Frostbite- Chapter 41

Bruce Pickersgill took Chey down to the tiny lake on the back of an ATV. It was one of two vehicles the exterminators had brought with them. When she arrived she found Bobby and Lester unloading a small seaplane with the Western Prairie Canid Management logo on its side. The logo showed a stylized wolf head howling at a crescent moon.

“That’s a strange logo for what you do,” she said, as Bruce helped her off the ATV.

“Oh? Why’s that?” he asked.

She squinted at him. “You guys hate wolves,” she tried to explain.

“Heck, no,” he told her, leading her over to the landing site. “I wouldn’t say that at all. I’d say we have a healthy respect for them. The wolf is a beautiful animal; all of the canids are.” He looked up as if he were trying to remember something. “I think Tony’s pop’s even got a pet coydog, back at home. We just provide an important service for livestock ranchers.”

Chey decided she had better things to do than psychoanalyze the three brothers. She dashed ahead to where Bobby was drinking Pepsi out of a three- liter bottle. He had a number of white paper bags on top of a crate before him and as she got closer he took a golden brown pastry out of one of them.

“Oh boy,” she said, as he beckoned her forward. Maybe he did care for her after all. “Is that what I think it is?”

“This,” he announced, “is an authentic jam- buster from Tim Hortons. I can’t be expected to guess what you think a given thing is,” Bobby told her. He held it out and she grabbed it away from him. The icing sugar got all over her fingers and down the front of her sweater, but she didn’t care. The thick, super- sweet jelly inside spurted the top of her mouth and she sighed in deep bliss. It was exactly as she remembered.

Everything came rushing back with that taste—hot showers, air-conditioning, good roads, and nationalized health care. As she chewed on the doughnut she was back, back in Edmonton, back in her mother’s house growing up, even.

“I got addicted to these back in the real world,” she said. “When you don’t sleep much you need to eat more, and the only place open late at night is Tim’s. I would sit in the parking lot staring up at the sign, wondering where the apostrophe went. Then I would taste one of these and forget why I cared. You don’t understand, Bobby—this is the taste of home. Please tell me you have eleven more of these in those bags.”

“They’re not all for you,” he told her, but then he pushed a bag across the top of the crate at her. She tore it open and found a mixed variety of doughnuts and Timbits inside. She didn’t waste time devouring them. For one thing, she hadn’t eaten in twenty- four hours.

“You’ve met the boys,” Bobby said while she ate. “I’m glad. I want you to feel like you’re part of this operation, Chey. I really do.”

She nodded in agreement.

“When I kill Powell, I want you to be there. I want to give you that satisfaction. Did they show you the traps?”

“They’re called getters,” she said.

Bobby nodded and picked up a crowbar. He started tearing open a crate while she watched. “Honestly I don’t think he’ll be stupid enough to fall for those. And the lure they’re using is all wrong—it’s meant for timber wolves, not werewolves. But maybe we’ll get lucky. But then we have another kind of bait for him. We have you.”

She nearly choked on a cruller. “What?” she managed to say. It was what she’d been thinking, before. It was the worst thing she’d ever thought, and here he was saying it out loud. The doughnut in her mouth was suddenly dry and tough.

“He wants you, Chey. He wants to rip your throat out. Last night— you won’t remember this, I guess. Last night you were up in that tower howling like a fucking dog for twelve hours straight. We could hear you over this far; we could hear you at the cabin. Lester slept right through it, but poor old me, I couldn’t catch a single z. I wandered over to the tower, thinking I’d try talking to you—though God knows why I thought that would help; my presence would probably have just made you yowl more. And that’s when I saw it.”

“It? What did you see? Don’t tell me you saw Powell,” Chey breathed. She glanced around at the trees behind her.

“I saw his tracks in a snowdrift. Like wolf tracks, but bigger. Wider. I looked around and found them on the other side of the tower, too. I found them all over the place. The whole night while you were howling he was circling you, desperate to get at you. Your howling summoned him.”


“Come on, don’t look so pale,” he said, clapping her on the shoulder. “You were perfectly safe. I even locked you in, just in case he tried to open the trapdoor. And don’t you see what this means? I was worried he was just going to run off and escape us. He’s done that before. But not this time. No, he won’t leave until he’s gotten to you. Or until we kill him. Now, with the boys here, I figure we’ve finally got him. It’s all but done.”

Chey swallowed the mass of thick dough at the back of her throat. When she spoke sugar puffed out of her mouth. “If you think they’re good enough. The Pickersgills, I mean.”

“It’s Balfour I’ve got my money on,” he told her. “I’ve been hunting with him. The guy’s a menace to vermin.” His face softened. “You’re still with me, Chey, right?” he asked. “I mean, you want to help me get the asshole who ate your dad. Or maybe you’ve changed. Maybe becoming a werewolf has changed your perspective.”

Chey nodded. “It has. It’s helped me understand just how dangerous Powell is.”

“So you’ll help me,” he said, looking at her over the lenses of his sunglasses.

“Yeah. But Bobby—I have one question.”

“Of course,” he said, opening the top of his crate. Inside were boxes of ammunition—bullets, shotgun shells, rifle cartridges. All of it silver. He’d told her his gunsmith took days just to make a handful of silver bullets. How long ago had he put in the order for all this ordnance, she wondered?

“What happens to me, when Powell is dead?”

He laid his crowbar gently down. “I guess that depends on how you feel then. On what you want, what kind of life you think you want to try to have.”

It wasn’t exactly what she’d wanted to hear.

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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