Writers Note: This chapter was very intense to write. Shadow has demons of aggression in him, but thankfully this time they can be pointed in a more useful direction. This whole chapter is only Shadow, the next will be Troy. This doesn't resolve everything, but hopefully does not end in as awful a cliffhanger as the last chapter. I hope you all enjoy reading it, and comments on my stories have been scientifically engineered to increase your lifespan by 40%.
As they walked down the snowy street, Troy put his arm around Shadow to help stave off the chill air. The simple act sent a pleasant jolt though Shadows body. He'd never really thought about having these kinds of feelings for another male before. He'd been curious a few times in his life, sure, and he could always remember being able to appreciate a handsome fur or two; but there was something....more...about Troy. There was something that made Shadows pain seem to lessen when Troy looked at him or laughed at something Shadow had said.
Shadow wondered if he loved Troy. It was a strange thing to consider. They really hadn't known each other a great length of time. Hardly long enough for these types of feelings, right? Sighing, he supposed it didn't really matter right at this moment. Right now, he just wanted to enjoy how he felt; walking with Troy so close to him.
"Hey" Troy said. "Can you hear me?"
Shadow began turning to look at Troy when a hard smack across his muzzle whipped his head to the side. What was going on? Disoriented, Shadow looked at Troy in disbelief.
"Come on. I'm sick of letting you sleep, boy!" Troy said with a sneer, and fetched another hard blow to Shadows face, knocking him backwards.
Blinking, Shadow looked up. Close to his face was the scarred muzzle of a very ugly coyote. His hot breath stank of old meat and beer; and his brownish fur was snarled and matted. Turning away from the fetid stench, Shadow attempted to move, to get his bearings on what was going on. He only stumbled sideways, his hurting and confused mind not having registered that he was actually sitting on the ground with his wrists tied behind him with some kind of cord or rope. What had happened? Where was he? It was pretty dark in here, but there was some electric looking light coming from some windows high above.
"Ahh, finally. I was gettin' lonely here." The Coyote said. He had a slightly southern drawl and his voice was sweet and congienial, like a country gentleman addressing some familiar and friendly business associates.
"Do you have any idea why you and I are meeting in these peculiar circumstances?" the strange coyote said, standing up and walking back towards the center of the spacious room of...wherever they were.
"Nah, probably not. Few do, actually. By the time things get to me, the time fer bein' smart has passed on" He said.
Strangely, he came walking back to Shadow carrying a neatly made sandwich on a small plate. Hunkering down, he offered the plate to Shadow.
"Ya hungry, friend? I thought it might be nice to let you get a little chow in you first." The coyote cocked his head and looked at Shadow.
What was this? Shadows mind could hardly keep up.
"Uh..." Shadow coughed, his voice coming with some difficulty "N..no..no, thank you." He said.
"Suit yourself." said the coyote, taking a big bite from the sandwich himself. "m-mm that's good." He said, chewing with pleasure. "You're really missin' an opportunity, friend." the coyote continued through a muzzle full of sandwich. "I'm supposed to break your jaw, your teeth and take a snip of your tongue. It's going to be mighty hard to enjoy a well prepared treat like this afterwards." All this in that same care free, friendly tone.
Shadow was stunned. His jellied brain just staring at that last statement in utter confusion. What did he mean break my jaw? What does that mean?
Taking another bite, the coyote walked back to the center of the room where Shadow now noticed there was a simple table with various objects on it.
"You wouldn't mind if I just finished this first, would ya? Seems a terrible waste to just let such a tasty thing go to waste. Don't worry, now. We got plenty of time. Besides, I wanted to ask you some things first." The coyotes voice echoed slightly around them.
"Who are you?" Shadow demanded. "What's going on? I don't understand, what is this about?!"
The coyote sighed and took a swig from a beer can that was resting on the table. "They never do. The ones I'm hired to tickle. Hell, friend, I don't know most times myself." He took another bite. "Just know that sometime, somewhere, you pissed off some pretty cruel and sick and, most importantly, wealthy individuals."
