"Don't go to Canada" is a warning given to Dr. Phil Jones and his new wife Zena. The problem is while on their honeymoon, they end up finding themselves on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
While there, Phil is attacked and partially eviscerated by an unknown animal. Barely clinging to life, he receives a visit from Alan Strange who tells him of something called a longevity virus: it keeps the infected person healthy, heals wounds rapidly, and extends life indefinitely. An unfortunate side effect is periodic mad rages that cause one to take the lives of those he loves most.
During every full moon, a wolf-like animal attacks women that look similar to Zena. The police are aided in their investigation by a man who has been searching for the people infected with the virus for years. They are closing in on Phil, but can he be caught and stopped before he succeeds in killing his wife or infecting anyone else?
Abuse investigation and her career in public health nursing brought her into contact with challenging families, giving her an up-close view into the lives of families from all social levels and occupations; including drug dealers, hookers and abusers.
This provided her with a wealth of knowledge to enhance her writing skills. She used it to develop realistic characters facing emotional and life-threatening challenges.
When she was younger, she spent a lot of time dreaming up locked room plots and conversations between fictional characters. After years of writing down scraps of plots and promising to write the whole story one day, she finally decided it was time to succumb to her long time desire to write. A challenge with breast cancer gave her the push to purchase her very first computer. Struggling with computer illiteracy, she finally put fingers to the keyboard and wrote her first novel, creating the characters she’d been talking to for years.
When not writing she reads voraciously, and loves to travel, hike and cross country ski in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia, among the vineyards, beaches and mountains.
Stephen LaFevers is a native of Oakland, California, but calls Arkansas Home. His first job was killing flies at a cheese plant. After that he worked as a newspaper editor, school teacher, bus driver, EMT, nurse, nurse practitioner and hypnotherapy instructor. He spent 16 years in Alaska working in emergency medical services and training emergency room personnel. He even spent five years working on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
He has been writing since elementary school and has "always" wanted to be a writer. He got his bachelor's degree in journalism because that would allow him to write and get a paycheck, an advantage many writers don’t have. While in Alaska he wrote for the Alaska EMS Instructor News and the EMS Response and numerous computer magazines.
LaFevers writes non-fiction as well as fiction and is co-author of Pre-hospital Care for the EMT-Intermediate, and author of Hypnosis in Healthcare. His fictional Dreams of April Ten was a 2005 Eppie Award Finalist thriller with science fiction overtones. The Last Guardian is a humorous, world-hopping fantasy adventure and Dark Moon, written with Canadian author Beverley Bateman, is a horror story set in New Orleans.
He lives in rural Arkansas with his wife of 40 years and the two cats who own him.
Dark Moon is hands down LaFevers best book yet. I have also read Dreams of April Ten and The Last Guardian and although they were good, Dark Moon was great!
The story has a feel of a black and white werewolf movie. Using New Orleans as the main venue for the characters was perfect. The book is definitely a thriller, yet a bit of love story also.
There's something for everyone in this book and highly recommend it. Suitable for all ages always, which is hard to find in a horror novel.Bondgirl -- Amazon Reviews
Why had the killings stopped?
Anton Spivic leaned back in his chair and mused on this question as he took in the view through the wide picture window of his small chateau. The snow-capped Alps gleamed brightly in the sunlight of another beautiful Swiss day. His gaze drifted down toward to the crystal blue lake a few hundred yards below his home. He loved it here.
A large pile of weekly newspapers, from all over the world, sat stacked on the floor beside his chair. Today the one on top of the stack was the Montreal Gazette. He would eventually read them all, but he always started with the Canadian papers, searching for any sign of his prey. Canada. That's where he'd lost track of the evil he sought. He'd almost caught up with it there, but it had eluded him, and now it was hiding, somewhere; somehow. Computers were great and he used them most of the time, but he liked the feel of the paper in his hand and he felt his concentration was better when he could scan the pages in front of him.
He returned his attention to the Toronto Star. It was in the Star that he had last read of a characteristic moonlight killing and the faceless corpse that was left behind, discarded like a sack of trash. He’d found nothing since, even when he used Google.
You cannot hide forever, he thought. Someday I will find you.
