There's a lot of iffiness about putting your writings on the Internet if you want to peddle them to actual publishers . . . but who's going to notice a tiny little excerpt? Besides, I want to see what the Cafe regulars think.
Here George (the werewolf) is taking his new girlfriend Susan to Casa Bonita (a local restaurant built to resemble a 19th century Mexican village -- along with a papier-mache cave; thus the reference to a "cave" below). Unfortunately others know of George's secret and can seriously mess up his life:
They spoke of more mundane matters: Susan's job, and the people she worked with, and George's background as a rookie cop, a happier time, for all its hardships.
Eventually Susan glanced at her tiny watch.
"Cripes! We've been here for hours!"
"It seemed like minutes to me," said George.
Susan smiled again. She had not smiled so often in months.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I have to answer what my dear old dad referred to as the call of the wild."
"Funny," said George. He rose and pulled back Susan's chair. "I have to mark some territory, myself."
George let Susan to walk ahead of him through the narrow mouth of the cave. She recalled their passage down the entry-aisle hours earlier. She had stood rooted until he went first. Why?
She had been afraid.
She blushed in shame. He had to notice her reluctance. Hell, he could probably smell it.
Out in the open -- a fake town square, with potted palms at the corners and a church front on the right -- George moved around to her side. He touched her arm.
"Listen to that," he said.
Susan listened. The caballero sang in another "neighborhood". Busboys made a clatter of dishes and silverware. Something fried in the kitchen with a high-pitched sizzle. Water poured in a sink with a deeper hiss. Hard soles tacking on fake cobblestone streets. Kids yelling and speakers squealing in a little room full of video games. Over it all, the murmur of a hundred conversations.
"It's easy to pretend this is a real town,” said George. “Sometimes we came here and pretended to spot the Magnificent Seven in the shadows."
"Sounds like fun," said Susan.
"And the place smells . . ."
"I'm sure they clean occasionally."
They laughed together.
"You know what I mean," George accused.
"As a matter of fact, I do," said Susan. "You mean the smells are fuller -- richer -- to you. Right?"
"That's right," said George.
They edged around a fountain in the village square. Next to that stood a helium canister with a clown face. A woman in a red and white uniform inflated a balloon and tied its neck with a string. George continued, with astonishment in his voice:
"For a minute there, I was thinking and talking as if you'd known me and my little secret for years."
"I catch on quick."
The wolf-man nodded. "I've noticed. I --"
He stopped again, flaring his nostrils.
"What's that?" he asked.
Susan glanced around. "What's what?"
"That smell," said George.
Susan sniffed, trying to locate any odor stronger or stranger than the general cheese and salsa background. She started to ask for clarification, when George wrapped his arms around himself and groaned.
"George? What's wrong?"
The wolf-man gasped and looked at Susan.
"I -- I don't know. Puffs of something -- coming in with night air. It --"
George doubled over, a gurgle forced from his throat as if his dinner were coming up.
He did not regurgitate, however. When he lifted his head again, Susan realized this was a seizure of a different sort.
His eyes burned fever-bright. Sweat glinted in the glow of a fake gaslight. A gray dusting of peach fuzz appeared all over his face.
"Susan," he wheezed. "I think I'm --"
George's chops swelled as if his face were an inflatable toy. The woman gasped. George let out a cry of pain, not quite human or animal, and dropped to his knees.
Susan could not tear her eyes away. She had read the words "horrid fascination" in a hundred novels, but this was the first time she truly understood the phrase. George's nose and upper lip merged into a rounded, apelike bulge. Gray hairs shivered out of his neck and forehead even as she watched.
People yelled. Faces appeared in every door- and hallway. Susan blinked tears of fear and frustration out of her eyes.
"George, you said you'd never, in public," she whispered.
George flopped onto his stomach. He worked his legs up and down and kicked off his shoes. His hands crooked into birdlike claws, complete with sharp nails sticking out of the fingertips.
What a stupid thing to say, he's obviously not doing it on purpose!
Screams, mutters, gasps filled the air. The caballero with the guitar stopped singing. The crown of George's head sank, and his mouth grew into a toothy muzzle.
Susan knew George and the wolf to be one the same, but seeing one become the other . . . She staggered back and bumped against a fake lamppost.
