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Chapter Twenty-five: Area 44Edit

AREA 44, WASHINGTON, USA
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2006

The next morning they flew out to Area 44. It was located in a beautiful area of the Cascades, right near Mount Baker. The chopper flew down into a large valley. Soon a small compound was visible through the pines.

"Wow," exclaimed Brian. "Just how many were-animals have been in the record so far?" he asked the general.

"So far," replied Stuart, "Including your father and Seargent Andrews, about seven." He turned back to the window of the chopper.

"How long do you think this serum's going to work?" asked Audrey. "Don't you think the virus will eventually develop a structure that will make it immune?"

"That's what I'm afraid of," said Stuart grimly. "Fortunately, it hasn't shown any signs of such an evolution yet. But with McPherson's report of the smart rat, I get the feeling that these were-animals will soon have higher intelligence, and therefore be much more dangerous. But enough of that, here we are!" The chopper landed on the pad of one of the three buildings.

As they entered the compound, Lt. Marone saluted the general. "Sir," he said with a terrible expression on his face, "The Lizard has escaped!"

"ESCAPED!" the general raged. "How?"

"Well," said Marone grimly, "The tranquilizers didn't last long enough, so as were about to give him the serum, he broke through his bonds and escaped. We tried to catch him, but he broke through one of the automatic doors and got loose. There's no telling where he'll be next!"

The general turned to the Harpers and their two friends. "Boys," he said, "I think you'd better be getting along home. You all doubtlessly have important duties that you must attend to. Don't worry, we'll take care of everything here."

Dr. Harper nodded. "Thanks for your help, General Stuart," he said. "Come on kids," he said turning to his family. "I've got patients lined up waiting to see me, and my fellow doctors can't take care of 'em all for long. I've got money to make!"

Soon the chopper was on its way east, heading over the Cascade Range toward their home in Penmount, Michigan. "You think they'll catch him?" asked Fred Montgomery to Officer McPherson.

"Yeah, we sure didn't have much trouble finding that bobcat," answered McPherson. "Of course, these were-animals seem to be getting smarter and smarter. I hope the military can be more cunning than the Lizard is!"

Henry and Carol Jennings had stayed behind to study the virus. As Henry was examining its structure under a microscope, he suddenly let out a gasp. "Sir," he called to Lt. Marone, "Have a look at this."

Marone looked through the microscope. "What the heck?"

A new structure had formed. A new strand of DNA!

"Oh my word," said the liuetenant, "It's changing! Here, let me try some of the serum on it." He took a vial of the liquid, took the slide out from under the microscope and placed a drop on it. Then he placed it back.

The strand survived, and it wasn't long before there was another virus in the other one's place.

"Dr. Harper still has that virus in him," Marone said. "It's just dormant. A concentrated dose of UV rays will reactivate it, and he'll be a cat-monster again. And not only that, but the victim still retains some of the carrier's characteristics. Dr. Harper is only starting to display his."

"That means that Anderws will still be reptilian after he's back to normal! If he ever gets back to normal!" said Dr. Jennings.

"He'll have similar characteristics," said the liuetenant. "But now we have to focus on catching Andrews."

Chapter Twenty-six: The Secret Comes OutEdit

"Montgomery, get in here!" McPherson shouted from his office. Wondering what McPherson was worked up about now, Montgomery entered his office.

"What's going on?" Montgomery asked. McPherson only pointed at his TV in disgust.

"Welcome back to another exciting edition of Channel 11 News!" Chaleen Bright said cheerfully. "In fact, this edition will be particularly exciting," she added with a giggle. "I am now going to tell all you allegiant viewers about something that happened to a...Dr. James Harper in the Porcupine Mountains...something the government doesn't want you to know about."

"She's double-crossing us!" Montgomery said in outrage. "How can she do that? I thought she agreed to keep quiet."

"'How could she do this?'" McPherson asked incredulously. "You're talking about the woman who put her own mother's meth problem on TV for a story, which then led to her mother's arrest."

"Her arrest by you," Montgomery pointed out.

"I was just doing my job," McPherson said gruffly.

"Well, why don't you cut off her broadcast before she can say anything?" Montgomery asked.

"Don't worry," Chaleen said brightly, as though in response to Montgomery's question, "the feds aren't going to cut off this broadcast since it would only validate my claims." McPherson gave Montgomery a look.

"Oh," Montgomery said quietly. "You don't seem too upset about this. I thought you'd be downright irate." McPherson sighed.