For forty-eight years he had pursued this evil. Forty-eight years! And during most of those years there had been at least one terrible killing each month. Then, in the early 1990’s, the killings stopped. Had his prey become stealthier? Had it been confined or imprisoned somewhere?
He knew it had not died. This evil didn’t just die. It had to be killed, and there was only one way to kill it. He’d tried to explain it to people almost fifty years ago. People laughed. No one believed him. No one would learn what the thing could do and how to stop him. So he was still the only person who could do it.
The hideous killings kept continuing over the years. The evil was still out there somewhere, lying dormant for some reason. But it would crop up again, and when it did, he would be ready.
When he'd finished looking through the Star he pushed it off the table onto the floor, and moved to the computer in the corner where he expanded his search. Fluent in several languages, he scanned online reports from Brazil, Germany and Mexico, looking for the trademark method of the killings. An hour later he scraped his chair across the floor, away from the table. He was getting older. He had a task to finish, but with all his efforts and research, including access to a wide network of information, he still couldn’t locate the evil. The lack of success filled him with frustration and sadness.
Had the evil infected many others? Had finding it and stopping the spread become an impossible task?
No, he couldn’t think that way. It could affect the world if he gave up.
Sitting back he closed his eyes to rest them briefly, pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose trying to ease the ache. A few minutes later he stood up, stretched and walked over to a yellowed, black and white photograph on the wall. It was of a woman dressed in a dark smock. Her long dark hair was rolled up into a tight bun at the back of her head. She was smiling at him.
He stretched his wrinkled hand out and gently touched the glass covering the photo. Tears glistened in his eyes. The dull pain in his chest wasn’t a medical condition, although it was a heart problem, even after all these years. There had never been anyone else in his life. Her life had been ended too quickly.
Brushing aside a few tears he noticed the reflection of a gray haired, wrinkled old coot in the glass that covered the aging photograph. Could he possibly be as old as he looked? He shook his head. Time was quickly running out. He would have to rid the world of this evil once and for all, and he would have to do it soon.
“I will find him, dearest, for you,” he whispered. “I will find him and kill him. I will kill them all. I swear it!”
Zena Jones stood on the balcony of her bridal suite, gazing out at the magnificence of Niagara Falls. The water’s roar drowned out all but the loudest sounds.
Finally, something is working out for me, she thought, enjoying the fine mist from the falls as it drifted across her face.
Until recently, her life seemed to be a series of screw-ups. Her friends got hurt, her boyfriends had died, and she got sick at the most inopportune times. She’d decided a long time ago that a normal relationship with anyone just wasn’t in the cards for her. Phil had changed all that.
From the far corner of the small balcony Zena could see the foaming power of the falls. The water churned up a great mist that prismed into rainbows as the light passed through it. Fog-like vapors boiled out in every direction and seemed to go on forever, forming halos around the artificial lights and even the moon. She was amazed that it drifted so far afield.
Zena smiled. You couldn’t get much farther from New Orleans than Ontario. Even the smells were different. Here it was fresh April air, warm earth and pine trees as compared to beignets, sea air and fish.
What could be more romantic than a honeymoon at Niagara Falls—and with the best-looking and most romantic man in the world? Her smile broadened as she thought about how lucky she was and how Phil had changed her luck for the better. Dusk had descended and the moon was just slipping over the horizon. It was almost full. Tomorrow night it would be. Through the mist, it looked like a shadow was moving across its face.
“I see shadows, potential dangers. He’s shrouded in dark clouds. Don’t marry him.”
Zena recalled the words that her friend, Natalie, had spoken when Zena had first told her about the engagement.
They’d met at the club on Bourbon Street that night, right after Phil had asked her to marry him. The place had been packed with twenty-something’s and the band was loud, to cover up any inadequacies. Zena had been bubbling over with excitement and couldn’t quit grinning. Nat had kept frowning at her, but hadn’t noticed the ring until after the first drink was served.
She’d finally noticed it and squealed loudly. They’d hugged and toasted her engagement.
Zena had kept talking about Phil and how great he was and when they might get married.
Nat listened and nodded. “Zen, I’m so thrilled for you. You deserve to be happy. Are you sure he’s the right person for you?”
“Oh, yes. We’re perfect together. Why?”
“You’ve had some bad luck, but Phil seems like he’s a special man. I just hope it’s right in the long run.”
