Raven’s Way – The Beginning

There is danger and death in our midst. A malignancy that rides the nighttime breezes underneath the soft breathe of a fullmoon. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is about to be drawn into a nightmare never realized before. Creatures now prowl the moonlit streets that Detective Kathleen Morello has sworn to protect. Always the professional, her life and values are about to be torn apart. However, an extremely rugged and handsome, but equally strange and dangerous man, has arrived to help track down this monstrous beast which only knows how to kill and who despises humanity. Johnny Raven, a creature of legend himself, will introduce Detective Morello into a world of nightmarish proportions, as well as steal her heart and make her experience love like she never has before. After all, she is only human for now. Come take a journey along the streets and through the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, a journey of blood and death, fear and terror, love and passion, dreams and nightmares. Dare you travel with Johnny Raven and Detective Kathleen Morello? Are you prepared to experience the moon’s haunting caress, as well as the monster’s bite? Soon the entire story will be revealed, but until then remember that a shadow may not always be just a shadow. Look a little closer for the real nightmare to begin, MysticWolf.

Following is the first chapter of “Raven’s Way”. I hope you become hooked and want to read the entire story once it’s released. Philadelphia will never be the same.

Chapter 1

There was death in the air. Pure evil! Other than the occasional nervous chirp of an anxious cricket, the loudest sound in the restless air was the wayward call of a lonely owl echoing off the stygian darkness. A silky whisper of brittle leaves warily danced across the forest carpet, adding a peculiar spookiness to this scene ripped from the pages of any first-rate horror novel. However, this was real and hell was near.
It was obscenely quiet! Danger grabbed the night in a strangle hold of ominous ferocity. Animals that normally romped by day now huddled shivering in their tiny dens this very night, and not from the bite of winter winds, but rather the heart-stopping scent of death within their midst. Creatures that usually hunted underneath the veil of darkness knew enough to stay safe and not to venture out for fear they would become prey themselves.
And so the deadly quiet persisted!

Moonlight slithered through small cracks in the sheltering canopy above this quivering world. Sporadically, a piece of moonbeam would reflect off two feral, yellow ovals – eyes of the beast. It could easily be said this was not just any beast. The creature that stared with unblinking gaze was beyond the ken of human thought. Legends had been created about monsters that prowled underneath a full moon. Frightening tales whispered around flickering campfires, nightmares for those who believed in them, sheer terror for those who did not. For these nightmares to become reality then death would surely ensue. There were no enemies this insidious creature had to fear for he and his kind were the ones to be frightened of. Its’ world was the underbelly of humanity. His prey those foolish enough not to believe in monsters and for the cast-offs that society had all but rejected.

But under tonight’s moonlit spell, this obscene creature itself was the prey. Harried voices broke the nighttime stillness, mingled with the frenzied baying of scent hounds whose bravery alone came from the manic urges of the pack and that of a firm master’s hand. Scathing beams of flashlights, like an army of drunken cyclops, sliced through the haunting, inky darkness. This frightened search party sought an unknown killer with a sickening picture of the mangled bodies of two young boys still etched horrifically upon their minds. Their slaughtered innocence had been discovered by a startled jogger in Fairmount Park beneath a sobbing moon. The beast they searched for was a destroyer of unspeakable savagery whose killing fields lay below a shivering heaven. Sadly, these brave men truly had no conception of what horror lay in wait for them, only the stark realization they could be slaughtered next.

A low rumble erupted from the beasts’ massive chest, enough to cripple with fear the staunchest of men. And, if someone was unlucky enough to hear this menacing growl, it would most likely be the next to last sound they heard before listening to the snapping of their own bones lost amid a final death rattle.

The creature suddenly moved and slid like a mysterious shadow into the swirling fog. Death had now entered the arena and there was not a prayer to be spoken that would prevent it from happening. No weapon in their puny arsenal, or faith and belief in a higher power, could help them this night. Blood would be shed because they dared search for a creature from their darkest nightmares.

In a spastic eruption, the dogs suddenly went berserk as they were assailed with the scent of a most dangerous prey. Quickly, barks of anxiety became cowardly whimpers and yelps of terror. Two frightened beagles broke free from their long tethers and sped off, hoping to see another sunrise, their master yelling obscenities and threats, but to no avail. Tango, a very misguided coon dog surged forward though, either extremely brave, or just too stupid to realize what lay in store for him. His older brother Charlie just stood his ground and growled a tepid warning, tail no longer wagging as nervous slobber dribbled from his quivering jowls.

Tango rushed forward and charged into the brush, anxious to please his handler and claim bragging rights. He stopped quickly, nose pointed to the ground, nostrils flaring as he picked up a scent never encountered before. But deep down, passed on through generations of hunting dogs before him, his brain registered danger while his fear screamed wolf. With his frantic barks and mournful baying now ceased, the stillness was even thicker than before. Lonely crickets no longer chirped. Wary, observent owls were too alarmed to hoot a warning from their lonely lookout posts. Frightened dogs had completely lost any desire for the hunt.

