Read Predator and Prey Prowlers 3 Online

Authors: Christopher Golden

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fiction, #General, #Horror, #Action & Adventure, #Supernatural, #Fantasy & Magic, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Body; Mind & Spirit, #Werewolves, #Ghosts, #Legends; Myths; Fables

Predator and Prey Prowlers 3

BOOK: Predator and Prey Prowlers 3
4.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Predator and Prey Prowlers 3
Prowlers [3]
Christopher Golden
Pocket Books (2001)
Juvenile Fiction, Fiction, General, Horror, Action & Adventure, Supernatural, Fantasy & Magic, Horror & Ghost Stories, Body; Mind & Spirit, Werewolves, Ghosts, Legends; Myths; Fables
About the Author

Christoper Golden was voted the third most popular science fiction author of the year 2000 by the readers of SFX magazine. He is the author of several dark fantasy novels and comic books in addition to numerous Buffy the Vampire Slayer adult novels and reference books which have made him a major UK bestseller.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Like a
ghost, the framed photo of Jack Dwyer's mother seemed to stare at him from atop his bureau. He caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye and grinned, feeling foolish. On his bed lay several T-shirts and two pairs of denim shorts he had discarded. Jack ran a hand through his unruly hair and then reached up into his closet for a gray Boston Red Sox shirt he had only worn a couple of times. He wasn't a big sports fan, so he always felt like a poseur when he wore it, but he figured it was more interesting than a plain Gap T-shirt and slightly more subdued than the one with the big Batman logo on the front.

Plus the clock was ticking.

From a chair in the corner of the room, he picked up the blue jeans he had tossed there moments before and put them on. Belt, wallet, car keys, then socks and sneakers. As he sat on the bed, lacing up his sneakers, he glanced up again at the picture of his mother, Bridget. She had died when Jack was nine years old, and he wondered if that was why just looking at the photo could make him feel like a child.

He bounced up off the bed and paused briefly in front of the bureau to gently touch the corner of the frame. Though he had few strong memories of his mother, he clearly recalled her standing in his bedroom doorway so many times, trying to get him to hurry and decide what to wear to school that day. More often than not, she had had to decide for him.

It was a rare day off for Jack. Along with his older sister Courtney, he owned and managed Bridget's Irish Rose Pub, their inheritance from their mother. When he was working, the only thing he had to decide was what color his shirt was going to be, for every day he wore one embroidered with Bridget's logo on the breast.

That was simpler, and Jack liked things simple.

At the door, he paused and glanced around the room, feeling as though he had forgotten something. His gaze settled on his nightstand, and he strode quickly back to snatch up the book that lay there,
Journal of the Gun Years
, a western by Richard Matheson. One last time he patted his pockets to confirm the presence of his wallet and keys, then he strode out of the room.

The Dwyer siblings owned the whole building, and their apartment above the pub consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room that doubled as a guest room. Lately the "guest room" had become a semi-permanent third bedroom for Molly Hatcher, a friend of the family, though her relationship to Jack and Courtney was far more complicated than that.

Jack poked his head into what had become Molly's room, but she wasn't there.

"Mol?" he said, glancing about the hallway.

"In here."

Her voice had come from Courtney's room. Curious, Jack went across the hall and stood in the open door. Courtney lived a pretty Spartan life, and what she had she kept neat. A bed, a desk and chair, a computer, a bureau. Yet while once her room had looked so empty as to make one wonder if anyone actually lived there, in the past month it had acquired a new sort of clutter in the form of newspaper clippings and internet articles that were pinned on the walls all about the room.

Molly stood beside Courtney's desk and stared at one of the articles. She wore cutoffs that drew attention to her long legs and a light cotton shirt unbuttoned over the green tankini top she wore. Her usually unruly red hair was tied back in a ponytail and she held her hands on her hips as though what she read had made her angry.

"Hey," Jack said. "You ready?"

When she turned, a hint of that anger and frustration remained on her face. Then Molly saw him, and smiled happily.

"Are you sure jeans are the most comfortable beach wear?" she teased.

He shrugged. "I look stupid in shorts."

"You're going to look stupid in jeans. Tell me you at least own a bathing suit. I mean, I know you don't get out much, but -- "

"I haven't been to the beach in a year," Jack confirmed. "But I do own a bathing suit, thank you very much. I'm wearing it under my jeans."

