The sun was coming up over the treeline, warming the interior of the car. Dean slipped out of their coat and pushed it behind them into the back. They drummed the steering wheel nervously, expectant of the fork in the road that would lead them to Courage.
Dean wished for the nth time that week, that the radio was working, but like so many parts of their old Mustang it had caved to old age. The silence was driving Dean slowly insane, at least that’s how it felt. The ringing of their phone startled Dean and fussy fingers reached for the breast pocket of their shirt.
“Yeah?“ Dean grouchily inquired of the caller.
“Good morning, boss. I have more information on the bus situation. You wanna hear?“
Dean rolled their eyes. “Please,“ they answered, the sarcasm practically dripping from their lips.
“’Kay. That girl who tweeted, Nancy, I called her parents. They told me the trip is a kind of reward for a project those students did. They enacted historical moments for kids with Down Syndrome. The teacher, a Mr. – wait a moment – Lockhart promised them a reward and the kids asked if they could go to Courage. They’re all seniors and they said they wanted some timeout before the exams. The students made the arrangements and nobody thought about looking up the place. You get where I’m going with this?“
“Thrill seekers?“ Dean guessed, but was aware of other possibilities Terri’s research suggested.
“At the very least. So, what do you know about Courage?“
“Apart from the inhabitants being werewolves? Not much. We hunters steer clear of places like that, unless the killing gets out of hand.“ Dean picked up a notebook from the passenger seat and held their phone between shoulder and ear while driving with the notebook perched on the wheel. Not the safest way to drive, but Dean was used to doing it.
“Well, hold on to your knickers, this is good. They got a website and all for tourists. You can book rooms at the inn, they recommend hiking trails. It all looks really legit and they even got recommendations of people who allegedly visited there. Each one saying how nice the inhabitants were.“
“You gotta be kidding me.“
“Nope. And I gotta say, as far as these kind of pages go, it looks pretty good. I booked your room at the inn using the site. The page has been up since November last year – coinciding with the elections of a new mayor. Whatever that means, I guess you’ll find out.“
“Will the kids be staying at the inn, too? Or is there another place?“ Dean asked, not really interested in politics.
“They rented a couple of cabins by the lake. According to the website, it’s close to the woods. Either these kids are very stupid, or very stupid, you know? Should I be doing more digging on the place?“
Dean thought for just a second. “Nah, I figure, I go in, push everyone back onto the bus and get outta there.“
“Armed to the teeth, of course.“
“There’s no telling what these animals will do to stop us. At least, I have the moon on my side for one more night.“
“Good luck, boss.“
Dean merely huffed a reply of sorts and hung up the phone.
Ten minutes later, Dean saw the inconspicuous sign leading off the main road: Courage 5 Miles.