Well, all but for that crazy Tango.

“Tango, Tango, hey boy,” his handler yelled, followed by a sharp whistle. “You crazy coon dog, whatcha’ got boy?”

Tango knew he had possibly heard the voice of his owner for the last time as he raised his head and stared at two bright yellow, murderous eyes. The coon dog’s head dropped low as he curled his tail securely between his legs, falling to the ground in what he hoped would be a life-saving sign of submission.

It didn’t’ work! The dark shadow with the ferocious glare moved at breathtaking speed. With a mighty swipe of massive claws the monster severed the coon dogs head, sending it sailing through the moonlight like a spinning football heading for a game winning field goal. It landed no more than three feet in front of Nestor, Tango’s handler, and then rolled awkwardly to lie at the quivering toes of a frightened Charlie.

“Holy shit!” Nester screamed out loud, both in shock and rage. “Oh my God, Tango. It killed my Tango.”

A roar of unspeakable horror split the night, sending icy shivers up and down the spine of every policeman. Nestor couldn’t pull his eyes away from the severed head of his beloved Tango. He felt his arm yank up and back, his hand releasing the other leash. Charlie knew enough to turn and tear ass from whatever creature was out there. Nestor, however, was not that smart.

Hearing another roar and then a wild thrashing of brush, he glanced up and came face-to-face with a heart-stopping vision of evil. A mouth full of slavering fangs and fetid breath was no more than six inches away from his very frightened face, the beast staring at him with maniacal hatred and a monstrous need to kill.

Nestor, with warm urine pouring down his pant leg, had but a few seconds to whisper, “Dear God, forgive me for I have sinned….” before his throat was savagely torn out and death viciously yanked him away.

Suddenly, the night erupted with frenzied shouts of nervous policemen, followed by a rapid volley of panicky gunfire. Flashes from urgent rifles lit for a second the terrified eyes of each shooter. Bullets whizzed and crashed against innocent trees, with an occasional scream of pain when one impacted soft, human flesh, jellied from fear.

“Hold your fire! Damn it, stop shooting,” yelled a frenetic voice.

Echoes repeatedly bounced around like a soccer ball as Captain Ganz tried desperately to minimize the damage from friendly fire being inflicted by his own men. As the crescendo died down the only sounds Ganz heard were the rapid breathing of Officer Leightman to his left and the unsteady pounding of his own slightly damaged heart. He figured this was not good therapy for the newly inserted stents that now resided in two of his arteries. Suddenly, he was startled as a frightened coon dog nearly bowled him over, Charlie racing by to follow the paw prints of his deserting beagle brethren.

“Nestor, hey Nestor, you okay? Can anybody out there see where Nestor is?”

Getting no response from his good friend was not the answer Ganz had hoped to receive. Then he heard a startled voice and glanced to his right.

“Captain, over here ….. holy shit,” followed immediately by loud, rapid heaves resulting in the violent eruption of an earlier dinner of chicken pot pie and mashed taters.

Ganz grabbed Leightman by the shoulder and, after pushing the officer’s rifle away from his own face, moved towards the direction of where the vomiting was still coming from. He thought this night was just becoming more and more of a nightmare. What kind of unspeakable hell were they stalking? Lord, for that matter, what now monstrously hunted them?

He felt Leightman stumble and fall forward. Ganz immediately swerved and pointed his flashlight toward the ground. Quickly, the cheeseburger and fries he had eaten around seven o’ clock almost roared back up his throat.

Leightman lay sprawled across Nestor’s savaged body, his flashlight beam shining garishly upon dark blood still spurting wildly from two evenly severed carotid arteries. Off to the right, with tongue lolling from the side of an open mouth, stared the black, unseeing eyes of Tango. Ganz felt himself reeling backwards before he was held up by someone closely behind him.

“Jesus H. Christ, what did this? What kind of monster is out there?” whispered Captain Nathan Ganz. He had spent nearly thirty years on the Philadelphia police force and had never in his entire career been this terrified of anything in his life. But he clearly knew that what they now faced was not taught in any classroom at the academy, or faced on any street corner with some gun-wielding assailant. Monsters like this were not ever meant to exist outside of nightmares and movie screens.

With a silver moon glittering off the tranquil, black water of a peacefully meandering Schuylkill River the distinct, savage howl of a rapacious wolf vibrated the stark Philadelphia skyline. Captain Ganz instinctively made the sign of a cross as he stared down at the mutilated body of Nestor Shirreck and the head of his beloved Tango.

Thank God tomorrow was Sunday because he desperately needed to talk this one over with the big guy upstairs, along with Father Joseph who thought Nathan was a little crazy anyway. Especially since wolves, or monsters, were not supposed to exist in his wonderful City of Brotherly Love.

(c) Kerry L. Marzock 2006