Written in Red Page 143

“Wouldn’t he want to know?” Myths? Would the university have someone on the faculty who could find the source of the myth?

“No, he doesn’t want to know. And neither do we.” Burke’s stare warned Monty that he meant it.

“You know how some people say ‘If looks could kill’?” Burke asked after a moment. “Well, it seems there is something among the terra indigene that has the ability to do exactly that.”

CHAPTER 24

“. . . travel advisory in effect until six a.m. tomorrow. WZAS is recommending no unnecessary travel. Figured we’d say it before you hear an official announcement from city hall. So get your milk and toilet paper and head on home, folks. We’ve got several inches of snow already clogging up the streets, and there’s more coming. Current projections say the entire city of Lakeside could get up to two feet before this lake-effect storm blows itself out, and we’re not even going to think about measuring the drifts. Wind chill could dip to minus twenty by this evening. We’ll have a full list of closings on the half hour and hour. This is Ann Hergott bringing you the news and weather reports, whether you like it or not. And now, from last year’s blockbuster movie, let’s listen to the hit single ‘If Summer Never Comes.’”

Monty turned off the radio and pulled on his coat and boots. He wasn’t on duty today, but everyone was on call. He’d seen a few bad storms during the years he’d lived in Toland. There had even been a few times when the Big City had closed down for a day. But listening to Kowalski, Debany, and MacDonald yesterday—men who had lived in Lakeside all their lives—he realized he hadn’t seen the kind of storm they considered bad. And they were all gearing up for bad.

Checking to be sure he had his keys, he went outside.

Black clouds were piled up like huge boulders waiting to fall on the world. As he stood there, his skin stinging from the cold, the snow came down faster and harder. A plow had gone by earlier, but the street was filled in again. And that made him wonder if anything was going to be able to get in or out of his street in another hour or two.

Returning to his apartment, he called Kowalski.

“What’s your opinion of this storm?” he asked when Karl answered.

“It’s coming in faster than expected,” Karl replied. “I just heard on the radio that everything downtown is closing, and all social events for tonight have been canceled. Traffic is already starting to snarl because of the amount of snow on the roads, and it will get worse.”

“The plows?”

“Will do what they can to keep the main drags open, but there’s only so much they can do until this storm blows over.”

Monty thought for a moment. “In that case, I’m going to pack an overnight bag and catch a cab down to the station while I can still get there. What about you?”

“You’ll have a better chance of getting a cab if you tell the driver you’ll meet him at the corner, since you live off one of the main streets. I don’t think a cabby will try to drive down any residential street at this point. Too much chance of getting stuck. Me and a few other guys helped dig out a couple neighbors who had to report to work. Medical personnel, emergency aid, and firefighters are being called in.” A hesitation. “Actually, I thought you were calling to tell me to come in.”

Why would that be a problem? Monty wondered, hearing something under the words. More than the weather. He was getting the impression that Kowalski would resist leaving home for as long as possible.

“I tried calling the inns and hotels closest to Lakeside Park, but I guess some of the phone lines have already gone down, because I didn’t get an answer.”

Monty gentled his voice in response to the worry in Karl’s. “That’s a concern, but is it an immediate problem?”

“A group of men are in town for some kind of reunion. They have snowmobiles. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to locate them and see if they might do some volunteer work.”

“What aren’t you saying, Karl?”

“We didn’t think the storm was going to hit quite this fast, so Ruthie went to Run and Thump to work out and then was going to stop at the Market Square grocery store to pick up a few things.” Kowalski hesitated. “Nobody is answering at Howling Good Reads or A Little Bite, and I haven’t gotten through to Ruthie’s mobile. We’re only a few blocks from the Courtyard, but I’m not sure Ruthie can get home at this point.”

Monty watched a car slowly making its way down the street. “Karl? I have to go. Keep looking for those snowmobiles. I’ll have my mobile phone with me, so let me know when you’ve made contact with Ruth.”

“Will do.” Kowalski hung up.

Monty quickly packed a bag, called for a cab to meet him at the end of his street, and headed out into the storm.

* * *

Asia rammed her rental car into the snow clogging the Courtyard parking lot, determined to create a path for her escape once she acquired the Wolf pup. She would have preferred parking across the street, but all the spaces near the Stag and Hare were filled, and when she passed the city lot that was available to the customers of all the businesses within that block, it was obvious that only the last car that managed to jam itself in was going to get out, and even that was doubtful.

She gunned the engine until the tires spun, then took her foot off the gas and put the car in reverse to back up enough to take another run at getting into the lot. Ignoring the blare of a horn from the car that just missed her rear bumper when she reversed, she put the gearshift in drive and gunned the engine again. The car slewed and ended up stuck, completely blocking the other cars in the lot.

Prev Next