This blog is a compilation of short works of fiction by Allan and Helen Krummenacker, authors of the Para-Earth Book Series. The stories contained here take place before our novel "The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home", with the idea of introducing you to some of the characters who appear in that book and the upcoming anthology "The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time" coming this November. So please, sit back and enjoy more glimpses into Nathan's (our vampyre) and his friends' lives.
Author’s note: Due to health issues I didn’t have time to prepare a good Halloween tale, so I’ll be re-running one of our more ‘scary’ tales. Please enjoy…
****WARNING THIS STORY MAY BE TOO INTENSE FOR SOME READERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF RAPE, VIOLENCE, OR LOST SOMEONE TO A VIOLENT ACT. PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU THINK THIS STORY MAY CAUSE YOU UNDO MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL ANGUISH.****
Dear Uncle Nate,
I know it’s just been a month or two since you were last out this way, but bad things have been happening. REALLY bad things. Right now we’ve got the townspeople, the Mayor, hell even the Governor clamoring for an arrest and so far we’ve been coming up empty.
We almost got him last night but his ‘victim’ had to come first. It was my partner, Terri McCloud. You’ll remember her of course. She had dinner with us that one night. But even if she wasn’t my partner, I’d have still put her first. She’s one of us and you watch out for your own, especially when they wear the same uniform as you. You told me that a long time ago. I was too young to fully understand what you’d meant back then, but when I enlisted in the army, your words came flooding back and I finally got it.
Of course, I’m not in the army now, but I still wear a uniform and so do my fellow deputies, like Terri. And right now we’re up against something, or someone, who seems almost inhuman. How else can you describe a rapist who also eats parts of his victims? You don’t expect someone like that to show up in small town like this. Not to say we don’t have our share of death, violence, drugs, etc. We may not be the big city, but we have a lot of the same problems. But a maniac like this? No! Nobody is ready for a serial killer to show up. And this one is smart, which makes him even more dangerous.
According to a profiling expert who came in to advise us, killers like this one don’t announce their arrival, not right away. Oh no. They’re subtle at first. An attempted mugging or a sexual assault, then they possibly lay low for a while to see what happens. Did they leave any evidence behind? How good a job of keeping their face hidden from the victim? Then he’d wait and see what far we’d take to find him… sort of scoping out how overstretched we were, that kind of thing.
Based on that idea, I’m starting to suspect he’s had military training and have mentioned this several times to our boss. He wasn’t so sure about that theory at first, but after the fourth attack he started coming round to my way of thinking and so have the others. Problem is, we still don’t have much to go on.
To make matters worse, he knew who his target was last night. He KNEW Terri was a deputy gone undercover. How do I know? She told us while they were rushing her to the Emergency Room! She’d suffered massive blood loss from multiple stab wounds. She never got a look at his face, but heard him muttering about “her being out of uniform after dark…” during the attack, but that’s all we got. She’s been unconscious since they brought her out and we’ve got men on the door to her room. They’re checking EVERYONE who comes in to make sure they’re hospital staff. Hell, they even stopped and searched a priest who claimed to be from her brother… which he was.
Right now she’s the only victim to survive, and I’m worried we might not be enough to keep her, or anyone else, safe. That’s why I’m e-mailing you Uncle Nate. You’re the only one I know who can probably help take this guy down. Everybody here has been doing their best to try and catch him, but he keeps getting past us and as I said he never leaves any evidence behind.
I know I’m breaking all the rules asking you to come in and help, and I haven’t told my superiors or even my partner about you. But I don’t want to see anyone else wind up like Terri or the others. Please let me know what you decide as soon as possible.
Back when we’d been in Europe, he’d promised to take me to some places that had vintage clothing and today he did just that. It was a raining today, so we didn’t have to worry about the sun bothering him as we drove around. At the first place we stopped I found this really nice-looking old bustle skirt in black that fit just perfect. Unfortunately, it was a little out of my price range, but not Nathan’s. He bought it for me.
“It looked perfect on you,” he explained. “And I would know, I spent a lot of time looking at women from the front, from behind, all around in fact.”
I gently slugged him on the arm for that one and called him a pervert to which he replied, “Excuse me, I did work in theater for a coupled of decades doing a lot of different jobs, including helping with people’s outfits. I had to make sure they looked right before they went on stage.”
“Sure, you did,” I teased back.
“Right, that does it,” he announced and took me to a theater that was running a burlesque show.
Now before anyone freaks out, the show wasn’t going to be on until later. So the only people there were a couple of the girls who were rehearsing and the troupe’s leader, a woman named Olivia. Much to my surprise when she spotted Nathan her face lit up and she came running over to give him a big hug crying, “Uncle Nate! Oh, how I’ve missed you. Hey, everyone Nate’s here!”
I swear one of these days I’m going to find out exactly how many people are part of his ‘extended family’ besides mine. Back in Europe there were quite a few, but now I’m beginning to think that the the actual numbers are much larger.
In this case it made sense. Apparently a number of friends and cousins were in charge of this burlesque troupe. I don’t think all of them know his real secret as a couple of the people mentioned how unusual it was to see him in the day. “You usually only come around at night when we have a show going,” one mentioned.
Uncle Nate merely waggled his eyebrows and said, “Well, you have to admit the sites around here are much more interesting at night.”
While everyone burst out laughing, I was given the grand tour backstage while Nathan was giving people a hand here and there with the backstage equipment and event he costumes. Apparently he was telling the truth as several of the girls asked for his opinion and help with some of their outfits. I think a few were trying to flirt, but mostly they did want his advice and help.
It was interesting to see all the inner workings of a theater backstage. I’d never been behind the scenes before, so this was a real treat for me.
Plus I got to see inside one of the dressing rooms where they kept all the clothing and make-up. One of the things they all stressed to me was although I wanted to go for an authentic look I should also keep in mind, be able to move and breathe.
“We don’t just get out there and start stripping, we’re dancing,” one girl told me. “We do splits and a lot of other acrobatics. And some of us are wearing corsets and those can be constricting so if you’re not careful you could make your life really miserable. So choose items that allow movement and fabrics that breathe and you’ll be okay.”
