Friday, August 17, 2012

“Declan,” I began, “maybe we should turn back onto the highway?”

(Excerpt of Sororate Chapter One)

Driving to Yushu took a lot longer than we expected.  We ended up driving all day and as the sun set, Declan was still behind the wheel.  We had stopped though for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea but according to the road signs, we were still 53 km’s away.

“Get out the map would ya, B?”  He said impatiently.  “See if there’s a short cut or somethin’.”

I turned on the GPS in the centre of the dash board and began to fiddle around with it.

“From our current position, which is the fastest route to Yushu?”  I issued the verbal command.

The female voice of the car’s computer replied, “The current highway you are on is the main route to Yushu.”

Declan growled impatiently, “But is there a short cut?”

I didn’t know if he was asking me or the computer then, however the computer answered.  “There is another route which will reduce the journey by 13 km’s but it is not the main road.”

“Who cares!”  My mate barked. “Where is this other route?”

The GPS began to issue the directions and Declan turned off the highway and onto several smaller streets.  I felt nervous about the idea of leaving the main route because we at least had the safety of other vehicles and the bright street lights.  But this small road in the country was dark and poorly kept with many potholes and I didn’t see any other cars.

“Declan,” I began, “maybe we should turn back onto the highway?”

“Why?”  He gave a funny look.  I glanced away troubled as I huddled on the seat.  He looked on in concern, “Are you OK?”

“I’m just cold.”  I came up as my excuse.  My mate switched on the heater and aimed all of the air vents my way.  “Thanks,” I said flatly.

We drove onwards through the inky darkness with the only light coming from our headlights or the computerized features on the dash board.

“Turn right after fifty meters," the GPS directed.

My husband obeyed and we turned down an even smaller road which was only one lane wide and constructed of dirt.  We’re driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country at night?  It’s the frickin’ 23rd Century!  All roads were meant to be sealed now, even the roads about our tribal lands were and they were in the middle of nowhere.

“Declan,” I began, “I don’t like this.”

He looked away from the road in my direction for a moment or two.

“Why, are you getting one of your warning feelings, B?”

But before I could answer, suddenly we were jolted forwards as if we ran over something and our tires blew out!


“What the hell?!”  Declan slammed on the breaks as our car skidded to a halt.  Then he quickly put his hand on my leg, “Are you alright?”

I blinked and although the shock had almost petrified me into a statue, I managed back a nod.  

My mate was the first to undo his seat belt and hop out to survey the damage.  I watched him walk around the car to the rear and then I heard him growl out expletives as he kicked at something on the road.  I undid my seat belt to climb out and see what he was looking at.

In the red glow of our tail lights, I saw what looked to be a fence post lying in the middle of the road with several large nails sticking out of it.  

Declan walked back over to the driver’s seat and I watched him lean towards the GPS and press the green ‘assist’ button.  The screen started to flash a green colour, indicating that a signal had been sent to the satellite relay system so a repair vehicle would be dispatched to our location.  If he had hit the red ‘emergency’ button, we would have the Police come and find us instead.  

“OK, a repair truck should be on its way.”  He sighed in annoyance as he looked about. “But being in the middle of nowhere, it could be a while.” 

I scowled as I looked away in frustration.  I knew we should have stayed on the highway!  I shivered again as the cold night air stung my bare legs since I was wearing shorts.  Declan saw this, so he came back over to lend his greater body heat by holding me close.  

“We’ll wait inside the car and keep the heater on.”  My husband offered.

He started to walk me around to the passenger’s door when he abruptly stopped.  I watched him look in a particular direction and he even started to sniff, which was a worry.  Oh oh, don’t tell me we have company?

“Not more Asian Werewolves?” I guessed.

“Uh huh.”  His blue eyes turned glowing green so he could use his Werewolf sight to see better in the dark.  “There’s a bunch of them coming this way.”


Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Mrs. Sabre may not be safe there.”

(Excerpt of Sororate Chapter One)

An hour later when we were dressed, breakfasted and our teeth brushed, we checked out of our hotel.  The same hotel clerk was behind the desk when we handed in our electronic key.

“Altogether 488 credits will be charged to your credit card Mr. Sabre, for your accommodation, your entrĂ©e and main as well as the additional de-alcoholised wine you ordered.  However your dessert will not be charged as it came compliments of the hotel.”  The clerk read off his computer screen.

My mate handed over his credit card to pay as he still looked on the clerk warily.  A moment’s silence passed as the clerk swiped his credit card and then he raised the EFTPOS device for Declan to punch in his PIN.

“The food was delicious, thanks.” I suddenly said. 

My husband gave a funny look but the clerk smiled politely, “I will pass your compliments on to the chef.”

