This is a Dog World tie in story edited by Stacey Turner.
Rookie’s Last Ride
by Jason McKinney
James Cooper hated the night shift. He was halfway through his year long probationary period and had begun to rethink his career as a police officer with the LAPD.
His training officer, Bill Gutierrez, didn’t have to be told that Cooper hated the assignment; it was written all over the twenty-four year old officer’s face. Cooper seldom pissed a bitch, as Gutierrez put it, but he could tell by his partner’s mannerisms that Cooper was starting to regret taking the job.
Cooper had been lucky, according to some of his peers, to be assigned to the West Valley Division of the LAPD becauseWestValleywas usually as quiet as it could get forLos Angeles. The peacefulness was only occasionally disrupted by hit and runs, burglaries or a disagreement turned shooting. However, without fail, James Cooper found himself working perimeter instead of doing anything of great importance, every time. Even with that being the case, Cooper had grown to somewhat enjoy the mostly quiet assignment. It was the 24-hour a day cop life itself that was bothering him. He didn’t think he was really cut out for it and quitting seemed like a better idea, now more than ever.
“Getting sullen on me over there, rook?” Asked Gutierrez, as they drove through the lamp lit quiet streets.
“Hate it when you call me ‘rook’, William.” Cooper said, straightening up and turning his gaze from the passing poorly lit strip malls and fast food places.
Gutierrez chuckled. He knew Cooper hated the term and only used it to rile the young man out of his quiet wandering thoughts. “Yeah, I know and I hate it when you call me William too.”
“Sorry… Bill. It’s just that…” Cooper trailed off, unsure of what to say next.
“Well, I know you’re not about to say that you wish there were more action.”
“Yeah… no… I don’t know if this is what I want to do with my life.”
“Jesus, Coop, you’ve been on the force for only a year and half of that has been with me in this car. C’mon, what did you expect in your first six months?”
Cooper gave a wry chuckle and said, “Not being relegated to writing speeding tickets and setting up perimeters for shootings was a good start for my expectations.”
“Here we go again…” Gutierrez said, rolling his eyes.
“Seriously, Bill. You’re a great guy and all but don’t you get tired of policing the bullshit of ungrateful assholes?”
Gutierrez jammed on the brakes and pulled the cruiser to the curb. Turning on the roof lights he leaned over to Cooper. “Can that talk, okay? I’m not just on the job for those ungrateful assholes as you put it, I’m on the job for me too. I love being a cop. I love the LAPD and I love doing something that matters. And yes, it does matter. You want action- you join the Marines. You want to piss a bitch about other people’s attitudes then you go and do it somewhere where it won’t matter. Being a cop is about the most thankless career in the world next to being a whore. Tell you what, do me a favor and shut up. Don’t talk anymore unless it has something to do with our patrol.” Gutierrez leaned back into his seat and looked at the young officer, watching for his reaction.
The wide-eyed expression on Cooper’s face was new and the look in Cooper’s eyes worried Gutierrez more than a little. “Or if you can think of any place good to eat,” Gutierrez added, trying to take the edge off of what he’d created. “That all night hot dog and burger joint’s not sitting well with me lately.”
Gutierrez turned off the roof lights and pulled back onto the street. They rode in an uncomfortable silence for several minutes. It was the site of a wolf standing in an open field as they drove along a winding road that forced a break in the silence.
“We should call that wolf in, Bill,” said Cooper. His voice was level and calm and he actually felt better after hearing Gutierrez’s speech.
“That wolf back there? Leave it be.” Gutierrez said, glancing over his shoulder, giving it a sad look before turning his attention back to the road.
“What about the wild animal attacks that have been happening? That wolf could be related to them,” said Cooper. He reached for the transmitter, trying to figure out how to phrase the call.
Gutierrez sighed. “Yeah, I’ve heard about ‘em. More to it than what you’re hearing though.”
“Really?” Cooper said, sure that his partner was about to pull his leg. “And what’ve you heard?”
“I’ve got friends past you, Rook,” Gutierrez said with a smile. “A few of my friends in West and South Divisions say that there’s more victims than the six that the press guys are letting on to.”
“You’re messing with me. More than six? Come on, Bill. Try again.”
