An hour or so later he came upon a crevice that almost looked natural. Almost. It was triangular in shape, the narrowest peak reaching about his shoulder. The base appeared to be just over three feet wide and didn’t stay that wide much past two and a half feet up. Marcus got down on his hands and knees and peered into it. Just as he thought, it wasn’t all natural. The opening stayed the same for a few feet then appeared to widen. He stuck his head inside and tried to get his shoulders inside, intending to crawl ahead. A jutting rock he didn’t see stabbed him in the shoulder.
“Ouch, sonofabitch!” He sat back on his heels and rubbed his shoulder. Then he pulled his phone out and checked the GPS. He texted Doug, “Going in stone, coordinates 56° 43′ 26.84″ N, 5° 9′ 7.03″ W, gimme 2hrs.”
When he got back, “K, be careful, won’t tell Anna” he took a look around then shucked his clothes and tied them into his shirt, leaving a knot big enough to pick up with his teeth. Then he shifted, picked up the bundle of clothing and worked his way into the tunnel. He was positive he left some fur and flesh on the edge of the entrance but it got wider and higher just a few feet in, as he expected. It wound around until he could no longer seem much daylight and he slowed, using his nose more than his eyes.
Soon the crevice opened up more and he was able to pad along without the stone walls brushing against his body. The daylight made a weak reappearance and Marcus was sure that he had made the shift and walk for nothing. In the next moment the crevice opened into a round, craggy chamber. Marcus’s mouth fell open in shock and his clothes fell to the floor. He hardly noticed. He slowly walked around the chamber, paws barely making more than a whisper of sound on the stone. His nostrils were soaking up everything scent – stone, moss and guano among other things – and his eyes were peering carefully into the dark recesses cut into the walls.
Then he sneezed and his belly rumbled at the same time. He backed up two steps, thoroughly confused. He sniffed around in a hollow set into the wall about two feet off the ground. He smelled some ancient animal something that made his belly rumble again, kerosene and sulfur. As his stomach heaved again he decided to get less sensitive and shifted back to human. Immediately, his stomach settled down, he scrubbed his nose and shivered. He thought about his clothes but knew he’d have to change back.
Marcus peered into the dark recess as his brain tried to figure out what that smell was and why it was familiar while his eyes and nose searched out the source. It was shoved way back into the hollow and teased him by being just out of reach. His fingertips just barely brushed against something smooth, he could feel a slight ridge like a rope or something. A growl echoed through the chamber and it took him a moment to realize it was him.
Silencing the growl, Marcus pulled his arm out, scraping it on the rocks, as he peered into the crevice and wondered if he could just shift his eyes. Or maybe his just face. He gave it up after several frustrating attempts and looked around the chamber. He could still smell the kerosene so he sniffed it out. He found a lantern hidden in a deep, shelf-like indent in one of the walls and pulled it out. A long box of matches fell out. Matches in a Tupperware container, which gave him great pause, it was then that he realized the kerosene smelled relatively fresh too. Old kerosene had a bacterial smell, one he could smell in other places in the chamber.
After lighting the lantern, Marcus went back and tried to focus the beam onto the thing shoved deep into the crack in the chamber wall. Finally he could see it. It appeared to be a leather wrapped bundle tied with rope. There was a loose spot in the rope, if he could just hook his fingers in it, he could pull it out. He shoved his arm in to the shoulder, scraping the tender wounds on the wall again and losing more skin in the process, and stretched his fingers way out. He willed himself to reach it, forcing his ligaments and tendons to stretch; he willed his nails to lengthen, knowing it wasn’t possible. To his shock he felt the tingling that preceded shifting in his fingertips. He felt his hand begin to shift; joints popped and began to reform, fingernails thickened and grew.
So great was his shock that Marcus had the barest presence of mind to hook the package in one claw and yank his arm out. He stared at it in surprise. The hand was somewhere between a hand and a paw and reminded him of the lycans in Underworld when they were the wolf-man creatures and fur climbed halfway up his arm. He was so impressed he almost forgot about the package but as soon as he stopped thinking about the need for a shift it began to recede.
