My name is Johnathan Steed and I am a monster hunter. Okay, well not exactly like the others of my trade but I’ve bagged a couple in my day. Okay so compared to the big dogs in my line of work I’m pretty unremarkable. Sure I heard all about them saving the world and the legend that is Owen Pitt, but I never even got the call for that fight. For what it’s worth…this is my story.
I found out about all of this because I was attacked by a couple of eagle sized mosquitoes while camping at Canyon Lake Texas. I woke up with one of them on my back attempting to suck me dry. It really wasn’t that difficult to deal with. I had quickly rolled over, snapping off the stinger in my back. A couple rounds of #5 bird shot after that took care of the problem. It was just lucky I was never the trusting type and had my tactical 12 gauge next to me.
The doctor at the E.R. had no way to explain the wound on my back or why they had to keep me on an I.V drip of Benadryl to deal with itching that made me think I was looking my mind. I was ready to dismiss the whole thing. “Just go home and forget about it” ,is what I told myself over and over again. That is until a couple of douche nuggets in suits paid me a visit.
They gave me two choice. Never speak of it again or take a chill pill also known as a 10mm hollowpoint to the forehead. I didn’t feel inclined to survive mosquitoes from hell only to be face shot buy a dick that looked like Frankenstein in a government issue suit. I was about to sign their non-disclosure agreement stating I could never speak of this to another human soul when another man walked in. He was middle aged but I got the idea he was much older than he looked. He had the steely gaze of a man that has seen a lot of shit and lived to tell about it. My grandfather had that look after World War Two. Even in a wheelchair, days from death, he could pull that look out like double edged sword. The man in the door way had that same feel about him.
“Son, don’t sign that paper! At least not yet.” He had a Southern accent. It had a different tone to it than most though. This man may have lived in the south all his life but he had been a lot of other places too. He had a spark of intelligence that you only find in a man who’s been there and done that more than once. “My name is Earl and I think we have a lot to talk about.” He held out his hand, palm down, to shake my hand as he walked to my bedside.
I laid there for a moment sizing up his intentions before I extended my hand to shake his. Knowing that the palm down extended hand is a sign of dominance I made sure to twist his hand up so both of our hands were vertical. He glanced down at out hands and then shook his head with a grin. He had a grip like an industrial vise. I always prided myself on a pretty crushing handshake but I couldn’t keep up with this guys grip.
“I like you already, kid. I represent Monster Hunter International and I think we have some work for you.”
“You came to give me a job interview in the hospital? Last time I checked I already had a job.”
“Yes I know and I want you to continue to do that job for me.”
“Meaning what?” I was a little suspicious of this guy but his presence seemed to piss off the dicks with badges in the room so I decided he could stay.
“According to your file you’re a gunsmith with a background in tactical weapons. You’re a hunter so you’re no stranger to spilling blood. I have notices from several sources of tactical training and even a brief stent with the Marines. You have a knack for creative work that makes you uniquely qualified for our needs. I want to keep you busy doing what you do for my monster hunting teams. We happen to have one stationed in San Antonio that would be grateful for your skills.”
“Why go through all this when you could simply send them to my shop?”
“Because from time to time they may need you to travel with them and even get in a little trigger time of your own. So, are you in or what?”
“Okay, so let me get this straight. I’ve seen one kind of…well, monster. That means there are more out there. It leaves the door open for anything from legends to low budget horror movies except they actually exist and we’re there to kill them…”
“And get damn good pay for doing it.”
“That always helps. Hell yeah. What do I have to loose?”
“Your life” ,Earl said without hesitation.
“My life sucks anyway. So what do you want me to do?”
“First of all just heal up. I’ll send my guys to your shop when you get out of here.”
Earl didn’t wait to hear my reply or even excuse himself, that I remember. He simply put a business card down beside my dinner tray and walked out. The two feds said their goodbyes by telling me not to mess up or they’d be back with their suppressed Glock and a bullet with my name on it. I flipped them the bird as they walked out. I pulled my dinner tray closer. I looked at the card sitting on the tray for what seemed like hours but then I took a bite of some really crappy meatloaf and it was still hot. although in retrospect it couldn’t have been that bad because I finished it along with everything else on the tray while watching a rerun of Three’s Company. Not that I wanted to watch it but the only other show on three channels the hospital got was Wheel of Fortune. They both suck but I settled on the lesser of two evils.
