“Lester, get this thing ready, okay?” he snapped. It looked like he might have had a bad morning.
The pilot ducked his head and ran to his helicopter. He was ready to go by the time the other two got there. “Might be there’s room for three in here, as long as we’re all friends,” he assured her. He held open the Plexiglas door on the side of the bubble cockpit and moved around some of the baggage for her. Chey clambered into the space behind the two seats and sat with her knees up around her chin. She had to hold down the front of her sweater to keep from ﬂashing the two men.
Then Bobby and Lester got inside and pulled the door shut. The air in the cockpit changed, subtly, and Chey found her breathing came a little faster. She didn’t know what to make of that. Once Lester had them off the ground and she could look out at the blue sky and the trees below them she was pretty much ﬁne, she decided.
Lester and Bobby had headphone sets so they could talk to each other over the roar of the engine. She had to make do with her hands over her ears just to keep from being deafened. Still, when she saw where they were headed she tried to shout over the noise and warn them away.
Ignoring her pleas, Lester descended toward the clearing by Powell’s cabin. The rotorwash stirred up a ton of pine needles and curled brown leaves as they set down gently on the almost- level ground. As the engine wound down she grabbed Bobby’s shoulder and said, “This is a lousy idea. He’s probably lurking nearby, waiting for you to mess with his stuff.”
“Good. If he is I can shoot him,” Bobby told her. He shrugged violently.
They piled out of the helicopter and moved across the front of the house, Chey craning her head back and forth to try to pick up any stray noise.
“Relax,” Bobby ﬁnally told her. “I’ve already been through this place once and he didn’t pop out of the woodwork to get me.” He pointed and she saw that the front door of the cabin stood open. She could only see shadows inside, but she understood what he was trying to tell her. Powell had moved on—as he always had before. Had he run off to the north? There wasn’t much farther he could go.
“You think he’s gone for good?” she asked.
“No,” he told her, “I don’t think he’ll leave until he’s dealt with you and me. That’s what I would do. But what the hell do I know? I skipped Werewolf Psychology 101 when I was at McGill.”
“Maybe—” Chey hated the sound of her own voice as she said, “maybe we should leave. Go back south, I mean.”
He turned to look at her then, and she realized that he hadn’t really made eye contact since they’d been reunited. He looked right into her eyes then and smiled a tiny, cold smile. “Chey, this guy’s a killer.”
“I know,” she said, “but—”
“Come on,” he told her. “Maybe you need a little reminder why we’re up here.” He led her around the side of the house to where the two small outbuildings stood. She remembered how one used to have smoke leaking out of its eaves. She had assumed he was curing meat in there. “There’s a big tank of diesel fuel in that shed,” Bobby told her, pointing to the other one. “Some tools, some ﬁrewood. No big surprise. When we looked in here, though,” he said, pointing to the smokehouse, “well, that’s where all the nasty is.”
She expected him to walk over to the shed and throw open the door, but he didn’t. So she stepped up and pulled it open herself. She wasn’t immediately clear on what he’d found so exciting about its contents. It had occurred to her that instead of a smokehouse it might be a sweat lodge. What she found couldn’t be far off that guess. A small ﬁre pit sat in the center of the tiny space and there were various implements lying near it—a smudge stick, an eagle feather, a copper bowl—that looked like the magical tools an ancient Paleo- Indian shaman might use. Hanging from a rack on the ceiling were long strips of tanned leather like belts with no buckles, dozens of them. Interspersed among them hung similar strips of fur. Wolf fur in various different colors.
Powell had been making wolf straps. She remembered him telling her about the lycanthropes of Germany, who supposedly could change from wolf to human by putting on magical belts. He’d said he’d looked into the old legend and found nothing there. She hadn’t realized that he had tried to make his own wolf strap, but it made perfect sense now that she saw the proof.
“Yeah,” she said. “He told me he’s been looking for a cure for decades now.” She left out the fact that he had failed at everything he’d tried. “What’s the big deal, though? So he works with leather.”
Bobby stood by the side of the shed, not really looking inside. “That’s not cowhide he’s got there,” he told her. “That stuff is human skin. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of it came off your dad.”
Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.
Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.
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