"I knew it'd happen eventually," he said. "I just didn't want it to happen this way."

"Oh, how'd you want it to happen?" Montgomery asked him. McPherson didn't say anything.

"Well, the secret's out, so what difference does it make now?" Montgomery asked. McPherson gave him a fierce look.

"The secret's out you say?" he asked angrily. "Not if I have anything to say about it."

McPherson got up and marched out of the room. Montgomery turned to the TV as a cheery Chaleen Bright went on to describe Dr. Harper's hideous transformation with bubbly enthusiasm.

"Thanks a lot, Chaleen," he said to himself. Then he too stormed out of the room.

Before long they were driving towards the local broadcasting station for Channel 11 News. As they passed, they kept a look-out for any deformed creatures which may hint at were-animals. They saw nothing out of the ordinary, but continued to be cautious since there could be a monster anywhere.

When they got to headquarters, both took out their guns, and kept scanning around themselves. Once they entered the main building however, they sheathed their firearms, and, appearing as ordinary people, approached the information desk in the main hallway. A nice-looking young lady was sitting on her chair, watching them intently and with a smile on her face. "Ah, it's you two. Chaleen said that you'd have a bone to pick with her now that her story's out. Do you?"

"Yeah, we do," said McPherson. "Where is she?"

The lady smiled. "Right this way," she said. Montgomery gave McPherson a wink when she wasn't looking, but McPherson only glared back.

The three went into a side hallway, and the lady opened a door to a room. "She will be here in a moment," she told them. They went right into the room, and upon discovering that Chaleen wasn't there, whirled around...and came face to face with a shadowy figure who had been lurking behind the door and who now had a gun pointed at Montgomery's face.

Chapter Twenty-seven: Chaleen's TransformationEdit

James Harper was exhausted. His boss, Dr. Shimmings, had given him a tongue-lashing that day for his disappearance, and as a consequence had given him extra work. As he entered in the door, he collapsed on the couch. Then he heard the station wagon, and knew that Brian would be home from his job at the variety store.

"Hi, Brian," he said, "What's wrong?" he added, spotting the look on his teenage son's face.

"Why didn't you tell me they'd authorized letting the secret out?" he asked.

"What secret?" James asked immediately, sitting up.

"You know, Dad," Brian told him, "the secret." James was horrified.

"You don't mean -" he began, but Brian nodded.

"Not the secret!" he said in outrage.

"Yes, the secret," Brian replied.

"I think I'll give Officer McPherson a call," he said to himself as the kitchen door burst open.

"Why do you go around telling capricious reporters about your 'experience,' but not your own mother?!" shouted Margaret Harper, who was visiting the family for Christmas.

"We did tell you," Brian pointed out.

"Yeah, but you didn't want to!" she pointed out. "'It's top secret!' 'You can't know!' Well, apparently, that ditzy reporter can know!"

"Grandma, we wanted to tell you," Audrey said reasonably, "we really did and we didn't tell that stupid reporter anything." Margaret sighed.

"Well, I guess we'll have to take your world for it," she said eventually.

McPherson and Montgomery were now sitting in what had formerly been an intern's cubicle with several people pointing guns at him. A bright, sunny look on her face, Chaleen Bright entered the room and waved merrily at them.

"Hello," she said in her usual high-pitched voice. "You two having fun?"

"Chaleen, what do you think you're doing?" Montgomery asked him. "I thought we had an agreement."

"Yes, we did, didn't we?" she said giddily. "Well, a reporter sometimes has to make choices - very," she giggled, "difficult choices. Look at the choice I had - keep a secret that would come out eventually anyway or let out the greatest story of my career."

"It doesn't make any difference," Montgomery told her. "No one's going to believe you." Chaleen smiled widely.

"Maybe not at first," she said sweetly, "but more and more were-beasts are forming. Soon, everyone will know and I'll be a hero for being the first to tell them."

"You don't care about being a hero!" Montgomery shouted. "You just want to have the story!" Chaleen's smile widened. It was probably just Montgomery's imagination, but her eyes seemed to turn yellow for just a fraction of a second.

"No," she replied, "but it's certainly a fringe benefit." With that she turned to leave the room, but then she stopped.

"Oh, wait, I forgot - several national broadcast stations have already reported my," she added with a giggle, "report. Several major stations have asked me to make an appearance...but which one? ABC? CBS? NBC? FOX? The Daily Show? Oh, this is going to be hard decision." Chaleen left the room giggling to herself.

