The "Red Fang" story will continue next weekend as things start to get a little "hairy" for Nathan and Marisa. So stay safe and have fun everybody!
The "Red Fang" story will continue next weekend as things start to get a little "hairy" for Nathan and Marisa. So stay safe and have fun everybody!
After a five-hour drive to Columbus Ohio, and now coming to the end of a 12+ hour flight, I’ll be touching down in Fairbanks very shortly. Isabella tried getting Otto to come with me, but I pointed out that this was more of a solo trip. As knowledgeable and talented as Otto is, I’m the one who has more of a direct connection to the wolf. The recent dreams have proven this to me, and even this high up, I think I can feel the gap between me and the errant Sangui-Sapio shrinking. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I’ll know for sure once we touch down.
The flight crew are
asking us to shut down our electronics. I’ll take this up once I’m back on the
Three hours later…
Okay, so much for my
‘solo’ mission. Apparently, Isabella has been acting as the eyes and ears for
Lisa and Marisa without my knowledge. How did I find out? Well, coming off the
plane and finding Marisa at the gate holding up a sign that says,
“Congratulations on your sex change, Sis… er Bro!”, which included a photo of
me in my ‘Nadine’ persona, was a huge hint. You see, I’ve only ever let
Isabella take photos of me in that form, so I knew it had to have been her
I was tempted to walk in
the opposite direction, only I had this horrible image of Marisa running after
me yelling, “So? How’s the new plumbing working out?” I know how tenacious she
can be. So instead, I simply walked right up to her and said quietly, “Thanks
for going the sibling route, instead of something like, ‘Congratulations on the
sex change, Honey. When do I get to try out your new equipment?’.”
She laughed and said, “Ooo…
I’m saving that for next time.”
“Me and my big mouth,” I
murmured as we headed for the baggage area. “So, how did you land all the way
up here. I thought you were riding the rails with our Karneval Schatten friends?”
Karneval Schatten, as the
name implies, is a traveling carnival made up of people and beings from various
Para-Earths who at one point or another found themselves stranded in this world.
By traveling and presenting themselves as performers, they’re able to hide
their ‘strangeness’ from the folks of this world. And like Otto and me, they seek
out incursions from other Para-Earths and try to return any creatures/beings land
up here. If they cannot return the ‘visitor’ to their reality, they will add
them to their ranks if possible. However, in cases where the intruder is
hostile or more dangerous, they will contact me or Otto to help contain the being.
They travel by an unusual
train which can actually travel through various Para-Earths and reappear in this
world at a variety of select locations that act as beacons for them. Just don’t
ask me for the mechanics of how the train does it because I have no idea. Nor do
my carnival friends to be honest. They ‘borrowed’ it from another Para-Earth
traveler, who had been gathering and imprisoning them (and eventually me) for
purposes I’d rather not go into right now.
Damn, just thinking about
that day still makes me shudder. I swear if it hadn’t been for Brandon Elliott,
and his grandson Peter, God only knows what might have happened to us and this
The rest of my reverie
was interrupted by Marisa.
“Once I heard you were
coming here, I asked them to drop me off,” she explained, brushing a stray
blonde hair out of her face and back into the hood of her parka. “I was ready
to head home anyway and figured I could catch a lift back with you after we
find your… friend.”
I halted in mid-step and
frowned at her. “My sister sent you the article too?”
“No, I found it,” she laughed,
“Who do you think sent it to her the others in the first place?”
Eying her curiously I asked,
“So, you’ve been keeping an eye out for possible ‘incursions’?”
She nodded. “Incursions,
strange phenomenon, sightings… after all I need material for my children and
Young Adult ‘fantasy’ books don’t I?” Then she bumped me with her hip saying, “Unlike
some people, I don’t have over a century and a half of life experience to draw
“Touche’,” I conceded. “When
are you going to finally try releasing one of them?”
