The scent was like music.
A set of chords on notation paper meant for another instrument. The roads were silent and Avery would stop to dip his muzzle against the road, a cigarette butt carrying the trace of oils, sense memories that made him growl with distaste.
There was something wrong here.
Avery could smell out a tumour, whether it was benign or malignant. He could tell whether you had the chicken caesar or a burrito bowl with peach iced tea for lunch. Avery knew what a lie smelled like, so when his lips curled back over his long, sharp teeth, his distaste was sourced entirely in experienced deduction.
It was not sickness, madness had a particular set of scent memories and associations, Avery had nothing in his vocabulary for this, and it troubled him. The connection of this fact to his brother caused him to move a little faster even as he began to wonder who this person, no people were.
A second butt further along, similarly tainted and with the scent in his nostrils, he began to move towards the source of the stink. His head began to throb with the sensation of it, and what he thought, hoped was simply madness.
The moon was his guide and he ran, appalled but compelled to follow whatever this was.
In the basement, cutting small slices into the flesh of his God, Ernest picked up the small magnet, appropriated from a model train set. It helped him boost the signal. So much of his worship was predicated on the basis of instinct. He adjusted the fresh piercing in his nipple, the stab of pain helped him connect to the moment.
Garrett was somewhere in the house but Ernest liked it best down here, warm and quiet when he felt it. He placed the small magnet into the slit and his skull hummed with a message.
A warning. His world down here, was slower and thicker . More sensitized to vagaries and eddies of motion and changes in the environment. He looked up, his tongue tingling with apprehension. He wiped his hands on a towel so caked with filth that he was merely trading stains and pressed his lips to the meat, thanking it for the gift of foresight. He climbed the stairs.
Garrett, wandering around in sagging, grey underwear and lighting a cigarette, frowned at Ernest as he shut the door to the basement.
‘Someone’s looking for us.’
Garrett chuckled and shook his head.
‘She tell you that?’
Ernest blinked heavily and cocked his head to one side.
Garrett scratched his cheek and took a drag on his cigarette.
Ernest shook his head, his eyes narrowing to epicanthic folds of skin as his pale scarred tongue ran over his cracked lips.
At the bottom of the hill sat the house, lights on throughout but that was of no consequence to him. What he caught was the terrible radiance of it, not in the sight of it but the scent and beneath it, an ocean of malign energies. His ears flattened against his head and he growled with discomfort.
Sour earth and sickened air here. Here was what had haunted his brother’s steps and part of him wanted to charge down, bite and claw until there was blood on the walls, wet piles of intestines and none of it in his belly for fear of becoming infected by any of it.
No, this was something that he would not risk tonight. He had seen this place as a wolf but tomorrow, he had other ideas.
He had never forgotten how to soldier, after all.