guess.”
“Big heart,” the old man rasped. “Your daughter is going to walk all over you.”
Joe nodded and chuckled.
“You’re probably right,” Joe answered.
“Me,” the old man said. “Too strict with my son. Made him a bitter man.”
They walked a little, letting the deer pass by unharmed.
“All children break their parent’s hearts,” the old man said. “Been that way since our ancestors.
Joe remembers he tried to say something, but the old man held up a wrinkled hand silencing him.
There was a house in front of them.
It hadn’t been there before, Joe was sure of it.
Not only that, it looked brand new, and the white coating glowed in the rising sun.
Joe heard a twig snap behind him.
He whipped his head in that direction, and saw a flash of movement behind the trees.
Joe turned his head back to the house, and saw that the front door stood open.
Standing in the entryway, was the most beautiful woman Joe had ever seen in his life.
She was Asian, and looked like she had just stepped out some Japanese comic book.
The woman wore a school girl outfit, but the outfit was completely red.
The front of her outfit lay unbuttoned at the top, showing off the woman’s impressive cleavage.
She put a finger to her red stained lips, and sighed heavily, which caused her cleavage to rise and fall.
Without thinking, Joe stepped toward the woman.
Well that wasn’t true, he was thinking about something.
His erection made it pretty clear, in fact, what was on his mind.
A strong hand reached out, and pulled him back.
For a man in his nineties, the old man was surprising strong.
Joe faced the man, murder in his eyes.
But, the old man ignored him, and shouted something in his Native tongue.
The woman hissed. A loud, piercing hiss that sounded like the stuff of nightmares.
Joe, blinked several times, as if coming out of a dream, but found he could think straight again.
The old man took off running.
Joe was quick to follow.
They made it to the forest clearing, unmolested.
Joe panted, completely out of breath.
The old man, however, looked like he had barely broken a sweat.
“What was that?” Joe asked, still panting.
The old man shook his head.
“Not here,” the old man whispered.
They made it back to the old man’s house safe and sound.
There was a note waiting for them when they arrived.
The women had gone to the store, leaving the two men to fend for themselves.
The old man made some breakfast, but Joe passed on the offered egg.
The old man took a couple of bites of his egg, and then pushed his plate aside.
He turned to Joe.
“We don’t like to talk about them to outsiders,” the old man began.
Joe hadn’t noticed it before, but the old man’s hands were trembling.
“And talking about them has its own dangers,” the old man continued. “But you are family, and my granddaughter, Bethany, loves you very much.”
The old man looked badly shaken, and Joe didn’t like the slight hitch he heard in the man’s breath.
“It’s okay,” Joe said. “You don’t have to say anything.”
“Big heart,” the old man said, forcing a smile.
Then he shook his head.
“No,” he said. “You need to know. What we saw, it was a skinwalker.”
“Like werewolves or something, right?” Joe asked.
The old man glared at him.
“I like comic books,” Joe confessed.
The old man chuckled.
“Me too,” he admitted.
But, the old man’s amusement didn’t last long.
“So much to tell you,” the old man began. “But I don’t have the words in your language.”
“What is it you said to her?” Joe asked. “Ah-mee?”
The old man flashed a sad smile.
“Her name,” he answered. “I got a lot closer than you.”
Joe looked at the old man, shocked.
The old man sighed.
“When I was about your age,” the old man said. “I had a young wife with a baby on the way. One day, my brother and I were out hunting in the woods, same woods as us. When that woman appeared. Same house, and same woman. Only she was dressed as a squaw, like Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, but all in red. She lured me in, and I heard her voice back here.”
The old man touched the back of his head, for a moment, and then dropped his hand.
“She promised me things,” the old man continued. “Things a wife, even a young one, would be ashamed to do. I got close enough to feel her cold touch.
The old man shivered.
“Close enough for her to whisper her name in my ear.”
The old man shook his head, and then continued, “My brother pulled me back. I wanted to kill him. But, thankfully he was bigger and stronger, so he was able to drag me away—saving my life. Once we were safe, I couldn't stop shaking.”
Joe could relate. Even safe in the old man's cabin— with a fire going in his wooden stove— Joe still felt a chill run up his spine.
“Had he not,” the old man said. “I would have been lost forever.”
“Like those people behind the trees,” Joe said.
The old man nodded.
“But why would her own name have any effect on her?” Joe asked.
“Names have power,” the old man said. “Say a creature's true name, without fear in your heart, and even the most evil of spirits will stop and listen.”
To Joe, a comic book fan most of his life, that made a certain kind of sense.
The old man got up.
He returned a minute, or so, later and pressed something into Joe's hand.
“A dreamcatcher,” Joe said, looking down at the object in his palm.
“It will protect you,” the old man said. “It was my brother's.”
“I can’t take this,” Joe said. “You should give it to your son.”