“I want to have a good number of them completed in case I hit a dry spell so I can keep releasing stories in a timely manner. That way the audience doesn’t wind up getting frustrated that it’s taking so long between books,” she replied as we started walking towards the baggage area again.
“Five, but I want eight
at least before I start publishing.”
“Eight?” I frowned as we
reached the baggage carousel. “Why so many?”
“That way I can safely put
out two per year with plenty of room for travel or…” she paused to snatch my
bag which had just appeared on the conveyor belt, “Life getting in the way for
a good four years.”
I had to admit she had a
point. I often wished I still had a few books set and ready to go some days.
But ever since I moved back to the family mansion, I’ve had a number of
distractions (which included her and Lisa) to deal with. And this ‘werewolf’ business
was only the latest.
As we made our way out
the doors of the terminal I could see how much snow had fallen recently. Marisa
must’ve noticed it too and promptly huddled closer to me as we walked through
the parking lot. Since she is almost as tall as me meant she could rest her head
on my shoulder, and promptly did so.
“You didn’t by chance
rent a car, did you?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I caught
a taxi and came right here. Besides, I wasn’t sure if we’d need a car, skis, or
a snowmobile.” Here she paused and looked at me, “Then again, we could just
rent a dogsled and tie you to the front. You’re so strong we wouldn’t need a full
“You just want an excuse
to get a leash on me,” I blurted and instantly regretted it.
“Well now that you’ve
brought it up…” she began.
“Uh-oh,” I muttered,
looking up. “It’s starting to snow again.”
Marisa frowned, “So? I
thought you loved the snow?”
“I do, but with it falling
that means no moon or Northern Lights to help us find my ‘friend’ as you call
him,” I explained and looked around. I blew out a breath. “I’ll have to reach out
mentally to try and get an idea…”
“FOUND HIM!” Marisa cut
in and pointed.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Otto raised one bushy eyebrow and asked, “Nathan, what did you do? Come clean, now.”
“I got hurt during a
hunt,” I replied distractedly, as I pulled up a new tab on the computer and
began searching for the nearest flight to Alaska. There was one leaving that
evening from Columbus, Ohio. I could easily make it if I started getting ready
right away. Booking a seat on the plane, I got up and began making for the door
only to find both Otto and Isabella blocking me.
“You do know I can easily
mist past the two of you,” I pointed out.
“Are you so sure?” asked
Otto, pulling out an oversized fireplace bellow. It took me a moment to realize
the bellow he was holding was the one I kept next to the fireplace. As usual, I
never heard or saw him grab it. He’s a sly one, let me tell you.
Knowing the clock was ticking for me to get to Ohio I told them, “Fine, follow me upstairs and I’ll explain while I pack.”
That got them to let me
pass, and the three of us headed upstairs. I told them all about my visit with
my friends in Fairbanks and how I’d headed for the Boreal Forest after leaving
As we reached my bedroom
Isabella headed straight for my closet and pulled out a couple of suitcases,
one of which was almost as big as her. Not that she had any trouble handling
it. Since I accidentally infected her my Sangui-Sapio (a story for another
day), she has the same strength, speed, and weaknesses I possess. And although
she has the body of a child, unlike me she has been growing at the normal rate
of any 12-year-old girl. Though I suspect, that like me, this will slow down
considerably once she reaches adulthood.
In the meantime, Otto
urged me to continue my tale and I complied.
Since they already know
about my tendency to ‘go native’ when I’m up in Alaska, I was able to gloss
over that part quickly. Finally, I got to the part about meeting up with the pack
of wolves, and how I’d won their confidence with my mist trick.
“Since the hours of night
are so long at that time of the year, I wound up staying with them almost a
week,” I explained. “Since we were making kills pretty regularly, there was
plenty of blood to keep me sated. Plus, it was pretty cloudy at the time, and we
were keeping under the tree canopy a lot, which made things even easier for me
to stay in wolf form.”
