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Black Wolf’s Sedan

black wolfs sedan


Estimated reading time — 15 minutes

Taking out the old man had been simple for Black Wolf: locate, break-in, kill him, and secure the body for transport. The job had been clean and bloodless, leaving no evidence. Once he’d finished the hit, he placed the target in a thick canvas bag and fastened the four restraints to hold the body in place. Satisfied that he’d completed the most challenging part of the job, he looked around outside to make sure he wouldn’t be seen. It was two in the morning, so he figured he was safe. He threw the bag over his shoulder and took it out the back door and into the alley.

After Black Wolf dumped the body in the car’s trunk, he poked it a couple of times to be on the safe side. It didn’t move. “Thank God,” he thought.
He climbed in the front seat of his luxurious black sedan. “I’ll be glad when this job is over. There’s some bad juju goin’ on with this one.” He lit a cigarette, tuned the radio to a classical music station, and drove away.

His orders were to deliver the cargo to the nearest wet room. The site was hidden in some woods just outside the rearview town of Wyattsville, a three-hour drive. The team there would handle the final disposal. Black Wolf had made the trip many times. It was the perfect place for a drop: dark and secluded. He hoped that the others would have things ready to roll when he arrived with the former Erik Werner. He didn’t like spending any more time in the woods than necessary. Even for a man with his background, the place was creepy. Unholy.

Black Wolf had been driving for two hours—one more, and he’d be near the site. It typically took about five hours for things to turn dangerous, so he was glad to find himself safely ahead of schedule. He decided to use the extra time to relax and put his mind on better things than the body in the back. He turned up Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and allowed its lightness to carry him away. He’d always enjoyed the elegance and complexity of classical music. It helped to bring order to the chaos around him. As he conducted the orchestra with his free right hand, his stomach growled along, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten in hours.

There was an all-night gas station about ten miles before his destination. He was so hungry that he was willing to roll the dice on an ancient wiener from a greasy rotisserie. He’d dropped in at the store he’d nicknamed the Stop ’n Rob on many occasions and had gotten to know Jack, the old man who ran the place.

Jack was a three-time loser with felony convictions. He didn’t burden himself with suspicions about the mysterious man with the sleek automobile that made occasional trips to the middle of nowhere.

Black Wolf pulled up to one of the gas pumps, threw the car into park, and climbed out. The night air was thick and humid, coating his skin like warm mud. Smells were absorbed by its immensity, creating a dank fog, but he could just identify the pungent scent of the two young men loitering outside.

Black Wolf sized them up. “Greasy losers,” he thought. They looked like a couple of twenty-somethings with no luck and very few prospects. Their gangly necks and arms were home to cheap tattoos, their clothes ratty. He knew their species well, had been there himself once upon a time before the military straightened him out.

When Black Wolf neared the gas station’s entrance, one of the men stepped in front of him, causing a collision.

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“Sorry, mister.”

Black Wolf didn’t want any trouble this late in the game, so he just gave the scrawny stranger a glare of disapproval.

Ding! Black Wolf walked through the smeary Plexiglas door. The overly sweet stench of floor disinfectant made him queasy. He winced as his eyes adjusted to the uncomfortable brightness of the store. The harsh fluorescent lighting emitted a low hum that made his eardrums vibrate and gave everything a washed-out appearance.

“Hey there, Jack.”

“Sup, young fella?”

Black Wolf checked out the encrusted rack of revolving franks at the end of the counter and decided to peruse the snack aisle instead. He settled on a bag of pretzels, some beef jerky, and a Red Bull from the wall cooler.

Jack began ringing up the items. “That’ll be six thirty—”

VROOOM! Black Wolf’s car roared as it rocketed out of the small lot, leaving behind a veil of gravel and dust. He slapped his jacket pockets. Empty. “Why that little . . .” Angry and embarrassed, he turned to Jack. “Those two punks who were loitering outside, do ya know ’em?”

“Sorry to say I do. One of ’em’s name is Curtis, I think. Can’t remember the other one. Should I call the po-po?”

“No. I’ll handle this. Any idea where they might be heading?”

“If I had to guess, I’d say that ol’ abandoned farmhouse a couple of miles up the road. Druggies sometimes use it as a shootin’ gallery.”

