My favorite scene of The Wolf Malediction
Copyright © 2019 by India Kells
All rights reserved
It was a miracle she reacted quickly enough to avoid a collision. The car disappeared from her rear-view mirror, but Marlena had trouble getting her trembling body under control. She wasn’t easily shaken, years in the force had forged nerves of steel, but she’d never ever had a voice shouting in her head. Stopping on the side of the road, she waited for her heartbeat to get back to normal.
Not once had an insomnia bout caused her to hear voices, and that meant she was in trouble. Never had she had such scary symptoms. When she finally felt safe enough to grab the wheel again, Marlena found that the only positive side was with the amount of adrenaline flooding her veins, there was no way she would fall asleep now.
As she turned into her driveway, dusk was engulfing the modest cabin cocooned in a patch of forest. Despite its decrepit state, it had been love at first sight. And an extremely long-term project. Since she’d relocated, Marlena only focused on the most urgent work, paying atrocious amounts of money to make it functional and habitable as soon as she’d started working in Boston. And what the contractor couldn’t finish, she would do herself. With her own bare hands, and YouTube.
It was a lot of work, but as she stepped out of her car, the reason why the little cabin had wormed its way into her heart came back. The surreal calm, the smell of the forest, and the comforting seclusion. Whatever remaining tension slowly vanished as she made her way inside.
Despite her best efforts, the cabin still smelled musty, but a coat of paint should correct that come summer. After taking a quick shower and nuking some soup, she tuned the radio to a local station and curled up on the most comfortable sofa that could fit in her tiny living room, going through all the data she had gathered about the theft. Maybe there was something she had missed. Preparing for another night of no sleep while hoping she was wrong, Marlena started jotting notes about research to be done in the morning, but her brain went back to the poor dog she had left at the vet’s office. One quick look at her cell phone confirmed that they hadn’t called yet. Was it good or bad news?
Digging more into her files, Marlena let the information pull her into the zone, a familiar place that allowed her to encompass every piece of the puzzle even though she didn’t know where they fit yet.
The radio started emitting white noise, but she didn’t care. It sounded like a waterfall, or was it a stream? Maybe the wind through a window. How soothing. She loved the smell of wood burning too—it reminded her of her grandmother when she had cooked over an open fire in the backyard.
Wood burning? Marlena opened her eyes and yelled as she looked around. Immediately, she reached for her gun tucked into the back of her jeans, pointing it around as she stood in the middle of the weirdest place she had ever seen.
It was some sort of wide hall with walls and ceiling made of dark wood, or was it? There were benches all around and an impressive mountain of furs on the side. And her nose had recognized the wood burning from the great round fireplace in the middle of the room.
Where the hell was she?
Nobody was in sight, so she lowered her weapon, examining her surroundings, trying to remember what she was doing last. Only images of her tiny living room came to mind, and paper all over her couch with the radio in the background. What was this? On the other side of the blaze were two chairs on a two-step platform. Both seats were made of wood, but carved with such mastery, it blew her mind. The armrests of the biggest chair were a mix of snakes and clouds, and the back seat ended in two massive wolf heads. The smaller chair had more delicate carvings of horses on the sides. Returning toward the fire, she looked up and saw that the rafters were also sculpted, but because of the low light, she couldn’t see the details. Another thing Marlena couldn’t see was a door. Inch by inch, she examined each plank, pushing, knocking, but none of them yielded. As she returned to the first plank, Marlena put her gun in the small of her back once more, deciding to throw her entire weight against it.
About to launch herself, someone laughed behind. “You’ll only hurt yourself doing that, woman.”
Instinct took over as she whirled, gun blazing at the man standing by the fireplace. Her mind blanked for a moment, not sure what, or rather who, she was looking at.
The man was a giant. The height and width of his muscled body were accentuated by the tunic and leather armor covering him, and the pelt over his shoulders. Pieces of metal were assembled with squares of dark brown leather, both on his torso and forearm, as well as on his boots. The man was going to war. As her eyes went to his face, she saw pale irises looking back at her. A strong face, half-hidden by a thick brown beard, and his hair was tied back. It wouldn’t take much for the man to become a threat. Slowly, as if sensing her thoughts, he lifted his hand in an appeasing gesture. As he did, the fur cape revealed a sword, and at least two knives tied to his legs, that shone against the flames. Still, Marlena remained calm, she had the upper hand—her gun would pierce the leather breastplate, and if he still came at her, she would aim for his head.
“I don’t know why I’m here but be assured I’m leaving.”
The warrior didn’t move, and she wondered if there wasn’t some sort of medieval fair in town she wasn’t aware of. And what kind of psycho would dress like that to kidnap her?
“You can get out whenever you like. This isn’t a trap.”
