“Aren’t there more cabins in the woods they could get?” Lucy asked sitting down at the edge of the bed. “What do they need a cabin for anyway?”
“To hunt,” David said. He didn’t know why it was pouring out of him. Her bespectacled eyes didn’t seem to judge him. She’s reacted unexpectedly last night and even now she was surprising him with how cool she was. “They want to hunt Shifters. Other people who can turn in to animals.”
“Ooh,” she says suddenly, slapping her forehead. “That’s why they call it Shifter Grove. Is Sonya a Shifter?”
“Who?” David asks.
“Sonya Blackpaw,” Lucy says, “the Sheriff’s wife.”
“Oh,” he says, “No. The Sheriff is though. He’s a WerePanther.”
“Cool,” she nods and takes another swig of her coffee. “So can all of you control the Shift?”
“Some of us can, but it takes lots of practice,” David said leaning forward.
“So why did you take money from these people to hunt?” Lucy asked quietly.
“Because I hate them,” David said truthfully. “I hate them for allowing my dad to abuse me and my mom for years. They knew about it but they trusted him to change. Nine times he got arrested for domestic violence,” he points to the scars on his face. “He did this to me but the Sheriff back then let him go after a week in the slammer.”
“And that justifies the murder of their loved ones,” Lucy said.
“He bashed my mother’s head in with an axe because of the Sheriff’s negligence,” David snarled, “yes I think they all deserve to die!”
“Where is he now?” she asked.
“He got ripped to pieces during a Shift,” David said, “good riddance. He was never much of a father.”
“No I meant the Sheriff,” Lucy said.
That took David aback.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly.
“So you hate this guy for not keeping your father in jail,” Lucy said, “but you don’t hate him enough to find out what happened to him and was it as bad as he deserved. You haven’t even made the effort to confront him; your own form of therapy is to let innocent people in this community die.”
She didn’t sound angry. Just sad and David felt a tiny blossom of guilt. She had forgiven him for attacking her, for threatening her and being downright mean to a complete stranger but she’d found it in her heart to be nice to him.
“What do you want me to do?” David asked. “Give the money back?”
“Hell no,” she said. “Bastards like those deserve to be robbed. Keep the money but foil their plans. Tell everyone that they’re coming and scare the shit out of them.”
“They’ve got guns,” David said.
“And you’ve got numbers,” Lucy said. “Organize a mass raid, don’t give them a chance. It’s time you accepted the community as just a bunch of people trying to make the best of what they have. You were unlucky your father was such a bastard. You don’t have to be.”
David mulled the idea over as she sank in next to him. She offered him her mug and he sipped her coffee, the smell of her perfume wafting in his nostrils was pleasant. He could imagine being like this with her for a long time to come.
“Okay,” he promised. “I guess I better see Diesel.”
The woods were dark; the crickets sang their nocturnal songs and kept the hunters company. They were old men with new gadgets, heat vision googles to see in the dark and high powered weapons to shoot to kill.
They were supposed to meet David Meyer at the eastern edge of the woods to show them to their cabin but he hadn’t been there. After waiting for an hour they had decided to press on, the company antsy to get started on the action.
Grim had left his companions behind half an hour ago. The woods were strangely silent for a congregation of over two hundred Shifters. He could smell the scent of wild animals interspersed with each other, and he was reminded strongly of the Zoo in Lahore where he had gone in search of the Hazara, a small tribe persecuted and ostracized and thus made fun to hunt.