Luna Proxy #6

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Luna Proxy #6 Page 3

by Mac Flynn

  Variel chuckled. "The door is very thick to keep the dust from escaping. But come. I'd like to show you to your rooms."

  She led us upstairs to the second floor. A hallway cut the floor into an lowercase 't' with the center bar running from left to right just down the hall from the stairs landing. The wide trunk of the intersecting halls cut the house in two and ended at the rear of the house with a large window. The staircase itself continued to the third floor. The wooden floor had a carpet in the center, and on either side of the hall in front of us were plain white doors.

  Variel guided our group to the first door some ten feet down the hall and on the left-hand side. She turned to us and smiled. "There are six bedrooms with two shared baths and two master baths. Four of the bedrooms share two chimneys, though not the same hearth, and the other two have their own chimneys." She pushed open the door and revealed to us a small but comfortable bedroom with a four-post bed, nightstand, and dresser. "This will be your room, Mr. Quill, and the adjoining room around the corner will be for your young charge."

  Quill snorted. "He's not mine."

  Bram glared at her. "Yeah, and I'm not his."

  Variel smiled back at them. "I'm sorry. You two just seem to be very much related. Like brothers."

  The pair glanced at one another. Their tongues stuck out in unison and they turned away from the other.

  Variel glanced at me and gestured down the hall. "Your room is just down the hall on the opposite side of the divide near the window."

  "And mine?" Vincent wondered.

  "Our room is here." She moved to a door opposite that of Quill's room and opened the entrance. Revealed to us was a spacious master bedroom with a large hearth and four-post bed.

  Vincent pursed his lips. "I'd rather sleep in a guest room, if you don't mind."

  Variel stepped up to him and pressed her palm against his chest. She searched his face with her bright yellow eyes. "Is there nothing left of the man I knew?"

  Vincent grasped her hand in both of his and pulled her away. "I'm sorry. I just can't remember."

  Variel sighed, but gave a nod. "Very well. You can have the other large-"

  "I'd rather have one of the smaller ones. Like my friends," Vincent insisted.

  Bram clasped his hands behind his head and shook his head. "You're nuts."

  Vincent softly smiled at him. "Maybe, but I'd still feel more comfortable in a small room."

  The storm outside made itself known with a flash of lightning across the window at the end of the hall. A clap of thunder joined the storm ranks. The lights flickered, but remained on.

  Quill glanced at our hostess. "The power lines around here go out a lot?"

  She shook her head. "No, but that's because we don't have outside power. Our electricity is provided by a generator."

  He swept his eyes over the lights in the ceiling. "Then you might want to call an electrician to get it checked out."

  Variel smiled. "I'm sure we'll be fine. This old home has been through worse storms than this."

  "So when do we eat?" Bram spoke up.

  "It is rather early, but right now, if you wish," our hostess offered.

  The answer was in the affirmative, and we removed ourselves downstairs to the dining room. Five places were set and Variel took the seat at the right-hand spot from the head and gestured for Vincent to take the main seat. He reluctantly did so. Bram and Quill took the chairs on the left, and I was left with the seat beside Variel's spot.

  Black entered with a platter of various meats. He set the platter down beside me. Those bottomless pits that made up his eyes swept over me. A chill invaded my flesh and made me shudder. I turned away and to my chatty companions.

  "You and Vincent must be pretty rich after living this long," Quill commented.

  Variel smiled. "We are quite wealthy, yes."

  Quill set his elbow on the table and leaned towards Vincent. "Any way I can charge a finder's fee for your return?"

  Bram snorted. "You didn't do nothing but slow us down."

  Quill glanced over his shoulder and frowned at the kid. "You forget who drove you guys from Celatum to the peak. My car's still waiting there." He turned back to Vincent. "Any chance I can get some gas money?"

  Vincent shook his head. "I don't really know. I guess I should be rich."

  Variel looped her arm through his right one and looked into his face. "Has nothing brought back your memories?"

  A loud, long tone echoed through the rooms. It was the grandfather clock chiming the hour. Vincent's eyes widened. He jumped to his feet and tore himself from Variel's hold. His hands flew up and clutched the sides of his head.

