Chapter 3: Offering
Monday, April 8th
Jed watched Wolfgang as he shook hands with Larry. The beast was suddenly attentive, and the combination of stress hormone, posture, and other tiny cues in Jed's slim companion drew its interest.
Wolfgang swallowed, displayed a semblance of composure and slowly nodded. "Anyway, we'll be sure to stay out of the way." Wolfgang moved his jaw as if he tried to suss out a sore tooth, then he released Larry's hand and managed a smile. Larry nodded once, then went back to leading his crew of loggers.
Jed caught Wolfgang's eye and jerked his head to the side. The color was already returning to Wolfgang's skin as he followed Jed over to relative privacy under an unusually large redwood. "What's going on?" Jed's voice was low, and he leaned in as he spoke.
Wolfgang cocked his head. "What do you mean?"
Jed raised an eyebrow. "Really? Don't play that game. I saw how you reacted when you touched him."
Wolfgang eyed Jed, then he looked casually at Larry. The lumber boss stared at them, his boot tapping in apparent nervousness. Wolfgang smiled and nodded at Larry. Larry flushed red, nodded back, then busied himself checking the cartoonishly long chainsaw at his feet. "Fine. He's afraid."
Jed glanced around at the uneasy faces. "Well, all of them are." He could smell the tension and the beast stirred at the emotion that lay thick in the air.
"Yeah. I know. It's different with him. He's afraid, generally, and of me," Wolfgang whispered and wet his lips. "There was no guilt associated with it, nothing like that. But there's definitely fear."
"Huh. No guilt." Jed made himself avoid looking at Larry. "So he's probably not responsible, but why be afraid of you?"
Wolfgang's eyes hardened. "It could definitely be him. Some don't have guilt for the things they've done." He sighed. "Either he's got another reason for seeing me as some sort of threat, or he's such a psychopath that he lacks guilt entirely." He scowled and shook his head. "Why am I telling you this? This isn't your issue." He took out his wallet. "Here." Wolfgang took out $100 and handed it over to Jed. "You did your part. Hang out for a bit, let me work."
Jed nodded. He stood off to the side, out of the way. The lumberjacks worked at felling a big, marked tree, so they continually checked where Jed, Wolfgang, and their fellows were during the process of working the long chainsaws. They had also set up rope guides to help pull the massive tree into the desired fall-path. Jed watched with interest and respect. These men and women knew their work. The nervousness in the air decreased as their focus shifted to something they could control with their own efforts and skills. It didn't take long, and the tree was expertly brought down right where they had intended with a crash of the trunk and limbs. Soon they fell to work cutting it up into manageable lengths for the logging trucks.
Wolfgang pulled the workers aside individually as they took breaks. All seemed eager to speak to him, and Jed made sure to notice Larry as Wolfgang did his sleuthing. Larry eyed Wolfgang warily as he made the rounds. Then, when Wolfgang finally got to Terri, the big blonde woman, Larry began to fidget.
Wolfgang looked totally engaged in what Terri said, and he gently put a hand on her arm when her face screwed up with emotion. The move was subtle, easily within the bounds of socially acceptable behavior, and it allowed Wolfgang to share her feelings. Jed watched as Wolfgang's shoulders slumped. Wolfgang's posture mirrored Terri's exactly. They finished up, he patted her shoulder, then walked away.
As he came toward Jed, Wolfgang blinked and tears ran down his cheeks. "Man, that was tough." He subtly wiped his face. He had managed to avoid crying while he stood with her and roiled with her same emotions, but just barely. "Yeah, she's torn up."
The lumber boss walked away and shot a single look at Jed and Wolfgang. He moved out of sight, past the trailers, and an engine started. They barely caught the flash of reflected sunlight on the windows of a pickup as it drove along the logging road.
Jed looked at Wolfgang. The slim man stared after the truck for a long moment, then he sighed. "All right. I want to look at where it happened. Terri pointed it out. Her trailer is the closest to it. She didn't realize what it was at the time, but she heard noises out there at the time of the murder." He jerked his chin at a cluster of smaller, younger redwoods off a bit near the edge of the area they had set up their trailers. "I'll be back after I've looked around a little."
Wolfgang started for the area, and Jed dropped into step beside him. Wolfgang looked sideways at him. It appeared as if he were about to say something to Jed, but he thought better of it and shrugged. They stopped at the edge of the little clearing between the trunks of the trees. Wolfgang nodded as his eyes moved over the torn up ground. "Okay, just stay back while I check it out. I know the cops have already been all over it, but it's always possible they missed something."
