Reads: 268

 

Terror of Tuhloon

March, 2005

Chapter 7: Surprise


 

Despite the strict curfew, Anastasia Egorov crept from her house at 10pm and met up with Nikolai Brovich. Before leaving, she double checked herself in the mirror. Her long dark hair was shiny and smelled good. She had applied enough make up to look great but not enough that it would smear during lovemaking. Her skirt and blouse were thick enough for warmth but loose enough to be easily removed. Her thigh-high white leggings were not only sexy while naked but also helped keep her warm against the frigid night while dressed.

Nikolai Brovich was parked in his car, off the main road, waiting for her. For the past few months, they had engaged in a strictly sexual relationship. Anastasia had no idea where their affair was headed, and she didn't care.

Nikolai was one of the best looking guys in their school. His family was prominent and had money, so he showered Anastasia with gifts. He had a nice car in which she was able to ride with him to and from school. All she had to do was put out every other night, keeping their relationship heated enough to where Nikolai didn't lose interest in her.

Anastasia was an expert at sex. At eighteen, she was already very well versed in how to please a guy. She used her carefully sculpted body, her beauty, just enough perfume, revealing clothing and her wanton sexual knowledge to keep Nikolai begging for more. They had not spoken about whether she was his girlfriend or not, chiefly because Anastasia wasn't concerned about it.

She rode with him out onto a remote farm field where they parked the car and had sex in the dark for an hour. They laid in the front passenger seat together, nude, limbs entwined, looking through the partially steamed up windshield up at the beautiful night sky.

“How are you holding up?” Nikolai asked her unexpectedly.

Anastasia stretched like a lioness, “What do you mean?”

Nikolai looked at her, his face full of concern, “I mean, you just lost two of your friends. I wasn't even sure whether you'd be willing meet me tonight.”

“Raisa ran away from home without telling anyone, like a stupid bitch. I have no idea what she was thinking.”

He sighed, “What about Sofia? Wasn't she abducted right out of her bedroom?”

Anastasia gave a tiny shrug, “That's just what her parents claim. Sofia was always copying everything Raisa did. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she just ran away too.”

Nikolai frowned at her, “But aren't you at least a little worried about them?”

Anastasia pressed her bare breasts against him, “Why are we talking about my girlfriends? Don't you have other things to think about right now?”

Nikolai laughed and kissed her. Then he froze, “Did you hear that?”

Anastasia felt a chilly wave of fear pass through her, but then she reconsidered. Was he trying to scare her?

Nikolai had slightly cracked all four of the car windows to cool the cabin during sex and to keep the windows from completely fogging up. Anastasia realized that all of the night creatures had gone silent in the fields around them. There were no insect chirps, hooting owls or croaking frogs.

Nikolai sat up, looking around nervously.

“What did you hear?” Anastasia squeaked.

“Rustling sounds, as if something were trying to sneak up to the car.”

Anastasia glared at him, “If you're trying to scare me, Nikolai, I swear to God I will punch you in the balls.”

Nikolai's expression was fearful, “I'm not trying to scare you.” He pulled himself away from her embrace, sliding back into the driver seat and pulled on his boxers, “Get dressed. We're getting the hell out of here.”

Anastasia had never seen Nikolai spooked by anything before, so she promptly began locating her clothing and quickly started to get dressed too. Despite all the noise they were making to hastily clothe themselves, both of them froze as a deep guttural growl audibly erupted around them.

Anastasia had heard a lion's grumbling growl before, but this growl was deeper, louder and more angry. She had never felt so unsafe in a vehicle before. With all of the safety features against car accidents, most cars felt relatively secure. As the fierce growl rumbled through the car, seemingly penetrating her to the bone, Anastasia felt as if the sturdy car was nothing more than a death trap.

The thick windows now seemed too fragile and the doors flimsily thin to provide protection against whatever creature was pissed off at them.

Nikolai said, “Fuck this.” He was only half-dressed, but he started the car and flipped on the headlights.

Both he and Anastasia shrieked in fear.

Ten meters away, directly in front of the car was a massive beast. The bright lamps revealed its silvery fur, thickly muscled chest and arms, its hideous maw laden with long sharp pointed teeth and its fiery yellow eyes reflecting in the beams.

Deep inside the human psyche, someplace where blatant skepticism and emotional denial were also stored, certain people have a shut off switch. When certain people see something they don't want to believe, anything that challenges the logical human mind or that brings modern science into question, some people will just switch it off from their cognizance and forget all about it, carrying on their day as if it never happened, pretending that they didn't see anything out of the ordinary. It is the ultimate form of denial that certain people use to cope. At the moment, Anastasia Egorov wished she had such a switch, deep within her mind, to make this nightmarish creature go away.