“Thanks, Nat. I appreciate that. It will be. He is my soul-mate, and I love him so much.”
Nat had nodded, then chewed her lip. A sign Zena recognized.
Nat looked startled. She shook her long earrings so they rang like wind chimes.
“I know that look. Tell me.”
“It’s nothing, darling, but, well, I can see something shadowy around Phil. I can’t tell what it is; something in his past, or maybe his future.”
“He’s a doctor. If there was anything in his background he would have told me. You must be mistaken.”
Natalie nodded. “I’m sure I am.”
“You’ve made mistakes before.”
Natalie nodded and took a sip of her drink. “I know, Zen. Look, I’m sorry. I can’t help it when something hits me.”
Zena nodded. “You are mistaken this time.”
Natalie nodded again. “Of course, forget I said anything.”
Zena remembered how they’d had a couple more chocolate martinis, talked about wedding plans and honeymoons when Nat went silent.
She stared at the table, then grabbed Zena’s hand. “I’m sorry, darling, but please, promise me you won’t go to Canada.”
“I’m not sure, but I can see Canada and cold darkness. It’s a bad scene. Promise me you’ll never go there.”
“Sure, Nat, I have no intention of going there any time anyway.”
The words spun around her head, like a tornado.
Natalie, sweet, wonderful Natalie, was wrong; so wrong. Maybe she had visions sometimes, and maybe some of them were accurate, but this time she was dead wrong.
Phil was the best thing that had ever happened to her. Nothing was going to spoil it. She loved him so much. Her whole life revolved around him. She’d do anything for him.
A few weeks before the wedding they’d been having dinner at Nat’s and she’d read Phil’s palm and told him he must never go to Canada. Which was really silly anyhow, I mean who ever went to Canada? It wasn’t on their top ten lists of places to go. What would they possibly go there for?
When it came to Phil, Nat always seemed to be way off base. She didn’t approve of him, Zena knew that. For some reason Nat thought Phil would end up affecting Zena in a negative way, making her unhappy and even affecting her quality of life. Nat refused to say any more about the possible outcome if Zena married Phil. Zena had tried to find out what could possible happen, but Nat just shrugged and smiled, saying, “If you’re happy, then hopefully I’m wrong this time.”
It was probably that disapproval that threw off her readings. Zena and Nat had been friends a long time, so Zena accepted her disapproval. She just wished she knew more about what might happen in the future. Shivering, she wrapped her arms around herself and hugged her body tightly. It had to be that. It was unthinkable that it could be anything else. She couldn’t imagine life without Phil.
Phil, however, had taken it more seriously. Later, Zena had done a lot of talking to convince him that it was all poppycock. She’d explained that Natalie didn’t know what she was saying. She often came up with predications that were way off base.
“But what if this one isn’t?”
“Phil, we’ll be fine. Together we can handle anything.” She’d snuggled up to his chest and reached around to hug him.
He hadn’t responded. “Maybe.”
“Come on, we’re great together. We’re not going to Canada. You’re going to be a great doctor and we’re going to live happily ever after.” She’d tilted her head back and nibbled at his ear lobe.
He laughed and pulled her close. “You’re incorrigible, my delight. I love you and you’re right, we will live happily ever after.” He’d kissed her, sending waves of heat down to her toes, before picking her up and carrying her into the bedroom.
Zena leaned over the balcony staring at the amazing amount of power that crashed down from the falls. It was soothing in a weird kind of way. Staring into the halos of light, her past flashed before her eyes. She had spent most of her life running away from an unconventional family where she'd been raised by a single mother. Poppy was a flower child and artist. Poppy had never married. Zena’s father played sax in a band and showed up once in awhile to say “hi.” Zena had gotten a scholarship and moved to Atlanta where she studied nursing and hadn’t been home since. After graduation she’d moved from city to city, making mistake after mistake—not in nursing—in her relationships.
A boyfriend drank too much and she’d been in the car when he drove it into a wall. He died. Zena walked away.
She’d gone hiking with a girlfriend. They’d been smoking pot and somehow had wandered off the trail and gotten lost. Her girlfriend had fallen off a cliff. She broke her spine and would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Zena had walked out without a scratch.
