BLACKMANE Chapter 68

Blaine shifted on the sofa, propping his ankle on his knee. He looked to need a shave. His five o’clock shadow had gone into overtime, taken on a bluish tint.

“You’re familiar, of course, with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?” Judith said. “The ascending order?” Maribelle nodded. “Physical needs first,” Judith said. “Then we move on up to the social needs.”

“You’re talking about it like it’s a person,” Blaine said.

Judith pressed her lips together. “Adam is a sentient, sensitive being,” she said.
“So he, what? Wants a friend?”

“Therein lies the rub,” Judith said.

“What do you mean, Judi?” Maribelle asked.

“Does our Adam seek out new friends?” Judith asked. “Try to establish new relationships? Or does he come looking for those friends he already has?”

“You mean, you think he might come looking for you?” Maribelle asked.

“As to that, I doubt it,” Judith said. “I’m not sure he trusts me, not to the fullest, anyway. Not enough to trust I wouldn’t send him back to the lab he escaped from. After all, I placed him there in the first place.”

“But you didn’t have any choice,” Maribelle said.

“Perhaps he understands that,” Judith said. “But I suspect I am guilty by association. However, that’s beside the point. He much prefers you to me.”

“Me?” Maribelle sat up straighter. “You mean he’ll come looking for me?”

“Whoa, now,” Blaine said, “hold up a minute, here.”

“Past experience,” Judith said. “We can’t know for certain, but I’d wager it is a near certainty, given enough time.”

“Why?” Maribelle asked.

“He’s infatuated with you, dear.”

“Say what?” Blaine said.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” said Maribelle.

“You know that he is,” Judith said. “On two different levels, I expect.”

“Huh?”

“Look at it this way, dear,” Judith said. “We’ll take the example of my surrogate child, here.” Ruben lifted his head off his paws. His tail thumped. “Yes, I’m talking about you,” Judith said. The dog, a German Shepherd mix, got up and walked over to Judith, put his head in her lap. Judith ruffled his ears. “See this?” Judith said. “The affection? It’s true that Ruben has never met a stranger. He loves everybody. But he adores me. Because I’m special, you see. He’s adopted me as one of his own, a member of the pack, if you will.”

Blaine snorted. “One pet is plenty for you,” he said to Maribelle. He sipped at his diet cola. Maribelle had almost finished her own drink. Iced tea. Sweetened, as always. A part of her southern heritage, Maribelle called it. Judith wondered if Maribelle could taste anything tonight, either. Maribelle watched her, waiting.

“Now your lion is the sole example in the cat family of a social animal,” Judith continued. “They live in packs, too.” She patted Ruben’s head. Blaine shook his head. Not buying a word of it, Judith said to herself. Maribelle had come home with Judith after the press conference, and Blaine had joined them after he got off work. Judith had never met him before tonight. She couldn’t say that she liked him that much.

“One the one hand,” she continued, “we have the natural social tendencies of the animal. On the other hand, however, and something just as pertinent, we have the natural tendencies of the Human male. You, my dear,” she said to Maribelle, “are a most attractive young woman. Thus on either hand is the inclination of our Adam to form a bond with you, to desire your company above mine.”

“Wait,” Blaine said, “are you trying to say this freak has got the hots for my girlfriend?”

“He’s not a freak, Blaine,” Maribelle said.

“I’d like to know what he is, then,” Blaine said. “He’s a straight-up freak of Nature.”

“Don’t call him that!”

“Well. Whatever you want to call it, that thing had better not come anywhere near you!”

“He’s not a thing, Blaine!” Judith always knew when Maribelle had gotten angry. She always sounded more Southern.

“Fine.” Blaine sat back, took a sip of his cola.

At least he has some sense, Judith said to herself. He knows when to back off.

“Judi, are you saying that we don’t have to worry about finding Adam. Because he’ll find us? Find me?”

“I suspect so,” Judith answered. “Given time.”

“Time,” Maribelle said. “Every minute he’s out there, he’s in danger. We don’t have time to wait.”

“I’m afraid, darling,” Judith said, “that waiting is the only thing we can do. For the present, Adam is on his own.”

By The Evil Cheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763 MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!

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