Black Wolf had an ace in the hole: the car’s tracking device. He took out his cellphone, accessed the app, and waited. Soon, the car’s location appeared on the screen. It hadn’t traveled far. Suddenly, the dot turned left and slowed down. “Gotcha,” he muttered. He looked at Jack. “Looks like you were right. They’re somewhere just up the road a ways. That’d be the farmhouse, correct?”

“Yep.”

“Don’t suppose you’ve got a car I can borrow.”

Jack pointed out the window at a rusty riding mower.

“Seriously?” Black Wolf asked.

“Too many DUI’s.”

“Guess I’m jogging,” Black Wolf thought.

“Ya know, there’s two of them and one of you,” Jack said. “Are you sure you don’t want me to call the cops?”

“I think I got this.”

“So, you gonna kill ’em?”

“Nope. I’m gonna save ’em.”

 

As Black Wolf huffed up the highway, Curtis and Razor were maneuvering the car down the narrow lane that led to the farmhouse.

“Where should I park it?” Curtis asked.

“Pull around to the back. We can put it in the barn,” Razor replied.

Curtis eased around the dilapidated two-story house and followed a worn dirt path about thirty yards to the rickety barn. Razor jumped out and swung open its large wooden doors.

He entered first, using the car’s headlights to light his path as he peered through the semi-darkness. “Anybody in here? We ain’t the cops. Just wanna know if it’s cool to come in.” No one answered.

“Hey, Raze! Can I pull in or not?”

“We’re clear!” Razor stood near the entrance and guided Curtis inside. Once the car was entirely in, he pulled the doors shut, then lit the four lanterns they kept stashed around the barn.

Curtis sprang from the car and began circling it like a bird of prey. He ran his nicotine-stained fingers through his long, stringy hair, a huge smile stretched across his face.

“Man, I am so jacked! Can you believe this? Oooh-weee, what a score!”

“We gotta get Li’l B out here to check this mother out. He’ll probably give us top dollar for it,” Razor said.

“Shoot him a text. Let him know that—”

BANG! BANG!

. . . “Ta hell wuz that?” Curtis asked.

Equally startled, Razor said, “I think it came from the trunk.”

They moved towards the rear of the car with the same stealth they used when breaking and entering.

“Hello?” Razor asked. No reply. He lowered his head to the trunk and listened for movement.

BANG!

The two jumped back.

“Dude, I think somebody’s locked in there,” Curtis said.

The sedan rocked back and forth, its shock absorbers yelping.

“Should we let ’im out?” Razor huffed.

“Hell no! What’s wrong with you?”

“Okay, okay. Let’s just go outside, roll a couple joints, and figure out what to do next.”

“Yeah, okay. Ain’t nobody around to hear no noise, so we’re good.”

They’d walked about ten yards when a metallic explosion rang out from the barn. A few seconds later, there was a heavy thud.

“Whoa! What just happened?” Curtis asked.

“I ain’t sure, but we need to go check on the car. Somethin’ might’ve fallen on it.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Maybe somethin’ fell out the loft. Li’l B ain’t gonna be interested in no beat-up ride. Let’s go together. It might be we need to mess somebody up.”
They returned to the barn. The trunk hatch had been blown off and hung over the edge of one of the lofts, fifteen feet up.

“I don’t know who was in that trunk, but they sure wanted out,” Razor observed.

Curtis retrieved one of the lanterns and raised its wick. He inched toward the mangled opening of the trunk and looked inside. “Yo, check this out.”

A shredded canvas bag covered the bottom of the trunk. Shattered metal buckles dangled from its thick straps. The whole space was dripping with thick, red slime that smelled like oil and rotting meat.

“This is messed up, Raze. Let’s get outta—”

EEEEEE!

The shrill sound was deafening. Heavy footsteps moved around the loft. Then they heard something drop into the shadows.
They didn’t wait to find out what. The two ran from the barn and sprinted toward the dark farmhouse.

“Run! We’re dead meat out here in the open!” Curtis yelled.

They busted through the back door and into the dark, grimy kitchen. Having participated in numerous parties and minor drug deals, they knew the layout of the house well. Curtis was holding the lantern in a death grip. “Check them drawers for a knife.”

The wooden drawers fell to the floor as Razor yanked them from the base cabinet. All were empty, save for dust and dead bugs. “No luck.”

