Oooo, I got caught up on your story. I'm loving it...how he comes to find out about his kind. I also loved the description of the waterfountain etc... I can't wait to read more soon!
I'll be keeping a vigilant eye out for more, Grayle!
I'm very glad you like it, Punx! This whole sequence was difficult to write; it kinda scared me because it's such a sensitive situation. We'll see how it fares as we continue the story, though.
“How? w-what-?” Chris stuttered, and then took a breath. As he did, Phillip continued with renewed determination.
“Look, Chris, please don’t be alarmed. We won’t harm you in any way. We don’t want to capture you or dissect you or clone you, or any of that crap. We want to respect you and appreciate you for who you are. We’d like to help you, and maybe get to know you as an individual, if you let us. We can even help you learn about what you are, and help you to find the others like you.”
Chris stared at Phillip. He wasn’t sure if he could feel betrayed or intrigued. His exhale was shaky as he narrowed his eyes at Phillip.
“When you say ‘we,’ you mean Department 118, don’t you?” he asked carefully.
Phillip fidgeted in his seat before he answered. “Well, yes, but please believe me when I say we don’t necessarily represent the Empire, especially this time. You see, since you’re a contributing citizen of the Empire, we don’t have authorization to take affirmative action toward you, and we wouldn’t want to anyway. All we really want to do is find out more about you and your kind, and what we can do to help. But it’s up to you, not us.”
Chris needed a moment. He simply was not prepared for this situation. His identity was discovered but not revealed; that was very courteous, at least. The person he had considered his only friend turned out to be the one that discovered his secret – no, Julie discovered it, and relayed the information to Phillip. So, apparently the Angel of Loneliness was at least in contact with Phillip, if not Dep:118 itself. Chris looked again at the message on the napkin.
“Julie said that my secrets were safe with her, but she told you about me anyway.”
“Ah, not exactly,” Phillip carefully contested. “Julie told me that she helped someone ‘interesting’ on the roof of a library in Romberg. I asked her if it was the Howler. She turned to me and said ‘why would a werewolf want to go to a library?’ and then left. I thought about it and realized that anyone who became a werewolf would probably want to get as much information as they could, and what better place than a library? I wrote up a hypothesis, passed it by my boss, and he told us to check it out.”
“So if she didn’t tell you exactly who to look for, how did you find me?”
“That was my doing,” said a voice from behind him.
Chris turned to face the newcomer, already recognizing the voice. Passing the table from behind him was the woman who was using station fourteen before him, Shannon Steele. Shannon grabbed a chair from a nearby table, placed it at the edge of Chris and Phillip’s table, and sat down. She abruptly offered a hand to Chris.
“Nice to officially meet you, Chris.”
Chris shook her hand mechanically, numbed with bemusement as Phillip unnecessarily attempted to introduce the two.
“I bet you want to know how I found you,” Shannon asked, and continued without his response. “I checked our records for anybody researching lycanthropy from within any libraries in Romberg. Three people were far above all the others, and you topped the chart. I found out you always use the same library, so I went there and had the administration put you on station fourteen if you showed up. I admit that I didn’t expect you so soon, but so much the better. When I scanned you, I was able to confirm who and what you were, and I told Phil.”
“You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when she told me,” Phillip added, emphasizing his enthusiasm with wide gestures. “I played around with the idea of who you might be, of course; who wouldn’t? But I never gave it much thought because I didn’t want to lose your friendship – and I still don’t, so I really hope you don’t turn us down.”
Chris looked at Shannon suspiciously. “So, then, you both work for Department 118?”
“Yes,” Shannon replied bluntly.
“How come you didn’t just tell me that at the Library?”
“I didn’t want to risk your pulling out of meeting with Phil. I figured you might take it easier if you knew a friend was with you in this. I scanned you to confirm your identity and left it to him to explain the situation to you.”
Chris reviewed her explanation. “What do you mean when you say you ‘scanned’ me?”
Shannon’s deadpan expression didn’t soften in any way as she responded. “That depends. Are my secrets safe with you?”
Chris noted the reference to the sentence on the napkin. It appeared that keeping secrets was a regular part of this department. Perhaps that was a good thing. Chris nodded an affirmative answer silently.
Without warning, a thought appeared in his conscious mind. It was a thought that he knew did not come from himself. It was a thought from another source, a location foreign to his mind, and yet the thought took residence there in his head. The thought was a simple statement:
I’m telepathic, Mr. Hansen. I can read people’s minds and manipulate their feelings.
His dark blue eyes never left contact with her dark brown eyes, but his brow furrowed from the experience – the term ‘bizarre’ simply didn’t do it justice. The first thing he was inclined to do is test the truth of the thought, but he needed something that Shannon wouldn’t know about. He considered asking about one of his drop-off points, but for all he knew, they’d been watching him for some time and already were aware of those. It occurred to him that he could test her with something that happened when he was on the streets.
“Yeah, that would work,” Shannon said with a nod. “There’s know way I could find out about personal experiences that happened to you on the streets.”
Chris shook off his concentration and looked at her inquisitively. She seemed to know what he was specifically thinking.
“Go ahead,” Shannon said with a smile, accepting the challenge. “Think of something from that time in your life. Ask a question about it in your head, and I’ll answer it.”
It only took a few seconds before Chris decided on what was the perfect memory to test her with. He closed his eyes and began remembering a morning, a little less than a year ago, when his life changed forever.
Great segment. I like how you portrayed Chris as both intrigued and apprehensive. It was realistic. I also like the drop-off point. I can't wait to read more!
Okay, flashback time. It's kinda long, so prepare yourselves.
Chris was hungry, and that’s why he was heading toward the public baths. If he wanted food, he’d have to go to the baths first. The Empire didn’t mind providing for cleanliness freely, in an effort to keep its cities clean. Those that bathed regularly got a credit for a hot meal at the kitchens with every visit. Since Chris felt he could use the shower, the privacy, and the meal. It wasn’t a bad thing at all, but it still didn’t raise his spirits any.
He shuffled down the streets to the public baths and got in line. The stench from the people in line was overpowering, and he was one of them. It usually didn’t bother him, but this time the odors nearly made him gag for some strange reason. He silently thanked the Empire for the public service.
Chris was processed and given a plastic card. He reported to the appropriate bathroom and swiped the card in the reader, unlocking the door. He went inside, locked the door, and began to disrobe. His nasal passages began to tickle, and to his surprise, Chris knew exactly why: the bathroom had recently been cleaned, and whatever they used was excessively strong. He got a similar bathroom yesterday. Apparently the Empire had recently changed to a cleaning agent that was much stronger. He turned on the hot water of the bath and let the steam begin to fill the room, but did not plug the drain for the bath quite yet.