“Sounds like you were
having a lovely time,” Otto nodded pleasantly, as he sat on my smiling. “So,
when are we going to get to the ‘Oops’ part of your story?”
I stood there holding a
stack of underwear in my hands, and just stared at him. “What makes you think
there’s an ‘Oops’ part coming?”
“Because it’s clear from your
reaction to the article that you suspect you accidentally infected one of those
wolves with your Sangui-Sapio companion,” he answered calmly.
“Psychology?” I asked.
Otto shook his head. “No, I simply recognized that look you get whenever you’ve goofed something up,” he
teased, then his expression became serious. “So how did it happen? You’re
usually very careful about not ‘sharing’ your gifts.” His eyes darted to
Isabella ever-so-briefly before looking at me again.
As I mentioned before, infecting
my sister had been an accident. It had happened back in 1863, shortly after the
Sangui-Sapio and I had formed our bond. I hadn’t learned about the mistake
until decades later, mistaking her for a ghost at first.
“And how did he take it?”
“He wasn’t exactly
thrilled about me, but he knew I was effective in helping bring down prey so he
tolerated my presence. But during that last hunt, errors were made. He wanted us
to go after one of the younger bison. Unfortunately, I could tell already that the
herd was keeping a very good defensive ring around their young. No matter how
much the pack harried them, they wouldn’t break rank. That is, except for one
older bull who at that point was wide open.”
As usual Otto was already
ahead of me, saying, “Let me guess, our young alpha saw this as an opportunity
to firmly establish himself as leader. Am I correct?”
I nodded. “Oh yeah. Mind
you he was a good hunter, but I could see he was going to be seriously
“So, you jumped in to try
and help him?” my sister asked.
“You called your blood
back?” Isabella repeated with a frown.
“Whenever I bleed, either
me or Sangui-Sapio can call the blood I spilled back into me through the skin.
Unless something prevents it from reaching me, like being ingested for
instance,” I explained.
“Like the Cannibal Killer
you fought three years ago?” Isabella continued.
I nodded. That guy had lived
up to his name and had taken a bite out of me, along with a chunk of the
Sangui-Sapio. He’d been injured in our fight before he bit me. And since the
Sangui-Sapio’s first instinct is to preserve life, it went to work pretty
quickly on him, making the guy nearly as strong and hard to stop as me.
As if reading my thoughts
Otto spoke again. “If this is indeed the case with the wolf, why is the
creature taking a humanoid shape? From what you’ve told me in the past, the
Sangui-Sapio normally just adapts to its new host’s form. It only tries to shapeshift
the body briefly, in or to protect or help the new host. Otherwise, the host appears
to be normal. Yet, according to the article, the creature seems to have taken on
a humanoid shape and was having rough time of it. Now, why would a wolf do
Once more I thought back
to the dream. In it, I was having trouble keeping my wolf form. “I don’t know,”
I replied, finishing up my packing. “Which is why I have to get up there as
quickly as possible, before that poor creature accidentally winds up infecting
another animal or even a person.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Upon entering the study,
I saw that they were all gathered around the computer on the big desk where I
work on my novels. There are two computer monitors, which makes it easier for
me to do research on one while I work on my story on the other. At this point
though they had the story on only one screen and their heads were all in the
way, so I couldn’t see what they were looking at.
As I strained to look
over their heads, Penny suddenly said, “You’re up early, Nathan.”
I did a doubletake. She
hadn’t even turned around to look at me. And I know I didn’t cast a reflection
on either monitor. I swear the woman has developed some kind of “Mom Radar”
ever since she gave birth to her son Richie Jr. four years ago.
Then again it may just be
a survival tactic she developed growing up in Detroit. She doesn’t like to talk
about her childhood. But one time she did tell me you needed to have eyes all
over your head to survive not only the neighborhood, but the apartment building
you lived in too.