Taking the last of second of televised donkey jiz I could stand I shut the tv off. I looked back down at the tray and remembered the card was still there. I picked it up finally and held it in front of me. It read “Earl Harbinger, Monster Hunter International. If you’ve been given this card follow the directions to the training center on the back”. I was immediately pissed off. This meant that there was more to this job and I wasn’t being invited to the game. They’ll come up with some crap about my gunsmithing skills being too important to put me on the front lines or some shit like that.
“Story of my life….”
I was well enough to leave the hospital in a few weeks. I was still healing from having my ribs broken two inches from my spine. I guess I should just be thankful that damn mosquito didn’t sever my spine. It took three surgeries for them to remove the broken stinger and repair the damage. I even had stainless steel bars holding the shattered chunks of my ribs together. So much for going through the airport without TSA doing a cavity check. I was out but still felt like hammered crap.
I went in to my shop on the north edge of San Antonio after a couple of days recuperating at home. I can only sit around the house so long before I need something to do. I unlocked the door and stepped over a few business cards that had been shoved through the mail slot. Upper right corner had the monogram MHI. The name on it read Anthony Torez, Monster Hunter.
“Oh, great. The big guys want little ol’ me to come out and play.”
I tossed the card back on the floor and went back to my work bench. Unfinished projects were still in the same places, trays of internal parts set neatly with each project, and work orders posted on the board behind the bench.
The bells on the door rang and I heard the foot steps of a man in boots walk through the doorway. I didn’t recognize the sound so this must be a new customer. I came around the corner to see a man about 5’10″ and a stout 180 pounds. He wore desert issue combat boots, 511 cargo trousers, and a military style O.D. green uniform shirt with a hint of a bulge on his right and left side that had to be his concealed carry weapon. “Hi, how can I help you?”
“You John Steed?”
“Yeah, what can I do for you?”
“My name is Tony Torez. Earl says you’re the man we need.”
“Is that so? For what exactly?”
We got a report today of a werewolf in Houston. A new recruit took him out with his bare hands but Earl doesn’t think it was the only one. In fact a guy named Owen killed it during it’s first full moon. That means the guy had been bitten in the last 30 days.”
“Why don’t you get to the part where you need me for this?”
“Okay, I need silver bullets in .45ACP and 7.62×51. We’re completely out and I don’t have a way to cast them myself.”
“Why not just send Owen over to punch him to death?”
“I can see Earl was wrong about you. He said you would be the one to take us to the next level of effectiveness. I guess even Earl Harbinger can read a man wrong once in a while.” There was disappointment in his voice. I didn’t know this dude from Adam and I had taken out my frustrations about Harbinger on him.
“Hold on. Let me think about how to best do this. Come see me tomorrow and I’ll come up with something.”
I don’t remember if Tony said anything after that or even when he left my shop. I walked back to my desk and sat down, tilting back, and staring at the ceiling. There was a lot to take in and I wasn’t handling it very well. I picked up a forty caliber round on the desk and started examining it. Hollowpoints were such and elegant thing. A copper jacket, per-perferated so it will peal back and shred soft tissue while the soft lead core mushrooms creating a projectile twice the diameter of the pre-fired round. I get the whole silver against werewolves thing but it sucks as a projectile. My thoughts drifted off on how to fix the problem.
Next thing I knew I was waking up in my chair and it was dark outside. The sleep must have done some good because I had a plan.
I got to the shop the next morning and Tony was there waiting for me. “Been here long?”
“I don’t think you appreciate what little time we have here. The next full moon is five days away. Peoples lives are in the line here!” He was pretty pissed but I was still waking up from being knocked out on pain killers all night. I really didn’t care what his attitude was like.
“I may be an ass-hat at the moment but I have a plan. Come on in and I’ll explain it.”
We settled in around my desk. Tony sat there with an impatient look on his face so I spoke first.
“The trouble with silver is that it’s a relatively hard metal. You might as well be shooting an iron bullet. It won’t stabilize. Silver is too hard to form against the lands and grooves of the rifling. It won’t have a good gas seal and it will shoot like crap. Sure you can just use the bullet hose approach but forget taking an accurate shot.”
