Episode 1: History Repeats
By Bernard Doove © 2009
Kayde was soaking wet, chilled to the bone, and absolutely pissed-off with himself. As he stumbled along what he hoped was a path that was lit only by the frequent lightning, trying to keep warm by exertion despite the rain, he kept up a loud tirade.
"Be careful, they said. The area is subject to sudden violent storms, they said. But did I listen? No! I was far too clever. I knew what I was doing. I was prepared. So what are you doing walking around in the cold rain, Kayde? Whereís all your equipment, Kayde? Whereís your bloody jacket, Kayde? Tree fell on it? What were you doing out there in a storm? Werenít you warned? Be careful, they saidÖ."
And so the rant continued in its circular fashion until Kayde stubbed his toes hard against some unseen object and he howled in pain that was greatly accentuated by the cold. He rubbed his foot to try to alleviate it before continuing his trudge, albeit without the ranting.
He was lost, without so much as a compass after the tree, split by an ear-shatteringly loud lightning bolt, had fallen on his tent and the contents carefully stowed within. If not for a call of nature, that would have been his fate also. Right now though, he wasnít feeling so lucky. His attempts to salvage anything had proven fruitless. A sleeve of his sorely-missed jacket had been tantalisingly sticking out from under the splintered tree trunk, but it had been well and truly trapped, along with the cell-comm in its pocket. The GPS function would have been really useful right then, if the comm had even survived the impact. So he had no idea where he was, nor any way of calling for help. His only plan was to head in a general downhill direction in the hopes of eventually finding a road that would lead to the township in the valley whence heíd started his hike.
The rain finally let up, but so did the lightning that was his sole source of illumination. In the pitch-black night, all he could do was huddle in a semi-sheltered area, shivering, waiting for sunrise. A miserable eternity passed until the dark was replaced by the false dawn, and he could continue.
The sun had been up for about an hour when Kayde heard the sound of gunfire. It was deer-hunting season, so Kayde wasnít alarmed. In fact he realised that the hunters would be able to guide him to safety, so he turned in the direction of the sound.
The shots were infrequent, but enough for him to track the hunters down. He soon spotted one of the high-vis hunting jackets and headed for the man. Realising that he lacked his own safety gear, Kayde made sure that the hunter would clearly see and hear him as he stepped out into the open. Waving both his hands, he called out, "Hello! Am I ever glad to see you!"
The hunter saw Kayde and his eyes flew open in shock. The man lifted his rifle hastily and, before Kayde could realise his intention, pulled the trigger. The sound assaulted his ears even as his shoulder was slammed by the force of the impact. Staggering, he put his hand to his chest and felt the renewed wetness. He pulled it back to see the blood liberally coating it. He looked at the hunter and gasped, "Why?" before he collapsed and lost consciousness.
The hunterís friend had been nearby and had glimpsed Kayde as he had come out of concealment and bore down on his friend. He saw the shooting and hastened over.
"Damn! Are you okay, Mike? What is that? A giant wolf?"
Mike was looking at Kayde in puzzlement. "Zach, tell me what kind of wolf wears shorts?"
The two carefully examined the unconscious creature in front of them. The head shape and fur pattern were unmistakably a wolfís, but despite the digitigrade legs, this was obviously a biped. And then there were the incongruous khaki shorts that had a flap over the tail. This was no wild animal, but the two humans were at a loss to explain what else it could be.
"Do you reckon it might be a werewolf?" Zach asked.
Mike didnít believe in werewolves, but he was hard-pressed to think of a rebuttal. "I dunno, but Iím going to take it into town. If itís something important, we might get a reward for it. And even if it isnít, we could get a few bucks from the news people."
"Did you kill it? Be better if itís alive," Zach commented.
Mike pushed Kayde over. "Nope, itís not dead. I didnít exactly have time to aim well when it came out making strange noises and looking like it wanted to grab me. Maybe we should take it to a vet first."
Zach agreed, and the two lifted the unconscious wolf creature and carried him back to their pick-up truck. Carefully placing their potential money-earner in the bed of the truck, they covered him with a tarpaulin and headed off to the nearest township.
Cleverly positioned in the lee of a rugged rocky outcrop devoid of trees, a sturdy tent owned by two enthusiastic storm-watchers was just showing the first signs of activity. The vixen stretched languorously, then propped herself up on one elbow to admire her companion sharing the two-person sleeping bag. After all the months that they had been life-mated, Jazmyn still got a thrill out of waking up next to the human with whom she had fallen in love. Life had been pretty idyllic since their Christmas Day bonding, but Jazmynís circle of acquaintances was still limited to just three other adults and two children, and that reduced the opportunities for the couple to enjoy recreation. Both liked hiking though, and they couldnít get enough of storm-watching, so when the opportunity to combine the two activities came up, Ken had suggested that they take advantage of it.
