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Chapter Five: "The Ends"

After the funeral, Veronica slept in Sandy’s and Kitty’s cool and darkened little townhouse, catching up a bit from what had been a largely sleepless week on her and Becca’s part, and resting for that night’s planned hunt out. As she had many times before, she dreamed of being in some endless forest on some dark night, among labyrinthine catacombs and plummeting, dusty ramparts of an anonymous, forest-cloaked manor. In this twilight world, there were two bipedal canines. One wore blue overalls and the other wore white ones. In each of these long-recurring dreams of hers, one of these upright dogs was always kind in abetting Veronica’s flight on foot from the dogged, violent pursuit of the other. But the roles of the two humanoid wolf characters of hers always alternated, quite regularly predictively switching polarity, and always with Veronica caught in the breach like a pendulum pivot. As they would continually switch their allegiance, she was allowed no lasting quarter or comfort with whichever character was temporarily playing the role of protector. Frequently, the change would occur while both of the wolf people were in her field of view, and she was always near the protector, but she had learned to keep her distance even from the protector in anticipation of the switch. Veronica always felt the chase was contrived to take longer than necessary, because the result always, after hours of dreaming inevitably was the same. She was always ultimately devoured by one or the other in these hours-long dreams that covered days-long stretches of time in the twilight of her dream world.

The dream had been recurring since her childhood. If she was not devoured during the dream on a particular given night, she would often be devoured at the end of the same dream on the night that followed. Then it would begin again. Always eventually caught and devoured and thrilled either into waking, or placed back into the cycle of pursuit and flight between a bipolar enemy and a turncoat friend. Beasts all. Always surprised in the end, always familiar with the chase and the terrain, often startled awake while being eaten by a human-sized animal, being gobbled up only to find herself still asleep and safe in her bed, then soon again dreaming and stowed away in some empty wing of the same catacomb. Round and round and round again, all night, night after night. But not this time, for some reason.

This time, the source of these dreams was made clear. Dusty and Rainy Roller had been killed at sea a short time after many on their derby team had disappeared and been transformed into benevolent, aetherial wolf women. They died along with the crew of the Blint Mary after it was attacked by dark furries, the same vessel aboard which Detective Smith was later killed.

“Veronica, it’s Dusty,” the dream’s currently friendly werewolf said. The two Rollers were standing on a high balcony, and behind them was a spiral of stone stairs descending into the salty, musty, inky, drafty darkness. They were near an ocean, she realized by the air’s flavor and texture. Before she woke up, she looked beyond railing and her eyes revealed the sea view. After she woke, she could still hear the surf.

...


Thompson’s nap also ended, but he had dreamed of Scott Smith, who he had heard, not seen, in the dream. “I’ll be right back,” he said. It was unmistakably Smith’s voice. Then the scene cut immediately to the same open ocean, back-lit by stars.

It was about 7:30 on Saturday evening and it was already dark per the season and weather. He showered quickly and hit the door, headed to the warehouse that contained the local Davey Jones Lickers home track and bleachers. Concurrently, Carrasco and Lopez did the same en route from their hotel.

The three plain-clothed officers met in the parking lot which was the scene of the phantasmagoric melee Thompson was involved with, about two such melees ago. They walked in together and found a seat among the roiling, painted, frothy, tattooed crowd. Again, an impressive mash-up of derby aficionados with representation from innumerable walks and ways. Coffee-shop emos, skateboarders, punks, representatives of the cocaine-and-boob-job crowd, off-duty blue shift, and college kids. Again an electric, beery atmosphere in a full house.

The Seattle Plaiden Switches, one of the Lickers’ favorite antagonists, in all of their leggy, tartan glory, were always an impressive site. Thompson could see Patchy Plaiden, who he had shared a bed with at Sandy’s and Kitty’s apartment, after the Switches had last visited the Lickers’ home turf. A cute little dirty blonde, smallish but an excellent skater. He had driven her back home up in Renton the next morning.

He wondered if she had since transformed into one of these sort of benevolent Marys, or if she had already been so enlightened when they had previously met, when he himself had been yet unenlightened and uninitiated and could not yet easily pick them out of a crowd. He wondered if they all were or all would eventually be. He wondered if they all were in fact already in some stage or another of latency or incipience. He watched her skating around the track while the Plaiden warmed-up. He watched her with an eye for that certain subtle aura he had become more and more able to see lately, following his enfranchisement into the spiritual realm of the Rollers and the Lickers. And he could see it. Hers, and many other of the girls’ subtle auras. Some were more obvious than others; some involved more of the visible spectrum than others. He was beginning to arrive at the fact that everyone, with the proper tinkering and proximity to the likes of these heavenly creatures, could achieve some or another level of their heightened state and stigmata. This was coming in handy, for him as an investigator, particularly since he was investigating real monsters. Anyway, Patchy, too, was glowing, he could now see plainly.

Lopez and Carrasco were getting a real kick out of the derby match, which was a tight match, in which the Plaiden prevailed by a slim margin in the final scoring. There was no interruption like the recent bloody fiasco in the parking lot, nothing so much as a shadow of a monster. The monsters simply weren’t in the neighborhood this evening. Thompson had stepped out to the parking lot a couple of times during the breaks in play, and Lopez had joined him on his last trip.

As far as Thompson was concerned, the end-of-times was turning out a lot more pleasant, though much weirder, than any of the previous notions he had ever entertained regarding the subject. At least so far. Still, there had been real fire and brimstone in the here and now too, and there was surely more to come, the detective quickly reminded himself. Nevertheless, he could not think of any other supporting cosmology to underwrite all of the increasingly mystical ongoingses, but for the end of the world. And it was certainly the end inasmuch as it was a drastic and permanent change to everything in his reality. And gratefully, so far, he himself had not been reaped, he thought with a chill.

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