"As for my name," he continued, "The real one is such a worn out, useless thing really. You can just call me Johnny. I feel like a Johnny today." Johnny flashed Shadow a brilliantly boyish smile; bright and completely incongruous with the rest of his appearance and this whole terrible setting. "Sometimes, my job is a real pain, friend." Johnny mused, cocking his head. "To hafta mess up such a handsome fellow such as yourself is just such a mistake, in my humble opinion."
Shadow tried his best to control the panic and the spiraling loss of control he was feeling. He slowly, very slowly flexed his arms and pulled his wrists apart from each other. He felt that his wrists weren't tied directly together. Instead, there was a short length of cord between them, similar to a pair of handcuffs. It didn't seem like a very good job was done. Shadow wasn't about to complain about that fact, however. He moved his wrists until the cord was taut. If any opportunity presented itself, he wanted to be able to act quickly.
"Oh! I just remembered." Johnny said. "This watch thingy of yours buzzed just a few moments ago. It's sorta the reason I wanted to wake you up and talk to ya. What is this strange contraption for?"
Shadow wanted to keep Johnny in conversation. He was terrified that the coyote was going to walk over any second and begin bashing his muzzle in. "Uh..it's to remind me to take my medicine."
"Shoot! These things?" Johnny exclaimed, picking up one of Shadows tins and pouring the pills out of it. "I thought you might be a drug dealer, or customer, and that's what landed you in this fix with me. Boy, cute as a button but sad and sickly. It sure is going to pain my heart to get to work. Here now, I won't keep you from these if ya need em." He said as he walked over to Shadow. "How many ya need?" Johnny asked.
"Just...just one." Shadow replied.
Johnny picked up one of the pills and held it out. Reluctantly, Shadow opened his muzzle and let him drop it in. It would be hard to try and focus on things if he had an episode right now.
"There now." Johnny said kindly. "We're becoming fast friends already." He ambled back to the table and the remains of his sandwich. "I hope you don't think ill of poor old Johnny after tonight. I don't do any of this with mean intent you understand. I'm just the provider of a unique business transaction." He gulped the last two bites down and chugged the rest of his beer followed by a loud belch. "Excuse me, friend. My dear old mother did always despair of trying to put proper civility into her scoundrel son."
Shadow coughed, thinking desperately how to drag things out. "Where...what happened to Troy?" He asked, unable to hide the worry and desperation in his voice.
Johnny put on a little pouty face that was, again, so mismatched with his lean, muscular body and scarred, filthy appearance.
"Your cute little white wolf boyfriend? Aww, I'm so sorry friend, I don't really know. Somewhere in that big park, yonder if memory serves. They didn't really care to give much details to the grunt work of this whole thing." Johnny spoke with such a empathetic tone, Shadow was almost believing that he was really sorry for the entire affair.
"I..I don't understand why this is happening..." Shadow said, dejectedly. Still pulling tight against his bonds, he thought he might be feeling a little give. Maybe it was just his desperate mind, but he decided to go with that assumption. It was better than simply waiting to be maimed by this insane coyote.
"Awww, I know you don't cute thing. It's like I said, the reasons don't really matter at this point. The fact is, someone paid me and so I brought you here to do my job. It's as simple as that." Johnny replied smoothly.
Then, Johnny perked up. "You know what, my sad friend? I've got a bunch more drinks in the back of my vehicle. How about I go and fetch us some, then we kick back a few before things get started. Hell, if we both get drunk enough, maybe we'll both even be laughing through whole thing! Hows that sound?"
It sounds like fucking madness, you schizophrenic, fucked up mongrel; Shadow thought. But Shadow nodded and said "Yeah...that sounds good. Might help a little....at least."
"You bet your cute tail it will!" Johnny said joyfully. "Now, before I go I want get something out there." He began to count off a list of things, ticking each item on his paw as if he were a friend explaining logically and inarguably why you should try the soup at a restaurant.
"First, this place only has one exit and I'm parked right in front of it. So if you try and burst out that door and run, I'll put a bullet through your knee." with that he lifted his dirty, grey button up shirt to reveal a holster with a medium sized gun in it secured to his waist. "That's my favorite little P30 pistol there; and I'm a fast draw and a true aim. You don't want to put my word to the test with your legs on the line, trust me." He lowered the shirt.