  He cried out in a strangled voice. "Stop it! Stop that chiming!"

  Variel stood and reached out for him. "But my love, it's only the-" Another deep, gong sounded. Vincent swung away from the table and stumbled towards the front windows.

  His horrible, pained chanting suffocated the room. "Stop it! Make it stop!"

  Quill and I stood just as he collapsed to his knees. We rushed over to him with Bram not far behind. Variel stood frozen by the table.

  I knelt beside Vincent and grasped his shoulders. His hunched body trembled and he averted his face from me.

  "It's okay, Vincent, it's only the-" My eyes widened as I beheld his clawed fingers. There came another gong of terror. Fur sprouted down his face and his overcoat stretched. I leaned towards him and shook his shoulders. "Vincent! Vincent, listen to me! You're fine!"

  Quill grabbed my upper arms and tried to pull me away. "He'll turn you into chow if you don't give him some room!"

  I shrugged off his hold as the fifth gong chimed. Then there was silence. Vincent's shaking ceased. His arms dropped to his sides. He turned and looked up at me. His cheeks were stained with tears.

  "Leila," he gasped.

  I managed a shaky smile. "I told you it'd be okay."

  Quill glanced over his shoulder at Variel. "What the hell kind of clock is that?"

  She shook her head. "It's one of a kind, but I've never seen Vincent react to it in such a way."

  I helped Vincent stand, and he leaned his weight against me. I turned us around so we faced the entranceway and Variel. "We'll be taking our dinner upstairs."

  Variel stretched out her hand towards us. "But-"

  "It isn't a request," I snapped. I looked at Vincent and managed another small smile. "Come on."


  I helped him upstairs to the room he assigned to himself. The door lay at the far rear corner of the house, and I was glad when I set him down on the bed. I moved to step back, but Vincent grabbed my arm.

  "Please don't leave me," he whispered.

  I set my hand atop his and studied him. His face was less hairy, but no less pale. The hand I held trembled.

  I knelt in front of him and caught his gaze. "Why did the clock scare you?"

  He closed his eyes and shook his head. "I. . .I don't know. It told me something was coming, something terrible, and I. . .I screamed." He turned his face away and scrunched his eyes shut. Tears streamed down his cheeks. "I couldn't help it."

  I cupped his cheek in my hand. His eyes flew open and he turned to me. I gave him a smile. "Nobody's going to hurt you here."

  "I wouldn't be so sure about that," a voice spoke up behind me.

  I whipped my head around to find Quill leaning against the door frame. Beside him stood Bram. His lips were pursed as he strode into the room. Bram shut the door behind them.

  "Pardon the intrusion but we ordered out for all of us," Quill informed us. "The lady said our food should be up in a few minutes."

  I frowned at him as he moved to stand beside us. "What did you mean about not being sure?"

  He jerked his head sideways in the direction of the door. "It means there's something fishy going on around here. I've seen politicians act more honest than this woman, and that was when they were neck-deep in a scandal."

  "But she's my friend," Vincent spoke up.

  Quill shrugged. "That's what she says, but none of us knows if she's telling the truth or not. I for one think a good sniff around might be beneficial to our health."

  "Yeah, and seeing what's in that room," Bram spoke up. He wrinkled his nose. "I couldn't smell a thing from that place."

  "She said it was to keep us safe from what was inside," Vincent reminded him.

  Bram shook his head. "That's a load of bull. I got something off the knob and it didn't smell like dust to me. More like a cleaner or something."

  I stood and swept my eyes over our small group. "Then two of us should inspect the house while the other two stay here." I glanced at Bram and nodded my head towards Vincent. "You stay here-"

  "No." Vincent grasped my hand and looked me in the eyes with his own steady gaze. "You need to stay here."

  I frowned. "Why?"

  Vincent hooded his eyes and turned away from me. "I-I don't know. I just know I want you nearby."

  Quill grinned. "Looks like you've been nominated for a different position. You being his Proxy you should stick close by him, anyway." He jerked his thumb at Bram. "Just leave this job to the professionals, and the kid, and we'll get to the bottom of this."

