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Old 02-11-2009, 06:04 AM   #1
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The Howling Wind - Chapter 8 (11/2/09)

Here you go... one ginormous chapter, coming up.

Disclaimer: This bit's all made-up too!


---------

4 October, 1987 – Toronto, Canada

Once again, Bono was hammering on Edge's door, but this time there was no swearing or muttering from within. It was 11am, and they should have been in the air by now, flying back to New York, but no one had seen Edge since the night before. They'd only heard him in this room after the show, and all this morning there had been absolute silence from inside. They had all taken turns knocking and shouting, but no response was forthcoming. Either Edge was having the mother of all sulks, or he wasn't in there.

Or...

"Open it," Bono told the hotel manager.

The man slid his master key into the lock and cracked the door open. "Mr Edge, sir? We're coming in..."

"Damn right we are," Bono said, pushing past and into the room. Larry and Adam were on his heels. "Well, at least he didn't wreck this one," the singer muttered.

Adam went into the bathroom. "He's not in here," he said.

"Mini bar's intact," Larry reported.

Bono crouched down to look under the bed, before throwing open the wardrobe door. "He's not here," he said, a little relieved.

"Well, where the fuck is he, then?" Larry scowled.


----

Adam was staring into his pint, the cigarette in his mouth forgotten, not really thinking about anything in particular. He'd worn his brain out with worrying about Edge and wondering what was going on with him. They had decided to keep it quiet that he'd gone missing... they figured that a rock star couldn't disappear completely, and someone was bound to see him eventually. He can't have gone far, as none of them tended to carry much cash around. Half the notes in Adam's pocket were American dollars, anyway. They'd had to tell Aislinn, of course, as she'd been expecting him back this morning. Now it was evening, and Adam hoped fervently that Edge would show up in time for the next show.

"Feckin' eejit," Larry muttered beside him. He'd muttered this every fifteen minutes or so for the last hour.

"I'm sure he's fine," Adam replied, as he had done the other times. Suddenly both their heads whipped around at the sound of a familiar name, and they found themselves listening in on a story being told by a man in a taxi driver's uniform.

"... it was that Edge guy, from U2, I swear to God! My daughter was at their concert last night. Anyway, he practically falls into the back of me cab, and just tells me to get out of the city. Bit strange, but I drive where I'm told, so off I went. He didn't look well, neither, like he was in pain. I offered to take him to a hospital, and he said no, he wanted trees and fields. Well, I wasn't gonna drive him all the way down to Don Valley, so I took him to Claireville and dropped 'im off. He nearly ran out on the fare too, and in the end he only gave me his hotel key."

Another taxi driver shook his head in sympathy. "Good luck gettin' the fare outta them!"

"I plumb forgot to go back to the hotel after all that, what with his eyes and all."

Larry leaned forward, and Adam glanced at him curiously before returning his attention to the cabbie.

"Whaddya mean?" one of his mates asked.

The cabbie leaned forward too, the better to entertain his audience. "I was gonna call after him, but he was already runnin' off into the trees... turned around in the headlights, and his eyes were glowing yellow. Swear to God!" He leaned back again.

"Ah, you're full of it, man," the other taxi driver laughed.

"Say whatcha like, I know what I saw," the storyteller asserted.

There was a general hubbub of laughter and disbelief, and Larry made to get up and approach the group. Adam put a restraining hand on the drummer's arm. "Let's wait a bit, shall we?"

Larry slowly sat down again.

A few minutes later, the taxi driver came to the bar, next to Adam, and ordered the next round of drinks for his friends.

"Excuse me," Adam said as the cabbie waited, stubbing out his cigarette. The man turned, considering Adam and Larry. "I couldn't help but overhear your story," Adam continued. "Whereabouts is that Claireville place?"

"Claireville Conservation Area. It's north and west of here, about twenty Ks out of town, along the 407," the cabbie replied. "Hey, you're the other two... Larry and..."

The other half of 'the other two' smiled and extended his hand. "Adam," he said.

"Sam," the taxi driver replied, shaking Adam's hand. "Is The Edge all right? He looked real rough."

Larry opened his mouth, but Adam forestalled him. "He's fine. We've been on the road for a while now, it gets to you sometimes. You know."