"Second, if you're anywhere near that door when I come back in or if you try to assault me in any way, I will throw you to the ground and put two bullets in your head. That'll make a big mess to clean up, my employers won't be happy and I won't be happy having done that to such a sexy thing as you. So please, please reconsider doing anything like that, okay?" He sounded emphatically pleading on that point.
"Finally, I left your legs untied as a courtesy to you. You can get up and walk around if you want, just know that that table yonder is the no zone, okay? If you're by it or past it, I'll have to kill you like I said. Please don't repay hospitality with rudeness, that would just be ungentlemanly of you. Are we clear on all this bad business?" Johnny asked.
Shadow nodded, "Yeah, I won't do anything. I'll just sit here, I think." He didn't want to move and risk revealing what he thought was happening behind his back. It felt like the cord Johnny had used was just a bit too old. Shadow thought he felt a slow but sure increase in give between his wrists as the rope or whatever was fraying or tearing.
Johnny murred, looking Shadow up and down. "Such a sweet boy...maybe I should snatch you up myself instead of letting that white wolfie take you. Be right back, now. Sit tight." He turned and walked out the small door into the night.
When Shadow was sure Johnny was out of sight, he grunted and started flexing his arms as much as he could; snapping his wrists apart as far as they could go repeatedly. At first there was nothing, and Shadow started to panic, whining quietly and desparately. But then on the fourth or fifth try he heard an unmistakable tearing sound, like velcro and a creaky door together. Excitedly, moved his arms again and again, hearing the sound each time. Now he could definitely feel that his arms were moving farther apart. Moving his wrists around, it felt like there was only a little bit left holding back there. Shadow pulled and stretched as hard as he possibly could.
"Come on, come on, come on, come on, come...." Shadows thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door opening again. Damn it! He had been so close!
"Good boy!" Johnny said happily. "It's a rare thing to find someone true to their word now, isn't it?"
Johnny had two 6-packs of beer in his paws that he set on the table as he came closer. He pulled one away and walked toward Shadow, popping it's top. "Here you go, now. One just for my cute little friend." He hunkered down in front of Shadow again and raised the open beer to his muzzle. "Go ahead, I'll help ya."
Covering up his continuing struggle with the remaining strand of cord by squirming forward, Shadow put his mouth to the can and let Johnny tip it forward and spill the contents onto his tongue. Not used to drinking, Shadow began coughing after a couple of swallows.
"Oops, oops." Johnny chuckled. "Maybe a bit too much there, sorry sweetling."
Johnny sat in front of Shadow for a small moment, just looking at him. Then, he breathed deeply, putting his nose forward as if to catch more of Shadows scent. He murred at what he found apparently.
"You really are quite fetching, you know. So good and obedient...Maybe, we have a little fun before nasty work?" He reached out a paw and ran it slowly down Shadows chest, stopping at his waist to move it behind and grope Shadows bottom.
Shadow breathed heavier, he hoped it looked wanting and not what it really was. Panic mixed with desperate hope as he felt the last little bit of his restraints weakening. It might give at any moment...
"Mmm...I bet you taste like a sweet, expensive wine..." Johnny cooed and caressed Shadows face. Leaning forward, he caught Shadow in a slow kiss.
Acting on impulse, Shadow leaned into the kiss; sighing through his nose and actually letting his tongue play against Johnnys. Gods! Shadow wanted to vomit everything he'd ever eaten in life. He imagined that this was how lovingly lapping up the diseased crust of a rotting corpse must taste like.
After the kiss, Johnny leaned back, a bit breathless. "Wow, sugar....You surprised little Johnny there..such a sweet, lively tongue you've got. It really is a shame I agreed to that last bit of snippin' it."
Shadow breathed raggedly, trying his best not to shudder and puke. "Well...if this is the last time I'm ever going to use it, I might as well do something good."
"Too right, stud." Johnny replied, and reached down and began undoing the belt of Shadows jeans.
Then, with a pop! the strand holding Shadows wrists snapped.
