This is the rest of the story. Click here for the beginning
Sandra felt overwhelmed. It wasn’t a sexual thing. She felt no desire for the man before her. She just felt… insignificant. Knowing what Vincent did didn’t help. While she worked in the lab concocting chemicals, Vincent was on the front line. He was a Werewolf hunter. One of the best.
“You must be Sandra,” Vincent said. His voice was in keeping with his appearance, gravelly and full of strength. “I wanted to personally thank you for our new super-weapon.”
Sandra shook her head, trying to shake off the effect he’d been having.
“What? I haven’t produced any weapons. I just work in the lab mixing up chemicals when they’re needed.”
“Exactly. And you mixed up the new silver-based ionic liquid. We’re calling it liquid silver.”
“Wait… I did… a few weeks ago. But how can that be a weapon?”
“Because it’s perfect! We’ve been using silver bullets to kill the beasts for I don’t know how long, but it’s far from a miracle weapon. If you don’t hit the beast in the heart or the brain then it just shrugs off the wound. If anything it makes them angrier and more dangerous.
“What we needed was a weapon that would kill them, and kill them quickly, wherever it hit. Liquid Silver is perfect. It’s a liquid at room temperature. That means we can put it into hollow bullets. When they hit the silver will get straight into the beast’s bloodstream, guaranteeing a fast kill.”
“What? Wait… that won’t…”
“No time to talk. We’ve had a report of a beast infestation. I’m going to go clear it out with our new weapons.” He yanked the door open, jumped in and started the engine. “Thanks to you, we’re finally going to be able to win this fight.”
Before Sandra could answer he was roaring away, engine screaming and wheels scrabbling for grip. Within seconds he was out of the building and on his way.
“No!” shouted Sandra. She turned to Nathan, shouting into his face. “We have to get him back. We have to get him back right now!”
“What? No. We can’t.”
“What do you mean? Just call him up and get him back here. He’s making a terrible mistake.”
“We can’t get him back. He turns off all radios and phones before going on a hunt. Don’t worry about him, he knows what he’s doing. He’s one of our most experienced hunters.”
“No! He doesn’t know what he’s doing! How could you both be so stupid? Why didn’t someone tell me what you wanted that ionic silver compound for? I’d have told you it will probably be useless!”
“Useless? What do you mean? It’s full of silver!”
“No. No it isn’t. It’s full of a salt which is formed partly from silver. It’s not the same.”
“I don’t understand. It’s got silver in. Silver kills werewolves. What else matters?”
“It’s… all right… would you want to breathe in chlorine gas?”
“What? No! Of course not!”
“And would you eat Sodium?”
“Sodium? Isn’t that the one that explodes in water?”
“Yes. Would you eat it?”
“No! No way!”
“Last question. Do you like salt on your chips?”
“What? What has that got to do with anything?”
“Just answer. Do you like salt on your chips?”
“Yes. A lot. So what?”
“Table salt is Sodium Chloride. Every time you eat it you’re eating Sodium and Chlorine. Both those chemicals would kill you on their own, yet you happily chomp down on it.”
“Yeah, I kind of see what you mean. What does that matter though?”
“Salt is a… well, a salt. We use the same word for that type of compound. Liquid Silver is a salt, too. A special type. It’s a totally different chemical to silver. It might have no effect at all on a werewolf. Did either of you test it?”
“Well, no. That’s what tonight was about. Vincent was going to prove that it works.”
“At least tell me the rest of his team have normal silver bullets.”
“Ah… well… the thing is… he’s not taking a team.”
“He didn’t want to share this with anyone else. He thought the new bullets would let him destroy an entire nest single-handedly. He wanted…”
“He wanted all the glory. What an idiot!”
Nathan paled. “You can’t talk about him like that,” he hissed. “Vincent is going to be the greatest… I mean, Vincent is the greatest hunter ever. Some people have been slow to recognise just how great he is, though.”
“So the stupid pillock has gone off half cocked with weapons which might do no more damage to a werewolf than regular bullets do.”
