We got back to the inn sharpish only to find the Mayor waiting for us.
"Howdy boys, I'm Mayor Walderson, but you can call me Sam."
Brad and I looked at each other.
"Any relation to Thomas Walderson?"
"Yeah, he were my great-grand-pappy. Founded this here town. Us Waldersons been running the place ever since, ain't that the truth. Any how, I here you boys got some business going on down our parts. I'd mightily like to hear about it."
Brad and I took a seat at the bar alongside the Mayor, Brad sniffing all the while.
"What's the matter with him?"
"He has a cold." I lied and shot Brad a look. Brad just shook his head dejectedly and ordered himself a whiskey. I guess his nose was a bust.
"So yeah, actually it turns out you and Brad here are related." I said, keeping an eye on that whiskey. "We've been tracking down his family, turns out Thomas Walderson is it."
Brad finished his whiskey and ordered another. This time a double.
Sam slumped a bit at the news I'd given him. "Truth be told I was hoping for something a little more than genealogy son. The towns not doing well, we could do with little more business our way." He shrugged and seemed to perk up. "Any how, seems I got myself a long lost cousin, seems as good a reason to celebrate as any. Betty, get out the special stuff."
The old gal nodded from behind the bar and went into the back. I frowned at Brad who grabbed the bottle from the counter and started chugging it. He wasn't taking it well at all. That's when I heard the familiar sound of a shotgun being pumped.
"I don't know what you two think you're tryin' to pull but I know two con-artists when I sees them! Only earlier today you were telling Mary-Anne Brad here was Ramsey's nephew and now he's my cousin. The worlds a small place round these parts but it ain't that small. Now, I think you two better be leavin' town right about now don't you?"
Brad spoke up, his hands raised in the air. "Look, we weren't trying to con you outta nothing. We've been tracking down someone like we said. Turns out that man was Walderson, and you look awful like him." Brad looked at me and I suddenly knew what he was thinking. This wasn't going to end well.
"Brad, it ain't him. He's too young."
It was too late. Brad shifted up, hair sprouted out of his skin and teeth burst from his mouth. He howled as he grew to 7, then 8 feet tall and his face deformed into a wolfish muzzle. There was a sickly smell as the Mayor shat himself.
In a panic the old gal fired a shot but it went wide as Brad knocked the gun away from her like it was nothing and she fainted right there. He smelled of saliva and whiskey, even over the stench of the gibbering Mayor. His tongue lolled out of his mouth over a wall of razor sharp teeth and he grunted an instruction. It was impossible to make out, he didn't have vocal chords any more, not like a human, but I knew what he asked all the same.
Get the silver.
I ran to the truck, grabbed a silver knife and came running back.
"Don't do this Brad, we've been wrong before and we said we wouldn't go off half cocked again. I know you're upset, but this ain't the way damn it!"
I hoped he could hear me. Brad almost never shifted up by choice. He couldn't control it, just like he couldn't control himself during a full moon. The choice gave him a tiny bit of free will but not much and drunk as he was, I wasn't holding out hope. I noticed he was covered in blood now. I guess the old gal wouldn't be serving no more visitors.
"Brad. You gotta calm down. We're not gonna get anywhere like this!" I yelled at him. He took a menacing step forward.
I had an idea. I managed to catch Sam's eye and nodded at him. I hoped he would understand what I meant.
"Sam, I know you ain't no wolf, Brad's nose sniffed that out a long time ago but you're hiding something. Where's Walderson, Sam? Where are you hiding him? Don't think about lying about where he is 'cause Brad'll smell the lie on you and do to you what he did to the old gal. Tell us now and you might live."
"Okay! He's in the mines! We buried him in the mine! Don't kill me please, oh god, please no, please..."
He gibbered like that even after Brad dropped him on his head. I really hoped Brad hadn't heard the buried bit.
"You hear that Brad? He's in the mine. We gotta go get him now." I said slowly, backing out of the inn.
Brad followed me, twitching viciously and I realised it wasn't the drink that had set him off, it was the drink that was keeping him lucid, keeping him human and it was wearing off. If I didn't get him calmed down or caged we'd have a slaughter on our hands.
"Look, just get in your cage and we'll drive down to the mines right away. We'll find this guy and kill him together. Just calm down."
Brad grunted and climbed into his cage on the back on the truck and I breathed a sigh of relief as I slid all the blots into place and pulled a tarpaulin over the top of it. I quickly ran into the inn the check on the Mayor but it looked like his heart had given out. Good job really, I'd only have to kill him anyway. Can't have him telling people about us.
I could hear Brad scuffling in the back, getting more and more violent as the booze wore off so I quickly jumped into the drivers seat and started the journey to the mine. Sure, maybe Thomas Walderson was dead and buried there but it was better than staying here.