tagSci-Fi & FantasyFull Moon Strays Ch. 06

Full Moon Strays Ch. 06

byEvil Alpaca©

This story is a bit wordy and fairly long, so if you are looking for immediate gratification, you might want to look elsewhere. It contains heterosexual and lesbian sexual activity.

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The following story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between actual persons, living or dead (or just confused) is entirely coincidental. Please do not copy/redistribute the story, in part or in total, without the author's permission.

This story takes place in the entirely fictional city of Springfield, California, so don't go looking for it on a map. And in my little fictional world, there are no unwanted pregnancies or STD's, except as plot driving devices. The author encourages the practice of safe-sex. Finally, as the name implies, this is part of an ongoing series. It would benefit the reader greatly to examine the earlier stories for background information and descriptions.


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"Full Moon Strays . . ." Part 6

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Red was a lycanthrope . . . a powerful creature whose physical existence shifted between her human form and a half-human, half puma entity. She wasn't meant for or fond of enclosed spaces. The inside of a passenger train definitely counted as "enclosed." But nevertheless, she found herself sandwiched between an elderly gentleman who smelled faintly of mothballs and a pretty young woman with her arm in a sling. It was this latter creature . . . Jane . . . who had brought Red to this place.

A few months earlier, Red had simply been worried about hellspawn activity in the underworld of Springfield, California. Since then, Jane had showed up, helped save Red's brother (another lycanthrope), manifested a powerful magical Talent, been almost killed twice and had fought an ancient and evil creature, almost losing her life and sanity in the process. Jane had come to the Strays a fragile and breakable creature, and the Shoggoth had preyed upon that and fed upon her growing mental instability. It had come so close to devouring Jane's soul that Red shuddered to think about it. Now, Red was escorting the woman she had unexpectedly and secretly come to love back to where she had grown up. And more importantly, she was taking Jane back to the thing Jane had been running from for years . . . the thing that had broken her spirit and sense of self-worth . . . the man, if he could be called that, that had hurt Jane so very badly so very long ago.

Jane could feel herself getting closer to her home town with every jostle of the car, and she felt a chill creeping down from her brain and infesting the rest of her body. 'Do I really want to do this?' she asked of herself. 'No, I'm pretty sure I don't,' she thought. 'But I need to.' Her arm crept around Red's and she rested her head on the woman's shoulder. She knew the lycanthrope was uncomfortable leaving the Den in such a time of turmoil.

"It'll be dark when we get there," Jane said absently. They would take the bus from the train station to the sleepy little town she had once called home. "If you want, you could get some sleep now and . . ."

"No, that's okay," Red replied, pulling her girlfriend closer. "I don't think I could sleep now anyway." She paused. "Are we going straight there?" She didn't need to explain where "there" meant.

"Yes," Jane whispered, almost fearfully. She still didn't know what she was going to do when she saw her stepfather. She hadn't seen Jack in many years . . . not since she had run away. It occurred to her that she hadn't even considered what she would do if she saw her mother. Jane's feelings about her mother were . . . complicated.

The two women slipped back into silence. It would all be over soon enough.

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Outside of Springfield, CA . . .

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Deep in the recesses of a mountain cave, the Shoggoth stirred. It sensed that the creature it had grown to despise with unbridled passion had left the area, heading westward. Part of it was in still in her mind . . . not enough to exert influence, but certainly enough to know when its host was missing. As soon as the sun set, the Shoggoth would take flight for the first time since that pathetic little world had come into existence. It would not report back to its master that it had been foiled by some pathetic human, however powerful she might be. The Dark One would not wait for his foe to recover . . . it would attack as soon as possible. It would all be over soon enough.

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In the Den . . .

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The few remaining Strays, along with Natasha, were once again gathered around the central table. They had been debating where to move the Den for hours. Robbie was acting as his sister's surrogate, arguing to keep the Strays where they were. But he was outnumbered, even with Nat stepping in on his side as an "outside" voice.

"This place just isn't safe anymore," Shield was saying. "There's so much bad mojo around that it's next to impossible to put up solid defenses."

"So you want to move to a slaughterhouse? How much worse can the mojo get?! And it has no power, running water and . . ."

"That can all be arranged and you know it," Tarloh interrupted. "I'm sorry, the big man said, less confrontationally, "but I don't want to sleep so close to wear we've buried our friends. This place was good to us over the years, but we've got to go."