I thought this was great advice, because the theater teacher at my high school has been complimenting me on my outfits lately. She says I have an eye for style and authentic looks and has been hinting I should maybe join her class. I told her I’d think about it and now I really am. This could be a great experience for me and open up some doors down the road. I may do it since I have more time to myself these days. Marisa is still being distant, but at least now I know what’s going on. Her dad is fighting cancer and she’s spending as much time with him as possible in case things go bad.
I’d love to be there for her, but my parents say I should respect her wishes to be with her family more, so I’m giving her her space. I’m still going to try and be there for her as much as possible, especially at school. But I’m going to do as my parents say and giver her her space. I just hope things go well so we can start hanging together again. I really miss her.
The words “You don’t look like your sick or like or in any pain…” echo inside my head as I draw nearer to Ted’s father.
How many times had I heard those words? And how many times did I want to lash out at the person who spoke them to me? Of course back then I hadn’t changed and didn’t have the strength to strike back. But these days I’m a different man. The pain and limitations Fibromyalgia caused me are but distant memories, but I never forget anything these days.
Oh it might take me a moment or two to sort through a century and a half of accumulated memories, but it’s all there. There’s not a name, a face, or an event I’ve been part of or witness to that I cannot recall in vivid detail. I can even recall things from before I was changed that were locked away in the deepest recesses of my brain, including the looks or hints of disappointment from my father for my apparent weaknesses. They still sting as much now as they did back then, but I loved him nonetheless. And now I remind myself that Ted loves his father, so I restrain my impulse to grab the man by one hand and shake some sense into him.
Instead I stop just before the man and say politely, “Please, come inside with me. Both of you. There’s some things I’d like to show you.”
Without waiting for a response I walk towards the end of the building we’re in front of that happens to house my private club “The Crypt”. Behind me I hear Ted’s tired footsteps follow. A second later, his father joins us.
In a few minutes the three of us are safely ensconced around one of the table inside the empty club. It’s a weekday which means the place is not open to the public. Which makes it the perfect setting for a difficult but heartfelt talk. Or at least, that’s what I hope to keep things. A part of me is still sorely tempted to unleash a portion of my mist form so I can enter Ted’s father and let him experience my memories of what Fibromyalgia feels like. The old saying about walking in another’s shoes may be just what the fellow needs. Yet, I restrain my impulse. Ted is not aware of what I am and it wouldn’t be right to risk revealing my ‘unusual’ nature to him by doing something to his father. Still, if things don’t go the way I think they should…
“So what do you want to show me?” Ted’s father asks gruffly.
Staring at the man I quietly take his measure. Like my own father, he’s tall and well-built. His solid figure tells me he’s a man who’s enjoyed many sports and strives to keep in shape. But now I’m sensing something else, deep below the surface… physical discomfort.
Suddenly, everything becomes much clearer to me. I begin by saying, “As I said earlier, Fibromyalgia is quite real. And is it not just a condition suffered by women. Men have it as well.”
“Yeah, you mentioned you have it,” the man snaps, but there’s a trace of unease in his voice. “Besides yourself, name one other man who has it.”
“Morgan Freeman, the golden actor himself,” I reply and wait. The effect of my words has on him is clearly visible. Before he can respond I continue by adding, “Michael James Hastings, another actor who retired because of his struggle with the condition.”
Ted’s father looks stunned, “He played Captain Mike on ‘The West Wing’. I loved that show.”
“Many people have it,” I continue, “To differing degrees. Some can be crippled by the pain, others find different ways of coping through exercise, nutrition, medicines to help them sleep better. But the bottom line is that its a musculo-skeletal condition with no ‘magic bullet’ cure. It’s a condition where pain is your constant companion. Many days you can get through the day, but others are harder. And some are just so bad you can barely get out of bed.”
The man looks at his son for a moment and then asks, “Is that true? Those days you complain about getting up aren’t just because you don’t feel like going to school?”
Ted has the good sense to not be sarcastic and simply nods.
His father turns back to look at me. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“You can look it up online,” I tell him. “It’s all there. There’s even sites by these men and others who can attest to how difficult it is to live with the condition.” With that I get up and retrieve my laptop and set it up for him. As I do so, I give Ted an encouraging nod towards the piano. Obediently, he gets up and takes the guitar case with him.
Meanwhile I sit back down and watch as his father starts Googling the men I mentioned along with others. For twenty minutes he says nothing, and I do not break the silence. I merely wish that I’d had such resources to show my own father, back in the day. Would it have made things better? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. As I said before, he did love me. He just couldn’t always understand why I was the way I was sometimes.
Finally, Ted’s father looks up at me with a pained expression. “Okay, you convinced me. It’s real and men can get it. But why do you believe my boy has it?”
I answer quietly, “Why can’t you believe it? You mentioned football earlier. Was that your sport? Were you simply hoping he’d follow in your footsteps?”
“NO!” the man thunders as his face turns crimson. Then his expression softens as he explains, “I just want my son to have a chance at a good school.”
Now things suddenly become clear to me. “Things are tight, I take it?” I say in a voice so low only he can hear me.
The man nods. “Like my son mentioned earlier, his mother has Fibromyalgia and can’t work. So it’s mainly down to me to bring in money, but she does try. She does art and sells stuff on the internet. And she’s brings in some good money and we’re doing all right…”
“But, the prospects for sending Ted to college aren’t so bright,” I supply quietly.
“Exactly. We make too much to get him a Board of Governor’s waiver, but not enough to really be able to pay for the classes over at the community college, much less a university.”
Just then the strands of a guitar playing fills the air. It’s a sweet gentle melody, played with great tenderness and skill.
The tune has an effect on my companion who closes his eyes and becomes lost in the tune until the song ends.
“He’s very good,” I remark as the final strums fade away.
“I don’t question that,” my companion replies. “But, is that going to be enough to get him anywhere?”
Smiling I turn to Ted, who is tuning the guitar ever so slightly. “Are you up to a little ‘Classical Gas’?”
The boy’s face lights up as he adjusts the strap on his shoulder. Meanwhile, his father is staring in shock. “I love that song! Can he really play it?”
Before I can answer, the familiar tune starts up with all the speed and skill it is known for. Ted’s father’s eyes widen as his son’s fingers fly over the strings with precision and dexterity that makes the instrument sing.
Neither of us says a word until the song is finished, at which point Ted stretches his fingers and massages them slightly. It obviously took some out of him, but he’s grinning from ear to ear.
