Full Moon Fever
The gang froze and listened to the rustling under the windows. Snuffling noises came from behind the panes, followed by the clatter of claws against the glass as they scraped and pawed at the sashes. Shelby peaked out the window.
“Wolves,” she cried.
Delareux sniffled at the air, “Werewolves.”
“You can smell werewolves?” Toli asked.
“I’m allergic to ‘em,” Delareux said, winding up for a sneeze.
“Werewolves dressed like Gerrys,” Danvers said.
“They’re wearing Lederhosen?”
“SS uniforms, more likely,” Sylvia said, “‘Operation Werwolf’ is an SS special forces program, planting spies and assassins behind enemy lines.”
“And they’re actual werewolves?” Danver’s asked.
“How do you know this stuff?” Shelby asked Sylvia.
“You can learn a lot trapped in a dimension beyond space and time,” she replied, “Watching it all like you’re at the pictures.”
“I knew Ehrlich was a lousy kraut,” Danvers grumbled.
“Was it the name or the accent, what tipped you off, Detective?” Delareux said.
“If I wasn’t scared out of my wits, I’d clobber you.”
“Gentlemen, relax,” Sylvia rose from her chair, “This house is sealed,” she looked out of the window and saw a werewolf dressed in a black, SS officers’ uniform. It held a book in its claw and twisted the other in contorted gesticulations. Gold and red strands of light reached up from the pages and swirled around its fingers, “Oh shit. A Schildbrecher” Sylvia sighed, “Everybody upstairs.”
“What? Why? I thought you said the house was sealed,” Shelby said.
“It won’t be for long. Upstairs, all the way to the tower.”
Ehrlich scratched his palm with his thumbnail as he listened, under heavy eyelids to a man in a gray uniform, who paced around his office. He was flanked by two dazed zombies.
“This operation will make a fine asset for der Fuehrer. A foothold in America,” the man said.
“Gruppenführer Walden,” Ehrlich said behind his teeth, “What makes you think I would just relinquish control of everything I’ve worked for here?”
“You are a citizen of the Vaterland, oder?”
“Sehr toll. And loyal?”
“Then this must be a great honor.”
“Bitte, Gruppenführer,” Ehrlich’s boney fingers clamped onto Walden’s cuff. Walden glared back with tightened lips. Ehrlich released him, “All that I’ve built here…”
“What did you do? Dabbled in death magick and almost seized a single American city. Almost.”
“It’s within my grasp.”
“Then why did you reach out to us, Herr Ehrlich? If it’s in your grasp, why am I here?”
“I encountered some unexpected resistance…”
“I heard. My men reported a mongrel hedge wizard, a middling business man, a police officer, two pickpockets and an insane spinster.”
“That’s what I thought at first.”
“The fact that you think you deserve what you want is laughable.”
“You’re not taking over my enterprise,” Ehrlich raised his hand and the zombies stepped toward Walden.
Walden pulled a dagger from his coat. It glinted with red light as it slashed through the air and sliced both zombies across their chests. Their wounds began to sizzle and their eyes rolled back in their skulls. They both tipped backward, like unmoored statues and hit the ground, still and stiff.
“Pitiful,” Walden spat as he wiped his dagger clean on Ehrlich’s robe. He left the office and raised his hands and recited an incantation in tongue unfamiliar to Ehrlich. The undead laborers stopped their tasks and faced Walden, “This warehouse is under new management,” he said, “I am Gruppenführer Walden and you will only take direction from me, from this point on. Understand?”
The zombies shuffled and shrugged.
The gang filed into the stone tower at the southern corner of Sylvia’s mansion. She followed and slammed the heavy oak door behind her. She slid two heavy planks over it and crossing chains that locked in the middle.
“Double barred, chained and…” she lifted her hands and the door shuddered, “Sealed. We need those windows barricaded. Have you been practicing the telekinesis spell I taught you?”
“I can lift a handful of coins out of a pocket,” Shelby replied.
“We’re going to have a talk later. In meantime, the windows. Detective Danvers, since you seem the least among us likely to succumb to tuberculosis I’ll put you in charge of that effort.”
“What?” Danvers asked.
“Pick heavy things up and stack them in front of the windows.”
“Wiseacre, you know you said it screwy the first time.”
“Detective Delareux? Telekinesis?”
“No,” he replied.
“Telephone? I’m mostly wards and that sort of thing.”
“What do you got for werewolves?”
“Nothing specific. I never met a werewolf. It never occured to me that I would.”
“You said you were allergic.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t prepared to meet a werewolf.”
“He does that to you too?” Danvers said, sliding a bookshelf toward the window.
“I never thought I’d meet a werewolf, but I still prepared an early detection system just in case. I would imagine myself meeting a werewolf and then I would imagine myself sneezing. I did this so many times I developed a werewolf allergy.”
Sylvia squinted at him.
“It worked,” Delareux reared back and let a sneeze fly, “Still working.”
“Cover your mouth,” Sylvia said, “Okay, it looks like they’re in the house. All hands,” she clapped and the potted plants in the room uprooted themselves and helped move things in front of the windows and the door.
A slam came at the door and pulled the chains taut. They rattled as the pressure released. Another came and then another in a steady rhythm. Sylvia leaned toward the door with her hands out.
“The Shildbrecher is out there,” she strained, “I don’t know how long I can hold it.”
Corbin pulled Shelby toward him.
“Corbin, how many can you hide?” Sylvia said.
“Just myself, maybe Shelby too.”
Corbin escorted Shelby into the shadows. The shadows seemed to reach out to them with a blanket and they disappeared into the bookshelf lined walls of the tower library.
Toli stood next to Sylvia and drew his pistol, aiming it at the door.
