'I'm sorry.'

'What a shame that this should happen just when you seemed to be getting better.'

Karyn set the glass down carefully on the end table next to the chair. 'I hate that expression,' she said. 'Getting better. It's a constant reminder that I'm a convalescent mental case.'

'I didn't mean it that way. It's just that I'm a little disappointed that, after a year, Dr. Goetz hasn't done more for you. Do you think we should try someone else?'

'Dr. Goetz is as good as any of them,' Karyn said. 'Really, David, you're making too much out of this. The dog came up behind me and took me by surprise. I overreacted, that's all.'

'The dog,' David said, watching her. 'It reminded you of that Drago business, didn't it?'

Sure. That Drago business. The unpleasantness in the mountains. Nothing remarkable, really, just fighting off a pack of werewolves and seeing your husband change into… Karyn broke off the thought and shuddered.

David moved quickly to her side. 'I'm sorry, dear, I shouldn't have brought that up.'

Karyn squeezed his hand. 'No, darling, it should never become a taboo subject, or I will be in trouble. And you're right about the dog. Seeing its face suddenly so close to mine took me back for a moment to Drago. It's been only three years, you know, and we've got to expect incidents like that from time to time.'

'And you're still having the dreams, aren't you?'

'Yes,' Karyn admitted. 'But not so often, any more.'

David frowned. 'When is your next appointment with Goetz?'


'And you really think he's helping you?'

'As much as anyone could.'

David patted her hand awkwardly. 'All right, then, we'll go on with him. I just hope he can make you see that this Drago business is all — behind you.'

As she lay that night in bed beside her sleeping husband, Karyn recalled his words. She knew that what he had started to say was 'all in your mind.' She would be happier than anyone to be convinced of that, but it was not so. Drago was as real as the moon outside their bedroom window, and much closer. The werewolves were real too. And somewhere, Karyn knew, one or more of them survived.

* * *

Nine hundred miles away, in the grape country of California, another woman lay awake beside her man. Her long, supple body gleamed like old ivory in the moonlight. Across the pillow, her hair spread in gentle waves of glossy black, shot through with a startling streak of silver.

The man stirred in his sleep. The woman quieted him with a hand on his broad, bare shoulder.

'Rest easy, my lover,' she whispered. 'Soon we will have much work to do.'


FROM THE WINDOW of Dr. Arnold Goetz's office in the new Farrell Building, Karyn could see the sailboats slamming across Lake Washington under a stiff westerly breeze. It was one of those brightly washed summer days when the dreary months of rain are forgotten and the people of Seattle go outdoors to celebrate the sun.

Karyn stood at the window talking in a flat, emotionless voice. Finally she said, 'So that's all there was to it. Just a silly incident with a dog, and it was all over in a minute.'

Dr. Goetz waited a full fifteen seconds. It was a technique of his that Karyn recognized. The purpose was to encourage the patient to elaborate on, or perhaps contradict, the last thought. When Karyn did not offer to continue, the doctor spoke.

'There is no doubt in your mind, then, that it was only a dog yesterday.'

Karyn spun around to face him. 'Of course it was only a dog.' She walked over and sat down in the chair facing the doctor's desk. 'I was frightened for a moment because it brought back bad memories. That's all.'

Dr. Goetz nodded sagely. 'Yes, I see. And tell me about the dreams. You say you still have them?'

Karyn bit her lip and frowned. 'Yes. And they worry me more than the business with the dog. Will I ever stop hearing it at night, Doctor? The howling?'

'You do understand that it is only in dreams that you hear this — howling?'

Karyn leaned back in the chair. Sunlight from the window caught her pale blond hair and made it a glowing frame for her face. She was twenty-eight now, and there were little lines at the corners of her eyes, but the touch of maturity only emphasized her beauty.

'Yes, Doctor,' she said wearily, 'I know it only happens in dreams. Now. But three years ago in Drago, the howling was real. As real as death.'

Dr. Goetz touched his glasses. Karyn had determined that it was his unconscious gesture of disbelief. He put on an understanding smile.

'Yes, I see,' he said.


The doctor brightened. Gut reactions always encouraged him.

'You don't see at all,' Karyn told him. 'You don't believe Drago actually happened any more than my husband does. Any more than all the other people I've told about it.'

After his customary wait the doctor said, 'Karyn, whether I believe or not isn't important. What happened in the past or didn't happen really doesn't concern us. Our bag is the here and now. All that matters to us is how you feel about it.'

Karyn met the doctor's sincere gaze. He was having a difficult time making the transition from the traditional Freudian to the trendy transactional school of analysis. Everybody's got problems, she thought.

'What it makes me feel is scared shitless,' she said.



'Because I know they aren't all dead.'

'When you say 'they,' you mean — '

'I mean the wolves,' Karyn supplied. 'The werewolves.'

She watched closely for a reaction — the narrowing of the eyes, or the little quirk, which she had seen so often, at the corner of his mouth. Dr. Goetz held his expression of friendly concern. He was good.

'Do you want to tell me about it?' he said.

'Doctor, I have told you about it.'

'Tell me again, if you think it would help.'

Hell, why not, Karyn thought. There was no pain in the telling any more, and that, at least, was an improvement. Maybe if she heard the story often enough herself it would become meaningless, the way a familiar word repeated over and over eventually becomes a nonsense sound.

She stood up again and walked back to the window. There, watching the peaceful scene down on the lake, she repeated the story of the damned village of Drago, and the six months she spent there with Roy Beatty.

She described the way it began, with the howling in the night. Then there had been the cruel killing of her little dog. She told of the strange people who had lived in the village, and the huge, unnatural wolves that had roamed the woods at night. In a quiet, controlled voice she spoke of the black-haired Marcia Lura, who had bewitched Karyn's husband and finally taken him forever with the virulent bite of the werewolf. Finally she told of the escape from Drago as she and Chris Halloran had fled the burning village.

Dr. Goetz waited, then spoke. 'You said they aren't all dead. The wolves.'

'As we drove out of the valley with everything behind us in flames, I heard it again from off in the forest. The howling.'

Abruptly Karyn stopped talking and went back to her chair across from the doctor. 'Telling the story doesn't make it any better or any worse,' she said. 'All it does is keep the memory fresh. What I want to do is put Drago out of my mind. Now and forever.'

'I can understand that,' Dr. Goetz said reasonably. 'And that's what we're working toward, isn't it? But, Karyn, before we can finally put this idea out of your mind, we have to find out what put it in.'

Вы читаете The Howling II
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