Chapter Twenty-eight: Growing ProblemsEdit

Dr. Harper pounded his fist on the table. "That confounded reporter! We should've just let her rot in that prison! Now she's going to get the whole national media to our front door!"

"No kidding," said Audrey. "But, I suppose the public would eventually find out anyway. Oh, I dread the thought of going to school tomorrow! The whole staff and all my friends are going to bombard me with questions!"

"You're not alone," said Brian. "My boss is gonna kill me for not letting him know."

"I'm going to call McPherson right now and see how this whole thing happened!" James said angrily, and reached for the telephone. He could hear it ringing on the other end. "Hello?" said a voice. "This is Officer Dave Brenton. Can I help you?"

"Where's McPherson?" demanded Dr. Harper.

"He's at the local TV station," answered Dave. "Who is this?"

"This is Dr. James Harper, the cat-man. Listen, I need to talk to him right away!"

"I've been trying to get a hold of him all evening," replied the officer. "His cell phone must be turned off."

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. "I have to go," said James. "If you contact him, tell him to call me!"

"Ten-four," answered Dave, and James hung up. "Oh no!" exclaimed Margaret. "There's a group of reporters outside!"

"Don't open the door!" whispered James. "Lock it! Lock all the doors, and the windows too! We're not at home!"

Unfortunately, one of the reporters had seen them through the front porch window. "Hey," he shouted, "Is this the Harpers?"

"No," said Brian. "You got the wrong house. They live on the next street, and they're on vacation."

"But this address matches the one Chief McPherson gave us!" persisted the reporter.

"That dirty bastard!" growled James, frustrated. "How could he do that?"

Just then, the phone rang. Brian answered it. "Hello?" he asked.

"This is McPherson," came an exasperated voice on the other end. "I need to talk to your father!"

James took the phone. "McPherson, if I ever get my hands on you I'll wring your neck! How could you give away our address to these snot-nosed reporters?"

"I was forced," said McPherson. "They have me and Montgomery at gunpoint! You've got to help us!"

"How can I, with these bees surrounding my house? What shall I do, dig my way out?"

"Tell them you'll talk to them later. Please!"

James hung up, and then turned to the door. "All right," he yelled, "I've got some business to attend to right now but I'll tell you what you want later. Right now I have to get to my office. There's an emergency!" He winked at Margaret, who grinned.

"All right," came a voice, "But we'll be waiting when you get back!"

James unlocked the door and opened it, and there to his utter chagrin stood Chaleen Bright! But she looked much different. Her hair had gone gray and her eyes were glowing bright yellow. Her ears had become pointed, like those of a bat, and her fingernails had grown considerably longer. Her nose was smaller and more like a snout.

"Dr. Harper," she said, her voice even more high-pitched than normal, "I've come here to see you." Audrey screamed.

"Ms. Bright, what's happening to you?" she shrieked. "You look...different." Chaleen giggled, but it sounded more squeaky than normal.

"I th-thought you might want to add your own two cents worth to this st-tory, D-Dr. Harper?" Chaleen asked as she stepped towards James.

"Ms. Bright, are you all right?" Audrey asked. "You've started stuttering." As much as she disliked Chaleen, Audrey couldn't help worrying about what was happening to her.

"I'm f-f-fine, little g-g-girl, now g-get of my w-w-way," Chaleen said, pushing Audrey aside to get closer to her father, who quickly walked away from what was already part-woman/part-beast.

"Chaleen," he said nervously. "Chaleen, I think you've been bitten."

"W-w-what makes you s-say that, Dr. H-Harper," she asked as her gray hair started growing down onto her face right before their eyes. All the reporters immediately turned their attention to Chaleen, almost forgetting the Harpers were even there.

"Why're you all looking at me?" she asked desperately, her voice higher pitched than ever before. "What's happening?"

Apparently she noticed the change in her voice, because she put her hands over her vocal cords. As the arms of her blouse were ripped in half by her growing wings, she desperately looked around at all the cameras pointed at her.

"Now, really, do you have to do that creepy thing in here?" Margaret asked suddenly. All the cameras still pointed at her, Chaleen ran to the nearest mirror.

She saw her half-finished, hideous transformation and screamed a high-pitched bat-like scream.

Chapter Twenty-nine: Out of ControlEdit

GENERAL STUART'S OFFICE, TOP-SECRET LOCATION
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2006

Lieutenant Marone always hated approaching General Harold Stuart's office with news like this. Though the general was known for being very efficient and "shooting the messenger" wasn't particularly efficient, Stuart still had quite a temper...especially with news like this.

