St. Paul, Minnesota
Barkers Alps Park
February 2nd, 2007
“Come on, slow poke, keep up! Still haven’t worked off all that turkey!”
“Me? Speak for yourself!”
Julie laughed, picking up her pace to keep up with her sister, Lori. It was Friday morning, bright and early, and the both of them were jogging. It was something of a ritual for them; the jogging. Julie had been on track throughout high school and now that Lori was, she kept Julie practicing with her.
There were other people gathered around the park and surrounding track, mostly other people on the winding path, walking their dogs or jogging like they were. One woman was there with her two kids.
Lori, ahead of her, turned around, and slowed to a stop. “If we walk, will it be easier on your aging body?”
“Pfft, whatever. Last one home is a ro – what?” Julie began in response before seeing her sister’s face and turned around to see what it was.
Behind her there were four large dogs - if you could even call them that. They were huge, nearly the size of a small car, and it looked to Julie like their eyes were glowing red. She stopped, feeling immediately like they needed to turn around and run back to their car. Some of them barked.
“Aren’t those the dogs that they mentioned on the news?” Lori asked, and Julie nodded; she’d seen them around the neighborhood. Before she hadn’t been all that afraid of them, but now…..
And as soon as she thought it, the beasts ran past everyone in the park and went straight for Lori, leaving Julie to do nothing but scream in horror.
Two days later
Chase Jones really hated black dogs. Not only did they go after people with guilty consciences (and she had a lot on her mind), but there wasn’t any real way to pick out who was going to be the next victim unless all of the victims were connected (ie, sharing the same deep, dark secret). But if they were killing people, it was her business, and that’s why she here.
She was standing at a bus stop, after having just arrived in the city. Sunlight glinted off her black shades as she looked around, trying to get her bearings. She read local street signs, saw she was near Lafayette Freeway, and then turned her eyes back to the newspaper. It wasn’t a paper from St. Paul. It wasn’t even a paper from Minnesota. It was a paper from Boston, Mass. – where she’d been just before coming here.
In their “news from around the country” section, she’d read about wild animals on the loose; three victims thus far. Usually wild animal attacks weren’t on her radar, but after picking up on various tips from local hunter hangouts, she’d started taking notice.
Chase folded the paper, after reading the line about “four black dogs, stated witness Julie Harris” for the hundreth time, and slung her duffel bag over her shoulder as the light changed to ‘walk’.
Garcon Disparue lounged in his room on the 18th floor of the Radisson Hotel in Minneapolis, channel surfing, when he caught the report about the newest victim in a spree of wild animal slayings. It was only a small mention between the main story and the obligatory “now lets finish with puppy dogs dancing” feel good story. Four large dogs had killed three people so far and were thought to still be roaming the city.
“Well, hello…” He said, turning up the volume to better hear what was being said. All the attacks were in roughly the same part of town, it seemed, and all within the last week and a half, and then…..then she appeared on the screen. The sister of one of the victims, apparently. She was appealing to the public to be cautious. Tall, blonde, and a face that would have been gorgeous had it not been wracked with grief.
“Well, she’ll probably need a shoulder to cry on.” He said, smile growing across his face.
Fifteen minutes later he was checked out of the hotel and flying along the freeway with 10,000 RPM at his disposal.
Brooklyn Jackson was thoroughly enjoying the little vacation she was giving herself; having fun with her family as she sat in her parents living room, playing with her niece and nephew. Her brother in law was sitting on couch, watching tv, when a news report came on about animal attacks happening miles away in Minnesota.
“Hey, I think the Dolphins game is on.” David said, lifting the remote to turn, but Brooklyn stopped him.
“David, can you wait a minute? I want to listen to the news before you turn the channel. Plus, you know the Dallas Cowboys are so going to kick their as –“ She glanced at the kids sitting next to her. “Phalt.”
After hearing the report, she turned the channel for her brother in law and then went upstairs to her room to pack her bags. While there her sister walked in, taking a seat on the bed.
“I see you’re leaving again,” She said, watching Brooklyn pack up. “I wish you would stay a little longer; it was nice having you around. It’s been months since your last visit.”
“I wish I could stay longer but duty calls and I need to get going.” Brooklyn said, putting the last bit of her items in the bag. “You take care of my lil’ munchkins for me and I will try to come home more often.” She hugged her sister and left the room with her, going to say her good-byes now because she’d be gone come morning.
Jake Finley was sitting in a dark and dirty motel on the outskirts of Atlanta, reclining on an unmade bed. He took a swig of beer, sighed, and rubbed his aching muscles, trying to relax and unwind. He’d spent most of the past week hunting werewolves. He smirked slightly to himself as he remembered the werewolf and the fight that had ensued. Thanks to the beast his arm was bandaged and he sported a few scrapes and cuts along his neck and face. Thankfully, his superhuman strength had kicked in and he was able to defeat the thing.
