The Monster Next Door [Arthur]
June 20th, 2015
New York City, USA

The sky was never black here.

The man observed this quietly to himself with his head tipped back and eyes to the heavens.  It was what made him miss the Carpathians the most.  The stars there pierced their way through space so sharply that locals believed they actually cut through from the Umbra on the highest peaks.  When storm clouds built against the cliffs and worked their way over the land, the thunder was so ferocious that your bones shook and you knew Grandfather Thunder staked that territory as his own.

Here, though, the sky was pink.  The light pollution against the clouds had the sky looking like spun sugars.  No wonder he looked as though he never slept.


The man's head turned, attention called by the word (the accusation?) like it were a name.  He blinked black eyes through the shadows of the parking lot he was standing beside, furrowed a heavy brow while trying to distinguish who was approaching.  It was a woman in her early thirties with pretty wide-set features and a mane of brown hair worn up off her neck.  Recognition had that brow relaxing, and the rest of the man's posture as well.  He nodded and spoke only when she was near enough to hear him without his having to call out across pavement.

"Good evening, Becca."  His expression was flat, but it softened up with gratitude when he was offered a to-go package of wet wipes.  He withdrew his hands from his pockets to accept them, revealing in the dim light that they were caked with sludgy black blood.  He took his time and used the whole pack, scraping out from under his fingernails and into his nailbeds.  As he cleansed the filth from his hands in this world (and later tonight, the next), they spoke.

"I heard that you're going to be leaving."  Becca's voice was smooth and deep like a rich tone of amber, and drew the ear effortlessly.  Much of the command in her tone was taught by the man that she was speaking with.

At first he only grunted, but after a few moments of chill silence from the woman's part he added:  "To the Sept of Forgotten Questions."

"There?  Why?"

"To help."
"You're flipping a money pit in Denver, Arthur."
"Oh?  You know this for certain, do you?"

The look that he was fixed with by his packmate cracked a small smirk onto the man's face.  Finished with the wet wipes, now brown-and-red instead of white, he wadded them up and tossed them into a green iron public wastebin fixed to the bus stop nearby.

"You are being reluctant of work, Hangman Jury.  The more sweat and blood you put into the earth, the sweeter the fruits it bears."

A still-damp hand clapped onto her shoulder and stayed there-- he turned her about so that they could walk up the sidewalk with his arm across her back.  "You will all simply need to learn to survive without me."

December 1st, 2015
Lakewood, Colorado

Bringhurst Lane was quiet and affluent, with well-manicured lawns and mature trees to gather the frost on this first morning of December.  Some flowerbeds were covered while others simply wilted into hibernation.  The sun hadn't quite crested the eastern horizon just yet, but the sky was going pale where the morning was beginning to form.  In some driveways expensive cars idled to defrost-- BMWs and Porches and even one H2 (owned by the man that nobody in the neighborhood much cared for).  The birds that stuck around through the winter fluffed for warmth in tree branches and chirped every so often to one another.

In the center of the neighborhood block was a large two-story house, painted soft yellow with white trim and a white picket fence around the front yard to boot.  No car idled in the driveway, for the resident there was a wealthy widow and never needed to work a day in her life.  Somewhere behind those walls, according to the latest gossip, lived a monster.

No, not a monster.  It was her son, but he was a terrible thug.  If you looked at him wrong he would beat you into the pavement and come after anybody who tried to call the police on him.  He had great lawyers and never spent a day in jail but he would certainly come after you in the night if ever you tried.

They said that he preyed on children.  On housewives.  That was how he came to live at Mrs. Gaspar's house, he had seduced the old woman and would no doubt smother her in her sleep one of these nights to claim her fortune.

The children believed that he was a vampire.  One kid insisted werewolf, but nobody listens to children.

This monster of a man didn't socialize at all, but he'd been spied coming and going every so often.  He was a swarthy man, thick curly black hair tall on his head and broad features on his face.  One man swore he was a terrorist and that he was building pipe bombs in the garage to go blow up the airport, but he never had the gall to do anything besides gossip about this concern.  Others called him a racist-- Mrs. Shilby who lived on the edge of the cul-de-sac corrected him:  "No, I heard him when I called Mrs. Gaspar-- he's Eastern European."

Yeah?  Well he could still be a Muslim.

In truth, only one voice in that entire garble was correct, and that was 4-year-old McKenzie Franc.

He was a werewolf.  Garou.  The Scourge of the Shadow Lords.  Adren, a transplant from Europe-- England or France or something like that, according to the Cliaths that gossiped instead.  He was coming to grip the Grand Elder's balls in his fist and take the place by Storm, for Storm.  He had led many a coalition of packs into victory, seen Septs brought back up to glory before.  He was a Fixer, and he was coming to Fix Denver too, apparently.

Resentment spat poisonous on those tongues.  Fix us, they growled.  The fuck does he even know.

The Scourge knew one truth, at least.  That the sunrises in Denver were better by far than they were in New York City, and that Mrs. Gaspar had perfected the art of an early morning brew of strong black coffee.  And the view from her front porch would make the Rocky Mountains seem at least close to what the Carpathians had impressed in his heart.

Steam licked out from a mug that he held while seated out on the front porch, watching the sunrise in the southeastern sky.  He sipped to keep warm in the chill dawn morning and conceded to himself.

Perhaps this could be the place.

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