From there, they went to the living room at the front of the house. Broken furniture was strewn about. The water-damaged ceiling sagged and cobwebs coated the corners of the ravaged room. They pushed a musty, mouse-infested couch away from the wall and hunkered down behind it. The damp, moldy material coated their lungs with every pant.

“Do you hear anything?” Razor asked.

“Shhh . . . be quiet.”

The tall grass that ran along the side of the house rustled. There was a sniffling and snorting.

“Is that thing tryin’ to sniff us out?” Curtis whispered.

The noise stopped. They waited. CRASH . . . CRUNCH . . . CRASH . . . Something was climbing up the side of the house. They could hear chunks of wood being ripped away and dropping to the ground as the thing clawed its way to the second floor. An upstairs window shattered. Glass tinkled and feet thumped across the room directly over them. They froze, barely breathing.

Wide-eyed, Curtis and Razor stared at one another as the thing clomped down the stairs, grunting and sniffing. The floor vibrated as it stomped around the living room.

When it got to the couch, it stopped. Silence.

Curtis extinguished the lantern, his muscles prepared to run.

The thing gave a loud grunt as it grabbed hold of the couch. Cool air swept over them. The couch flew across the room and smashed into a far wall. A rancid stench assaulted their nostrils. A shadowy form crouched before them. As it rose, glass cascaded off its outer shell, and two dull, bulging eyes swiveled towards them. With its bony frame and grotesquely long arms and legs, it resembled a human-sized praying mantis. Thinly stretched human skin covered most of its spindly body. Its wrinkled head was that of an elderly man, the scalp punctuated with tufts of white hair. Its gaping mouth was an enormous, pink, pulpy maw with a flapping tongue in the middle.

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The two men screamed as the thing reared back. When it fell forward, it grabbed Razor with its hooked hands and flung him against the wall. His limp body dropped to the floor.

Then the thing turned to Curtis. He was numb all over. The thing pulled its arm back, preparing to strike. He closed his eyes, wondering how bad his death would hurt. He lamented his foolish life choices. “I’m so sorry, God . . . for everything.”

Suddenly, there were two sharp pops. The creature cried out and Curtis’s eyes popped open.

Curtis saw someone standing just inside the doorway in a shooter’s stance. He recoiled as the shooter fired two more explosive rounds at the thing. Pieces of its shell clattered to the floor as it screeched and jumped upward, attaching itself to the ceiling.

The shooter closed the distance until he was directly under the thing. He fired several more bullets into its body. The dripping man-monster clawed at the ceiling, raining plaster upon Curtis and the towering figure. It finally tore through and pulled itself up and into the room above them.

In the gloom, Curtis couldn’t recognize his savior right away. But as he dusted the plaster from his face, he realized it was the man whose elegant machine was now parked in the barn. “Please don’t shoot me, sir. I’m sorry ’bout the car, okay?”

“Forget about the car,” Black Wolf said. “I need to kill that thing, or a lot of people are gonna die—starting with us.”

“What ta hell is it?”

“It was still a man when I threw it in the trunk. But there’s a short window of time before it morphs into that,” he said, pointing up. “I was well on my way to the disposal site when you and your idiot friend decided to go “Grand Theft Auto” on me. Now, I’m gonna need your help. It’s too much to handle on my own.”

“You got the wrong guy, mister. Look, my friend needs—”

“Leave him! He’s dead!”

Curtis halted. The man was serious. If the man didn’t kill him, the bug would.

Black Wolf surveyed the battered room. He picked through the busted furniture until he found a table leg. He moved around the room, tapping on the ceiling and listening.

“What’re ya doin’?” Curtis asked.

“I’m monitoring its movements.” After a few more pokes, they heard scuttling above them. Then it stopped.

“It seems to be taking its time, regrouping or hiding—I can’t tell which,” Black Wolf said. “I don’t think it’s through with us yet. It likely sees you and me as an immediate threat to its escape. We need to contain it.”

Curtis shook his head. “Uh-uh; no way!”

“Listen, boy. If you’ve got the stones to steal my car, then you’ve got the stones to help me kill that freak before the worst happens.”

“The ‘worst’? As in it ain’t happened yet? What is that thing?”