The buttons on George's shirt popped off. His hands scraped over the floor, no longer bird-claws but animal paws. He raised his long head and gave a howl, shockingly loud: "Wurrrooooo --"
"Oh, my God, George!" shrieked Susan.
The wolf glanced toward her. His eyes were questioning, confused, and frightened.
The scream- and profanity-level increased. The wolf seemed to realize for the first time he had an audience. He rose on all fours and kicked his hind legs donkey-fashion until his tangled pants slid off. Then he dashed back into the cave.
People jumped out of the way of the shaggy beast wearing a jacket and tie and underwear. Susan stepped numbly back into the square, watching as George vanished into the painted plaster tunnel. Her gaze dropped to the slate-gray slacks on the floor. The rectangular lump of a wallet bulged in a hip pocket.
Wallet, she thought. They could find out who he is.
She grabbed up George's pants. A series of outcries marked the wolf's progress through the cave and beyond.
As she folded the slacks over her arm, she noticed many eyes upon her. She smiled stupidly. How embarrassing to have your date turn into an animal in public!
The head waiter, distinguished by a red sash around his waist, forced his way through a wall of patrons and busboys.
"What's going on? What happened?" he demanded.
Susan was in no mood to play Twenty Questions. She dashed into the cave; no one tried to stop her.
She almost twisted her ankle by the little waterfall. She leaned against the basin that caught the water and yanked off her pumps. She thought evil things about whoever invented high heels.
She ran through the cave in her stockings. The people lining the walls still stared after George, long gone though he was.
Dishes and tumblers crashed. The kitchen.
A dim circle of light marked an alcove. A door there, almost hidden from the customers' view, led into the back. She pushed it open, wincing at the bright illumination beyond.
She passed a heavy janitor's bucket on wheels. The smell of soap and Clorox mingled with that of peppers and chili powder.
She heard more yells and the broad clatter of metal trays hitting the floor. She turned a corner and slid painfully into the edge of a stainless steel sink.
A young man in mesh-net cap, T-shirt, and dirty apron held a huge, round pot crisscrossed with Brillo scratches. He stood like a pillar, staring towards the main preparation area.
Susan jogged up to the youth, purse and one shoe in her left hand, George's pants and her other shoe in her right. A busboy sprang up on a wide table, crying out shrilly. He knocked knives and ladles and serving spoons onto the floor.
George dashed across her field of view, having doubled back from some far corner. He was a ludicrous sight, with his flopping tie and baggy Haines. He skidded on the greasy sheen found in all restaurant kitchens.
The wolf leapt up on another prep table. His legs shot out from under him, and he slid along, bashing tubs of shredded lettuce and ground beef and guacamole out of the way.
Susan padded along, dodging an old woman with a hairnet full of cobwebby silver. She danced carefully past huge butcher knives on the concrete floor. She slipped and caught the edge of a counter to keep from falling. She lost her right shoe performing this maneuver; she swore and dropped its mate.
George hopped off the long table and dashed straight for a huge door with a red sign: EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY -- ALARM WILL SOUND. The wolf rammed the door with a thunderous bang. He bounced off, then he reared up and pressed the latch-bar with his forepaws.
A loud bell rang. Wonderful.
George shouldered the door open and vanished into the night. Susan followed. She looked out on a back alley bordered by a steep hill and a high chain-link fence -- she doubted even the wolf could jump it.
South the alley ran for two blocks. No movement under the streetlights. A wide parking area spread out to the north, ending at the exit onto 21st Street. The logical path for a fleeing animal -- or man.
She ran toward the lot, mashing a cardboard carton beneath her foot.
Could be glass around, she thought.
A long, low form dodged between parked cars. Yep, George made for 21st.
Last edited by Amarok (2008-09-17 00:58:23)
I can picture that soooo clearly, him scampering his way through a restaurant kitchen Fun stuff!
So, what's the general gist of the story?
Very nice. I enjoyed that. I do hope you get it published.
Susan jogged through the parking lot, wincing whenever she stepped on a piece of gravel or discarded lighter. The wolf reached the street and shot off to the west. Where the hell was he going?
Lights flared. Waaaamp! honked a horn. The patrons of Casa Bonita spilled out into the parking lot, yelling and running and roaring off in their cars. For a second Susan froze like a deer on the highway, then she jumped out of the way of a big SUV.