Sam was nodding. "I hear ya. He musta been real stressed out. You guys played a hell of a show, from what my daughter said."

"I'm glad she enjoyed it," Adam said diplomatically. No one needed to know how crap they thought it was. "I was wondering, do you still have Edge's key on you? If you're worried about getting the fare out of the hotel, I think I have enough cash on me..." He fished in his wallet, peering at the unfamiliar Canadian money. "How much was it?"

"Now, that is real decent of you. Some of these hotels think we're all out to rip 'em off, but what do they care? They just have to get it out of their guests, right? It was $42.50," Sam said. He pulled a key out of one pocket and put it on the bar – it was definitely Edge's.

"Larry, do you have a ten?"

The scowling drummer opened his own wallet and handed ten dollars to Adam, who added it to the notes from his wallet and gave them to Sam. Adam scooped the key into his pocket.

"I'm much obliged to you, gentlemen," Sam said, clapping Adam on the back.

"And we to you, Sam," Adam replied, shaking his hand again.

Larry could remain silent no longer. "His eyes...?" he began, and he and Sam shared a look.

"Yeah, his eyes. Glowing yellow, I swear it."

Larry just nodded. He'd seen it, too.

Sam gave Larry a parting clap on the shoulder and carried the beers back to his friends. Five seconds later, they all turned to look at the bar, but Adam and Larry were already on their way out.

---

Later that night, they and Bono were poring over a map back at the hotel. "Where'd he say it was?"

"About twenty kilometres away, northwest," Adam said.

"Kilometres... hmph. There," Bono's finger stabbed a patch of green on the map. "That must be it."

Larry read the tiny writing. "Yeah, that's Claireville. And we're not goin' out there at this time o' night," he added, seeing the look on Bono's face.



----------

5 October, 1987 - Toronto, Canada

After some debate, the remaining three quarters of the band went to the Claireville Conservation Area with the idea of looking for Edge themselves. Adam was of the opinion that Edge might not want to be found, Bono wanted to get the police involved, and Larry thought that if Edge wanted to go crazy and run away, that was his own business, as long as he hadn't done it while they were on tour. And he figured Edge had a responsibility to his family, too, over and above his responsibility to the band.

It was a sunny day, but there weren't many people in evidence as they entered the park and headed for the trees.

"He's probably long gone, if he was ever here," Adam was saying.

"Where else d'you suggest we look? It's the best lead we've got; far as we can tell, no one else has seen him since that taxi driver. Maybe we'll find a clue or somethin'."

"Are we detectives now? What I suggested was that we just wait at the hotel for him to come back."

"An' I suggested we get some real detectives to look for him, but you were the one who didn't want to call the cops!"

"Can you imagine the headlines? 'U2 guitarist goes missing', it would be madness." Adam made sure his voice was low, although there was no one else within earshot.

"At least there'd be more people lookin' for him! What if he's dead in a ditch somewhere?" Bono clamped his mouth shut, as if afraid that saying the words aloud would make them true.

"Then there would be headlines saying 'U2 guitarist found dead in ditch', and we'd know," Adam said, unperturbed.

Larry had moved ahead of them, ignoring the conversation they'd had several times before.

"Hey, guys... Look at this." The drummer was standing over a pile of damp material on the ground.

The others joined him.

"Shite..." Bono bent over and picked up Edge's hat. His other clothes were scattered around haphazardly. "Has it been raining?"

"Probably just the dew or something," Adam said, eyebrows together. Bono started picking up each item of clothing and checking it over. Looking for blood, Adam thought. The bassist helped, as Bono was hampered by the sling on his left arm.

Edge's watch fell out of his shirt with a thud, and Bono picked that up too. "I guess he wasn't mugged, then."

"It's not a very fancy watch," Adam observed.

"He didn't wear his wedding band, did he?"

"No," Larry said, scowling at the ground.

Bono straightened, arms full of Edge's mysteriously discarded garments. "Well, what does this mean, then?"

"The obvious conclusion," Adam drawled, "is that Edge is running around somewhere with no clothes on." There may or may not have been a faint hint of admiration in his voice.