Marcus took in the sight of the worn, scraped animal hide held in place by relatively new rope and frowned before pulling his phone out of the bundle of clothing. He called up Anna’s number and wrote a text, Meet at hotel have something, and wandered around the cave, arm stretched out over his head, thumb on the send button, seeking even one bar of signal. Finally he got it, standing on his toes, arm stretched over his head towards the hole in the center of the roof. He stood there, weaving slightly, until the phone told him the message had been sent then he rewrapped the bundle of his clothing to include his phone and the hide covered package, muttering under his breath. “Nice to know Vodafone is as reliable as ever.”
With a deep breath, Marcus shifted again then stood there with his head down, breathing hard. Shifting was tiring and doing it twice in as many hours was triply exhausting. He picked up the bundle in his teeth again and headed out of the cave through the crevasse. Once outside he shifted back to human. He could have covered the ground faster on four feet but he didn’t want to start any talk and he most definitely didn’t want to get shot. He tucked the bundle under his shirt, fighting not to gag at the smell, and headed back to the hotel.
Howdy folks! It’s halfway through December and not only do I not have the work done I wanted to get done (various reasons; some of them excuses, some of them valid) but I haven’t been doing my blog or my Facebook page like I want to. I know there’s a block there but I can’t figure it out. I know my block for my blog – I don’t always think I have things worth writing.
But we’ve been over that before so, moving on.
As you can see, Marcus found something intriguing, something that has Anna all agog.
Anna held out a hand for the package and Marcus willingly handed it over then bolted for the shower. Anna gagged, her stomach heaving. She got it under control as the other three looked at each other in alarm then sat down with the hide package in her lap. Some part of her brain just clicked into being her father’s daughter, all about the history and knowledge. After reverently stroking the package, Anna undid the intricate knot that held the ropes in place.
Marcus growled when he came back into the sitting room, shirtless, barefoot and hair still damp from his shower. “Anna! Do you have to be so slow? That stench is unbearable.”
“It’s history, Marcus, one must respect it.” Anna frowned at him even as she fought to keep her eyes from following the trail of hair that disappeared into his waistband. She swallowed and a faint blush crept up her neck as she remembered the night she had received her collar. Anna reached up and touched the collar hidden by a small glamour then scratched a spot just above it to hide the motion before dropping her hand and peeling the hide away from the contents. She lifted the stack of journals and spoke. “Someone put this smelly thing in a bag and in the closet.”
Brock leapt forward and swept it from her lap. He threw it in a backpack, zipped it shut, tossed the whole thing in the closet and shut the door.
Immediately everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Anna set the journals back in her lap and picked up the one on top. She opened the cover and read the first page. Her frown deepened as she read. “This is a journal of the area. It was started five years ago. It talks about the strange occurrences and is a continuation of other journals.” She read aloud.
My name is… well you don’t need to know my name. But I am the 16th in a long line of watchers. We watch for what is now called the paranormal. Strange deaths. Animal sightings. Stories of witches. We watch.
And we wait.
Soon it will come time to avenge the deaths.
To avenge the slaughter.
We watch. We wait.
We will persevere.
Anna tapped a finger on the page. “We need to find these people. And I need Elsie. Jules, you start with the newest one. Brock, the one before it. Doug, take this one,” she handed them out as she spoke. “Marcus, this one,” she gave him the second oldest, “and I’ll take the remaining. First though, I need to get Elsie.”
Then I got stymied, need to do a little research into Early Modern English. And create that family whose sole purpose is to watch the Supernatural. I think it can start with that old woman Liliya ignored when she turned Alasdair Jr. If that woman can convince one person (and, miraculously, she can) then perhaps that person can convince a family. Or maybe she can convince a family that takes her in out of the cold.
And Anna and Elsie will discover the truth by reading that first journal. They’ll go on to discover how Alasdair Jr./Liliya convinced John Dalrymple to help betray his family. Lovely.
And only five, maybe six journals? Tiny, cramped writing and long periods of nothing happening maybe.
*grins* I love you guys! I should write here more often. Talking to you helps me figure things out.
Off to write this out and get my daughter up for school. And make gingerbread cookies. And pack for the weekend with my boyfriend. Have to remember to pack something nice for The Nutcracker tomorrow.
Have a great Friday, folks!