It was the imperial baths that gave Chris the only chances he received for peace away from others. He was always around other people on the streets, never lonely but always alone. It was a harder life than the orphanage. He looked at his reflection in the mirror, taking note of the frown etched on his face and the matted brown hair on his head. No one could take his belongings while he was in here, or cheat him or extort him. The bitter world outside could not get to him here. For the next hour or so, his world was a small room perhaps two meters by three in size, filled with vapors from water and unknown chemicals, which were unable to fog the treated mirror before him.
He closed his eyes, internally calming his frustrations. He felt the difficulty and aggravation of his life seep out of his pores into the cloud that was beginning to engulf him. He listened to the workings of his heart, and found that he could almost hear the blood flowing in his veins. Suddenly he heard something else from inside his body. It was like a low hum, or a pulse; and yet something told him that it wasn’t supposed to sound that way. It was supposed to sound higher, with a little bit more of a whine…
And as Chris was imagining what he though the hum should sound like, he heard it begin to modify into that sound. As it did, he heard his pulse quicken and the blood of his veins begin to rush. Suddenly he felt as if he was going through his teenage years again, but all those years only in seconds, and this time it felt like all of his muscles were aching at the same time. His bones began to feel the same way. Without warning, his stomach clenched. He started to feel dry heaves trying to eject what was not there.
Chris grabbed either side of the sink and positioned his face above the basin, and then felt searing waves of heat pass through him, one after another. His arms, legs, chest; every part of his body started to convulse. He lost his sense of balance to the point where he didn’t know which way was up or down. Every tooth in his mouth and even his jaws burst with pain. His sinuses began to drain – no, they weren’t draining, they were lengthening. His entire face felt like it was contorting and expanding at the same time. He looked down at his hands and saw them changing. His fingers started to lengthen and his palms began to harden before his very eyes. He heard a large bone-shattering crack as his hips dislocated, and it almost sent him to the floor.
Desperately he tried to raise his head to the mirror to look at his self, but what he saw was not him. He saw a long nose and lips growing out to a muzzle. There was hair all over his face. His eyes were reddened with irritation. His skull itself was receding, making his ears look like they had moved closer to the top corners of his head. Another burst of pain caused him to wince, and as his eyes cleared, he saw long sharp fangs housed in his mouth. He saw a bestial form writhing into existence where his reflection once stood, a form that looked like a cross between a man and a wolf.
The pain testified that this was no dream. Chris had actually turned into what could only be a werewolf.
And then the panic set in. How did this happen? What the heck was he supposed to do now? He began to hyperventilate, looking around for any clue as to what caused this, yet to no avail. He took a few breaths, calmed himself as best he could, and began to think. Chris couldn’t go outside the bathroom; he couldn’t let anyone see him like this. Small-scale genetic manipulations were common in the Empire, but if he came out of the bathroom as a werewolf, there’s no telling how people would react. It wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure. It’s was still daylight outside, which meant that it wasn’t the full moon that changed him. There had to be a way to change back; there just had to be. How did he change in the first place?
Chris tried to remember what he was thinking of when he changed. He was listening to his heart and his blood, and then he heard that hum in the background of his internal workings. Could that be it? When it changed pitch and tone, when the hum changed, is that what caused the change of his body?
Chris once again listened to his heart and his blood, and tried to find that hum inside of his body. To his surprise he found the sound, currently at the pitch and tone that something told him it should be. And so he tried to remember the sound as it was before, when he first discovered it less than twenty minutes ago. He tried to remember the sound specifically, with the low tone and pulsing effect. He tried to imagine the hum taking that previous pitch and tone, and then he heard the hum change to match what he was remembering. Again his heartbeat increased, and his blood began to rush through his veins, and the sequence of events continued outside of his ability to stop it.
Here we go again, he thought to himself.
The heat was first, followed by the aching and pain, but the aching and pain didn’t last as long this time. He still felt awkward as parts of his body asymmetrically shifted back to a humane form, but the discomfort was easier to endure than the pain, and he knew what to expect. In truth, he was a bit thankful that he was able to shift back at all, let alone on command.
When it finished, he found himself on his hands and knees on the floor of the bathroom, breathing heavily and feeling like he had been stretched on a rack. The floor was covered in hair. With strained effort Chris gathered as much as he could and incrementally flushed the remnants down the toilet. His entire body felt the strain and trauma of shifting into a different form, and it made him unsteady even on his hands and knees. Fortunately, there was still time to take a bath and perhaps soaking his limbs would help their recovery. Finally, Chris plugged the drain of the bathtub, climbed inside, and allowed the soreness in his limbs to bleed out into the hot liquid.
He woke up two hours later in a quiet room on an uncomfortable bed with an IV in his arm. After a few minutes a nurse entered through the drape surrounding his bed and informed him that he was found passed out in the bathtub, severely dehydrated and apparently malnourished. Her demeanor indicated that she had seen this kind of thing before, and there was no reason to ask questions as to how he got in such a state. Once he was stabilized, he was dismissed from the hospital and allowed to go on with his life; in whatever way he decided to live it now.
I love the new segment. I felt like I was there watching as he transformed. It was a very effective sequence!
Thank you very much, Punx! I was hoping that would come across well because, as you know, his memory is being monitoured by someone else, as we'll be reminded of next.
It's kinda funny, Punx - I think you're the only person still commenting on this story here, so it's like you're getting a personal preview of what I'm going to post in that 'other' place, if you know what I mean. Cool, huh?
Chris opened his eyes. Across from him was Phillip, looking on with mild interest, attempting to curb his impatience at not being privy to the internal musings of the others who were present. He looked to his left and saw Shannon, sitting with a furrowed brow and closed eyes.
“Oh, man,” she exclaimed softly, and then looked at Chris with empathetic, dark brown eyes. She shook off the empathy like it was an embarrassing disclosure, and returned her attention to Chris. “So now think of a question about what you just remembered, and ask the question in your mind.”
Chris thought for a moment, and reviewed the images in reference to the memory. He remembered the number of the bathroom on the door, and on the plastic card. He formed a question in his mind as to what the number was.
“Sixty-three,” Shannon replied with a smirk. “Are you convinced yet?”
“Yeah,” Chris nodded, “you convinced me.”
Chris reviewed the current circumstances, as he often did habitually. He was sitting with two people, only one of whom he knew on a semi-personal level, but they both knew his lycanthropic secret. And yet, he could instinctively tell that he could trust them both. What’s more, there was no denying how good it felt to finally share his secret with someone! It made it easier, albeit mysterious, that somehow he knew he could trust them; after all, they had been firm about their knowledge of his secret, but respectful enough to be discreet about it. They had successfully proven their worth, at least to his satisfaction.