"And we've got to find some allies," Talia said, trying to shift the conversation to something they all agreed upon. Robbie would beat his case to death just because he knew it's what his sister wanted.

"But who the hell would want to hook up with a bunch of people in the path of a God?" Nathan asked.

"Not a God," came a voice from out of nowhere. "Just something that wishes it was."

The Strays reacted with a start. Only one person they knew could be invisible, and that was Anya, who was sitting in plain sight. So if the hidden voice wasn't hers . . .

Suddenly, a purple and green mist formed in the center of the table, and it seemed to crackle with lightning. Then red sparks shot out the side, while the mist formed the head of what humans would call a dragon. The dragon's head roared, but the roar sounded more like a lion.

Tarloh had collected himself quickly and was actually rolling his eyes. "Lothar, would you can it?! You almost scared my people into doing something rash."

The mist vanished and standing in the middle of the table was a slightly pudgy young man, no more than twenty-four, wearing purple robes with an assortment of gold moons and stars and random symbols decorating it. He also wore a large, conical hat with similar decorations and a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses.

"How did you know it was me?" came the now slightly-nasal and much-less-booming voice.

"Because you have the tackiest entrances of anyone I've ever met," Tarloh grumbled. Lothar, or Lothar the Magnificent as he liked to be called, was a wizard from Los Angeles who had been helping Tarloh and the Strays in recent months try and identify the source of the Hellspawn threat. It was Lothar who had directed them towards the legends of the Elder Gods.

"Tacky?!" Lothar blurted. "I worked hard on that entrance!"

Most of the Strays had recovered and were curious about the newcomer. They had all heard of Lothar, but only Tarloh, Red and Talia had ever actually met him.

"The Dragon was cool," Chris said. He'd liked fantasy books when he was younger, so he appreciated the effort.

"Really? Did the scales look believable?" Lothar asked, suddenly distracted by actually having a fan.

"Oh hell yeah," Chris said. "Though I'm not sure about the forked tongue and . . ."

"AHEM!" Tarloh uttered.

"Sorry," Lothar said quickly, wiping his hands on his garish robes.

"What brings you down this way?" Talia asked. "Forget to tell us when we were . . ."

"I think we may have a problem," Lothar said hurriedly.

"Yeah, the Shoggoth. We've met it."

"You MET the Shoggoth?" Lothar said, his eyes wide behind his glasses.

"Well, one of us did," Anya said softly.

"I'm sorry for your loss."

"No, she's not dead, but it was close. And it was close to being worse," Anya replied.

Lothar looked perplexed, so Tarloh quickly explained the whole story. Lothar listened intently and with great interest.

"She actually drove the Shoggoth off?" he said at last. "This Jane person sounds quite formidable. Too bad she and Red aren't here, 'cause you guys ALL need to hear this." He took a deep breath, indicating the approach of a verbal onslaught. "The Shoggoth . . . it didn't make sense to me. Not that it was here, but that it would be trying to ascend, so to speak. So I began to wonder, how did this thing get loose from its prison? 'Cause there are a lot worse things in those prison dimensions than a Shoggoth."

"Like WHAT?!" Mindy shouted.

"Like the things that created the Shoggoths . . . the Elder Gods."

Suddenly, there was silence. Lothar, being a bit of a ham, actually cast a silent spell that dimmed the lights, almost as if it were story time.

"According the keepers of order . . . you might call them 'angels' . . . and their disciples, the Shoggoth rarely started power plays on their own. So either this one is one of the few rare rogues wanting its own dimension to play with, or it's just the tip of the iceberg. It may be trying to draw together enough power to free its master. And if that happens . . ." Lothar trailed off, his theatrical spell forgotten.

"Lothar," Arthur began, "what would happen if an Elder God got free?"

"Hell would be like a rest stop compared to what this dimension would become," Lothar replied with a gulp, then a breath. "You see, the Elder Gods major weakness in the new reality was that they couldn't travel between dimensions. So the force of order that defeated them sealed them in dimensions that contained ONLY the Elder Gods and their forces. If the dimensional wall to one of the prison dimensions has weakened so that the Shoggoth can escape and eventually free its master . . . And that's not the worse of it."

"It isn't?" Tarloh said, almost too exhausted to be surprised anymore.