His father begins to applaud and goes over to his son. The two begin having a talk. A real talk. And although I try not to listen, I of course hear everything. It lasts for several hours. The results I’m pleased to say are better than I’d hoped. Ted doesn’t have to give up the guitar. However, his father does confess his concerns to help pay for his son’s future education.
At this point, I see the first rays of sunlight seeping through the window that peers out into the alley. Although I’m quite safe here in the club, I’m certain Ted’s mother is quite worried about what has become of her husband and son.
Standing up, I wander over to the pair and casually mention some connections I have over in San Francisco with a certain music conservatory which has a wonderful guitar ensemble. “I’m certain that if Ted keeps this up, he’d qualify for ‘assistance’. Plus, there’s the money he can earn here at the club helping out at the turntables.”
Father and son look at me questioningly.
Smiling I explain, “Your son has helped out as a stand in DJ here at the club on a number of occasions. I’ve been thinking about asking him to come on board regularly, provided it doesn’t interfere with his schoolwork. And before you ask, YES, he’s as good at that as he is on the guitar.”
Ted looks at his father questioningly, while the older man replies, “Let me think on it. I appreciate what you’re offering him, but I’ve had a lot to take in already tonight. I’d like a little time to talk things over with my son and my wife.”
I nod. “That’s fine. It’s a standing offer. Take however long you all need.”
“Thank you,” the big man says and holds out a hand which I accept with feeling. “By the way, I’m George.”
“Nathan,” I tell him, “And I’m very glad we got to a chance to talk.”
“Me too,” he smiles and then says, “I think we’ve taken up enough of your time and we need to get home. Ted, let’s go grab your guitar. I’m sure your mother will be worried sick about us.”
Ted smiles and the two of them head over to the piano where the guitar and its case await.
As I watch them, a part of me wonders what it would’ve been like to have such a moment of acceptance from my own father. Then as if in answer I feel a hand on my shoulder. Turning I see no one’s there. But that’s all right. I know it was real, and who’s hand it was. Some things you never forget, and as I said before I never forget anything. Especially not my father’s way of letting me know when he was proud of me…
I was making my way back to “The Crypt”, after having visited my family’s plot tonight. Everything was just as I’d left it a few months ago. Except for the weeds which I made short work of. And of course the flowers needed a little freshening up, so I circled the graves and released some of my green mist, which brought them back into a healthy bloom.
Went inside the mansion briefly because I thought I saw a figure at one of the windows. A small figure… holding a… never mind. I didn’t find anyone inside, so I headed back towards town.
Naturally, my thoughts drifted to the days of my youth, before I left for the war. Unfortunately, not all my memories were happy ones. Mind you I have a lot of good memories, but there are a few involving my father that still sting from time to time. He loved me, of that I have no doubts. Heaven knows he told me and showed me enough times, but there were some days when I could see and sense his disappointment in me. I wasn’t always the son he really wanted me to be, but I had limitations that he couldn’t understand at the time. Of course, I no longer suffer those problems these days, but it would’ve been nice to let him see how far I’d come.
I had just reached the downtown area of Pointer, when I spotted a figure carrying a guitar case I knew only too well. It was young Teddy and he was looking pretty down as he walked. Concerned I started to quicken my pace, only to be passed by a car which pulled up next to my young friend. Immediately, a man got out of the car and started scolding my young friend rather vociferously.
Even though they’re a fair distance from where I’m standing, my hearing is exceptionally keen and I hear everything as if I was standing right there with them.
“I told you it could wait until tomorrow,” the older man says in a very annoyed voice. “But, no, you have to make a scene.”
“You were already making a scene by yelling at me in front of everyone, Dad!” Ted shot back.
I wince at that. Family arguments have never been my favorite thing to walk in on, much less be a part of. I consider taking a different route home at that point but then Ted’s father says, “I told you not bother with getting a guitar months ago. It’s not going to win you any scholarships for college. Now if you’d get into football like I keep telling you…””Dad I’ve got Fibromyalgia, I don’t have the…”
“That’s a made up thing, and even if it was real, only girls and women get it,” his father yells, cutting him off.
That tore it for me. Suddenly, the scenery on either side of me blurs and in the blink of an eye I find myself standing next Ted and his father.
Luckily the two are so focused on each other neither even notice that I’ve suddenly appeared on the scene. “Good evening, gentlemen,” I say clearing my throat meaningfully to get their attention.
Ted reacts first. “Oh, hello, Mr. Backman. I was just coming to return the guitar you loaned me,” he says in a quiet voice.
“Whatever for? Don’t tell me you’ve given up playing? You’re really good,” I tell him, mainly because it’s true. But I also know what playing music does for him. It gives him a way of forgetting about his Fibromyalgia for a while. Everyone who fights a daily battle like his needs a coping mechanism and I don’t want to see him lose this particular one.
“He’s not going to have time to be playing music,” his father replies, before Ted can speak. “I appreciate the fact that you let him practice with that thing, but it’s not helping.”
“Not helping?” I repeat curiously. “From what Ted has told me in the past, it helps him deal with his condition…”
“He doesn’t have a condition, he’s just too lazy and delicate,” his father cuts in again.
I nod and reply, “It’s my understanding he has Fibromyalgia. Is that not the case?”
“Fibromyalgia, if it exists at all…”
“For crying out loud, Dad. Mom has it, you said so yourself,” Ted exclaims.
“Of course she has, but it’s a condition women get, not men!” his father explodes.
“I have it,” I say quietly. “In fact I’ve had it all my life, even when I was little. Growing pains they called it. Told me I’d grow out of it, but I never did. It’s been my constant companion every day of my life.”
Ted’s father studies me for a moment and then says, “You don’t look like your sick or in any pain.”
“Looks can be deceiving,” I reply cryptically and take a step towards him.
*Author’s Note: For those who are new to this site, this entry is a repost. I first wrote this story 4 years ago and have never done another because I don’t think I could surpass its message. For it shares the gratitude many of us have for those who’ve served and made the ultimate sacrifice. It reminds all of us at home that serving one’s country can come at a price which should never be forgotten or taken for granted. So to all who’ve worn a uniform and lost everything for all of us, to you and yours we say “Thank you, and God bless and keep you all.”*
The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years. The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held. At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound, and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen. It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all. He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during the war between the states, telling tales of bravery and humanity. Then, once he finished, the figure marched back the way he came only to be swallowed by a mist that seemed to come from nowhere.