“Chris,” Shannon looked at him inquisitively, “When you change… is that what it’s like for you every time, with the pain and all?”
Chris thought for a second about the change before he answered. Simply out of habit, he was inclined not to answer at all, but the softened look on Shannon’s face told of the utmost sincerity. Phillip was also very attentive, awaiting his reply. He felt that he could explain what it was like to both of them, and not worry about any repercussions. He gathered his resolve and answered Shannon with confidence.
“Not as much anymore. It’s still painful at first, but I can handle it and it goes away after a few seconds. I can change a lot faster now, too.”
Shannon looked as though she was fighting back a grimace of disbelief. “But you don’t have to change; you can control it. You’re not forced to change with the full moon. If it hurts so much and you can avoid it, why go though all of that?”
“Well, like I said: it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. Besides, it’s a fair price to what it’s like when you’re, um, in that form.” Chris leaned in on his elbows to augment the confidentiality of his account, and the other two emulated his example.
“See, when you’re in that form, it’s like the world is opened up to you. You can smell and hear so much more, and it clarifies what you can see, too. Everything becomes so much more vibrant and… and understandable. It’s one thing when you’re stopping a couple of burglars in a city, but when you’re in a forest…” He closed his eyes and his voice trailed off for a moment as the memories reinforced his description, and then he continued. “In a forest, there’s nothing like it. Everything is alive, everything; and you’re a part of it. It’s like you’ve come back to the meaning of life. There’s times when I wish I could stay that way and never return.”
“Then why do you come back?” Phillip asked, now as totally in the conversation and just as riveted to Chris’ explanation as Shannon.
Chris shrugged. “Well, two reasons. First, there are times when it’s just more convenient to be in a human form – like if I need to hide, or open a door, or shower or whatever. And second, because even as wonderful as it is, sooner or later I realize that there’s nobody else. I’m the only one. At least there are people in the city, even if I can’t let any of them know who I really am.”
Both Phillip and Shannon paused, pondering over what Chris was telling them, slowly beginning to understand the plight hiding deep within his predicament.
“Jeez, Chris,” Phillip exclaimed, but couldn’t bring forth anything else to say.
The silence lingered around the table until the arrival of the food broke the spell.
“You didn’t wait for me?” Shannon protested.
Phillip shrugged. “‘If you’re not there, you don’t share,’ right? Anyway you can order something now, so it’s no big deal.”
Shannon shot Phillip a look that told of the most profound annoyance at his lack of understanding.
“Oh, no! Not the famous annoyed look!” he cried. Phillip shrank in his seat, and in pure mockery acted like he was melting.
Shannon kicked him under the table. “Knock it off,” She commanded.
Phillip sat back up and composed himself, chuckling mischievously.
Chris realized that he was smiling again, and he liked it.
Shannon proceeded to order a Cobb salad and an iced tea with lemon after the waitress put down the rest of the food, and also made sure to tell the waitress to put it on Phillip’s tab. Phillip responded with an indifferent shrug as he bit into his sandwich.
During and after their meal, Phillip and Shannon took turns explaining to Chris that they had evidence of other werewolves in existence back at the Department. They offered him a look at their records and perhaps even a chance to investigate the locations. The current hypothesis for the lack of confirmed reports was that werewolves went to great lengths to stay undetected by humanity. It was their opinion that such secrecy was understandable and justified, when taking into account historic human reactions. All of the explanations that Phillip and Shannon gave to Chris appeared to be well thought out, logical and objective in nature. They weren’t presumptuous or arrogant in their conclusions, and actually showed a strong respect for werewolves. Chris could not help but wonder if the rest of the Department followed the same example.
Chris answered their questions about his past, his experiences, and his current predicament to the better of his comfort. He went ahead and explained the nature of his wound, and the uncertainty of the Howler’s future. He had to admit that if criminals were starting to carry silver bullets now, the whole crime fighting thing may not be the best choice in careers anymore.
Phillip and Shannon looked at each other, almost knowingly. They didn’t say anything, but there seemed to be a look of unspoken acknowledgement between them.
Finally the question came of when he would like to visit the Department. His final reservations were overpowered when Phillip offered the Department resources in an effort to examine and address his wound. Chris realized that he didn’t have any important obligations per se, so he could go with them whenever they were ready. They both agreed to pack right away and then all three of them could make the trip to Culmna City, where Department 118 was stationed.
Phillip paid the bill and invited Chris to join him at his hotel room as he packed. Chris agreed, and they made arrangements to meet Shannon out at her airborne hovercraft vehicle, commonly called a craft, in about half an hour. As Phillip packed, Chris began to feel a pang of apprehension. He didn’t know Phillip that well, really, and he didn’t know Shannon at all. Was it wise to put his life in the hands of strangers? He was so certain about them in the restaurant, but now lingering doubts were beginning to manifest in his mind, and he had no idea as to why.
“You okay?” Phillip asked.
Chris broke his musings and looked at him. Apparently his apprehension was showing on his face.
“Um, yeah. Just a bit nervous, I guess.”
“You know, you don’t have to go with us if you don’t want to, Chris. It’s all up to what you decide. We’re not going to force you.”
Chris nodded. “It’s just that I’ve got these doubts all of a sudden.”
“Ah,” Philip said with understanding, “yeah; probably because Shannon isn’t increasing your desires anymore.”
Chris looked at Phillip quizzically. Upon seeing his expression, Phillip stopped packing for a moment and gave Chris an explanation.
“Shannon is a bit more than just a telepath. She’s got the ability to affect your dreams and aspirations. She can make them grow or take them away. Sometimes it happens when she’s around other people, and she doesn’t even know she’s doing it. It doesn’t mean she’s manipulating your thoughts or anything, but your desires can be putty in her hands if she wanted them to be, so don’t get on her bad side. Anyway, it’s kind of hard to explain, but I can promise you that she wasn’t controlling your free will or right to think things or stuff like that. Julie helped her overcome that tendency, and we’re all better off because of it; believe me. ”
Chris nodded with the explanation, but continued with another subject. “Does Julie work for Department 118?”
“Oh, good question,” Phillip said as he began packing again. “No, she doesn’t, but she helps us out and hangs around a lot. She’s married to Dad, after all.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Chris said as he held his hand up to emphasize his statement. “Your dad works for The Department, and Julie is you stepmother?”
Even as Chris asked, Phillip winced and raised his hands in surrender. He chuckled, stopped packing once again, and turned to Chris with more explanation.
