Chapter 5: Conduit
Wednesday, April 10th (First Quarter-Moon)
Jed parked his Toyota pickup in front of his father's shop. The building was situated near the top of Humboldt Hill, and it looked down on the city of Eureka. He got out and heard the sound of the table saw. His father was hard at work, and he would put in fourteen-hour days until the day before the full moon.
Jed walked in through the sliding door. Daniel Polis carefully ran the board through his table saw, safety goggles on his face and gloves on his hands. He stopped moving as Jed entered and looked up at his son then continued through his cut. He straightened and turned off the loud machine.
"Hey, dad." Jed smiled and stepped into the shop. It was neat except for the light layer of sawdust around the table saw. Finished wooden chairs, hand tooled doors, and stools awaited stains and varnishes against one wall, while the other side of the place held stacks of wood destined for use in future projects.
Daniel took off his goggles and nodded. "Hi, Jed." He scented the air, his brown eyes remaining on his son. He narrowed his gaze at Jed. "A new boy? Does Shawn know?"
Jed frowned. "Dad, you know the thing between Shawn and me is for necessity." He waved a hand in dismissal. "It's nothing more than that. I'm just feeding the wolf." Jed shrugged. "But, yeah. I'm seeing a new guy."
Daniel snorted. "I like Shawn." He nodded as he moved the newly cut lumber off of the table saw onto a pair of sawhorses. "You could do worse."
"Dad, he's straight." They had been over this many times. "It wouldn't work. Shawn wouldn't really be happy."
His father leveled a knowing look. "With the voice, you can make any man happy to lay with you." He brushed his front clean of sawdust. "Like you already do with Shawn."
Jed shook his head. "Can we not talk about this?" Shawn was Jed's best friend. They had known one another since they were kids, and he was a rare specimen who could shake off the effects of the voice. He and Jed had regularly screwed since they were teenagers, even though Shawn identified as straight.
The first few times it happened, Shawn was confused as to why he found sex with Jed irresistible. Jed himself didn't know what he was doing, initially. Once he found out, he told Shawn. His friend merely shrugged. "Well, it's fun when it's happening. As long as you don't make me kiss you, or suck your cock, then I'm down."
It became something of a safety valve for Jed. Shawn knew what Jed was, and he willingly allowed the beast to use him. Shawn always recovered from the voice, though while under its influence, he became willing to do whatever Jed wanted.
Daniel eyed Jed. "It's your pack." He smirked at his son and snapped his fingers. "Oh, yeah. You don't have one of those."
Daniel knew Jed's wolf yearned to possess a pack, and that the lack of one was a button to push. Daniel's beast was strong. It made him more aggressive, confrontational, and unpleasant, and the closer it got to the full moon, the more the beast would reign over Jed's father. "Dad, dial it back." Jed's wolf growled in his mind, but he managed to avoid pushing intention into his words.
Daniel blinked, then his brown eyes narrowed in effort. "Shit." He rubbed his face. "I'm sorry, son." He shook his head. "Fucking thing. It's always hard during this half of the month." He set his jaw and nodded. "Do it. The voice."
Jed nodded. He removed the silver ring on his left hand and put it on his right. Then he reached and patted his father's shoulder. The silver wouldn't hurt his dad, but it was very uncomfortable to any other wolf, and Jed wanted to avoid antagonizing both Daniel and his beast, but instead, soothe them both. "Relax. There's no enemy here, no reason to fight."
The change in Daniel was pronounced. His shoulders slid down as he followed Jed's command and relaxed. Daniel sighed, and his beast fell under the sway of Jed - at least for a time. "Better." He smiled sadly at his boy. "I don't know what I'd do if you didn't have the gift, son."
Jed felt bad. He had been distracted by Wolfgang, and it was a couple of days past when he would typically have dropped by to see his dad. He regularly stopped in to soothe what amounted to a monster in Daniel. "I'm sure you would have managed." He tried to be encouraging.
Daniel shook his head. "No. We both know that's not true." Daniel patted his son's hand that was still on his shoulder. "After what happened to your mom…"
"Dad, stop." Jed shook him a little. "You couldn't help what happened."
