Some of the men had flashlights and they set them on the ground to point at Cain and Strife as they stopped in front of the temple complex, their backs to the open pit. The Leader stood there as he seemed to take the measure of the two men before he finally spoke in Slavic accented English, “I am told you are soldiers. Mercenaries. Then perhaps you’ll understand this. Tell me where you hid the merchandise and you will be paid. Continue to thwart my men and I and you will both die. It is that simple.”
“Two thousand,” Strife said with a grin. “That should get us across tha Mediterranean and leave a little change in our pockets.”
The man laughed, some of his men joined in. “Is that all? I expected a much higher number. Very well. Now… tell me where my explosives are.”
Strife leaned forward as if it were a big secret then he whispered loudly, “I stuck ‘em up a camel’s ass.”
Cain just sighed, “Idiot.”
Strife looked over at him with that same shit eating grin, “That’s why ya…”
His words cut off by the crack of a pistol. The bullet slammed into Strife’s chest. He looked down at the blood as it bloomed across his shirt. His legs shook as he took a wobbly step back. “…fuck me…” And he toppled over backwards into the pit. They could hear the heavy thud of his body as it hit the ground below.
Cain’s eyes were wide, his body shook with barely controlled rage. He looked back at the man who interrogated them as he holstered his weapon, “Now perhaps you will be more honest. Where are my explosives.”
He shook his head, “You shouldn’t have done that. God damn… you shouldn’t have done that.”
“Your friend was a fool. You do not seem to me a fool. If you know where he hid the explosives. Tell me and this will all be over.” He flicked ashes from his cigar onto the ground.
Down in the pit Cain heard the familiar sounds of bones as they snapped, tendons popped, as flesh rearranged. He laughed, “I ain’t the fool here mother fucker. You don’t know what you just did. You… and all these fuckers with you are gonna die.”
The Leader scowled as he pulled his gun from the holster once more, “I ask one last time. We will find my explosives no matter what, your friend did not have enough time to hide them too far from here. I would rather be gone before the sun rose though.” He cocked the gun, “Where are my explosives.”
From deep in the pit a rumbling growl sounded. It was loud enough to cause the sand to vibrate. Cain just laughed. The Leader gestured to one of his men to look in the pit and see what that was. The man didn’t look thrilled but he picked up one of the flashlights as he approached the edge of the pit. When he leaned out to shine the light into the shadows, something grabbed him by the ankle and yanked him down into the darkness with a shout of alarm. A scream of terror shattered the night before the sound cut off abruptly with the wet sound of flesh as it ripped. Moments later something flew up and out of the pit. It hit the ground with a thud before it rolled toward the Leader’s feet. It was the man’s head, his face permanently locked in a fearful scream.
“Told you mother fuckers. You’re all gonna die.” Cain’s laughter finally ceased. When Mr. Smith had tied his hands, he’d made a slip knot and pressed the end into Cain’s palm. As he tugged on the rope something came crawling up out of the pit. The flashlight the first victim had carried was still down in the pit to backlight the monster who crawled out.
Strife was a big man. As a beast, he was massive. He was over eight feet tall, had to weigh nearly five hundred pounds. Muscles rippled under the grey fur that covered his body. Claws meant to slash and tear tipped his fingers and toes. His maw filled with teeth like daggers. As he stood to his full height the beast ROARED!
Men screamed. The scent of piss and shit heavy in the air as terror made men void their bladders and bowels. The Leader stared with mouth agape. His cigar fallen to the ground right next to the severed head of his man. Then as if a spell had broken men began to fire their weapons at the monster in their midst. Bullets slammed into flesh but did little more than to piss the beast off. Without silver on those bullets they wouldn’t do any permanent damage to the beast.
