Blood Trade: Chapter 7 Excerpt

Xochitl walked up Second Street and crossed Clark, only a few blocks from home, when she heard it—the cry of the wolf.  No, no, no, no; that wasn’t right.  The last night of the full moon had been the previous night.  It couldn’t be a werewolf.  The howl came again.  It couldn’t have been more than two hundred yards away— just to the north and east of her.  Damn it all to hell.  She hadn’t brought any silver rounds with her.  Why would she?  She heard the wolf howl again.  It was subtly different.  It was hunting now.  It had found prey.

She sprinted a hundred yards to the front of the Catholic Church, where she stopped and stared.  Even in the light of the single street lamp and the sodium bulb attached to the building just below the large cross, she could see wave upon wave of yellow and purple flowers across the newly planted beds in front of the church.  Ranunculus: a mixture Buttercup and Monkshood.  What idiot gardener had planted them?  Normally landscapers in Vegas put out little flowering annuals right about now.  No sense spending a lot of money, because the plants would wither under the desert’s summer sun.  But Ranunculus were perennials, so while they would grow just fine in the springtime here, it was just wasteful to see them dry up and die in July.  And who would plant Monkshood in a churchyard?  Monkshood, also called Aconite, Devil’s Helmet, Blue Rocket, Leopard’s Bane, Women’s Bane… Wolfsbane.

There was a scream!  It was right around the corner.  Xochitl raced as fast as she could around the building.  Her pistol was in her hand even before her mind registered that a werewolf was standing in front of her.  It was not in its wolf form, nor in its human form.  It was in that half humanoid, crouched shape that made it seem like a refugee from a B movie.  With horribly misshapen limbs and patchy fur, it gave impression of disease or… a curse.  Its long snout dripped saliva down upon the body of a woman lying below it. 

Skidding to a stop on grass still wet from the night time sprinkler, she emptied all seven rounds into the werewolf.  Glocks were great for shooting at convenience store robbers, but when you wanted stopping power, nothing beat a .45.  The wolf staggered back three steps.  He took one step forward again as Xochitl dropped the clip to the ground and slammed another into place.  Seven more shots right into its body.  The creature fell to the ground.  It looked at her and roared, not very wolf-like but scary as shit.  Then as the Goth detective shoved her last clip in and pressed the slide stop with her thumb, the beast jumped to its feet and turning, loped away, up Bridger Avenue.

Xochitl watched it go as she walked over to the woman lying prone.  She kept an eye on it until it turned off into an alley and out of view.  Then she reached down and rolled the woman onto her back.  She was a pretty woman about Xochitl’s age—probably a tourist who had wandered too far away from the lights of downtown.   She had several deep scratches across her face and probably on her body, if her torn clothes were any indication, but when Xochitl checked, she had a strong pulse.  Pulling her phone from her pocket, she called 911 and asked for an ambulance.

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