The creature was humanoid in shape, its height frightfully taller and its arms much longer than an average human's. Its legs were backward at the knee, like a canine's, and its feet were humanoid except it looked like it was walking on the balls of its feet. Horrible black claws curled out of the ends of its toes and elongated fingers like hideous daggers. It's yellowish fangs were long and curved, but the eyes, sweet God in Heaven, it's eyes were hateful, burning with a citron hellish fire of malevolence.

Both Nikolai and Anastasia were screaming in terror. Nikolai quickly shifted the car into reverse and stomped the accelerator. The tires peeled out, covering the beast's form with dirt and dust, blocking out their view of it. Nikolai wasn't watching where he was going but he turned the wheel sharply, hit the brakes shifted into drive and floored it again.

The car lurched forward, stubbornly finding traction on the loose earth but Nikolai had to fight to keep the car from veering. He could see ahead in the headlights of the car, the narrow dirt entrance road as if it were a paradise, warm, safe and their only salvation. If they could reach the main road, within seconds, they would be back on the main highway speeding back toward town, civilization and safety.

Out of nowhere, a huge flash of silver blocked his view of the road as the beast leaped directly on top of the hood with a booming crash. It came from above. The creature must have took a running start and brought all of its massive weight down on top of the engine. The impact crushed his hood, stalled the engine, blew out both front tires, cracked the windshield and threw both Nikolai and Anastasia, who didn't have time to put on their seat belts, painfully forward. Nikolai's chest slammed against the steering wheel, his head hitting against the visor and Anastasia pitched forward into the dashboard.

The creature stooped down low, looking inside at them. Although banged up, Anastasia unleashed a deafening scream of terror. Nikolai stared stupidly at the impossible monster. With its long fingers, the creature reached through the busted windshield and ripped the gummy webbed glass completely out of the frame and tossed it away.

Nikolai noticed the creature was completely ignoring him. Its burning hungry eyes were focused completely on Anastasia, so he froze. She scrambled from the front seat and tried to climb into the back but the creature reached in and grabbed her, pulling her out of the car through the missing windshield.

Anastasia was mindless with fear. As the creature pulled her away, her eyes were wide and she clawed at Nikolai, screaming his name, begging for his help. He could only watch, not daring to move a muscle.

“Nikolai!” Anastasia shrieked again, both arms reaching for him. The creature deftly jumped off the hood and ran swiftly through the tall grass towards the Temo Forest, carrying Anastasia like a sack of potatoes over its shoulder.

“Nikolai!” She shrieked repeatedly, her voice growing more and more distant as she was carried off by the beast. Nikolai started to cry, feeling sorry for Anastasia but also grateful that the creature had spared him. It easily could have killed them both.


 

* * *


 

Just after midnight, Captain Dragomirov received a call from the Dhelfoi agent so he met her at the local hospital. She was dressed just as wildly as the day before. There was only one police car and an unmarked parked outside. Thank goodness, still no press had arrived. He asked her, “Have you spoken to him yet?”

“Your police aren't letting anyone speak to him yet, not even his parents.”

Dragomirov nodded in approval, “Good. Very good.”

They both went through the lobby and up the elevator to the second floor where Nikolai Brovich was resting. He had suffered a broken rib, a slight concussion, a cracked tooth and a few broken fingers from what he was calling a monster attack.

Lieutenant Smolin was with the parents in the waiting area. As Dragomirov and the Dhelfoi agent walked by, he came over, falling in stride with them down the hall. “The guard has been instructed as you asked, Captain. No one has officially spoken to the boy yet.”

“Very good, Lieutenant.”

Who is she, Captain?” Smolin asked about the Dhelfoi agent.

“Nevermind her, she's with me,” He growled.

Smolin swallowed, visibly nervous about questioning Dragomirov's authority, “but Captain, if she's a reporter--”.

“She's not a reporter, she's with the FSB. I've already vetted her credentials. Now, stay out here in the hallway with his parents. We're going to interview the victim.”

Smolin nodded, “Of course, Captain.”

The posted uniformed officer, held the door open for Captain Dragomirov and the Dhelfoi agent, then closed it firmly behind them.

Nikolai was resting but was awake. He seemed dazed, with a haunted paleness, like the survivor of a holocaust. He was hooked to a few standard monitors, the corresponding machines beeped and flashed.