They had hiked to a location near the summit of the local mountain that they had previously identified as not only a good vantage point for viewing the spectacle, but also relatively safe. The fact that it wasnít perfectly safe only added a tinge of excitement to the activity. They had their tent pitched well before the predicted storm. That had given them time to cook a meal, clean up, then settle into the tent just as the first raindrops fell. The anticipated lightning display didnít disappoint, and they had watched rapturously, arms around each other, delighting in sharing the experience. Then the mood had changed to playful, and soon the couple had started to make love to the accompaniment of the light and sound display. It had been a heavenly night.
Their late-night exertions had caused them to sleep well into the following morning. As much as Jazmyn liked just watching her lover, she realised that it was time to get stirring. She extended her long tongue to lick her nose-pad, then carefully pushed her muzzle into Kenís ear.
"Yee-ike!" Ken yelped, sitting up and rubbing the offended organ. "I wish youíd stop waking me like that, Jaz!"
Jazmyn just giggled, and Ken once again realised that his protestations were going to be totally ignored.
Ken looked at his watch. "Eep! Weíve overslept."
Jazmyn extricated herself from the sleeping bag, clad as usual in only her fur. As she pushed aside the tent flaps, she asked, "Whatís the rush? Itís Sunday after all." She crawled out of the tent and stood up to let the sunlight bathe her nude form.
Ken watched her from the warmth of the sleeping bag, admiring how her fur made a halo of warm light around her. His eyes drank in her beauty, and other parts of him had more base responses. "You have a point, and so will I if you keep that up."
Jazmyn laughed. "Sorry. Iíll start making breakfast. You drag your horny carcass out of there."
Ken grumbled but complied. He too was nude, but there was no way that he was going out into the cold morning air unclothed. He located his underwear, shirt, jeans and jacket, dressing himself awkwardly within the confines of the tent. When he finally emerged, he saw that Jazmyn had started a fire and gotten dressed also. However, the latter consisted only of pulling on her hiking shorts. She still eschewed wearing any other clothing except when friends were visiting. Of course, she had her fur to keep her warm, while Ken had no such protection. Ken had to admit though that he enjoyed feasting his eyes on his topless mate, and Jazmyn equally enjoyed his admiring gaze.
They enjoyed a large breakfast to fuel them for their hike home. The summit trail was one of the longest that they could undertake in the area, and it would take them several hours to get home. After their meal, they packed quickly and efficiently, and headed off at a leisurely pace. As always, Ken took the lead with Jazmyn several paces behind. They did this just in case they encountered hikers coming from the opposite direction, and Ken could give a warning to Jazmyn and perhaps employ delaying tactics while she concealed herself. They had to do this only twice, although it could easily have been many more considering that it was the weekend and the weather was glorious after the storm.
They arrived back at their cabin moderately tired but pleased with the success of their trip. They stowed the camping gear in the storage shed, then went inside to shower and relax. Jazmyn pottered around in her garden for a while as Ken read a novel. When sunset approached, neither felt inclined to cook, so they heated up some frozen pizzas. As was their wont, they settled down on the sofa to watch the evening news as they ate. Nothing particularly interesting happened until the local news began.
"Ö and in todayís odd spot, instead of venison, two deer hunters came back with what they claim is proof of the existence of werewolves. Shot in self-defence, a large wolf-like creature is currently being held on the premises of the Greenthorn veterinary clinic. The hunters, Michael Olmstead and Zachary Peterson, claim to have encountered the creature in the Spirit Creek Forest. Amateur video shows a man-sized two-legged animal that the veterinary surgeon is quoted as saying, Ďdefinitely not humaní. Authorities are investigating what is more likely to be an elaborate prank leading up to Halloween." A short video clip played as the commentator spoke.
Jazmynís jaw dropped in shock, and a shiver ran down Kenís spine. He said, "Jaz, is that what I think it could be?"
Jazmyn nodded. "The video is poor, but Iím virtually certain that thatís a lupeen. They havenít got a werewolf; theyíve somehow found a wolf morph Companion."
"The stormÖ." Ken didnít need to finish the statement.
"Yes, itís happened again," Jazmyn agreed. "Only this person wasnít as fortunate as I was."
They had both long speculated on what Jazmynís fate might have been if Ken had not been the one to encounter her first. They realised that they might be about to find out.
Ken asked, "What should we do about this?"
"Help him, of course. He canít even speak the language here; how is he going to be able to convince people that heís not a werewolf?"
