The thing came first to the front door. They heard the growl, but at least this time the children kept quiet. They heard it scratch along the side of the house toward the kitchen door and heard a different, whining sound when it caught a whiff of the gas.
There was a stone wall on that side of the house that lined the driveway, and between the stone wall and the wall of the house there was a great stack of cut wood for the fireplace. Glen knew the Wolv could not break through that wall without moving all the lumber first. He felt safe in that direction until he heard the Wolv use the lumber to get up on the roof.
“The chimney.” The boy said before his mother quieted him. Glen knew the chimney was much too small.
They listened to the click, click of the Wolv claws across the roof and Glen chided himself for his oversight. If the beast broke into the upper floor, there was nothing to prevent it coming through the ceiling at any point. He breathed again when he heard the Wolv jump down on the other side of the house.
There was a terrific crash and the wall buckled on that side of the house, but it did not break. Then there was silence.
“Is it gone?” Mrs. Calveri dared to hope.
“Did it hurt itself?” Mister Calveri was also hopeful.
Glen shook his head, though they could not see well since the lights in the sitting room were off and only a flashlight was burning behind the couch for the children. “With their size and strength the Wolv can break through any wooden stockade, no matter how well built. Stone, or bricks can be a bit of a problem, but they have explosives for that.”
“Explosives?” Miss Watson sounded surprised. “I thought they did not understand such things.”
“They understand explosives. They know all about electricity, too. It could smell the ozone which is why it did not try to break through the doors or come down the stairs. They understand weapons and even how to fly spaceships as long as the navigation is mostly computerized. It is sophisticated electronics they don’t understand, like how to short out a personal screen, or how to repair it once destroyed.”
The young girl screamed. She had been sticking her head above the couch. The Wolv face was in the front picture window, lit up by the few red and green Christmas lights they left in the string. It began to growl and drool and turned its head so like a bird it could watch them with one big yellow and red eye.
“No!” Glen pushed up Mister Calveri’s shotgun and the slug went into the ceiling. “You shatter the glass and it will get in. Now, reload. The Wolv won’t risk the glass. The screen it wears can deflect bullets, but glass shards would cut it up despite the screen.”
Mister Calveri nodded and tried to reload with his shaky hands.
There was a second crash against that same spot in the side wall and this time the wall collapsed. Everyone screamed except Glen, and Miss Watson who got on her belly and brushed the plaster and wallboard off the copper plate.
The Wolv did not show its face at first. No doubt it wanted to be sure there were no sophisticated weapons. When no shot came through the hole in the wall, it stuck its head around the corner. Then it stepped into the room, stepped squarely on to the copper plate in that corner and Glen turned the knob on the transformer to full blast.
The beast roared and howled and shook like jelly as the electricity coursed through its body. It appeared glued to the plate for the moment and Glen kept yelling “Shoot! Fire!” Poor Mister Calveri was frozen in absolute fear and panic. “Shoot, damn it! Fire that gun!”
Glen had to keep the transformer knob turned, but he managed to wedge the thing with his knee and use his left hand on the knob. That left his right hand free to scramble across the small of his back in search of his long knife—which did not want to cooperate. He was just about to trade places through time with Diogenes when he heard, Bang! Bang! The shotgun fired both barrels in quick succession. Miss Watson had grabbed it out of the man’s hands.
One bullet hit the Wolv in the belly and the second hit the shoulder as the recoil caused the gun to rise up. It also pushed the creature free of the metal plate where the beast let out a great, mournful howl. It bounded back out into the dark and left a wet trail of purplish-red blood all across the carpet and splattered on the walls.
Mrs. Calveri and the children were behind the couch, sobbing. Mister Calveri came out of his shock enough to drop his face into his hands and sob as well. Apparently his bowels had let loose. Glen grabbed Miss Watson by the hand and dragged her to the hole. He noted where the beast had torn through a bush in its escape so he felt it was safe for the moment to step out on the grass. There he went away and Valencia came to stand in his place.
“This is not good.” Valencia spoke right up. “A wounded beast is always more dangerous.” She turned to Miss Watson. “Debbie. You must call Newton and let the police know there is a wounded wolf on the prowl and it would be best to get everyone off the streets until it is subdued. Then you must call my friends and tell them what happened. Do you remember the number?” Miss Watson nodded. “Then if it circles back, you must try to kill it if you can. The screen is shorted out now so the shotgun should do the job.”
“But where will you be?”
“I have to track it and try to finish the job myself.”
“Of course, you can fly.”
Valencia shook her head exactly like Glen. “I have been able to fly in several lifetimes. No, I think Glen thought of me earlier because I have another virtue. It was subconscious, if that is the right word. I have a rather big subconscious.”
“Yes. Saturn gave me the gift of flight so I could escape the men who wanted to rape me, but when I got away from my brother and his friends Saturn gave me a more permanent solution.” Valencia turned toward the broken bush and took in a deep whiff of air. “He gave me the were of the wolf. Not like in the movies, but like the Were People, the shape shifters of old.” Valencia turned back to face the woman. “I was the wolf who suckled the two orphan boys Saturn brought me just before the founding of Rome. You might read about me in the history books, though I guess it has become no more than a myth these days.”
With that Valencia smiled and fell to her knees. “If I don’t see you again, don’t look for me.” She spoke as her armor vanished and she very quickly changed from a woman to a wolf. She was bigger than any normal sized wolf, too, though not nearly as big as the Wolv. With a wag of her tail and her nose to the ground she bounded through that same broken bush.