Once more, her eyes checked out the room. “I don’t see a door. Where is the door?”
The stranger tapped his temple, clearly amused by her tone. “Just wake up.”
She blinked, the idea was ludicrous, she was already awake. The man turned and walked toward the central fireplace, placing himself on the opposite side.
“Don’t play with my mind and answer my question.”
Blazing blue eyes veered to hers, almost mocking. “I did answer your question. You can leave whenever you want, woman. And from what I gather, you are not deaf. So, leave.”
Carefully approaching the fire, gun still aimed high at him, she refused to be dragged into his lunacy. “Stop that, pal. I’m a police detective, and this is the kidnapping of a police officer. You’re in serious trouble.”
As he leisurely walked around, Marlena counteracted by slowly walking back, keeping a safe distance between them.
“You are a stubborn woman, Detective Ciceron, but I think that, in this case, it’s less an annoyance and more an enticing talent.”
When he said her name, a ball of ice settled in her stomach. How did he know her name?
“You are a difficult woman to convince.”
“Stay where you are. That’s an order.”
But he kept moving toward her. From that point, everything happened fast. The warrior swung his cape to the side and unsheathed his sword before emitting the most bone-chilling roar she had ever heard as he attacked.
It was pure survival instinct when she pulled the trigger—three shots straight in the chest. The man stumbled back, sword falling to the ground, clinging to his chest as he dropped to his knees.
Marlena had discharged her weapon before, but it was the first time she was certain she had made a mistake. Panic made her drop her weapon as she went to the man. In a vain attempt to help him, she pushed his hands aside to staunch the blood, then realized that there was no blood. Even worse, the idiot wasn’t shaking from agony, he was laughing!
Rolling away, heart pounding so hard in her chest, Marlena felt nauseous. As she crawled away, her hand found her gun on the ground. Taking it, she aimed at the far wall and fired. The kickback, the booming sound, and a spray of wood shrapnel flying about confirmed that her weapon was functional. Stunned, she kept firing, counting the rounds in her head. Her Glock had fifteen bullets in the magazine, but she had fired much more than that. Opening the magazine, it was still full. Complete and utter madness.
As she was about to get up, she noticed the stranger’s sword on the ground and grabbed it. Gingerly touching the blade, the metal felt hard and cold, like a normal sword should be. Ever so slowly, she let the cutting-edge slide on the palm of her hand. It didn’t cut her. Aiming at a small column, she swung the heavy weapon with all her might and it embedded in the wood. Pulling hard, she swung again, and once more, the blade almost cut the column in two. It was almost impossible to retrieve it, but when she finally did, she closed her entire hand on the edge and pulled. On any other blade, it would sever her fingers but this one didn’t.
The warrior remained unmoving, looking back at her in silence.
“Where am I? Is this even real? Why did my bullets not harm you? How come your sword doesn’t cut my skin?”
Keeping him in her sights, Marlena started to examine the room, unable to wrap her mind around what was happening.
The man kept some distance, and she was glad. The entire situation was so eerie, she needed space.
“To answer your questions, you are in my home. This is real to a certain extent. Our weapons work, but not on each other. Although I have to inform you that I am immortal, even outside this location.”
Touching everything within her grasp, her brain had trouble with the statements the stranger was making. “Your home? Where is your home?”
Both hands at his back, the man looked around, with an annoying smirk on his face. “I don’t think you’d understand.”
Shaking his head, he walked around the fireplace where she was standing. Everything sounded, felt, and smelled, real. “Let’s just say that you came here for a purpose, something bigger than yourself, possibly even greater than your abilities.”
Now, her entire attention went to the warrior. If this was a dream, she had conjured a very handsome, very tall, jerk, who was full of hot air. From the moment she decided to become a cop, those morons flocked like flies around shit, and with the same sized brain.
She didn’t tolerate it in real life, and she wouldn’t accept it in her hallucination. “So, you’re saying I’m not intelligent enough to understand your explanations?”
The man scoffed. “I find it incredible you are not hysterical right now.”
Hysterical? “Because I’m a woman?” She kept a level, almost sweet tone, but inside, fire simmered.
“Yes, it’s a wonder the gods called upon you to help.”
More nonsense, but she decided to tackle one annoyance at the time. “Tell me where I am.” This time, her tone chilled. It wasn’t as if she had a way out and maybe, the man would give some sensible input on what was going on.
Again, he shook his head, but this time, the condescending expression got the best of her.
Marlena swung, and her fist caught him full force on the chin. The pain in the impact reverberated through her arm, but the satisfaction of seeing him fall like a big, stupid tree was definitely worth it.
“Am I calm enough to understand your explanations now, you big ape?”
To read more, get your hands on The Wolf Malediction!