This happened again the following year, and every year after that. At first most people just assumed him to be a magician who had served alongside those who had died. Yet, none of those who had come home recognized the fellow. In fact, no one could even really describe his features even if he had been standing next to them. They could distinctly remember his uniform which had clearly belonged to the West Virginia 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He had all the bearing of a soldier, but even if they looked up into his face all they could remember was that he was young, with a kind face, which had born witness to the horrors of the battlefield. But none of them could actually describe his face in detail.
Naturally the idea that the fellow was a ghost began to spread among the children and a handful of adults. But after thirty years passed and those children who had seen him close up could honestly say he had not aged in that time, that others began to believe the tale.
Throughout the decades, he has always appeared, never once missing a Decoration Day. And with each visit, he shared new stories about those who had served and fell in the Civil War. But it wasn’t until the end of the Great War that this began to change. In 1919, one year after World War I ended, a new monument was erected in the town square with the names of those who had left Pointer to fight overseas. On that occasion the soldier appeared and shared several stories about those who had been lost on the battlefields of Europe.
From that day on he continued to appear on Remembrance Day (now called Veteran’s Day) as well as on Memorial Day.
By this time few, if any, doubted the Soldier’s existence. In fact many began to welcome his strange visits, but not all. Those who were too traumatized by their loss, could not bear to see him come. In particular there had been Violet Parker, who had been engaged to James Moore who fell at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in 1918. When the Soldier appeared again on Remembrance Day in 1920, she rushed at him brandishing a pistol from her father’s collection and shot him point blank. The Soldier did not flinch, nor did he fall. Instead, he gently took the weapon from her shaking hands, and pulled her close. She resisted at first, but then began to calm down. Those who dared approach them could hear his voice speaking gently to her in sympathy. Soon Violet slipped her arms around him and held him tightly. Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked back to where her father stood. For the rest of her long life, she was happier than anyone could remember, and strongly rebuked anyone who spoke ill of the Soldier or of anyone who served their country.
The addition of new names and stories of those who served that the Soldier spoke of continued with each passing year. Whether they were lost in peacetime or during America’s entry into World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and of course Afghanistan, he made sure no one forgot them or their service. And today was no exception. He spoke of the town’s most recent losses with such feeling, one was convinced he had personally known, or had watched each one of them grow into fine young men and women.
Of course, I and a number of others know this happens to be the truth. There are at least a dozen families here in Pointer that know of Uncle Nate. And they preserve his secret with fierce loyalty, just as mine does. It is a loyalty based on love and respect. Whether he’s the ‘Soldier’ or just the family friend or godfather, he has been there for all of us over the decades. Our dark guardian, the soldier who even when he does not wear the uniform, is always on duty. Ready to defend and protect all of us and our town, just has he did the day he marched off to war at the age of 16, back in 1862.
God bless him and all the men and women who have served, and will serve.
As I was still asking myself that question I stared up at the Aurora Borealis over head.
I could make out the stars through the swirling colors. It’s an incredible sight. I can understand why Nathan comes up this way every so often. I don’t think I’d ever tire of this sight. According to Lisa and Otto, Nathan also goes to Norway, Sweden, Finland or one of the other northernmost countries where you can see these lights. Those countries also tend to have open wide expanses of wilderness which allows him to ‘cut loose’ with his abilities. Those countries also haves long periods where the sun may not appear for weeks or even months, which makes it easier for him to be out and about even during the ‘daytime’ whether he’s out in the woods or in a city.
As I lay there I understood that the night, or those periods of long-nights, do have a lot to offer a person. But, to actually have to live that way most of the time? I mean, I know Nathan can ingest extra blood so he can go out into daylight for a few hours a day (then load up some more if he needs to in order to keep being out in it) but it’s still physically uncomfortable (even painful at times) for him to be out in it.
I shook my head. I wanted Nathan more than anything… but to be like him?
One of the wolves who was cuddled up to me must’ve sensed my distress, for he suddenly raised his head then nuzzled and licked my face as if to comfort me. At first I thought this was more of Nathan’s doing, but he was no longer with us. I figure he must’ve silently got up and headed who knows where, leaving me with my protectors. Carefully I reached up and stroked the licking wolf’s face and then scratched him behind one ear. He seemed to like it. Then one or two others took notice and they decided they wanted some attention too. Eventually, after I gave them all a bit of love, we all settled down and sleep quietly overtook us.
The dreams that followed were the most vivid I’ve ever had. I was in the middle of a greenish fog which slowly dissipated and I found myself staring at a woman I’d never met in my life, but who’s face I knew quite well.
It was Madeline, Nathan’s first wife and Lisa’s great-great grandmother. I recognized her from a number of paintings Nathan has done of her over the years. He keeps practically all of them in his art studio which is located on the top floor of the same building that houses his club “The Crypt” in the basement.
She was standing in the middle of a room with shelves with canned (meaning jars) of fruits and pickled items, a large mound of potatoes in one area, and carrots in another. I quickly realized this was an old root cellar. But instead of gathering any supplies located there, Madeline was simply standing in the center of the room looking down at the dirt floor. I caught the gleam of anticipation in her eyes. A moment later the ground began to ripple, as I had seen it do many times before, and Nathan rose to the surface.
He was standing upright as he emerged from the rippling soil with his arms open wide. As soon as the ground became solid again, Madeline stepped eagerly into that waiting embrace, and I couldn’t blame her. Nathan was clearly as glad to see her, in more ways than one (since he was naked as usual when he came out of the ground). As they kissed, I swear you could practically hear their hearts pounding in unison.
Then the scene changed, I now saw the two of them curled up in front of a fireplace. Nathan was wearing clothing now and there was a little boy, from Madeline’s first husband who died during the war, fast asleep on a chair nearby. Nathan was holding Madeline in his arms as they were talking softly so as not to wake the little one. While I couldn’t make out what they were saying, I saw a number of occasional kisses and caresses being exchanged with genuine affection.