“First off, Chris, you might want to call us Dep:118, not ‘The Department.’ There are lots of people who already look at us funny because of what we investigate, you know? No reason to give us some ambiguous title so people will fear us too.”
Chris nodded in agreement. “Sorry,” he apologized.
“No worries. Just thought you should know,” Phillip said. He moved one if his suitcases from the couch in the room and sat down. “Let me see if I can give you a quick base knowledge, here. Actually, how much do you know about Dep:118 now?”
Chris sat on the edge of the bed. “Not much, really. Shannon had a summary up on the terminal at the library when I got there. It said that Dep:118 ‘explained the unexplained,’ things like aliens and urban legends, I think. It’s headed by a doctor and he has a son that he adopted named Jake who also works there. Jake is some sort of mutation registered with the Empire, if I remember right. You guys investigate things that other departments can’t, and sometimes they laugh at you or something.”
Phillip smiled. “There are definitely those who consider us a laughing stock, that’s for sure. It sounds like you have the basics, though; that’s good. The only other thing is that the internal workings of Dep:118 are more like family than some imperial office.”
Chris looked at him inquisitively. Were they some sort of mafia?
Apparently Phillip understood his misunderstanding, based on his smiling nod.
“Let me explain: Dep:118 is directed by an imperial Overlord by the name of Dr. Raymond Collins. His son, Jake, works for Dep:118 as well. Jake requires a bit more explanation, though, and I’ll leave the telling of that story to Shannon. Anyway, Jake naturally referred to Dr. Collins as Dad all the time. When Shannon came along, she started calling him Dad, too. Since then, everybody who joins Dep:118 just starts calling him Dad. He doesn’t mind; in fact he prefers it over ‘Doctor’ or ‘My Lord.’ A lot of times he treats us like a father anyway, so I guess it fits.”
“And Julie is married to Dr. Collins?”
“You got it,” Phillip said with a point of his finger.
Chris felt pretense well up in his mind. It transferred to his face before he asked his next question. “But she’s still the Angel of Loneliness, right?”
Phillip laughed, apparently impressed with Chris’ deductions. “Yeah, that’s her, and she requires some explaining, too. I’ll leave her story for Dad to explain.”
Chris nodded reluctantly at the withholding, but accepted it nonetheless. “Well, she is his wife, after all…”
Phillip laughed again. “You know, you’d fit right in around Dep:118, Chris. You got that whole ‘water off a duck’s back’ attitude. You really need it when you’re dealing with the stuff that we do all day.” He stood up and resumed his packing.
Soon after, Chris helped Phillip carry his luggage to the front desk. Phillip checked out, and they made their way to Shannon’s craft in preparation for the trip to Culmna City.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-03-17 10:40:25)
This is a weak attempt at humour. Let me know if you find it funny or confusing.
“Okay, your turn.”
“Alright, let’s see… Okay, I got one. Cats always land on their feet, right?”
“And bread always lands buttered-side down.”
“So they say.”
“So, what happens if you strap a piece of buttered bread on the back of a cat?”
Phillip thought for a moment before his answer, stroking his clean-shaven chin.
Chris laughed at the audacity. “How on Earth do you figure that?”
“Chaos Theory,” Phillip replied summarily.
“Wait – what?”
“If a butterfly’s wings in Peking can affect weather patterns in New York, then putting those two absolutes in direct conflict would be downright... catastrophic.”
“Ooh, bad pun!”
“Alright, connect the dots, here. How does strapping buttered bread on the back of a cat lead to Chaos Theory and the Apocalypse?” Chris asked.
“Simple: The cat and piece of bread would hover over the ground in defiance of the laws of gravity. The result would be a paradox within the laws of physics that would escalate through the natural order, causing the immediate area to be out of sync with the rest of the universe. The water cycle would break, trees would die, the tectonic plates would shift uncontrollably and the seas would again rise in temperature. This would cause the continental glaciers to break away and drift into the ocean. Pole Shift theory says it would make the planetary spin lopsided, causing the earth to fall off of its axis, decay in orbit and eventually plummet into the sun.”
There was a stiff, awkward silence that filled the cabin of Shannon’s craft.
“Now you’re just being cynical.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes you are. Do you realize how many years that would take?”
“No, it could happen within a couple years.”
“No really; it would-”
“Enough, already!” Shannon announced. “You’ve been at this for hours now. You two are going to give it a rest or so help me I’ll make you get out and walk!”
“Oh, yeah, right!” Phillip contested. “At twenty thousand feet?”
“Try me,” she challenged. Without waiting for Phillip’s response, she turned to Chris. “Please tell me you don’t think this end-of-the-world crap he’s spewing comes from our investigations?”
Chris laughed through his smile. “Not a bit,” he assured her. “We’re just having a good time.”
“At least you two are,” Shannon mumbled.
Chris couldn’t wipe the smile away from his face if he tried.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-03-06 18:11:56)
That's a great few segments, Grayle. I liked how you introduced and explained the department and those involved with it. It really helped me to understand it. I really can't wait to read more. By the way, the humor worked very well...*chuckles*, It reminded me of how alot of guys ramble on about stuff like that!
Keep it up!!!
Last edited by punxnotdead (2008-03-15 21:31:01)
Why, thank ya' kindly, Punx! Here's a bit more, though it's rather bland, so I'll try to post a bit more tomorrow.
By the way, the Dragonheir story is finished for now, in case you're still interested. I think the ending is a bit dis-satisfying, but there's plenty more to tell in that world, that's for sure.
The increase of clouds and the turbulent weather announced their arrival into the vicinity of Culmna City. Culmna was located at the base of a steep mountain range that curved around the Eastern outskirts of the city. The location was about two-hundred kilometers away from the Pacific coastline and well within the path of a regular jet stream. The result was regular thunderstorms and windstorms that often wrought havoc as they ran through the city and its citizens. The aggressive weather was a trial for most, but more of a challenge for others. Living in the city was seen as an unofficial medal of accomplishment to many in the Empire. Even though Culmna City was small in size, often attaching the buildings with catwalks and subterranean tunnels, it was prosperous enough to support a population of nearly a hundred thousand.
Shannon descended the craft to ninety meters, and eventually soon skimmed the streets of Culmna to safely navigate through the rainstorm. She entered the craft into an unmarked parking garage and made her way down two levels to her designated parking spot. The three travelers disembarked and began to stretch the stiffness of the trip from their limbs. Phillip and Shannon removed a few of their belongings from the back of the craft and then escorted Chris to the lift which took them up seven stories. This brought them to the fourth floor. They exited the lift into a beige hallway with glass sets of doors periodically set along the walls. At the end of the hall they took a right, and entered the only doors that were not made of glass at the end of the hall.
