Title: Bright City, Dark Prey
Summary: The discovery of a severed leg in the Chicago gangland leads to Mulder's belief in a urban werewolf.
Author's notes: Greetings. Some of you may have noticed a story put out back in March called DARK PREY. Only one part appeared. Well, sorry about that, but all this graduate work I have to do just got in the way. However, I have finally succeeding in putting the whole thing into print. So now I present my first real work. I hope you enjoy it. oh, and unlike Sheryl Martin, I don't like being poor. So send you checks to......
Prelude Chicago, IL.
The West Side.
An Abandoned Store.
The man peers around the corner of the building and stares at the terrible scene. Just across the street, the police are gently removing a body from the abandoned building. Or perhaps not gently enough as a jolt from the stretcher-bearers causes an arm to slip out from under the blanket. It is a woman's arm, and the brown skin is marred by bruises and streaks of blood. When the man sees this he moans in anguish. He clutches the side of the building. He sobs.
Across the street, an officer rushes forward. He scolds the men for their carelessness. Together they re-strap the body down and carry it to the ambulance. The doors are shut, and it drives away. But no lights or siren are used, those are for the living. The rest of the police fan out and begin the process of asking questions and searching for clues.
The man watches the police go about their business. Rage fills his body. Tremendous rage. Hidden in the dark shadows, away from the street lights, his body trembles. He closes his eyes. His hands, gripping the wall, begin to dig into the wall. The brick crumbles.
A cop searching the street for evidence, hears the noise. He flashes his light at the corner where the man stood hidden. For an instant he sees a quick flash of eyes and the shape of something fleeing into the dark.
"Stupid dog," he mumbles, and continues his search for clues.
One Month Later....
MAIN PRECINT OF THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Chief Inspector Doug Hampton was not having a good morning. He had gotten exactly four hours of sleep in the last thirty. He had been up for hours going over the details of a grisly murder. On top of that, his hemorrhoids itched, his ulcer ached, and there were no doughnuts left after the morning briefing. Now, to possibly compound things, he finds two FBI agents waiting in his office.
"I'm Inspector Hampton," he said by way of preamble. Sighing, he made his way to his desk and collapsed in his chair. He turned and faced his guests.
The man was dressed in a long leather overcoat and a rather rumpled suit. His tie, Hampton noted, was a disgrace. The woman was more tastefully dressed in a suit coat, skirt, and black jacket. Both had the same impassive look on their faces. They really do look like government spooks, thought Hampton.
The man spoke. "I'm Agent Mulder, this is Agent Scully. The Bureau sent us at the request of your department for assistance in a murder investigation."
Hampton studied Mulder. "I've heard of you, Mr. Mulder. A friend of mine in the local FBI office has told me some things about you. You have quite a reputation."
Mulder smiled, showing his teeth. "And what, pray tell, is my reputation?"
"That you're a whacked-out UFO chaser walking the narrow edge of sanity," Hampton said matter-of-factly. He smiled. "You are also an expert in understanding psychos and serial killers. Which is why I'm glad you are here. Both of you." He turned to Scully. "Agent Scully, your reputation, while not as creepy as your partner's, makes you and expert at forensics and pathology. We would be glad of your assistance."
"Thank you, Inspector. If I may see the remains as soon as possible."
"Certainly. But first, let me fill you in on the details so far." Hampton handed Mulder and Scully two file folders of papers and photos. "Last night, he got a call reporting a dismembered foot lying outside an abandoned building. There were no witnesses as to who might have put it there, except for a crazy homeless man who claims he saw a dog carrying it. At the moment, we have no idea where it came from."
Scully asked, "Could you identify who it belonged to?"
"In fact, we could. The leg still wore a shoe and pant leg. The people who identified it were members of a gang which uses that building you see in the phot as a hangout. The foot belonged to one Arthur Coleman, who was a member of that gang. The other members identified it by the shoe. Mr. Coleman is also reported as missing by his family. I think it is safe to assume that the foot is his."
Scully studied the photos intently. "Somebody leaving a message," she said.
"Quite possibly," said Hampton. "The question is, who? And, why? The rest of Mr. Coleman's associates are quite mute on the subject. Most gang violence is not so, well, sophisticated as this case. Guns, I'm sad to say, is the norm in settling their differences. The gang also has no known connections to the Mafia, so some kind of Mafia hit is ruled out. All we can assume is that some psycho is at work here. Frankly, we're stumped and could use some help."
Mulder said, "We'd be happy to oblige, Inspector. We need to go over these folders first, and then we should talk to the witnesses you have," he said, glancing at Scully. She nodded in agreement.
"That can be arranged," said Hampton. "Although I doubt it will be fruitful."
And it wasn't. The gang members, uneager to talk to the police, were even less inclined to speak to two FBI agents. Reluctantly, the police let them go. The other witness, the homeless man, was slightly more helpful in that he was perfectly willing to talk. Unfortunately he tended to ramble, and needed to be steered back to the subject.
"I was jus' sittin' there, mindin' my own business, like I do every night. That way, the gangs don't bother you." He laughed. "Sometimes they even give me money!"
"What about what you saw?" asked Mulder. "The dog."
"Oh YEAH!" The man chuckled. "Dat was the biggest doggie I evah did see! Came right outa the dark like a shadow, carry'n dat leg. Just walked over'n dropped it. And walked away like it was nothin' at all. Nothin' at all"
This was the extent of the useful information. After the questioning, Mulder and Scully drove off to get something to eat. Mulder drove while Scully continued to study the file of information on the case.
She said, "So to start this investigation we have essentially nothing. No real witnesses, no evidence at all really. Just a body. Well, part of one," she amended. Mulder mumbled in agreement. She stared at him for a few seconds.
"You don't seem too enthusiastic about this case," she said.
"Well, you know me," he replied. "If there isn't aliens or conspiracy. . .anyway, after some of the things we've seen, a simple serial killer feels kinda mundane." He noticed the disapproving look Scully was beaming at him. He smiled. "Ok, I promise to at least look interested. We've worked with less than this before. I'm going to start diggin around with what we have. Maybe I'll find something in the police files that will make some connections. At least I can start a psych profile."
"And I'll go examine the remains. I'll come back when I get through," said Scully. The West Side
"Yo man, hurry up!" the young black man (a teenager, really) shouted out of the passenger side window while impatiently honking the car horn. Muffled replies of /Hold on/ drifted down from the tenement building. He swore, tired of sitting there waiting for his friends to come out. Sighing, he lit a cigarette, and rolled down the window in order to hang it and his hand outside the car.
He heard a tap tap tapping on the pavement, coming from behind the car. Glancing in his side mirror, he saw a large dog walking up to his car from the left rear. As he watched, it sat down on its haunches and panted at him. "Fuck," he said, rolling his eyes and taking a long drag on his cigarette. "Mutherfucker better not piss on my car," he muttered. He shrugged his body forward in order to stick his head out of the car window. His glance at the rear, however, showed the dog to be gone. Frowning, he settled back in his seat and continued smoking. A few moments later, impatience at his friends again overcame him. He reared up to pound on the horn and shout "Come on!" But he never got the chance as something large and very strong reached through the open window and grabbed his throat.
The Precinct House
Scully returned that night after completing her examination of the leg. It had been a long, difficult process. The very condition of the leg actually entailed more painstaking study. She carried with her the files filled with information. Tiredly, she opened the door to the office Mulder had taken over earlier. She was greeted by a room buried in paper. files littered every horizontal space in the room. Papers were posted on the walls. Even the computer on the desk was festooned with post-it-notes. Sitting in the middle of this was Mulder, his head in his hands.
"I see you've been busy," said Scully. "Find anything interesting?"
"Yes actually." Mulder leaned back in his chair and massaged his temples. He groaned with discomfort. "But you first. What about the leg?"
"Ok." She paused to toss him the file folder under her arm. He picked it up and examined the photos it contained. He grimaced. "Good thing I didn't have sushi for dinner. What'd you find?"
"What we have here is the lower right leg of a young black male. It had been severed just below the knee. The cause of death could not be determined, although severe blood loss is a strong possibility. Also, the method used to remove the leg was hard to determine."
"Not surprising, Scully, since it seems at least one dog had an opportunity to chew on it."
"That's just it, Mulder. It had been bitten, but not chewed. Unlike other cases of dismemberment I've seen, the limb was not chopped off, like with a sharpened shovel or axe. It wasn't broken off, either."
"Then what was it?" asked Mulder.
"The ends of the bones had been sheared, in one smooth stroke, leaving the ends mostly unbroken. Something every sharp and very strong did this, with a serrated edge. The only thing I've seen close to this is the bite of an animal with large powerful jaws. Like a tiger or lion."
"Oh my," mused Mulder. He stared at the photos. "What about a wolf?"
