Back | Next


• • •

From near and far the creatures gather—winged and hoofed, clawed and fanged, and armed with quick rending maws. Great hulking beasts appear that the world has not seen in uncounted ages: reptiles that crawled in great primeval swamps long before human foot trod the Earth; saber-toothed tigers and winged pterodactyls. And others: bears and apes; foxes and antelopes, all converge on a small hotel on the outskirts of Denver, as a snowstorm gathers over the Rocky Mountains.

Outside the hotel, some change shapes—a quick twist, a wrench of bone and flesh, and where the animals once were, there now stand men and women. Others fly into the room, through the open balcony door, before changing their shapes.

In there—in human form—they crowd together, massing, restive. Old and young, hirsute and elegant, they gather.

Outside the day dims as a roiling darkness of clouds obscure the sun. Inside the men and women who were—such a short time ago—beasts wait.

Then of a sudden he is there, though no one saw him shift shapes, no one saw him arrive.

He is not huge. At least not in his human form. A well formed man, of Mediterranean appearance, with well-cut if somewhat long lanky dark hair, sensuous lips and a body that would not have looked out of place in a Roman temple. He appears to be in his middle years and wears his nakedness with the confidence of someone who feels protected in or out of clothes.

But it is his eyes that hold the assembly in check—dark eyes, intense and intent—that look at each of them in turn as though he knew not only any of their possible sins and crimes, but also their nameless, most intimate thoughts.

"Here," he says. "It is here. It is nearby."

"Here," another voice says.


"So many dead. Shapeshifters. Dead."

"We can't let this stand," someone says.

"It won't stand," the leader of the group says. "We'll find those who killed the young ones of our kind. And we will kill them. The blood of our children calls to me for revenge. I've executed the murderers of our kin before and I will do so again."

"The deaths happened in Goldport, Colorado," a voice says from the crowd and a finger points. "That way."

"I will be there tomorrow," the leader of the meeting says. A tenseness about him indicates certainty and something else—an eagerness to kill again.


Back | Next