Strife crouched then sprang forward. He crossed nearly twenty feet in what felt like an instant. He snatched the rifle from the hands of one man only to throw it aside. Then he grabbed the second with claws that stabbed into the man’s guts and hooked in his ribs. With the same ease that a wolf might use to savage the lamb he lifted the second man and slammed his body into the first. Bones broke. Flesh ripped. And men screamed in agony before their pain ended at the hands of the monster.
Cain shook free of the ropes which had bound his wrists as he knelt. He pulled up the hem of his jeans to grab the knife he kept strapped there. With blade in hand he ran directly at the Leader. He could have changed. He could have let the beast out to rip and tear alongside Strife. But he didn’t want the beast to take these kills. Cain wanted the blood of these men. The beast would just have to wait.
The man only noticed Cain at the last moment. He brought his gun up, but it was already too late. Cain grabbed the man’s wrist as he pushed his arm up. When the gun sounded it was above Cain’s head as he came in low. He thrust his blade deep into the Leader’s gut as their eyes met. The man cursed Cain as pain filled him. Cain didn’t care. He sawed the blade back and forth until with a wet sound the man’s guts spilled from his belly. The gun fell from nerveless fingers as Cain forced the man to his knees, then onto his back.
“I could give two shits what you bastards were up to. But y’all mother fuckers ruined my god damned vacation.” He pulled the blade free from the man’s stomach, blood up to his elbow. With a feral grin, he slashed across the bastard’s throat and left him to drown in his own blood. Cain picked up the gun, checked the clip, looked back, and turned to crouch and snag the spare clip from the dying man’s belt. As he slapped a new clip into the gun he looked around.
Strife was having a grand time as he ripped his way through the men who had come in the truck. He had that well in hand. Cain didn’t need to worry about any of them escaping. Strife was too thorough. He turned his steps back toward the camp where the fire still flickered and nervous men watched the shadows as they heard their compatriots scream in terror and die brutally.
Cain ran his tongue over his teeth. He opened himself to the beast just enough to enhance his already sharp senses. His nails lengthened to harden into claws which could rip and tear as easily as Strife’s. With knife in one hand and gun in the other he took off at a run back toward the camp. Strife’s rampage was more than adequate to cover any sound he made. He couldn’t see the two who had traveled with them yet. Either they hid, or had possibly made a run for it. They wouldn’t get far. He would track those fuckers down just to make sure they died a horrible slow death.
The two left to guard looked young. Their facial hair sparse, their eyes scared. They stared out into the darkness as they looked toward the sounds which echoed back to them from the ruins. Cain probably could have just said boo and they would have left a yellow trail in their wake. But they had chosen the wrong people to work for. Their lives were forfeit as much as the others. He paused only long enough to take his knife by the blade before he threw it. For a heartbeat, it disappeared in the darkness, then when it reappeared it had struck the first man in the neck. He gurgled as he dropped his gun so his hands could grab at his neck as his life blood pumped out with each beat of his heart.
The second didn’t get a chance to go after the hostages as Cain put two bullets in his chest. He ran into the light of the fire as the second man crumpled to the ground. He looked at his fellow tourists before he snapped. “All of you… On your feet.”
Cain took the first rifle to hand to Mr. Pierce. The man gave his wife the colt from his waistband. She wiped her tears before she checked the safety and clip. Cain looked at the others, “Who else knows how to handle a damn rifle?”
Mr. Smith slowly lifted his hand, “…boy scout… uhhh… Used to win competitions.”
“Good fucking enough.” was Cain’s terse reply as he handed the second rifle to the car salesman. “Now y’all need to get in that truck over there and get the hell out of here. If they got a map, use it. Otherwise head east to the Nile, then north until you find civilization again. Don’t stop for no damn thing.”
“What about you and your friend?” Mr. Pierce asked as he looked back to where the screams continued to sound.
“We got this handled.” Cain retrieved his knife from the dying man’s throat and wiped it off on the man’s shirt.
“What about the Higginbotham’s?” Mrs. Smith asked as she held her children close to her. The hippies had already run off toward the truck.