Daniel looked into Jed's eyes, misery, and guilt written on his face. There was no erasure of that terrible full moon. Jed knew that his father would never forgive himself for what he had done under the throes of the beast. "Maybe not. But that doesn't change anything, does it?" Daniel said with a flat tone.
Jed had nothing comforting to say to that.
Wolfgang drove by Jed's shop, parked, and poked his head in the business. Several patrons were inside, and the place was staffed by a slightly overweight guy behind the counter. Jed was nowhere to be seen. He didn't know the big man's schedule today, though the two of them were due to meet up again that evening.
After his meeting with Vernon last night, Wolfgang had spent a bit of time going over his notes. He couldn't totally disregard the possibility of some malevolent force haunting the redwoods. These new moon spirits of Vernon's were, unfortunately, his best lead so far.
Still, he had an unanswered question. Was Larry secretly in league with this supposed spirit? Wolfgang suspected that Larry's tooth was taken in retaliation for the lack of an offering, yet Larry hadn't acted like someone who would be interested in destroying his own logging operation. It made little sense to Wolfgang.
It was a puzzle, but currently, he was hungry and the time was just past noon. Wolfgang had only eaten a couple of eggs with some toast, and his belly growled. He walked down the sidewalk and put his hands into the pockets of his light jacket. It was cool, with a thick layer of low clouds creating a ceiling of gray above his head.
He remembered the place he and Jed had visited for their first meal together, and Wolfgang entered the Diver Bar and Grill. He liked the spot. Additionally, if he wasn't mistaken the skinny server showed some interest in him. Though it was readily apparent to Wolfgang that Franklin was absolutely smitten with Jed. He couldn't blame the boy.
Wolfgang blinked as his eyes adjusted to the dimmer environment. "Ah, hello again, sir." Franklin gave him a smile as he weaved through the tables, a menu in hand.
"Hello, Franklin." Wolfgang motioned at the back table in the corner. "Just one today."
"All right. Follow me, please." Franklin led Wolfgang past a few occupied tables. That gave the slim man a chance to appreciate the sight of Franklin's small, yet shapely ass.
Wolfgang was not shy. When Franklin stood so that he could slip by, Wolfgang made sure his hand brushed the server's groin. That elicited a surprised little gasp from Franklin. There wasn't any skin on skin contact so Wolfgang couldn't feel what Franklin did. He didn't need to. As Wolfgang took his seat, Franklin flushed red, and he wet his lips with his tongue. "Ah, would… do you want to hear the specials, sir?"
Wolfgang smiled up at the awkward, cute young man. "Actually, I'd rather hear when you're off work today."
It was just after three PM and Jed had returned from his dad's place. He paced in his apartment and tried to control himself. Interacting with his father's wolf always hyped his own beast - brought it closer to the surface, which made it harder for Jed to manage it.
It was the price he paid. He had to keep his father level and help him keep his beast tame. Jed could command others of his kind - they listened to him. Wolves like his dad craved guidance, and without a pack leader, they slowly devolved, almost entirely lost to the monsters inside.
It was why lone wolves rarely survived long. If a wolf gave in and left a trail of death in their wake, then they were hunted by others of their kind, or the rare and dangerous human who had the knowledge and training required to hunt werewolves. Jed had heard his father refer to those people only as 'hunters', and they were the bogeymen of Jed's childhood.
'Coffeeshop. The boy.' The beast's desires infected Jed's mind. He stopped, and his silvery eyes slid to the doorknob that led out to his porch. Then it was just a two block walk away to the coffee shop. 'Take him. Bring home. Make ours.'
Jed rubbed his face. "No. No." He gritted his teeth. "Just stop." Jed desperately tried to figure out a way to bleed off his aggressive desires. He checked the time and groaned. He wasn't due to meet up with Wolfgang until seven - four hours away. He wasn't going to make it, and the wolf knew this.
The need slowly built. Jed's beast bided its time and continued to gain traction in Jed's psyche. "Fuck. Stop." There was now a pleading tone in Jed's voice. He walked to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. He heard the blood rushing in his ears as his heart pounded and didn't have to look in the mirror to know that his eyes were almost entirely silvered.