"Yes, a wolf might be able to make a bite like this." Scully bit her lip as she thought about his. "But it would have to have been a very big wolf." Scully suddenly noticed he had that look on his face she'd only seen when he was on the hunt of aliens or ghosts or whatever. "Why, Mulder? What makes you ask that?"
Mulder handed her the file that currently held the pride of place on his desk. "In my attempt to get some background on past Chicago murders, I stumbled across this report. It's dated from two years ago. It investigated a trend in missing persons that started three years before that. It seems that five years ago, the rate of missing persons jumped twelve to fifteen more people per year. This increase happened very fast, in the span of months. We're talking a very significant rise perpetuated over three years."
"What's this got to do with a wolf?"
"The person who wrote the report was an academic statistician working with the department. He really went into detail investigating this trend. He looked at the data not only in terms of years, but also months. What he found was this." Mulder handed er a sheet filled with graphs. "This analysis showed that the so-called 'extra' people were disappearing in a regular pattern over the months of the year. The disappearances seemed to happen during a specific time of the month. They all occurred within a four-day period that coincided this the appearance of the full moon."
Scully fixed Mulder with a look of disbelief. "Mulder, you have got to be kidding. You're not about to suggest that some kind of werewolf is responsible for these disappearances?"
"Maybe. The guy who wrote this report did allude to the idea. But there's more. The statistician also looked into where the disappearances were occurring and who was disappearing. The hope was to find out something that could lead to their prevention. And this is where things get disturbing."
"What did he find?"
"He found that most of the disappearances occurred in certain specific areas." Mulder got up and went over to the wall by the door. Covering the wall was a large detailed map of Chicago. He hand traced a pattern around several neighborhoods located in the western and southern parts of Chicago. "These areas represent the most poorest, most crime-ridden set of neighborhoods in Chicago. This is where most of the disappearances occurred."
"For such an area that's hardly a surprising observation, Mulder."
"Wrong, Scully. A trend like this is surprising. But the situation and location makes it not unexpected, worthy of dismissal as coincidence."
"You said there was more."
"Right. The people reported missing turned out to be some of the worst criminals you could find. Violent offenders, murderers, child abusers, rapists, these were all disappearing in higher numbers. Some were vanishing soon after getting out of prison or moving into the area."
"I can see how this might make the police happy. But despite everything, what makes you certain that a werewolf was behind all this. The allegations of this report and Arthur Coleman's leg are hardly supporting evidence."
"Is it, Scully?" Mulder frowned and paced the room. He stopped. "Think of it this way: people have been systematically disappearing from a specific area. A specific type of individual. What does this suggest?"
Scully though about this. Then comprehension dawned on her. "It's as if something is _hunting_ that area."
"Exactly," said Mulder. "And what sort of things go hunting?"
"But this still doesn't substantiate a werewolf. You haven't ruled out some kind of serial killer or vigilante."
"True, but there's one more thing I want to tell you, and this is what make me certain that something strange is behind this." He turned to the desk and gestured to the file sitting there. "This report is about a significant rend in people disappearing. I only found it by accident. It was buried in a file cabinet under an unrelated heading. Also, there was no follow-up to the report. No kind of acknowledgement whatsoever. In fact, I checked to see if there was any action taken to investigate the disappearances even before this report. I found very little activity dealing with missing persons. Such a trend should have caused a flood of activity. Somebody buried this problem, and I want to know why. I have a hunch that knowing why will lead to answers to this new murder."
"Why's that, Mulder?"
"Because the moon was almost full yesterday. Over the next three days the moon will be at its fullest."
Scully shook her head in amusement. "Conspiracies and aliens, huh, Mulder?" she said, smiling.
Mulder grinned right back at her. "And I thought Chicago would be boring."
"Have you told Inspector Hampton any of this."
"Not yet. I figure he might not be too keen on the idea that a werewolf is our chief suspect. I'd like to get some more solid evidence first. Who know? I could even be wrong." The telephone rang. Mulder answered it. "Agent Mulder," he said. He listened intently to the reply. "Ok, where?" He scribbled out an address. "We'll be right there." He hung up. Turning to Scully, he said, "Another member of Arthur Coleman's gang has been murdered. And it wasn't a drive-by shooting."
"Let's go," Scully said. Together they left the office, turning out the lights on their way out. As darkness filled the room, the light of the moon flooded in from the window.
The West Side
Chicago Public Housing Projects.
Hampton greeted Scully and Mulder when they arrived. He led them past the yellow tape and into the organized chaos of the crime scene. The scene was lit by the random flashing of cameras and the hypnotic twirling of police car lights. Mulder noted the crowd that had gathered to watch from outside the tape. There was no horror or surprise on their faces. Only a blank acceptance and resignation. Perhaps this just happens too often, thought Mulder. His attention was brought back by Hampton speaking to them.
"What we have here is the body of one Darnell Johnson," Hampton said as he led them to a nearby parked car. "From some witnesses we learned that he'd been sitting here waiting for some friends to come out." He gestured at the huge tenement high-rise looming above them. "Some people found the body in the car and called the police. Unfortunately no one admits to seeing the killer."
Mulder and Scully stepped forward to look into the car. They winced at the sight. Darnell's body lay slumped back in the front seat. His head lolled limply on a neck that was a mass of blood and bruises. However this injury paled in comparison to the gaping hole in the abdomen. Blood, entrails, and other tissues had spilled forth into the victim's lap.
Scully approached closer and peered in through the car's open window. Mulder pulled out a flashlight and began to scan the area surrounding the car. He quickly wandered off. Scully studied the wounds. "Has anyone hazarded a guess as to the cause of death?" she asked.
"Take your pick, Agent Scully." Hampton pointed at the wounds and said, "Somebody evidently broke his neck, then disemboweled him. Though it could have happened the other way around too."
"What about the other gang members?"
"They have been rounded up and detained for questioning." And for protection, he didn't need to add.
"Inspector Hampton, I'd like to examine the body as soon as you are finished here."
"You got it, Agent Scully." Hampton peered at the wounds on the body. "Christ," he muttered. "What kind of psycho would do this?"
"You'd be surprised, Inspector." Scully leaned in closer to the window, trying not to touch anything.
"I read your report on the leg, Agent Scully. Do you really think some kind of animal was involved in Arthur Coleman's death?"
Something in the tone of his voice caused her to look up from the body. She looked at Hampton. He seemed...tense. He continually shuffled from foot to foot and pulled on his tie. He was so agitated, in fact, that he didn't seem to notice that Scully was looking him over. I wonder what is bothering him, she wondered. After a moment, she replied, "Quite possibly, Inspector. The bite was similar to those I've seen of large carnivorous animals, like lions or tigers."
"You really think so?"
"It's a possibility."
"Shit," he muttered. Her reply seemed to make him even more agitated. He stared worriedly at the body. Scully was about to ask him what he was so nervous about when a call from Mulder drew their attention.
Mulder was standing on the sidewalk about thirty feet behind the car. He was shining his flashlight at a spot on the ground. "Come here. What do you make of this?" he said while pointing to a spot on the cement.
The three of them crouched down to look at the spot Mulder had illuminated. It was a red splotch, a bloody splotch, that looked like. . .
"A paw print?" said Scully.
"Sure does," replied Mulder. "There's a trail of them that fades out going that way." Mulder's light traced a path that followed into the darkness and to the corner of the tenement.
"Some dog must have stepped in some blood by the car and run off in that direction," Hampton suggested confidently.
"Then why does the trail start here and not over there?" asked Mulder. "And in any case most of the blood is inside the car."
Hampton sighed and stood up. "What are you suggesting, Agent Mulder?"
"That there is something unusual going on here," Mulder said as both he and Scully stood up to join Hampton. "We have two murders, both victims members of the same gang. In both cases there appears to be some sort of animal involved."
"Are you suggesting that some animal committed these crimes?" demanded Hampton.
Mulder peered curiously at Hampton. "I think it is a likely possibility, Inspector."
Hampton swore quietly and rubbed a hand over his face in exasperation. "Mr. Mulder, do you see those people over there?" Hampton pointed to a small group outside the tape. They were carrying large video cameras and held microphones. Obviously, the press had arrived. "In a few minutes I will have to talk to them. The last thing I need is for the press to pick up some wild story about an animal murdering local gang members. Someone is targeting this gang, and I want to know who. Not what. The last thing we need is to chase after aliens. You are both here to assist in this investigation. If you cannot give us competent help then please go someplace else." With a curt nod her turned and stomped off.
Scully and Mulder stared at his retreating back, momentarily at a loss for words. After a moment, Mulder said, "Well, he seems just a little on edge."
"I noticed that," said Scully. "Over by the car he couldn't stand still. I guess these murders must have him really shook up."