Feeling like a voyeur I turned only to find another scene playing out before me. The boy was now 8 or 9 years old and smiling as he watched Nathan and his mother dancing a waltz. They clearly had eyes only for one another, even though there were a dozen other couples around them. As I watched the scene seemed to melt and now the two of them were dancing alone in their bedroom. Madeline was wearing a white chemise, while Nathan was wearing what was then called a man’s dressing gown, which was basically a more elegant version of the modern bathrobe. As I watched them, I caught the first signs of crow’s feet in the corners of Madeline’s eyes. Her figure also seemed slightly fuller now, not that it seemed to bother either of them. I swear they were acting like a young couple about to celebrate first anniversary.
Other scenes of domestic life rolled out before my eyes like a movie with the occasional fades which revealed a new scene. I witnessed walks, trips, travel to foreign lands, gatherings with friends, and a number of quiet personal moments. I knew time was passing, but the emotions and passion between Nathan and Madeline never seemed to diminish even slightly.
Then a new scene began, and for a moment I thought we were back at the beginning, for Madeline was standing in the root cellar again. Then I realized she was wearing a robe instead of one of her dresses. I also noticed there were traces of gray in her hair, along with a few extra lines here and there. But as soon as Nathan emerged she opened her robe and let it fall to the ground to reveal she was wearing nothing underneath. And although time and gravity had been at work on her body, she was still quite desirable. I became a little envious watching Nathan scoop her up in his arms and begin kissing her like a sailor who’d been away at sea for way too long.
As he spun her around in his arms, more time passed and her hair became more gray until nothing but long silver tresses crowned her head. But the thing that got me was the fact that Nathan’s attention and affection towards her never changed. He was still at attentive, flirtatious, and devoted to her as ever. And neither did their passion for each other.
Just then the Chainsmokers/Coldplay song “I Want Something Just Like This” started running through my head.
“Yes,” I murmured, holding my arms out as if to hug someone, “That’s exactly what I want.” Now I’m going to admit, I was so caught up in the tune, that it took me a moment to realize that I my arms were wrapped around someone because I could feel the warmth of that person.
‘But I’m asleep,’ I thought to myself in confusion. ‘Aren’t I?’ Instinctively, I began to grope around with my hands to try and figure out what was going on and awoke to a wolf licking my face. Sighing I muttered, “So much for waking up in the arms of a hot guy.”
“In spite of technically being a vampyre, I am not undead, so I resent that remark,” came Nathan’s voice from just above my head.
Looking up I found that I was lying in his arms. Glancing around I found the wolves had not only surrounded but covered us in a huge puppy pile. As I became more aware of our situation, I quickly realized that Nathan was naked, and that one of my hands was very close to a certain ‘region’ of his anatomy.
My eyes locked with his.
“Careful, I can be very ticklish,” he warned.
Instead of answering, I looked around and spotted our friend and his mate curled up together. Clearly she was very happy to have him back, Sangui-sapio and all. Then I thought about Madeline and all I had seen about her life.
Turning back to Nathan, I kissed him with everything I had. Then I moved my hand lower and took hold.
His eyes widened, but instead of admonishing me as he had in the past, he said, “Are you sure?”
“Why?” he pressed.
“Madeline,” I answered after a moment.
“You saw her memories,” he said and began nodding to himself.
Her memories?” now it was my turn to be taken by surprise.
He gave me a gentle smile. “You now know firsthand, that I remember everything that ever happened to me because of the Sangui-Sapio. And you know I have access to the memories of its previous, and currents hosts.” Here he gestured at me and our wolf friend. “But what I didn’t tell you, was that I also have the recollections of those who’ve ever had even ‘some’ of the Sangui-sapio in them.”
“Madeline had some in her?” I gasped.
Nathan sighed, “Yeah, I hadn’t realized it myself for the longest time but eventually I figured it out.”
“How did it happen?” I pressed.
He gave me a disappointed look, then sighed, “Someone wasn’t paying attention in biology class. Okay, when a man and woman are really into each other, certain activities can lead to an exchange of body fluids which…”
“You guys weren’t using protection?” I cut in.
Nathan shook his head. “She caught an infection after giving birth to her son, and wasn’t able to conceive after that, so we didn’t bother worrying about protection. And since I was still getting used to my new existence, I hadn’t realized what had happened until much later.”
I started to frown. “But she never became like you.”
“She never wanted to. And as I learned later on, the Sangui-Sapio respected that and simply gave her a healthy long life,” Nathan explained at gazed out at our wolf friend and his mate. “Just as it will with him.”
I thought briefly about how good Madeline looked and moved during her later years. “Can the Sangui-sapio that’s in me, do what it did for Madeline?” I began.
Nathan nodded. “I already asked it to. Not that I had any idea what you were about to decide, mind you. It’s just,t I like to make sure those I care about are ‘taken care of’ so to speak. Especially if there’s the possibility of them one day contracting something serious.”
I knew he was referring to my father and his fight with cancer. I’ll admit, I have wondered and worried from time to time if I might develop that same form of cancer one day. So hearing that Nathan had already made ‘arrangements’ for me, was a huge relief.
“So, the Sangui-Sapio will have to remain in me, but I won’t become like you,” I asked, just to be clear.
“Only if you wish to. Whether it be now or one day many years down the road, you’ll have the option,” he told me reassuringly.
“And if I choose not to?”
“It will return to me, and I will have a bit of you to carry with me always,” he smiled.
Feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders I relaxed into his chest and kissed him deeply once more. I knew where I wanted things to go next, but my stomach had other ideas and started to growl.
Talk about a mood killer.
A couple of the wolves who’d been keeping us warm raised their heads and gave me a funny look.
“You haven’t eaten since before we met up last night,” Nathan observed and slowly sat up. “And you don’t strike me as the type of person who’s into raw bison.”
“Definitely not,” I replied, doing my best not to look over at the remains of last night’s kill.
“Luckily, I know of a nice place less than an hour from here, where we can get you a good meal and I can hide from the sun for the day,” he continued.
That made me do a doubletake. “We’re in the middle of the tundra, how can there be a place to stay that close by?”
“I never said it was close by,” Nathan corrected. “I said we can get there in less than an hour.”
“But it took us a few hours to get where we are from the airport,” I pointed out.
“That’s because we were trying pick up the pack’s scent and then zero in on their location,” Nathan replied reasonably.
Apparently, him having an answer for everything was one of those little quirks I was going to have to get used to. Still, as much as I wanted him in that moment, I was sorely tempted to smack him on the arm. But I resisted and pulled out my cellphone. I knew there probably wouldn’t be any reception here, but since it was still kind of dark I was curious to know that the time was.
