Author Topic: A WOLF AT THE DOOR — OPEN.  (Read 865 times)

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A WOLF AT THE DOOR — OPEN.
« on: November 15, 2021, 03:21:53 PM »
tw. mention of past death, trauma, abuse, death of animals, gore, murder

Into the direct line of fire, he tread carefully.

Devouring hours, Vernon had spent many sleepless nights mulling over what he should do when danger had interwoven itself into the very safe haven he thought he had created. Danger had been so unimposing for many months — years even — quietly lingering in a low-profile pursuit in a way that not even Vernon would have picked up on. He had been so preoccupied with so many other jobs around the District that Donovan Clark had not even been a thought that he entertained. It was no news that Vernon already had quite the distaste for Donovan; the man was ominous in his very own blasé, characterless life, seemingly so unproblematic and saintly. But Vernon most certainly suspected that the disappearance of Winifred had been at the hands of Donovan. After the alarming things she had told Vernon, as innocent as she tried to make it sound, Vernon was instantly suspicious of Donovan.

As time went by and Donovan remained a morally upstanding citizen around the District, Vernon dismissed his concerns as nothing more than a means to blame someone for his grief. Maybe Winifred did just leave Vernon behind, and Donovan had never been involved in her disappearance after all. Vernon could have kicked himself, now knowing what he knew. Knowing the things Donovan did to Amor. Beautiful, celestial, as if she were the personification of the warm rays of sunshine on a balmy summer day. Effulgent as her love radiated across the entirety of Vernon’s life. She made him happy, helped him strive to become the very best version of himself, pulled him out of the dark place that he had sunk into following the death of his soulmate. But maybe people had multiple soulmates, those that touched his life in ways no other could.

People could do worse things than kill someone.

Donovan had hurt Amor. He had violated her, broken her spirit in every way evil could harm a virtuous soul. If it had been up to Vernon, he would have confronted Donovan right away and insisted he pack up and leave the District. But Amor was hesitant, so quick to dismiss what had happened because maybe it didn’t happen in the way she believed it to be. Maybe she was overreacting. Maybe she was wrong all along, and Donovan had every right to misinterpret her signs. Whatever was on Amor’s troubled mind, Vernon was greatly disgusted by Donovan. Perhaps he should have listened to his gut all those many months ago. Donovan was a monster but, for as long as Amor was in denial, Vernon would follow her wishes. If she didn’t want Vernon to confront Donovan about what he had done, then he would just have to protect Amor from Donovan ever getting to hurt her again.

He would kiss her cheek with a featherlight thoughtfulness, rest his hand on the dip of her lower back only if she was content for him to do so, and he’d remind her every day that he loved her for all of her. They all were shaped by incredible sadness, much of which still haunted them every day. If Vernon could do his best to console her mind, even subconsciously, he’d be content in how he chose to take care of her in the gentlest of ways. He would remain silent on her behalf; if she didn’t want him to start any trouble with Donovan, then all he could do was keep Donovan far away from her. He would not confront him.

That was until the cats began to go missing.

First it started with one that Vernon noticed when he was feeding the strays one day. Anything could have happened, he speculated unwittingly. A wild animal could have taken her, or maybe she was unwell and had passed away in hiding. But then, another cat went missing, and then another one. Over the course of several weeks, the cat population in the District began to dwindle, much to Vernon’s dismay, until one day he came across a horrifying scene one day on a patrol. Rotting flesh led him to the carcass of one of the strays, hanging on the branch of a tree by its tail, a clean incision running from the sternum down to the abdomen. Disembowelled. Violated. The sight was ghastly, enough to make Vernon heave in horror. After giving the cat the proper burial it deserved, Vernon was committed to finding the perpetrator, and he knew exactly where to start looking.