"I disagree, Scully. He's been around the block too many times to get that worked up over a murder. I think he's hiding something, Scully."
She waited for him to elaborate. When he didn't, she said, "Ok, so what is he hiding?"
"I'll tell you after we're through here. I want to get some photos of these paw prints first."
Thirty minutes later, they were back in the car, headed for the city morgue.
Scully asked Mulder the question again. "So what makes you think Hampton's keeping something secret?"
"You recall that file I told you about earlier?"
"The one about the trend in disappearances? Yes, I do?"
"Inspector Hampton has been head of the precinct for the past ten years."
She nodded, thinking. "So he was there when the disappearances started five years ago."
Mulder smiled at Scully. "Exactly. That report should have passed through his hands. He had the position to know about it, and authorize any action to follow it up. But there was nothing. Instead, the report was misplaced and buried."
"You're suggesting he covered it up?"
"Yes, he's a possibility. He and whoever else was involved."
"You still believe that there is a werewolf involved in all this."
He sighed. "At first it was just a hunch. With little evidence beyond the report and the leg, it seemed the only possibility. After what we just saw, I'm more convinced than ever that something unusual is going on here. You want to bet that those paw prints turn out to be a wolf's? And you saw the severity of the wounds to the body."
"But the neck wounds were done with hands. You saw the throat. The finger markings were clear. How do you explain that?"
"I can't yet. Maybe after you get done with the autopsy, I'll have it sorted out."
They drove on into the early Chicago dawn.
The West Side
After being thoroughly questioned and wrung out by the police, the gang was released. The gang refused all offers of police protection, preferring to go it alone. They immediately went to an abandoned apartment they had taken over as a hideout and locked themselves in. There was a total of six remaining gang members. Five of them were spread out around the room, sitting on the battered furniture. The sixth paced the room. The gang called him "BJ." His real name was Brian Johnson. But since B and J were his initials, it was a natural nickname. But no one ever made the mistake of making fun of it. Those who did got hurt. At nineteen years old, he gave off a charisma and confidence that drew the other gang members to him. Most of the gang agreed that BJ was truly 'bad-ass.' At the moment, however, all his boldness was replaced by agitation and fear.
"Shit man," whined Tiny from his spot on the couch. "The Wolfman's gonna get us."
"Will you shut up," said BJ. "That's all I heard for the past hour. Now let me think. NO mutherfucking wolf's gonna take us down. Stop crying."
"What we gonna do what we gonna do..." said Tiny, trailing into muffled whimpers.
"Did you see what happened to Darnell?" mumbled another. "Had his heart torn out. I don't want to end up like that."
BJ was about to reply to that when Tiny burst out, "But why, man, why?! Why's the Wolf comin' after us, BJ. He ain't never bothered the gangs too much before."
"We-don't-know," said BJ, curtly.
Vonzell spoke up. He stood near the end of the couch. "You know why the Wolf's comin' after us, BJ." BJ turned around and glared at Vonzell. Vonzell continued. "You, and me, and-"
"Shut up." said BJ, cutting him off.
"It's about that wo-" he started to say, but before he could finish BJ had pulled his pistol and jammed it in Vonzell's face. Startled, Vonzell stumbled back against the wall. BJ followed, pressing the barrel firmly into the other's nose, pining his head to the wall. "If I hear another fucking word outa your mouth, I'll kill you," he said quietly. Then giving the gun a final shove into the other's face, he backed away. Waving the pistol at the shocked faces of the gang, he said loudly, "And I don't want to hear another word about 'How-the-Wolf's-going-to-get-us.' Not another word."
"Then what are we going to do?" one of them whispered.
"We're going to hole up here and wait. We wait through today and tomorrow, then the full moon's over and we can get the hell outa Chicago."
"What if the Wolf show's up?"
Racking back the slide on his pistol, BJ said, "Then we waste the mutherfucker."
Chicago City Morgue.
Scully poured herself a cup of two-hour old coffee and took a sip. It tasted terrible. She drank it anyway. She sighed and moved to the window of the observation room just off the examining room. Through it she could see the plastic-covered body of Darnell Johnson.
Mulder came in through the hall door, carrying a small file of papers in one hand and a box of doughnuts in the other. "How's it going, Scully?" he asked.
"Could use some sleep."
He nodded and set the box on the office's desk. "Maybe we should get a couple of hours before we go over our data."
"No, I don't think there's time."
"You feel like that too, huh?" He sighed and flopped onto a conveniently placed couch. "Well, you went first last time. My turn?"
"No, I'll go first." She shook her head to clear it, then moved to the desk and began systematically handing Mulder photographs. "The cause of death was neither strangulation or blood loss, as one might assume on first examination. The neck was not simply broken, either. It was crushed."
"Yes. The cervical vertebrae were shattered, the trachea collapsed. Death was instantaneous. After the throat was crushed the heart was removed from the body by a wound inflicted in the abdomen. The wound penetrated up through the diaphragm into the pericardium." She scowled.
"What's wrong, Scully?"
"Mulder, no knife or blade made the wounds to the abdomen. The tissues were not cut, but torn. It was as if something had ripped his heart out."
"Something probably did," he said while grimacing at the photos.
Scully turned back to the window. "You read about such things in fiction, imagine doing it to other people, but to actually see a heart torn out..." she trailed off. Turning back to Mulder, she said, "In any case, so much for your werewolf theory. Something with human hands did this. Wolves have paws, no fingers."
"Uh huh. Tell me, Scully, was one hand used to do this?"
"Yes, one hand. The left, in fact. Why?"
He pulled out a phot and a piece of paper from the field he was carrying. Passing them to Scully, he said, "Here's a photo of the prints we found near Johnson's car. That paper contains the footprints of a wolf. I had an expert from the Field Museum compare the two. The prints at the scene are those of a wolf, a big one."
"I see," said Scully, not quite understanding.
"It was a left, front, paw print." Mulder leaped to his feet and strode over to the observation window. He stared at the corpse on the table. "Picture this: the killer surprises Johnson and crushes his throat, using his left hand. Then, using the same hand, he tears out the victim's heart and does something with it."
"Eat it," mumbled Scully while dunking a doughnut.
"Very likely. Then, the killer walks away and turns into a wolf in order to slip away!" Scully stared at Mulder in disbelief. "The killer forgot about his bloody left hand," Mulder concluded. "That would explain why the wounds were caused by a hand, but the prints started yards away from the car."
"Mulder, this is even weirder than liver-eating mutants. You're suggesting some kind of duality of form."
"Isn't that what a werewolf is? A human that becomes a wolf. And what better way to camouflage oneself. Either look like a human or a big dog. At a glance, who's going to know the difference around here?" Mulder looked at Scully thoughtfully, noting how she was fighting exhaustion. "Hey, let's get some sleep."
She laughed. "You know, we haven't even gotten hotel rooms yet?"
"You're right. Tell you what, you crash here on the couch, and I'll come back in three hours or so with some food."
"And where are you going to sleep.?"
"Oh, I'll go back to the precinct house office and catch a few winks on the couch there." He winked at her in emphasis as he walked out the door.
Scully sighed and lay down on the couch. Yeah, she thought as she curled up, I'll bet you'll sleep. The Precinct House.
An administrative officer greeted them as they were headed for Mulder's temporary office. "Agent Mulder," he said. "Here's that summary you asked me for last night."
"Thanks, Thompson," Mulder replied, taking the folder offered to him. He ignored the looks Scully gave him as they entered the office.
"Did you get any sleep, Mulder?" she finally asked.
"I think I closed my eyes once or twice. I had to blink, after all." He grinned at her.
"So what is that?" she asked, pointing to the folder.
"This is a summary of the missing persons data for the past twelve months. On a hunch I asked Thompson to put it together." For the next few minutes he read it. Then he sighed and set it down.
"Ok, Mulder, so what does it say?"
"According to this, for the past year the rate of missing persons is down. A clear drop, although nowhere near the levels of five years ago. Also, the numbers of violent criminals disappearing is lower."
"Then whatever was causing them for the past five years has stopped or moved on in the past year."
"This is too confusing. We don't even know if those disappearances are connected to the murders of the past two days. The only thing holding things together is the assumption that a werewolf is involved."
Mulder frowned as he thought about this. Then he stood up and strode over to the map of Chicago. He studied it intently, as if hoping the pictures would give him the answers. "Ok, for the moment let's forget about the werewolf idea. Let's think about what we do know. For the past five years violent criminals have been disappearing from the worst neighborhoods of Chicago."
"But not in the last year," added Scully. "Whatever was doing it has stopped or something. The question is, why?"
Mulder's expression changed as an idea struck him. "Scully, let's take it a step further. Let's assume that the murders of the past few days are connected to whatever was causing the disappearances. Now, why would such a person stop hunting criminals, and then start up again a year later?"