“Hello, Nikolai,” Dragomirov said gruffly, flashing his credentials, “My name is Mikhail Dragomirov. I'm a Captain with the FSB. This is my companion.”

“Trisha Lamont,” She finished his sentence.

“Hello,” Nikolai said weakly.

“I know you're frightened,” Trisha said gently, moving closer to the bed, “But we need to ask you about what happened. Can you talk about it?”

Nikolai nodded grimly.

“We already know about the monster,” Trisha admitted, and at her confession, Nikolai's expression slowly switched from fear to shock.

Dragomirov was just as surprised by her honesty as the kid was. He stayed quiet.

Trisha continued, “What we need to know, is what direction the creature went.”

“So you believe me?” Nikolai asked incredulous, “You don't think I'm crazy?”

“We believe you,” Trisha assured him. She sat down on the edge of the bed and placed a supportive hand on the boy's arm, “Where did it take Anastasia?”

Nikolai buried his face in his hands, “I couldn't save her! I've never been so scared. I just sat there and watched it take her!”

“We're not blaming you, son,” Dragomirov told him, “So don't blame yourself, okay?”

The boy wept quietly for a few minutes.

Trisha said, “Nikolai, where did it take her?”

“It was headed toward the Temo Forest.”

“You're positive?” Dragomirov asked.

The boy nodded. His eyes were red and swollen, “It was running so fast. Do you think you can find it and kill it? Can you save her?”

Trisha raised her both hands over the boy as if she was going to bless him, “We'll try. Thank you for your honesty, Nikolai. I want you to try to relax. I'm going to make you feel a lot better.”

Nikolai frowned at her, “What?”

The room suddenly darkened as the lights from the hospital went dim. Both Trisha's hands were glowing with a bluish flame-like energy.

Nikolai was stricken, his expression was terrified, “What are you doing?”

“Taking all your fears away,” Trisha said softly. Nikolai's eyes slowly closed and his head dropped back onto his pillow. He was sound asleep. After a few minutes, Trisha stood and said, “I took away his memory,” She told Dragomirov, “He'll only remember crashing his car but nothing about meeting Anastasia tonight or seeing the creature. He'll just assume she ran away from home, the same as the other two.”

Dragomirov sighed, “This case is going to be the death of me.” He reached for his packs of smokes and was rewarded with the tin of ghastly breath mints instead.

“At least we know where to look for the remains.”

“But three girls are now dead. They were all so young, so vibrant and full of life,” Dragomirov shook his head in dismay.

Trisha met his gaze, “I'm also upset about the deaths. This has gone on long enough, so I've requested from the Dhelfoi, that a hunter be brought in. The lycanthrope has to be killed. Does that make you feel better, Captain?”

He gave her a weak smile, “Yes. Thank you.”

Trisha's gaze was unwavering, “We live in a modern world, Captain. Women have come a long way from being the weaker sex, from not being allowed to hold certain positions of power and not being allowed to vote.”

Dragomirov was confused by the direction she was taking their conversation. He wanted to ask her more about the hunter that would kill the damned lycanthrope, but he said, “Okay.”

“Nowadays, women aren't as timid as they once were and can more freely speak their minds.”

“Sure.”

Trisha continued, “Do you think it is too forward of a woman to express herself when she finds a man attractive?”

Stunned, Dragomirov simply stared at her. Was she hitting on him? Now of all times? He would look like a fool if he assumed anything and turned out to be wrong so he just said, “Of course not.”

“Good,” Trisha said smiling. She had a lovely smile.

Dragomirov gulped nervously. Suddenly, the room felt hot and his mouth was dry.

“I'm attracted to you, Captain Mikhail Dragomirov. Although I can say that for certainty, I can't exactly tell you why,” Trisha said candidly.

Dragomirov didn't know what to say. He just stared at her stupidly, feeling like a fish out of water, long passed and out of the dating scene. The last time he had courted a woman was his wife almost thirty years beforehand. His wife had been gone for three years and he had not started dating again.

Trisha wasn't finished, “I believe you're intelligent, sensitive and very perceptive. I believe you're extremely devoted to your job and that you were once a very devoted husband. I find you sophisticated, a gentleman, old fashioned and very chivalrous. I think you're handsome, brave and, above all, very interesting.”

Dragomirov was actually sweating, he was so nervous. Was she joking? Him? Handsome, sophisticated, chivalrous? His knees felt weak. He could actually feel a warm flame, a fire of excitement starting to bloom in his belly. It was a good feeling, a thrilling feeling that he hadn't felt in a long time. “But you're so much younger than I am,” Was all Dragomirov could manage to say her.

