Dancing with Werewolves - By Carole Douglas

Chapter 1~3
Chapter One

"Authorities assert," I said clearly into the microphone I held, "that medical examinations will reveal this as just the scene of another rural juvenile prank, nothing more."

I held my position while the station videographer wrapped the take. No moving. You never knew when you were really on or off camera. A savvy TV reporter learned to freeze like a department store mannequin before and after filming a stand-up.

Of course I hadn't believed a word I said.

If you don't cooperate with the police in the early stages of a crime story, they'll cold-cock you later, just when everything is getting juicy. They'll cold-cock you anyway, just for the fun of it.

Speaking of juicy, the three corpses were bone soup inside their intact skins. No way does any weapon known to human do that. Yet the "authorities" were playing the incident like a frat-boy prank for the public. So this was just a semi-crime scene.

That scene was a Kansas cornfield and my mid-heeled reporter pumps were sinking arch-deep in clods of dirt or shit, depending.

" Del," the lieutenant said as soon as the day-bright camera light had turned off and we were all plunged back into a rural darkness where no crickets chirped.

Crickets always chirped in the spring country night, which was yet another sign that this was one eerie crime scene.

As the cameraman drove off in the station van to film another story, Lieutenant Werner, short, dark, and rotund, escorted me over the clods to the unpaved road, where a sleek black car stood shrouded in gravel dust. We had a working history, so I accepted his part gallant, part controlling male custody. Besides, that car was very interesting. Out of state license plate. Way more than unmarked police car class. Cool.

"Agent Edwards wants to talk to you."

Agent Edwards. Not the county agricultural agent, not state police. Fed. Hello, Fox Mulder, maybe? Just when you need a hero.

" Miss Street," the man said.

I nodded, unsold. Viewed in the headlights from his car, Agent Edwards was an East Coast yuppie, no hair below the tops of his ears or the back of his stiff white shirt collar. Cornfields were as alien to him as crop circles, but I knew a lot about both.

"You cover the 'paranormal crime' beat around here, I understand." Edwards put a sneer inside his quotation marks.

"I don't think you do understand," I answered. "What... bureau are you with?"

"Office of Rural Security. We handle uncooperative farmers on the mad cow disease issue, fertilizer thefts, anything that involves national safety. So all suspect incidents are a federal case. Media rights bow to national security nowadays. We demand your discretion."

"I know I have to give it, but that doesn't mean you can't tip me off early in return."

He nodded. Not a real "yes." As if I hadn't noticed.

" Miss Street, you know this community, this terrain. What do you think?"

What I thought was that Agent Edwards was a stupid tight-ass, but that didn't mean he couldn't be one of the still-closeted supernaturals. He broadcast an air of "other." Maybe it was just East Coast ego toward heartland hicks, not the arrogance the supers often felt toward us mere mortals. Then again, he could just be the usual officious bureaucratic prick.

What I thought about the corpses would get me a strait jacket in the state hospital, but I tested him. "The bodies have been turned into creamed corn in a can, Agent Edwards."

"Interestingly put, Miss Street. Why? How?"

"We've had a lot of crop circle activity lately."

"Rubes with rider lawn mowers. Pranks." I might have told him. What I'd seen. What I'd put together. The "rubes" comment killed it. I lived here. Worked here. Maybe had been born here. Suck grass, Fed.

I sat in my car while everyone else peeled away into the darkness, riding a pair of blazing headlights. Werner and his partner were last. He leaned on my open car door. Between the '56 Cadillac's width and the wide door, we nearly blocked the two-lane road. Dolly and me. That was the car's name. Dolly. She was built like a fortress. I often needed one.

"You don't want to hang around out here, Del. Could still be dangerous."

"Just gotta record a few notes while they're fresh." I held up my lipstick-size machine. "I'll be okay. It's all over out here, whatever it was."

"The Agri bastard is probably right."

"Aren't they always?"

Werner laughed. He was just looking out for me. That's what was nice about living in a smaller city. A buzz came