“Seriously,” Gutierrez said, looking at Cooper, “there’s been forty-five in all.”
“Fucking messing with me. I haven’t heard anything like that.”
“Believe it, Jimmy-boy. Forty-five with thirty-seven of those being done by someone inside the residence. I shit you not. And that’s just in LA County alone. It’s spread from here up and down the damn coast.”
“You’re not funny, Bill.”
“Who’s trying to be? Haven’t you noticed the increased LA Sheriff and CHP patrols?” Gutierrez gave a long laugh and Cooper took the mirth the wrong way. Gutierrez was simply laughing at the goose bumps that had suddenly appeared on Cooper’s forearms, but Cooper thought he was laughing at him for falling for the joke.
“Piss on you, William.”
“Not laughing at you, Coop. I’m laughing at those bumps on your…”
Just then dispatch broke in, not giving Gutierrez time to sooth Cooper’s ruffled feathers. “10 Adam 20, neighbor reported four-fifteen atthirty-seven fifteen Lupine Way, Code two.”
Cooper picked up the receiver; none too thrilled about the domestic disturbance call. “Roger, dispatch. 10 Adam 20 en route.”
Gutierrez turned the cruiser around, sour for the same reasons Cooper was. “Let’s get this over with.”
Pulling up to3715 Lupine Way, Cooper and Gutierrez were surprised to see two other marked patrol units parked in front of the house. The cruisers belonged to the LA County Sheriff’s Department and sat empty at the curb.
“The fuck are they doing here?” growled Gutierrez.
Two deputies stood in front of the house and something about them made Cooper unusually nervous. As he exited the vehicle he took a moment to retrieve the Remington Police 870 secured to the Plexiglas separating the front and back seats.
“Nervous, Coop?” Gutierrez asked, turning to Cooper as he unsnapped the thumb break on his holster.
“Me, too. This feels weird.”
They walked up the sidewalk, abreast, keeping themselves ready for whatever might happen.
“What’s up, fellas? You know this isn’t your call,” said Gutierrez, attempting to sound cordial.
The taller of the two deputies, a blond haired woman spoke, attempting to sound just as friendly, but there was something in her eyes that struck both LAPD officers as wrong. “No need for you guys, everything’s alright now. The homeowner’s one of us so we thought we’d come and try to smooth things out before you got here. It’s all under control.”
“That a fact? We didn’t receive any calls saying you’d be here.”
The shorter of the two, an Asian male with a military haircut, gave the female deputy a look that made the hair on the back of Gutierrez neck stand up. He was feeling more and more nervous about the situation as each second passed. Both deputies had their thumb breaks disengaged and were facing Cooper and Gutierrez as if they were expecting trouble. The Asian said, “Well, we are here and things are good to go so you can leave now.”
“I think we should have a talk with the neighbor that called us.” Cooper said fingering the trigger guard’s interior as he spoke.
“The other unit is speaking with her now. Really. You can go… now.” The female said in a flat tone, her eyes narrowed. To Gutierrez it felt like they were in an unnatural standoff, but before Gutierrez could say anything further though, another LAPD cruiser pulled to the curb. However, the relief Gutierrez felt at seeing the backup quickly dissipated once he saw Sergeant Franklin Shaw step out of the cruiser.
Shaw was trouble as far as Gutierrez was concerned. He was hot tempered, quick to yell and had a habit of being heavier handed than was needed in any situation. He also had a habit of checking on other officer’s calls when it wasn’t warranted.
“What’s going on here?” Sergeant Shaw demanded, trampling the lawn’s newly mowed grass as he walked toward them. He sounded angry but in control, even though the normal edge in his voice was more pronounced than usual. Shaw hated anyone in law enforcement that wasn’t LAPD. “Here I am, thinking I’ll check on the four-fifteen my guys are answering and I come to find LA County on the scene as well.”
The deputies’ eyes narrowed in unison. “As we were telling your people here, Sergeant, we’ve got the situation under control,” said the Asian deputy.
“The other county unit is talking to the neighbor that called, Sarge,” began Gutierrez. “Cooper and I were about to go…”
A loud thump on a second floor window of the home interrupted Gutierrez’s sentence and caused the three LAPD officers to look up. There, pleading eyes, set in a skinless face, greeted their sight. The face disappeared and they heard a muffled scream from within the house.