If there was a wrong decision to be made—Zena made it. Cripes, you’d think that a person would only be allowed so many screw-ups. Surely I’ve reached my limit by now. Most of her life Zena’d managed to make the wrong decisions and regretted the consequences, but now she’d broken that chain of mistakes. She’d fallen in love with the perfect man. Life had finally handed her the bouquet of roses. And she certainly wasn’t going to let any psychobabble ruin it for her. From now on only good things were going to happen to her—to her and Phil.
The massive turbulence of falling water crashing powerfully in front of her caused her to smile again. The enormity of the falls made her past problems appear insignificant. For the first time that she could remember, her life was good.
The evening was cooling down. Stepping inside from the balcony, she closed the French doors. They had been lucky because the early May weather instead of being chilly, had been unusually warm. The rumble of the falls was significantly muffled though not completely blotted out. From behind her came a faint popping sound. Turning, she saw a champagne cork fly across the room. It landed on the pink satin cover of the king-sized bed. Phil glided barefoot across the carpet toward her, a tall champagne glass overflowing with golden liquid in each hand.
He was a good half-foot taller than she was at five foot seven. His thick, dark, wavy hair glistened in the subtle light of the room. She couldn’t wait to run her fingers through it and tonight she would have ample opportunity. He had a solid build, like a football player, with not an ounce of fat on him. And he was all hers.
Love completely enveloped her. It filled her with feelings she hadn’t known existed. It was so wonderful, it almost hurt.
He wore the lush, white terrycloth robe the hotel provided. His deep blue eyes focused on her. “Compliments of the hotel,” he said and his thick pouting lips curled into a smile as he extended a champagne glass.
“Thank you, and thank the hotel.” Zena accepted the glass. “To our wonderful life together.”
Natalie was so wrong, so very wrong. Phil wasn’t dark and shadowy. He was the best thing in her otherwise shabby world. He brightened her life, making it not only livable, but enjoyable. He adored her and she loved him unconditionally. Their life together was going to be perfect.
They clinked glasses.
“You are so beautiful, my delight. I must be the luckiest man alive. God, I love you.” Phil reached up and ran two fingers down her cheek, staring deeply into her eyes.
Zena felt her stomach contract. Her lips wobbled. All she wanted was his mouth on hers, but she raised her glass to his. The glasses clinked and the newlyweds linked arms to sip from each other’s glass.
“I can’t believe that you’re really my wife," Phil said, staring into her eyes. "I must be the luckiest man on Earth. I love you so much.”
His full sensuous lips brushed across her cheek then covered her mouth. A tingling sensation shot through her body and she had trouble getting her breath.
Some people thought his lips were too perfect to be normal and had been enhanced with a dermal, or skin filler, but Zena knew from personal experience they were totally his. She also knew just what he could do with them. Her heart pounded erratically at the thought.
Phil took a sip from his glass moving it to his left hand while pulling her against his chest, his fingers playing with her hair, releasing it from the ponytail she usually wore. Her dark hair tumbled down around her face. Zena relaxed against his arm, closing her eyes. Nothing was going to spoil this moment.
His arousal rubbed against her side. Putting her glass on a table she turned to face him, rubbing her hand along the side of his face, ending by sliding a finger over his lips.
Placing his glass on the table beside hers, he picked her up gently in his arms, kissing her eyelids, her cheeks and nibbling on her ear lobes as he crossed the room to the satin-covered bed.
He laid her down on the soft coverlet and stretched out beside her, his fingers playing with the straps of her white satin nightgown. He slid the straps down, exposing her breasts. Rolling onto his side he kissed her shoulder; moving lower, he kissed her breast.
“My delight, you’re so beautiful. You have perfect breasts.”
Zena’s nipples hardened into brown nubs. A moan slipped through her lips and she felt the heat moving down between her legs. She wriggled against the sheets.
“You’ve seen them before.”
“Ah yes, but now they’re legally mine, Mrs. Jones.”
She laughed. “I like the sound of that. So that means legally your body is now mine, Mr. Jones?”
He shrugged. “And what would you like to do with it, if it is?”
Zena growled, deep in her throat and rolled over onto her knees. “I’m about to show you.”
“Patience, my delight, we don’t want to rush. This will be a night we remember forever.”
She reached across and untied his robe. He stood up, letting it fall slowly to the floor.
Zena inhaled, holding her breath as she admired his tanned Adonis–like body that was now all hers.