He closed his eyes, trying to dull the pain he felt by taking another swig of the beer. Jake, unlike many hunters, wanted to keep hunting once he’d started. He had to be careful to keep himself in check when he did because we would invariably forget to eat or keep himself in check; that would be a problem with the vampire blood in him. He couldn’t afford to lose it. Not like last time.
He shook himself at the thought and forced his eyes on the television, trying not to think about that night. Channel surfing, he let his mind wander until he caught the tail end of a national broadcast.
“…..and in Minnesota, two more bodies were found. Their injuries coincide with the three other bodies in eastern Minnesota. According to a witness in one of the cases, it was large black dogs, and officials believe it is the same with all of them.”
By the time the news cut to commercial, Jake was already packing up his things, getting ready to head to Minnesota. He’d heard certain things about large black dogs attacking people all over from an older hunter Nate who’d heard all kinds of rumors. Jake assumed this confirmed it.
Back in St. Paul, Chase checked into the first hotel she came by and dropped her bag on the bed. It was filled with any and everything she might ever need during a hunt, plus one change of clothing. She left it laying on the bed, however, and left the room again. It was only midday, and that gave her reason to get to work.
So, she walked back outside and down the street, pausing at a local market to pick up a paper with a far more indepth look into the matter and then stopped a coffee shop and took a seat on the outside patio to read it.
The first victim, a Richard Morgan, was a lawyer who grew up in the area. There hadn’t been anyone to witness his apparent demise, but neighbors say he would go for strolls around the neighborhood and the same neighbors quote large dogs roaming the area.
The next victim, Lori Harris, had been at the park with her older sister Julie. Julie reported four large dogs attacking her sister, but hadn’t been able to do anything about it.
The third and final victim in the article was a Hector Gonzalez, was found dead behind his shop. No one mentioned about anything about his death, but his wounds matched those of the first two victims, and the police suspected the same dogs.
Chase set the paper down, lifting her sunglasses off for the first time since she put them on to sleep the night before on the bus. Her coffee was delivered to her, and she sipped it, letting her mind wander over the possibilities.
The news report came on the tv the café had posted and announced that two more deaths had occurred. Chase frowned, hearing the report. Whatever these things were, they meant business and they weren’t wasting time getting to it.
Garth cruised into the suburb of the hot sister and headed to the park where it all went down. “Thank God for sat-nav.” He muttered, as he followed the directions.
A few minutes later he was driving slowly past the park. A hundred meters in, he saw the rotunda that was in the background of the news shots, and sitting on a bench that had been mere feet away from the girls death was a blonde woman, sitting alone. He continued along the road, parked a block away, got out, and started walking. He had to make a bit of a detour to make it seem like he just came upon her by accident, but quite soon he was walking along, and stopped quite convincingly as he saw the dark stain on the cement in front of him. He looked at it a moment, as if to be slowly recalling the news story, then looked up and saw the woman sitting there. He made to walk around the mark, smiling blandly at the girl, and then freezing as if he suddenly realized who she was.
Garth turned slowly and said, “Forgive me, but are you the sister of the girl who was attacked?”
She smiled sadly at him. “That’s me.”
Keeping his eyes on hers the whole time, he took a seat next to her. “I’m so sorry for you. I walk through this park all the time, it just seems so strange that anything like this could happen here.” He looked out at the small lake they were facing. “I mean, it’s not like it’s in a bad neighborhood.”
“No. It was just so random. The dogs had been roaming the streets for days yet they never touched anyone.” She replied, her voice sounding wetter and wetter as she went on. She sniffed, then continued, “We were walking together and the dogs just walked up to us, barking. They went right passed heaps of other people and left me completely alone even though I was standing right next to her. It was like they were after her. There was nothing I could do. I….” She trailed off, putting her head in her hands and sobbed.
Garth patted her on the back for a moment, but quickly stopped. Acting nice and sunny to manipulate people was one thing, but acting only went so far and he was not exactly a huggy kind of person. So they sat in silence for a moment while Julie composed herself.
Garth jerked his gaze from the lake in front of them and back to Julie, “Well, you know, it sounds crazy, but I’ve heard rumors that these dogs were trained, and a person sent them after specific people. But that doesn’t make any sense, does it? I mean, there have been attacks all over the city, and your sister wouldn’t have known any of the other victims, would she?” He added, looking at her intently to gauge her reaction.
She sighed, “It all seemed so suspicious. I’ve asked myself the same questions, but as far as I know, they didn’t know each other. It seems strange, but they must just be random.” She smiled sadly at him. “Thanks for listening.”
Garth smiled and replied, “Anytime. I’m just glad my curiousity didn’t offend you.” He stood up, straightened his coat, and strolled off with a, “See you around….”
A few minutes later he was back in his car, pissed off. No connection…..so this just got harder. Well, maybe the other victims would prove better leads.
Throwing the paper he bought along the way into the passengers seat, he revved the engine and left.