Scully's eyes widened in realization. "Revenge. My god, Mulder. These murders. . ."
" 'Someone leaving a message' is the way you put it, Scully. Now, revenge for what?"
"Mulder I think I have an idea how to find out. I'll need your computer here and access to the police files. Give me a few hours and I think I can come up with something."
"You got it."
After a few hours of furious computer searches and some combing of the police files, Scully presented Mulder with three police files and some newspaper clippings. "I played a hunch," she told him. "Knowing that our suspect shows a preference for violent criminals, I searched for any such crimes that might involve a gang, although the connection to a specific gang was never proven. I started with the newspaper, checking the headlines for the past few months. I figured that anything really horrible would draw the headlines and speed up my search."
"There's still must have been a lot of crimes to check out."
"Not when I eliminated crimes against violent criminals. From what we do know, our suspect hunts such people. Their deaths shouldn't warrant any need for revenge. Anyway, I found three prominent stories involving the deaths of, well, people who shouldn't have died."
Mulder snorted. "Nobody should have to die."
"Yes, but in these cases someone would have a strong motive for revenge or vigilante justice against the street gangs. The first case is about a ten year old girl killed in a crossfire between different gangs. The second is a multiple rape and murder of a twenty-four year old woman. The last case is the beating death of a teenage boy. No suspects were arrested, although the crimes were deemed gang-related. From the newspaper reports of these crimes, I followed back to the respective police files."'
Mulder flipped through the reports. "Do you really think there might be a connection here to the last two murders?"
"It's a hunch, Mulder. There's one way to find out."
He nodded. "Let's track down the families and friends of these people. Maybe we'll get a break."
Grabbing the files and their coats, they headed out of the office.
The South Side
Scully and Mulder drove away in subdued silence from their first interview. They had chosen to see the family of the ten year old girl first. It was a hard meeting. The girl's parents were polite and tried to be as helpful as possible, but they could not hide the pain of their loss. She had died only a month ago, after all. At one point the mother broke down completely. Soon after, Scully and Mulder departed.
Unfortunately, the meeting created no new leads. "Well, that's one down," said Mulder. "I couldn't see any connection between them and these murders. Or even the disappearances."
Scully nodded. "They both have solid alibis for the past two days, and they only moved into the area two years ago. The only thing we could look into further is friends and co-workers."
"There really isn't anyone else. They didn't have many friends. My gut says they aren't involved. In any case, we don't have much time if we're right about these murders. This isn't over yet."
Scully gazed at the passing scenery, lost in thought. She said, "I know we are on the right track, Mulder. I wish I knew exactly what we are looking for."
"We will probably know it when we find it. Our next stop is the mother of the rape-murder victim. She lives over in the housing projects on the West Side."
The West Side Of Chicago
Chicago Public Housing Projects
Twenty minutes later, they arrived at the grim high-rise that was home to the mother of the rape victim. As they exited the car, Mulder remarked, "You know, It's amazing our car hasn't been stolen yet."
"Ah-ah, Mulder!" Scully admonished. " 'Ask and ye shall receive.' " She gave the bleak buildings an appraising look. "I'm amazed we haven't been shot at yet."
"That's not comforting, Scully."
The mother, unlike the family, was much less enthusiastic about answering their questions. From behind a partially open door, barred by a formidable looking chain, she said, "I don't care what you want. I got nothin' to say."
Mulder persisted. "But Mrs. Williams, it's about the death of your daughter. We think we have a lead, but we need more information. If we could just talk to you-"
She cut him off. "Haven't you heard a word I said? Go away! My daughter is dead, and that's all there is to say." She slammed the door shut on Mulder's attempt at replying. Following quickly came the 'snick' of a bolt sliding into place. Mulder and Scully were left quite speechless.
While this scene was taking place, and elderly woman had hobbled hear and was unlocking the door to her apartment. She witnessed Mulder getting the door in his face. She chuckled. "Don't mind her," she told them. "She's been pretty broken up since her daughter died." The woman shouted at the closed door, "Don't you worry honey. The Wolf's gonna get them that did it. Believe you me."
Mulder and Scully, who had started to walk down the hall to the stairs, froze in their tracks. They turned around to face her. "The Wolf, ma'am?" Mulder asked.
"That's right." A look of incredulity came across her face. "You mean, you've never heard of the Wolf?"
Mrs. Paige clucked to herself as she fussed over pouring tea for Mulder and Scully. "Mm-mm-mm, thought your FBI knew everything. Don't even know about the Wolf."
Scully asked, "What can you tell us about the Wolf, Mrs. Paige?"
She sighed and sat down beside them at the table. "Most of us old folks here in the projects know about the Wolf, ever since he came, oh, about five years ago. You see, he kills the bad people around here. Makes it safer for us old ladies to walk the streets."
Mulder and Scully exchanged glances. Scully asked, "Does anyone else know about the Wolf?"
"Some do, most don't. You see, most of the young people around here are too busy rushin' around to see him. Too busy worry'n about livin' or dyin' or killin' one another. Us older people ain't too concerned about that stuff, so we got the attention to spare."
"Have you seen the Wolf?"
"A few times I have. Some nights, when I can't sleep, I'd gaze out the window. If it was durin' the full moon, sometimes I'd catch a glimpse of him. Glidin' past the streetlights, fadin' into the shadows." She sniffed and smiled. "Even when you don't seen him, you know he's there, 'cause you can feel him out there, waitin' and watchin', and movin'."
Mulder asked, "How do you know it wasn't a dog?"
She smiled. "At first, that's what I thought it was. But then I gave it a good look. It didn't move like no dog. Too much purpose in the way it moved. Like it know where it was goin' and just had to get there."
"Do you know who the wolf is?"
"You know, I never thought about it like that. I know about werewolves. I just never thought it might actually be somebody I knew or seen."
Scully thought about the finger markings of Darnell Johnson's neck. "So you have no idea, then?"
" 'Fraid not, honey."
Mulder switched the subject. "What can you tell us about Mrs. William's daughter?"
"Sharleen? Oh, she was such a lovely young woman. One of the bright spots around here. She was workin' days and going to school at night. She was hopin' to move out of here someday." She sighed. "We became friends. Sometimes she would come over and have tea with me. She's talk and tell me all about her day." Mrs. Paige's face clouded over with pain. "It was such a shame about what happened to her. Poor Charlie took it real hard."
Mulder felt something stir in his head. "Who's Charlie, Mrs. Paige?"
"Charles Barnett. He was her boyfriend. They met about a year ago." She chuckled. "I swear, it was love at first sight for those two. After a month they were nearly inseparable."
Scully asked, "What can you tell us about him?"
"Well, he moved into the neighborhood about five years ago. Had his own apartment and worked in a warehouse not too far from here. I didn't really get to know him till he and Sharleen hit it off. He was probably one of the politest young men around here. Oh, they were such a wonderful couple!"
"Do you know where Mr. Barnett is?"
"I haven't seen him since the day after Sharleen was killed. He was out of town that week. In Peoria, I think. Can't remember if it was on business or not." Her face became very serious. "That was a terrible time, what with the police comin' to tell Sharleen's mom that she'd been killed. She cried so hard. Anyway, Charlie showed up the next morning and tried to speak with her mother. But she wouldn't see nobody, and raised such a fuss I came out to see what the racket was about.
"There was Charlie. Poor man looked like he was in a state of shock. Had this wild, hard look on his face. But not like he was grievin' or something." She paused to think before continuing. "It was more like he was angry.
"Anyway, I tried to comfort him some. I said, 'Don't worry Charlie, the police will get the bastards that did this.' Charlie didn't say anything. Just gave me a look that froze my heart. He told me, 'The police won't catch them, Mrs. Paige. No one has any idea who did it.'"
Mrs. Paige stopped talking and stared at her tea. After a moment, she looked up at them and said, "I swear, I was starting to get frightened by the man. It was like all the sweetness in him had gotten swallowed up by something dark and mean. I asked him, 'Charlie, you ain't gonna do something rash, are you?'
"He seemed to wake up at that point, like some humanness had come back to him. 'No,' he said, 'I am not going to do anything. Not anything at all.' Charlie left then, and nobody's seen him since."
Scully said, "Mrs. Paige, you told Sharleen's mother not to worry, that the Wolf was going to get them. What did you mean by that?"
"Shucks, honey. I watch the news. Two gang kids killed in the past two days during the full moon. Ain't hard to figure out the Wolf knows who killed her and is going after'em. He just taken his time about killin 'em, that's all."