Sweat trickled down her back. Her hand reached across and stroked his hardness.
He pulled back. “Me first.”
She rolled on to her back and stared up at him. “Shall I get rid of this, or do you want me to stay covered up?”
He chuckled, low in his throat, sending shivers down her spin. “What do you think my delight?”
Grinning up at him she slithered out of her nightgown.
Phil’s eyes feasted on her every movement. When she lay naked in front of him he began kissing her, from her shoulders to her toes.
“Keep it up, this could take all night. I want you, now.”
“Hmm,” he leaned back. “Your wish is my desire.”
“I love you so much.” She reached up and pulled his lips to hers. “Make me happy and then I’ll show you what I can do.”
Phil moved against her body before slipping inside her. “I’m looking forward to it.”
They moved together, faster and harder until they peaked and reached the point of nirvana.
Phil stretched languidly as the sun poured through the open balcony and onto the bed. He fumbled for his watch on the bedside table. According to his trusty Timex it was already afternoon. They had made love into the early morning hours.
Zena was everything a man could wish for: beautiful, intelligent and a wonderful lover. She enjoyed sex openly and unreservedly, making him feel like he was a king.
Smiling to himself he watched her slow, rhythmic breathing. She lay on her side, the sheet partially pulled across her stomach and thighs; her long dark hair fanned across the pillow. Her breast rested on the bed, firm and luscious. He could feel the desire beginning again and wondered if she would be interested in another go around.
Opening her dark brown eyes, she reached up to pull him down on top of her. He had his answer.
A short time later, Phil sat up, pulling a pillow behind his back. “We really should get out of bed,” he said.
“Why?” Zena’s lower lip pushed out into a pout.
“We can’t do this all day.” He said it without much conviction. He was beginning to think that maybe they could.
“I can if you can.”
“No, let’s be serious. We should at least take a walk down to the falls. We could have brunch, go for a walk and then come back here for… a rest.” He smiled wickedly and waggled his eyebrows.
Zena laughed and threw the sheet off, stretching her toes to the bottom of the bed so he could see every inch of her delightful body.
“That’s not fair,” Phil protested. “You’re teasing.”
“No I’m not. Try me and see if I’m teasing.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it. Come on you trollop, get up and let’s order breakfast, or brunch. We can have it on the balcony.” Phil pulled himself to a sitting position swinging his feet onto the floor. “You shower first and I’ll phone room service. Then I'll shower while you get dressed. Okay?”
“All right, if you insist,” Zena slipped out of bed, sauntering seductively toward the shower, “unless you can think of something better to do.”
“Shower now, play later.” He slapped her playfully on the bare bottom. “I'm really hungry. You worked me hard half the night. Besides, a walk will do us both some good. It'll calm you down and give me a chance to recharge my batteries so I can satisfy your needs.”
Zena laughed and disappeared into the bathroom.
After a hearty brunch late that afternoon, they walked down a well-trodden path from the hotel to the edge of the falls. The view was spectacular as the river roared over several rock projections and leaped out into the air only to fall nearly 200 feet before crashing onto the rocks below. Water saturated the air and the sound of the falls was deafening. The sun was low over the horizon and the mist rising from the falls was turning pink. It was easy to see why Niagara was one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders.
On the way back, Phil noticed a path that was so overgrown Zena hadn't even seen it. “Let’s give this trail a try.”
“What trail? I don't see anything but brush. I don't think Br'er Rabbit could get through there.”
“Come on, Zen,” he said, holding the brush back so she could see the remnants of an old path. “It’ll be fun.”
“I don’t know. It's getting late and that looks pretty overgrown. Come on Phil, I don’t have a good feeling about this. Let’s go back. I don’t think anybody's gone that way in a long time.”
“That’s why it’ll be fun. It won’t be just the touristy trail. Come on, there's no telling what we'll find in there.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of. Who knows what’s in there, maybe wolves or bears?”
“Yeah, yeah, and maybe Santa Claus; we are pretty far north.”
“Don’t get sarcastic. I just don’t think we should go in there.”
“Give it a chance. We don’t have to go far. Then we can go back to the hotel and have a rest.”
“I don’t know…it's starting to get dark… ” For a moment, she thought of a friend who’d made a misstep while hiking and ended up in a wheelchair.