You can imagine my surprise to see it was 7 in the morning. Then I reminded myself where we were and that the nights were longer here. However, I could see the first hints of the coming dawn way in the distance. Nathan then informed me the sun would not be up proper for another 2 hours, which meant we needed to get him indoors as well get me food.
Around us the wolves began to meander amongst themselves, while our friend and his mate came over. She came to a stop just out of arms reach, while he came right up to me. Bending down, I ran my hands through his ruff once more and gave him a hug which he readily accepted. “Take care of yourselves,” I told him, knowing that a part of him understood my words perfectly.
He in turn, nuzzled and licked me. Then he looked at Nathan and gave him a short bark. To which Nathan smiled and said, “Thank you, I will.”
Then the pair returned to their pack and slowly moved on.
“He invited you to come and run with them again sometime, didn’t he?” I asked Nathan who was already transforming back to his own wolf form. Once shifted, he nodded, then gestured for me to climb onto his back once more.
Obediently, I climbed on board and felt the fur stretch and wrap around me once more. And boy was I glad for it. When we took off, we were moving way faster than last night, and I couldn’t help but keep a death-grip on Nathan as we went.
But as he promised, we reached our destination in just under an hour. Although, I was more than a little shocked by what we were looking at as I climbed off him.
“Are you serious?” I asked Nathan as he began putting on the clothing I had been keeping safe for him since the night before. “I thought you said there was a ‘nice place’ we could go.”
“It is a nice place,” he protested.
“It’s an ICE place!” I cried gesturing at the white curved structure. “It’s a frickin’ igloo! It’s going to be freezing inside.”
“No, it’s not. Take a closer look,” he instructed.
Frowning, I did as he instructed and got closer. Now I could see that it wasn’t made of ice but was a geodome partly covered in snow and frost. I could make out a chimney of sorts and as I moved around I spotted a wooden section that acted as the entrance to the structure. I was slowly becoming less annoyed and more impressed. I’d seen pictures of such places on the internet. Most of them were found in the Nordic countries. However, I had heard there were some here in Alaska but those were located way north of where we were.
“I had it built by some friends from Norway a few years ago,” Nathan explained.
“So you own this land?”
He nodded. “I went the ‘homestead’ route back in the 1960’s. I own several pieces up here in fact, and before you ask, yes, I do have cabins/homes built on them too. And all of them are well stocked with food, warm beds, and heating materials.”
Taking another look at the dome I could see there was a huge window looking out onto the tundra and the sky. Having slept under the Northern Lights outdoors, I started thinking about being able to do it again but inside a nice warm place with a bed.
My mind suddenly switched over to sharing a bed with Nathan all alone up here under those lights…then I started thinking about Lisa. My best dearest friend, who also cared for Nathan every bit as much as I do. While she and I had talked many times about one of us being with him, we hadn’t really…
Suddenly, my phone started to vibrate. I had a signal? All the way out here? Pulling the phone out I saw that I had full bars and a message. It was from Lisa. “It’s your time. Go for it.”
“What?” I stammered, staring at the message in confusion. She knew? But how?
Nathan came over and placed a hand on my face. “Open your mind and listen,” he told me.
Then I heard Lisa’s voice inside my head saying, “Welcome to the family, Bestie. And remember, I love you too.”
“The Sangui-Sapio,” I whispered in shock, “She has some in her as well?”
Nathan nodded. “I only do it with certain people who are very dear to me who I want to keep a close eye on. This way I can be there all the faster in case I’m… needed during an emergency.”
The way he said that last part told me it wasn’t something he wanted to discuss right now. And I was fine with that. Just knowing that my bond with Lisa had become even stronger and made us closer than ever, made me extremely happy.
But not as happy as Nathan did over the next few days and nights…
I tried not to show how worried I was of course, since they say animals can smell fear. But that didn’t stop me from mentally shouting, “NATHAN, I’M KIND OF SURROUNDED UP HERE!“
What I got back was, “Little busy right now…“
At that point my fear was instantly replaced with what I consider righteous annoyance. “FINE… just remember if I wind up as wolf chow, YOUR going to have to explain things to not only my parents, but Otto, Lisa, Richard, your sister AND Penny!“
At that point our friend let out a series of growls and barks, which were repeated all the louder by his mate. What happened next will be engraved into my brain for the rest of my life. The wolves who were all around me closed ranks and… I still can’t believe this…
… they all curled up against me.
“Lay down, they’ll keep you safe and warm,” came Nathan’s gentle reassurance, so I did as I was told. I have to admit the added warmth of those furry bodies was more than welcome. It also spared me watching the rest of the kill.
As expected, our friend and his mate, along with Nathan and the others made short work of the big bison. Now I’ll say right up front, I felt sorry for the big animal, but I also understood that this was the way things were in nature. I’ve watched enough documentaries to know, this is how it goes in the wild. Hunting and killing were not for sport, but for survival. And today, with Nathan’s guidance, they didn’t go for a calf or a female. It was understood that they were needed to keep the herd’s numbers strong. I had a feeling our friend would keep things that way in the future, provided of course this kill managed to help re-establish his leadership.
I’m pleased to say it did. After the kill and everyone took their turns at the carcass, including those who were keeping me warm. As each went to get their fill, one of the ones who had already eaten had come over to take the spot that had been vacated around me. Eventually, I risked a look and saw our friend and his mate were making up for lost time.
They had clearly missed each other. It is said some wolves mate for life, and with these two, I could believe it. But there was still the matter of the Sangui-Sapio, in the male. How was Nathan going to get it out of our friend, without alarming his mate or the rest of the pack?
“A very good question,” Nathan replied aloud, not using our mental link.
Frowning I turned, expecting to see a talking wolf, but no Nathan was in his human form. He was sitting just on the other side of the pile of wolves that were surrounding me, with his arms resting on his drawn up knees. I noticed right away he was shirtless and his legs were bare, which meant he was stark naked. ‘Duh,’ I thought to myself, ‘I still have his clothes.’
“Yes, you do but I don’t want them right now,” he said with a smile. “I may do a bit of running with some the of the more rambunctious younger wolves before morning.”