"Good," she said. "Now all we need are beach towels and we can get out of here."

But they both hesitated a moment, the brightness of their conversation dimming somewhat. Jack glanced at the articles on the wall again, and Molly turned to follow his gaze.

"Courtney find something new?" he asked.

Molly studied the wall, hugging herself now. "A lot of little things. Suspicious things in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Quebec...let me see...Arizona, L.A. Mutilation murders mostly, though the Wisconsin one was some builders who found some remains while digging a foundation for a house. Yeah, I'd want my house built there now. Might be Prowler killings or they might be something else."

Jack stepped up behind her and examined the printouts and clippings, the grisly headlines, photographs of the victims alive and well and smiling.

"Chances are, most of them are human killers, and the FBI or the local cops will catch up to them," he reminded her. "But we can't go running around the country every time there's some nasty murder. We're not detectives. If a pattern shows up, or if somebody says they saw a monster, then we'll look into it. We'll fight them when we can find them. But there's only the four of us, Molly, and it's a big country."

Grim-faced, she turned to him. "What makes you think it's just this country?"

Jack nodded. "A big world out there, exactly. We can't be the only people who know the Prowlers exist. There must be others out there who are fighting them."

"We should find those people, then," Molly said, her eyes searching his.

"You're probably right." Jack glanced away a moment, then he studied her curiously. "There's only so much we can do. We have lives to lead. Responsibilities. You're going away to Yale in less than two weeks, Molly. It isn't like you can take off on some hunting trip to Arizona after that."

For a long moment she stared at him and Jack wanted to turn away from the intensity of her gaze, but would not. Molly hated the Prowlers as much as he did, probably more. They had discovered the monsters' existence several months before, when a pack had come to Boston, and Artie Carroll had been one of the first to die.

Jack's best friend.

Molly's boyfriend.

Jack and Molly had always been close, but Artie's death created a new intimacy for them, both in their need to grieve together, and, after the discovery of the Prowlers' existence, in their need to destroy the creatures. Over the ensuing months they had done both, and during that time Molly had left the home of her brutal, alcoholic mother and moved in with the Dwyers.

It simplified things and complicated them all at once. Molly started to work in the pub, they focused their efforts on tracking news stories that might lead them to new Prowlers, and they tried to pretend that their intimacy was not on the verge of becoming something more than friendship. Not that it was a bad thing, these feelings they clearly had for each other, the single kiss they had shared in Vermont a month earlier when they had almost died.

It would have been nice, but Artie had been dead only a few months and Molly was obviously still haunted by his memory.

Jack, on the other hand, was haunted by his ghost.

Shortly after Artie's murder, the ghost had appeared to Jack in the pub after hours, and had touched him somehow, pried open a place in his mind that would allow Jack to see other spirits as well. Lost souls. A spirit world Artie called the Ghostlands. Among those lost and wandering phantoms were many of the victims of the Prowlers. With their help, Jack and Molly had survived, had destroyed a lot of monsters. Molly knew about the Ghostlands, but at Artie's request Jack had never told her that her dead boyfriend's ghost still hung around. He thought she suspected, but she didn't know.


The silence between them lingered too long.

"Yeah," Molly said at last, her voice a hush. "Two weeks and I'll be gone. Then you can have your living room back."

Jack didn't know what to say to that. He clutched the book in his hand and shifted uncomfortably, gave her a little half-smile without knowing what it was for.

"We should go," Molly said at last.

"I'll get the towels," Jack replied. "You've got the radio?"

"In my room. I'll grab it."

They met up again moments later at the door that led down into the restaurant. It was not quite nine o'clock in the morning, two hours before they would open for the lunch crowd. The kitchen staff would begin arriving any minute, and the waiters in less than an hour, but for the moment, Courtney Dwyer was the only other person in the place.

When Jack and Molly went down the stairs, Courtney was sitting at one of the round tables in the restaurant section of the pub. The place was all dark wood and brass rails and Chieftains on the sound system overhead, a quintessential Irish pub, but a little bigger, a little brighter, a little cleaner. Boston magazine had singled them out twice in the past three years, which was good for business.

