Hunter's Moon (Chapter 19)
I turned, twisting awkwardly, trying to see in the mirror above the sink. The long, furrowed mark pulsed bright red, as if infected.
The scar had never bothered me once it healed. Sometimes I even forgot for an hour or two at a time.
What was the matter now?
I straightened, rubbed my hand over my face, and looked again. The scar was just a scar. Puckered.
I was losing my mind.
I threw on some clothes, retrieved my weapons, and left the apartment.
The remnants of the nightmare faded as I drove into Crow Valley. It wasn't as if I'd never had one before. I'd just never had one in the daytime.
Which disturbed me. I'd been able to keep the nightmares at bay by sleeping when the sun shone. If that re-lief was gone to me, would I ever be able to sleep again? I didn't want to think about it.
So I didn't. I'd become very good at pushing aside anything I didn't want to dwell on. If I hadn't been, I doubt I'd be functional at all.
Crow Valley was as busy in the light of an October afternoon as it was empty of an October midnight.
Folk of every age, shape, and color walked up and down the picturesque streets. Some even waved as if they knew me. They probably did. In small towns gossip traveled at the speed of sound. One of the reasons I didn't stay long in any one place.
I drove to Jessie's apartment. It was nearly five o'clock. I'd slept, and dreamed, the day away. But since she didn't go on duty until the sun went down, we still had time to do our job.
Jessie opened the door before I even knocked, and shoved the fax into my hand. "About time."
"What's up your ass?"
She turned on me, and I blocked her punch with my forearm. She might have slammed me against the wall once, but that didn't mean I'd let her do it again.
"I'm in no mood to play nice," I warned.
"Bitch, bitch, bitch." She stalked away, plopping onto the couch with a scowl.
"What's the matter with you?" I tried a more pleasant version of the same question.
She glared at me. "Will's not back."
"Did you call him?"
"Cell phone's off."
"Does he forget to turn it on?"
"Every damn day."
"Then what are you worried about?"
"Let's see – werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches, and all sorts of other things I don't even know about. Then there are car accidents, mass murderers, blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and various acts of God."
I blinked. "Gee, how do you sleep?"
"When he's not here, I don't."
Now that I looked closer, there were dark circles under her eyes; lines of stress bracketed her mouth.
She was really worried, and I couldn't say that I blamed her.
"Did you call any friendly state cops?"
"You think I'm a fool? Of course I called."
This was exactly what I'd been talking about when I said attachments were a bad thing. Jessie wasn't thinking of werewolves and serial killers; she was thinking of Will.
"If anything had happened, they'd know about it, Jessie."
"Then where is he?"
I had no idea. But if I gave voice to any of my thoughts, she'd only try to slug me again, so I glanced at the sheet of paper in my hand.
"Open Serial Killer Cases Where Cannibalism Is Suspected." What a lovely title. There were only two. Herman Reyes and some guy named Louis-Francois Charone.
"You said Hector was on here."
"Check out the place where they last saw Herman Reyes."
I did. Topeka – in the year my life ended. Hell.
I lifted my gaze. "Then Hector is Herman."
"You tell me."
Jessie held out a photo. Dizziness rushed over me in a nauseating wave.
The word whispered through the room. I swayed.
"Hey!" Suddenly Jessie was there, catching me around the waist and holding me up. "I guess I don't have to ask if that's him."
I shook my head.
"Here." She yanked out one of the dining room chairs. "Sit."
I did. She shoved my head between my knees, none too gently. "Now breathe."
I hated taking orders, especially from her. But I hated fainting even more, so I breathed.
A glass of water appeared between my feet. I sat up and sipped. Jessie leaned against the table reading the rest of the faxed report. She lifted her eyes.
I waited for her to ask if I was OK, if I needed to lie down, take a pill, see a doctor.
"I guess he changed his name," she said.
She was going to pretend I hadn't nearly taken a nosedive onto her carpet. I was going to let her.
"I guess. But why? Hector died in 1977. No one would think the two were the same man."
"Why take a chance?"
This explained why I hadn't been able to find him anywhere that I'd searched. He'd no doubt changed his name again.
Jessie continued to read. Her lips tightened.
She looked at me, then back at the paper. "All of his victims have been the same type of woman."
I knew I wasn't going to like this, but I asked anyway. "What type?"
Had Hector planned on killing me, too? Why hadn't he?
"Let me see that report."
"I could make you."
She snorted. "I doubt that."
Since I was still dizzy and my hands were shaking, she was probably right.
"He was a serial killer then and is a Weendigo now," she murmured, "satisfying his need for like flesh in both forms."
"But how did he become a Weendigo in the first place? Isn't that an Ojibwe warrior cursed by the great spirit?" I asked.
"The great mystery."
"Whatever. Hector was a lot of things, but Ojibwe wasn't one of them."
"I'm not sure how the whole cursed-by-a-mystery works. We'll have to ask Will."
The reminder that Cadotte wasn't back yet when he should have been caused a shadow of fear to tighten her face.
"Do you think Hector's here?" I blurted.
"We'll know soon enough."
She lifted the photo. "I show this to my deputy. El-wood is a nosy old coot. He knows everyone in Crow Valley. If Hector is in town, Elwood's met him. We'll nail Herman/Hector's ass within a day."
I was glad she had confidence, because I didn't. I'd dealt with Hector. He was one scary dude.
And he was up to something. I just knew it.