Everything happened in less time than it would take to speak it. Johnny jumped back immediately while Shadow rolled forward and tried to rise. In a distant corner of his mind, Shadow remembered his martial arts instructor saying "these techniques will make you fast, deadly and efficient in a life or death situation. But don't start thinking that you're some kind of invincible action hero!" At that point his instructor had pulled out the .50 caliber Desert Eagle he'd been keeping in a shoulder holster. He turned quickly, bringing it to bear smoothly, then fired a perfect shot into one of the cinder blocks they had near the back for training.The force of the handgun caused the entire top corner of the block to explode into fragments. When the ringing report died away he grunted. "Remember, nine times out of ten, even an adequate assailant with a gun will simply blow your head off."
Johnnys paws flew to his gun, and he was much more than adequate. True to his word, he was an extremely fast draw. Shadow desperately used his scrambling momentum to snap his arm up and bump Johnnys aim just a little. That saved Shadows life from ending in the first two seconds of the struggle. Johnnys shot missed, barely, and instead merely blew the tip of Shadows right ear off, leaving a ragged, bleeding wound. However, adrenaline and pure fear caused him from feeling it at all.
Johnny tried to push Shadow back and get another chance to aim, but it was too late. Shadow was in close now, on his feet. Despite not having trained as religiously in the last three or four years like he used to, Shadow had taken to fighting as much as breathing and had retained his knowledge well.
Shadow grabbed Johnnys shoving paw in a wristlock, twisting and immediately applying all the pressure he could. Two loud snaps echoed throughout the room and Johnny cried out in miserable pain. The move should've dropped Johnny to his knees in agony, but incredibly he was still standing and trying to pull his gun in line to fire.
Shadow grasped the wrist of Johnnys gun arm with his left paw and pivoted to the right, while his right paw moved just above the gun barrel and grabbed it from the top. Pulling Johnnys wrist and forearm toward himself strongly, he simultaneously pushed away with the paw holding the gun barrel.
Johnnys gun slid out of his grasp as Shadow yanked it away by the barrel. He attempted to immediately back up and get the gun pointed at Johnny, but the insane coyote snarled and attempted to tackle Shadow to the ground. Years of ingrained muscle memory took control; without thinking, Shadows knee jumped up to meet Johnnys face as he went in for the low tackle. When his head snapped up, Shadows left paw snapped out in a fist and connected solidly on the coyotes nose, causing him to fall back in a spray of blood.
Shadow wasn't taking any chances of Johnny getting up or having another gun at his disposal. Knowing Johnny would surely beat him in a gun draw at this new distance if he had one, Shadow threw the gun behind him and elected to pounce on the stunned coyote, pummeling every inch of face and muzzle that he could see.
As he did, a consuming fire flashed through his mind and body. A molten flare that singed away any thoughts of remorse or pity or restraint. Johnny attempted to get his good paw up in a feeble defense, and so Shadow snatched it and bent the thumb of his paw until popped. Johnny howled in fresh agony.
"S..stop..p..p..pl.." Johnny managed to mumble through his bloody and pulverized muzzle.
Stop? STOP?! The image of Troy being jumped and dragged away while Shadow was away getting fucking COFFEE blazed in his mind like a raging sun. This creature dared beg him. To. Stop?! Shadow only laughed and growled with pure malice.
He slipped off his loosened belt and wrapped one end around his right paw a couple of times. Fitting it snugly under Johnnys lower jaw and tight against his throat, he yanked upwards and back sharply while twisting the ends together. The coyotes sudden gags and thrashings brought great pleasure to Shadows mind as he watched gobbets of blood pushed out of Johnnys nose and mouth. That glorious inner fire had seared away any hesitation he might've once had at this brutality.
He was that feral creature again. The thing he had become in his younger days, before the sickness. The uncaring, lethal wolf that had nearly beaten a fellow martial arts student into invalidity because he had dared tried to match Shadow in his prowess. But there was something slightly more this time. A focus. A reason to this titanic rage.
Troy. Trapped somewhere. Terrified. Possibly facing some similar hideous treatment that Shadow had been about to be subjected to. Maybe it's already happened. Maybe Troy's already been tortured or maimed or....killed.
With a short, reverberating bark of pure fury that caused small billows of dust to rise from the floor, Shadow pulled the twisted belt ends that much tighter. When Johnnys pitiful struggles began to fade, Shadow relaxed his improvised garrote enough for the sick bastard to pull a rattling, life saving breath.