"Everything under control?" Jack asked as they walked over to the table.

Courtney glanced up at them, a strand of her chestnut hair falling across the freckled bridge of her nose. She blew at it, but then had to brush it back with her hands. She wore a dark green shirt with the pub's logo across the breast, khaki pants, and white tennis shoes. It was a more casual look than she usually wore on the job, but Jack thought it suited her. When his sister dressed more stylishly, it seemed to drain some of the humor out of her.

"I think we're good," she replied. "They cleaned up pretty well last night. Kitchen's stocked, I've already done the ordering. I'm just trying to get next week's schedule out of the way."

Jack laughed. "So what you're saying is, we're not needed at all."

A sly grin spread across Courtney's face. "I won't even notice you're gone."

"I'm deeply wounded," Jack replied, holding a hand over his heart.

Courtney began to rise from the table. She was twenty-nine years old, but with the light spray of freckles across the bridge of her nose and the mischief that sparkled in her blue eyes, she looked younger. At least until she stood and had to put some of her weight on the lion's-head cane she had inherited from their grandfather. She was young and smart and vivacious, but the accident that had killed their mother had left Courtney reliant upon that cane for the rest of her life, and Jack often wondered if people could see past that.

"Get going already," she told them. "When you come back you can remind me what a beach looks like."

"We'll be back by five or so if you end up needing help on the dinner shift," Jack said.

With a wild grin, Courtney lifted her cane and held it like a baseball bat. "Do I have to chase you two out of here?"

Molly clapped a hand on Jack's back and propelled him toward the door. "Nope," she said. "We're going. The world might crack in two if Jack has a little fun, but we'll risk the apocalypse."

As Jack held the door for Molly, ready with keys in hand to lock it behind them, Courtney called to them from inside.

"Thanks for the warning. You two have fun on your date!"

Jack gaped at her. He saw Molly stiffen a little beside him. For a moment, he fumbled for the words, then yelled back to his sister.

"It's not a date, Courtney. We're just going to the beach."

Courtney stood in the middle of the restaurant, leaning on her cane, her smile insinuating that she knew better. "Whatever you say."

Jack considered protesting again, but didn't want to make too much of it. He locked the doors and then he and Molly walked over to the lot where his old Jeep was parked, Courtney's words hanging awkwardly between them.

The Mustang's engine purred as Dallas guided it up and down the streets of Newton, Massachusetts. On the CD player was a bootleg live recording of the Clash he had taped himself in an earlier era. He'd burned the CD himself, but the quality was crap given the source. Dallas didn't mind the hiss and pop at all.

Seven years had passed since the last time he had been by to visit Valerie and it was going to take him a few minutes to get his bearings. Up in this part of Newton, all the streets pretty much looked the same; huge old Colonials and Victorians were set back from the tree-shaded road. The homes were kept up perfectly, BMWs and Benzes in the driveways, trophy wives walking the dogs or landscaping the gardens for pleasure rather than necessity.

A redhead in a half-tee jogged by with her retriever on a leash and smiled at Dallas as he passed in the restored, blue '67 convertible. He shot her a pleasant grin but kept his attention on the road, looking up and down the streets he passed for Valerie's house.

He sniffed the air as he drove.

His foot tapped the brake and Dallas gazed down one side street. The trees were old and leaned in over the pavement, creating a tunnel of leaves, the road below dappled by shafts of sunlight that slipped through the canopy overhead. Five houses down was a hundred-and-fifty-year-old Victorian painted a sort of rust color, its shutters and trim the hue of brick.

Dallas turned the volume down a couple of decibels and took the right onto Ashtree Lane. He slowed in front of the house, then pulled into the driveway behind a little red MG. There was a recent model Honda next to it. Past the cars he could see the carriage house that was attached to the main structure. Valerie had gutted the place and put a swimming pool inside, but externally the house looked just as it had when it was built. She had owned it once before, in the twenties, and when she bought it again she restored it completely.

Keys jangling in his hand, he popped the trunk and grabbed the single, large suitcase he had brought with him. He whistled as he went up the walk and the stone steps and knocked on the door. A minute passed and he was about to knock again when he caught the scent of Valerie inside, moving toward the door.

BOOK: Predator and Prey Prowlers 3
4.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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