"Help him? How are we going to be able to do that without giving up our secret? You could end up in the same trouble."
"Are you telling me that youíre just going to leave that poor lupeen to his fate?" Jazmyn asked with a frown.
"To protect you? Yes I would!" Ken said with certainty.
"Well thatís not good enough for me," Jazmyn replied irritably.
"We donít even know what they are doing with him. Heck, he might even die from being shot."
"You saw the video Ė heís bandaged but alive."
"They might treat him wellÖ"
"You didnít think that when you considered my safety!" Jazmyn interrupted.
Ken shrugged helplessly. "Well, what do you want me to do then? Walk in and ask to talk to him? Or maybe tell them that heís from my wifeís old neighbourhood and she wants to catch up on the news?"
"Not exactly," Jazmyn said with a thoughtful look on her face.
Doctor Bethany Carter (DVM) had never had to deal with anything quite like this patient. She was just a small town vet used to treating cats, dogs, rabbits, pet rats, and various birds. Occasionally she would get something a bit more exotic to make life interesting, or a farm animal. However she had never gotten something like this dumped into her lap before, and she did not appreciate the turmoil that it was causing her normally peaceful practice. Nevertheless, he was a fascinating creature, and he was definitely male underneath those shorts that he was wearing. She had not needed to remove them, and since they were obviously made to suit him, she had opted to leave them in place except for the thorough examination that she had given him after patching up the bullet wound. He had a puzzling mixture of traits. Many were obviously from a wolf such as facial structure, although the dentition was modified to enable a more omnivorous diet, and the cranium was significantly larger. However, no wolf had ever been born that was made for walking on two legs and had a humanoid body structure, not to mention true hands, albeit fur-covered ones. The hunters had called him a werewolf, but she was too much of a scientist to believe that. On the other hand, she didn't have a better name for him, other than perhaps a lycanthrope, which was basically a fancier scientific way of saying the same thing, but at least that sat more comfortably with her.
Bethany sighed. She found the patient incredibly intriguing, and she intended to do some further research on him, but she didn't have the time to spend right now over just one patient, even one as fascinating as this one. She left the sedated wolf-creature and went back to the usual sick puppies and kitties that were still waiting for her. She was just finishing giving shots to a German Shepherd when the receptionist buzzed her.
"Doctor, I have a man here who wants to talk to the wolf creature."
"I told you to send all those nutcases away, Sally," Bethany said irritably.
"This one told me to tell you that he has answers for you, and a way that you could talk to the wolf too. I know this sounds odd, but I get the impression that heís on the level."
Sally had been Bethanyís receptionist and assistant for many years. She was reliable and competent, and not subject to fits of fantasy. So if she was convinced enough to pass this on to her, there might be actually something to it. "Okay, Iíll see him just as soon as Iím done with this dog."
When Bethany came out to the waiting area of her surgery, there were several people waiting with their pets, plus one Asian-looking man without one.
Sally said to her, "Doctor, this is Ken Morita. Heís here about the wolf."
Bethany nodded and spoke to Ken. "Mr Morita, I hope youíre not going to waste my time. Iíve already had to call the sheriff once to eject unwanted tabloid journalists and other nut-jobs, and Iíll be happy to do the same for you."
Ken gave her his most reassuring grin. "I donít blame you, Doctor, but Iím hoping that I will not only convince you and answer your questions, but also help the wolf-person in your care."
ĎHe called the lycanthrope a person,í she mused. ĎThatís different at least. Maybe he does know something after all.í "Alright, Mr Morita, Iíll give you your chance. You have a few minutes of my time. Follow me."
She ushered him into her surgery, then out the back door to the pens for the larger animals. Laying on an old blanket in one of the pens was the lupeen. Anyone who had a chance to look at him carefully would have seen that this was no ordinary wolf. In fact, although he had no human-like hair, his fur was a bit shaggy, and his feet were large digitigrade paws, he had a far more distinctly human shape to him than animal. The hunter who had shot him must have been badly startled, which wasn't too surprising. Nobody on this Earth knew anything of anthropomorphic people like him, except perhaps for a small group of people who called themselves 'furries' that Ken had come across when trying to learn about Jazmyn. He looked over the lupeen carefully, but other than a heavily bandaged shoulder, he looked okay, much to Ken's relief. "What are his injuries?" he asked.
"The bullet got him just below the shoulder blade and grazed his ribcage. Luckily it was a light caliber bullet, otherwise the injuries would have been a lot more severe. He lost a lot of blood, but nothing major was hit, so I think heíll be fine given time to recover." Bethany crossed her arms and said, "Now, your turn Ė start explaining!"