Jed nodded. He watched as Wolfgang began to carefully examine the soft forest floor. There were the marks of boots, shoes, and other marks from various investigators and curious loggers. Jed crossed his arms over his chest. "You know, if you let me in there, I can probably tell you a few things about what happened."
Wolfgang had gingerly picked up a fallen limb that lay across the scene. "Like what?"
Jed inhaled. He slowly loosened his grip on the wolf and closed his eyes. "I can tell you there was a lot of blood." He took another deep breath. The scent of blood was still strong, even after days. Jed swallowed. The beast rose up, right against the surface, and he prickled with its interest in the smell, his mouth salivating.
"You can smell it?" Wolfgang stepped closer.
Jed shook his head. "No, stay back." He opened his eyes, and the gray of his irises was now mixed with almost-reflective silver.
Wolfgang leaned back, shock on his face. "Holy shit. You really are a goddamn werewolf."
"I told you I was." A deep, growling tone in Jed's voice rumbled from his throat, and Wolfgang took another step back. Jed and the beast glowered at Wolfgang, then they stepped into the area. Jed scented the air as he walked slowly, his head moving from side to side. Jed's eerie, silvery eyes slid over to look at a long piece of wood that lay at the base of one of the redwoods. Jed stalked over, his movements fluid, graceful, with no wasted motion.
Wolfgang watched as Jed cocked his head. He reached down and picked up the wood. It was as long as an arm, almost perfectly straight, with redwood bark covering it. He rotated it and Wolfgang made a sound. "Wait." He began to move toward Jed but the big man growled at him.
Jed blinked. "Stay back." He forced his eyes back down on the limb, away from Wolfgang. "The beast is too close to the surface right now. Control is… difficult."
Wolfgang nodded. "Okay. But there's something attached to the limb." He pointed from his spot a few steps away. "There."
Jed turned it a little more and a small white shape caught his attention. It was a human tooth, one of the big molars in the back of the mouth. It looked as if the wood had grown around it, like the tooth was a part of the branch. Jed examined it. "Not yellow. White. So it's not old." Jed brought his nose to the tooth and inhaled. "Man." He looked at the ground. "Not the same as the one who lost all the blood."
Jed gently tossed the object to Wolfgang. While his curious, blonde companion puzzled over the limb, Jed forced the beast back. The strength, senses, and power ebbed, but so too did the mental struggle he waged against the monster. Jed breathed a sigh of relief and he stepped over next to Wolfgang.
Wolfgang stared at the tooth, his mouth open and his eyes blank. Jed saw his tongue moving around in his mouth. Jed frowned. "What are you doing?"
Wolfgang looked at him, his mouth still open. He shut it with a snap. "Trying to figure out which tooth this was." His expression turned grim. "And why, when I touched Larry, I could feel that his jaw hurt, right around where one of these molars should be."
Larry drove a little faster than he should down the logging road. He got to the gate, let himself out, and continued onto the highway. Soon he was in Eureka, and he made a stop at the market on K and Harris.
He exited the little store carrying a bottle of gin in a brown bag. Larry headed back toward the forest. He breathed and tried to calm himself as he drove. 'There's no way he knows. Nobody knows.' Larry had already been questioned by the police the night the murder happened, and he had passed their scrutiny easily enough. Which, in his mind, was completely appropriate. Plus, his alibi for the other murders was airtight. Since it was exactly the same modus operandi, most of the police suspected a serial killer of some sort. Larry's involvement now didn't fit the established pattern. Additionally, with the way the bodies were all torn apart, there were some who still thought it was some large animal that was yet to be found.
He moved his jaw as the dull ache from the hole in the back of his mouth sharpened. Larry parked, opened the gate, and then he was again driving under the boughs of the redwoods. He had lost the tooth the night of Brandon's murder. Along with the bizarre way Larry awoke, it signaled to him that something had gone very wrong, and he couldn't imagine that his condition was unconnected to Brandon's death. Though he had no memory of anything between going to bed and awakening.
Larry stopped at the fork in the logging road out of sight of the camp, and he pulled out the bottle. He didn't have prescription meds to take for his mouth and he didn't dare seek any out, but he could self-medicate enough to get by. He took a long slug of the gin, made a face, and dug into his center console. He found the ibuprofen and fished three of the little pills into his palm. Another drink of gin washed them down and he grimaced. It'd have to do.
He sat and stared through the windshield. 'Who would believe me?' He rubbed his face. 'Who would possibly believe me?' He shook his head. If he hadn't sunk every available buck into the equipment, fuel, and wages for the crew, he would have cut and run when the murders began. But he had almost nothing left. He had to finish the job. Once that was done, he would go back east to Philadelphia, even if it meant scrounging for odd jobs in the city. He wanted out of the redwoods.