“Five hours ago, that thing was Dr. Erik Werner. A microscopic piece of alien DNA outwitted him, some other dumb scientists, and a few pompous generals. Werner and his so-called geniuses studied it, experimented on it, did some other sci-fi crap. Of course, they immediately saw dollar signs and military applications. But they didn’t consider what that tiny group of cells might evolve into. It’s like looking at a strange egg and not knowing what’s gonna pop out of it. Well, now we do. It’s making up its mind.”

“About what?”

“The most efficient way to kill us. Unless we kill it first. That’s the choice I prefer.”

Curtis gulped. “Are you outta your damn mind? Let’s just get outta here and let some other fools handle this!”

Ignoring Curtis, Black Wolf followed the noise above him, prodding the ceiling as he went. With every jab, the thing moved.

“Who are you, man?” Curtis’s voice trembled.

Continuing to track his prey, Black Wolf said, “Some other elite trackers and I were brought in to hunt and kill these things while they’re still human and manageable. Once that’s done, their bodies are delivered to lab wonks who know how to dispose of them. Things have to happen fast, though.”

There was more movement above them.

“What happens if you don’t get the body there in time?”

“First, it turns into what killed your friend. Then, that ‘worst’ I mentioned comes next.”

“Do you . . . think you can kill it?”

“Don’t know; haven’t dealt with one in this stage of development.” Black Wolf stabbed the ceiling hard and the thing ran. They heard it enter another room, slamming the door.

“Bingo! We got it,” Black Wolf said.

“How many of those things are out there?”

“So far, we’ve only located a handful of infected outsiders and lab folks. We took them out before they’d advanced too far. Now, I’ve gotta somehow ice Alien up there and get it to our local disposal site before things really go south. Does that satisfy your curiosity?”

“I wish you hadn’t told me. Will you kill me if I run?”

“This is a highly classified initiative. What do you think? Good news is there’s a way out of this for you if you do as I say.”

Curtis sighed. “Whaddaya want me to do?”

“It’s closed itself off in a room at the top of those stairs. I need you to go up and get its attention. When it comes after you, lead it back down and I’ll use some high-impact rounds to penetrate its skull. Questions?”

“Since this is classified, how do I know you won’t shoot me when this is all over?”

“’Cause I always keep my word. But if I ever get wind that you’ve been shootin’ off your mouth, I’ll come back and kill you myself. I think we both know that the only reason you’re goin’ up there is to save your skin. So if this works, I’ll owe you your life. Can you work with that?”

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Curtis nodded. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Black Wolf began loading the gun’s magazine while Curtis grabbed the lantern and climbed the creaky stairs. “Oh, Jesus—oh, Jesus—oh, Jesus . . .” Curtis’s legs were shaking, his teeth chattering. Icy sweat slid down his back like cold fingers as he inched closer to the room where he did not want to go.

When he reached the second floor, Curtis stopped and listened. It’d been quiet for too long. He wondered just how cunning the humanoid was. He tiptoed to the room where they had last heard the creature. A bedroom.

He threw open the door and stepped back, expecting an assault. When none came, he eased his head into the dusky room and looked around. In the dimness, he could make out a filthy mattress on the floor surrounded by cigarette butts, used syringes, and empty liquor bottles. Seeing nothing of the Werner-Bug, he entered.

Curtis stepped in a puddle of dark goo. “Why won’t this thing just die?” He followed the goo’s trail to the ensuite bathroom where he found the door ajar. “You got this, man.” He took a deep, shaky breath as if he were preparing to take a high bungee dive. When he was ready, he eased the door open and leaned inside. A thick string of drool dropped on the floor in front of him. He looked up at the bathroom ceiling.

EEEEEEE!

Curtis jumped back just in time to avoid being crushed. He screamed and bolted from the room. He flew down the stairs three at a time as the creature lumbered after him.

The air behind him moved as the thing swung its powerful arm, giving a loud bark each time it missed. Black Wolf was at the base of the stairs waiting to fire. Seeing him, Curtis felt equal parts panic and relief.

POP! POP! Wet chunks of brain and bone splattered over the staircase. Curtis barely made it over the railing and out of the way of the howling beast as it tumbled down the stairs behind him.

The broken creature flopped at Black Wolf’s feet. He fired three more enhanced rounds into what was left of its exposed skull. Thick blood squirted from its shattered head, the flow decreasing with every fading heartbeat. A long, fetid breath marked its end.

“Omigod! Is it dead?” Curtis hollared.