"Don't be feckin' ridiculous," Larry snapped. "Someone must've attacked him or somethin'. Kidnapped him."

"And taken all his clothes off? Right down to the boxers?"

"That's what they do, isn't it? To make 'em feel vulnerable."

"We haven't had a demand for ransom. Why else would someone kidnap him?"

Bono was inspecting the shirt again. "I'd like to know how they managed to get this shirt off him without undoing the buttons."

Adam peered at it - he was right. Most of the buttons were still done up. "If there was a struggle, you'd think they'd have been torn off, or the shirt would have been ripped." But it wasn't.

--

They'd resumed the search, a little more seriously now, when a policeman came across them.

"Excuse me, sirs, but we're asking people to stay out of the park today, especially the wooded areas." The businesslike man was glancing around him. "If you would be so kind as to follow me..."

"What's this?" Bono asked. "Why?"

"There have been unconfirmed wolf sightings in this park, yesterday evening. There's no cause to be alarmed, sirs, but just as a precaution, we're keeping people clear of places where the animal or animals might be hiding. Right this way, please..." He ushered them along the path, back the way they'd come.

"Wolf sightings? I didn't think they'd live in such an urban area," Adam said.

"No one's seen a wolf this close to the city for decades, it was probably just a husky or some other domestic dog. Purely a precaution, you understand."

"I'm sure you're right," Bono said. "Just a husky. I'm sure we'd be perfectly safe if we stay out of the forest..."

"I'm sorry sir, this is just for your safety. Please come another day once we've ascertained the identity of the animal."

"What will you do with it? If it is a wolf," Adam said.

"If it is considered a threat, it will be shot," the cop said evenly. "Otherwise, the animal will be trapped and relocated to a more suitable habitat."

The band walked on in silence, and were escorted all the way to their car by the officious policeman. They waited until he was some distance away before giving vent to their feelings.

"Feckin' pompous arse! 'For your safety, sirs'... Bollocks!" Bono kicked at one of the tyres. "If we coulda told him..." He glared at Adam.

"Don't look at me like that. You would have told him if you'd really wanted to." But Adam was worried now, too. Again.

"'Just a precaution', my arse," Larry growled. "There's feckin' wild animals in there!"


----


Night had fallen again, and the wolf was hungry. The day before, the smell of food had drawn him towards a human family and their picnic, but then there was a lot of screaming and shouting and running around, and he'd fled back into the trees and safety. He had become acutely conscious of being alone, and vulnerable.

A sound and a scent caught his attention simultaneously, and he turned to see another wolf watching him. It was standing in a very dominant posture, and he was grateful enough to see another of his kind that he didn't even think about asserting his own dominance.

This confused mix of wolf and human logic had been the state of Edge's mind for the last two days.

There was something familiar about the scent of this wolf too, although he'd never actually smelled another wolf before. The new arrival turned and trotted away, glancing over its shoulder. Edge followed.

They stopped at the base of a large, spreading tree, and in a confusing blur of motion, the other wolf was gone and replaced with a smelly human.

A name whispered at the back of Edge's mind. Timothy. He sat down and watched the human scramble up into the tree and retrieve a bundle, which he methodically took apart and hung on himself.

Clothes, the reminder came again.

"Ah think you've had enough fer now," the man was saying, glancing at the wolf as he got dressed in layer after layer of filthy clothes. "Ah know ya can unnerstan' me, yer eyes're still green. Come outta there, The Edge. Folks are lookin' for ya."

Hearing language, and his name, Edge found himself more conscious of where and who he was than he had been all day. And he knew Timothy was right. What he didn't know was quite how to do what the homeless man had just done. He looked up at him, and whined.

"Jus' remember what it's like, boy. You been a human fer twenty-somethin' years, ya don't ferget that overnight. Remember walkin' and talkin' an' laughin'... Wolves ain't much fer laughter. Remember the music ya make in that band o' yours. Remember yer mates an' yer family."

Edge remembered, and with an unnerving, painful stretching sensation, he changed. His breath escaped in a hiss, and he trembled, the pain of the transition unexpected.

Once it had subsided, he noticed his senses were dulled again. It felt as though someone had drawn a muffling cloth over them; the night was suddenly darker and quieter and devoid of subtle scents.