Good goin', George.
She worked her way through row after row of vehicles. In front of the restaurant, cars already banged into each other. It had peeved her that she had to park so far away; now she was glad.
# # #
She pulled out onto 23rd, at the opposite end of the shopping center. As soon as she entered the neighborhood behind the row of stores, silence, darkness and sanity returned to the world.
Almost. Even now George galloped crazily through the streets of Tulsa in the form of a wolf. Why? Did he lie about being able to control his change?
She passed rows of small brick houses. Yellow squares of light marked some windows; others flickered blue-white. Susan wondered what ordinary people were watching on TV.
She spared a glance for the gray slacks lying at her side. Why did she go to all this trouble? Even if this transformation took him by surprise, George was used to running around as a wolf.
He needs help, though. I saw it in his eyes.
She reached Yale Avenue, a mile west of Casa Bonita. Here she jogged over to 21st.
Two cars sat grill to grill in the middle of the intersection. The drivers stood gesticulating like characters in a silent movie. They kept pointing up 21st. Susan edged into the left turn lane and crept past the wreck.
She stepped on the gas. Soon her headlights enveloped the bounding form of the wolf. He'd lost his white briefs, but his jacket and shirt would probably have to be cut off his barrel-chested form. He still galloped down the middle of the street. Oncoming cars honked and swerved when George edged into their lane.
Where the hell is he going?
She drew up to within forty feet of his flailing tail. Now what? She honked, but the wolf only ran faster.
She rolled down the window.
The gray beast took no heed. A sudden flash of disbelief hit Susan. She chased a big dog down the road and yelled at it as if it were human. That was it. Yeah.
But I saw him change!
Ahead loomed the stoplight at Harvard. Green became yellow just as George shot through the intersection. Susan stomped the gas; the light turned red as she rocketed under it.
I hate stoplights, she thought.
This was ridiculous. Maybe she could pull up beside him and nudge him over.
Headlights played across 21st from a side street. A delivery van pulled out right in front of George. The werewolf hit its front bumper with a thunk and rolled under.
Susan crushed the brake to the floor. The Volvo screeched shrilly to a stop. She threw the car into Park and jumped out.
The van rumbled to a halt as well, but not before it passed all the way over George, who lay in a heap on the asphalt.
Susan dropped to her knees by the wolf. A flap of skin hung open on the top of his head. A wide, pink area on his chest was scraped clean of fur. There hadn't been enough clearance under the UPS van for a creature his size.
"Holy s--t, lady!" yelled the driver of the van, suddenly at her side. "He ran right into me! Is he yours?"
Susan glanced back along 21st. Headlights approached. More people would see him.
She looked up at the man in the brown uniform.
"Help me get him into the car," she ordered.
"Uh -- sure."
Susan snatched open the back door of the Volvo. The van driver stooped and clumsily gathered up George's chest and shoulders. Susan grabbed the wolf's hind legs and heaved.
"Damn, he weighs more'n me!" grunted the delivery man.
Somehow they worked the huge animal into the Volvo. A car edged past at dead slow rubberneck speed.
"Thanks," snapped Susan, climbing into the front seat.
"Wait -- don't you need my license number or something?" asked the driver.
"You hit him, not me," Susan pointed out. She roared off, leaving him to stand and stare in the middle of the road.
This was a very captivating, riveting scene, Aramok.
Susan's loyalty was very enjoyable to read, as well as George's haphazard escape from the restaurant. The detail you provide makes the scene extremely vivid and engaging, and your storytelling narrative grabs hold of the readers imagination with tenacious ferocity. Very well done, Aramok!
Personally I'm not usually one for onomatopoeia, but you used it rather well, and not too often, either. I'm rather impressed at the pace of the story as well, increasing when it needed to increase, but then slow when it needed to be slow. Very nice.
Terrific job, Aramok! Publishing potential indeed!
whoa! what's going to happen to George!
He's getting better. In fact, he wants to go for a walk . . .
This story draws on the Werewolf Book I've actually posted in the story section (somewhere), one of the basic items of my fantasy universe. The Book contains instructions for a very nasty "werewolf-making" ritual:
"'So Abaris did fasten a wolf's skin about the torn and bloodied corpse, and over the shattered head he affixed the brute's gaping jaws; then fitted he the fore-feet to the crushed hands and set the hind feet where once were legs.
