Deidre sat at her room’s small sink, feet kicked up on an over turned trashcan. Shannon was thankful that the normally full trashcan was empty. To her, it appeared that Deidre was interested in more than engaging in girl talk.
Deidre’s eyes darted around the room, taking in the Spartan way that Shannon chose to live. Deidre could appreciate the lack of clutter. The Navy way of living with only basic necessities had carried over into her civilian life. Deidre could tell that Shannon liked to travel light and seldom stayed in one place. She considered getting inquisitive into Shannon’s past but for now, Deidre wanted to share a little of her own, as well as Rose and Herb’s, with Shannon.
“You live life on the move, girl. I can appreciate that. I grew up an Air Force brat myself.” Deidre paused to take a drag off the cigarette. She turned to a wax-coated cup that was hall full of water, dropping the half smoke cigarette into it. “Nasty eff’ing habit. I need to get some of that Chantix stuff soon.” She looked at the open pack with intense dislike before continuing. “Anyway. Both of my parents were Airedales, that’s what the other services call Air Force personnel. They loved the life. Thought it would be the life for me too but I went to Annapolisi nstead. Dad was proud but Mom hit the roof. I guess she was afraid I’d request to go into the Marines or something.”
Shannon was quickly growing bored with the conversation. She wanted not only out of the conversation but also out of the room. But she was trapped so she had to humor Deidre. “Wow. Seen a lot of the world, huh?”
“Too much of it if you ask me. Do have anything to drink?”
Great, thought Shannon. Now she wants to be my drinking buddy. “I’ve got water and Diet Coke.”
“Diet Coke, please. I assume you’re a non drinker like me.”
Shannon pulled two cans from the fridge. As she handed one to Deidre she wished that she were a drinker. This unexpected get together was beginning to become excruciating. The social unease was the reason she stayed to herself.
“Don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Messes with the senses, you know?”
“Gotcha. Well, I went to law school and joined the Judge Advocate General. I had a four and oh record but wanted more out of life. ‘Course, I also got tired of defending uniformed derelicts and the occasional murderer. That’s the reason why I’m here,” she waved to the room in a melodramatic fashion, “and not in a firm. I’ve got some money stashed away so I do waitressing for fun.” Deidre chugged half the can down, belching loudly.
Shannon could tell that Deidre had the behind closed-doors manners of an annoying big sister. “What about you? What’s your story?” Deidre wanted to know, but hadn’t planned on being so blunt in her questioning. Some of the things she’d also learned from working as a lawyer were hard to get out of her blood.
“Oh, just the usual chestnut about not wanting to live my life according to daddy. He wanted me to be a doctor like him and I wanted to be a vet. We got into a fight. Then I took what savings I had and hit the road instead of the books. You know how it is with parents.”
The lie tasted like burning ash in her mouth and she felt an inferno in her chest. She didn’t know if the acid reflux was caused by the carbonated drink or if her intuition about Deidre not buying her story was kicking in. If Deidre was half as good as she alluded, and Shannon as suspected, then her life was about to get more complicated.
“Really? Damn, you’ve been on the road since… what, the past two years? What are you, nineteen, twenty?”
Shannon lied again, “Twenty.”
“Yeah, okay. I get from you that you’re older than that but hey, who I am to begrudge a woman her youthful looking secrets.”
And there it was; Deidre was on to her.Shannon wasn’t panicked though. She was more contemplative. How exactly to deal with Deidre if push came to shove? I was never in her best interests to kill an innocent but she would if she had to.
“So, let me get to the reason why I’ve darkened your door, lovey.” Lovey was a term Deidre used when she was about to get serious. Shannon had heard it plenty of times in the diner, whether Deidre was putting Greg or some belligerent customer in their place. Deidre only spoke the word at times of funereal seriousness. “You know, earlier, when I asked about what you said to Rose that upset her?”
“Yes, I remember. I have no idea what I said to upset her. She seemed really shaken.”Shannon’s interest in the conversation was turning in Deidre’s favor. Like it or not she wanted to know what exactly had gotten Rose so worked up.
“It wasn’t your fault really. Hey, it’s story time.” She slappedShannon’s knee and pulled her chair closer. “Let me spin a yarn for you.” Deidre pulled out another cigarette, taking a long drag after lighting it. “When I first came aboard it was Herb who hired me. Old sweetie took a liking to me right off. He understood what it meant to try to put the service behind you. I can’t imagine what it was like for him though. Being a paratrooper on D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the like. He never talked about it much. He was proud as punch to have been there but he never talked about the combat he saw with me or anyone else…but once. Just once.” Deidre held up her right hand’s index finger to emphasis what she’d said.
“Must’ve really bothered him,” It saddened Shannon that Herb had felt like that. Though she’d never known him, everyone spoke highly of him. “Was it something he did that made him feel guilty?”
“Nothing so pedestrian.” Deidre paused to drain the last of her drink and asked for another.Shannon was content to oblige her just to hear the story and to get Deidre to leave. “When you stop and think about it, killing another person is about as nerve-racking as it gets. Taking another person’s life can’t be easy. It sure as hell isn’t natural.”
Shannon could disagree with that statement. For her, taking another life was second nature. She had no qualms about doing it. She didn’t know if it was her lycanthropic nature or her hate that made it so. Maybe it was both. “So if it wasn’t what he did or didn’t do; what was it?”