Black Wolf kicked the carcass with the tip of his heavy boot. “Yeah. It’s dead. Now, go to the barn and look for anything we can use to tie it to the car. Then pull around to the front. Hurry!”

Curtis was too stunned to move, so Black Wolf went over and pulled him to his feet. “You’re gonna be fine. Just let the adrenaline settle down. Now, go and get—”
A wet, tearing sound came from the dead monster.

“Oh no,” Black Wolf muttered.

“Whaddaya mean, ‘Oh no’? Is it dead or not?”

Black Wolf eased back over to the carcass. He turned on his small Maglite and shined it on the twisting face. Its jaws cracked apart, ripping the surrounding skin like cellophane. Three thick, spider-like legs appeared on each side of the monster’s mouth, spreading it wide. An oily, black object the size and shape of a baseball pulled itself out of the ruptured opening and crawled onto the dead creature’s chest. It looked like a clawless crab, with two eyes attached to short stalks. It hissed at Black Wolf.

“What’s happening?” Curtis pleaded. “Is that . . .”

“The worst.” Black Wolf raised his gun and began firing, but the alien arachnid jumped out of the way with blurry speed. It charged forward, working its way toward Black Wolf, forcing him and Curtis to back up against one of the living room’s walls. Black Wolf kept firing until the gun’s chamber sprang forward, and clicked.

“Oh God, this is it, isn’t it?” Curtis barely recognized his own voice. “Please, let it be quick. I don’t wanna feel that thing bitin’ me . . . infectin’ me.”

The shimmering creature crawled toward them, its dagger feet clicking on the warped, wooden floor. Black Wolf hurled his gun at the creature, unsurprised when he missed. He tried to move to his left and right to get around it. But by hopping from side to side, it blocked his path before he could complete a whole step. When the monstrosity was six feet from them, it reared back, exposing four dripping mandibles. It lurched forward.

CRUNCH!

Curtis and Black Wolf jolted. Razor came up behind the creature, hammering it repeatedly with a long, metal lampstand. Red and yellow gunk squirted out, some spraying onto Curtis’s sneakers.

“Sooo . . .” Razor said. “What’d I miss?”

The two kids waited in the back seat of Black Wolf’s sedan while he torched the farmhouse. Curtis figured it must be necessary to destroy all evidence of the monster. While they waited on Black Wolf to return, he filled Razor in on everything that had happened while he was unconscious. The information had Razor contemplating every possible meaning of the term “grave concern.”

“D’ya think he’s gonna have to kill us?” Razor asked. “This is some Bourne Identity kinda stuff.”

“Naw. I think this guy’ll cut us loose. He just seems like the type: dangerous but reasonable. He had a job to do, that’s all. And we helped him do it. So all we gotta do is convince him we’ll keep our mouths shut. I think he’ll be cool with that.”

Curtis looked out the rear window and saw the silhouette of Black Wolf sprinting across the way as the house blazed behind him.

Black Wolf jumped in the front and slammed the door shut, then sat silently for a good long while. “So, boys, what happens next?”

Curtis was too nervous to answer him.

Razor said, “I dunno. What are our choices?”

“Well,” Black Wolf began, “I can take you back to that crappy little convenience store and let you take your chances, or you can come with me.”
Razor swallowed. “Where would you take us if we went with you?”

Black Wolf smiled. “I never would’ve thought it, but you boys showed some spunk back there. You might suck at everything else in life, but you know how to slay a dragon, by God. I figure you two now have more experience than the general public in handling freaks of science. So . . . you wanna join the organization? It’s plenty dangerous, but as they told me in the Marines, ‘It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.’”

Razor and Curtis looked at one another as if to divine the other’s response to the unusual job offer.

“Does it pay good?” Razor asked.

“The organization wants its trackers focused on the job. So you’ll never be distracted by want,” Black Wolf answered. “Anything else?”

Curtis relaxed his body, placed his hands behind his head as a cushion, and let the plush leather seat absorb his lean frame. “Yeah, I got one. Will we get a sweet ride like this one?”

“Actually,” Black Wolf chuckled, “you can have this one. It just needs a new trunk.”

He started the sedan’s engine and backed out of the barn and up the dirt path, before stopping at the rough two-lane road. Hanging a right out of the property, he drove the two twenty-somethings with very few prospects away from the rearview town of Wyattsville.

Credit : P.D. Williams

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