Trisha wasn't deterred in the least, “How old do you think I am?”

Now he'd done it. You never commented on a woman's age, every man knew this. Dragomirov was trapped, like a rabbit in a snare. The more he struggling to back away, the tighter the snare could strangle him. Still, he wasn't interested in playing games with a silly fling so he decided to be honest, “You can't be over twenty-five. I'm almost twice your age.”

Trisha gave a short laugh, “I'm thirty-nine but thank you, Captain. You just made my day. I can tell you're not just trying to flatter me either, by the expression on your face. You actually meant it and I appreciate it sincerely.”

She was thirty-nine? Trisha looked amazing for her age. Dragomirov loosened his tie. Was the room getting hotter or was it just him? Now her words didn't seem so trivial. She was nearly forty, only ten years his junior, not some silly girl who fancied digging for gold in a relationship with an older man. He began to feel flattered about all the things she said about him, “I appreciate everything you said but I'm not a gentleman or chivalrous. Truth be told, I can be a bit of a grouch--”

“You opened the hospital doors and held them open for me,” Trisha said, “You also held the elevator door to make sure it didn't close on me. Not a lot of men bother to do that sort of thing anymore. I liked it.”

Dragomirov hadn't realized that he had done any of those things for Trisha. He hadn't done them intentionally, more out of habit. He was dumbfounded on what to say next.

Trisha spoke first, “I am going to spend the rest tonight looking for the lycanthrope and the remains of the girls, but I'll be off tomorrow night. You have my number so call me if you are interested. I know I came on suddenly so don't feel bad if you decide not to call me. I'm a big girl and I won't fall to pieces if you reject my offer. Just think about it, okay?” She gave him a big smile and exited the hospital room leaving Dragomirov alone to digest everything that had just transpired.


 

* * *


 

Hundreds of years had passed since humanity had entered a peaceful existence with the supernaturals. The treaty between humans and the supernaturals was known as the Great Peace. In ancient times, the two sides had clashed in seemingly endless battles going back as far as the dawn of humans. The battles were never one sided. Although the supernaturals were much more powerful than humans, they lacked the sheer numbers and will to triumph unchallenged.

Supernaturals preyed on humans, killing them like livestock and humans retaliated by hunting them down and destroying them. In some instances, there were groups of supernaturals that fought large scale battles against entire armies of humans. Historical records and knowledge of these battles were carefully concealed by the Dhelfoi after the Great Peace.

This was the main function of the Dhelfoi agents: concealment. Although they allowed research on mythology and legendary creatures, nothing concrete was allowed to exist. People could catch only glimpses of the supernaturals existence in fictional books, movie screens and nothing more. On the rare occasion that humanity's path was crossed by a supernatural, the Dhelfoi kept close watch over the offender but didn't interfere. More often than not, a person lost their life, the supernatural faded back into obscurity and peace was maintained. These were not ideal circumstances for humanity, but were much better than the alternative.

Whenever there was exposure, the Dhelfoi wiped the memories of the witnesses. Above all, concealment must be maintained even at the cost of lying to the public. Any concrete proof was immediately confiscated. Only grainy, unfocused or distant photos and ambivalent videos were allowed to be made public. Curiosity and speculation was healthy and perfectly acceptable for the public to embrace.

The supernatural world was divided into several different dimensional existences. The most prominent was the Dreaming Realm where nightmares thrived. From there, supernaturals occasionally drifted into the Waking Realm where humans resided. There were other Realms, from the four Elements, Fire, Water, Earth, Air, also Shadow, Hell, Astral and several different Spiritual Realms where supernaturals also existed. If the flood gates to these different realms were ever opened and the Waking Realm was attacked in the full force by the supernaturals, humanity would be promptly wiped out. A few human sacrificial deaths were a small price to pay to keep the peace as far as the Dhelfoi were concerned.

Thus, a delicate balance was maintained. The supernaturals were occasionally allowed to take a few victims, until their natural craving for human flesh was sated, then they were expected to return from whence they came. Alternatively, supernaturals were allowed to stay, so long as they spaced out their hunting of humans. If a supernatural's behavior threatened too many lives or exposure, the Dhelfoi would deploy hunters to destroy the offender.

Trisha had become a Dhelfoi agent when she was twenty-four. For over fifteen years, she had served as an agent in the Irkutsk Oblast region. Currently, she and one other agent named Omar Brokow were the only two that served the vast area. Since Russia was such a large country, the Dhelfoi constantly struggled to maintain their vigilance. To ease the burden, the Russian government had assigned several trusted high ranking officials to aid the Dhelfoi in their concealment and investigations.

