Four hours had passed since Hendricks locked me up. I could tell because he had a big, noisy grandfather clock set up along the wall across from me. During that time, I had paced my cage, bitten my collar, scratched at it, and tried to chew on the bars, all to Hendricks' great amusement. My teeth and claws were both sore now, and my collar hadn't budged an inch. I couldn't even adjust it, even though my fur underneath it was starting to itch. It may as well have been glued to me.
“Oh, don't stop yet," he said, taking a sip from the wine glass in his hand. “I'm sure it'll come off any time now!"
I growled at him, but went to lie down in the corner. I was completely at his mercy here, especially when he was right there watching me. I just had to accept that— for now, at least.
As I lay there, I began to wonder about other things. Who had bought me? Was it another demon, or some other type of magic criminal? What would they want with a Silverblood werewolf? I could think of dozens of possibilities, but none of them required a wolf that was immune to silver. And what about Kimberly? With me gone, she had nobody to take care of her. Nobody to cook for her, nobody to help take care of that bump on her head. Even more importantly, nobody to be with her on the night of her first change. The full moon was only four days away, and getting closer by the minute. And here I was, the only person who could help her, stuck in a cage and waiting to be sold to the highest bidder. I growled again, to myself this time. It wasn't too late. I could still get out of this, but not if I'd already given up. Shooting Hendricks a venomous glare, I sat up and started clawing at the collar again. The demon laughed, but I ignored him. We'd see who'd be laughing when I—
“Boss!" a shrill voice shrieked, breaking through my concentration. I stood up and saw the hyena monster from before walk into the room. In its jaws, it carried a bloody, gangly mess.
Oh my crap, I thought when I recognized it, and backed away. How the hell is he still alive?
“Well, it's about time you got back," Hendricks said, barely glancing at them as he took another sip of wine. “I expect more punctuality from my workers."
“Boss, it hurts!" the Octopus whined, hanging limp from the hyena's mouth. “Make it stop!"
“Why should I do that?" he snapped. “I gave you one simple job: get rid of Victor. And yet I still had to do it myself. Got myself stabbed in the process. Why should I reward you for that?"
The Octopus whined again, and I almost felt sorry for him. Until I remembered what he'd been doing to my mom for the past month.
“Help!" he pleaded, his blood still dripping steadily onto the floor beneath him.
Hendricks sighed dramatically and set his glass down. “Oh, very well, you pathetic excuse for a man." He picked up his cane and gave it a lazy flick. Immediately, the Octopus started the scream. His body writhed and contorted, and the hyena dropped him and backed away. His body kept convulsing, and the sounds of his screams echoed so much in the stone room that they were almost deafening. I felt like I was going to be sick watching him, but I couldn't pull my eyes away. His arms and legs all stretched out away from his body, and I could hear popping as they set themselves back in place. The red, exposed muscles that the road had torn away turned white again as pale skin grew to cover them. It went on for several minutes before he finally fell still with one last moan.
“Yes, yes, you're welcome," Hendricks said, picking up his wine again. “Becky, get him out of here. His screaming gave me a headache."
The hyena picked him up its mouth again and carried him away. It returned a minute later, and finally noticed me. It walked up to my cage and sniffed at me through the bars. The thing was bigger than a grizzly bear, and my timid side wanted to cower in the back of the cage with my tail between my legs. But Hendricks was watching, and I didn't want him to see me afraid, so I walked boldly up to the bars and growled at it. The hyena looked shocked for a second, and then opened its mouth and roared at me, showering me with hot spit. It lashed out with a paw bigger than my head, and the impact nearly knocked the cage over.
“Down, Becky," Hendricks ordered, and the monster immediately backed away and sat down. It looked at him and whined. “No, not now. Later."
The monster turned back to me, and I saw savage anger in its eyes. This thing wasn't just a dumb animal, it was intelligent.
“Do you like my Nandi Bear?" Hendricks asked, standing up to stand beside it. He put his hand on its back, like an owner stroking his dog. “They're actually a race of hyena native to Africa, infamous for the way they would eat the brains right out of people's skulls, but they went extinct hundreds of years ago. So I brought one back. The legends are true, though, and Becky isn't particular as to what type of brain she eats, so I would recommend against doing anything that would make me order her to kill you."
He snapped his fingers, and Becky the Nandi Bear came to sit in front of my cage again, glowering down at me with bloodshot eyes. I glared back for a few seconds, but then sat down and started working on my collar again. I needed to find a way out of here, not beat Grizzly Giggles in a staring contest.
Two hours later, I hadn't made any progress. Hendricks had long since stopped paying attention to me, and was reading a book while his wine glass kept refilling itself. Becky was still watching me, but seemed on the verge of falling asleep from boredom. I was lying on the floor now, having given up getting the collar off after my neck had started to bleed from all my scratching. Whatever kind of magic Hendricks had put into it, it wasn't coming off anytime soon, which meant I had to think of another way to get out of here.
The grandfather clock began to chime, and Hendricks finally put his book down and stood up.
“Time to go," he said, grabbing his cane. “Our customer is waiting for us."
Now was my chance, I realized as I got back to my paws. When he opened the cage door to let me out, I'd run. It wasn't a great plan, and I'd probably just end up getting lost in the mine, but maybe there was a chance I'd actually manage to get away. Becky growled at me, as if sensing what I was about to do, but Hendricks swatted her with his cane and she backed away. I tensed my muscles, ready to spring into action as soon as the door opened.