"That's right, Inspector. Charles Barnett," said Mulder into his portable phone. He and Scully were back in their car, driving to the address of Barnett's apartment that Mrs. Paige had given them. "We're on our way over to his apartment right now. We'll need a warrant. Thanks, Inspector. We should also get someone over to Mrs. Paige's to get a statement and a description of Barnett." Mulder hung up.
"Somehow I don't think you are going to wait for a warrant, Mulder."
"Look at the time, Scully. It's nearly seven o'clock. It's gong to be dark real soon."
"So you think Charles Barnett's the werewolf?"
"What Mrs. Paige told us about him fits very close with all the data we've learned so far. He's our chief suspect, werewolf or not. And something tells me we don't want to corner him after sunset. Maybe we'll get lucky and catch him coming out the front door on his way to pay the gang a visit."
After knocking and receiving no answer, Mulder kicked in the door to Barnett's apartment. There was no response from inside. Mulder glanced back at Scully, who stood near, gun drawn, ready to protect his back. She returned his glance and nodded. Then Mulder dived into the doorway, gun first, as Scully followed behind.
Mulder expected a bare apartment, or one filled with furniture slashed and smashed, as if by a great beast. Instead, it was rather ordinary. The living room contained a threadbare couch, coffee table, and a few easy chairs. Some pictures hung on the walls. A quick check of the kitchen and bedroom verified the place as empty.
"I guess we missed him, Mulder," Scully said.
"Smell the air, Scully. It has that 'unused' smell. I don't think he or anybody has been in here for more than a week."
They set about examining the place. Everything was neat and orderly. The bed was mad, and clothing hung in the closet. The kitchen was spotless, and food was in the cupboards.
"You know, Scully, I don't think he's been here since Sharleen William's murder. Like he left to go out of town and never came back here."
Scully nodded in agreement. She moved to the coffee table. There sat a picture of two people. One was a pretty, young, black woman. She resided in the embrace of a young black male. Behind them was the lake shore. Scully pointed at the picture. "Charles Barnett, I presume."
Mulder nodded. "Well, at least we have a photo to work with now. Once the police arrive, we'll start taking the place apart more thoroughly."
"Do you think we will find him before dark?"
Mulder stared out the living room window, into a red sunset. "I hope so, Scully. I hope so."
Chicago Precinct House
Mulder and Scully trooped wearily into Hampton's office. They had spent the last few hours trying to run down Charles Barnett, without success. An APB failed to turn up a sighting before night fell. Questioning his neighbors and co-workers also turned up little useful information. They all corroborated the details of Mrs. Paige, that Barnett was a quiet man who did not disturb anybody.
"So nobody has seen him and no one knows where he might be?" asked Hampton.
"That's about it, Inspector," replied Mulder.
Hampton nodded in resignation. "Well, that might have been too much to hope for. At least now we have a name and a face thanks to your efforts."
Scully asked, "What about the remaining gang members?"
Hampton sighed. "They refused our protection and left custody early this morning. There was little we could do to hold them short of charging them with a crime."
"Where are they now."
"They've holed up in one of their hangouts in a tenement on the West Side. We've got them under heavy surveillance. Unmarked cars and cameras are keeping a close watch on any activity in the area."
Mulder said, "That doesn't sound to covert."
"It's the best we can do, Agent Mulder. If the killer makes a move on them, we want to be ready to nail him."
Mulder stared fixedly on the wall for a moment. He'd been thinking about this moment all day. Best get it over with, he thought. Then he turned back to Hampton and said, "Inspector Hampton, we have reason to believe that there is something not human about our suspect."
Hampton gave Mulder a cross-eyed look. "Are you about to give me that werewolf crap again? I told you such tabloid nonsense has no part in this investigation."
"Then how do you explain the severity of the damage to the murder victims? You saw the autopsy reports. Something with tremendous strength killed those boys, and there is evidence that some animal, a wolf, was involved."
"That is hardly proof of anything, Mr. Mulder. There isn't any evidence that anyone has actually seen such a thing."
"No one? Then what about Mrs. Paige's statement? You did read it?
Hampton dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "The ramblings of an old woman. She probably saw a dog or something and came up with this story."
Mulder stared hard at Hampton. Hampton stared right back.
"Then, Inspector, why does her story seem to match the data and conclusions of this?" He tossed the statistician's missing-persons analysis on Hampton's desk. "Recognize it? Your department commissioned it two years ago. I found it misplaced and buried."
Hampton stared at the file. For a moment, he seemed taken off guard. Then his confidence returned. "Ah, yes, that," he said. "His conclusions were quite fanciful, but not helpful. It was misplaced probably because nobody cared about it."
I light suddenly went on in Mulder's head. He said, "Inspector, when did you start thinking it was a werewolf that was involved?"
"A werewolf. A minute ago you just dismissed my idea as 'werewolf crap.'"
"So?" he said, looking puzzled.
"I never mentioned a werewolf to you before. You were blowing something off that I hadn't even told you yet." Mulder's eyes bored into Hampton. "Can you explain that, Inspector?"
Hampton opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. All the color had drained from his face, and his ears burned red. Suddenly he could not meet Mulder's eyes.
Mulder persisted. "Do you have something you'd like to tell us, Inspector?"
Hampton said nothing.
Mulder sighed. "Something strange is going on here, Inspector. I think these kids are in real trouble. You have to bring them in and keep them under guard. You have to tell your men-"
"Tell, them what, Agent Mulder?" Hampton interrupted. "Tell them that some werewolf is out to kill them? I don't think they would be convinced. And if the news media heard about this...no. No, the department doesn't need that kind of publicity. The only monster out there is some man who has targeted this gang for revenge. If he shows up, we will catch him."
"Something tells me you yourself don't even think it's a man doing this," Mulder said softly.
Hampton glared sharply at Mulder. "I have reached a decision. Now that we have a name and a face, you and Agent Scully are no longer needed here. As of right now, you are both officially off the case. I don't want to see you near this precinct house or the gang's hideout either. I suggest you take the first flight out of Chicago immediately."
"Fine, Inspector," said Mulder. "You handle it your way." Mulder turned around and walked out of the office, pausing only long enough to be sure that Scully was following him.
Out in the hall, she told him, "Well, that was constructive. So what do we do now, Mulder?"
"There's not much we can do, Scully. It's their case. Hampton will keep us away from the surveillance, and I don't think it would be a good idea to tell the other police to watch out for a werewolf." He sighed. "All we can do is wait."
From an abandoned apartment a few blocks away, the video team had set up their equipment. From the windows, the team could see the front entrance of the gang's second floor hideout. Using a combination of telescopic lenses and low light intensifiers, they could see quite well.
Hampton came into the room. "Anything happening?" he asked of Officer Stewart, the man leading the surveillance operation.
Stewart said, "At about seven they barricaded themselves inside. They haven't come out since then, and there's been very little activity around them also."
Hampton stood there and thought about this. He passed his eyes over the video displays which were under the watch of the other team members. He nodded in satisfaction. "all right. If anything happens, I want to know about it immediately."
Outside The Gang's Tenement Building
Detectives Ryan and DiGeorgio were sitting in their squad car. Ryan was in the driver's seat. They were drinking coffee and munching on doughnuts. At least, Ryan was eating doughnuts. DiGeorgio was nibbling on rice cakes.
"How can you eat those things?" Ryan asked him.
"Don't have a choice. The doctor said I gotta lower my cholesterol>"
"Yeah? But do you have to suffer to do it? Why don't you at least put some peanut butter on them or something?"
"Kinda would defeat the purpose, wouldn't it?"
Their job was to keep watch on the front entrance to the tenement building wherein the gang was holed up. It was supposed to be covert surveillance, but both men know better. Two white guys in an unmarked car in this neighborhood would only mean one thing. They both hoped that if the killer made a move on the gang, he's be stupid enough to ignore them.
DiGeorgio sighed and put down his rice cake. He opted for a sip of (decaffeinated) coffee. As he was raising his cup, Ryan said, "Hey, what's that?"
Ryan pointed to the other side of the street, down away from them. "Over there, to our left. Across the street."
They saw a shadowy shape moving along the sidewalk on the other side of the street. It was moving closer, parallel to their car.
"Hit it with the light," DiGeorgio said.
Ryan fumbled with the lamp. By the time he got the lamp activated, the shape had drawn up right across from them.
"There," said Ryan. The beam illuminated something large and four-footed. But only for a second as it took off running the moment the light hit it. It sprinted down the sidewalk, then dodged through some parked cars as it crossed the street behind their car. The shape vanished into the shadows.
Ryan said, "Huh, looked like a dog."
"Biggest dog I've ever see," replied DiGeorgio.
"Awww, you get all kinds. Have you ever seen an Irish Wolfhound?"
Behind the car, two large eyes stared at the detectives. Then they shifted to gaze at the tenement building beside it. Creeping through the shadows, the dark shape moved closer.