“I hope it’s loaded with silver bullets.”
“Okay, I have monogrammed silver bullets, but not with me.”
Sylvia rolled her eyes.
“They’re a novelty item. I didn’t know my life would depend on them someday.”
“Then save your bullets. Delareux, I’m running out of ideas.”
Delareux continued his sneezing fit. Sylvia yelped and reared back, her hands recoiling in pain. She leaned her hands on her knees and panted. Toli rushed to her side.
“I’m fine,” she stood up, “But the Shildbrecher won.”
Delareux’s sneezes began to sound like raucous hooting.
“Can you imagine yourself not sneezing, Detective?” Sylvia barked.
“We can go higher up the tower,” Toli offered.
“Once they’re in there’s nothing between us and them except stairs,” she shook her head.
The door began to spit splinters into the room after every thump.
“It’s not going to hold,” she said staring at the door.
“If we could put some distance between us. Get to somewhere more to our advantage. Reposition the fight.”
“We could climb out the window, but they’d smell us. We could never outrun them.”
“I’m suggesting we go outside. There are some pretty tall, hearty tree on your property. Do you think you could get them to…” Toli mimed the trees picking up the tower and walking away.
Sylvia looked at toli askance and smiled crawled across her face, “Brace yourselves.”
“Where’d the thieves go?” Danvers asked as he finished his labors.
“I suspect those two would have climbed out onto the roof,” Sylvia replied, “They’ll be fine, I think.”
“I’m not sure I completely got the gist of your plan. The important part involved too much pantomime for me.”
“Just grab onto something.”
A corner chunk of the door broke off and flew into the room, skidded across the floor and landed at Sylvia’s feet. She bowed her head and closed her eyes, hands clasped together. Several of the tallest trees that adorned Sylvia’s land, pulled up roots and shambled over to the tower. They wrapped their branches around it and began to sway to and fro. The seams between the tower and the main house began to crack. The werewolves braced themselves as bits of stone fell on them.
“My house,” Sylvia feigned tears.
The trees dug their branches deep into the earth around the foot of the tower and hoisted it up by its foundations. The werewolves gawked open mawed as the door frame pulled away and lifted into the air. The Shildbrecher began to snarl.
“Aufträge, Sturmbannführer Ziegler?” a werewolf asked the Shildbrecher.
“Gehen Sie,” he stabbed toward the tower with his claw.
The werewolves poured out of the gaping hole in the side of the house and ran toward the trees. The trees ambled into the swamp carrying the tower like workmen moving a refrigerator. The werewolves leapt into the trees and climbed their branches toward the tower windows. The vines and lichen that cling to the branches reached out, striking and grappling with the wolves. The wolves clawed and bit at the vines, tearing them from the anchors and roots. A vine wrapped itself around the muzzle of a wolf. The wolf clawed at the vine, but the vine constricted until the muzzle cracked. It then hoisted the werewolf up, turned it over and slammed it down on a thick branch. The wolf let out a whine as its two halves went limp and it lied draped over the branch like a dishrag. The remaining team members continued to the windows.
“They’re climbing up the trees,” Danvers said, reporting from the window, “Are they part cat too?”
“You have no idea the kind of Doctor Moreau stuff Nazis get up to,” Sylvia said.
Danvers climbed down from the overturned bookshelf and joined Toli, Sylvia, and still sneezing Delareux in the middle of the room. He drew his gun.
“Save your bullets, Detective,” Sylvia said, “Regular bullets are useless against werewolves.”
“It’s still gotta hurt, right?”
“Excellent point, Detective,” Toli said.
“Do you know what a Berserker trance is? They won’t even feel until they snap out of it,” Sylvia said.
The sound of shattering glass come from one side of the room, then the other. A claw punched through the stack furniture. A barking, slavering maw wedged itself between the wall and the barricade, slinging spit across the room. The barricade began pushing in.
“Let’s go up,” Toli said.
“What’s the point?” Sylvia asked.
“Well if you’re resigned to die wouldn’t you want to be with your daughter?”
“She needs to stay hidden. With Corbin she has a chance.”
The barricades flew into pieces as the wolves plowed through. Seven werewolves formed a circle around them, stalking and snarling. Many more looked in through the windows, waiting for a signal. Ziegler paced before them.
“Stop toying with us,” Sylvia said, “Just kill us, if that’s what you’re going to do.”
“That was the original plan...” Ziegler started, but was interrupted by a sneeze, he glanced at Delareux and continued, “I am adaptable, however. A powerful witch like you will surely be worth a promotion.”
“Do you think I’d willingly serve the Nazis?”
“‘Willing’ isn’t even a consideration. The Reich does not require…”
Ziegler glared at him and continued, “...require ‘willing’.”
“I’ll die first,” Sylvia said.
“You’ll never be given the opportunity. You see you…”
Delareux sneezed again.
Ziegler looked at the floor, “Is he going to keep doing that?”
“I’m allergic to werewolves,” Delareux said through his hanky.
Zieger walked to Delareux, “What is this, a little...Witz? Wie sagt man das auf Englisch? Ein...a joke?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Delareux coiled for another blast.
“Take the witch prisoner. The rest...tonight you feast.”
Werewolves began pouring in the window surrounding them. The wolves were followed close behind by a flood of zombies. The zombies tore and bit at the wolves’ backs. The wolves howled and whined as they their eyes and fur turned grey. As they turned grey they grew docile, they turned to the open door as if awaiting orders. In through the door walked Ehrlich.
“You son of a bitch,” Sylvia charged him, but was held back by two grey wolves, “You’re behind this.”
“In a way,” Ehrlich said.
“Next chance I get I’m…”
“Please, be quiet, witch...I have a proposition.”