It was only a little under two miles to the Hunter Family Compound – but we got flagged down by the Channel Three News Van, which almost forced us off the road.
I was cold, wet, and tired. Now I was pissed off.
"Remember, Joe" cautioned Meredith. "You're not allowed to shoot them."
I remembered Sherman's comment – "I could shoot every reporter in this camp, and by morning, they'd be writing dispatches from Hell."
"What's the matter?" I said, "You guys lost?" I jerked my thumb over my shoulder. "The explosions iste is a half mile that way."
I moaned as I realized I was looking at Keri Rivers, the popular reporter-ess from Channel Three.
While I have nothing against women in journalism, per se, Keri Rivers was of a type that annoyed me. Long blond hair, always getting in her face, and a head toss that tended to arch her back and thrust out her already large – uh –chest.
"Agent Laub, I'm here about the Wolf Case – and we have some questions. You told us this morning you were from the US Department of Fish and Wild Life, but you identified yourself to Niagara County Emergency Services as a unit of Homeland Security."
"No comment." I said, my face still as granite.
"Additionally, a Black Hummer was seen in the vicinity of an old farmhouse that caught fire about an hour ago – a fire in which human remains were found."
"Really?" I said.
"And then, you are here at the site of an enormous explosion – a suspected meth lab, I understand, and there were also fatalities."
"So?" I said, keeping my face bland.
The rain had pretty much stopped, and the rest of my team had unloaded – well, except for Gleep, who stayed in the Hummer, for obvious reasons.
Besides, he didn't like getting his fur wet.
"This is all very suspicious to me" persisted Keri, as she kept the microphone in my face, and the cameraman focused on me.
I sighed and then Merideth coughed. She rubbed her ear and smiled. "Perhaps we should tell her the truth, Agent laub." She said in a joking voice.
I brightened up. It was a prank worthy of a Leprechaun.
"OK, you got us." I said. "We" I waved my arm to indicate the team. "- are from a secret organization known as the ZOMG – the Zero options Management Group."
"Really?" she said, "What do you do?"
"Well, in this case, our mission is to find a missing werewolf child, who was abducted three days ago in Pennsylvania."
"A what?" said Keri.
"You heard me, a werewolf. We've since found out that there is a group of people that are operating a sex-slavery ring here in the area, kidnapping children to meet specifications set by their buyers – who usually torture and kill them." I shrugged. "The slavers specialized in stealing children from poor, back country areas, and transporting them a distance away. The farmhouse that was burning?" I said, "was a holding facility for the children, where they were tortured and trained to be compliant little playthings for their owners."
"But why did you kill them?" said Keri, her face a mask of shock.
"Oh, WE didn't kill them." I said with a wide smile. "The werewolf did. We're simply tracking him so we can get him back to his parents."
"And the explosion at the meth lab?" she said, her smile frozen on her face.
"None of our doing." I said.
"Hey," she said, looking at Jesse, "you look familiar."
"Why," said Jesse in a deep bass voice, "Thank you very much." He smiled, a wide smile with a lot of teeth, "I used to be a popular singer, but I decided I liked this job better."
"No." said the camerman, lowering his camera. "It can't be."
"Name's Jesse, m'am" he said, putting out his hand. "Jesse Garon."
"Oh and you need to meet our other member." I said. "Hey Gleep." I yelled, "C'mon out for the camera."
Gleep came to the door of the van and launched himself into the air, circling the newsvan and landing on my shoulder. He had his ipod in his hand, but he pulled out one of his earbuds. "What up, Boss?"
"Say Hi to the nice people, Gleep."
"Hi, nice people." He said, as he put the ipod in his vest pocket and pulled out an bannan. "Sorry," he said as he chewed an swallowed, "You caught me eating lunch."
The two newspeople looked like they were going to fall over.
"Well, look." I said, "We have to go report in with our boss, because the werewolf is supposed to be over by Olcott. So, see you later."
We all waved cheerfully and got back in the Hummer.
