Werewolves in London: Part I
I jerked awake in a strange and stuffy London flat, light streaming through a half-closed dusty, velvet curtain.
I rubbed my eyes blearily. Where was I? Then, I heard Lord Storridge IV rustling next to me in bed and it came back to me. Vague promises of being my knight in shining armor for as long as I graced the British Isle, all that sort of rubbish, in exchange for… the usual. Those kinds of lines don’t usually work with me, but he was so adorable… Besides his chiseled features and baby blues, Eddy really of interest to me because I was pretty sure his cousin, the elusive Heathcliff Basington (of the Malvern Basingtons), otherwise known as Blinky, was patient zero in a fairly serious outbreak of lycanthropism. And who says you can’t combine work with pleasure?
Ever since the reports of roving bands of werewolves through London’s financial district and larger parks had grown insistent, Downing Street had found it necessary to give me a ring and request my urgent and discreet assistance in the matter. They intimated that it was highly likely that one or two lycanthropes might be roaming the city during a full moon. Of course, unlike in the U.S. where we usually just set up sniper nests around public parks with large water sources, here I had to try to use all means necessary before resorting to deadly force, and what’s more, since the infected were likely part of socially important circles, I had to do it with social grace. Seriously, not my forte.
Already for the 100th time, I’d considered giving up my philanthropic goals and simply pitching the BBC on a much more entertaining version of Made in Chelsea. Socially elite guy meets socially elite girl, guy screws girl’s best friend and becomes a werewolf, girl breaks it off with guy after he destroys her flat and chews on all her pairs of Laboutins during his monthly fit, eventually girl relents and takes guy back, thus herself contracting lycanthropism during their makeup sex. Alright, they might have already done that episode, but by the time you hit Season 10 you’re bound to have a few repeats.
As soon as I hit London-town, I’d begun a tedious process of contact-tracing starting with the one ID’ed patient we had, one Clarence Catterling, son of some highly influential MP who had apparently recognized the signs in his son and known to call the right people at MI5. A simple little green pill and good ole Clarry was on the mend (not like it used to be in the old days); I started working my way back through his sexual partners (discreetly), trying to find the source. It turns out that he was actually monogamous with his girlfriend Mona Appleby, but that she finally admitted to having a little fling with a young man a few weeks before who’d been acting a little strange. Mona tested positive as a silent carrier, and her friend George Pritchard was eventually hauled in for running wild through Hyde Park with no clothes on. George’s case was pretty advanced, but with a couple of doses he eventually came around, unfortunately, with George, the possibilities of the infection route exploded exponentially in front of us. An ordinarily fairly promiscuous young man, George had been on a bender of such magnitude over the past 10 days since the disease took over he could hardly begin to count who might have been exposed.
He looked sheepishly across the interview table at me, “Could be as many as 15?” He blinked gooey, brown eyes at me and wrinkled his forehead in concentration, “Unless it was, no, 20?” He pulled his phone out and opened Tinder, swiping through recent matches.
Brilliant. Tinder! Why didn’t I think of that?
“Her, her, her, her, no I think that was before. Her, definitely her. That was at the beginning.”
“We need to get in touch with all of these women as soon as possible. They might be infected. Can you give me their contact information?”
“Oh of course. Absolutely. Wouldn’t want to keep anyone from getting treated. One moment.”
He began swiping around on his phone some more.
“Let’s check Grinder, too.”
Jeez, how many hook-up apps does one British playboy need?
“Yep, him, him, him, definitely him and him. Maybe him. Oh, now that I think of if, this guy was acting bizarrely. And that was 10 days ago. He could be your guy. The one I got it from.”
He slid his phone across the table and I stared into the baby blue eyes of Heathcliff Basington mugging for his Grinder profile pic. That was the exact moment the investigation hit a wall. Scotland Yard couldn’t locate Heathcliff Basington, known to his family as “Blinky.” He wouldn’t answer the door at his London flat. The family told the detectives they hadn’t seen him in a few days, and since he happened to be the son of some very powerful bankers and the nephew of a Duke, Scotland Yard suddenly declined to be involved until we had evidence that “a crime had been committed.” MI5 decided this required some undercover investigation. So here I was, choosing my own interpretation of undercover.