Jed gripped the sink, head down, his jaw clenched. "God, what has gotten into you?" He grimaced and tried to push back. It was like hitting a wall. The wolf was winning.
Jed's phone vibrated in his pocket. He forced his hand to move and retrieve the device. His eyes widened at the name on the screen.
"Oh, thank fucking god." He eagerly picked up.
Shawn arrived and parked. He closed the car door and took the short stairway up to the door. Jed told him to come in as soon as he arrived. His friend had the tell-tale inflection Shawn had come to know as desperation, and he was reasonably sure of what to expect when he opened the door.
Shawn entered. "Jed?" He shut the door behind him and jumped. Jed stood, naked in his hallway, his muscular, hairy body on display. Shawn laughed, a bit uncomfortable. "Uh, okay. It's gonna be that kind of visit."
Jed stalked closer, and now Shawn saw the silvered eyes. "Jed? Buddy?" Jed pushed himself against Shawn until he had pinned the smaller man against the door. "Err… Jed." The big man gripped Shawn's wrists and held them pressed to the wood behind him. Shawn swallowed. "Uh, you need to talk to me, man." Jed's mouth opened, and he tasted Shawn's neck. "Shit, Jed… talk to me. Make me want it."
Despite the lack of the voice, Shawn began to respond physically. But his enjoyment would increase significantly with just a few words from Jed.
Jed panted against Shawn's skin. "I'm going to fuck you." Shawn's jaw dropped when Jed said the words, his pupils dilated, and he struggled to free his hands so he could take off his clothes.
"Yes," Shawn said. Both he and Jed removed Shawn's clothing until he stood naked against Jed.
Jed wasn't waiting to get to the bedroom. He bent Shawn over the end of the couch. By this time in their relationship, Shawn knew Jed, and he also knew to prepare beforehand if he didn't want to be sore after visiting. There was no preamble, Jed gripped Shawn's shoulders, pressed his cock against Shawn's exposed hole and pushed. Wisely, Shawn had spent some time lubing himself before heading over. In the state Jed induced, he'd not even care that it hurt, and Jed was often rough when in the moment.
Shawn moaned as Jed sank his cock into him. Once completely inside, Jed immediately pulled back and began to pummel him.
"You're mine. Mine!" The beast exerted its full power through Jed.
Shawn groaned under him. "Yes. Yours. Ah, god."
Jed reached around and stroked Shawn's dick. Shawn was now beginning to shake, and his breathing increased as Jed screwed him. "Fuck, Jed. Ah, fuck."
"Yes. Tell me." Jed hammered Shawn and gritted his teeth. "Come. Do it."
Shawn gasped, and he orgasmed under Jed, his semen splattering onto the couch beneath him. Jed followed as Shawn's body contracted around his thick cock.
Shawn slowly wound down as Jed came to a stop. For whatever reason, the effect of the voice never lasted long with Shawn. Perhaps it was because he grew up with Jed, and he had heard it many times. Regardless, he began to grimace at the sensation of Jed's cock inside him. Shawn could even feel Jed's heartbeat in the turgid organ. "You all done, buddy?" He patted Jed's hairy leg.
Jed pulled his hips back. Shawn started to straighten, but Jed gripped his shoulders. He turned Shawn with irresistible strength and pushed him backward onto the couch. Shawn watched as Jed climbed overtop of his prone body, his irises still covered in silver. "Not done."
The voice once again snared Shawn, and he hardened up in seconds. As Jed went down on him, Shawn let his neck relax and settled in for a long afternoon.
Wolfgang was a bit disappointed. Franklin had other plans for his evening so Wolfgang would not get to do wonderful and terrible things to the young man until Friday.
Still, he had other tasks to occupy his time. Wolfgang headed north on the 101, toward Klamath and the Yurok tribal council building there. After a drive of over an hour through rural and wooded landscapes, he arrived and pulled into the roundabout in front of the place.
