"What do you mean Brittany's not home?"
"She hasn't been home for two days. I have been worried sick over her. Oh, the thought of something bad happening to my little princess just scares me so."
"Uh...Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be fine. Really."
"Thank you oh so much! It so nice that her friends are concerned for her! Are you sure you won't come in for some lemonade?"
"No, thanks, Mr. Taylor. We've gotta get going...."
At the foot of the Taylor yard, Jane turns to me and says, "That explains a lot. I'll bet he takes the same sensitivity classes as Mr. O'Neill."
"No doubt. But we're back to where we started now, except that this...uhm..."
"Whatever. That its probably gotten Brittany."
"Or else it is Brittany, and she's run off hiding."
"Do you think she's that smart?"
"No." Jane usual smirk grew a bit tighter. "Why are we doing this, anyway?"
"I was just going to ask you that."
"Oh. Well, I guess that we're trying to solve a deep and interesting mystery that threatens the lives of those we love. OK?"
"Not good enough. There isn't anyone in Lawndale that I love."
"Your hilarious. I mean, we must be pretty hard up for entertainment these days if we're going around looking into what Brittany of all people is up to, right?"
"Good point. Let's head to your place."
A few blocks down, we get stopped by a man with a microphone and another with a TV camera.
"Hey, young ladies. Would you like to tell our 'Sick, Sad World' viewers what you think of the Monster of Lawndale?"
"Monster of Lawndale? You mean the thing that killed Coach Sevrin and may have gone off with the head cheerleader? Never heard of it." Jane cracks a slight smile.
"Cheerleader? Hold on. Ted, did you hear anything from the boss about a cheerleader?"
"I don't think so..."
"Man, are you guys behind!" Jane goes on. "It was seen carrying the whole football team off in broad daylight. Its about fifteen feet high and looks like one of the aliens from Starship Troopers."
"Ted did you get that? Good. Contact the studio immediately, we've got a hot lead! Where did you say it was?"
"Down by the Lawndale Cemetary. Near Turgen's Creek."
"Let's get going!"
After they left, I turn and say, "Turgen's Creek is nowhere near the cemetary."
"They don't know that."
Once back in my room, I bring up again what I saw of the fight between Kevin and Mackie. "You know, it would make a lot of sense if it was Mackie who killed them."
"You've got to be kidding."
"No, really, hear me out. Mackie and Sevrin never really got along. In fact, Sevrin tried to kick him off the team once, right?"
"How do you know...nevermind. Anyway, why would he wait until now? Its been almost two years since that. Besides, I've known Mack for years and he's never been the violent type, except when he's hanging out with Kevin."
"Sure. And then he snaps, killing a teacher he had a grudge with..."
"And his best friend's girlfriend. Not likely. Besides, you never saw anything strange in his aura, did you?"
"I told you I don't...oh, hell. No, not really. Its a little different, but..."
"Huh? You never mentioned that before."
"Well... none are quite the same, you know. Like snowflakes. His seemed more unusual than most, but it wasn't as strong as yours or Brittany's."
Something occurs to me. "You know," I finally say, "there's an odd resemblance between his and Brittany's, actually. I never noticed it before."
"I'm sure its not something he'd be proud of. How are they alike?"
"I'm not sure how to describe it...They're both very...irregular, like a fractal. Swirling lines and motes. Mr. Taylor's looked like that, too."
"Wow, your imagery is astonishing. No wonder you win so many writing contests."
"Hey, I put a lot of work into my stories. Describing things off the top of my head is much harder."
"OK, I get your point. So, do you think there might be a connection?"
"Let's go find out. Where does Mack live?"
On the way, we kept talking. "I'll bet it was Brittany after all," I said, "Mack's got to be covering for her."
"Sure. Mr. Sevrin must of tried something with her in his office. She got scared and tore him apart."
"Shit, this is all making too much sense. Do you remember the last time we saw her?"
"Sure, What about it?"
"She was wearing an ordinary dress. Not her cheerleading outfit."
"I never noticed. That is odd. Since when do you care about fashion?"
"The outfit I saw in Mack's locker must have been there since Monday. He's known about this all along."
"Great. So why are we going to Mack's now?"
"Simple. They're gonna take us to where Brittany's hiding."
Just as we were getting to Mack's house, Mack and his father are packing up the Range Rover parked in their driveway. On a hunch, I take a look at Mr. MacKenzie's...energy level, and surprise, surprise, its as high as any I've seen.
"Going on a long weekend, eh?" Jane says as we walk toward them. "Its only Thursday."
Mack's father looks at us icily. Mack himself says, "Not exactly. We're just running up to our cabin to drop off some stuff...uh, some other folks are there and we promised to bring them supplies."
"Anyone we know?" I ask, and then realised I made a mistake.
"The Tay...uh, no, you've never met'em."
"Something tells me that's not quite true," Jane retorts, "Is that where Brittany's hiding?"
Mr. MacKenzie steps in front of us, looming larger than I'd realized.
"I think you'd both best get going. This is none of your business."
"Your aura's showing..." What's making me put my foot in my mouth like that?
"I said its none of your goddamn business! If you don't get the hell out of here you'll regret it!"
"Pop! What's gotten into you?"
"Get inside, son. You know the rules about strangers..."
"Finding out about werewolves?" Oh, shit, Jane, what do you think you're saying? He's ready to kill us. I can see it in his eyes.
His eyes suddenly cool. Oh. Jane pulled it off; I can feel his anger seeping away. He's figured out where we stand, too, I think.
"Get in the car, both of you. You've got some business up in the mountains with us."
[Introduction] [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 4] [Story Notes]