"No. The one that this Shoggoth served, according to my sources, was the last of the Elder Gods to be imprisoned. It was the most powerful of them, and it was the one the others had united to try and defeat. If it gets free and into this dimension, it will be powerful and hateful and insane beyond all reason. And it will do ANYTHING to keep from getting sent back. The problem is that the force of order that defeated it has remained basically on the sidelines for the sake of balance. It has had no counterpart since time as we know it began, so it has simply watched. If the Elder God gets free, then the force of order. . . God . . . will go after it. Whatever dimension they fight in . . . well, our dimension to be more specific . . . would become the battleground for the Second Great War. Every intelligent species has some legend about that war, according to the prophets at least. Around here, it's mostly just called Armageddon . . . the End of Days."

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Later, somewhere out East . . .

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The sign announcing Jane's home town had been tagged by wannabe "gangstas," making it impossible to read in the fading light. Jane would have been amused if her mind hadn't been elsewhere. There weren't any real gangsters in her home state of Idaho. Lots of pretend ones to be sure.

Jane and Red were walking down the long, semi-paved road that led to the house she had grown up. Every step echoed in her skull, and every breath crept out from between clenched teeth. 'What should I do?' she asked of herself. 'I want him dead . . . I want his blood on my hands,' she thought, growing angry now. 'I want to show him who has the power . . .'

Jane stopped in her tracks.

Red looked over the young woman's shoulder at the house they had arrived at. The lawn was unkempt, the windows and doors boarded up and a sign in the front lawn that read, "Property for Sale."

"Impossible," Jane muttered. Her mother had sworn she would live in that little house forever. She and her father had promised . . . Jane's real father. Jane walked up to the front door. Without even thinking, she sent strands of hair out and ripped the boards off the door and then the door off its hinges. Red looked around, thankful there was some distance between them and the neighbors.

Jane walked inside. Everything was gone but the dust and the memories. She knew Red was following her, but she didn't really care. She went first to the den where she remembered curling up on her father's lap as a child, watching the Rose Bowl Parade every year and cartoons every Saturday. Then on to the kitchen where she and her mother had made cookies and her mother had sometimes brushed long, beautiful hair. Even as a child, Jane had gorgeous locks. Down the hall Jane went, then stopped at a little room with a wooden floor. There was a plank torn up in the corner. It's where she had hidden her diary once upon a time. She walked over and stared down at the empty hole, her heart beating a mile a minute in her chest and almost unfathomable fear and rage battled for control of her thoughts.

Red stood quietly in the doorway. 'Was this where it happened?' she thought. 'Was this where the monster struck?'

"What do I do?" Jane asked, her back still to Red.

"We find where he went," Red said. "And we finish it."

"I finish it," Jane corrected, staring at the floor.

Red sniffed the air. The house had been abandoned for some time. An occasional hint of a visitor, maybe a realtor or a transient or stoned teenager, but no long-time occupants. Then she heard tires on pavement coming to a halt, hear a motor cooling off.

"Someone's here," she said, taking Jane by the shoulders and walking towards the front door. She'd try and talk them out of it, because Jane was in no condition to make a run for it.

Out front, Red saw a sheriff's cruiser . . . one of the slightly older models she thought was reserved for television shows. There was an slightly elderly gentleman walking around the front, and Red noticed thankfully that his hand didn't instinctively reach for his gun. He was probably one of those guys who had been on the force so long that he wasn't going to risk getting in a gunfight with two girls on a B&E at an abandoned house.

"Ladies, I'm afraid you're trespassing," he said in a tired voice. "And I'll bet you were going to tell me how the door was all broken by the time you got here?"

Despite being caught on the defensive, Red actually found herself liking this cop. He was no nonsense, and Red respected that.

"No officer. We . . ."

"Holy shit!" the officer said, finally getting a good look at the woman who had been standing in Red's shadow. "Jane? Jane Collier?" Once the girl had shown her face in the streetlight, he had recognized her instantly. He better well have. A slightly livelier version of that face had been staring at him from a "missing" poster for the last five years.

"Sheriff Horton," Jane whispered, her face downward but her eyes glancing up.

"Good . . . good grief," he said, excited as could be. He took a step forward, but Jane retreated and Red interjected herself. He stopped. He wasn't surprised, but he had been forgetful. He knew more about what had happened than Jane could probably guess.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "It's just . . . damn girl, no one's seen ya for five years, and here you are, just . . . just outta the blue."