“What the fuck,” murmured Shaw. He reached for his pistol but his hand never made it.
“What the fuck is right,” said the female deputy as she reached out, grabbing Shaw by his throat and breaking his neck with one quick jerk of her hand.
The second deputy pulled his pistol but was met with a blast from Cooper’s shotgun. The now void-headed deputy fell over, leaving the two officers to fend off the female deputy.
Moving faster than seemed possible, the female deputy grabbed Gutierrez by the face, her hand seemingly bigger than normal and threw him toward the house. “Pack traitor,” she growled, as he hit the closed front door.
Pumping the next round into the chamber, Cooper fired point blank into the woman’s shirt covered bullet resistant vest. The slug tore through her protection but didn’t kill her instantly.
“Come on, Bill,” yelled Cooper. “We’ve got to withdraw and call for back up!”
Gutierrez didn’t move though. He lay against the door, only to fall back when it was opened.
Staring in disbelief and shock, Cooper watched as a seven-foot tall canine like creature emerged majestically from the doorway. To Cooper it looked like any werewolfHollywoodcould’ve created, but far scarier.
“I’d say little pig, little pig let me in but I already am,” It said, laughing gutturally at its own joke. Noticing Gutierrez at its feet, it stooped down and tore his shirt and vest away. Then it plunged its clawed hand into his chest, pulled his heart out and tossed it at Cooper.
Cooper dodged the flying organ and stumbled back, almost tripping over the female deputy whose body was no longer fully human. It looked like she had been healing as she slowly transformed into a werewolf similar to her comrade.
The word ‘werewolf’ ricocheted around Cooper’s mind. He had no better word than that to describe them, but even with that word active in his mind, it still felt wrong.
Acting on reflex, Cooper fired another slug into her head, ending her transformation. His feet, now doing the thinking for him, forced him to run to his cruiser.
Cooper had barely slammed the door shut when another werewolf, dressed in a tattered sheriff’s deputy uniform, landed on the cruiser’s hood.
“Stay for dinner,” It roared as it punched through the windshield.
Cooper was too beyond scared to utter anything heroic or defiant. Instead, he turned the engine over and put the car into reverse, slamming into Shaw’s patrol car, but that didn’t matter much to Cooper at the moment. The werewolf in the tattered Sheriff’s uniform collapsed head first into the already smashed glass, giving Cooper the time he needed to put the car into drive.
As Cooper sped away, the werewolf deputy frantically clawed at the hood, then finally succumbed to gravity and tumbled beneath the wheels of the cruiser. The vehicle lurched upward over the werewolf and Cooper could’ve sworn he heard a yelp followed by loud mushy pops.
The werewolf from the doorway gave chase but couldn’t keep up to the sixty miles an hour Cooper was traveling.
Cooper alternated nervous glances between the road and the rear view mirror, expecting a wolf like head to pop up from the back seat any second. Nothing showed itself and he let out the breath that he hadn’t realized he had been holding since he’d put the car into drive.
Turning a random corner he almost hit an overturned burning military Humm-Vee. Cooper stomped on the brakes, peering through the broken windshield at a neighborhood he was sure had been quiet thirty minutes earlier. As it was now, several homes were growing into infernos as four fire trucks, an ambulance, three LAPD cruisers and several military vehicles sat abandoned in the street.
Cooper stared in disbelief at the bodies scattered here and there of civilians, police, fire and military personnel that lay dismembered on the pavement and sidewalks. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard any reports of what had happened.
“Why is it so quiet?” He wondered aloud. At that moment he realized his ears were ringing and that the radio had been crackling excitedly without his knowledge because of it. When he focused, he heard the before unnoticed calls coming over the radio.
Units from all over were requesting additional backup or military assistance in quelling what many different and shaky voices called civil unrest. A brave few called it what it was; an improbable, but happening, werewolf attack.
Most of the calls were accompanied by the sound of weapons fire and a few with screams, making the calls difficult to understand.
Cooper swallowed hard, trying to figure out what to do next. Nervously, he laid his right hand on the Remington sitting in the passenger seat and stared at the ruined neighborhood.
