Title: Creature Feature (2/?)
Summary: AU. There are stranger things in heaven and earth... and
Orlando’s determined to find at least one of them.
Pairing: V/O eventually
Warnings: Not at the moment
Disclaimer: It’s complete fiction
Remarks: Thanks go to j_crew_guy
for the beta. *puts gold star on forehead* ;D
Part 1, Part 2
tiny town of Adelaide was situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of
Northern Georgia, close to the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in
a lovely little valley carved out by water and wind eons ago. When the
team finally arrived, the late evening hour, combined with mist from a
recent rainfall added to the enchanting, almost surreal feel of the
It had taken nearly twelve hours to get from picking up
Elijah at his little rental house in Falls Church down through Virginia
and North Carolina, and east through Tennessee to their destination.
The boys were bone tired, cramped, and feeling decidedly mutinous.
whose idea was this again?” Elijah asked crossly as he cracked his
neck. The weight of Orlando’s, Billy’s, and Dom’s glares fell heavily
on the younger man and he blushed. “Oh, yeah.”
“If we kill him now, there’ll be more room in the van for the rest of
us.” Billy said pragmatically.
guys, can anyone else hear the dulcet strains of a banjo, or is it just
me?” Dom’s cheeky grin withered a bit under Orlando’s scowl.
we all know how things can be in small towns, yeah?” Orlando asked,
resisting the urge to strangle his friends. “Strangers aren’t usually
trusted easily, and if there is something weird going on here, that’s
likely to be even more true. One good way to not win their trust is to
immediately assume they’re all inbred hicks.”
“Ruin all my fun, why don’t you?” Dom pouted.
Billy tapped Orlando on the shoulder. “You know, if we kill Elijah and
Dom, the two of us will have a lot more room.”
rubbed a hand over his eyes. I’m going to find someplace to eat, and
pretend I don’t know any of you.” He set off down the street.
first step was to find some sort of lodging. Internet searches had
provided them with the names of a couple hotel chains in neighboring
towns, but nothing for Adelaide. In fact, Elijah had been unable to
find any online information about the town. He was begining to think it
didn’t really exist until it turned up on MapQuest.
the net had failed them, they realized they had to approach the problem
in a different way. They actually had to ask someone.
had dealt with small communities before. There were two places where
locals tended to congregate in the evening hours. Restaurants and bars.
Alcohol loosened lips would be more likely to provide them with juicy
information, but the atmosphere had a stronger possibility of becoming
combative, and they had all agreed that it wouldn’t do for them to once
again spend the first night of a new case in jail.
destination was a small, nondescript brick building half way down the
block. A hand painted sign above the door read ‘Esther’s Eats.’ He
paused in the entryway and waited for his friends to catch up.
didn’t cease when the four men came through the door, but many curious
pairs of eyes did follow their trek to the counter. They took their
seats on ancient stools. A sound not unlike a dying cat emerged from
Dom’s when he tried to get it to swivel.
An older woman with a
teased helmet for a hairdo sauntered over. Her name tag read Arlene.
“Evening.” She nodded amicably. “You boys know what you want?”
Billy sniffed the air. “What is that wondrous smell?”
“Spicy or sweet?” Arlene winked at him.
“Definitely spicy.” Billy grinned.
would most likely be our pulled pork barbecue. Comes with a roll,
homemade coleslaw, and hand cut french fries.” She raised an eyebrow at
the resulting gastronomical gurgles from the four young strangers in
front of her. “Four plates, then?”
Orlando, Billy, and Dom nodded sheepishly while Elijah looked vaguely
horrified at the sound his stomach had produced.
“Don’t worry.” Elijah said, patting his belly. “No more fast food for
Orlando rolled his eyes, then pasted on his most charming smile. “Um,
before you go, may I ask you a question?”
looking at the sweet faced, seemingly guileless Brit, Arlene was
suddenly reminded of the act her two teenage sons would pull when they
wanted to butter her up. “You can ask. No guarantee I’ll have an answer
for you, though.”
“Fair enough.” Orlando said. “My friends and I
are visiting here for a few days, possibly up to a week. We need
someplace to stay. The closest hotel we could find on the internet was
in -“ He looked to Elijah.
“Clayton.” Elijah said.
“Right, Clayton. And, quite frankly, we’re not sure if our vehicle can
take that kind of daily commute.”
if you don’t mind roughing it, there are campgrounds at Blood Mountain.
That’s a little closer than Clayton.” Arlene said.
“Blood Mountain?” Dom blinked. “Why-”
“There was a big Indian battle there a few centuries ago. Creek and
Cherokee. The name stuck.”
“Ah.” Dom nodded. “Bet it’s a hit with tourists.”
“We aren’t really prepared for camping.” Orlando said, trying to get
the conversation back on track.
seemed to debate with herself for a moment. “Miss Mabel down on Oak
Street sometimes rents out rooms, but only if she likes the looks of
“And since she’s half blind, that don’t really account for much
team started a bit as a new voice came from behind them. A tall man
sidled up to the counter between Orlando and Dom “Coffee to go, if you
“Coming up, Vig.” Satisfied that the strangers were in capable hands,
Arlene hustled off to put her orders in.
had to lean back a bit to get a good look at the man who had insinuated
himself so closely. It was hard to judge his age. His dark blond hair
had hints of gray at the temples, and his face, though handsome, was
worn. But, his eyes were clear, and unsettlingly penetrating as they
focused on Orlando.