"Atta way," Timothy said, and handed his overcoat to Edge. The naked guitarist accepted it and wrapped it around himself tightly. He fumbled with the buttons and the belt.

"Say somethin', boy," Timothy said.

Edge looked at him, still shaking with reaction, and cold. "Squirrels are hard to catch," he managed finally.

Timothy gave a bark of laughter. "That they are. Come on, we got a long way to walk before mornin'."


After half an hour of walking in silence, Edge thought to ask, "Where are we going?"

Timothy looked at him. "Back to yer hotel, an' yer life."

"Oh."

"Don'tcha miss it?"

This time Edge glanced at Timothy. "That's rather a personal question, too."

"Fair enough." The vagrant let the matter drop easily.

After another few minutes, Edge said, "This would have been quicker on four feet."

"Yeah, but wolves don't run through cities. You shoulda been more careful in that park, boy. There's cops searching the place fer wolves. You coulda been shot."

"Shot?"

"Wolves ain't protected in more'n a handful o' parks. That ain't one of 'em."

"Oh." Edge had never even considered that, but he did now.

Another few minutes passed.

"Ah know how ya feel, boy," Timothy resumed. "First time Ah found the wolf, Ah didn't wanna come back, neither. Lord knows mah human life weren't worth comin' back to. But ya can't stay as one thing all the time. Changin's in yer blood."

"But why? How did this happen, why me? I've never been bitten by a dog, let alone a wolf..."

Timothy was shaking his head. "It ain't like the movies..."

Edge interrupted. "I read about werewolf legends from Europe in the Middle Ages. I don't remember makin' any deals with the devil, either. Does this... Am I damned? Evil?" All his superstitious fears rose to the surface.

"Ah don't believe folks can be damned against their will, boy, an' Ah don't believe in hell, anyways. Folks are good or bad 'cause of what they do, not how they're born or what happens to them. Ah figure we were born with somethin', an' some time in our lives, it comes out. Dunno why, dunno when. It's different fer everyone. Ah knew a woman didn't change 'til she was past fifty. Knew a kid who changed at fourteen. 'Course, she was all fucked up on drugs, that prob'ly didn't help none."

That was a sobering thought.

"You ain't evil. Not yet, not if ya don't wanna be. Not if ya keep the beast down."

"Find a place to fit in between," Edge sighed, remembering what Timothy had said earlier.

"Balance between man and wolf, yep."

"And you chose...?" Edge cast a glance at Timothy, his matted hair and beard, his dirt-caked and tattered clothes.

Timothy's eyes went flat. "Don't judge me 'til you been livin' with this curse fer twenty-five years," he growled. "'Specially not when yer wearin' me coat."

"I'm sorry," Edge said, abashed. "I didn't mean... I didn't think."

Timothy grunted.

"I should thank you," Edge went on, hesitantly. "For telling me about all this. What's happening to me. For helping me. So, thank you."

"Yer welcome."

"I... I don't know how long I would have stayed in that park. If there's anything you want, anything you need...?" Edge stopped short of offering him money or clothes, or even a hot shower, wary of bruising Timothy's pride.

Timothy grinned, showing strong but yellow teeth. "Ah 'preciate the thought, boy. Might be I'll take yer up on the offer some day, but Ah'm getting' along jus' fine fer now."

Edge just nodded.

"Why help me, though?" he blurted a moment later.

Another look from Timothy. "Ah don't wanna see no one get hurt jus' 'cause there weren't no one there to 'splain things. That's all. You ain't been the first."

"But how did you know? Before I even knew anything was happening..."

Timothy shrugged. "There's somethin' about how ya smell, when it starts gettin' close. Ya held it off longer'n most."

Edge lapsed into silence, and his own thoughts.



It took three and a half hours to walk from the park back to the hotel. Timothy took his leave a block away, and told Edge to keep the coat until the next time he saw him.

"I'll get it washed for you," Edge said.

"If ya feel ya gotta," Timothy chuckled.


The night shift receptionist was half asleep, and barely looked at Edge as he explained that he'd checked in several days ago but misplaced his key. It seemed the key had been returned, Edge assumed by the taxi driver. In his room, he ate everything edible in the mini bar, wished vainly that the kitchen was open, and finally went to bed.