“Go. I’ll get this.” As the others left he walked over to Mrs. Higginbotham and her husband. He knelt across from her then reached over to lay his hand atop hers where it held her husband’s. “I know it hurts. But you can’t lay down and die with him. And you know damn well he wouldn’t want you to. You’ve got grandkids back home. They are gonna need you more than ever now.”
At first, she didn’t seem to hear. She used her thumb to wipe away spots of blood from her husband’s face. Slowly her gaze lifted until she met Cain’s eyes. “…he promised me forever.”
Those words hurt. “And someday he’ll be waiting for you on the other side. You know he’s gonna need you to help him find matching socks. Come on. We’ll get him into the truck so you can take him home. You know your kids will want to say their goodbyes.”
Silent tears left tracks down her face. Her hand came up to cup Cain’s cheek. “You’re a good boy.”
Cain smiled as he held her hand against his cheek. Then he let her go, tucked the gun into his waistband before he carefully leveraged Mr. Higginbotham up and across his shoulders. The man had at least six inches in height on Cain and probably 50 pounds if not more. He had mentioned more than once he married his wife for the way she cooked. With a grunt, he stood. The man’s blood ran down the back of his shirt as he waited for Mrs. Higginbotham to get to her feet, then they headed for the truck as fast as they could go.
When they reached the truck Mr. Pierce and his wife were in the cab while everyone else was in the back. The hippies helped Cain get Mr. Higginbotham into the back one of them gave up his jacket to cover the man’s body, then they helped Mrs. Higginbotham into the truck. Cain moved to where he could see in the side mirror and gave the all clear. The truck kicked up a lot of dust as it took off. He hoped to hell they found their way to civilization. He had no idea where their guides had gone… but as it looked like half the camels were gone as well. He figured they took off during the chaos.
Cain rolled his head on his shoulders. The sounds of carnage were not as loud. Strife must have taken care of all the easy kills. Anyone left probably hoped the beast didn’t find them. Too bad there was no where they could hide where the beast couldn’t find them. Strife didn’t like leaving a job half done. No survivors. All Cain wanted was the two sons of bitches who started all the bullshit. If they hadn’t decided to use the tour group as a cover then Mr. Higginbotham would still be alive. Hell, they could have handed over their merchandise and no one would have been the wiser. But they fucked up Cain’s vacation, and he wasn’t going to take that lying down.
He walked over to what remained of the fire. He kicked dirt over it to smother the coals and the flames sputtered out. Now the only light were the stars, moon, and a handful of flashlights left lying where they fell. Somewhere out in the darkness were the two he held responsible for the shit show. Now all he had to do was flush them out of whatever hole they’d dug themselves into.
Cain moved in silence as began to search. He checked the tents first, those he checked he cut the ropes which held them upright. As each one crumpled it left one less place for the men to hide. A fresh scream ripped through the air, a single shot sounded, the wet sound of flesh as it ripped and tore, then silence. Cain heard pebbles as they clattered over stone. He angled his trajectory in that direction as he kept to the shadows thrown by the light of the moon. Soon enough he caught the scent of his prey. They headed for the river, perhaps in the vain hope that a boat might be there. It would have been better if they’d made for the desert, at least then they wouldn’t have their back to water.
He increased his speed until he could see the pair. The scent of their panic was delicious as Cain’s mouth began to water. The beast clawed at the cage of his ribs. It wanted out. It wanted to tear into those men. But Cain kept the beast at bay. This would be his kill. When the men darted from one shelter to the next Cain called out in Italian. “You should not have ruined my vacation. You should not have killed the innocent.” A pause as he let some of Strife’s drawl into his words. “You boys done fucked up.”
The one with the mustache spun and fired off a single shot. It struck the ground somewhere off to the right of Cain. They scrabbled across stone and sand as they sought to put distance between themselves and the one who hunted them. Ancient columns rose out of the darkness as they fled. One could almost smell the incense that must have once permeated the temples built there. Would the gods of old approve? How much did their hearts weigh in comparison to a feather?