The doors opened to an expansive floor, with a maze of cubicle walls dominating the floor, hiding the contents of the cubicles from any onlookers. A few steps away from the doors sat an administration desk. An older lady was at the desk, typing away at a keyboard. It seemed to be the only sound; the rest of the room housed a silence that was unsettling.
“Welcome back,” she greeted without looking up.
“Hey Martha,” Phillip replied. “Is Gareth back yet?”
“Not yet; he’s still in Idaho somewhere,” Martha mentioned indifferently. A slight British accent brought a certain smoothness to her words.
“I forgot about that,” Shannon said as she snapped her fingers, and then turned to Chris. “Gareth is really going to want to meet you, Chris.”
At that point Martha looked up, and the three returned her gaze. Phillip made the introduction.
“Martha, this is my friend Chris Hansen. He’s visiting from Romberg.”
Martha looked Chris over as he greeted her, and then looked at Shannon. “If you’re worried about Gareth meeting him, I guess it’s safe to assume he’s hybreed?”
“Yeah,” Shannon replied succinctly.
Martha looked back at Chris. “Well if they all look like you, love, I’d be happy to meet as many as I can. Welcome to Department 118.”
“Um, thanks; nice to meet you,” Chris replied, and looked back at Shannon. “Wait; what’s a hybreed?”
“You are,” Shannon answered. “The few werewolves we’ve actually got to talk to call themselves ‘hybreed’ as opposed to ‘werewolves.’”
“Okay; and when were you going to tell me that they had a different name than werewolves?”
“After we showed you around and got to work on educating you about your people,” Shannon replied, as if it was nothing less than common sense.
Chris looked at Phillip inquisitively, silently asking him if what Shannon said was true.
“Hey, don’t look at me; I told her she should just implant the information we have directly into your brain, but do you think she listens to me? Noooooo!”
“Shut up, Phil,” Shannon commanded, and began to lead them around the cubicle walls to the right side of the floor.
Chris looked once again at Phillip, who only rolled his eyes in response, and they both followed Shannon around the corner.
Now, let's meet Jeroume.
The three followed the wall to the back of the floor, where several offices were positioned. Chris peered down the cubicle aisles as they passed, trying to see any sign of movement. Every single cubicle that met his eyes was empty. Not only was there no sign of people stationed in the cubicles, but they seemed to be devoid of equipment as well. It was as if the entire floor was not being used for anything other than storing empty partitions. By the unnerving silence and lack of occupancy, Chris was starting to wonder what he was getting himself into.
“How many people work for Dep:118?” he asked.
“Well,” Phillip started, “Let’s see: there’s me and Shannon, Jake and Michelle-”
“Twelve,” Shannon announced, “depending on your definition of employment.”
Chris could hear Phillip behind him continuing his tallies under his breath.
As they approached the corner of the office cluster a tall, very slender African-American gentleman approached. He had a pleasant look that encompassed his face, and eyes that invited you to hold a conversation with him.
“Hey, Jeroume!” Phillip called. He ran in front of Chris and Shannon, and greeted the man with an enthusiastic handshake.
“Hey, Phil,” Jeroume responded, and brandished an infectious smile. His dark eyes almost immediately found Chris, but their darkness did not intimidate. In fact, it reflected the friendliness that was radiating from him.
“May I ask who this might be?” Jeroume asked, and offered his hand. His smooth voice rolled from his lips, teeming with professionalism and respect.
“Chris Hansen,” Chris replied as he accepted the handshake.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Chris. I’m Jeroume Preston, one of the field researchers here. If I may ask, what brings you to Dep:118?”
“I kinda want to learn more about the, uh, hybreed? I think?” He said uncertainly with a glance toward Shannon.
Jeroume refreshed his smile. “You’ve certainly come to the right place, Chris; have no fear. Forgive me for prying, but what caused your interest in the hybreed?”
Chris shrugged. “Well, I’m a werewolf, so I guess that means I am one.”
Jeroume widened his smile. “Then it’s a true honour to meet you, Chris. Your people are astounding. I feel privileged to know the truth about them as compared to all the stories out there. Have you had the opportunity to meet Gareth yet?”
“Ah, no; not yet.”
Jeroume smiled again. “He’ll be very excited to meet you. I’m not sure if he’s here right now, however.”
“He’s still in Idaho,” Shannon reported.
Jeroume nodded. “I see. In any case, it was wonderful meeting you, Chris. Thanks again for stopping by.”
Chris nodded in response. Jeroume and bade them farewell, gave them each the gift of one more warm smile, and then made his way to the front of the floor.
The three continued past the offices to the back of the floor. Phillip pointed out the restrooms, game room and nap room to Chris; apparently the amount of unoccupied space allowed them to seal off one room for power naps if needed. Shannon announced that she was going to find 'Dad,' and left Phillip and Chris to explore the break room.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-03-12 20:32:28)
Meeting the family can be boring, I know, but we're almost done. Hang in there.
In the break room sat two people, a man and a woman. The man had short blond hair, a receding hairline, and a nose that indicated it was broken some time in the past. When he looked up at the woman across from him, Chris noticed that the man’s eyes were a vibrant green. The man was slim, and looked to be tall if he was standing up. He was working on finishing a plate of pasta.
The woman sitting across from him had her black hair cut short as well, but not as short. It was straight, and brought back behind her ear on one side, offering a better view of her mild Polynesian features. She was smiling and discussing something about time travel with the man. She was apparently satisfied with the deficient amount of attention that he was giving her.
“Want a soda?” Phillip asked Chris.
Chris brought back his attention and focused it on Phillip’s question. “Yeah, sure.”
“What kind? We got cola, diet, root beer, and some kind of power drink.”
“Cola, I guess.”
Phillip went to the nearby refrigerator and retrieved the drinks as Chris noticed the two occupants were now noticing his presence.
“Phil, you gonna introduce us to your friend?” the woman asked.
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to interrupt. It would be rude.”
The woman rolled her eyes.
“Like that’s ever stopped you before,” the man commented.
Phillip handed a can of cola to Chris, not paying attention to the man’s accusation.
“Guys, this is Chris Hansen. He’s visiting from Romberg. Chris, this is Scott and Emily. Scott’s a field researcher, and Emily’s our resident medical expert. They’re kind of a couple.”
Emily stood and shook hands with Chris. Scott merely wiped his hand on a napkin and offered his hand from his seat.
“So you’re from Romberg, huh?” Scott asked. “You know anything about the Howler?”
“Uh, yeah,” Chris admitted, “you could say that.”
Emily looked at Phillip, and then looked at Chris again. “You are the Howler, aren’t you?” she asked with polite sensitivity.
