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A NIGHT OUT


Matt and Tom easily found a table at Mr. B's restaurant. Not too many people were out on a Monday night at nine. They sat down and ordered a couple of Bass Ales. A couple sat a few tables away and three or four guys sat at the bar watching a Vipers hockey game.

"We must get nachos. They have the best nachos in the world here," said Matt.

"Fine, but I need to get some real food. Otherwise, I'm going to kill you, then cook and eat you," replied Tom.

The waitress returned with their beers. "You guys want anything to eat?"

"Yes," said Matt, "let us have a full order of nachos as an appetizer and I'll have a pizzaburger."

"I can hear your arteries harden from here. Let me have a worksburger and fries."

"How do you want those cooked?"

"Medium. Let me have an order of onion rings too."

"I'll have the same," said Tom. The waitress made a note then turned away. "On second thought, make that medium rare." Tom didn't often order anything medium rare but, for some reason he felt like it tonight.

Tom glanced over at the couple. The man, a distinguished almost elegant man around forty-five, looked back at him, briefly. Tom had a feeling of deja vu, like he'd met this man before. He knew he hadn't, though. The man turned back to the pretty (and much younger, Tom noted) woman he was escorting.

The waitress brought the nachos; Matt dug in with gusto. "Refills?"

"How about a pitcher, instead?" suggested Matt.

"Alright, but only one. I think I'll show up for work before noon tomorrow."

"Well, that will be a change." Matt glanced over at the couple and lowered his voice, "Check out the guy. Eight hundred dollar suit and a woman barely half his age. Some guys have all the luck."

"Yeah, and some guys have all the pain," said Tom, instantly regretting it. "What do you care? You're practically married."

"A man can dream, can't he?"

They were making short work of the nachos when the waitress returned with the pitcher and the burgers. She set the food down and refilled both glasses. "Are you guys going to need anything else?"

"No, not right now. Thanks," said Matt. Then he reached over and stole some of Tom's fries.

An hour or so later, they finished the pitcher. The waitress had already taken away all the plates and was bringing the check. Tom handed Matt a twenty. "I'm beat. That should cover my half. See you tomorrow." He got up and put on his jacket.

"Yeah, later."

At the same time, the couple rose. The man helped the lady put her coat on, then got his own. One of the guys at the bar headed for the bathroom in the back, almost bumping into Tom as he headed for the parking lot behind the restaurant.

Tom zipped up his jacket outside. The couple left the restaurant and walked past him into the parking lot. They were headed towards a black Cadillac. "Some guys really do have all the luck," thought Tom.

The drunk that had nearly run over Tom came out right after them. He looked different to Tom. "I thought his hair was black," he thought. Now it looked grey, almost silver. The man walked out into the lot as the older man held the door for the lady.

As the older man walked around his car, the drunk walked sort of that direction. Tom saw a knife in his hand though he never saw the drunk draw it. Tom started running into the lot. "Hey!" he shouted. He didn't know either of these men, but he wasn't going to stand there and watch someone get stabbed. That's when the instinct took over and everything faded to black and white slow motion.

Both men turned to see Tom run across the lot. "Damn," said Silver Slayer, "fucking heroes!" He waited for Tom to take a couple of more steps, to get into stabbing range. He also kept an eye on Aurum. Aurum didn't seem to be doing anything, just talking softly, like he was stunned.

Aurum cursed himself for letting his guard down. He didn't have a proper defensive spell ready. This diversion might give him the time he needed.

The wolf's eyes could see the man and he could hear him breathe. His smell was odd and muted. A half dozen paces away the wolf leapt.

Silver Slayer watched the guy, whoever he was, run across the lot. No knife, no gun, nothing. This would be too easy. Just as Silver Slayer fell into a defensive stance the guy jumped. He was an easy eighteen feet away. "What the...?" said the Slayer as one hundred sixty pounds of Tom landed on his chest, smashing him into the side of the car and over the trunk. As they slid off the trunk the Slayer slashed with his right hand. He had extended a five inch blade from each finger.

The wolf rolled away from the opposing predator as it tore at him with its claws. A couple of them caught him, but not deeply. He wished the pack was here. Together they could kill this beast. Alone it would be hard. "Aaarooouu!" he howled to call the pack.

"To hell with this," said Silver Slayer. He snapped a quick backfist and hit the guy in the temple. He slumped to the ground. Then Slayer spun and threw a large spike at Aurum.

"SCYLF," said Aurum, completing the spell while holding his hand and arm before him. The knife struck the invisible shield and fell to the ground. He continued chanting. "CHA-ELAPHROS e PYRA!" His hand glowed with supernatural energy for an instant, then it leapt from his hand.

Silver Slayer dove away as the bolt of energy charred the ground behind him. "This job is getting too crazy for me," he thought. Then he turned and ran out of the lot and around the corner.

Aurum was preparing another spell when his attacker escaped. He could track him with a spell of clairsentience. Instead, he knelt down and picked up the knife, noting immediately that it had never been forged nor did it have a handle. He slid it into his pocket.

Tom felt cold and wet. He looked around. He was lying in a puddle of cold slush, which explained a lot about the cold wetness. He sat up and instantly regretted it. His head and chest hurt much worse in that position. The older man from the restaurant walked over to him.

"Are you alright? I'm afraid you took some nasty lumps that might have been headed my way." He knelt down next to Tom. "You're bleeding. Conchita, dear, please pick up the car phone and call an ambulance and the police."

The police arrived a few minutes later, since the station was only a block away. Tom watched the older man talk to the officers as the ambulance pulled up. The paramedics sat him down on the gurney, then checked him over. "He looks OK," said one of the paramedics to the officers, "but I want to take him to the hospital for an X-ray on his head. He took a mean shot there."

"Alright, I'll meet you at the hospital. I need to ask him some questions," replied the officer.

"Conchita," said Aurum, "I'm going to the hospital as well to make sure this young man is fine. I'll call a cab to take you home."

"Fine," replied the dazed young woman. "What did you just do?"

"I'll talk to you about it later. Don't mention it to anyone until I talk to you." Aurum dialed the cab company and gave them the address. "Here, this should more than cover the cab." He handed her a hundred. "Why don't you wait for the driver inside?" He escorted her to the restaurant's door. "Remember, don't talk to anyone about this until we've spoken."

Matt was walked out of the restaurant, past the couple that had been inside. Then he saw the police car and the ambulance. The paramedics were laying Tom down on a gurney and wheeling him to the back of the ambulance. He ran over. "Tom, what's going on?"

"Call Jenny. Tell her I got jumped but I'm OK. They're just taking me to the hospital for an X-ray."

"OK, I'll call her, then I'll come to the hospital." He went back inside the restaurant and picked up the pay phone.

Aurum walked back to his car so he could follow the ambulance. "Hey, mister, what happened to your girlfriend? I gotta talk to her about what happened here."

"My friend," said Aurum in a voice that was simultaneously commanding and persuasive, "has had a very nasty experience. I will give you her name and phone number and you can talk to her tomorrow."

"Well, I guess that's alright." He didn't seem entirely convinced but he walked to his car and switched on the lights. The ambulance followed him and the Cadillac fell in behind.


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