“Let me set the stage for you. You see, after a couple months of working here Herb and Rose invited me to have dinner with them and Connie. How could I say no, right? They’re a sweet couple so I join them. Dinner goes off well, we retire to the living room to chat and see what’s on the tube. Lo and behold what comes on but Band of Brothers. You ever see it?”
Shannon shook her head no. She’d heard of it but was never inclined to watch.
“Great show. History was my minor in college but I digress. Herb’s sitting there, watching the opening credits before he goes pale. He’d never seen the show before so it took him by surprise. His reaction took us all by surprise. Anyway, he then gets this far off stare says, ‘They came out of the tree line at us. Hacking at Shawn and Gary like crazed hellish dogs. Those boys went down without firing a shot. Me, Willie, Duds, and Ralphie took off like bullets. We didn’t know what the hell they were.’ Rose, who’s as confused as the rest of us, tells him it was okay to run, okay to be afraid. The German’s were probably just as scared as him and his boys.”
Shannonwas now really interested in the story. She knew it was going to be something more sinister than German Wehrmacht. She’d heard the stories in her history classes in high school about the brutality of the German forces during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. She pulled out the next to last two cans of Diet Coke and gave one to Deidre who belched her thanks like a pro.
“What creeped me out was the look in his eyes. I swear to God it was the look of a twenty-year-old combat soldier and not that of an old man. It was like… like he was reliving what happened in his head or worse, like it was happening around us, right then in that room. Poor Connie didn’t know what to say and Rose was even more confused. She’d never seen Herb look like that. Not even after he came back.”
“Did he look scared?”Shannon’s throat was parched. She could almost feel the uncertainty of the D-Day drop on her skin. It crept into her mind like a cold snake looking to strike. Even now she liked a good scare, even though it took a lot to scare her.
“Scared? Maybe, but it seemed more like pissed off with a hint of fear mixed in. Back to the story. Herb looks to Rose, to me, then to Connie and says, ‘No, it wasn’t German’s. We were running from dogs. Dogs bigger than any man, dressed in SS uniforms. Me and the boys had just got together and were trying to find our company or anyone like us, when they jumped out at us. By the end of the night, only me and Ralphie were left. If we hadn’t run into all those One-Oh-One men we’d all be dead.’ Let me tell you,Shannon. If those recliner arms had been a pair of throats, he’d have been jailed for double murder. He gripped one arm so hard that he broke a nail right off.”
Shannon’s blood ran cold. She wasn’t surprised to hear about dogs in SS uniforms. She’d known the story would go in that direction but hoped it wouldn’t turn out that way. “Dogs; in uniforms? No way. I mean…that sounds like werewolves or something.”
“That’s it in a nutshell, lovey. Him and the other guy, Ralphie, were smart enough to keep their mouths shut about what happened, but other troopers had contact too. Those that spoke about what they saw got reassigned quickly. Ralphie died in the invasion of Holland so the secret went to the grave with him. Herb never spoke of it till that night we had dinner. He swore that what he’d fought and ran from were honest to God werewolves.”
“Oh come on,”Shannonsaid, trying to sound like she thought she was the butt of a bad joke. “Werewolves? Really Deidre. If you wanted to make a fool of me you’re wasting your time. I’m not up for this shit.” She rose from the bed and walked to the door. Her intention was to open it so Deidre would leave. She hoped that she sounded sincere in being the butt of a bad joke.
“I’m not putting you on.” Deidre stood. She understood that she was being asked to leave, but she wasn’t willing to until she’d finished what she had to say. “It’s what Herb swears he fought against. There were more than just regular Nazi goons running around Europe during World War Two. I’ve done some research. There was a little known Schutzshaffel group called Der Teufels Speer Zug. That means The Devil’s Spear Platoon. What little documentation is still around says those SS cretins dressed in wolf skins and fought like dogs from hell. Their job was to strike fear into Allied soldiers with costumes and guerilla warfare. Herb though, swore up and down that what he saw wasn’t costumes and make up. He said they were real werewolves.”
Shannonwas more than alarmed. She wasn’t about to let Deidre see it though. The back of her brain itched like she was being found out. Her blood started racing and she readied herself to change, to kill in order to keep her secret. She was going to offer one last mental chance for Deidre to reveal why she was telling the story. “So what’s that got to do with me?”
“When you said that zombies were as probable as werewolves, it frightened Rose. She believes that what Herb saw were werewolves. There’s no doubt in her. She believes the Nazis that jumped Herb in Normandy were werewolves so naturally she believes that zombies are highly possible. If she believes it, then in her mind, we’re all fucked. Personally, I don’t know what to believe. I just hope Herb was shaken from the jump that night and that Rose is wrong. If they’re right, then that’s a fucking I could do without. It’s getting late. See you tomorrow morning.”
Deidre laid the third, half consumed drink on the wall unit for heating and air. She patted Shannon on the shoulder.Shannonclosed the door and leaned against it. All of a sudden the thought of the dead walking the Earth was more terrifying than werewolves. That thought made her blood turn cold and congeal in her veins.
That night, after a meal of left over eggs and waffles, Shannon dreamed of Nazi werewolves invading the diner. The victims didn’t turn into lycans but into undead whose skin rotted and fell off with each movement. The Nazi lycanthropes had their way with the unusually packed diner and Shannon was powerless to stop any of them. That scared her to death.