"What is it, Marone?" Stuart asked gruffly.

"Well, uh, a situation has arisen in regards to the were-beast situation," Marone said carefully.

"If you're talking about that blabbing reporter from the town in Michigan," Stuart told him, "I already know all about that. All we have to do is dig up a little dirt and discredit her - it's no big deal."

"Uh, I'm afraid it is a big deal, sir," Marone told him. "The-the reporter I mentioned she-she..."

"She what?" Stuart asked sternly.

"She-she became a were-bat," Marone told him slowly, "on a live TV broadcast in Penmount. The footage has already been replayed countless times on many stations all around the country." Stuart didn't say anything and Marone found himself thinking that Stuart may take this well after all.

"So everyone knows," Stuart said eventually, "and there's no way we can undo it." Marone nodded grimly.

"Very well," Stuart said. "If we get the situation under control, it won't make any difference. Have we made much the progress?"

"No, just the opposite, sir," Marone said solemnly. "Yesterday, we managed to change three people back, but twenty-nine were newly infected. This thing is getting out of control." Stuart sat back in his chair.

"And what of that peppy reporter?" he asked.

"After she turned into a bat," Marone explained, "she flew through the ceiling of the Harpers' house and into the Porcupine Mountains. She hasn't been seen since." Stuart swore to himself.

"Get some people down there to find her," he told Marone.

"But sir, we barely have enough people to handle the other cases," Marone replied. "There are now fifty-one cases that we know about and we can barely handle them."

"All the more reason to get more people on it," Stuart replied firmly. "Now, move!"

"Yes, sir," Marone said as he quickly backed out of the room, thinking that it could have been much worse.


Breakfast

The Harpers at breakfast

"You're lucky they got that bat thing on film," Margaret told James. "If it weren't for all those cameras, the insurance would never have believed that a person transforming into a giant bat wrecked the ceiling."

"Yeah, very lucky," Brian said sarcastically. "I'm so lucky I can't go out of the house without being called 'Son of the Were-Cat.'"

"Let this be a lesson to you," Margaret continued. "The next time someone's going to do something like that, make them do it outside so it doesn't wreck the ceiling."

"We didn't know it was going to happen!" Audrey said in exasperation. "In fact, he didn't even want that stupid woman in our house in the first place."

"It's not nice to call people stupid," Margaret said sternly.

"Well, technically, she's not a person anymore, is she?" Brian pointed out.

Suddenly, the Harpers heard hammering on the door. Annoyed, Dr. Harper got up and walked up to the door. He looked through the peephole to see Montgomery and McPherson and opened the door.

"What is it?" he asked. "My family's in the middle of breakfast."

"We've got a situation," McPherson told him seriously.

"Wait, how did you get away from those reporters?" James asked them.

"Without Chaleen, it was much easier to convince them to just set us free," Montgomery replied.

"I see," James answered. "So, what's the situation?" Montgomery and McPherson looked at each other.

"The - the reporters, the town, e-everyone has been scared by what happened to Bright," McPherson said, his voice shaking. "They-they don't want it to happen to them."

"Really?" Brian asked sarcastically. "What a shock."

"Brian, be quiet," Audrey told him.

"They're-they're..." McPherson said, his voice still shaking. None of the Harpers had ever seen McPherson this nervous before. "They're coming here," he finally managed to say. "We tried to convince them otherwise, but they're convinced you're still a threat and they're-they're going to..."

"A-a lynch mob?" Brian asked. Montgomery nodded solemnly.

"The were-animals are spreading across the nation and there are already a few cases in Mexico and Canada," he told them. "People are panicking and the law has already collapsed in many remote towns...and Penmount is now one of them."

Chapter Thirty: The Wolf Edit

Meanwhile, in the cold, snowy Porcupine Mountains, a hunter was loading his shotgun. Paul Stuart was his name. He and his friend, Ernest, were setting their sights on a rare winter buck that had wandered into the clearing. "Quiet," whispered Paul. "Don't scare him off!"

"You know, Paul," said Ernest quietly, "It really isn't a good idea to be hunting right now, seeing as how there's all these were-creatures around. There might be one in this area!"

Picture 016

The Vapire Bat (completely transformed)

"Nah," said Paul. "If that were the case, that deer would be running right now."