Cain stopped, aimed his Colt, and when he fired the man who had shot Mr. Higginbotham screamed as he fell, his knee shattered by Cain’s bullet. His eyesight was much better than theirs in the dark. As he continued to stalk forward the other man looked back once then continued to run. He gave no care for his friend, only for his own useless hide.
“Don’t go nowhere.” Cain said as he stalked up to the wounded prey. He kicked the man over and put his boot between his shoulder blades as he took the man’s gun and flung it off into the dark. There was still one more. The one shot wouldn’t get far even if he did try to flee. Cain looked over his shoulder as he continued his hunt, “Make peace with your god… while you can.”
He heard the man curse him before he broke down in sobs. Cain snorted in disdain then picked up his pace once more. The mustached man gave no thought to stealth. Flight his only concern. It made him sloppy and easy to track. When Cain caught sight of him once more he stood at the top of a steep embankment. The water below a tributary of the mighty Nile which was still some distance away.
“You gonna jump?” Cain called out as if they were both just out for a Sunday stroll.
The man let out a startled yelp as he spun to face Cain. His gun came up. “What are you?”
“What am I?” Cain laughed. “I’m a man just trying to relax. See some of the wonders of the world. Be a civilian for a while. A tourist. I didn’t come here looking for trouble… but damnit if you didn’t bring some right into my lap.”
He continued to walk toward the man. “But that’s not what you want to know is it. You saw my mate when he crawled up outta that pit didn’t you? You saw a monster and you hauled ass. You are probably questioning everything you thought you knew about the world aren’t ya? How many of the old legends are true?”
The moon reflected off Cain’s eyes as he stopped only a few paces away from his quarry. “I’m here to tell you. They’re all true. Every single one. Mermaids. Vampires. Ghosts. Fairies. They’re all real. Hidden from most folks too dumb to see what they don’t wanna see.”
A howl ripped through the air. Cain smiled, his lips peeled back from his teeth. His canines exposed where the man could see they were much longer than was natural for humans. “And werewolves… yeah. We’re real too.”
He caught the scent of urine as the man’s bladder released, a wet spot spread across the front of his trousers. With a fearful shout, he fired his gun again. The bullet slammed into Cain’s shoulder as he stumbled back a step. With a growl he straightened, pulled his shirt to expose the wound. He let just enough of the beast’s power flow through him that the wound began to close, the bullet fell out and into Cain’s palm as he heard the Libyan start to sob. “And yeah… the bit about silver is true. Too bad you’ll never get the chance to use that knowledge.”
The man pulled the trigger again but heard only a click. And another click. And another. His clip was empty as his knees shook till he collapsed. The gun fell from nerveless fingers as he seemed to pray. Cain rolled his eyes at the absurdity of it all. He stalked forward to grab the man around the neck and pull him up just enough so their eyes met.
“You’re pathetic. Not even worth the bullet it would take to kill you.” He looked down at the water as a smirk spread across his lips. His claws sank into the man’s neck as the bastard screamed. Blood ran down his prey’s neck to stain his shirt. Cain leaned in close to whisper in the man’s ear, “Give Sebek my regards…”
The man who had caused Cain so much grief had just enough time to look at him with confusion before Cain shoved him backwards. With a shriek, he tumbled down the embankment head over heels until he landed in the water with a splash. Cain watched as the shapes he’d seen in the water began to close in. The prey looked over his shoulder and screamed again even as he tried to scramble forward out of the water. The crocodiles were too swift and in their own element. One lunged forward and with a mighty snap its jaws closed on the man’s leg. It dragged him as he screamed and flailed back into deeper water as more crocodiles closed in. Cain heard one final waterlogged scream, then the only sounds were the splashes of the crocs as they death rolled to tear off pieces of their midnight snack.