Karl pulled the pickup into the fuel stop, parking at the far end of the lot. He didn't need gas; the fuel gauge displayed half a tank. What the wulfen needed was directions.
He knew the town listed on the truck registration; it was fifteen miles north of his human lover. Outside of Jenny's house, Karl wasn't familiar with human settlements. He was counting on the proprietor having at least a map. Maybe even enough spare tech to have an electronic display.
Glancing around the sparse lot and shabby building, Karl doubted the latter. The last of mankind's precious tech was being hoarded in capital cities. Anything useful here had been stripped long ago.
A battered cowbell clanked as Karl opened the door. He stood in the entrance, letting his eyes adjust as the rest of his senses took everything in.
There were four humans;one behind the counter, two back by the cooler, and one flipping through the magazines. It wasn't a very big room, maybe thirty feet on a side, and felt even smaller with all the shelves and products. It would hamper fighting, forcing mostly one-on-one combat.
His eyes became accustomed to the gloom, and he looked at the four men. They were as ratty as the fuel stop, with a mean look in their eyes. It took effort to keep his hackles down.
"Do something fer ya?" The scrawny man behind the counter hunched on a stool, straggly hair hanging down into his eyes, face unwashed and splotchy.
The scent of danger became overwhelming. Karl smiled, trying not to provoke them. "Is this the way to Green Valley?" The wulfen knew it wasn't; Green Valley was Jenny's town.
Scrawny jerked his head to the road. "Go back four miles. Take the other fork." He turned his attention to the scarred counter, dismissing Karl.
"Thanks kindly. Must have misread the sign." He turned to leave.
"How's Matt?" asked the one at the magazines.
Karl's blood chilled, and his shoulders scrunched. Matt was the name on the registration. There would be problems. "Pardon?"
Magazine was a big man; six and a half feet tall, built like a linebacker, and intelligent hazel eyes. He glared perpetually at the world, and narrowed that fierce gaze on Karl. "Matt. The man who owns that truck. How is he?" Magazine took a step closer.
Everyone's attention was on him. He could abandon the truck, make a run for it, find Matt's house on his own. Karl's hand clenched on the door as he prepared to do so.
Then he smelled the silver.
Karl growled, stepping away from the door. "Matt's feeding the crows."