"Alright you twisted FUCK. WHERE. IS. MY. FRIEND!?" Shadow punctuated each menacing word with a shake of the belt around Johnnys neck. Johnny could only cough and sputter, streaming blood as he tried to choke down needed air.
"TELL ME OR I'LL LEAVE YOUR FUCKING CORPSE IN THIS PLACE!!" Shadow bellowed, hardly able to control himself from throttling the coyote once more. He knew at this moment that he could do it. For Troy, Shadow could kill this monster without a moments hesitation or regret. If this disgusting canine didn't start saying something soon Shadow might just...
"I....I don't...know...gods..please...I don't know..." Johnny finally managed to croak.
"I was honest....s..somewhere...in the park....that's all I heard.....please...please...." Johnny begged as his face began to soak in a building pool of his own blood. He coughed, and a broken tooth clattered to the floor. "I wasn't going....to go through....with it..you know..was going to say I had to kill and...and bury you....take you with me...have some fun....you'd...you'd have liked it...eventually...."
Shadow had had enough. He pulled tight and hard on the belt again and sneered at the coyotes yelp of fear and his sluggish jerking. After a few moments, Johnny went completely limp. Shadow released the belt and rolled Johnny on his side. He put his ear close to see if he was still breathing. He was, shallowly. Shadow went and grabbed the table and propped it against Johnnys back, so he wouldn't roll and choke on his own tongue or blood. Shadow noticed the mallet and shears laying on top of the table. The fuck really did deserve to die, Shadow thought. But Shadow couldn't see Troy being happy with a cold blooded murderer. So he managed to rise, put his lucky belt back on, and stumbled outside the door.
Outside, he was shocked to see how close he was downtown, to the school. He'd seen it plenty of times. This area was just a lot of empty warehouses some nearby businesses used. That was good, that meant he was near the park. Troy.
Shadow leaned up against the side of the building and nearly started sobbing. The park was huge. They could be anywhere in there, if they actually were. He howled and punched the corrugated metal of the warehouse, leaving a dent. A stupid thing to do, it made his paw hurt even worse after that brutal fight.
He should call the police. Get some help. But where would they search? Where would they even start? And it's not like they would immediately send out helicopters and squads of officers at Shadows word. They'd send someone out to write a report...check the facts...interrogate Shadows side of the story....NO. no time for that!
As much as it made him want to scream, Shadow stopped and sat on the hood of Johnnys brown, beat up truck. "Think." He thought, performing his breathing and focusing exercises. "Think. You've been all over that park almost more than the damn park rangers...THINK! Where would some insane, kidnapping, monsters make their lair in the park...?
At first nothing. His worthless mind could not come up with a single idea! Troy was probably begging. Screaming at his captors to let him go. They'd laugh as they hurt or....
All at once, something popped out in his memory. A place he had shunned early on, during the first year of his exploring. A hollow grove of trees. Tire tracks, beer cans, black fire pits. All the indications that some group of jocks or loud mouth partiers had found a little place to congregate and defile. He'd thought it surprising, but understandable, that some group of people would've come way out that direction. Probably wanted a secluded place for some illegal substances and questionable physical activities. Shadow had never wandered remotely near the place again. It was a gamble. But Shadow had no other option he could see than to sit and wait to hear of Troys fate.
Jumping up, he ran back inside the warehouse and retrieved the discarded P30. Shadow was hardly a good shot. The gun felt very unfamiliar in his hands, but it was better than nothing. Not seeing the keys anywhere on Johnny, Shadow came out and looked in the truck window. Yes! They were hanging in the ignition. Shadow climbed in the drivers side and turned the key. Despite the hideous appearance, the engine roared to life instantly. Shadow praised small mercies.
Peeling out and racing from the warehouse parking lots, Shadow sped his way in the direction of the nearest park entrance. All thoughts of calling anyone else flying from his mind. Troy. Troy was in danger, and Shadow was going to severely punish anyone who got in his way.
Like a bolt of righteous judgement, Shadow flew through the darkness toward his dearest friend. Toward the missing piece of himself.
End of Part 6.