In ... The Beast Within: Pt. II
Kitimat, British Columbia
All through the night the captive wildman had thrashed and thrashed. Heather MacNeil and James Hudson had taken it in turns to watch him, but now in the cold light of day the seriousness of the situation they had found themselves set in. What would they do with him? What could they do with him? He was unconscious now but to set him free would be to risk certain death. Heather quietly damned Hudson’s big heart. Were it her decision, they would have left him to bleed out – instead they were trapped in their own home with a creature chained to their bed. James was cradling the shotgun whilst staring down at their captive. She called out across the room to him in a soft, sympathetic voice.
“What are we going to do? We can’t keep this thing tied up in our living room forever, James.”
There was a flicker of annoyance in Hudson’s face. “Don’t you think I know that?”
“I still say we should call the Mounties,” Heather responded matter-of-factly. “If we explain what happened, I’m sure they’ll understand. I mean, it could be a fugitive for all we know ... it could be some kind of kind of escaped mental patient. I bet they’d just be glad that someone got it off the streets.”
James sighed. He flicked the shotgun’s safety on and from his seat opposite the bed set the but of the gun on the ground. There was a weariness to the motion that made Heather realise that Hudson wasn’t annoyed, he was tired. There were heavy bags beneath his bloodshot eyes. He had looked drawn out yesterday after finding out the bad news about the Guardian project, but now Hudson looked like a wraith.
“You shot him at point-blank range with a shotgun and there’s not a scratch on him, Heather. I think it’s fair to say that whoever our John Doe is, he’s not just some oddball that caved in his mother-in-law’s skull with a clawhammer, he’s … well, he's obviously a mutant. That means the poor bastard is going to end up at a government black site on a lab table if we get law enforcement involved.”
Heather walked towards the living room window and stared at the snowy hills that surrounded their home. “That’s not our problem.”
“You don’t mean that,” James murmured weakly as if he was trying to convince himself more than MacNeil. “I know you can’t mean that.”
A sudden pang of guilt ran through Heather and she stepped away from the window and walked towards Hudson. It hurt her to see the disapproval in his eyes. She knelt down in front of him and placed a loving hand atop of one of Hudson’s thighs. The disapproval softened somewhat and he set the shotgun to one side.
“All I know is that you are my world, James, and the longer this thing stays under our roof, the more dangerous it is for both of us.”
“He,” Hudson said with renewed disappointment in his voice. “He is a human being, Heather, just like you and I are. He's not a thing.”
MacNeill nodded eagerly in an attempt to recapture the tenderness that had she had lost through her clumsy choice of words. “You’re right.”
James abruptly stood up from his seat with a tired grunt. Heather’s hand slipped from his thigh and she watched as he reached once more for the shotgun and claimed the spot beside the window where she had been standing. His tired eyes were surveilling the hills, though for what he wasn’t sure. Heather looked towards the man, wrapped in the thickest chains that Hudson could get his hands on, and repressed a sneer.
The next half an hour passed in silence. Occasionally their sleeping John Doe would let out a moan, but otherwise Hudson and MacNeil had only the sound of the savage winds hitting their cabin for entertainment. When an electronic whirring came from one of Hudson’s pockets, it acted as a welcome respite from the sound of the wind. He stared down at the name on the screen and sent the call to voicemail with a sigh.
“Is that Jaxon calling?”
“Yeah,” Hudson nodded. “He’s been trying all morning.”
“Why haven’t you picked up? He’s going to want answers and the longer you leave it, the worse it's going to be. You say that Guardian is dead but I still think we could win Jaxon around. We’re not going to be able to do that if you’re screening his calls.”
Hudson sighed and lifted a hand up to acknowledge his mistake. “Alright, alright, you don’t need to lay it on thick. I’ll call the man back.”
“Okay, I’ll only be a few minutes,” James agreed as he handed Heather the shotgun. “If you need anything, if he so much as moves a muscle, you shoot first and ask questions afterwards, alright? At the first sound of trouble, I’ll come running.”
“Don’t worry, if I was able to nail him with this thing last night, I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to now that he’s been pumped full of painkillers and chained to a bed.”
The door to their cabin flung open and a vicious, bracing wind came snaking inside. Hudson stepped out onto the porch and slammed the door shut behind him. Heather watched him through the window, making sure he’d dialled Jaxon back, before slowly approaching their captive with the shotgun in her hands. She prodded the sleeping man with it and he didn’t stir at all. Once she was sure he was sleeping, she pressed the barrel hard against one of his cheeks and then leant towards him.
“I want you to listen to me. I don’t care what you are, if you so much as think about laying a hand on that man, I’ll kill you. Do you hear me? James might be soft but I’m not. I know a cold-blooded killer when I see one, and that’s what I see when I look at you. Human, mutant, you could be the missing link for all I care, you’re a monster in my books and I’m not going to risk losing everything for you.”
Suddenly the man’s eyes opened. They looked different this time. Still beastlike, but haunted almost, and fixed on Heather’s shock of red hair in confusion. She attempted to stagger backwards but her feet wouldn’t seem to move. Worse still, she noticed that one of the man’s hands had wriggled free from beneath the chains. It was clamped around the barrel of the shotgun. It took half a dozen empty, frantic clicks before Heather realised the safety was still on, and by the time she had flicked it off the emergence of noise from the man’s throat stayed her hand.
“No, not ... not a monster,” he pleaded in a hoarse growl that seemed to carry a hundred lifetime's worth of suffering and anguish. “Logan...”