"'And Abaris the Yperborean spoke the Words of Fusing, and called he upon Tira'Khessst, the Dragon of the Abyss, and Rarrbaash, the Great Chimera, and Wolluk-Tehv, the Lord of Wolves, and Behold! From the remnants of two dead Beings there rose One, alive and whole! One both beast and man, yet neither! A Duality! A Chimera! A Wer-wolf!'"
. . . Anyway, there's a cult/conspiracy out there that made George a lycanthrope as a test. Now he tries to find them out. And if he happens across psychopaths and serial killers along the way, he'll hunt them down too.
. . . Actually, it's not as grim as that sounds. I wrote this novel before I ever read a romance, then -- over the past 3 or 4 years -- I read dozens of romances -- and digging this up again, the story of Susan and George reminds me of all those romances I read. Before I ever read any.
So: a love story. And werewolves. And just a dab of evil cults, mass murder, and serial killers.
Why should George have all the fun?
The moon shone full, not the pale luminescence poetsd described but a great celestial beacon, summoning . . . calling. George sniffed the breeze. His senses were exceptional on such a night, even in human form. He smelled the brown ocean of dry wheat and the ruddy undercurrent of cows and cow pats. He smelled the moisture of the river, and the oil of cars and distant refineries.
He wore only a navy blue bathrobe. He sat cross-legged on the grass next to Susan, who was similarly robed. Richard Trent sat on a stump, fully clothed.
George looked over the words in the werewolf book with the aid of a pen-light. He shook his head.
"This is supposed to compel a werewolf to take animal form, but it shouldn't work on an ordinary human being," he argued one last time.
"Don't be so negative," warned Trent.
The writer rose and stepped over to George, who handed him the ring binder and the light. Susan took up a golden goblet -- Lord knew where Trent got it -- and drank its contents. Again George wrinkled his brow in worry, though Trent had promised this was a mild herbal concoction.
"Disrobe," said Trent, his voice unusually serious. "George, take Susan into your arms, your chest against her back."
Susan slid up into his grasp. The touch and scent of her hair and her skin aroused him. He rubbed his hands down her arms and interlocked his fingers with hers.
"Now, George -- Susan -- open your minds. Release yourselves. Let your skin and muscles and bones flow."
George had not realized it, but he had been tensing his whole body. Resisting the moon was like keeping your teeth clenched.
"Hail to Thee, Great Wolf! Hail to Thee, Wolluk-Tehv! Thou art the Lord of the Forest, the Hunter of the North, the Master of the Pack.
"Thou art the Prowler of the Wastelands, the Devourer of the Moon, the Slayer of Gods.
"O Wolluk-Tehv! Send the Gray Hunter's form to this, Thy son! O Wolluk-Tehv! Send the Gray Hunter's form to this, Thy daughter!"
The writer droned on. George felt the rippling beneath his skin, the shivery delight that heralded a willing Change.
This time, however, Susan gasped, and George felt her shudder against him. No, more than just shudder. She seemed to slide through his grasp, as though covered with oil -- but her skin was dry, and she did not move.
Trent chanted, his voice growing louder and more commanding:
"Give them Fur! Give them Claws! Give them Tails! Give them Paws!
"This I ask of Thee, Wolluk-Tehv, in the name of the Moon, and the Great Chimera, and the Spirits of the Wood.
"Change, change, change!"
George transformed as he had hundreds of times before. He scarcely noticed the twisting and popping of his body, however, for in his grasp, miracle of miracles, Susan changed as well.
He rolled away and pushed himself onto four feet. A wonderful scent clung to his chest. It was Susan's, yet it was not.
He focused on the creature next to him that rose unsteadily like a newborn pup. A she-wolf with dark-honey fur and blue-green eyes, eyes that were, for the moment, round and confused. He let his jaws open in a wolf-grin; her confusion would pass. He would help her learn the wolf's ways.
"Wow," whispered Richard Trent.
George padded up to the she-wolf and nuzzled her. She made gurgling sounds, as if trying to speak. She tried to walk, and she collapsed, like Bambi on ice.
Her eyes, wide and soulful at the base of her snout, met his. She, too, grinned.