  I pursed my lips, but nodded. "All right. When will you begin?"

  Quill shrugged. "The usual time. After everyone's gone to sleep."

  A knock on the door interrupted our conference. The entrance creaked open and revealed Black. His vacant eyes swept over our little party. In his hands was a large tray full of food.

  Bram rubbed his hands together. "Finally some grub!"

  Quill strode past Bram and took the tray from Black. He caught the lower part of the door with his foot and smiled. "Thanks. We'll take it from here." He shut the door in Black's face and turned to us. "I've met livelier corpses in the morgue."

  Bram wrinkled his nose. "And he kind of smells like he's been embalmed."

  Quill walked past us and avoided a fast hand from Bram. "I hope that kills your appetite, Pipsqueak, because we can't really dig this food," he commented as he stooped beside the bed. He shoved the platter beneath the covers.

  "Why not?" Bram whined.

  Quill stood and brushed his hands. "Because we don't know what's in it, and I'm going to need that super sniffer of yours tonight."

  Bram frowned. "If you're that worried then why don't we get out of here?"

  A flash of lightning at the window and a peal of thunder answered his question. I strode over to the window and brushed aside the curtain. The scene beyond the glass was darkness accentuated with shadows. A heavy rain pelted the ground and a gust knocked the trees to and fro. The window faced the river and I saw the sides were swollen with the sudden deluge of water.

  I turned to my companions and jerked my head towards the window. "I don't think we could get out of here even if we wanted to. The river's flooded."

  Quill frowned. "Seriously?"

  He and Bram joined me at the window and surveyed the scene. Both their faces fell. I glanced past them at Vincent. He remained at the foot of the bed and his head was bowed.

  I walked over to him and knelt in front of him. His face was tense. I shook his shoulder. "You okay?"

  He clutched his temple in one hand and shook his head. "I. . .I don't know. I thought we'd be done when we got here, but nothing's helping."

  "Maybe a shock got him into this mess and a shock would get him out," Quill suggested. I glanced over my shoulder and glared at him. He held up his hands. "It's only a suggestion."

  Bram jabbed him in the ribs. Quill exhaled and clutched his doubled-over stomach. "We don't want to kill him."

  I stood and jerked my head towards the door. "Why don't you two start your sleuthing?"

  "What if we meet with one of the ghouls here?" Quill asked me.

  "Tell them you need a glass of water. It should be safe to drink that," I retorted.

  Quill shrugged and walked over to the door with Bram at his heels. "All right, but I have a last request, and I do mean last request."

  I sighed and nodded. "All right, what is it?"

  He grinned. "Make sure my name makes the front page. I've always wanted to be there."

  There came another knock on the door. Quill opened the entrance and revealed Variel.

  She smiled and bowed her head to us. "My my, what a busy room."

  Quill grabbed Bram by the shoulder and winked at me. "We were just leaving to go get a drink of water. See ya."

  The pair slipped from the room. Variel stepped inside and shut the entrance behind her. She looked from Vincent to me. "Is he better?"

  I nodded. "Much better."

  She walked over and stood before us. "Vincent has always been a bit shy. You two must have had many adventures to be this close."

  "How long was he missing?" I asked her.

  She sighed and turned her face away to look at the floor. "Many, many months. I had a bad feeling about this time and begged him not to leave, but when he heeded the call to travel."

  Vincent furrowed his brow. "What do you mean 'heeded the call?'"

  Variel sighed and walked over to to window. She brushed away the curtain and looked out on the storm. The fierce weather enveloped the world in its dark clutches. "We have lived a very long time, and long ago we shirked our task of leading faithful to the fold. Now we have nothing but endless time and boredom. It-" She bowed her head and closed her eyes. "It leads us to wander over the world searching for something-anything which will amuse us."

  "Do the werewolves have enemies?" I asked her.

  She turned and raised an eyebrow. "No. Why do you ask?"

  "Did Vincent have any scars on his body?" I persisted.

  She blinked at me and shook her head. "No, of course not. But what brings you to ask these things?"