“If you fellas are looking to hike the
trail, I can recommend a few other places to stay.” As he leaned on the
counter his jacket parted a bit, and Orlando spotted a flash of gold at
the man’s waist.
“We’re not hikers.” Orlando knew if this man
was what he thought he was, the truth was the best option. “We’re
The man frowned. “Like private detectives?”
“Oh, no.” Orlando said quickly. “Paranormal investigators.”
“Paranormal?” The man looked like he had bit down on something rather
cryptozoological, really.” Orlando manfully ignored Billy’s finger that
was incessantly poking him in the back. He heard a soft groan come from
Elijah, and a muttered “Oh, nice.” from Dom.
Orlando took a deep breath. “Look, Chief...”
smiled. “Sheriff Mortensen. Right. May I have a few moments of your
time?” He gestured to the back of the restaurant where several booths
“Why not?” The Sheriff shrugged. “This sounds like
it’s going to be the most interesting thing I’ve heard since the last
time someone tried to talk his way out of a ticket.”
left his surprised companions at the counter and he followed the
Sheriff to a darkened booth. They settled into the cracked vinyl.
Orlando put his arms on the table and leaned in towards the older man.
going to be completely honest with you.” His voice was low and serious.
“My name is Orlando Bloom. My team and I run a website called
Encounters X, dedicated to the sightings of strange and unusual
creatures. A few days ago we received an email with pictures purporting
to be of animal mutilations occurring around Adelaide.”
The Sheriff’s eyebrows rose. “Animal mutilations?”
“Our laptop’s in the van, we could show you, if you’d like.” Orlando
that’s all right.” Sheriff Mortensen said. “I think I know what you’re
talking about. I wouldn’t call them mutilations, though. Someone,
probably under 21 and drunk off his ass, has been opening gates around
the valley. A couple folk have lost some livestock.”
“When you say ‘lost’?”
“They were killed.”
“Were their throats torn out?”
Mortensen grinned. “Mr. Bloom, I sincerely hope you didn’t come all the
way from England just because a coyote took a couple of billy goats.”
Orlando frowned. “We came from outside Washington, actually.”
“Still, that’s a long way to travel. At least you’ve seen plenty of
Orlando pursed his lips. “So, you’re saying you believe a coyote was
responsible for the deaths?”
possible. There are a number of predators in these mountains. Coyotes,
black bears, bobcats, hell, some folks swear up down and sideways that
they’ve seen cougars roaming around up there.”
Going for broke, Orlando added. “The email we received also stated that
their hearts were missing.”
Sheriff shook his head. “I hate to say it, but it seems somebody pretty
successfully pulled your leg. The only wounds on those bodies were at
“Parts of the email may indeed be false,” Orlando
admitted. “But what you just said brings up another interesting point.
If it was a coyote, or even a cougar, why didn’t it eat its kill?
“Maybe it got frightened off.”
“Every single time?”
“Well, what’s your theory, Mr. Bloom?” The Sheriff asked. “Am I gonna
have to round up a posse to take down a Bigfoot?”
“We don’t have any theories yet. They’ll come after we gather some
evidence? What sort of evidence?” The Sheriff cocked his head and
narrowed his eyes. “What exactly is it you intend to do here?”
rising hostility, Orlando spread his hands in supplication. “Like I
said, we’re investigators. We just want to find the truth.”
“Even if it’s not strange or unusual?”
Mortensen scowled. “And, I don’t suppose there’s anything I can say or
do to make you go investigate the Indian mounds, or the Georgia
guidestones, or anything out of my jurisdiction instead?”
Orlando shook his head. “Sorry.”
older man leaned back in the booth and appeared to think for a moment.
“All right. You’ll have to stay in Clayton tonight. Miss Mabel doesn’t
open her door after seven. In the morning, if you still want to pursue
this, come on by the station. I’ll give you the name of the vet that
examined the carcasses. I’ll even send out one of my deputies to show
you where they were found.”
Orlando was clearly astounded. “Uh... okay. Um, if you don’t mind me
asking, why are you being so helpful?”
“I assume as soon as you see there’s nothing... odd about these deaths,
you’ll pack up and head home, correct?”
“Yes.” Orlando silently added probably to the end of his statement.
why.” The Sheriff said. “The sooner you city boys go back up where you
belong, the sooner I can stop worrying about you falling in a crevasse,
or getting shot for trespassing.”
Orlando smiled ruefully. “Thanks for your concern.”
can I say, I hate paperwork.” The Sheriff slid out of the booth. Looks
like Arl’s brought your dinner out. If they have any left, you should
try a piece of the brown sugar pie.”
“I’ll do that.” Orlando said.
“Have a nice evening, Mr. Bloom. I hope I don’t see you tomorrow.”
watched as the Sheriff collected his coffee and tipped an imaginary hat
to Arlene. “Don’t worry,” he said softly. “I’ll be there.”