"Okay." He nodded to himself. "Okay, you've not done anything wrong. Just get back there, get this job done, and get the fuck out before the next new moon."
Larry finished his little self pep-talk and drove back to the job site.
Wolfgang frowned in thought as he shifted gears, and Jed watched him from the passenger seat. Wolfgang felt his stare, but he wasn't quite ready to talk about what he had gleaned from their foray into the forest.
Jed seemed willing to wait.
They drove through Eureka and Wolfgang parked in front of his rental. He looked over at Jed. The big, hairy guy smiled. "Are you going to invite me in, so you can properly thank me for my help today?"
Wolfgang smirked. "What? You don't want to talk about the murders in the woods?"
"Nah." Jed reached and slid a warm hand up the inside of Wolfgang's leg. "Not until I've fed the beast."
Wolfgang grinned, then lay back as Jed found his hardening dick in his pants. Jed rubbed him through the material and Wolfgang sighed. He let Jed play with him for a bit. It felt good, and he shared in Jed's pleasure from touching as well as his own from being touched.
After he began to leak in his jeans, he chuckled. "Okay. Come on."
They entered the house, both sporting visible erections as they did. Jed closed the door and pinned Wolfgang against it. There was a definite need in his manner and Wolfgang's head began to swim with the desire of both Jed and the beast.
The words from Jed were thick with sureness, and something else. "I'm mounting you today." Jed ground himself into Wolfgang, and the scratchy skin of his unshaved face rubbed against the sensitive surface of Wolfgang's neck. It made Wolfgang want it.
The intensity and physicality of Jed were undeniable. Wolfgang had one hand on the back of Jed's head, and he felt teeth on his neck as Jed not so gently raked them across Wolfgang's skin.
Wolfgang let Jed pull him into the living room. Their pants were undone, and Jed slid a hand down the back of Wolfgang's slacks, past the elastic of his underwear. One strong finger slowly traveled down Wolfgang's crack until it rested on his hole. Jed put his lips at Wolfgang's flushed, red ear. "Mine." He pushed, and Wolfgang arched as that thick digit slid inside him. He felt a riot of different needs and desires - his own, and those from Jed too. Wolfgang grunted quietly, while Jed growled. After a moment, he withdrew the probing finger.
Jed stripped him as if he were handling a possession, then he hurriedly removed his own clothes. His focused stare and the silvery sheen in Jed's eyes told Wolfgang that the beast indeed was close to the surface - that Jed had let it out to sate it. That Wolfgang was the offering.
Jed pushed him down on the couch and followed him. He pushed on Wolfgang's legs, forcing his knees against his chest and his rear up off the couch. Before Wolfgang could react to his new, exposed position, Jed licked him from ass to nuts.
Wolfgang groaned. Jed's eagerness to taste him, to fuck, and the sensation of the big man's tongue as he hungrily worked on Wolfgang's hole, came together in an erotic maelstrom that threatened to completely short circuit Wolfgang's normally logical mind. Satisfied grunts from Jed and the sound of his mouth and tongue as he licked and drove the organ into Wolfgang made him seem like an animal.
Wolfgang was utterly at his mercy. When Jed finally pulled his mouth away and drooled saliva onto his hard cock, Wolfgang was ready for what Jed wanted. Jed smeared a mix of precome and spit on himself, then he pressed against Wolfgang.
Jed leaned into his slim companion and his erection slid past the minor obstacle of Wolfgang's sphincter. Another groan from Wolfgang told Jed that he enjoyed it.
"You like that." Jed steadily pushed until he buried himself completely in the writhing body beneath him. Wolfgang did. It was a bit rough due to a lack of lube, but that didn't last long. His body relaxed around Jed, and the connection to Jed's sensations meant Wolfgang's cock also felt amazing. It lay on his belly and drooled precome as Jed's hips drove them both toward orgasm.
"You're mine." Jed's irises were almost completely silver, only the barest gray left in them. "Mine!" It was the beast talking through him and Wolfgang believed what it said. Jed's thrusting became more insistent, faster.
Wolfgang reached and put a hand on the back of Jed's neck. Jed's eyes narrowed, and he pulled it off to pin Wolfgang's hands above his head. Jed grunted as he moved, those eerie, intense eyes locked onto Wolfgang's face.