Inside The Gang's Hideout
The two gang members on watch duty were finding it hard to stay awake. That things were quiet did not make things any easier. While the two struggled to keep watch, the other four tried to sleep on the furniture and floor. The watchers were both trying to stifle yawns when the noise began.
Grown louder over the sounds of snoring was a steady clicking sound. Click-click-click... It was not unlike the sound of an animal's toenails on concrete. When both boys recognized what the sound was, they snapped awake. Tension banished sleep. Immediately the watch began rousing the other members. In a few moments five pistols and a pump-action shotgun were pointed at the barred windows and door. All of them heard the noise, and all of them felt fear because of it. The sound, they noted, was increasing in volume, which could only mean the source was coming closer.
The sound grew louder and louder. Whatever it was, it was drawing very near. Presently they began to hear a snuffing noise, like something was sniffing at the ground. Most people would think a dog was walking down the walkway outside the apartment. The gang knew better, for it was not just the noise that they sensed. Growing stronger and stronger was the sheer presence of the thing. Something tremendous and powerful was out there, coming closer. The presence struck fear into their hearts. They trembled, and sweat ran down their faces.
The sounds reached the door and stopped. The silence that followed was think with fear. Each gang member had some vision of the monster that was out there. No one dared to breathe. Fingers tightened on triggers.
There came the sound of sniffing again, louder now as whatever it was sniffed around the bottom of the door. Then the clicking resumed, and the presence passed on down the walkway. The gang listened, guns pointed, until the sound had passed into silence. When they could hear it no more, they relaxed, nearly collapsing as the tension of the moment broke.
Tiny dared to speak. "Maybe it was just a dog after all?" he suggested hopefully. BJ merely shook his head. He was about to say something to the gang when the wall to the next apartment blew inward. They all threw up their hands and dived for cover as plaster sprayed over them. They screamed as something very dark and powerful appeared in the hole. Then, they started shooting.
Video Surveillance Team
Senior Officer Stewart came in, bringing fresh coffee and doughnuts. "Anything happen while I was gone?" he asked of the watchers.
"Not much," said one of them. "A young couple came by, then a drunk. Oh, and a dog came by, sniffing at the doorways not fifteen minutes ago. Big dog, too."
"Yep. We appear to have the front end covered."
Stewart grunted and peered at the screen. The screen showed a grainy, low-light shot of the walkway in front of the apartment. The chain link fencing on the building's side obscured the view somewhat.
Nodding in satisfaction, Stewart turned to leave. He had his hand on the door when one of the watchers said, "Hey, what's that?"
Immediately, Stewart was back at the screen. "What did you see," he asked.
"It looked like there was movement in the abandoned apartment next door. Something moving the in the window." They both stared at the screen for a few moments. But whatever it was did not reappear. "I guess it was nothing," the man said lamely.
Stewart only nodded, never taking his eyes off the screen. He was reaching for his radio when all hell broke loose.
Ryan and DiGeorgio were moving even before the radio call telling them to move in was given. They had heard the screams and the gunshots. Both men left the car, drew their guns, and ran into the building. They bounded up the steps to the second floor. Upon reaching the walkway leading to the apartment, they stopped. Experienced cops, they knew better than to charge headlong into unknown trouble. Ryna peered around the corner. Seeing a clear walkway, he looked back at DiGeorgio to see if he was ready. They nodded at each other. Ryan went around the corner, with DiGeorgio following to provide cover. They cautiously approached the apartment. From inside came the sounds of screams, gunshots, and smashing noised. Ryan almost swore it sounded like furniture was being tossed about.
"Joe," said Ryan. "What the fuck is going on in there?" His partner only shrugged.
Before they got close to the apartment door, the window beside it blew outward in a blast of glass and wood. The cause of this was the body of a gang member. The body bounced off the chain-link fencing and collapsed in a heap. Following immediately was another gang member. He was alive, but bleeding from a wound to his thigh. He had a pistol in his hand and he turned to point it back into the apartment.
Later, neither cop could explain why they did not shoot him down right then and there. Perhaps it was the fact the boy had barely noticed them and only had eyes for the apartment. Perhaps it was the sheer terror on his face that gave them pause. In any case, the boy did not even look at Ryan and DiGeorgio standing there with guns drawn. The boy emptied his gun at something inside the apartment. Then he tried to pick up the body beside him. When he realized that the person was dead, he dropped the body and limped away from the cops, down the walkway to the stairs at the far end.
"Jesus," said Ryan. He shouted into his radio, "Ryan here. We've got one suspect heading downstairs." He turned to DiGeorgio. "Let's hit the apartment."
The apartment, meanwhile, had fallen silent. As one, they stuck their guns into the open window, shouting "Police!" At first, they could make out little as it was too dark. Before they could turn on their flashlights they heard a growling. In the dim light they caught the shine of eyes that were clearly not human. In an instant a large animal had launched itself through the window. It flew between them and landed on the walkway. They barely had time to recognize the dog-like form before it had bounded away and vanished.
"Joe," said Ryan. "What just happened here?"
DiGeorgio only shrugged.
Scully was awakened by the ringing of the phone. With a hand numbed by sleep she fumbled for the receiver. "Hello," she murmured.
"Scully? It's Mulder."
"Get dressed. Our suspect just paid the gang a visit."
Scully snapped awake. "Ok, I'll be ready in five minutes."
They arrived at the tenement building thirty minutes later. It was eerily like a repeat of the night before. There were the flashing lights, the yellow tape, the milling crowds of spectators and police. This time, however, Hampton was not there to greet them. Nevertheless, their FBI badges got them past the perimeter and into the building. T hey followed the trail of police gathering evidence all the way to the gang's apartment. The area outside the front door was littered with broken glass and wood fragments. And a body, which was being photographed. Officer Stewart of the surveillance team greeted them.
"Agents Mulder and Scully. I thought Inspector Hampton had taken you off the case?"
Mulder replied, "Yes, he did. But we'd thought we'd stick around a while."
Stewart nodded. "Well, come on in. We've just begun cataloguing the crime scene. I'm Officer Stewart, by the way. I was with the video team when the incident occurred." Stewart led them through the door. Their feet crunched on the broken glass.
The living room was a disaster. One wall had caved in. Plaster had scattered over everything. The furniture was all knocked about or smashed. Scully and Mulder noted the abundance of bullet holes in everything. What was truly shocking, however, was the blood. There was blood splashed everywhere. Blood had even pooled on the floor. It was evident where it probably came from. The bodies of three young black boys were cast about the room, dead and broken. They were quite a sight, with gashes and bullet holes in their bodies.
Mulder and Scully stood there, staring open-mouthed at the sight. Presently Mulder regained his composure and said, "Officer Stewart, what happened here?"
"You tell me. We have four dead boys. Two survived. One of them, their leader, escaped relatively unhurt. The other was busted up pretty badly. For the rest..." Stewart trailed off. After a moment's contemplation, he continued. "We can't figure this out. One was clearly shot dead by the others. He just has bullet wounds. But the other three, well, it's like they were mauled by some animal. We know that that one," he gestured to the body outside, "probably died after being thrown out the window. No small feat as both windows were barricaded by wooden boards nailed to the wall from the inside. The first two officers on the scene got to witness that first hand. But what the heck could have the strength to do that?" The man shrugged helplessly. "It's like they were mauled by a bear or something. I can't even begin to explain how that wall collapsed."
Mulder and Scully exchanged glances. Their worst fears had been confirmed. Scully asked Stewart, "Was any sort of animal seen around the time of the attack?"
"In fact, yes. The officers I mentioned earlier were nearly knocked over by a large dog that was in the apartment. Considering the amount of shooting that occurred, I'm amazed it was still alive."
"Has it been seen since."
"No, not at all."
Mulder glanced at the other police officers in the apartment. "Where's Inspector Hampton?" he asked.
Stewart sighed. "I called him over and hour ago. I told him just about what I told you. He just listened to me and hung up. I haven't been able to reach him since then."
"Was he in his office when you last talked to him?"
"Yes, he was."
Mulder turned to Scully. "Scully, I think we need to pay Hampton a visit."
The Precinct House
Hampton was still in his office when Mulder and Scully arrived. He was sitting in the darkness, staring out of the window. He didn't spare them a glance when they came in.
Mulder went right up to his desk. He said, "How long have you known about the Wolf, Inspector Hampton?"
Hampton didn't answer right away. He took a deep breath and brought his right fist to his face. Rubbing his cheek with his knuckles, he said, "We knew something was happening when it all began five years ago. We heard the rumors on the streets, but I never thought. . ."
"That it actually _existed_." He turned his chair to face Mulder. "Five years ago, when the disappearances started, we didn't know what to think. At first we thought it was some vigilante or psycho in Corrections, because we were losing criminals right after they got out of jail. Be we couldn't connect it to anybody. And we never found a trace of those who disappeared."