Before I could respond to
Penny’s observation Isabella spoke up again. “Lisa’s visiting some museums over
in Charleston for one the college classes she’s taking, and Marisa’s travelling
with our carnival friends. He doesn’t have any reason to be tired enough to stay
At that point Otto looked
at me and waggled his bushy eyebrows at me saying, “You poor boy.”
“An American Werewolf in Alaska?” I read aloud incredulously.
“I know,” cried Penny turning to me. “Alaska has been part of the United States for decades, so of course any werewolf that turns up there is going to be American."
“I would have gone with
‘Red Fang’ myself,” added Otto.
I stared blankly at him for a moment, which earned me an eyeroll from my oldest friend.
“What?” I cried,
wondering what I’d done this time.
Richard came to my aid.
“He’s making a joke off of the title ‘White Fang’. You know, the novel by Jack
London that takes place in Alaska?”
“Never mind, Richard,”
Otto told him, “Apparently, he doesn’t read modern books.”
“Modern!” I exclaimed,
“That was written in 1906. If that’s modern, what do you consider ‘classic’?”
“The Dead Sea Scrolls,
anything you were able to check out of the Library of Alexandria…,” I supplied
“I wish,” he sighed.
Laughing I excused myself and went to get some coffee. Otto is way older than me, yet in spite of our being friends for the last 120+ years, I still don't know exactly how old he really is. Oh, he claims he's given me plenty of hints over time (which I know he has), it's just... I have a problem with numbers. It's called Dyscalculia, which is a kind of dyslexia only with numbers instead of letters, which throws my calculations off whenever I'm doing math. I barely passed my classes at the universities, which made me kind of blase when it comes to doing casual math problems, outside of research or for a class.
Heading back to the study, I found only Otto and Isabella were still there. “Where’d Penny and Richard go?” I asked.
“To wake Little Richie up
from his afternoon nap,” Isabella answered, then turned back to Otto asking, “If
the creature is real, do you think it might be another Para-Earth incursion?”
“It’s possible, but none
of my calculations predicted an opening taking place in that area recently,” he
This piqued my curiosity and I slid into one of the chairs vacated by Penny and Richard, in order to check out the article. There were a few photos, but since they were taken at night, so the lighting was not great.
Heck, I’ve seen photos of Bigfoot (which never do him justice, FYI) that were more recognizable. And that includes the fuzzy grainy shots like this one.
Turning to my
old friend I asked, “Otto? What did you mean when you said you’d have called this
article ‘Red Fang’?”
“Well, if you read the article, you'll find out,” he replied curiously.
Obediently, I did as he instructed. The description of the creature varied somewhat from witness to witness. However, they all agreed it looked humanoid with tufts of hair on its back and misshapen limbs. According to those who got a better look at it, one or more of the creature’s limbs was longer than the rest, which made it hard for the thing to get around. Perhaps that was why it seemed to vary running on two limbs and then all four. However it was only towards the end of the article that two people described the creature’s coloring not as reddish, but red. Almost blood red, to be specific. Looking back to the title of the article, I saw that the encounter had taken place on the outskirts of Fairbanks.
I suddenly found myself
thinking back to the dream, and now an uneasy feeling was sweeping over me.
As if knowing my
thoughts, Otto observed casually, “Of course, the creature could have made a kill and was simply covered in the
blood of its victim.”
I shook my head. A century and a half on
this, and a number of Para-Earths, has taught me that if something
seems ‘sus’, then it probably is.
Just then Isabella said, “The article said this wasn't the first sighting of the creature. There have been reports of a red wolf type of creature being spotted as far back as April. You were in Alaska back in January? Did you see the creature while you were there?”
At that moment I
remembered a particular incident that had happened during my visit. “I think, I
might have…” I replied.
TO BE CONTINUED...
I’ll sometimes wake up to find my little sister Isabella curled up next to me. She has her own room and bed of course. When mom and dad were still alive (back in the 1860s) she used to sleep with them on cold nights or when she was feeling poorly (which was fairly often after her bout with Scarlet Fever) in their room, which is now mine. And of course, since we’re the only actual family each other has these days, I don’t mind having her with me on those nights when she’s missing them. I can’t blame her. Even after one hundred and sixty years wandering this Earth, I still miss them myself. So having her share my bed once in a while can be a great comfort for both of us.