Chris sighed. “Yeah,” he replied.
“So, is it safe to assume that you’re also actually a hybreed?” she asked.
“Heh – wait ‘til Gareth meets you,” Scott commented though his mouthful of food.
“Yeah, really,” Emily agreed enthusiastically, and turned back toward Chris. “Anyway, welcome to Dep:118, Chris. How long will you be here?”
“Not sure,” Chris said with a shrug.
“Well, if it’s okay with you, I’d absolutely love to ask you about what it’s like turning into a werewolf – oh, is it okay to call you that?”
“A werewolf. Gareth told us that most hybreed don’t like that word because of the reputation that it has, or something like that.”
Chris shook his head. “I don’t have a problem with it; but yeah, we can talk about it if you want.”
Emily smiled. “Thanks; I’ll be looking forward to it. I’ll talk to you later, then, okay?”
He nodded, and Emily sat back down across from Scott.
Chris reviewed the events since his arrival. The unrestricted acceptance of whom and what he was, along with the mild reactions as opposed to the expected over-reactions, made Chris numb with the experience. He felt like he had fallen into a different world, one where all of his past dealings with people and their inherent responses meant nothing. The people here simply accepted him, and did not attribute any special recognition or concern to his nature. He couldn’t help but wonder if Dep:118 was always like this, or whether these were the only the off hours.
“Hey,” Phillip said, baiting Chris’ attention, “There’s an Air Hockey table in the game room. Wanna play a few rounds?”
“Sure, I guess,” Chris said, uncertain of what else to say. It’s not like he ever played Air Hockey before, but it seemed inappropriate to decline the offer. Chris amiably followed Phillip out of the break room. Once he emerged, the corner of his eye caught something to his left that he didn’t recognize, and it was moving directly at him. After he turned to get a better look, he cried out in surprise.
Can you guess what he saw? Can you?
Its really turning out Grayle, im sorry if i havnt been able to check it out for a while. Ive been under some restrictions lately, but don't slow down, its really turning out!
Well, thank you, Wolf! I'll post some more. Let's see what made Chris cry out in surprise - though if you read the other Dep:118 story, you probably already know...
Walking right up to him was a large, black creature, taller than Chris. Its skin was black and leathery like a gorilla, and it was covered with ebony fur. Both features were as dark as the shadows that Chris frequented as the Howler. The creature had light brown eyes that were staring at him intensively, and a leafed nose with flaring nostrils. It had very large ears which had points that spanned above the top of its head. The most disconcerting features of all, however, were the leathery wings that were folded behind its back.
Its pupils began to glow red, and it smiled a devilish smile at him which revealed two rows of sharp teeth, accompanied by a set of intimidating fangs.
Chris jumped backward and took a defensive stance before he even realized it. He had a strong desire to snarl a warning at the creature, though he wasn’t sure as to why, but he suppressed the inclination and focused on watching the creature’s every move.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Phillip called out, putting his hands up between the two, and turned toward Chris.
Scott and Emily soon emerged from the break room to find out the source of the commotion.
“It’s alright, Chris; Jake won’t hurt you.” Phillip assured him, and then turned his attention to the creature. “Jake, your eyes are glowing; time to stand down, buddy.”
As the creature, Jake, looked over at Phillip, the scarlet glow in his pupils subsided. He suddenly looked surprised, and then embarrassed. He looked back at Chris, put his open palms together in a humble, prayer-like gesture and bowed his head, apparently pleading an apology.
Chris didn’t move, but stared at Jake in astonishment. He had never seen anything like Jake before. He looked like the dark side of a gargoyle; no, that was a bit much. After a second glance tempered with reason, Jake looked more like he had many characteristics of a bat. Yes, that was it; Jake looked like a bat. That must be his mutation: a merger with a black bat! Chris had never heard of such a drastic mutation before!
“Chris Hansen, meet Jacob Trenton, son of Raymond Collins. You can call him Jake.”
“Jake,” Chris repeated aloud as he relaxed his defensive stance. “You, ah, startled me. Sorry.”
“Oh, I’m sure he knows,” Phillip said through his laugh. “Remember how I said that Shannon was not only telepathic but she could affect people’s dreams and aspirations?”
“Well, Jake is kind of the polar opposite. He’s telepathic too, but he can also affect people’s fears and nightmares. He can feed off of that energy; he was instinctively feeding off of your fear from being startled. Don’t worry, though; it was just the turn of events. He didn’t mean any harm.”
Chris thought for a moment, trying to put the pieces together in his mind as he calmed down. He seemed to recall rumors on the streets as he began his career as the Howler. He remembered people wondering if ‘The Nightmare of Culmna City’ had moved to Romberg. His howling eventually invalidated that claim. However, the memory jolted information about a certain rumored saviour of the lowly and downtrodden in Culmna City; one that actually inspired Chris to pursue his crime fighting career. When adding the fact that Jake was a cross between human and bat, and could affect people’s nightmares, the resulting conclusion was practically obvious.
“The Nightmare! You’re the Nightmare of Culmna City!”
Jake cocked his head and twisted his foot into the rug in an attempt to look timidly embarrassed, and nodded.
I'm sorry I haven't been on alot lately. I've spent the last week (every night) on my first ever painting...which didn't really turn out. Anyways, I got caught up on your story, and I think it's absolutely amazing. You know the exact spots to put light humor, which keeps the reader engrossed in your story, and great description of Jake. Oh, I almost forgot to add. I like how you explain Chris' apprehension when boarding the ship...as if he were begging a whole new, strange life. It was very realistic.
Also, I like how you explained the features of the location of Dep 118.
I can't wait to read more of your increasinly wonderful story, Grayle!
Very interesting stuff Grayle!I finally got a chance to catch up,and this is just some insanely awesome work i've been missing out on!
Your use of characterization seemed to really come out in this story,like all the sudden I am watching a high definition film!Not that your other wasn't great,but you seemed to step it up even more here,especially with Chris and Jake.As usual,your descriptions and details were excellent,grabbing the readers attention and keeping it.Great work,can't wait to buy this at the book store!
GAHHH! It’s taken me longer than I wanted it to catch up, but it was worth it. Grayle, your story is remarkable. Really amazing. I can totally identify with Chris and his feelings of loneliness at the beginning of the story. It really played with my heart strings. I’m really enjoying the story and can’t wait for the next installment. Fantastic work man!
Thank you all very very much for your comments! I've really tried to focus on character development since this may be the beginning for the entire story, and it's great to hear that the characters are believable. It's still coming along, but I've got a ways to go before it's ready for the final draft, and therefore publishing.