I started to gesture at our friend and his mate, “But what about…”
“Oh they’re fine, nothing to worry about,” Nathan assured me.
“So you already pulled the Sangui-Sapio out of him?” I pressed.
Nathan looked at me and sighed, “Not really. It’s been in him too long. He and it are… integrated.”
I was shocked and immediately began worrying. After all, the Cannibal Killer only had the Sangui-Sapio in him for barely an hour and Nathan was able to call it out of him. But I’d already had it in me for at least three times as long.
“When you say it’s been in him too long… exactly how long is too long?” I asked, trying to sound not the least bit concerned.
“Well,” Nathan began, “In my case, the Sangui-Sapio fully bonded with me over the span of a couple of days. And…”
“It’s been in him since January,” I finished and shook my head. “So there’s nothing you can do for him?”
This time he shot me a disappointing look. “If that were the case, neither you nor I would be here, now would we?”
I don’t usually flip someone off, but this time I did it without thinking.
His reply took me by surprise. “A tempting offer but only one of us is naked at the moment, and the other could get undressed but wouldn’t be able handle to take the cold for very long. Even with shared body heat. So I’ll have to take a pass on that for the moment. Perhaps later. Besides, we don’t want scare our friends off, especially not when a number of them are helping keep you warm.”
Had… had he just propositioned me? Shaking my head, I focused my thoughts back on my original point. “But what about our friend? How is he going to keep from shapeshifting into a man…” That’s when the penny finally dropped for me. “Wait a minute. You’re in your normal form? And he’s in his? But he kept changing whenever you started to shift back to human. How did you…”
“During our fight with the bison, I had a little mental chat with the Sangui-Sapio inside him. I convinced it to kind of go dormant so to speak,” Nathan smiled.
“Meaning?” I pressed.
“It’s still inside him, but it won’t try to be in the ‘driver’s seat’ if you get my meaning. It will do the usual things for him, help him heal quickly, keep him strong and even give him a little boost when he really needs it. But, it won’t try to shift his shape and it will keep the other memories it possesses to itself. It’s just going to be a helpful passenger, that’s all.”
“But what about the wolf’s lifespan? Will it get extended?” I asked, uneasily. The idea of an animal living for over a century was not something I wanted to consider. Having shared the wolf’s mind already, I knew it would drive the poor creature completely mad.
Nathan bowed his head. “No, it will let the creature live a good long life, but not too long. But he will be allowed to pass, and when he does, I’ll be here to take back the Sangui-Sapio. It will need a host, and it will be happy to come back to me.”
‘So the wolf will have it’s chance at a normal life and be able to one day leave this world. Unlike you, who have will keep walking it for God knows how long,’ I thought, understanding his bowed head.
Lisa and I had talked about how even though Nathan has a very big “Extended Family”, people who he’s watched over for years even generations, he could also get lonely. Sure, he’d have those he loved around him, but eventually every one of them would leave this world and him behind. And while he would keep their memories alive, and I suspect a part of them alive within himself, it wasn’t the same.
I cannot count the number of times Lisa and I considered asking Nathan to make one or both of us like him and share that long existence with him, so he wouldn’t be alone. He’s been married twice before. The first time was in the 1860’s when he didn’t know he could share his gift with her, so he never offered. By the time he’d married his second wife in the 1930’s he did know, and they were planning on it, but Magda had married him at the age of 16 and they wanted to wait a while until she was closer to his apparent age. Only, since she and her family were gypsies they had been rounded up by Nazis and spirited away while Nathan had been gone helping others. Months passed before he finally found where she’d been taken and it was already too late.* (as told in “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” link provided at bottom of page)
But where I still wasn’t sure if I could handle such a existence, Lisa had already decided that it would happen in her case. It was just a matter of when. But now I had some of his Sangui-Sapio in me, and I was already learning firsthand some of what Nathan has been experiencing for over and century. Where he couldn’t retrieve the Sangui-Sapio from the wolf, there was still time for him to do so with me. The question was, did I want him to?
TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME…. seriously, I mean it this time.
Glancing down at my watch I saw half an hour passed already. How much farther did we have to go? I mean, I was grateful for Nathan’s suggestion of putting on his coat, but it was much colder out here than I’d expected. There was a strong breeze and even with the extra layer of clothing, along with the fur he’d extended to keep me from falling off his back, I was starting to feel the chill, especially in my legs. Still I had the heat coming off of his wolf form to help. But instead of complaining, I simply hugged Nathan tighter and buried my face in his fur and tried not to think about my discomfort.
Then I noticed more fur stretching and slowly covering my legs. “Thank you,” I shouted over the wind.
“You’re quite welcome,” Nathan replied, inside my head.
Now I was feeling much more comfortable. Between that and the rhythm of being rocked while on Nathan’s back I wound up dozing off. It was only when we came to a sudden halt, that I awoke. Remembering where we were I was about to ask if we’d found the wolf’s pack. But no. Instead we had come to a halt on the top of a ridge.
I was about to ask what was wrong when I suddenly had to catch my breath. We were standing right under the Northern Lights
Or at least if felt that way. The Aurora Borealis stretches for miles and miles naturally, but at that moment it felt like we were right under the very center of it. Front, back, side to side, they were the sky for us at that moment. I could even make out the stars beyond the swirling colors, which was something I’d never thought about until that moment. It was… incredible.
“I thought you’d like it,” Nathan told me through our mental link. There was a tenderness in his words that I actually felt. I’ve always felt something for Nathan, but in that moment I truly knew how much I was in love with him.
Yet at the same time I wished that Lisa could have been with us in that moment. Her being there with us would have made it truly perfect.
“Another time,” came Nathan’s voice in my head.
Taking the hint I looked over at our wolf friend. I could tell he understood how we felt about the scene above and around us, but he had a longing of his own to fulfill. Nodding I said to Nathan, “LET’S GO!”
Nathan turned his head to look at me and smiled. “Hang on!” he told me with his voice, instead of our link.
It was a good thing I listened. The pair of them took off like shot. We were moving much faster than before. I realized they must’ve gotten the scent of the pack who were on the move. A hunt perhaps? No doubt I would soon find out.
Finally we spotted them in the distance.
They were out in the open and seemingly in disarray. From the tracks in the snow near them it appeared that some kind of big prey had gotten away. A failed hunt? More than likely.