--------

6 October, 1987 – Toronto, Canada

U2 had stayed much longer in Toronto than they'd been planning to, but they would have to leave today. There was a show to play tonight in Cleveland, although there was some debate about whether they should play at all, if Edge remained missing.

"We can't ask Dallas to fill in for him for the rest of the tour," Adam said as they were having breakfast in the hotel's dining room.

"He'll come back," Bono said, displaying his typical stubborn naivete. "We just gotta give him time. We can't leave him here!" He seemed to have come to the conclusion overnight that Edge's absence was voluntary after all. Larry still wasn't convinced.

"How long're we gonna wait before we admit he's gone missing? The longer we leave it, the less chance someone can find him..."

Bono and Larry settled down into the well-worn grooves of the ongoing disagreement, and Adam sat back and sipped his orange juice. He was sitting opposite the other two, who had their backs to the door, so they didn't see the unkempt apparition of Edge in the doorway. He choked on his juice.

"You right?" Bono said, glancing up as the bassist spluttered. Adam could only nod.

Edge had caught his eye, expression uncertain. Adam winked, recovering. He watched Edge collect his breakfast from the buffet, approach the table, and sit down next to him.

Bono and Larry were still arguing, oblivious. "If we cancel one show, we'll have to cancel all of them!"

"With all due respect to Dallas, people aren't paying to see him. They're paying to see--"

"Good morning, Edge," Adam said loudly. Silence crashed down. "We were just discussing whether or not we should play tonight's show without you. What do you think?"

The open-mouthed looks of surprise on Bono and Larry's faces were almost comical.

"Jaysus!"

"Where the feckin' hell have you been?!"

"I would rather like to play the show with you tonight, if that's all right with you," Edge said, ignoring Bono's question.

"I don't know, we'll have to clean you up a bit." Adam plucked a dead pine needle from Edge's hair.

The other two weren't in the mood for jokes.

"We've been worried sick!" Larry hissed, trying unsuccessfully to avoid attention. Attention followed Bono everywhere.

"I am sorry for worrying you. I didn't mean to be gone so long," Edge said quietly, meeting each of their eyes.

"Where were you?" Bono asked again.

"In the park."

"For two days? Without your clothes?"

"Can we talk about this later?" Edge started shovelling bacon into his mouth.

Bono glanced around at the other people in the room, most of whom were looking at them curiously. "All right. Jeez, did you not eat in all that time?"

"Nnf mush," Edge said through a mouthful of toast.


-----------
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Old 02-11-2009, 06:46 AM   #2
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"Say somethin', boy," Timothy said.

Edge looked at him, still shaking with reaction, and cold. "Squirrels are hard to catch," he managed finally.


that made me giggle...twice seeing as this didn't work the first time.

I love this and I really wish you'd post more often and do more ginormous chapters.
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Old 02-11-2009, 06:49 AM   #3
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don't you hate it when it does this?
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Upcoming gigs: U2-Moncton-07/31/11 OMG I had so much fun! So sad it's over though.

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Old 02-11-2009, 09:37 AM   #4
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You rock, Ali. Seriously.

"The obvious conclusion," Adam drawled, "is that Edge is running around somewhere with no clothes on." There may or may not have been a faint hint of admiration in his voice.

Adam being half-bemused by everything that's going on is spot-on, and this line is hilarious.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:49 AM   #5
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Great chap! The squirrels line is great!

This makes me wish I could turn into a wolf!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:50 PM   #6
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:sad I want a better explanation of how/why Edge became a wolf...
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:53 AM   #7
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Apologies, AL4L (I hope I can call you that! Tricky screen name to abbreviate)... That's all I've got on the explanation front. Well, that was all that made it into the story itself... I wanted to avoid both the usual werewolf cliches, and also avoid blatantly copying the mechanics of a Werewolf roleplaying game I used to play.

I also thought way too much about the whole thing... I don't want to spam the place with my musings... I might put something before the next chapter. *looks at clock* Which will have to be soon. *L*

Thanks again, guys
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:19 PM   #8
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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