Right after he said this, a horrible, high-pitched wail filled the air. The buck looked up once and charged into the forest. The two men looked at each other. "Get your shotgun ready," said Paul. "If we get this one, we could be heroes!"

But he didn't know that the monster was sneaking up behind him. Ernest turned around just in time to see a horrible, batlike creature gliding towards his friend. Its glowing yellow eyes were quite off-putting, but the fact that it was wearing a pink blouse and women's slacks was even scarier considering that that meant it was one of the were-animals.

"Paul, look out!" he shouted, but it was too late. The Bat landed on top of Paul, knocking him over. Then it began ripping at his throat.

Ernest nearly threw up. He ran as fast as he could, straight back in the direction they had come.

Unfortunately, night was falling and the snow was falling, so the tracks were becoming covered. Soon, Ernest was lost. Refusing to panic and give in to despair, he found a sizeable cluster of pines and, unloading his sleeping bag, found a comfortable spot to spend the night. "When morning comes," he thought, "I'll find my way back."

In the middle of the night, he was awakened by a howl. "A wolf!" he thought. "Great!" Reaching for his 20-gauge, he heard pattering feet in the distance. He got up and looked toward the sky, which had now cleared and was lit by a full moon.

He heard another howl, this time from very close by. Soon, he could see the dark shape of a wolf walking slowly towards him through the woods. "Back!" he shouted, aiming the barrel of his gun at the animal. It kept on advancing. Then, without warning, it made a flying leap. BANG! went the shotgun. The bullet found its mark, but the wolf landed on top of him. Howling with pain, it sank its fangs into his arm.


A foot violently kicked the Harpers' door off its hinges as its owner stepped into the deserted living room, followed by several angry townspeople. It was Dr. Shimmings, James Harper's boss.

"Harper!" he shouted, looking around the empty room. "Harper, come out here now!" There was no reply, so Shimmings turned to the mob.

"Search the house!" he shouted at them. "If you find Montgomery, McPherson or a Harper, kill them! We'll get that cat-man if we have to tear down this entire house!"

"They will not escape!" replied Blake Jones, one of Audrey's schoolteachers. "We'll kill Harper if we have to chase him into the Porcupine Mountains!"

"Oh no you won't!" said Officer Dave Brenton, who had followed the mob in his police cruiser. "You leave him alone. He's been cured! There's no more that needs to be done!"

"He's a menace!" said one of Dr. Harper's co-workers. "Why didn't they tell us that he was a monster? They were keeping it from us! I'll bet he's out there now, trying to spread his disease around! We have to stop him!"

Chapter Thirty-one: AmbushEdit

At this moment, Dr. James Harper and his family, as well as Ranger Montgomery and Officer McPherson, were staying at Montgomery's house. The TV was on, and they were watching the horrifying scene as the mob destroyed the Harper home.

"Curse them!" hissed James. "I've put up with Shimmings as long as I could, but now I'd just like to scratch his eyes out!"

"Why don't we just go destroy his house?!" Brian growled, striking his fist to his hand.

"That wouldn't do any good," Audrey said calmly. "What we need to do is to hide."

"I know, why don't you all come back to my house in Detroit?" suggested Margaret. "No one would bother us there!"

"That wouldn't do any good," said Montgomery. "They'd track us there. We have to get out of the state, at least until this disease dies down."

Suddenly, there was a howl outside.

Montgomery's dog Bunnell whined and curled up into a dark corner, but Dr. Harper jumped up and ran to the window. Looking out, he could see something coming down the hill through the pines toward the house. "Get down, everybody!" he said urgently.

"What is it, Daddy?" asked Audrey in a small voice, terror etched across her face. Dr. Harper didn't answer for a minute, his face pressed against the glass. Finally, he said, "It's a werewolf!"


In one of the high-tech research buildings in New York City where the cures for the were-animal disease were being manufactured, several people in white doctor's uniforms, including Drs. Henry and Carol Jennings, were conversing:

"This is getting just awful," said Carol, "we're running short on supplies, at least for now. The next batch won't be ready for a few more days."

"Has any research team explored the possibility of a vaccine?" asked her husband Henry.

"Yeah, it seems that one of our hopes for now is to vaccinate everyone," Carol replied, "but that'll take a lot to accomplish. The anti-serum is costly to produce, and we can't have enough for the entire nation in time."

"Okay, so let's review what we know about this," said Henry, "We have a vaccine that's been proven to work, and once it's administered, the patient can't be affected by any strain, right?"