"Iím almost certain that this is a lupeen that you have here," Ken said.
"Lupeen? Sounds like a word derived from the Latin word for wolf, which doesnít exactly prove anything. Youíll have to do a lot better than that," Bethany replied impatiently.
"Has he regained consciousness at all? Much of my explanation involves being able to talk with him."
"Youíre saying that this creature can talk like us?"
"If heís a lupeen, yes," confirmed Ken.
"Then I could simply ask myself, couldnít I?" Bethany pointed out.
"You could, if you spoke the same language."
"And you do, I suppose?" she said sceptically.
"Only a few words, but I have a translator handy."
"Hmmph! Well, heís been sedated, and he hasnít been conscious since he arrived here yesterday."
"How long before he wakes up then?"
"Frankly, I donít know. Heís not any species in my database, so I erred strongly on the side of caution when dosing him. He could wake anytime from now until this evening."
"Damn. Iíd hoped to clear this up before any other people started poking their noses into the situation," Ken said with a frown.
Bethany looked at him closely. "You seem to be knowing an awful lot, but not telling much, mister. Suppose you tell me what you do know, and weíll both wait for him to wake for the rest."
Ken knew that he was cornered. If he backed out now, it was unlikely that heíd be given another chance. He sighed. "Okay, but bear in mind that it still depends on confirming that he is a lupeen, and not something just resembling one."
Bethany waved her hand impatiently. "I concede that point. Get on with it!"
"I hope that youíre open-minded, because what I am going to tell you is going to sound fantastic. However, I can prove it if necessary."
"Iím listening," she said in a tone that implied that she wouldnít be for much longer if he didnít start explaining.
"A lupeen is one of many different species of genetically engineered life forms that are bred as unique companions for humans. The species and traits are selected especially to suit the humanís needs and/or desires. They are not pets though. They are sentient and free individuals with the same rights as humans."
Bethany stared at Ken, then said, "Bullshit! Genetic engineering is barely in its infancy. Thatís nothing but a cheap science-fiction story. Iím more likely to believe in werewolves than that lame claptrap. And even if they had something like this, we all would have heard about it by now."
"You havenít because they donít belong to this universe," Ken hastily explained. "They belong to an entirely different Earth where their genetic sciences are centuries ahead of ours."
Bethany rubbed her forehead in an effort to stave off an incipient headache. "Listen Mr Morita, if I didnít have this living anomaly right here in front of me, Iíd be kicking you out of here right now. That stretches my credulity to the breaking point. How could you possibly know this, even if it was true?"
"Because heís not the first one that Iíve encountered. Another came through to our universe about a year and a half ago."
"Another of theseÖ lupeen?"
"No, a vulpeen Ė what we would call a fox-woman. She has been living in concealment ever since arriving here." Ken really hadnít wanted to mention Jazmynís existence, but his life-mate had been insistent that he do everything possible to assist the lupeen, even if it meant exposing her. Ken still struggled to compromise, fearing for Jazmynís safety.
"Is that the translator that you say you have handy?" Bethany asked shrewdly.
Ken nodded. "Yes. She has a talent for languages and she learned English in just a few days. It really amazed me, I tell you."
"Could I meet this fox-woman that you claim to have hidden?" If Ken was bluffing, she was determined to call him on it.
"If itís really necessary, yes, although weíd both prefer anonymity. If you have any imagination, you could easily speculate on the many things that could happen to her if the public ever found out about her. Weíre trying to save this lupeen from that fate now."
"Thatís going to be a bit hard considering that both television and newspapers have already reported about him."
"Yeah," agreed Ken, "but so far theyíre all treating it as an elaborate hoax. Weíre hoping that we can convince them that theyíre right and get him to safety."
"Youíre forgetting the hunters who found him. Theyíre seeing a money-earner in him. They brought him in to me, and Iíll have to release him to them when they return."
"Doctor, Iíve already told you that he isnít a pet, nor is he a slave. Where he comes from, he has full equal rights with humans. You therefore have no right to give him to them. They have no right to imprison him. In fact, if this was the lupeenís Earth, those hunters would probably be up on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, or whatever the law is over there."
"Mr Morita, if even half of what youíve told me is true, youíve put me in quite a predicament. If I refuse to hand over this wolf-man, theyíre going to come back with the law and force me to do so."
Ken was momentarily at a loss to suggest anything. As much as he wanted to help the lupeen, he didnít want to cause trouble for the vet either.
Just then a groan came from the lupeenís cage.