“Just five or ten minutes?” Phil made a begging sign.
“And then we’ll go right back and ... have a rest?”
“I promise. We’ll be explorers for five or ten minutes and then we can explore each other. How about it?”
“Okay, but be careful where you step. This trail looks pretty snaky.”
“Snaky! There aren’t any snakes in Canada. Don’t you know that?”
“There aren’t? Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. Well, I know there aren’t any snakes in Alaska and its right next door to Canada, so there probably aren’t any here.”
Zena thought for a moment. “What about other wild animals? There are bears in Alaska. Polar bears.”
“We’re practically in the middle of a honeymoon resort,” he said. “It’s perfectly safe. If it wasn’t there’d be signs up.”
“Okay. I guess you’re right.”
“Thanks, Zen. Don’t worry.” Phil pulled the brush aside so she could step through and he followed behind her. “It’ll be fun. Besides, what could possibly happen in five or ten minutes?”
Phil tipped her head up and gave her a light kiss as he passed in front of her. Taking her hand, he led the way through the dense brush, holding branches back to make it easier for Zena.
It wasn’t long until Zena was enjoying the hike. Determined to start a new life, she told herself sometimes you just had to take chances. The ominous feeling was because of her past. Only good things would happen from now on.
So this was the Canadian wilderness. Zena had to admit it was lovely in a wild way. Nat’s words echoed in her mind again: “Never go to Canada.”
Zena glanced around at the fir trees and bramble bushes as she plunged after Phil deeper into the woods.
They weren’t supposed to be here, not on the Canadian side. Zena had booked them into the Sheraton hotel in New York State, the American side of Niagara Falls. When they’d arrived at that hotel they were told it was overbooked. There had been a computer glitch and they'd lost her reservation. A large convention of gynecologists had taken over most of the hotel and there just wasn't any room for her and Phil. The hotel apologized profusely for the mistake and booked them into one of the honeymoon suites at their hotel on the Canadian side. Luckily they had their passports with them. The hotel had even arranged for transportation by limousine, and sent up the champagne. So here they were—on the Canadian side.
Phil stopped walking. He turned to Zena as they entered a large open area. The waning sun cast long shadows across the grassy knoll. He wrapped his arms around her, kissing her intensely. Zena returned the kiss, matching his ardor. Phil lowered her to the ground and laid her gently down.
“Ouch. Oww,” she sat up straight. Reaching behind her she pulled out a twig with several sharp points. “I don’t think this is going to work; too many sharp things and itchy grass. I guess I’m more of a soft bed or kitchen table type person.”
Phil laughed, pulling her into his arms. “It was just a thought. You know—a roll in the woods in the soft warm sunlight.”
“Sounds very romantic but you didn’t mention the dirt, the sticks and the bugs.” She slapped at a string of ants crawling up her leg. Nudging Phil gently away, she stood up.
A rueful smile crossed Phil’s face as he followed her, brushing dirt and twigs off her back. “Sorry darling. I guess that wasn’t such a great idea. Come on. Let’s get back to that hotel room and that bed you were mentioning.”
“You mean since we don’t have a kitchen table?”
He kissed her quickly on her lips and gave her a hug. “That will have to wait until we’re home where we have a table and a kitchen.” He helped her brush a few remaining small branches and patches of dirt from her clothing, then turned her around, and took her face in his hands. Gently he kissed her on the lips.
“I love you for so many reasons. You’re beautiful and you’re a good sport. Come on. Let's get back to civilization. It's starting to get dark.” He took her hand and they headed back the way they had come.
“Are you sure this is the right way?”
“Absolutely. We’ll be back at the hotel before you can say sphygmomanometer. Come on.” Gripping her hand a little tighter he increased his pace back through the thick brush.
Zena followed him, almost walking in his footsteps. “You were right. This was fun and nothing happened, unless of course we’re lost.”
Phil chuckled. “We’re not lost. And there’s nothing in these woods that could be considered dangerous. After all, we’re practically in the middle of a world class tourist attraction.”
Suddenly, Phil stopped walking and tilted his nose up. “What is that awful smell?”
She sniffed the air. “Whatever it is, it’s bad.”
An icy breeze whipped around her. She moved closer to Phil. “It smells like something dead, for a while.”