Frostbite- Chapter 31

The breeze off the tiny lake shook the pine needles, made the limbs of the trees bounce and sway. Sunlight danced on the water.

Chey adjusted her stance. Then she lifted her weapon and pointed it right at Powell’s forehead. He looked surprised but not very frightened. Her hand started to shake but she fought the tremor down. One shot was all it would take. He would be dead. She would finally be stronger than the wolf.

She wished she’d had time to talk with him more. She had so many questions she wanted him to answer.

“Chey,” he said, slowly. He was going to try to talk her down.

Her father hadn’t been given a chance to talk. “You never gave my father a chance!” she screamed. She was losing control; she could feel it. She needed to act quickly or she was going to fuck this up.

“Your father?” Powell asked.

“His name was Royal Clark. He was a good man. You wouldn’t know that, of course. You didn’t seem particularly interested in his character at the time. You seemed more interested in how his guts tasted. You attacked our car twelve years ago and you ate him.”

“Oh, boy,” he said.

“Tell me you remember him,” she said. “Tell me you know who I’m talking about. I know you were never introduced, but surely you remember his red jacket. That’s pretty much all I remember now. Tell me!”

If he confessed, if he said he remembered, and that he was sorry, then it would all be over. Then she could just kill him and she could sleep again.

“I’m sorry, Chey,” he said.

Her body sagged a little. She thought she might swoon. He was confessing, he was apologizing for what he’d done, just like she’d wanted—

Except he wasn’t finished.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t remember him at all.”

Quite suddenly she became aware of the solidity, the square rigid reality of the gun in her hand. Now, she thought. Now now now! She tried to squeeze the trigger. It didn’t move. Nothing happened.

She closed her eyes in shame and horror. The weapon’s safety was still on.

For a lurching, drunken moment no one moved. Everyone tried to figure out what had just happened. Powell’s face darkened and his arms lifted from his sides. He lowered his head and put a foot forward.

Then everyone moved at once.

Chey’s thumb moved down to disengage the safety. Her aim slipped away from Powell’s face.

Lester, the Inuvialuit pilot, dashed around the side of his helicopter, trying to get to safety.

Bobby shoved a hand into his leather jacket, clearly reaching for a gun of his own.

In the distance Dzo spun out on the logging road and drove his rusted truck back into the impenetrable woods.

But before any of that had really happened, before Chey could even breathe, Powell moved.

She knew that even in their human forms wolves were faster than any normal person. She had that strength and that quickness in her own legs and arms. She’d never really tried it out, though. She’d never tested her new limits.

Powell had possessed that speed for nearly a hundred years. He must have known what his body could do, what it could achieve if put to the test. He didn’t hesitate. He just moved, flowed across the clearing. One of his hands batted at Chey’s arm hard enough to dislocate her wrist. Her handgun went flying. Powell didn’t stop to watch it fall. Momentum carried him onward, his feet digging in the soil, his legs pumping. He brought his shoulder around and collided with Bobby hard enough to make them both yowl in pain. Bobby’s yowl was sharper. He smashed to the ground and rolled into a ball. Powell kept moving, his feet a blur, until he came up against the side of the helicopter with a clang. He looked through the Plexiglas bubble of its cockpit. Chey could see Lester back there, crouched low, his face and eyes wide.

“Don’t try anything,” Powell grunted at the pilot.

“Yeah, okay,” Lester said, nodding agreeably.

Chey looked around. Her arm stung with pain but she could ignore that for a couple of seconds. She had better be able to ignore it long enough to find the gun again. There—its black angular shape stuck out prominently on a crust of snow. It was only a few meters away. She bent her knees and tried to jump for it.

She didn’t even get to take a step. Powell pushed off the helicopter and nearly flew back across the clearing to tackle her legs. The ground tilted upward and her cheek smashed into it. Her teeth rattled in her skull.

Powell pushed her face deeper into the soil with one hand. With the other he grabbed her hurt wrist and gave it a good twist.

Yellow stars exploded behind her eyes. It hurt so much that vomit rushed up her throat and she had to swallow uncomfortably or choke.

“You want to kill me,” he said to her, his voice thick with emotion. “Well, maybe I deserve it. But first you had to lie to me. I took you into my house and this is the thanks I get. I should kill you. I will, the next time I see you.”

He twisted her hand again, all the way around this time. Her shoulders shook and bucked beneath his grasp, her jaws clacked in her head.

The pain was sending her into shock. Cold flashed through her body, cold as fierce as when she’d been submerged in the freshet. Cold like the time she’d woken naked in the tundra after her first change.

He let her go. She couldn’t move except to shiver, to convulse in pain and cold.

When she’d recovered herself enough to sit up he was gone.

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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