"I . . . I've been . . . away," she replied, stepping up to Red's side again. Sheriff Randolph Horton was a good man. He had been sheriff of this county for as long as Jane had been alive. He was more quick with forgiveness than condemnation, and that had earned him a place in the community many, many years ago. Her father had always thought highly of him.

"I can guess that," he said. "Uhm, what are you doin' here?" he asked. He wasn't sure if Jane knew what had happened after she had left.

Jane was flushing, but from fear or shame or what she couldn't say. "I . . . was just . . ." She straightened up her back. "Where's my mother?" she asked. "Where'd they move too?"

"Gosh . . . you've been gone but . . . I just thought you knew, but . . . but I guess you not knowin' might explain why you didn't come back."

"Where are they?!" Jane said, her voice carrying some force and volume now. "Where is that son of a bitch?!" she added, the anger returned. "Where . . ."

Red had to give the officer credit. He was keeping his cool.

"Jane . . . Jack is over on Pine Brook Road now," the officer said, obviously not sure how Jane would react.

Jane looked like she'd been hit with a brick. Her eyes glassed over and her head turned slightly as she mouthed some words that Red didn't pick up. Red looked at the sheriff.

"What's on Pine Brook Road?"

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A few minutes later . . .

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"This isn't fair," Jane said, clenching her fists and staring at the small mound of earth before her.

Red had found something out about the sleep little town that evening. There was only one thing on Pine Brook Road . . . the only thing that had ever been there and the only thing that ever would be . . . Pine Brook Cemetery. On the tombstone read "Jack Ewes: 1964 – 2005." No other epitaph was to be found.

"What now?" Jane asked almost angrily of Red. "How do I confront a dead guy?!" She fell to her knees and began beating the ground with her hands, leaving Red to hope she didn't start using her powers. "It's not fucking fair! You don't deserve to sleep you son of a bitch!"

"No rest for the wicked," Sheriff Horton muttered, taking a step back. He knew the girl deserved to vent. She deserved a hell of a lot more.

Jane stopped and began to weep on the ground. Jack was beyond her power . . . she'd never be free of him.

"Where's her mother?" Red asked quietly.

The sheriff sighed. "She's . . . she's in prison."

Jane swung her head around. "What?!"

"Jane, I'm not sure how . . . Hell Jane, your momma was convicted of killin' yer stepfather three years ago. She wouldn't say a word in her defense. Hell, I don't think she's spoken to anyone since."

"Why . . ." Jane started, her mind reeling.

"She . . . she found your diary," the sheriff replied, his heart in his throat. He'd read those pages himself. He'd read every day of her pain, and had wished deep down he could have done what Laura Collier had done. "She went nuts. I know she was out of it most of the time, but . . ." He stopped. Laura had shot her scumbag husband to death with a twelve-gauge shotgun while he lay drunk in his chair. The defense attorney assigned to her had managed to get a severely reduced sentence due to independently found evidence of abuse. She had been sentenced to serve time at a psychiatric hospital. The only person she was a danger to anymore was herself. But what had really helped her, as much as the sheriff hated to think of it, was when the jury heard Jane's words . . . printed clear as day in a little book covered with pink-velvet with a big red heart on the front. "We know what he did," the sheriff began. "Your mother knew . . ."

"What," Jane said crisply, looking him in the eye. "You know nothing. He . . . raped . . . me," she said.

The earth has a profound respect for some things. For the moment, the earth grew silent in that little corner of its surface.

Jane let out a breath. It was the first time she had said that word out loud in eight years.

"He had always been creepy," she continued. "Doing things he shouldn't have. But I was scared . . . and Mom was so doped up on some kind of anti-fucking-depressant that she never noticed, and she never listened. Then . . . when Mom was at work . . . he walked into my room . . . talked nice to me . . . started to . . . to touch me," Jane said, sobbing again. "I tried to push him away, but he was so strong. He kept telling me how I was so grown up and how pretty I was and how it would only hurt for a minute . . ." Jane put her head on the ground, gripping the worm-filled earth. "You don't know what it was like . . . how dirty I felt . . . how guilty. Don't tell me you know . . . you couldn't possibly know." She sat up, dirt on her face, and stared at the stars. "And Mom never caught on. She couldn't handle being alone after Dad died, so . . . so she just turned off. She married Jack, and let him . . . she left me alone with him and he forced himself on me!"

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