When they made it back into town, they found that the organisation had left them a few gifts at their motel. Outside was a new rental vehicle and when they entered the room, there was a locked suitcase containing changes of clothing, along with new surveillance equipment. Erin was secretly glad that was all they’d left. She was getting tired of the smug looks from containment officers whenever they messed up. She stripped down and put on the fresh clothes, which were the same as each item she’d been wearing before, a combination she liked to think of as her ‘workdrobe’. She removed the band from her hair and shook her curls, ridding them of trapped glass.
“Not going to shower?” Zach asked pulling his own t-shirt off and Erin scowled. There wasn’t time for anything but what they’d been sent to do and even though the thought of a hot bath was appealing, it just wasn’t on the to-do list right now. She sat at the lone desk and chair combo in the room, ignoring the discomfort of working from the rickety wicker furniture, as she turned on her laptop. She pulled up a map of the Bell County area and peered at it thoughtfully.
“They attacked us from the south and our first point of impact was here,” she whispered to herself, tracing the distance on the touchscreen with her finger from the roadway where they’d been accosted by the soucouyants, to the neighbourhood they’d staked out. As she did, the responsive software highlighted it for her and she sat back, her mind working quickly to add this new information to all they already knew.
Zach had disappeared into the bathroom so Erin shouted her findings over the noise of the faucet, “Their nest has got to be west of here.” Zach emerged freshly shaven, with damp hair and in clean clothes. She frowned at him for a moment, annoyed that he was always so well put together, but discarded a snide comment in favour of a sensible one, “Look at this.” She gave up her seat to Zach, allowing him to inspect her findings.
He took it a step further, pulling up a satellite photo of the area. “Holy shit,” he said under his breath, then louder, “That’s how they managed to stay under the radar for so long.”
Erin leaned further over his shoulder, the light scent of his aftershave a pleasant distraction, but that wasn’t her focus. At first she wasn’t sure what Zach meant, but as she looked closer at the area, she realised that some miles away from the place the civilians had been attacked some hours before, was an old warehouse yard. On closer inspection, she saw that the deserted yard had one main building – a cement brick warehouse, with only one point of entry. In times past soucouyants constructed their nests with clay, adding fresh layers of the material on the walls of their homes whenever they shed, so their old skins could be encased in it. Nowadays they often used deserted places like this, secluded enough to dissuade interest in the property.
“They’ve been hiding in there all along and we would’ve missed it,” she said, and Zach agreed. If they hadn’t messed up the original plan, containment would have come in and discarded of just one of these creatures and judging from the size of the nest he was staring at now and the ones that had come after them before, they were obviously many more.
“So what do we do now?” Erin was leaning on the table with both hands and Zach tried not to give into the pleasing view of her cleavage peeking out from her vest. It had been easier with his old partner, she hadn’t been at all attractive to him and even if she was, her husband and kids would have put him off. Erin on the other hand was a beautiful woman and Zach often had to remind himself of the qualities he didn’t like about her, at times like these when she looked so good and was staring at him with those big, inquisitive eyes.”So?” she asked him expectantly and Zach, embarrassed that he’d gone off-track in his head, ignored his lusting for what was important.
“We can cut a hole in the outer fence here,” he circled the location, “And scale the wall at this point here,” Zach made another marker. “We don’t know how many are in there, so it’s better if we both take them on.”
Erin nodded adding, “We know they’re partial to the early morning hours when their victims are asleep, so if we head in around twelve or so, we should be able to get around most of the dinner party.”
Zach furrowed his brow, “Yea true, but you can’t put the binding spells down unless they’re inside. We still have to wait for them to come back, which could be very dangerous for us. I say we attack right before they go out to feed and that way, we might get a few scrapes but nothing we can’t handle.” Erin considered this for a moment but disagreed,
“There’s more of a chance that they’ll get away from us before I can even perform the binding spells.” Zach waited while she thought it out. Though he was the more technical of the two and usually did lots of the groundwork and research for the cases they worked, Erin was the one that possessed the magic that allowed them to trap these creatures in the first place. It was a solid plan, but if she had a better one, he was willing to hear it.
She smiled as it came to her, “Hex bags! I’ll place them in various corners of the warehouse and when they come back from the feed, I’ll just have to do one binding spell that will trap them all. Problem solved.”
Zach saw the merit in this and stood ready to implement. He checked his gun’s chamber, then cocked it for good measure before slipping it into the holster at his waist. “We’ll leave in a few hours and stake the place out, I’d rather we didn’t have any surprises.”
“I’m already surprised that you didn’t put up a fight as you always do when I suggest things,” she was needling him.
Zach took the bait with a sigh. “I wouldn’t have to if you didn’t always—” A loud knock at the door caused them both to pause.
“Housekeeping,” came a high-pitched voice from the other side and they looked at each other surprised. Neither had expected a dive motel like this one to offer that kind of service. Erin walked cautiously to the door and Zach put his hand on his gun. They could never be too careful in this line of work.
Erin opened the door a crack, “We’re fine thank you,” she said to the fresh-faced girl in her early twenties, with blue eyes, auburn hair and velvety cream-coloured skin. The girl smiled prettily at Erin her housekeeping cart gripped firmly with one hand.
“The boss likes to keep the customers happy,” she said pleasantly and Erin opened the door a bit more, not wanting to get the woman in trouble should she not at least appear to be trying to clean the room.
“Yup,” she said knowingly and glanced back at Zach, whose expression urged her to hurry. “I know what that’s like.” When Erin looked back at the girl, she was no longer holding the cart and was gazing wickedly at Erin.
“Sure you do. Give them this message for us.” Erin only had time to see the glinting blade, before the woman sunk it deep into her abdomen. She clutched it, sagging onto the wall and Zach shouted out, shooting his gun off at nothing, as the woman who had just stood before them as flesh and blood, had already escaped her skin and left it on the dirty motel room floor.