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Tom’s there to talk to the werewolf who attacked him on the first couple pages of this story.
But he wouldn’t be much of a P.I. if he wasn’t nosy.
“The retaining rooms are this way,” Ms. Merrok said, leading me to the left.
“What’s down that one?” I asked, pointing to the one straight on from the elevator.
“Mr. Rhombeck’s wine cellars,” she said.
“And the other one?”
She coded us through a set of metal doors connected by a short hallway. I could smell Travis Rendall before we turned the corner.
The “retaining rooms” were nice, if you liked concrete walls, semi-open en suite bathrooms, no windows, and heavy doors with silver glints in the bars.
Don’t worry—Travis has a TV in there, too.
I lifted Rhombeck’s basement from one of those HGTV Outrageous Homes Built by People With More Money Than Restraint shows I saw a year or two ago. The basement of the featured house had the rotunda and mural—not the Wild Hunt, though—and several corridors. One led to an impressive wine cellar, one to a ridonkulous game “room” with full bowling alleys and a basketball court and all sorts of other things, and the third . . . I honestly don’t remember. If there was, it probably led to a marble-lined Roman bath or an IMAX theater.
Travis Rendall’s odor isn’t from mistreatment, by the way. He belongs to a “fundamentalist” pack, which means, among other things, an unwillingness to mask one’s personal scent. His packleader has a whole rhetoric about the freedom and power in refusing to suppress one’s “inner wolf”—which won’t actually appear on page, because it’s background support stuff—but I think it’s also a subtle isolation technique.
Since Tom’s sense of smell and sensibilities about certain predators are on par with ours, Travis reeks—though wolves might have a different reaction to the smell than other species. I should mention that Talbot wolves generally have an appreciation for basic personal hygiene and believe that there’s a certain power in the ability to move freely, if hidden, among humans.