Kayde knew that he was still alive because any hypothetical afterlife couldnít possibly hurt so much. Then he became aware of a multitude of scents Ė cats and dogs mostly, but not feleen or caneen. Why hadnít they taken him to a hospital? Why did that man shoot him at all? His thoughts were disrupted by what sounded like a conversation, only in strange nonsense words. He struggled to open his eyes but discovered that he was facing the wrong direction. He then tried to get up to turn around, only to have pain flare up in his shoulder. He groaned. The voices suddenly got excited. He tried again, this time favouring the abused shoulder. This time he succeeded, and he managed to get into a sitting position facing the voices. He was in a pen of some kind, and two humans were standing outside the gate observing him. He noted that the gate was locked, and he seemed to be confined like a dog in a kennel. He looked at his shoulder and saw the professional bandaging job. No, not a kennel, a veterinary clinic. Why was he being treated like an animal instead of being put into the morph ward of the hospital?
He opened his muzzle to speak, but his mouth was exceedingly dry. His voice was a raspy croak when he asked, "Where am I? Who are you people? Why am I being treated like this?"
The female seemed excited and she said something incomprehensible to the male. He replied with similar nonsense words as he shook his head. Then he faced Kayde and asked with an atrocious accent, "Are you a lupeen?"
Kayde replied, "Of course Iím a lupeen. What else do you think I could be?"
The man shook his head in confusion. Again he asked, "Are you a lupeen. Yes? No?"
"Yes, dammit!" Kayde said angrily, then regretted it as his head swam dizzily. ĎTake it easy, Kayde,í he thought to himself. ĎYou probably lost a lot of blood.í
The male seemed happy with Kaydeís answer though. Kayde watched him as he pulled out a cell-comm and dialled a number. He spoke excitedly to someone, then switched to speaker mode. A femaleís voice came from the cell-comm.
"Hello, lupeen. What is your name, please?"
"My name is Kayde. Who are you? Where the hell am I?"
"I am a vulpeen named Jazmyn, and I am sorry to tell you that you are in big trouble. To put it bluntly, you are no longer in the same universe. This is not the world you knew. Here there are no morph Companions, history is different, and no one speaks our language. The man who shot you probably thought that you were a wild animal attacking him."
"You have to be pranking me," Kayde replied. "Do you honestly expect me to believe that Iíve just suddenly popped into another universe? Let me out of here! Iím going to the peace-keepers about this!"
Jazmynís words switched to the strange babble that the humans had been using. She appeared to be relaying what he had just said. They had a brief discussion before attention turned back to him.
"Itís imperative that you understand your true situation," Jazmyn continued. "You must believe what I am telling you. A year and a half ago, the same thing happened to me. During an electrical storm, I was running through the forest in the same general area where you were found. We speculate that there seems to be some natural phenomenon that causes a rift between universes during lightning activity and, like me, you moved through it. Kayde, they think that youíre either an elaborate hoax or a monster out of their fantasies. Either way, you are likely to end up in a situation that you will very much not like. Iím not here in person because Iíve been in hiding ever since I arrived here. By good fortune, I met a human that wanted to help me rather than either attack me or use me in some way. You did not have the same good fortune."
The vulpeen seemed terribly earnest, and it did explain why the hunter had reacted so fearfully at the sight of a common lupeen. His doubts were wavering. "Can you show me more proof?" he asked.
Jazmyn relayed this to the others. The female seemed upset, but the male was insistent. She unlocked the door and he came inside. Putting his arm under Kaydeís good shoulder, he carefully helped him to his feet. Kayde was dizzy again for a moment before settling down. They slowly exited the pen as the male gabbled something at him.
The vulpeen spoke again. "He says that his name is Ken, and heís here to help you as much as he can. Theyíre going to show you some things in the doctorís office."
They carefully made their way into one of the surgeries where he was given a chair to sit down on. He gratefully sank onto it, exhausted by the short trip. The female left, but quickly returned with a pile of magazines that she handed to Kayde. Obviously they wanted him to look through them, so he did. The text was in some unknown language, which proved very little to Kayde because there were other languages used in his world, but there was also a plethora of photos of humans in them. However, there was not a single morph to be seen, even in crowd scenes. As he looked through the magazines in growing shock, the woman brought in a portable televiewer. She turned it onto and cruised through the channels. Again the language was completely unfamiliar, and there was not a single morph anywhere.
"Enough!" he growled abruptly. "Youíve convinced me. What now?"
Jazmyn said, "He believes us now, Ken."
"Thanks, Jaz." Ken looked at Bethany. "Well, Doctor, how about you? What are you going to do?"
Bethany was wondering exactly the same thing.
To be continued in Episode 2.
All characters and this story are copyright © 2009 Bernard Doove.
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