"Right," Carol replied. "And there's also these other facts..." she added, handing her husband a piece of paper.

Chapter Thirty-two: The Alliance is FormedEdit

FORMER SITE OF THE HARPERS' RESIDENCE, PENMOUNT, MICHIGAN, USA
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2006

Shimmings walked through the ruins of the Harpers' house, which had now been utterly flattened. He casually stepped over the bloody body of Officer Brenton, who had been beaten to death by the mob.

"So...we didn't find him," Shimmings said to the rest of the mob.

"No, but we'll find him eventually, sir!" said Blake Jones.

"Oh, but it will be useless," Shimmings replied. "There are now over a hundred and fifty of these beasts all around the country and, after putting them back in human form, the government just lets them go free! Does this need to change?"

"YES!" shouted the mob.

"What we need to do is form an organization," Shimmings said, "an...alliance, if you will, that will fight the war with these were-animals. Who's with me?"

"WE ARE!" shouted the mob in reply.

"There are already people in other towns across the country who have begun fighting these creatures," Shimmings informed them. "If we all unite, victory over the were-animals will be ours! Who's with me?" There was silence for a moment.

"You already asked that question," someone pointed out.

"Well, humor me," Shimmings told them. The townspeople all glanced at each other for a moment.

"WE ARE!" they repeated.

"Thank you," Shimmings said, grinning maliciously. "I, Deman Shimmings, now announce the formation of...the Alliance! Now, who will lead the Alliance?"

Shimmings

Dr. Shimmings

"YOU!" shouted all the townspeople, pointing at him. Shimmings looked at them with mock coyness and put his hand over his heart.

"You're too kind," he told them. The mob began cheering - cheering for victory over the beasts...and for death to Dr. James Harper.

"First of all," Shimmings said, "We'll pay a little 'visit' to Montgomery's house. He's the nearest. Then we'll go see McPherson's place. They're not to remain alive!"


The monster came closer and closer until it reached the side of Montgomery's cabin, and then started sniffing. It could sense people were inside. For the most part, Ernest was now a ferocious beast, but he still retained some intelligence, so he was able to find the door. However, the mutation had caused him to forget how it worked.

Werewolf

The Werewolf.

Dr. Harper watched it from the window. It was very wolf-like; it had thick, black hair, yellow eyes, a long snout and sharp fangs, and yet it was as big as a man and stood on its two legs. It still wore the torn remains of camelflouge clothing, suggesting that the man was hunting at the time he was bitten. "Don't make a sound," James whispered to the others, but Officer McPherson still drew his gun. "I'll shoot him if he comes inside," he said.

"Just stay still," said James, and went back to observing the werewolf. It was sniffing around the door, trying to find out how to open it. It came up to the handle, sniffed at it, and then looked at it intently for some time. It was just about to try to use it, when suddenly it looked down toward the road, howled and took off back to the woods. James was puzzled for a few seconds, but not for long.

"The mob's here!" he shouted to the others. Brian slammed his fist against the floor, and Montgomery sighed in frustration. "They're after all our houses," he said grimly. "Come on, there's a back door. We'll take that way to the woods."

"But what about that werewolf?" asked Audrey. "And the Bat-Woman is bound to be around there too!"

"I've got a shotgun," said Montgomery, taking the 12-gauge off of its holder over the fireplace. "And McPherson here has a gun too. Now let's run!"

They made it out the back door just as the mob broke down the front one. Shimmings burst in, shouting, "Montgomery! It's no use hiding! You're dead now!"

He swore in frustration. "He must've escaped already!" Suddenly, there was a shout from one of the townspeople. "I see them, Shimmings! They're running into the woods!"

"AFTER THEM!" shouted another. "We'll get them yet!" The mob cheered, waving their guns in the air, but Deman held up his hand.

"No, wait!" he said. "I've got a better idea." A wide smile on his face, he turned to Blake Jones.

"How well do you know the Harpers?" he asked Jones seriously.

"The girl thinks I'm the greatest teacher in the world," Jones replied proudly. Deman smiled a twisted smile.

"Good," Deman said silkily. "You will make the perfect double agent. Go in the forest, find them and befriend them. Once you get the opportunity, I want you to kill them all!"

"Yes, sir," replied Jones and with that he ran into the forest.

"Why are you doing this?" one the townspeople asked incredulously.

"Practicality," Deman answered smoothly. "We have bigger fish to fry and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Let's go."

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