“You can’t talk about him like that! If he hears you’ve been saying that he’ll cause all sorts of trouble! For you and for me!”
Sandra blew out a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. She noticed that Nathan was actually trembling at the thought of upsetting Vincent. Was that just because of the hunter’s incredible aura? Or was there something else going on. She’d never met a hunter up close before, she worked in the back rooms of the complex not at the fighting end, but she’d met a few assistants and none had been anywhere near as cowed as Nathan.
She had been considering raising the alarm, finding out where Vincent was heading and making sure more of the hunters were sent out. Now… she wasn’t so sure. She reached out and put a hand on Nathan’s shoulder.
“Relax,” she said. “If he’s successful then I promise I won’t say a thing when he returns, and if he isn’t… well, you won’t have to worry about what he thinks any more.”
Nathan turned to her, worry etched in his face.
“But he will come back, won’t he?”
Sandra didn’t have the heart to tell him what she really thought. They still had no idea what it was about silver that was able to kill werewolves so effectively, but all her experience suggested that the liquid she’d created would be chemically very different from its constituents.
“I’m sure he will,” she lied. “Even if they aren’t as effective as he hopes, he’s still a hunter. He’ll find a way out.”
* * *
Vincent didn’t come back that night, nor was he back the next morning. The next day and night also went by without any sign of him. He finally returned the morning after, nearly thirty-six hours after going missing.
Well, part of him returned. A courier delivered a package mid-morning, and within it was Vincent’s head. Someone had been busy for the previous day and a half. Vincent’s skin had been preserved in some way. The top of his skull had been cut off then attached with clasps to make a lid.
None of those who opened the package could bring themselves to find out why Vincent’s head was hinged. Once someone with a strong enough stomach arrived the top of his head was opened. Everything within had been scooped out to leave a space that was now full of a strange silvery liquid. By this time Nathan had spilled the beans about Vincent’s plans, so no one had much trouble guessing what the liquid was.
Clearly the new bullets hadn’t worked, and it seemed the werewolves Vincent had faced had a sense of humour… of a twisted kind.
Sandra would normally have heard about the events at third or fourth hand, but this time she was involved. She was called on to test the liquid and confirm that it was the liquid silver she’d produced, which it was. She expected to get into trouble then, or to have to defend her actions at least, but the senior hunters dismissed her report with nods and shrugs. If anything they seemed amused by Vincent’s fate.
Sandra fled as soon as they dismissed her, barely avoiding running. Several of the hunters had even stronger auras than Vincent had had. Being the focus of their attention had been terrifying.
* * *
For several days the question of what to do with Vincent’s head went unresolved. Rumours suggested that the senior hunters were split over whether Vincent was a hero or a fool. Sandra knew from first hand experience that there was no split, they all considered him an idiot.
To her surprise she became the first person, outside of the leaders, to know what their decision was. One of them arrived at her office bearing the grisly remains and made an unusual request.
“Sorry… what did you say?” stammered Sandra. This hunter had an aura that dwarfed even Vincent’s. She was struggling to think straight, or to think at all.”
“We want you to coat the skull in silver. Pure silver.”
“As a reminder to everyone of what arrogance leads to. We’re going to mount it by the doors so that every hunter sees it every time they leave on a mission. Can you do it?”
She could, she did and she got a surprising amount of enjoyment from it. Vincent’s aura might have been nearly enough to overwhelm her, but his stupidity was what she really remembered. That and the fear Nathan had shown, the terror that anyone might criticise his master.
The werewolves had their fun when they returned Vincent’s head, and the lead hunters had theirs when they mounted the silvered head by the exit doors, but it was Sandra who had the last laugh.
She coated the head in almost pure silver. Almost. If anyone was to run a test they’d find there was something else in the mix. If they were exceptionally good at their job they might even determine that the additional substance was the chemical Vincent had named liquid silver.
No one ever did, though, and Sandra never let on. She did make sure she passed through the garage area from time to time though, and every time she smiled at the silvered head, laughing inside at the joke only she knew. And, of course, the head grinned back. It had no choice really.