"You didn't try and stop it?" Mulder said accusingly.
Hampton looked at him in annoyance. "What makes you think we didn't try? Or that we didn't care? Contrary to what you might think, we don't take kindly to anybody disappearing, even criminals most people would rather see dead. We did try. But we couldn't guard every criminal. If it wasn't someone we were watching, then it was some other poor guy. If it wasn't one month, then they'd disappear the next month. and they just _vanished,_ without a trace." Hampton sighed. "After about a year, the street rumors started coming in, about some monster that was taking people away. The older folks called it the Wolf." Hampton shook his head. "It was all too fantastic."
Scully spoke up. "So you chose to cover it up."
"Yes, as horrible as it sounds, we did. By closing all official investigation, that left only street stories. It was very easy to hide a problem that was already hiding itself very well. As we hoped, it all faded into the background." Hampton turned back to the window. "I'd always hoped the stories weren't true, that there was some ration explanation for it all. That a human was behind all this. At least, humans we can deal with. When you two got assigned to help, I thought maybe that rational explanation would be found. But it wasn't. The rumors were all true, all true..."
"You could have tried to protect those boys, Inspector," said Scully.
"How? I told you, we did try. We tried watching potential victims. We tried warning them. And we still failed. Sooner or later, they disappeared. And frankly, the fact that most of them were pretty hardened criminals didn't make most of us too unhappy. Which reminds me. Before you forget, those boys must have done something to attract the attention of this creature. Considering the type of people this thing hunts, can you imagine what they might have done?"
Mulder said, "So you're saying they've earned their fate, Hampton?"
Hampton only shrugged.
Mulder was about to say something more when Scully's hand on his shoulder stopped him. "Come on, Mulder. Let's get out of here." He stared at her for a moment, then nodded. Hampton watched them leave, then turned to stare out the window into the growing dawn.
Striding down the hall, Mulder asked Scully, "Now what?"
"Well, Hampton had a point. That gang obviously did something to attract its attention. You said yourself the Wolf only goes after violent criminals. And probably, violent crimes."
Mulder nodded. "Sharleen Williams' rape and murder."
"Could be. I bet that the gang is involved in her death. The only way to find out for certain is to question the survivors."
"They're being held at Cook County hospital under guard while they're being treated for their injuries. Let's pay them a visit."
Cook County Hospital.
They went to talk to BJ, the gang's leader, first because he was in better shape than Tiny, the other survivor. BJ had only sustained a deep wound on his left leg during the deadly encounter of the night. He refused to talk to either of them. They tried to shake him up by mentioning Sharleen William's murder, but that only made him clam up tighter. Finally, they gave up. They left BJ and went over to the ICU in hopes they could talk to Tiny.
The head surgeon of the ICU was not too keen on letting them talk to him. "I'm not sure I should let you do this," said Dr. Hamilton. "He's busted up pretty bad. He has fractures in his arms and legs. He's also suffered some serious internal bleeding. He'll probably live if he makes it through the next twenty-four hours. Kid's lucky that he didn't have any spinal injury."
"We need to talk to him, Doctor," insisted Scully. "We are trying to locate the suspect who did this and we need to know what he knows. Every minute counts."
Hamilton was silent as he calculated the ramifications. "He his fairly lucid and out of immediate danger... Ok, you can talk to him, as long as I am there."
"That's fine, Doctor. Just remember that everything you hear is strictly confidential. This is part of a murder investigation."
The surgeon nodded.
Dr. Hamilton led Mulder and Scully through the process of putting on sterile outfits. Then he brought them before the boy. He lay in the hospital bed, swathed in splints and bandages. His eyes were closed in sleep.
Hamilton said, "You're fortunate his trachea was not damaged, or he'd have a tube in his throat. He's asleep."
"Can you wake him?"
But there was no need. Tiny had heard their voices and opened his eyes. Hamilton stepped forward. He said, "Richard, can you hear me?"
A faint nod.
"There are a couple of people here who want to talk to you. Do you feel like talking to them?"
Another faint nod. Hamilton waved Mulder and Scully forward.
"Hello, Richard," said Scully.
"Tiny," came a whispered reply.
"Tiny," she echoed. "Can you tell us what happened last night?"
Tiny was silent. Then he started to cry. "Oh god, man," he moaned. "They're all dead, all dead. The Wolf killed them. He killed the guys..." he sobbed. Dr. Hamilton started to look apprehensive, and began checking the monitors. Tiny stopped crying and continued. "He was so strong. We musta shot him twenty times, but he didn't die."
Scully asked him gently, "Do you know why the Wolf attacked you, Tiny?"
"It was Vonzell," Tiny whispered. "He told me about it."
"About the woman. About what he, and BJ, and Darnell, and Arthur had done."
"What did they do?"
Mulder and Scully left the ICU and headed back to the wing where BJ was being held.
"So that's it then," said Mulder. "The missing piece of the puzzle."
Scully nodded. "BJ and some of his fellow gang members raped and murdered Sharleen Williams. We should have guessed that from the start."
"Now we have proof. Maybe with Tiny's testimony was can bring BJ up on charges for the crime. Let's go confront Brian Johnson. With what Tiny told us, we might shake loose a confession. Perhaps we will find some legal justice for her murder instead of cold-blooded revenge."
"What do we do about Charles Barnett?"
"What can we do, Scully? Hampton was right. We can't catch him and it might not be a good idea to try." He shook his head. "Look, let's concentrate on BJ right now."
When they reached the room containing BJ, they found everything in complete confusion. Police officers were arguing with plain-clothed detectives. BJ was noticeably absent.
"What happened here," Mulder asked of one of the officers.
The officer snorted. "That gang kid managed to get loose and escape. We're our looking for him right now. But it looks like he got away clean." The officer stormed out into the hall.
They found an unoccupied corner and started discussing the situation.
Mulder said, "Ok, now what?"
"Mulder, you said the full moon period would last about four days. Tonight will be the fourth night. We have to assume Barnett is still out on the hunt."
"With BJ on the run that blows any chance of protecting him." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"If the police can't find him, what do you think the odds are that Barnett will?"
"I'd say the odds are pretty good, Scully. The Wolf seems to be very good at finding people. From what Mrs. Paige told us, Barnett didn't have any idea who killed Sharleen the night after her murder. But it sure looks like he found out." He looked at his watch. "Well, we still have a long time till night. Maybe we can help the police to find BJ."
The Precinct House. ^8:21pm.
The day passed with no results. Bulletins were issued. Photos were passed around. Radio cars combed the streets. But not a sign of Brian Johnson or Charles Barnett was found.
"This is incredible," said Mulder. "Half the police force is looking for a kid who has a bad leg, and we still can't find him."
They were back in Mulder's temporary office. Solemnly he was cleaning up the papers that littered the room. He paused in order to stare out of the windows. Late evening was turning into night.
Scully suggested, "Maybe he's gotten out of the city?"
"Maybe. But if he thought he could get away like that, then why didn't the whole gang try to make a run for it yesterday? Something tells me that the Wolf would have caught up with them pretty quickly. I think those boys knew that, so they tried to stay put."
"What do you think will happen to BJ if the Wolf finds him first?"
He sighed and tossed a handful of computer printouts into the recycling bin. "Probably kill him. Just another disappearance. What is it Scully?" He had seen a thoughtful look pass across her face. "You just look like you thought of something."
"From what we've learned, this...entity, used to be very covert. Except for rumors, there was no direct proof of its existence."
"And now it's changed its pattern. It's breaking its own rules. It's like it is trying to make a point. I mean, hasn't these murders been just a little melodramatic, what with stalking them and leaving the bodies as some sort of sign? Now, what would be the most melodramatic way to finish out the last victim?"
Mulder paced the room was he thought about this. He stopped. "It's the old cliché, Scully. Return to the scene of the crime?"
"Right. Barnett might take BJ back to the scene of Sharleen William's murder. It's the only place we know that they are both associated with."
Mulder went to the desk and pulled out the file on Sharleen Williams. "The address should be in here somewhere. Your idea is a long shot, but it's the only one we've got." He grinned. "Maybe our luck will keep holding out."
The West Side
An Abandoned Store
Mulder and Scully parked a few blocks away and approached the building on foot. The abandoned building was once a store of some sort, but neglect and vandals had ruined it. The front windows, which were once plate glass, were gone. The door was gone too.
"How do you want to handle this?" asked Scully.
"I'll lead the way. You back be up."
They drew their guns and entered the building.