Wolfgang parked in a nearby lot. He walked toward the council house and took note of some distinct details as he approached. The building was a vast, two-story sprawling structure. It was nestled in amongst redwoods and ferns, only barely set apart from the forest behind it by a thin stripe of landscaping. The positioning gave the overall impression that the place belonged with the trees. Brown-painted wood clad the outside, and a big, round opening in the outer wall led to a vestibule deeper inside.
The slim man went into the vestibule, and then through a door. After he had struck out with Franklin Wolfgang called the place, hoping he'd be able to speak to one of Vernon's sources.
Wolfgang walked inside and stopped at the desk. A young woman with silver hoops in her ears, dark hair and brown eyes smiled at him from behind the wooden, glossy furniture. "Hello. I'm Amy. Can I help you?"
"Hello, Amy. I hope so." Wolfgang smiled. "I'm Wolfgang, and I'm here to see Evan McAllister. He was going to meet me here."
There was only the slightest shift in her countenance as her smile slipped, but Wolfgang noticed. "Ah, yes." She stood. "Follow me, I'll show you to the elder."
Amy led him down one wing of the building through a wide hallway. The walls were adorned with various pictures, paintings, and ceremonial pieces depicting tribal life both ancient and modern. All of the work looked recent, but the tribe was doing its best to reclaim its past through different media and expression.
The young lady stopped in front of a closed door. Amy looked a bit uncomfortable as she motioned. "Elder McAllister is inside."
Wolfgang eyed her. "Is there something wrong?"
She looked pained. "Ah, it's just…" she struggled to find the right words. "The elder is a bit challenging to speak with. He's, uh, easily distracted." Amy's forced smile was back. "If you have any trouble, just pick up the phone and dial three two. That's my direct line, and I'll come to see if I can help."
Wolfgang wrinkled his brow. "All right." He had come this far, he wasn't going to leave without speaking to the man. He straightened. "Thanks. I'm sure it'll be fine."
She nodded at him and walked away toward her desk at the front of the building.
Wolfgang shrugged and opened the door.
A man with weathered skin, wrinkled and tanned from age and the sun sat at the small, round table in the room. His hands were clasped in front of him, resting on the wooden surface and his head came up as Wolfgang opened the door.
A black patch covered his right eye, and the other stared at Wolfgang with great intensity.
"Ah, hello." Wolfgang stepped in and closed the door behind him. He reached a hand across the table. "I'm Wolfgang. Thank you for meeting me, elder McAllister."
Evan sat, unmoving, and continued to look at Wolfgang.
Wolfgang let his hand awkwardly fall. "Uh, all right." He pulled out the chair across from the elder.
"A child of subtle violence begat of flesh and shame…"
The singsong sound of Evan's voice was a bit jarring and cut off as if he had left something unsaid. Wolfgang hovered over the chair, confused and a bit unsettled. Evan blinked, similar to a person awakening. His eye focused on Wolfgang, this time without the glassy stare it had earlier.
The old man leaned forward and stretched out his hand. "I'm Evan." His single, dark eye glittered under the lighting in the room.
Wolfgang sat and leaned so that he could reach the man's offered hand. Apparently, he hadn't heard a thing Wolfgang had said when he first entered. "I'm Wolf…" his speech cut off as he contacted the skin of the elder.
Chills shot up Wolfgang's spine as he shared the sensations in the old body across from him. His skin prickled with unseen caresses, and Wolfgang's head jerked as the distant sound of thunder passed across his right ear. The old man's grip tightened, impossibly strong for one of his age - just an ounce short of painful. Evan's face now showed wonder. "You hear them."
Wolfgang closed his eyes to blot out a sense, trying to limit the amount of input to his brain. 'Half of your world,' a breathy voice whispered in Wolfgang's right ear, 'half of ours,' traveling around him to finish in his left. It was as if someone walked behind him, speaking the words.
Evan still gripped his hand. “Who are you, really?”
Wolfgang couldn’t help the gasp as a presence flooded into his awareness. Something used the body of Evan, wearing it like a suit, and it breached Wolfgang’s mental defenses as if they weren’t there at all.
It swirled through Wolfgang, and he whimpered, completely paralyzed. ‘He doesn’t know,’ the multi-tiered voice echoed in Wolfgang’s mind.