The old man held up his hand, and shook his head.
“He doesn't need it,” the old man said. “And he wouldn't appreciate it. It's you I fear for. That woman has your scent, and she very patient. Watch yourself.”
But, by the time Joe had gotten home and put Emily to bed, he had forgotten all about the old man's warning.
Upstairs in bed, Joe pushed his wife on the bed, and violently ripped her clothes off. He ravished her, then. He had never been so hard in his life. He pounded into her as hard as he could. Going deeper and deeper each time, until he was balls deep inside of her. He came, came so hard that it hurt. The sinful act left both of them shaking.
But, even after he had cum, he was still hard, and in a fury threw his wife onto her stomach. But, her pussy hadn't been tight enough for him, that first time, so he had put it in her other hole.
After he finished, he couldn't even look at her. And, Bethany’s face burned a bright red in shame at what they had done.
There were somethings a wife, even a young wife, would be ashamed to do.
And Joe, God help him, had been thinking about that woman in red the entire time.
Back in the present, Joe shook his head.
He had completely forgotten about that woman in the woods. Had it really been almost ten years? But the memories came flooding back, as he held the tiny, silver object in his hand. The old man had died not long after that encounter, and Bethany had gotten sick a year or so later. Had that woman in red caused all this?
The old man had been in his 90's.
And, Bethany's family—especially on her mother's side—had had a long history of family members dying from leukemia.
Still, he had to wonder. The timing of it seemed almost too coincidental...
And now, he felt a familiar chill run up his spine.
Joe clutched the dreamcatcher a little tighter.
The chill passed.
There were monsters in the here and now to face.
The ones from the past could wait.
Joe rushed downstairs, and a few seconds later he was out the door.
“Sheriff! Are you there!” The radio squawked at him.
“I'm here,” Joe said, as he climbed the rest of the way into the car.
“There's something going on over at the university,” Cheryl said.
This was it.
“Did you hear me, Sheriff?” Cheryl asked.
“I heard you,” Joe said, quietly.
“Do you want me to call Boyce or Doyle to help you?” Cheryl asked now.
“No” Joe answered.
His deputies were notoriously unreliable, and took advantage of his big heart.
Joe knew he should have fired both of them a long time ago. But, both men had families that counted on them for a paycheck. So he let a lot go, more than he should have.
“Cheryl,” Joe said to the dispatcher now.
“Is my daughter still at the station?” He asked.
“Yes,” Cheryl answered. “I got her a change of clothes, and something to eat from Angelo's. She seems to have calmed down a little.”
“You're a saint, Cheryl,” Joe said. “Can you do me a favor.”
“Can you keep Emily there for as long as you can?” Joe asked.
“I suppose,” Cheryl said. “But Sheriff...”
Joe turned off the radio, cutting the dispatcher off. Emily liked Cheryl, so it should be okay.
Joe let his mind wander a little.
His father-in-law may hate him, but the man adored Emily. If anything happened, his father-in-law would take her in.
Emily's going to be okay, Joe thought.
“She's going to be okay,” he said out loud now to reassure himself.
Then Joe started the car.
As it turned out, he didn't have to drive far.
The wolf appeared, as he turned onto University Drive.
But, Joe had almost missed him.
The wolf’s black fur made it blend into the night.
Joe pulled the car to a stop and got out.
The street was mercifully empty, but given the lateness of the hour that wasn't a surprise.
It was just the two of them, and Joe thanked God for that.
The wolf stood huge and imposing. And even the street block that separated them, didn't seem far enough.
The wolf snarled. It's lips pulling back, flashing a row of long, sharp teeth.
Joe reached into his pocket, and felt the silver dreamcatcher there.
It burned hot, but Joe held onto it for dear life.
The wolf lunged forward.
“Martin stop!” Joe cried.
He said the words without any fear in his heart.
Nevertheless, Joe drew his gun, and held it in front of him like a shield.
The wolf stopped dead in its tracks. Now, it cocked it's head to one side, as if listening.
“I want to help you,” Joe said, and meant it. “We can figure this out.”
Joe looked into the wolf's eyes.
Even from this distance, Joe could see Martin's sad bluish-green eyes.
“You're a good kid, Martin,” Joe cried. “A good kid, who got a bad deal in life. But, it doesn't have to end bad.”
“Don't make me do this,” Joe said under his breath. But what was left unsaid was a single thought: Don't break my daughter's heart.
The wolf's mouth stretched wide into a hideous grin. Then it lunged forward.
“I'm sorry Emily,” he whispered.
Joe clicked the gun's safety off, and held his finger on the trigger.
Then he saw something. Something shimmering in the moonlight. Something silver around the wolf's neck.
Joe only had one chance.
The wolf would be on him seconds, and after that he shuddered to think what would happen next.
Joe aimed, and a second later, fired!
TO BE CONTINUED...