The aggression of Jed rolled through him, but Wolfgang wanted the man and beast, for a time, to possess him. He let it happen, he wanted it to happen. There was something in Jed's voice that made him desire it.
It began to happen. Jed gritted his teeth, and Wolfgang saw that all of them were now slightly canine, all with soft points. Little physical effects from the wolf within him were manifest, but Wolfgang didn't have time to dwell on it.
Jed's pelvis shot forward, and he held position, staring down at Wolfgang, still holding his arms pinned above Wolfgang's head with overwhelming strength. Wolfgang moaned, and he came on his belly and chest. At the same time, Jed unloaded inside him, rolling his eyes slowly in their sockets and groaning.
They both panted. Jed blinked, shook his head, and he was back, the silver gone from his irises. He swallowed. "You okay?"
Wolfgang smiled and nodded, not entirely trusting his own voice. He felt concern from Jed, then relief. 'Why wouldn't I be okay?' Wolfgang wasn't sure why, but Jed seemed overly worried about him. There was even a bit of guilt that swam around in Jed.
"I'm fine, Jed," Wolfgang grunted when Jed pulled out of him. He sat up on the couch with Jed. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Jed grimaced. "Well, the beast can be really convincing." He sighed. "I can't control how it uses the power of our voice when it's out that strong."
Wolfgang tingled with realization. "Ohhh. Compulsion. Your voice carries a compulsion to obey you. That's what I felt." He cocked his head and crossed his arms over his chest. "So… you manipulate people."
Jed flinched. Then he frowned. "Yeah, same as you do. You sense emotion, you know exactly how far you can push, when to change tactics." He slumped a little. "Though, I try to keep the use of it to a minimum." He shook his head. "It can have repercussions for some. People who aren't strong enough to shake it off." Jed assessed Wolfgang. "But you, you recover quickly. You're resilient." He swallowed. "You're a perfect partner for the beast because you won't break."
Wolfgang wasn't sure how he felt, but he could find out how Jed did. He held out a hand on his knee, palm-up. Jed looked down at it, glanced at Wolfgang's face, and he put his own hand there.
Jed experienced hope, relief, guilt, and an underlying possessiveness that Wolfgang realized belonged to the bestial part of Jed's psyche. Wolfgang found no sort of malice, no intentional urge to take advantage of him. He slowly nodded. "All right." He stood up, his belly still slick with his own semen. "Let's get in the shower." He pulled Jed to his feet and grinned as he put his arms around the bigger man. "Then, since you're interested, and have been so helpful, we'll talk a bit about what we think might be going on in the redwoods."
Maurice peeked over the fallen trunk of an old, rotting tree at the loggers. It had ferns, moss, and weeds growing from it and offered a great spot to remain hidden from view. His dark eyes narrowed as he watched them.
"Bastards," he whispered as they began the task of felling the next tree. He observed quietly while they worked. One of them gestured at another lumberjack. The man had wild black hair, a prominent nose, and a cranky demeanor. Maurice slowly nodded. "That's him. The one in charge."
Maurice had heard about the killings of the lumberjacks and secretly, he was pleased. Anyone who would fell such majestic, beautiful organisms deserved a painful, gruesome death.
He loved the redwoods. He loved the forest. When the Bureau of Land Management took over this portion of the woods, it had made him so happy. No loggers would ever get to defile it. Then the agreement between Diamond lumber and the BLM happened. Maurice watched as their "targeted harvesting" took its toll on the land. He hated them. He hated all of them.
He stared with malice at the gangly foreman of the crew. "Whatever is doing this," he whispered, "I hope you keep going. They all need to pay, but especially that one." Maurice's tongue moved over his teeth as he glared at the object of his ire.
The cops were looking for a serial killer, or maybe some big animal with bizarre hunting habits. But Maurice had his own suspicions about the killer. The forest was on the edge of what was considered Bigfoot country. A nine-foot tall, impossibly strong biped with a bone to pick could tear a man limb from limb, easy.
Maurice carefully removed the little square of vanilla cake, beef jerky, an apple, and a ceramic cup from the bag over his shoulder. Into the cup, he poured some wine from a bottle he had explicitly carried for the purpose, then he took a slug from the bottle. He spent a little time positioning his gifts, then he straightened.
Maurice put the cork back in the bottle, and stepped gingerly away from the log, hunkering down to avoid being seen. "Listen, whoever you are, whatever you are, I offer this to you." Maurice's brown eyes were hard as he placed the items carefully behind the log. "I offer this, and whatever else you need of me." His gaze came back up to spear Larry as he walked toward the trailers. "Whatever else you need, take it."
Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link. Wayne Gray
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