An hour ago, I was sitting in my cruiser, sipping tepid coffee and fighting sleep. Now, I’m crouching neck-deep in tepid swamp water, ignoring mosquitoes and trying to stay quiet. And to add to the fun, I’m pretty sure that there’s an alligator a few feet behind me. Lately, this type of crap is happening to me a lot. I’m trying to decide if it’s because I’m a werewolf, or because I pissed off some Cajun hoo-doo queen I don’t remember pissing off.
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I hate the coffee from Happy Donuts, but at two in the morning, they’re the only place open in Marsh Haven.
The Have (no one calls it that, I’m using what my college creative writing class called “artistic license”) sits along Highway 849, a twisty stretch of asphalt that passes through crawfish farms and a dirt bike track. It boasts a population of 73 people and 7,501 cows.
Yeah, I counted.
I opened my car door and dumped out the rest of the brew. Humid June air pressed into my car, and I decided to get out and stretch my legs and try to wake up a little. This wasn’t my usual posting; the deputy usually stuck with this barren piece of Sawyer County had retired a few months ago, and until some idiot could be conned into permanently replacing him, the lieutenant had us rotating shifts out here.
I was currently trudging through my second week. Maybe I was the idiot.
I rotated my shoulders, rubbed my cheeks, adjusted my bra, and checked my watch. Five hours and fifty-seven minutes to go. I was parked in the Dollar Savings parking lot, which also shared space with a pet groomer (out of business), a day care (out of business), and a video store (still in business). My boots crunched on the loose gravel as I made my usual circuit of the lot. I clicked on my big Mag-Lite and passed its beam into the front window of Vision Videos, lighting up the interior’s meager offerings of DVDs and even a few VHS tapes. The video store’s only reason for business, I figured, was the door in the back of the store, the one labeled Adult Training Room — 18 & over ONLY.
When you’re stuck in a town that has spotty cell coverage and no Internet, you go back to the old ways.
Speaking of . . . I checked my phone. No service. Last night, in this same spot, I’d had service. I sighed and popped my phone back into the pouch on my gun belt. I could hit the road and make another circuit of my little kingdom; that would kill about half an hour, and maybe I’d get a glimpse of the alligator that had recently taken up residence in James Creek.
I was back in my cruiser, about to twist the ignition, when the old pickup truck blasted past, going easily over the speed limit of 65. I hit the lights and radioed in while the tires spit gravel at the Dollar Savings. When I caught up to the truck, it had slowed down to fifty and was nearing the curve just before James Creek. My headlights showed two men in the cab, both wearing ball caps. The passenger glanced over his shoulder at me. The truck’s brake lights lit up when the driver slowed for the curve. I blipped the siren. The driver immediately yanked the wheel to the right, sending the truck bouncing onto the shoulder. Dust billowed up as it shuddered to a stop.
I braked more carefully, my hackles up by the violent way he’d pulled over. I put two car lengths between us, then set my spotlights: the left at the driver’s side mirror, and the right at his rearview. I turned off my headlights but kept my roof lights flashing. Then I got out of my car.
When I’d called in his plates, Dispatch had told me his name was John Wayne Corbett, but what they couldn’t tell me was that the sixty-one year-old auto mechanic had recently discovered the joys of injecting Oxycontin, and that he and his passenger, Will Harris, had spent a delightful evening breaking into Harris’s sister’s stash of pain medications back in Galveston. They were en route to sell everything but the Oxy when I decided to ruin their night.
Thus, Corbett came out with guns blazing, literally.
The driver’s door flew open. Corbett lifted a rifle to his shoulder.
My left hand unsnapped the strap across my Glock. I might have yelled something, I’m not sure.
He fired. The bullet missed me completely and sailed out into the night.
I backed up, my gun out, and this time I know I was yelling, I was telling him to put down the gun and get down.
He fired again. He’d had time to aim, and the bullet found a home in my right shoulder.
I squeezed off a shot–miss!–trying to buy time so I could get behind my car.
I’d forgotten about Will Harris though, and he picked this time to join his friend. Harris had a handgun, and he unloaded it in my general direction.
Somehow, he managed to not hit my car, but he hit me twice in the left hip. I went down. I don’t wear a vest, a recent affectation owed to my lycanthropy. My admittedly stupid reasoning is that since I heal really super-duper fast, it’s easier (and cheaper) to replace a blood-stained and bullet-riddled uniform rather than a bullet-riddled bullet resistant vest. In fact, I keep a fresh set of duds in my car’s trunk.
All fine and dandy, my arm was already healed by the time my butt hit the asphalt, but Corbett, before picking up a wrench, had picked up a roomful of trophies from a local gun club. The Oxy had mucked up his aim some, but his third shot still drilled into my head.
Things turned red, then a darker red, then black.