Dana looked at me. "Sir, wasn't that a total violation of every one of our security protocols?"
I chuckled. "It would have been, if we didn't take precautions."
"What precautions?" she said.
The rest of the team chuckled.
"Holy #$!" Keri said to Mike. "Did you get all that?"
"I got it but I sure as hell don't believe it."
"A guy who looks a lot like Elvis, AND a flying monkey?" exclaimed Keri. "We need to uplink this now!"
Mike hit the button to raise the satellite link.
Nothing happened. "huh?" he said.
He went forward to the driver's seat and tried to start the engine. The only thing that happened was that he clicked the key. No panel lights, no starter, no anything. " #$%!" he said. "It was working fine a second ago."
"! #$!" said Keri. "Grab the Camera, we'll call for somebody to come get us." She pulled out her cell phone. "drat." She said. "It's dead."
"I'm getting a bad feeling here." Said Mike, as he pulled out his phone. It was also totally dead. He slid back to the camera. It was also electronically dead.
He was starting to feel a bit lightheaded and dizzy.
"There's a little convenience store down this road." Said Keri frantically. "Grab the camera and let's go."
They walked the half-mile to the convenience store, and Mike was felling progressively worse – or maybe better. It was almost as if he was stoned or something.
Keri was talking a mile-a-minute, but he was following little of what she was babbling.
At the Convenience store, Keri got on the phone to the Station News manager, Irv Jolls.
Irv had been in the broadcasting business for over fifty years, almost all of it at WKVZ. Originally a sportswriter, he had wound up working both the morning and noon news, as well as hosting a popular childrens show, Commander Irv's Playhouse. Eventually, he had moved up to the noon and evening news, and an afternoon edition of Commander Irv's Playhouse. A generation or so of Buffalo Area Children had grown up knowing him as Commander Irv, the host of old RKO serials like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, as well as Warner Brothers Cartoons.
When Keri told her what she had been told, he sighed and asked her what she had been smoking.
"But it's all true, Sir." She insisted. "Even the flying monkey. We have it all on videotape."
"Keri," he said, "I'm sending a car down there for you. I'm going to send Tom and Pete to cover the meth lab explosion. Let me see what is on the camera." He hung up.
Keri hung up her phone, and looked at the store owner, who had listened to her side of the phone conversation with great amusement. "Hey," she said, "where's the potato chips?"
"You see," said Meredith, "I can manipulate electrical flows at a short distance."
"Huh?" said Dana.
"Every electronic circuit in that van was so much fused junk as we drove away." Said Meredith.
"But," sputtered Dana, "you still talked to them. They saw all of us, including Jesse and Gleep."
"A flying monkey?" I smiled. "and an Elvis sighting?"
"Besides," said Meredith, I can also do short range teleports of small amounts of mass."
"Uh, oh." Said Dana, laughing as she got into the spirit of the thing. "What ELSE did you do?"
Mike was sound asleep, the camera in front of him, as Keri munched an entire family size bag of chips and considered buying another one. She watched the rain, willing the car to get here sooner.
Wolf and Susie ran across Lake Road and slid down the embankment to the shores of Lake Ontario.
She was terribly cold, and frightened, and Wolf was shivering also. He found them a rock ledge to shelter under and a bit of plastic tarpaulin. Susie wrapped the two of them up in it and they both went to sleep.
Irv Jolls looked at Keri Rivers and Mike Tidd. They had dried out somewhat on the ride back to Buffalo, but they still looked like homeless people.
He sighed. "I do not know WHAT possessed you two today – and especially to do this, on a day when two big news events happened. But as a result of this, you caused us to get totally scooped on not just one, but two major news events."
"Do what,Sir?" said Keri – "with what we have on the data cartridge, that's the biggest news story of the century."
"The data cartridge." Said Irv. "The totally fused data cartridge." He said, "it's useful for nothing except maybe a paperweight."
"Huh?" said Keri.
"You two both tested positive for using marijuana, you know." Said Irv.