“I know all this. We’ve been fighting with this for decades.”
“Okay, so here is how we fix this in the shortest amount of time. Lead melts at around half the temperature of copper. So we go down to Bass Pro or wherever and buy all the hollowpoints for reloading you can find. We melt the lead core and replace it…”
“Okay, I’m thinking we’re done here.”
“Hold on. Hear me out. It needs a softer copper jacket to create the gas seal for velocity and stabilizing the round. Well….that won’t do it by itself. We create a silver cone as a penitrator spike and harden it in my hest treating oven so it’s as hard as possible without being brittle. Pack atomized silver in behind the spike to give it a base and for added poison effect on the target. Bind it to the jacket using some Accuraglass mixed with more atomized silver.’
‘So when it hits the meat and bone force the jaket to peal away and everything else keeps going. The spike slams the Accuraglass against the rib cage and shatters it creating secondary wounds laced with silver. The spike punches through the heart with nothing to slow it down or take it off target.”
It took a couple of days to get it done but Tony left with 100 rounds of werewolf killing mojo. Not even a thank you much less payment for the work. I thought I was being shafted until the week after the full moon. Tony walks back in the shop with a shit eating grin on his face. I was about to toss him out until he pulls a fat envelop out of his jacket. It had five grand in it. You heard me, five large for making some crazy custom pistol rounds that I didn’t have to supply the materials for. This shit is alright.
“You up for another one, brother?”
“Yeah, what is it this time?”
“We could use the .308′s we talked about. We took down one of the pack with the pistol rounds you made for us. Let’s just say that I’d rather keep my distance this time.”
“I have a couple of ideas for that but I don’t have the equipment for it.”
“What kind of equipment?”
“A lathe. We don’t want to cast these.”
“Pick one and I’ll have it delivered.”
“What? Wait I don’t even have space for one.”
“We have a compound in the hills outside of San Marcos. We have the room.”
We arrived at the compound after tacos on the go as we drove. It looked like it was used as a staging base. One building looked like a barracks but it seemed to be empty. There was hanger with a sand and O.D. camoed Huey parked outside. Then what seemed like a concrete bunker. It seemed huge for their needs.
The inside floored me. It was essentially an armory capable of withstanding heavy bombardment for the next century. Racks of weapons in every configuration and caliber imaginable, and I have a pretty big imagination. There was an entire wall of just .50 cals.
The real treat was was the workshop. They had everything you could possibly need to manufacture anything you needed.
“That about sums it up.”
“What are you trying to tell me without saying it?”
“You said you needed a lathe. We have a little more than that. We have everything you need to prototype and then laser scan it to a CAD file for the CNC. This can be your new shop. Just say the word.”
“I’ll say any word you want!”
I got started right away. In fact I didn’t even bother clearing out my apartment. The team went back for my guns, clothes, and tools. Screw the rest.
I didn’t know how to run most of the big machines. They just weren’t covered in gunsmith school. Luckily they had someone who did. She was a little nerdy chick named Vicky. A real Velma type right down to the mini skirt, red hair, and the jugs. So all I really had to do was work my mojo and and hand it to Vicky. As long as we have the raw materials she can keep hitting the start button.
“Hey, Vic, do we have any brass bar stock?” I figured I might as well prototype in a softer metal because it machines faster.
“No but we have copper.”
“That will have to do.”
I set up the bar in a four jaw chuck, situated the indicator, and centered the bar perfectly. I turned down the end of the bar to a precise .3080″ and started making it look like a boattail bullet. I didn’t bother with the point of the bullet. Instead I drilled out the center of it and used a tap to cut threads in it.
“Vicky I need you to make a bazillion of these in copper.”
“You’re the boss” ,she said as she walked away.
“Damn! I could watch that skirt walk away all day” ,I whispered to myself.
I went back to work making the cone of the bullet. Since silver is heavier than copper I made it thread all the way to the back of the boattail. That should balance the round better and prevent tumbling. Being satisfied with that cut the back end down and threaded it. It was some of my best work.
After some of both pieces came out of the CNC machine I threaded a bullet together and left the shop to find Tony.
Tony called over to me from a small pistol range, “Running away already?”
I don’t remember saying anything