  I looked to Vincent. He winced, but stood and removed his overcoat. The light above us reflected off the many healed gashes and cuts. Variel's hand flew to her mouth, but did nothing to stifle her gasp. Her eyes widened. She stumbled over to him and brushed her hand over his upper arm.

  "Who-" she swallowed and looked into his eyes, "-who did this to you?"

  Vincent shrugged his overcoat back on his shoulders and shook his head. "I don't know."

  Variel frowned and clenched her hand into a fist. "Whoever touched you will earn what they have reaped."

  "Only obsidian could cause those marks, right?" I asked her.

  Her eyes were riveted to his covered body, but she nodded. "Yes, and a great deal of heat applied to the rock to cut so deep." She turned away and clasped her face in her palm. "I. . .I think I need to be alone. If you'll excuse me."

  Variel hurried from the room. I stared at the door and pursed my lips together.

  Vincent's voice broke the tense silence. "She's lying."

  I turned to Vincent and arched an eyebrow. "How can you tell?"

  His gaze lay on the door, but he shook his head. "I don't know, but I'm sure of it."

  I frowned. "Which part was she lying about?"

  "All of it."


  It was an hour before Quill and Bram returned from their expedition. Vincent and I sat at the foot of the bed when they slipped into the room and shut the door behind them.

  I stood. "What happened?"

  Quill walked over to us and shrugged. "Not much to report. We didn't meet the gruesome groom, but we couldn't get into that room, either. The door's locked tighter than a government agency's spending report."

  Bram turned to his companion and frowned. "What about the clock?"

  Quill snorted. "I think your sniffer's out of whack, Pipsqueak."

  Bram glared up at Quill. "It is not!"

  "What about the clock?" I interrupted them.

  Quill folded his arms and nodded his head at Bram. "Pipsqueak here says there's some funny smells around the clock."

  "Not around the clock, in it," Bram corrected Quill before he turned to me. "I stuck my head in the body and took a deep sniff, and I c
aught a scent of something strange. It smelled like what was on the handle of the door, but a heck of a lot stronger, like it'd been soaked in the stuff or something."

  "But do you know what the smell is?" I asked him.

  He shook his head. "No, but it kind of reminds me of the science room at Celatum's high school. I snuck in there one night to play with some of the chemicals, and broke a bunch of the beakers. It smells like all that stuff that got broke."

  "I thought werewolves were supposed to be agile," Quill teased.

  Bram glared at him. "You try getting around in the dark and we'll see how much stuff you break."

  I turned to Vincent. He stared hard at the ground and his lips were pursed. "You smell anything?"

  He shook his head. "No. I can only transform at will, I don't know how to use my powers very well."

  Quill arched an eyebrow and glanced between Vincent and me. "What's that about transforming?"

  "I can transform at will, so long as Leila's nearby," Vincent explained.

  Bram's eyes widened. "Really? Lemme see!"

  Vincent smiled and held up his hand. Bram scooted over to him, and his eyes grew wide when Vincent transformed the fingers to claws and back again.

  Bram whistled. "Wow! You being a Prime must be something!"

  "If only I could remember being one," Vincent countered.

  Quill glanced at me. "So what do we do now?"

  I nodded at the door. "We should go to our separate bedrooms. If they plan something tonight they won't do it while we're together."

  Quill held up his hand. "Wait a sec. You want them to do something to us?"

  Bram frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. "Are you nuts, lady? If that lady's as old a werewolf as Vincent then she's probably as strong as him. We'd be done for like that." He snapped his fingers.

  I looked from one to the other. "If you have a better idea I'd like to hear it. If not, then we go with my plan." Quill and Bram glanced at each other and frowned, but didn't argue. "All right, get to your rooms, but don't fall asleep. If they do try something you can scream and they'll need to handle all of us."

  Quill sighed and gave a flimsy salute to all of us as he stepped backwards towards the door. "It was nice knowing you guys."

  Bram followed. A dark expression lay on his face. "Stupid humans and their stupid ideas. . ."

  When they left I turned to Vincent. He still sat on the bed. "How close to I need to be for you to transform?"


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