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Betsy was wheezing. The wolf seemed preoccupied with Lark, which gave her an advantage, but it was faster, stronger, with claws and fangs and little that would qualify as self-preservation. It lunged again, trying to run around her, get to the opposite side of the tree where Lark was. All it needed to do was get her to loosen her grips on the rope and suddenly it would be two on two, and they would be screwed.
She punched it, hitting it in the jaw. It skid in the mud, striking the tree and nearly landing on Angel. He was close enough to her that he snapped at her, nearly catching her in his teeth. “Lark!” she screamed, and the other women pulled the ropes tight, smacking Angel's head against the tree with a wet thud.
The other wolf kicked off the tree. She managed to roll, causing its teeth to miss her by inches. But its claws raked down her shoulder, making her wonder if the bite had been a feint all along. It hurt raising her hand to defend; he must have cut deeper than she realized. It was definitely a he, though, that much was certain, this close to the campfire.
Betsy heard footsteps, and strained her ears. Just on the edge of sound, past the breeze and the light crackle from the wood in the fire, she could hear ticking. The hatchetman. She tried to remember her instructor talking about fighting multiple assailants. But none of her lessons involved a werewolf or a giant ax-wielding monstrosity. She remembered the day she lost her first match- the last time she fought competitively. She was going to lose again, and this time it was going to be permanent.
A hand smaller than the one she anticipated lit on her shoulder and pulled her out of the wolf's way. Familiar light brown hair flew past her, and she recognized the Colt raised at the approaching wolf. It fired. The bullet smashed through the wolf's eye, through the socket, sending a jet of liquid brain spurting through the hole before an even larger ejection of skull fragments, jelly and viscous fluids splattered through the exit wound. The wolf dropped, first to its knees, then flat.
“I can't,” Lark yelled, as the ropes fell loose around Angel. Kelly turned to fire, but her shot hit the empty spot where he'd been a moment before. He ran to the rear of the tree, and pounced on Lark. “Help!” she yelled.
Kelly and Betsy ran for them. She had managed to lift a felled branch, and had that stuck in Angel's jaws. He snapped at it, probing for a weak spot to be able to break it in half and get to the girl just beyond it.
“Angel,” Kelly said, pulling the hammer back on the Colt. “Stop, or I stop you.” He didn't seem to even register the noise. “Goddamnit, Angel,” she whimpered.
“Don't!” Betsy said, pushing the gun to the side. She had a rock raised over her head, and brought it down on Angel's skull. After the first blow he rolled over on the ground, and tried to bite at her while kicking. A second smashed in his eye, and after a third, he went limp.
Denny and Alan came running. Denny had the Colt, now. “Keep that aimed at his head,” Kelly said.
Betsy was already shaking Lark, who was staring straight ahead, nearly catatonic. “Did he bite you?” she asked firmly.
“I-” She was jittering uncontrollably. “I, I don't think...” She frowned, having difficulty finding the words.
Kelly got a hand underneath her arm and helped her to her feet. They walked back to the circle lit by the campfire, then turned her hands over. “No bite marks. The blood on her hands comes from rope burn.”
“Jeez,” Betsy said.
“Sure it's tight enough?” she heard Alan ask. With the ropes cut, there wasn't enough to wrap him back around the tree, so they had looped it around Angel's torso, instead.
“Nearly broke my wrist in those cuffs, but it's as tight as I can get.”
“The cuffs,” Kelly said, and snapped her finger. “Where's the detective?”
“That was actually why we ran over here,” Alan said, wincing. “We got the cuffs on him, right? Then you started shooting, and- I jumped, and he got away from us.”
“There is a silver lining, though,” Denny said. “Aside from the fact that he's unarmed and gut-shot. We still have the handcuff keys.”
“We're in an insane world,” Kelly said. “But by the fucked up way things seem to be working out for us, I think we can chalk that up as a win, anyway.”
“And,” Alan said, “I think I've got one more win for us.” He was looking at the dead wolf on the ground. “But I'm going to need a knife.”