That being said, we'll soon be getting into a bit of meat on the subjects of the 'who', 'what', and 'why' of the hybreed. I think it asks more questions than gives answers, so any input on that part would be appreciated. It's a bout 3-4 segments in the future.
Nonetheless, here's some more.
“The Nightmare! You’re the Nightmare of Culmna City!”
Jake cocked his head and twisted his foot into the rug in an attempt to look timidly embarrassed, and nodded.
“That’s him,” Phillip confirmed happily. “I guess in a way you two have a lot in common; I mean, you both are human-animal crosses, you both chose similar starting professions, you both have fur...”
Jake looked up in surprise, deviding his glance between Phillip and Chris multiple times, and then suddenly began to make complicated gestures with his hands.
“You got it, Jake,” Phillip answered, and gestured to the appropriate persons as he continued. “Nightmare of Culmna City, meet the Howler of Romberg.”
Jake smiled a toothy grin that inadvertently made anyone looking upon it wonder what diabolical mischief he was up to. He offered his hand to Chris. After a second’s hesitation, Chris accepted the offer. The squeeze from Jake’s hand felt like a vice.
Jake broke the handshake and made more complicated gestures toward Phillip.
“Okay,” Philip continued, “so that’s one thing you don’t have in common, but still.”
Chris looked inquisitively at the two.
“He prefers to speak in ASL,” Scott explained with an amused look on his face. "That's 'American Sign Language,' in case you don't know."
“Actually I got that part,” Chris explained, “but I was curious as to why.” He turned to Jake and addressed him directly. “If you’re telepathic, can’t you just plug your thoughts into my head, like Shannon did?”
“He doesn’t like to do that,” Emily replied. “He feels it’s rude – though if the discussion is complicated enough and you give him permission, he will. He’s just a bit more sensitive and considerate than his big sister.”
“Shannon’s your sister?” Chris asked Jake.
“Not by relation,” Emily explained. “But they sure do act like they’re related, and their telepathic abilities seem to be two halves of a whole. So, everybody considers them brother and sister.”
“But you all refer to Dr. Collins as ‘Dad’ anyway, right?” Chris asked.
Everyone smiled and nodded reminiscently, some giving a verbal affirmative answer.
“So, I guess the family tree around here has just been grafted a few times,” Chris commented with a jest. “Nothing wrong with that. I grew up in an orphanage, so I’m familiar with non-genetic families.”
Phillip laughed quietly with admiration. “Water off a duck’s back,” he commented.
Jake grinned at the sentiment, and then signed something else to Phillip.
“Yeah, he’s hybreed. He’s here to find out more about himself and his people.”
Jake signed something again.
Phillip chuckled, and turned to Chris. “He said-”
“-wait until Gareth meets me, I know,” Chris interjected, failing to hide his growing irritation at the repeating comment.
Jake looked at Chris with compassion flowing from his eyes. He signed something for Phillip to translate again.
“He wants to know if you’d like to join him on a run out to the foothills when you’re in your other form; he thinks you’d really enjoy it. He says the offer stands any time.”
Chris perked at the offer. “Really? Sure, I’d like that; that would be great!”
Jake smiled again, and signed something at Phillip.
“I wasn’t going to,” Phillip said. He looked at Chris, and translated again. “He told me not to make any comments about taking you out for a walk. I wasn’t going to.”
“Not in your presence at least,” Scott commented cynically.
“Oh, come on, now,” Chris said, “give him a little credit.”
“Why, thank you, Chris,” Phillip said, and looked at Scott and Emily as if he was offended.
“No problem,” Chris replied. “I mean, I can see you saying something about keeping me away from fire hydrants, but ‘taking me out for a walk’ is too direct for you.”
“Ha!” Phillip jabbed at Scott. “Take that!” Then, Phillip contemplated the comment further. “Wait a minute…”
Grayle, the new addition is great. I loved the way that Chris jested Phillip. It seems that he is becoming part of this family quite easily. Totally cool!
Great...as always, Grayle. I like the dialogue between Jake, Phillip, and Chris. I also enjoy the sarcasm you create between characters. Not only does it add humor, but it also adds to the realism
Oh, and to answer your email, while I was reading, I must've intepreted something wrong...but upon reading it again, I realize that segment wasn't there. I have difficulty getting onto my hotmail from my home computer because I have dial-up and it takes forever to reply, but it's faster here. Anyways, I can't wait for the next installment!!
Thank you both very much! I felt that I needed to add a bit to Jake, since he plays a pivotal role in the aftermath of the climax in the other story. He's a fun character, but I need to be careful with him so people don't compare him to certain superheroes out there..
Punx, I'll see if I can come up with a way to keep contact that would be more convenient for you - both hotmail and yahoo mail have become the bane of dialup since they were redesigned.
Hmmmm... how do you feel about a Gmail account? It's a lot more dialup-friendly..
Anyway, let's meet the Directour of Dep:118.
Suddenly a yell from the far edge of the hallway took everyone’s attention.
“Holy Guacamole! It’s you!”
A man in a blue tee shirt, black slacks, and white sneakers came briskly down the hallway to meet them, his full head of dirty blond hair swaying with his movements. His green eyes gleamed with an almost childish vibrancy, but his features indicated that his age was nearing Forty. His gaze zeroed in on Chris and he immediately took Chris’ hand in a hearty, enthusiastic handshake when he approached.
“You must be Phillip’s friend, Street Fang! Shannon tells me that your name is Chris, is that right?”
Chris stood partially stunned from the fervor of this man, but at least was able to accomplish a nod.
“I’m Dr. Raymond Collins. You can call me Ray if you want. Everyone around here calls me Dad, but you don’t have to. Are you hungry? How about some dinner?”
Chris tried to shake off his bemusement, but before he could answer, the doctor continued.
The doctor looked around at everyone else. “Oh, wait; have you met everyone? Did I interrupt?”
“It’s okay, Dad,” Emily said, “it’s okay. He’s met us all.”
“Wonderful!” Ray replied, and looked again at the people in attendance. “You all know he’s a hybreed, right?”
The attendants nodded and Chris braced himself for what he knew would be the next question as the Doctor turned back toward him.
“Then I won’t bother saying that Gareth will want to meet you; you’ve probably heard it enough already. You like pizza?”
The unpredictable first impression from Raymond Collins only shocked Chris further, causing him to be mildly dumbstruck. This man had both thoughtfulness and consideration cunningly hidden behind his enthusiasm. Those qualities manifested themselves with lightning precision, but only after his vivacious demeanour practically derailed his audience. It simply wasn’t what Chris would have expected from an Imperial Overlord. Actually, almost every person in Dep:118 turned out differently than what he would have expected, even Jake. Very few if any of these people would fit into the mainstream societies of the Empire. It was no wonder that they weren’t overcome with his being a werewolf; they were all different from the norm themselves.