To my dismay, instead of opening the door he tapped the bars with his cane, and the entire thing floated off the ground.
“You must think I'm stupid," he said when he saw the look on my face. “Did you think I didn't know you were going to try to run?"
I growled in frustration, but didn't let my guard down. If he was going to sell me, he'd have to let me out of the cage eventually. And when he did, I'd be ready. He turned and walked out of the living room chamber, leaving Becky behind, and my cage floated after him. No lights flickered on in this hallway, and I could barely make out Hendricks' black coat ahead of me in the darkness.
“I'm selling you to a fine, upstanding man named Dan Fisher," he said as he walked. “He's involved in a number of illegal activities, and has a special interest in you."
I'll just bet he does, I thought, glaring at the demon's back.
“I won't tell you why," he went on. “I'll let him surprise you. Suffice to say that I think you'll fit in perfectly."
I got a chill down my spine, and I tried not to think about what a werewolf that couldn't change shapes could be used for in the paranormal criminal market.
A light appeared in front of us, but it wasn't one of the crappy lightbulbs Hendricks had set up around the mine. This one was bigger, and wasn't flickering. It almost looked like…
It is sunlight! I thought as we got closer. Hendricks had brought me to the entrance of the mine. If I was going to get away, that was the best place to do it. I started wracking my brain, trying to remember if I'd ever heard of a mine near my town. None came to mind, but that wasn't surprising. It wasn't like I'd ever cared about that stuff before today. We walked into the light, and I closed my eyes, trying to keep from being blinded after being in the dark for so long. When I opened them, I looked around, desperately trying to find any landmark that would tell me where I was.
There weren't any. That's because we were in a dingy old house.
“Fisher!" Hendricks shouted. “Where are you?"
I heard a surprised grunt from somewhere down the hall, and turned to see a lean, scraggly bearded man come running up to us.
“Mr. Hendricks!" he exclaimed, skidding to a stop on the gray carpet. “I'm sorry, I was—"
“I told you I would be here precisely at one o'clock," Hendricks said, putting both hands on top of his cane. “Did you think I would be late?"
“N- no sir," Fisher said, shaking his head. “I just wasn't expecting you to come in through the closet is all."
Closet? I turned around, and started when I saw that the door we'd just come through didn't lead back into the mineshaft anymore. It was just a tiny, empty room. Crap! He'd used magic to bring us here again. That meant we probably weren't anywhere near the mine right now. Were we even in my town anymore?
“I have a schedule to keep, Dan," Hendricks said, and then pointed at me with his cane. “One Silverblood werewolf, as promised."
“Ooh," Fisher came closer to inspect me through the bars, “he's a good lookin' one. Nice and strong!"
Hendricks grinned at me. “That is a female, Dan, so I suggest you stop calling her a he."
Fisher nodded, not looking like he was paying attention. “Some of the other guys figured out what I was doing," he said. “They started putting silver fillings in their dogs' teeth. You're sure this one is immune to that?"
Hendricks nodded. “Completely. You'll never lose another bet."
I looked from one of them to the other, trying to figure out what they were talking about. Why would he need a silverproof werewolf? And what did other dogs have to do with…
Suddenly, it dawned on me. Hendricks was selling me to Fisher so he could bet on me in dog fights. This wasn't as bad as some of the things I'd imagined, but it definitely struck closer to home. Once, Stacey and I had volunteered at the dog shelter to take care of dogs rescued from fights. Their faces had been torn apart, and some of them were even missing limbs. This sick creep actually wanted me to do that to them? I don't think so! I snarled at him, baring my teeth, and then snapped at him between the bars.
“She's a fighter, all right!" he cackled, taking a step back when I reached between the bars to swipe my claws at him. “Does she have a name?"
“She'll answer to Sparkles," Hendricks answered, giving me another wicked grin. “Now, you have payment to make. You know what I want, don't you?"
Fisher finally turned away from me to face him, and nodded. “You're looking for information, right?"
“My sources tell me you know where my brother is," the demon said, a greedy look coming into his black eyes. “Tell me, and I'll consider us even."
I sat down, dumbfounded. After going on and on about how insanely valuable Silverbloods were, Hendricks was going to sell me to a dog fighter for information?
Fisher nodded. “I've been hearing rumors from some of my other, uh, clients. They say there's another demon over on an island off the coast of Africa." He paused, and gave him a meaningful look. “An island that's not supposed to exist."
“Yes," Hendricks breathed, his eyes widening. He put his hand to his chin in thought. “Lemuria. That would explain so much. You have my thanks, Fisher. You also have my Silverblood. Good day."
And with that, Hendricks turned around, his coat flying out dramatically behind him, and tapped his cane on the ground. The hole opened up again, and he stepped casually over it, and was gone. A few seconds later, the hole closed in on itself.
“Oh, I got a Silverblood!" Fisher said to himself, sounding like a kid on Christmas morning. “Sparkles, you are going to make me rich! Let's get you ready to go. You're first fight is tonight!"
NEXT TIME: Hendricks sold Amber to a dog fighter? Maybe it won't be as bad as she thinks. Maybe it's just fancy new slang for dog shows? Or maybe Fisher actually wants her to kill other dogs so he can win money. And all the while, Kimberly's full moon is getting even closer.