3.54 – Maximus

3.54 – Maximus

I summon the echoes back to my hands and push up from my stomach. I scan the area for Lizbeth, ready to get back into the fight. A hand on the back of my head forces me back down. Only as I struggle do I realize this isn’t Lizbeth, and I’m not in alley somewhere. This is a bed, in what seems like a cross between a rundown 1970s bedroom, laboratory and hospital.

“Down child. You’ll re-open the wounds on your back,” a stern, strong, yet calming voice speaks.

“Where am I,” I stop resisting.

“Doesn’t matter. Just know the one called Destiny has left you in my care. You will be safe here.”

“Well, who are you?”

“I am Maximus, The Red Wolf of Honor,” he speaks with pride now.

“Well Maximus, how did I get here?”

“She said that you would not remember the ordeal that you had gone through. Very well, I shall tell you how you came to be in my care. I shall gather some libations for us to thank the gods for your survival as well as keep us warm through your story.”

I’m sure this guy saved me, but If he keeps talking like a character from some cheesy movie based in Ancient Rome or Greece, I’m going to kill myself. Why did Destiny bring me here, and where is she now? I need answers, not libations. Maximus returns and drags a stool next to the bed before dropping a straw into a glass of what looks like whiskey.

“Drink,” he says before drinking straight from a bottle of Jack Daniels.

“Thanks,” I grimace as the taste lingers, still not a big drinker. “What happened?”

“You tangled with a werewolf, a young one,” he chuckles.

“I remember that.”

“Tell me then, the last thing you remember. Perhaps we can skip some of the story.”

“I got smacked into a wall and the back of my head busted open.”

“This one is a fighter. She has chosen a man who fights even as the ghosts wield control of his body.”

“I’m sorry, what does that even mean?”

“You managed to slice the wolf’s face after that. Even as you were knocked to the ground you continued to swing at the feet. You are a vicious creature when cornered. A human with the spirit of a Lycan. It is good. It has kept you from becoming a Lycan, with only a small amount of aid from myself.”


“During the fight you were struck with a deadly claw that filled you with the blessings of lycanthropy, or illness as those without knowledge would claim. That is why you were brought to me. I performed a transfusion and exorcism to remove the wolf spirit from your body.”

“Thanks, Maximus. You sure know a lot about wolves.”

“The Red Wolf of Honor is not an exaggeration. It is an epithet I earned over seventy years as leader of my pack.”

“Is this where your pack lives?”

“My pack is no more. I lost my position to a younger stronger wolf,” he drops the theatrics. “That is the way. I tried to live with one of the stationary packs in a place called Belle Island for a while but could not. There was no honor, only a lust for power and control over the pack. The Alpha had an ongoing affair with a werecat despite his mate’s undying love for him. Created some bastard offspring he calls his heir. I came here to walk the path of solitude. Now drink your medicine.”

I’m left to lie on my stomach, drink way too much whiskey and stare out of the window. I asked Maximus what happened and he told me more about his own past long ago than what happened in my last few hours, maybe even days. He didn’t bother to tell me how long I was out for. I’m relieved as I notice Destiny arrive outside the window. I can get some real answers now. Maximus leaves to greet her and I eagerly wait for her to come through the door. Her face doesn’t look excited as she enters.

“Something bad happen,” I ask.

“You almost died, and Maximus has been drinking. Can you walk?”

“I haven’t been allowed to try.”

“Please try to stand up before he has anymore to drink. From what I’ve heard he’s a real monster when he drinks.”

“You don’t know him that well? He speaks like you’re an old friend.”

“I brought him booze because he was the only one who could stop you from becoming a werewolf. That made us friends in his book.”

I struggle to my feet as Destiny gathers my things. I don’t bother with my shirt, it’s been torn to shreds. She helps with my pants and shoes; the wounds on my back limit how well I can move right now. A large thud followed by a howl outside let me know we’re in trouble. I glance out the window and Maximus is knocking over trees.

“We need to move fast. Sorry if this hurts,” Destiny kisses me on the cheek.

At first I thought she was talking about the kiss, and I haven’t had a painful kiss from her yet. Before I realized it, she had lifted me into her arms and carried me outside. She tosses a towel over the front seat of her car so the blood from my bandages doesn’t stain the seats. Soon we’re driving away from the cabin at the end of the dirt road as I witness another tree collapse. Maximus really has some issues to work on.

“Werewolves are big and strong. But their rage is uncontrollable. The ones who can tame that rage are the scary ones, they can think when they fight. They can even make a smooth and painless transition at will, even saving their clothes sometimes. Only if they can control themselves, otherwise they just become big brutes. Maximus was once the leader of the largest pack in the Midwest. He feels it was taken from him through trickery. He’s a doctor, a man who knows a great deal of magic, and since that day, he’s a drunk. He gets upset thinking about the past when he’s drunk,” Destiny speaks as we drive, knowing I had questions.

“Did you know all of that when you left me with him?”

“Yeah, and I knew he was the only one nearby that could keep you from turning before the next full moon.”

“When’s the next full moon?”

“Do I look like a farmer's almanac? Just make sure doggy doesn’t try to chase the car. I don’t have enough to fight him tonight,” she speeds up as we make it to asphalt.

“Did you catch Lizbeth?”

“Yeah, had a little help.”

"Who,” I don’t really know any of other friends.

“Well, some of those Marson guys had been following me, Lizbeth just smelled vampire. Went after them. They softened her up before she finished them off. I took her out before she could recover. The Marsons have loyalty, and numbers, but they’re weak. She barely got past me and you, but two vampires were a walk in the park,” she chuckles. “They really are useless when they aren’t manipulating or ambushing people.”

I just close my eyes and try to rest, even if the pain won’t let me sleep. I know this thing with the Marsons isn’t over. They’re tracking both of us, probably known associates too. I’m not an expert, but that’s what I would do if I were in their shoes. Sooner or later, they’re going to make their move. Hopefully they don’t make it until I’ve got some cool scars instead of a debilitating back injury. I really hope my scars are cool.

“Shit, this is too much. I’m going to get you killed at this point,” Destiny starts to talk.

Does she think I’m asleep right now? She must not know how much pain I’m in, or how drunk I am. I’ll just let her keep talking and figure things out on her own. I don’t have any real input to provide at the moment. I’m not even sober enough to be a good listener.

“I need to get out of town for a moment. Throw them off my tracks, but I can’t leave him here in this condition. No, I have to. It’ll give him time to heal up.”

I don’t want her to leave me, but I understand, as long as she’s going to come back for me. I just need to do my best to heal up and elevate my skills so this never happens again. If anything, I’m the one who let her down. I couldn’t do anything against Lizbeth except get knocked out, and not remember half of the fight. What good is that? Even if she’s only gone for two weeks, I’ll be stronger when she comes back. That way she never has to worry about me again.


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