The interior was empty, except for the litter left by vagrants and junkies. There was an open door on the left side of the far wall. They could here noise coming from it. Cautiously they approached it. When Mulder reached the door, he stopped. The door opened inward, towards the main part of the room beyond. This allowed Mulder and Scully to peer through the crack between the door and the door frame. Mulder waved her to stand in front of him, and he looked through the crack from over her shoulder.
Mulder saw a long, rectangular room. Here, the roof had fallen in, leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling that let in some light. Moon light. There were various debris on the floor, old cardboard boxes and remains of the ceiling. But what really drew his attention was the two occupants in the room. At the far end was BJ, but Mulder only spared him a glance as his attention was captured by the large moving shape pacing the center of the room. There walked the largest wolf Mulder had ever seen. It must have stood nearly four feet high at the shoulder. Its fur was a glossy black on top with a dark grey belly. it's paws looked to be as thick as his wrists. And yet, it was more than just the way it looked that held his gaze. It was the sheer presence of the thing. The Wolf had an aura of rage and anger that was so intense Mulder felt humbled by it. Beside him, he could hear Mulder catch her breath, as she too was awed by the sight.
The Wolf was pacing back and forth in front of BJ, clearly bent n terrifying him. It was certainly succeeding. BJ's eyes were wide with fright and he whimpered with fear. Suddenly the Wolf stopped pacing and ran up to BJ. It snarled right in his face. BJ cried out in terror, but he was not so far gone that he was beyond defending himself. BJ's right hand found a short length of wood. He brought it around, aiming for the Wolf's head. The Wolf, however, was too fast for him. Its head came left and caught the hand in its mouth. BJ screamed as his hand and forearm were savaged by the Wolf's teeth. BJ fell back against the wall, crying and clutching his arm to his chest.
The Wolf never let its eyes move from BJ. It continued to stare even as BJ had slipped his arm from the Wolf's mouth. It settled back on its haunches. Then, after a moment, it stood up.
Mulder had trouble grasping what he was seeing. As the creature stood, it changed. Fur became flesh. Paws became hands and feet. In a couple of eye blinks the Wolf had taken the appearance of a young, black male, perhaps in his late twenties. He was completely naked, about as tall as Mulder himself. Well built, but not extremely muscular. The only thing that hadn't changed in the transformation was that tangible aura of rage.
Charles Barnett, for that who it was, gazed down at the sobbing heap at his feet without showing any emotion on his face. One of his hands went to his mouth and fingered the blood that covered his lips and chin. Then he reached down and grabbed BJ by the throat. With no effort, Barnett hauled BJ into the air and held him at arm's length, suspended from the ground. BJ choked in his grasp. Softly, Barnett said to him, "Are you ready to die, little man?"
Mulder decided it was time to act. He burst into the room, shouting, "Freeze, FBI!" Scully followed, taking a covering position at his side.
Barnett slowly lowered BJ and turned around to face them. He did not release his hold on BJ, however. Instead, he let the now unconscious body of BJ dangle from his hand. Barnett studied Mulder and Scully, almost with amusement, it seemed. He said, "About time. I heard you there five minutes ago."
"Let the boy go," demanded Mulder.
"And if I don't, what will you do? Shoot me? I took five shots in the head last night. Can you do better?"
Mulder opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. He was fairly nonplussed. For once, the thing he had been searching for was right there in front of him. No myth, no story, no circumstantial evidence, just the real thing. A werewolf was there, and he didn't know what to do about it. Not only that, but it was being sarcastic to him.
Scully, sensing Mulder's uncertainty, took the initiative. "Who are you?" she asked.
Barnett chuckled. "Who am I? _We_ are the Wolf." He made a mocking bow with his head.
"And what is the Wolf?"
He smiled. "The Wolf is a hunter. It seeks the darkness that lies within the souls of men." Barnett snorted slightly. "I know, it sounds pretty corny, but sometimes the truth is."
Mulder found his voice. He asked, "What is this darkness?"
Barnett's face suddenly took on a hard, serious, look. "You want to know what the darkness is? Ok, I'll tell you." He stared at Mulder for a moment. Mulder suddenly felt that he was being examined in a way he never imagined. Like Barnett was seeing parts of his soul that he never knew existed. Then, Barnett spoke. "You seek it, FBI man, although you bury its definition in the rhetoric of your profession. You see, the darkness is all the rage, all the anger, the senseless hate and violence of humanity. You may call it evil. I think of it as human nature. Whatever you call it, it's a force all its own."
Scully asked, "Is that why you only hunt violent criminals?"
He smiled at her. "Yes, it is. So, you know something of me already. I suppose I was to be found out eventually. You see, the Wolf hungers for such people full of darkness. And in this city, there are a lot of them. It, _we_, hunger for the darkness within them."
"Why is that?"
"Because the Wolf _is_ the darkness. All that hate and anger, it doesn't just go away. It just pools somewhere between now and forever. And sometimes it grows so big that part of it come alive. The Darkness gave birth to its own destroyer, because the darkness is a hunger that can feed on itself. Only it never gets satisfied." His face became somber. "Once upon a time I was alive. Then I died, murdered actually. In death the Wolf came to me and grafted itself to my soul. Why me? I don't know. All I can remember is waking up with someone else's face and the Wolf inside my head."
Scully asked, "Why have you been killing those boys?"
Barnett's face darkened with anger. "You know why, FBI woman! They killed Sharleen, the woman I loved. They killed the only thing that made me whole. That made _us_ whole. The Wolf may eat the darkness, but no matter how much it eats it will never be satisfied. Except by love, the only thing that can fill the void." Tears came to his eyes. His shoulders slumped and he hung his head down. "Oh, Sharleen!" he moaned. He brought his head up enough to look at them. "With her, we were happy. The hunger was filled. We didn't need to hunt, anymore." Anger replaced the grief on his face. He raised the unconscious body of BJ to his face. "But this piece of shit destroyed that. Him and his friends. The one time We tried to be normal, to go into the world by ourselves without Sharleen nearby, just trying to hang on to the love...everything was ruined."
He stared at Mulder and Scully. They flinched at the strength of the grief and rage reflected there. "I wasn't in Chicago the night she died. When it happened, we came running back as fast as the Wolf could go." Barnett dropped BJ back to his side. "We arrived just in time to see her body taken away."
Barnett raised BJ again. He started to shake him to punctuate his words. "They thought they could get away with it! They-were-wrong! Their crime was written in the darkness of their souls, there for me to find. I would have killed them all that night, but there wasn't enough time. The period of the full moon was over. I had to wait another month before the Wolf could come out to hunt again. But in the meantime I did my own hunting. I tracked them down, and waited."
Mulder said, "So you set out to have revenge. What about justice?"
"Justice?! These boys had killed the most precious thing to us. The only just was revenge."
Scully asked, "And what would Sharleen have thought of your revenge?"
Barnett's face fell. "You are very perceptive. She understood the Wolf, and why we hunted. She did not approve, but she understood, and she loved me anyway. And that helped us to be...happy."
Scully pressed her point. "Do you think she would have approved of your murdering those boys?"
"I don't know," he said. Abruptly, he threw BJ at their feet. "Here, take him. The Wolf is through with him. Find some human justice if you are able. If you don't, then perhaps he and I will meet again." He turned away and stared at the night sky through the hole in the ceiling. Barnett's voice took on a far-away tone. "The darkness never ends. There will always be someone to hunt. There will always be the hunger. I'm going now."
Mulder called out, "Wait!" But in an instant, Barnett had changed back into wolf form. But not into the monstrous creature they had first seen. This one was smaller, more benign. Like a large dog. The Wolf glanced back at them, then leaped up through the hole, and was gone.
Mulder swore and strode over to the hole. He stared through it, hoping to catch a glimpse. Scully had kneeled beside BJ and was checking the wounded arm. "Mulder, he's lost a lot of blood. I think he might lose his hand. Mulder?" He was still standing under the hole, staring raptly at the sky. "Mulder!" she said more forcefully.
He whirled around. "What?"
"We have to get him to a hospital. Help me carry him to the car." Together they gathered BJ up. But then the howl froze them both in their tracks. It was a long howl, that started low and rose in pitch. It seemed to last forever, rising up higher and higher in pitch and volume. Then it peaked, and lost pitch as it faded away.
They stared at each other. Mulder said, "Scully, I think Chicago has seen the last of the Wolf."
"This is Laura Canoy, WBEZ News.
"Earlier this morning, Chicago Chief Inspector Douglas Hampton announced his retirement from the Chicago police. When asked if his retirement had any relation to the recent deaths of a youth gang, Inspector Hampton declined to comment. His retirement comes on the heels of the charging of one of the last surviving gang members with the rape and murder of Sharleen Williams. That crime took place a little more than a month ago.
"In sports news, the Chicago Cubs..." THE END. The only monsters that hunt the streets of Chicago are those we create ourselves.