At that moment, Chris began considering that he didn’t have to be alone anymore. This only invigorated his desire to learn more about who he was, and how to contact his own kind, his people. Yet, even if it took time to get those answers, he felt that he could spend that time here with the members of Dep:118 rather comfortably.
“Chris?” Phillip asked, tearing Chris from his considerations.
“Huh? Oh, sorry; yeah, pizza. Sure.”
“I’m very glad to hear you say that,” Dr. Collins said, “especially since I already had Shannon order a bunch.” He turned toward the rest in attendance. “Dinner’s on me, everybody. Give ‘em about two hours.”
A placid cheer washed through the meager crowd.
“Well, don’t bury me thanks!” Dr. Collins protested sarcastically, and turned again to Chris. “Since we got a bit of time before dinner, would it be okay with you if I ask you a few questions in my office?”
Chris looked over at Phillip, who gave him a nod of encouragement. Chris turned back to Dr. Collins and nodded amiably, but nervously. Here he was only a guest, and yet he was already being shown to the principal’s office?
With his comforting smile, the doctor guided him down the hall. They turned to the right, passed a few doors, and made their way into a comfortable yet modest room filled with a desk, several chairs, a table on the far end, and an old fashioned stereo system in the far corner.
Dr. Collins gestured to two seats in front of the desk. Chris chose one and sat, doing his best to hide his growing anxiety. To his surprise, Dr. Collins sat in the other chair in front of the desk instead of taking the chair behind it. Dr. Collins brought the fingertips of his hands together in front of his face and peered at Chris for a moment. Although he realized that the doctor was indeed assessing him, Chris still did not feel too intimidated by the scrutiny, mostly because of the grin upon the doctor’s lips. Even so, the air of the room began to thicken with a solemn tone with every silent second that passed by.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-03-24 13:57:00)
Very nice addition Grayle. The doctor seems quite the character indeed. Not the first encounter I had excepted. You always keep me guessing with your work. Great job!!
Great addition! I like how you described Ray. He's a very enthusastic character - yet humble and wise.
I like where you cut off the segment. It leaves a bit of a hanger, so people want to continue reading!
Thank you very much! Dr. Collins is a fun character to write, and I did have a few reference points in creating him.
Recipe for Dr. Raymond Collins:
1/3 cup Albert Einstein
3 TBSP Abraham Lincoln
2/3 cup Mr. Miyagi
1 1/2 cups Yoda
1/4 cup "Weird Al" Yankovic
1 full, ripe Jim Henson
a dash of Layson A. Williams
Add all ingredients and allow to simmer for 2 years. Garnish heavily with the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who. Mixture may appear unstable, but will coalesce nicely. Spread mixture over the top of Dep:118 and allow to soak in.
The next few segments are going to add a bit more understanding to the underlying themes, but it may be too wordy. I'll divide it up into 3 segments and post them throughout the weekend. Let me know if you feel it's too much, or if there's any part that raises unanswered questions, okay?
“Chris, I know you came here of your own accord to find out more about your people, and I thank you for your trust. I’m hoping that by now you realize what kind of subject your people are to us. Do you know what I mean by that?”
“You don’t want to exploit werewolves, you want to learn about them,” Chris explained.
The emerald eyes of the man across from him brightened. “That’s exactly right. You see, Chris, every single report of a werewolf sighting eventually makes it here, and we investigate every one we can. Now, according to the records that Phil has found, there’s been a distinct increase in the amount of reported sightings in the last century. Most of them are genuine, and yet we almost never make contact. In fact, we’ve only talked to three others of your people, and one of those was a fluke. Now, why do you think it’s so difficult finding your people?”
At first, Chris was inclined to think that the question was an accusation, but when he looked into the doctor’s eyes again, he realized that it was more of a test.
“Well, Shannon and Phil said that they think werewolves try to stay as far away from humanity as they can.”
“I agree; but then why the increase in sightings?” Dr, Collins asked, parting his hands to emphasize a loss of understanding. “Forest logging is strictly regulated, and human encroachment is kept to a bare minimum. We’re not endangering their territory, so why are people seeing so many werewolves in the last century?”
Chris thought for a moment, but the answer seemed too obvious. After dousing his uncertainty with determination, he gave his conclusion. “Maybe there’s too many of them to hide as well as they used to.”
Dr. Collins beamed with delight. “Very good, Chris! By the way, I think you should probably use the term ‘us’ instead of ‘them.’ But you’re right; the numbers of your people are growing; not quickly, but steadily. If they continue growing, there will come a point when humanity as a whole will be forced to acknowledge your existence. If it happens all of a sudden, then it will be a rude awakening, for sure. The question is: what will humanity do when they get that awakening?”
“Panic,” Chris said succinctly.
Dr. Collins surrendered the point. “I think you’re right; I think they’d even go so far as to try to eliminate your people because of that panic.” After a deep breath, the doctor repositioned himself and sat forward, bringing attention to his next statement. “Quite frankly, Chris, I don’t think we should let humanity react that way. I strongly believe that your people are here to fill a role on this Earth of ours – oh, by the term ‘ours’ I mean all living things on this planet. Anyway, I want to do everything I can to make sure your people, the hybreed, can fulfill that role.”
Chris looked at the doctor inquisitively. “So what role do you think they – I mean, we – are supposed to fill?”
Dr. Collins smiled. “Well, I’ll explain it to you if you promise not to laugh.”
Chris cocked his head in curiosity, and shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.”
Dr. Collins nodded and took a moment to compose himself, and then continued.
“Alright, here we go. Chris, almost every werewolf case we have ends with us following tracks into a forest or wilderness. Most of the sightings are in small towns or villages. The ones in cities sometimes lead to an abandoned building or structure and then the trail disappears; but even with those, we eventually find evidence of travel into a nearby forest. It’s hard to explain just sitting here, but when you go through all of our cases, you start to see patterns.
“What I’ve noticed is that your people are always returning to the forest instead of hiding in a human community. You are the only one – the only one, Chris – who has been regularly sited in a city. You choose to stay and make your living amongst humanity, whereas others always run away. They return to the forest every time. Do you have any idea as to why?”
Chris suddenly felt waves of apprehension overtake him. The question made him feel like he was an outcast, like he was betraying his own kind by staying around humans. With tremendous effort, he forced himself to control the feelings and answer honestly.
Last edited by Grayle (2008-03-28 16:14:11)
Ooo I hadn't thought of that before. This is really stirring up emotions in Chris that he hasn't considered before. I love the drama Grayle. Keep it coming!