Eddie staggered out of bed and into the bathroom after groaning some sort of approximation of “good morning.” A bit behind the times, considering it was well after noon, but there was little about Eddie that wasn’t. Just being in his presence made me want to start dropping P.G. Wodehouse-isms. Pip, pip, old top! Cheerio. Absolutely. He was priceless and he was kind of cute in his shaggy-haired, strong-jawed, completely out of touch, trust-fund baby way. We American girls are famously self-reliant which amused him to no end. So far we’d hit it off decently well. But I was getting restless. I’d been socially stalking everyone connected to Blinky for a week now. Now that I had an in with Eddy, it was time to press my advantage.
As soon as Eddie streamed out of the bathroom in a cloud of steam, whistling, and generally re-vitalized, I made my move.
“Eddie?” I pouted.
He was dragging on a pair of $300 jeans over his well toned legs.
“Eh?” He looked at me as he zipped up his fly. “Something you needed? I was just about to pop over to my club…”
“I just was wondering if you have any more friends with ridiculous names I could meet, like Pookie or Binky or whatever it was. I need to expand my circle of posh British friends.”
“Oh you mean like Blinky? Well there’s also Needa and Tippy.”
“Lovely. Maybe we could meet them tonight? Along with Blinky of course.”
“Actually…I know I promised to show you around today and whatnot, but Blinky’s getting up to something tonight I thought I would join, but it’s a bit of a stags only sort of party, though, is the thing.” Eddie peered at me sheepishly with his limpid blue eyes as if asking for absolution, even though we both knew perfectly well he was going to do whatever he liked.
Serendipity. If he only knew — no manipulation required. “Oh don’t worry about me. After last night I need a quiet night in with champagne and a bath.”
“Great.” He couldn’t be bothered to hide his relief.
“Where are you guys going?” I asked casually.
“Oh just this new club, the Blue O. Supposed to be all the rage.” He was stuffing some exercise gear into his leather gym bag and didn’t see me wrinkling my nose.
“Pick you up at your hotel tomorrow for brunch?”
“My trainer’s meeting me at 3:30 so….” He looked at my state of relative undress, “just let yourself out? Yeah?”
“Of course. Just going to pop in the shower.”
With a new lease on life, I dragged my fingers through my wet hair and whistled a cheery tune myself. I couldn’t believe my luck. Tonight was the perfect night to catch Blinky in action.
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through my contact tracing diagram. There were still a lot of holes, but so far I’d been able to track down most of George’s partners, well the ones he identified anyway. Of the 15 or so people about half were infected but most of them weren’t very advanced. All the evidence pointed back to Blinky as patient zero, at least, for the London outbreak. Who knows where he got it.
My fear was that Blinky had been running amok for so long there could be some advanced stage two victims we hadn’t pinpointed and he was unfortunately most likely in stage three if not stage four at this point.
I had gathered my things into my purse and was just about to leave when something odd caught my eye, high up in the upper left-hand corner of the bedroom door frame. I pulled up a chair and examined it closely. It was small, but a decided track left by two claws dragged across the door frame. I felt cold sweat trickle down my armpits. What had I gotten myself into? Frantically digging into my bag, I pulled out a bottle of small green pills and popped one into my mouth, drinking water straight from the faucet to wash them down. I mean, the few times Eddy and I had gotten intimate so far, I hadn’t left myself — exposed, but last night I had been very drunk. Who knows what really happened?
I hate to say it, but I let this one get completely out of hand. Ever since I decided to go “undercover,” I’d been distracted, still brooding on my mother’s lies and seduced by a pair of blue eyes and the thought of having a good time. I could hear my mother in my ear now. “You always did take ‘get in the soup’ way to literally.” I rolled my eyes out of habit.
Well, what’s done is done. Possibly Eddie had Blinky over one night for a drink with the guys, possibly some young female had gotten too frisky. From what I’d seen of him, I was pretty sure Eddie wasn’t infected. But you can never be too careful.
Suddenly, my phone started vibrating and I almost jumped out of my skin. I pulled it out of my purse and found it was a call from my handler, an MI5 operative named Graeme Humphries.
“Hello, darling!” I chirruped in my best fake British accent.
“Any progress?” He flat-lined back.
“Of course. I’ve been very productive. In fact, I think I’ve figured out what you and I are going to do this evening. I’ll text you the address. Cheerio.” I hung up before he could reply in his damping monotone, and stepped into a bizarrely sunny London afternoon.
This is Part I of “Werewolves in London.” See below for Parts II and III.
A huge, swollen moon rose above the treetops in Soho as I waited around the corner from the Blue O. Perfect.medium.com
I shivered as I stepped into the gloom of St. James Park. I could feel the chill of the dew coming off the grass and my…medium.com
For another story about Angie: A Freelance Specialist in Previously-Assumed-Mythical Beings, read…