Eyes were wary as he watched Donovan sitting on the step outside his home, feeding the stray cats leftover meat. Slowly, Vernon leaned back against the wall, arms folded across his chest as he remained in the awkward silence whilst pondering over how he should approach the situation. But Donovan beat him to it. Small talk. It wasn’t like Donovan to engage in small talk; perhaps he was as nervous as Vernon was. ❝ So… you much of a cat person, Green? I always see you taking care of these guys. ❞ Vernon watched Donovan’s cool expression carefully, eyes narrowing ever-so-slightly before murmuring, ❝ Uh huh? Yeah, I like cats. Guess you could call me an animal lover. ❞ Donovan lifted his head, giving Vernon a strained smile. ❝ That’s nice. ❞

Vernon swallowed hard, a look of contempt in his face as he watched Donovan lure the cats into a false sense of security. He could bet a dollar to a dime that he did that to everyone. Lure them in with his generosity and then stab them in the back. Hurt them for his own pleasure, for his own gain. Several long moments of silence had passed and neither had spoken a word. The look on Vernon’s face was clear that he wanted to say something, and Donovan appeared to be anticipating as much, frozen in his place as he watched Vernon with raised, expectant brows. Vernon huffed a breath through flared nostrils, and then pointed out with a slight sneer, ❝ I know what you’ve done. ❞ ❝ Excuse me? ❞ ❝ Yeah, I know. The cats, we both know why they’ve been disappearing. ❞ Donovan watched with a puzzled expression, though his body tensed rigidly as his jaw tightened so hard that his cheek muscles began to protrude with the strain.

With a wavering breath, Vernon pointed a finger Donovan’s way, face as serious as he could muster, trying so hard not to let his emotions get the best of him. If he didn’t hold forth a tirade of disgust and anger, then he’d probably start to cry because he had failed so many innocent lives as he stood ignorant to the wicked being he had let creep into their safe haven. ❝ You butchered them, violated them the same way you violated Winnie, the same way you violated Amor. ❞ Donovan’s jaw dropped, eyes darting to the side before standing up and stepping closer towards Vernon. ❝ What?! ❞ He exclaimed, seemingly shocked. So much so that Vernon nearly began to doubt himself. ❝ What are you even talking about? The cats? The cats, I’m taking care of them right now, just like you do. Doesn’t that say enough? And Winnie? Amor? What the hell, Green?! You don’t know what you’re on about. ❞

Maybe he was wrong about the cat thing. Donovan was an abuser, Vernon believed wholeheartedly, but he never had any evidence to prove that Donovan was a killer. But now that they were on the topic… ❝ Oh no, I know, Don. You don’t think Mor confides in me? And I can only imagine what Winnie had to go through too before she disappeared. ❞ The bag of food was held tighter in Donovan’s fist, knuckles paling into a shade of white. ❝ You hurt people. Women. The only reason I haven’t run you out the District is because— ❞ ❝ because you know that I’m innocent? ❞

Vernon was silenced, lips parted for a moment before stammering, ❝ Wh- No, you hurt Amor. I know you did. ❞ ❝ Whatever you think happened... Never happened, man! All I do is keep my nose clean and— ❞ Donovan huffed with disbelief, ❝ and do whatever I can for the community. And yes, admittedly maybe Amor and I had something going for some time, but I was the one who didn’t want to pursue it any further. Maybe she’s still upset that I turned her down, maybe — you never know — but all I did was tell her that I didn’t want to take our relationship any further. We’re just friends now. Not even; just acquaintances. ❞ Donovan gave Vernon a stiff smile.

That wasn’t the story Vernon had heard, but it had silenced him nonetheless. Whilst he didn’t at all believe Donovan, he couldn't outwardly cast blame based on alleged hearsay. Ultimately, he had no evidence to prove that Donovan was the monster Vernon knew he was. God, Don was good at this game. Vernon’s jaw wobbled slightly at the realisation that he couldn’t take this any further, arms falling to his sides in defeat just as he heard footsteps coming around the corner into the alleyway. His head turned to await whoever was walking over, noting from the corner of his eye the way Donovan slowly retreated back to the bottom step outside his home where he continued to feed the stray cats at his feet.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2022, 09:47:29 AM by GREEN. »
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