"What?" said both of them. "No!" said Mike, "I don't want to lose this job." He said, "I've been staying clean and not using anything."
Irv sighed. "I want to believe you, Mike." He said, shaking his head sadly, "but are you asking me to believe that there's a secret government agency with Elvis and a Flying Monkey, and they somehow totally destroyed all the electronic devices in your vehicle, and then drugged you against your will?"
He shook his head. "Or should I believe that you guys decided to pick today to screw off on station time, get stoned out of your minds, and got your vehicle totally fried by a lightning strike?"
"Uh." Said Keri.
"Look, you two." Said Irv kindly. "Go home, and we will talk about this tomorrow."
In the morning, Wolf and Susie woke up, chilled to the bone, but alive.
Wolf felt a pull in his mind, a pull to follow the shoreline.
"I'm hungry" complained Susie. "I need some breakfast."
Wolf whined, and indicated for her to follow him.
They walked along the shore for awhile, and they both smelled frying bacon.
It seemed to be coming from a big house, set back from the beach.
"Maybe, if we ask nice, they will give us some food." Said Susie.
They walked up on the stairway, and suddenly a large wolf leaped off the porch and ran down to the pair of them.
Wolf sniffed the big wolf, and remembered a familiar smell. "Father" was the thought in his mind.
A couple people were looking at the two wolves wrestling and playing on the ground, and they waved to Susie to come on up.
Michael hunter looked at the briefcase I handed him. "I can't open it." He said.
"O'Hennesy said the Wild Hunt would be working a few days" I said. "Perhaps you won't be able to open it until after they've one their work."
"H'mm" said the Director. "It's possible"
The Director looked at me and sighed. "You know, you guys really shouldn't pick on reporters like that."
I chuckled. "Maskirova. We told them the absolute, God's honest truth." I chuckled.
"Then fried their electronics and Meredith cast a spell to get them stoned." Said the director sternly, but there was a twinkle in his eye.
"I wonder if they'll be stupid enough to try telling their story?" I mused.
"Nobody in their right mind will believe them." Said the Director.
Irv looked at the mechanic in consternation, which match the look he was getting.
"Irv" said Ray, "every circuit in this van is totally shot – we might as well total it."
"How'd it happen?" said the News Director.
"I would say, "Lightning strike" – except there isn't a scorch mark on the vehicle." Ray Johnson scratched his head. "A lightning strike hard enough to cook electronics like this should have melted the vehicle – and killed everyone inside."
"Huh." Said Irv. "Even their cell phones and digital watches were fried."
"That's impossible." Said Ray. "Not with those two still alive." He looked at Irv. "Sounds like one of those EMP weapons you read about."
"they had a cockamamie story about a secret government agency." Said Irv.
"Heh." Said Ray. "I was expecting you to tell me that they were talking about UFOs."
"They tested positive for marijuana" said Irv, "but claimed they hadn't been doing any drugs."
"Sounds fishy to me, Irv." Said Ray as he stretched. "Nobody admits to doing drugs when they get caught on a drug test – but this?" he waved at the vehicle. "This damage is like nothing I've ever seen before."
"OK," said Irv the next morning. He looked at Mike and keri, and in a dry tone, said,"Here's what we're going to do."
Keri Rivers looked at the hand puppets with disgust. "This is ridiculous."
"Hey, you still have a job." Said Mike as he moved the studio cam on its trolley. "Besides, the hours are better and we don't spend as much time on the road."
"Time, people." Said the Producer from the broadcast booth. "We go live in three-two-one!"
"Hi, boys and girls!" said Keri with a wide smile. "It's time for Keri's Playhouse!".
she manipulated a monkey hand puppet. "Good Afternoon, Mr. Gleep. How was your day?"
This completes another episode of "Tales of the ZOMG" Tune in next week for another exciting episode, as the team must deal with Iroquois Native Spirit Guardians, Environmental Protestors, Oil exploration companies, and South Bay Bessie - the Lake Erie Monster!