Anyway, from the looks of my sheets and blankets, it’s a good thing she hadn't joined me. Oh, they weren’t torn or anything, they were just all over the place, as if I’d had a very restless sleep. Mind you, I felt well rested. Which is surprising since I did have some rather active dreams. I was back in Alaska, out on the tundra with the stars and the northern lights above, and a pack of wolves all around me.
This is nothing unusual.
Whenever I go up there, I usually head for the woods and take one of my animal
forms and roam the land. It’s one of the few times I can just let loose with my
powers and experience nature in ways no human being can really appreciate. I
enjoy the enhanced senses of my nature forms and experiencing the world as they
And one of those forms I
take is that of a wolf. Whenever I take this form, I like to seek out a pack to
run with. When I find one, I’ll use of the greenish mist I can exude and allow
them to ‘breathe me in’ so to speak. Once they do, I have access to their minds
to a degree and can ease any misgivings they have of my presence and can even get
them to let me join them for a few nights. We’ll huddle together, roam, and
Now, in addition to
giving me my vampire-like abilities and needs, it also gave me incredible recall of all
the things I’ve ever experienced in my life. People, places, events, you name
it. I have perfect recall of all of it. Even little things I glimpsed
ever-so-briefly, or heard in passing, I can remember as clear as day. But I don’t
just have access to my own memories, I also have access to the Sangui-Sapio’s memories
which includes those of the other creatures it had fused with before we met.
While this might sound as
if my head should be pretty crowded, or that I might have a hard time holding
onto my identity with all those memories, I don’t. I’m the most complex being
the Sangui-Sapio has ever bonded with before, and I have such a sense of self
that it isn’t a problem. Furthermore, my other half makes sure it doesn’t let
itself or those other memories try to ‘take over’. Our relationship is very equitable.
However, I do sometimes get cravings to
explore my… I guess you would call it, more primal side. Which is part of the
reason why I head to places like Alaska, Norway, the Black Forest of Germany or
any other place remote with woods and open spaces.
Last night I dreamed
about being on a hunt with a pack of wolves I met earlier this year. I’d spent
New Year’s Eve up in Fairbanks Alaska to welcome the new year with some old
friends. On New Year’s Day I bid them goodbye and headed into the Boreal Forest
where I could cut loose a bit. As I hoped, I eventually encountered a pack of
wolves. After the usual sizing each other up and exuding my mist, we became quite
close and I wound up spending an entire week with them. I was almost sorry to
leave. Maybe that’s why I dreamed about them.
Anyway, in my dream we
were on the hunt once more, but for some reason there was a nervous tension in
the pack. And as much I hate to say it, this feeling seemed to be directed at
me. There was no outright hostility, but I was noticing how some of the pack
kept eyeing me or moving slightly away as we ran. Sadly, I couldn’t blame them.
Even I could tell something was off about me, but before I could really figure
out what it was, the scene changed. I found myself alone and on the outskirts
of a town and being shot at by some of the townsfolk. I was still in wolf form
at the time, which in and of itself was weird because I never go where there’s
people when I’m shapeshifted. Yet it felt like I was having trouble keeping my
form. I could feel my limbs stretching at times, throwing my balance off as I
I kept calling out to the
pack as I ran. I could sense they were nearby, yet none of them answered. Eventually,
I finally spotted them way off in the distance, but I could tell they were not
happy to see me. They weren’t exactly hostile, but they weren’t welcoming
either. If anything, they seemed frightened and confused… then I woke up.
It’s weird. I’ve dreamt
of the pack a few times in the last couple of months, which is something I’ve
never done before.
With that thought in
mind, I headed down the stairs with a little bounce in my step.
TO BE CONTINUED...