Stealing his eyes away from what his mind refused to believe, he looked into the distance at theLos Angelesskyline. Though he couldn’t tell what was burning, he could see smoke plumes from fires within the city.
“Please! Please, you have to help me,” screamed a terrified female as she pounded on the window.
Cooper jumped so hard at the sudden intrusion that he found himself half way into the passenger seat as he grabbed the shotgun. At the same time, his foot left the brake and the cruiser moved forward six feet before he was able to regain his composure.
As he climbed back into the driver’s seat the disheveled redheaded woman, dressed in boxer shorts and a Flash tee shirt, began banging on the window again.
“Please help me! You have to get me out of here,” she said in a quieter voice, looking around. “Please!”
Cooper didn’t know what to do. For all he knew she could be one of whatever it was that was attacking LA. He’d seen two, maybe as many as four, fellow law enforcement officials turn into whatever it was that they were. He was still having trouble believing that they were werewolves even after all he’d seen.
“Get in,” he said, jerking his head to the passenger seat. “Come on, hurry it up!” He scanned the street for attackers as the barefoot woman ran to the passenger side of the cruiser and got in.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she cried, slamming the door shut and pushing the lock down. “Please, just drive. Just go. Everyone else is dead.” Her voice was shuddering as she watched fearfully for the next horror to arise from the smoke and flames. Then, without warning, she stepped on Cooper’s foot, forcing the accelerator down.
The Crown Vic Interceptor’s engine growled loudly as the car lurched forward.
No longer giving a rat’s hairy about the traffic laws, Cooper complied with her insistence and pushed the vehicle to seventy miles per hour as they raced through the streets.
Some of the dwellings they passed were ablaze, giving their respective streets a surreal macabre appearance. He whipped the cruiser wildly around abandoned eviscerated bodies and bodies that were being consumed by werewolves in a variety of clothing.
He saw what he believed to be three werewolves in military gear devouring a man while another two in California Highway Patrol uniforms had their way with a screaming tearful woman nearby. Cooper couldn’t look any more than he could stop and help. “What’s happened?” he moaned. “What in hell’s happening?”
“They came into my house,” cried the woman. “They came into my house and dragged me out into the street. I was so scared. Some soldiers saved me before those dog things… I don’t know, but I swear the ones that saved me were…” her voice hitched loudly, “like the ones that took me outside. They kept telling me to run… telling me to get away…” She trailed off, crying even harder, burying her face in her hands.
“We’ll figure out what’s going on,” he said, gripping the wheel tightly, but it was an empty promise and he knew it.
“Dispatch, anyone, this is 10 Adam 20. I’m en route back to station. Have one civilian with me. Is anyone there, over?”
The radio was silent for three seconds before an unknown voice answered. “10 Adam 20, this is Captain Bret Allen, 3rd Battalion, 103rd Regimental Combat Team. Do you copy, over?”
“One hundred and third Regimental Combat Team?” Cooper mouthed, swerving to miss a shell-shocked wandering mother clutching a baby. “SHIT,” he bellowed, barely missing the woman. He looked back and saw that that she was unfazed and hadn’t reacted at all to the near miss.
“10 Adam 20. Are you there? Over,” said the unknown voice.
“Yeah. I’m here. What are you doing at my station, Captain? Over.”
“We’re here setting up a casualty collection point and evacuation area for civilians. What’s your location, Officer?”
Cooper looked at the radio, unsure of how to respond.
“Answer,” said the woman. “It’s the Army. They’ve got to help us.” She looked scared and desperate, but he wasn’t sure if the military should be trusted after seeing werewolves in Army uniforms devouring people. “Please,” she begged. “We’ve got to get away from here.”
Making up his mind, Cooper sucked in a breath and answered. “I’m about seven or eight minutes away.” Normally he would’ve been twenty minutes away but at 65 miles an hour and foregoing traffic laws, he knew the seven-minute window was close to accurate.
“Outstanding, Officer. We’re recalling all units, military and civilian law enforcement to assist with the civilian and injured evacuation. You boogie your ass here ASAP, got it?”
“Roger. Out.” Cooper said, letting the mike fall from his hand. He eased up on the gas and looked at the woman. She’d stopped crying and had crouched down in her seat, peering over the door at the passing surroundings.