The tendons stood out in Wolfgang's arm, and the limb shook as Evan gripped him. Both men shared the overpowering entity between them, but that didn't decrease the hold it had on Wolfgang. At some point, Wolfgang's eyes had opened, though he stared, unseeing at a spot on the wall above Evan's head, and his breath came in fits and gasps.
Just as suddenly as it had appeared the presence was gone. Wolfgang and Evan both slumped, their hands separating and falling to the table with a synchronous, hollow thud. Wolfgang shook his head. He felt as if every muscle had been as tense as it possibly could, and his body hurt from the strain.
Evan watched him. "So." He crossed his arms over his chest. "A Tempter comes to see my servant." The entity in the old man smiled, his teeth somehow still intact and perfect. "Those years are past this body, child of Sa'la." He cocked his head. "So, why have you come searching the council of my conduit?"
Wolfgang wet his lips. "'Tempter?' 'Sa'la?'" He frowned. "I don't know what you mean."
Evan smiled, then he looked as if he listened to a voice whispering in his ear. Wolfgang had no doubt that he genuinely did hear something. Evan nodded to no one in particular, and once again seemed himself. "It is not for me to say." His eye settled back on Wolfgang. "Ask what else you will of me."
After a few beats, Wolfgang shakily took out his phone, hit record and slid it across the table between them. He cleared his throat. "Ah, Evan McAllister." He hesitated. "Uh, this is Evan, right?" Wolfgang genuinely wasn't sure.
The elder grinned his eerie, perfect, white smile. "Yes, for now."
"Ah, okay. Let me know if that changes." Wolfgang saw Evan nod. He got right to business, unsure how long he would have Evan's attention. "Tell me about new moon spirits. I want to hear everything about them that you know."
Wolfgang drove south on the 101, away from Klamath and the strange old man in the council building. It was now after six, and he approached the little town of Trinidad, about thirty miles north of Eureka - his destination.
Lightning streaked across the sky out over the ocean. A storm raged over the water, and it was headed toward the coast. In an hour or so, the whole northern part of coastal California would be lashed with wind and rain from the strong system.
Five seconds after the lightning flashed, thunder rolled over the car and Wolfgang. A strange sensation of deja vu shot through him, and he instantly recalled the thunder in his right ear back with Evan in the council building. Chills raced over his skin, and he swallowed in anxiousness.
'They were talking to him. Telling him the weather that was coming.' Wolfgang gripped the steering wheel. "God. How fucking weird."
Wolfgang had asked many questions during their session. Evan was there throughout, and the old man had seemed surprised by his own continued lucidness. He had smiled at Wolfgang once they finished. "They must have wanted this, the spirits here. The ones who commune with me."
Wolfgang navigated around a large, slow truck in the right lane of the highway. He knew many things in the world were outside of what most considered "normal", but the display in the council building far exceeded even his experience with the supernatural. He simply didn't know the world contained such powers and entities.
"Can a new moon spirit possess someone who isn't trying to summon one?" Wolfgang had asked, his eyes locked on Evan.
The old man grinned. "I have not asked for any of these powers to possess me." A smoothing of Evan's face was startling to Wolfgang. He looked almost forty years younger, as he channeled some entity, and as he took on the appearance of a man in his early forties. "Yet, as you can see," Evan leaned forward, his now suddenly blue eye staring at Wolfgang, "the spirits do what they will."
After he had asked the final question, Wolfgang began to truly believe that he was on the right track - that a new moon spirit was murdering people among the northern California redwoods.
Unsettled would be an inadequate description of Wolfgang's state of mind as he parked, and got out of the car. Finally, back at his rental, he entered the place, about a half hour ahead of when Jed was due over. The power of the entities flowing through Evan had completely overwhelmed Wolfgang, and he was at their mercy. If a new moon spirit were the same, then there would be no fighting one. It would merely possess whomever it wanted. Though, Evan gave him a little spark of hope in that regard.
Wolfgang fired up his laptop and began a search for something he hoped that he would never have to test.
Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link. Wayne Gray
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