swerved once in a tilting slide to miss what looked like a coyote,
gunned on past dim farmhouses and the lightless hills and a white-winged
swooping owl, hitting the horn to scare deer until the asphalt turned
to rock and I grabbed the wheel with both hands. I skidded the heavy
car through corners without touching the brake, slamming down the
pedal and swinging almost sideways out of each unbanked curve.
"Sergeant Bell? Do you read?"
Glad lowered the window, cocking his head.
"I hear it. It's up ahead."
Something moved beyond my lights. I leaned
over the wheel to make out the dark blur as I moved the car over.
I thought of Viv Stone's bear. Charlie-- I let up the gas,
ready to swerve if the big animal cut in front of us.
At a hundred feet my stomach turned over.
Night Slayer-- I almost said it out
Then I saw the shape of the high rump and
the white rocking horns jumped from the darkness.
"It's him!" Glad sat up toward the dash.
In the headlights a mass the size of an SUV
shone and swayed slightly from side to side, a single yellow reflector
shining at the back.
I gave it a wide berth, the car's tires bouncing
on the shoulder. I caught the long shadow of flank, high hump atop
massive shoulders, starry horns rocking, sprouting from the monumental
"God it looks real--"
But it was real, it was monstrous, like a
hand or fingernail a yard wide.
"I told you, Phil."
I watched the looming bull pass like a black
"We may need him," Glad said.