The closer Cooper got to his station, the more he had to decrease his speed. About a block away from his station house they encountered a God-awful mess that caused him to slow to a crawl.
Destroyed Humm-Vee’s and a variety of black and white patrol cars from CHP, LAPD and LASD sat discarded and/or burning in a loose blockade.
Weaving through the wreckage, they were soon stopped by overturned civilian vehicles.
“This is as far as we can go in the car. Come on. We’re hoofing it from here.” Cooper put the cruiser into park and shut off the ignition. He absent-mindedly put the keys in his pocket and laughed at himself once he realized what he’d done, knowing he would probably never need them again. “The station’s right there. We’re only two hundred or two hundred fifty yards away.”
With the shotgun in one hand and the woman’s arm in another, he set the pace for their paranoid jog to the station.
He paused at the entrance, taking a moment to look over two LAPD motorcycles parked in front. “They still have keys in the ignition,” he said, as he caught up with the woman. “Let’s get inside.”
They ran through the front doors, stopping in front of a barricade of overturned desks with soldiers behind it.
“Don’t move,” one of the soldiers yelled. The solider stepped around the barricade and inched forward, moving his rifle barrel between the woman and Cooper. “Identify yourselves,” he barked.
“Officer James Cooper and this is…” he paused, unaware of the woman’s name.
“Tabitha Ramsey,” she said, slipping behind Cooper. “We don’t want any trouble. We just thought…”
“Don’t move,” said the soldier with more force than before. He pulled the shotgun from Cooper’s hand and his pistol from its holster. “This way. Let’s go.”
The soldier pushed them to a conference room. Inside were another fifty people, police officers and civilians alike. In each corner was a soldier keeping an eye on anyone not wearing a US Army uniform.
“Are we under arrest?” asked Cooper, marveling at the irony that had befallen him.
“More like protective custody. We don’t know if any of you are safe so we’re keeping everyone here until we can figure it out.” The soldier then abruptly turned and left the room.
Cooper looked at two motorcycle officers sitting at a table in between some civilians. He knew he should talk to them and let them know they left their keys in the ignitions of their bikes, but he didn’t recognize them. “What’s the harm,” he finally thought and started to walk off, intent on speaking to them.
“Where are you going?” asked Tabitha, grabbing his arm.
“To talk to the traffic guys. Got nothing better to do,” he said. He gently took her hand off his arm, placed it by her side and reassured her that he’d be okay and right back. “Relax. I’ll just be right over there,” he said.
Cooper made his way to the table, offering his hand to first of the two motorcycle cops. “Jimmy Cooper,” he said introducing himself.
The first one looked at his partner and then to Cooper. “Max Ingles,” he said, shaking Cooper’s hand. “This is Freddie Marcs. We’re Van Nuys Division. You?”
“Right here. What’s the deal then? Why are they keeping us here?”
“They suckered you in, too?” asked Marcs.
Cooper felt self-conscious all of a sudden. If they were putting it like that, then there was truth to their statement. “Yeah. Why, what’s going on here?” he asked.
“They set this place up like a slaughterhouse, you know. Be a freaking’ mess if one of those things got in here,” answered Marc
Cooper’s still growing cop sense started screaming. The two cops weren’t acting normal and he thought that it was painfully obvious.
“Trouble with that statement, Freddie,” said Ingles, “is that they already are. Man, I’m just glad I can stop playing Mr. Nice Cop. Fourteen years is too goddamn long.”
“No,” whispered Cooper. “Oh, God, no.”
“That’s right, kid,” said Marcs with a gleeful look. Just then gunfire erupted from the hall followed by shouts of a breach. Angry voices called out target locations, followed by rattling automatic weapons fire and liquid filled screams.
The soldier closest to the door looked at it, alarmed, while the other three traded evil knowing looks.
“There’s our cue,” said Ingles, transforming into a werewolf before Cooper’s eyes.
The three soldiers and a third of the civilians in the room followed Ingles’ and Marcs’ examples. They changed into werewolves, uttering their howls of victory and then attacked the humans trapped inside, ripping them to shreds.
Cooper’s world turned red as Ingles leapt onto him and the last thing his blood soaked ears heard were Tabitha’s gurgling screams.