He handed Declan’s card back to him however when we turned to leave, we were stopped.

“Will you both be walking in a westerly direction along the Great Wall today?” The clerk asked out of the blue.

We both turned back around to look on in surprise.

“Maybe and maybe not.”  Declan said vaguely. 

We were, but he didn’t want the Asian Werewolves to know of our movements.

“I ask because when I saw your itinerary last night, it has your accommodation tonight at the Bamboo Inn in Wuwei, which is in a westerly direction.  Wuwei is in the Gans province and I feel I must advise you that the area is the territory of the Hsin family.”  The clerk said simply.

“The who?”  He asked.

“The Hsin family is not as enlightened as we are and they have not seen or smelled a female of your kind in a very long time.”  The clerk stopped smiling. “Mrs. Sabre may not be safe there.”

My heart almost stopped as my mate’s eyes widened.  I suddenly felt one of my tell-tale ominous feelings from Hsu’s warning.

“But we start a new tour tomorrow morning and we’re getting picked up by bus from the Bamboo Inn in Wuwei.”  Declan sounded annoyed.  “What are we supposed to do?  Boycott the tour as well as the town?!”

The clerk looked on unimpressed before he spoke in a low voice, “My apologies, I did not realize how different we are with our separate cultures. I was speaking as a friend.  My family is very protective over our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.  We have not allowed our women anywhere near the borders of Gans province since one of our females were kidnapped by the Hsin family 50 years ago.”

My husband’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he heard this and my heart began to race. 

Declan threw innuendoes to the wind as he looked on the clerk suspiciously.  “I was told there was only one female Asian Werewolf left.”

“Then whoever told you that was not truthful or accurate.”  The clerk said simply.

“Figures.”  He rolled his eyes.

“Didn’t either Leo or Marcus tell you that?”  I remembered.

Declan gave a short nod, “It makes you wonder what else they lied about, doesn’t it?”

“Our people know of the Lokoti Werewolves.”  The clerk spoke plainly as there was no-one else around. “They are respected by my family. It is because we know that you are not man-eaters you were allowed to stay last night. It is a sign of respect that I warn you now, avoid Gans province.”

“Maybe we should just go back to Alaska?”  My husband complained.

However a plan started to formulate in my mind, “Show me the itinerary.”

“What? Why?”  He gave a funny look.

“Please?” I held out my hand.

He pulled out the itinerary from the front pocket on his backpack to hand over.  I looked on the tour details we were meant to be embarking on tomorrow as well as the nightly stopovers before I turned back to the clerk.

“OK, so if we boycott Wuwei today, what if we head south instead until we come to Yushu?  It’s where we’re supposed to stay for the first night of the tour.”  I spoke to both the clerk and my husband.

“Yushu is not in anybodies territory and you should be safe.”  The clerk gave a single nod.

“What about for the rest of our holiday?”  I held out the itinerary to the clerk who took the document out of my hands to look on it again.

“In Cambodia you may meet the Truong clan who live in the northern region.  But if you do not go out at night and remain in your hotel room, they should leave you alone.”  The clerk handed the itinerary back.

“So after this place and if we avoid Wuwei, the other Asian Werewolves we’ll come across are in Cambodia?”  Declan wanted to double check.

“The route your proposed holiday takes you on will be avoiding the territories of the other clans.”  The clerk answered.

“Right,” Declan returned the itinerary to his backpack before he looked my way, “now to find our way to Yushu.”

“If you head down the main street to the south side of town, you will find a reputable car rental company.”  The clerk offered.

“Thanks.” I smiled at his helpfulness.

“I wish you a safe journey on your travels."  The clerk smiled at me but then it disappeared when he looked on my mate, “And I must ask you Mr. Sabre that you do not come into our territory again.”

What the…? I didn’t see that coming!  Declan and I exchanged a surprised look which we turned towards the clerk.

He spoke as he looked upon my husband, “You were protected last night because of my family’s respect for the Lokoti Werewolves.  However my family has not had the best experience with your breed before. I cannot vouch for your safety should you return to our territory again, with or without the company of your wife.”

The clerk was referring to Declan being a European Werewolf.  The clerk didn’t seem so nice now and I saw that by suggesting the car rental company it was because he wasn’t trying to help us, he was trying to get rid of us.  I recalled the sight of the two Asian Werewolves standing outside of our hotel window, watching.  Now I saw it wasn’t because they didn’t trust me, it was because they didn’t trust my mate. 

I was going to protest Declan's innocence when he stopped me.

“Come on B.”  He gently pulled me backwards.

My mate walked me to the door of the hotel and held it open. As he followed me out, he threw the clerk a parting glare.