[NOTE: I switched to first person perspective here and am reworking the first four chapters to follow the same fashion. In my opinion, it makes the story flow better. I'll post the first four when I get them fixed.]
The next few months went by in a blur. I quickly realized that Harry and Marcus were looked up to by every supernatural on the Northside and went out of my way to be friendly with them. It wasn’t hard; they were genuinely good people. However, I just as quickly realized that no matter what I did Sherry was going to be unhappy with me. She filed a mountain of complaints with the Captain and was especially incensed by my "religious insensitivity", which boiled down to the fact that I always took my supernatural prisoners to a Catholic church to turn them over to the Michaels.
I tried it her way the first night, only to have a Michael come out the front doors of North View Baptist and roar at my vehicle. There was overwhelming disapproval in the tone and the words were driven into my head like a spike. "Corporal Tavish Danger Dixon, these people do not believe in Purgatory and we shall not act in contradiction to their belief. Anyone delivered to us here will spend their punishment time in Hell. Go away." It took over thirty minutes to recover my senses and I immediately drove to the Cathedral because it was the only Catholic church I knew how to get to. The next day I used MapQuest to track down all the Catholic churches anywhere near the Northside. If it came to a choice of whom I was more afraid, Sherry wasn't even in the same league as a Michael.
Still, in general everything was starting to work out pretty well. I was getting to know the populace. On the Northside it seemed like one in every couple hundred or so were supernaturals and it wasn't all that hard to figure out who they were. If I walked into a room and someone got really nervous, that person was the supernatural. Between talking to the other officers in CIS and my own observations, I came to realize that the Northside was the place where the looked down upon supernaturals were herded. If a supernatural lacked in power, looks, or popularity he ended up eventually going North. Some, like Harry, embraced their banishment. Others, like Marcus, chafed at it. Sherry, thank goodness, was the only one who reacted by becoming a crusader.
I was also getting to know the rules, which were definitely different than the laws of men. For instance, underage supernaturals who cheated on tests or sports were sent to the Michaels. Most of them never had to go back, except for the Urayuli kid (I learned quickly that “Sasquatch” was considered insulting and “Big Foot” could about get your head ripped off) who thought he was special because he was the star center for the Bryan Station High School football team. The kid was being looked at by college recruiters from top five programs and he was more than a little cocky. I’d already run him in four times, and none of the violations were supernatural in nature. The kid liked to chop block and every time he did it in a game his coach, also a Urayuli, turned him in. Coach Vincent had already told me exactly how he expected this to play out. The Michaels would only take the kid five times at a Catholic church; the sixth time Dixon would have to turn him over somewhere Protestant. “It'll only be a two day sentence, but he'll be straight after that.” The coach had frowned and squeezed his eyes shut, obviously fighting off an unpleasant memory of his own. “It happens to a most of our young males.”
The roads to the Saint Peter Claver, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul churches were all burnt into my head. For the first three months, I was handing a supernatural over to the Michaels almost every night - and many nights two or three. Some of these were normal enforcement, but the vast majority were supernaturals who tried to take me out. At first, I was extremely paranoid about this. After a while it became routine and I realized the Captain was right. I really was the Road Runner and these yahoos couldn't lay a hand on me no matter how hard they tried.
Some of the failures were spectacular. There were the two trolls who knocked each other out while they were fighting over who should try to kill me first. There was the invisible sigben who tried to suck my blood out through my shadow and got hit by a UPS truck rolling down the street. Finally, there was the owl-man who dove on me, collided with Sherry in mid-air, and impaled himself on an iron fence. Sherry had filed yet another complaint on that one, claiming I was somehow responsible for the fact she was flying overhead spying when the attack came.
Anymore, I really didn’t pay attention unless an attack caused damage or hurt someone. Mostly, I just picked up the latest supernatural after he had somehow knocked himself out and delivered him to the Michaels. Word got around pretty quickly that if the attack damaged property the Michaels kept the supernatural two years and if anyone was hurt the supernatural involved got somewhere between five to ten. However, if the attack took place in an isolated area the Michaels only kept the supernatural six months. Consequently, most of his challengers only tried to face me in quiet, out of the way places and I avoided those places like the plague. After a while, the pace of attacks slowed down, but at least once a week somebody would try his luck.