This new lycanthrope threat, which had entered the small town of Tuhloon, had taken both the Dhelfoi and the Russian government by surprise. They were also dumbfounded by the way the lycanthrope seemed to easily avoid detection almost as if it was intentionally foiling them. Never before had they been so unsuccessful at locating a supernatural. They needed help.

Although no evidence had yet been found, the Dhelfoi assumed that the three missing girls had been killed by the lycanthrope and most likely, there would be more deaths soon. Trisha would spent the evening casting a detect supernatural spell every hour or so. She wished she could cast it more often, but all magic was draining on her. She needed to save some of her mana in case intervention with the lycanthrope was required.

Trisha was a Manipulator, a Magus that could control the fluidity and energy of time and space. She could teleport at will to predetermined circles that she had prepared. One was in her home, the other was at her office in the Dhelfoi headquarters. She could also summon powerful charges of force and travel by way of entering different dimensions at will.

Trisha had tried to study and master other styles of magic but couldn't quite summon enough force to implement them properly. She wished to become an Elementalist to use water and ice for more offense spells but her abilities fell short. Rather than continue failing, she decided to focus all of her energy on mastering Manipulation magic.

In the Waking Realm, true magic was not allowed to exist. Spells, rituals, blessings through shamanism, witchcraft, voodoo and other disciplines were mostly prayers. True Magic was thoroughly controlled by the Dhelfoi. There were humans that could control magic naturally and they were always a threat to exposure. Usually, that person was approached by the Dhelfoi for recruitment and if not, their powers were carefully monitored.

Trisha knew nothing would stop the beast from striking again. It was her turn tonight to keep watch. If the supernatural struck, she would have to try and be present, not only to make sure the creature did not risk exposure, but also track it down so that it could be killed. Hopefully, she could locate the beast this time or at least find where the hapless girls' corpses were.

Since Trisha was a Manipulator, her magic was best oriented by any bright colors. Most Magi chose a single color, dominating their attire with it to slightly increase their magic. Trisha had not been able to do so. No one color ever seemed to work better than another. Since she couldn't determine which single color suited her spells best, she always wore a kaleidoscope, a virtual rainbow of brights to fully enhance herself. Tonight, she wore a lime green knit cap, a red shirt, bright purple slacks, yellow boots, a light blue jacket and orange gloves.

After Trisha exited the hospital room, leaving the cute Captain to his thoughts, she went down a floor and quietly entered an empty bathroom. She cast a spell to open a portal into the Dreaming Realm. Her hands glowed blue, and a shadowy tear was formed directly into the fabric of existence. Within seconds, the dark portal was large enough for her and Trisha stepped inside it.

From what little information she could gather on the Dreaming Realm, it was like a layered cake, one section of the world stacked on top of the other. The deepest Trisha had ever been, was the fifth level, which was a hellish world of shadow and danger. She'd only been there once and never returned. Trisha had no idea how many levels of the Dreaming Realm there really were, but just about every book she read, claimed there were thirteen.

The first level of the Dreaming Realm, was where most sleeping people visited while they dreamed. It was a dark foggy chaotic part of the Dreaming, always changing and being altered by the dreamers. The second level was similar to the first except the dreams there were more purposeful and detailed. She figured the second level was mainly visited by lucid dreamers. The third level of the Dreaming Realm was a mirror image of the Waking Realm except it was shrouded in shadow and decay. All functions of proven physics ceased everywhere within the Dreaming Realm as well. There was no natural limits on the Dreaming Realm as in the Waking. If one learned to control themselves, they were capable of incredible feats here, including flight.

Trisha looked around at the dark bathroom she had entered within the third level of the Dreaming Realm. It was a perfect representation except that the mirrors were broken, there was vulgar graffiti written on the walls and the tile floor was cracked.

Travel within the Dreaming Realm, was also unrestricted. Trisha could move freely within the Realm, nearly instantaneously moving from one spot to another, anywhere she was familiar.

Still inside the Dreaming Realm, Trisha moved instantly from the dark bathroom in the hospital to the Temo Forest with just one step and quickly exited the Dreaming Realm, stepping from the dark, silent world and into the Waking Realm, where night time creatures were busily singing all around her and the pretty stars were visible overhead.

The night was cold, the trees were dark and somewhere here in the wilderness, the lycanthrope had claimed its third victim. Trisha pulled her jacket tight and zipped it up. She was in for a very long night.


Submitted: December 08, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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