Tonight I was at the Bryan Station football game. The Defenders were playing the Clark County Cardinals and in the greater scheme of things the game was meaningless since neither team had a winning record. Still, the place was packed with parents, kids, and alumni. It was my night off and I’d decided to spend it at homecoming, hoping against hope that Station would keep the Cardinals out of the end zone at least once tonight. Station’s offense was amazing this year, but its defense was correspondingly terrible. At the half the score was thirty-one to twenty-eight after Clark County kicked a fifteen yard field goal at the last second.
I was in line at the concession stand when a voice came from behind me.
“Well, if it isn’t Danger Dixon, the cop who stood up my little sister.”
I turned around to see a muscular man who was at least six and a half feet tall and almost as wide. I didn’t know what this brick wall was talking about, but the middle of a crowd was a terrible place for a showdown with yet another supernatural.
“Look, its my day off. You people have got to understand that there are times this stuff can’t happen. Look around, you can’t hit me but there are a lot of people who could get . . .”
A giant fist slammed into my face and I found myself on the concrete. My God, he hit me. One of them has figured out how to hit me! I reached for the Glock in my back holster; its magazine was filled with the incredibly expensive silver, steel, and hand carved oak bullets that Sanchez swore would stop anything supernatural. Just before I could get the pistol cleared, Marcus stepped out of the crowd and stood in the line of fire, facing the giant.
“Son, you’ve said what you needed to say. It’s time for you to leave.”
“I ain’t afraid of you, cur. We know how to take care of your kind out on the farm.”
Marcus tensed and a murmur went through the crowd as a lot of people read an entirely different meaning into the words of the big, white, country boy wearing Cardinal red. The big man looked around and seemed to realize that more than half the people in the crowd were black. He blanched. “I didn’t mean that. It’s not because he’s black. He’s a . . .” His words trailed off as clearly he realized what he was about to say wouldn’t make sense to most of the people. Then he turned and pushed his way through the crowd, walking quickly back toward the Clark County bleachers.
Marcus turned around and extended his hand. I reholstered my pistol and reached up to take the helping hand. Once I was back on my feet a young woman wearing a green and gold cheerleader’s outfit handed me a cup filled with gatorade. Then Marcus and the cheerleader walked me toward the Bryan Station bleachers.
About halfway there Marcus waved the girl on her way and she dashed off to a group of cheerleaders who were lining up to welcome the football team back onto the field.
I pointed over to her. “One of yours?”
“No, she’s Anna, the panther you met at Castlewood.”
“How’s that? I thought panthers were from Appalachian families?”
“Are you saying there are no black people in the Appalachians?”
“Pretty much. Back when I was a student here I used to go to Hazard, Whitesburg, and Paintsville on the wrestling team. I don’t remember seeing anybody who wasn’t lily white.”
Marcus sighed. “Sorry Tavish. That kind of reaction seems baked into me anymore. I think it’s from arguing with Sherry so much.” He nodded his head toward the cheerleader. “Anna comes from a pack family. However, she was unusually stubborn and told her parents she was not going to become a coyote. We get that once in a while and my standing orders are to wait until the person wants to join the pack. But, her parents pushed. They set up the ceremony for her sixteenth birthday and told her that she was going to join the pack whether she wanted to or not. Instead, she went out and found a young panther - a geeky kid who was dumbfounded by a cheerleader taking interest in him - and talked him into biting her the day before the ceremony. It caused a big scandal and some bad blood at the time; the geeky kid ended up leaving to go live with relatives in Pennsylvania. Harry, of course, thinks it’s hilarious and he took Anna under his wing. That was two years back. Everybody’s pretty much over it now.”
“And speaking of bad blood,” Marcus said, “What was that back there?”
“Don’t ask me. I was just going to get a hot dog and this man-mountain appeared behind me accusing me of treating his sister badly. Then he hit me. What kind of supernatural is he Marcus? I thought none of you could hurt me?”
“He wasn’t one of us. Heck, he wasn’t even sent by one of us. Anyone we send as an agent has the same problems we do. He was a mundane, operating on his own. There’s only one explanation for it - you must have dumped his sister.”
“It’s a good theory, except for the fact that I haven’t been out on a date for about eighteen months. The last girl who even showed interest was that succubus who tried to kill me about three months back, and I don’t really count that.”
- - - - - -
I left the game early, but pulled my car up near the exit where I could watch the gate with my binoculars. The big man came out in the middle of a bunch Clark County supporters, celebrating their win. They walked to the same row in the parking lot, climbed into their vehicles, and left in a convoy. I’d been toying with the idea of following my attacker and trying to talk to him alone, but there was no way that was going to work now. Instead, I got the license plate off the beat up little pickup truck and watched as the man-mountain drove away.