“They apparently haven’t been able to decide on a new pack leader,” Nathan said in my head. “Look off to the side and you’ll see the alpha female.”
I did as he instructed and saw her.
She was even more beautiful in person than in our companion’s memory. She was curled up off to the side, ignoring the boisterous males who seemed to be arguing amongst themselves. Clearly she had not chosen a new mate, and nearby were several more females watching her closely. Sisters? I wondered. Possibly. Maybe that’s why none of them had challenged her her alpha position, even without a mate.
But even more curious was the fact that she was staring in our direction. Ears perked up, eyes sharp and alert.
“Maybe now would be a good time to take the Sangui-Sapio back?” I whispered in one of Nathan’s pointed ears.
He shook his head and did not speak aloud but through the link once more. “She knows we’re here. Or rather that HE is here.”
“Then she can smell the Sangui-Sapio in him,” I thought back. Knowing that wolves are normally very shy of people to begin with, I didn’t want to use my voice and possibly spook the pack.
She was on her feet now and took a few steps in our direction then stopped. Clearly something was holding her back. Then I spotted the rest of the pack. They had either spotted us or caught our scent, and were clearly not happy about it.
Feeling a little anxious I mentally hissed, “Okay, NOW would definitely be a good time to take back the Sangui-Sapio.”
“Not yet!” Nathan thought back forcefully. From someplace nearby I could hear bison calling to one another.
A herd was nearby.
I caught the look that passed between Nathan and our friend and suddenly the two of them took off, with me still on Nathan’s back. Looking over my shoulder I saw that the blonde female was following, along with the other females. Eventually, the rest of the pack began to follow as well.
What was going on?
I soon found out.
On the other side of a rise, the herd soon came into view causing us to slow to a halt. There were about 20-30 of them, slightly scattered, grazing on the tall plants sticking out of the snow.
Now I understood. Our friend needed to make a kill to prove he was still a good hunter/provider to get his position back. And since Bison were extremely dangerous animals, Nathan was leaving the Sangui-Sapio where it was to give the wolf added strength to bring one down. But even with the extra strength, surely one wolf couldn’t bring down a bison all by himself.
Suddenly, Nathan’s backside hit the snow, and the fur that had been holding me in place receded. Taking the hint, I slid off him and stood next to a nearby tree. As soon as I was clear, the two of them began sneaking up on the group below.
I’ll say it right now, I was worried. Not so much for the two of them, but for myself. Because I could tell the pack, still following the alpha female, were practically right behind me. I hadn’t realized how close they were until our friend’s mate came to a halt just a few yards off to my right. She was keeping one eye on me, while also paying close attention to what was happening below.
There were a few calves among the herd, and for a second I was afraid that one of them would be the target. But no, Nathan and our friend were making their way towards a lone full-grown adult. A male, I later found out. An older one, but still full of fight.
I won’t go into detail, but needless to say the two of them pounced and kept their prey from escaping with the rest of the herd. But still, the odds were not necessarily in their favor. It was quite the struggle and only when it was clear that they were able to keep the bull form escaping that the alpha female turned to the pack. She became very vocal letting out a series of barks and growls, then took off to join the fight. A number of others joined her, while the several of those who remained behind slowly began to take up positions around… ME!
TO BE CONTINUED… and eventually concluded I promise!
The first thing I noticed was one of the poor creature’s paws beginning to stretch and lengthen. “NATHAN STOP!” I cried, which he promptly did. He shot me a confused look then saw what was happening to the wolf and quickly reverted to his own animal form.
As he did so, the wolf’s paws began to revert to their true state as well. Once they had, I gave the wolf a reassuring hug, which it accepted without hesitation. It trusted me and I knew it. Hell, I didn’t just know it, I could feel it. The bond we were sharing was so strong. I’d never felt like this with anyone or anything before, except for maybe Lisa. But she wasn’t here and I could feel the wolf’s growing despair as if it were my own.
The poor thing just wanted to go back to its pack, especially his mate. But we both knew it would never be accepted, not if it kept shapeshifting without meaning to. Memories filled my mind of happier times of hunts, playtime, sleeping in a huge pile for warmth against the cold, the bond he shared with she who was his mate…
She was beautiful. And I say this not just because of what the wolf was feeling either. I could see her clearly in my mind.
She was more blonde than I would’ve pictured for a wolf, but oh that face. So sweet, so intelligent, and that fur, Lord I would’ve loved to have the chance to run my hands through that ruff as I had with him. Her coat was so soft looking. And I knew from his memories she was intelligent and a great hunter, as well as a wonderful companion.
“If there’s some way to get you back to her, we will,” I sighed aloud.
“And we’re going to,” came Nathan’s voice from behind me. Then he placed a hand (a human one) on my shoulder. Surprised I turned and saw he was back to his normal self. He was even wearing some of the clothes I’d been holding onto for him, namely his shirt and pants. “You… how…?” I stammered.
“You inadvertently helped anchor our friend,” he smiled, nodding at the wolf in my arms, who was still in his true form. “That bond three of us share, allowed me to see what was going on between you two. He was so focused on showing you his pack and mate, that I was able to shift back to myself without triggering the Sangui-Sapio in him.”
“Can you get it out of him now? Like you did with the Cannibal Killer?” I asked.
Nathan looked at the wolf and sighed. “The Sangui-Sapio has been a part of him for months instead of minutes or an hour. It’s become a part of him, like it has with me.”
I pulled the wolf closer to me. “So it’s too late? There’s nothing we do for him?”
“I didn’t say that,” Nathan corrected. “But first I to need to get him back to his pack. And to do that, I’m going to need your help.”
“Anything!” I said firmly, which earned me a lick and a nuzzle of gratitude from my furry companion.
“Good. First, I’m going to need you to take my clothes again, because I’m going to shift back into wolf form,” Nathan told me and began to remove his shirt. “And then once I’m in that form I’ll only communicate with you through our bond. I don’t want to scare the pack, once we find them, by talking out loud. Seeing one of their own kind speaking like a man will only freak them out.”
“It would kind of freak me out too,” I confessed.
Grinning he continued, “You may want to put my coat on top of what you’re wearing.”
That made me frown. “Why? Where are we going?”
“Out onto the tundra where it will be colder. That’s where we’ll find the pack.”
“For how long?”
He shrugged, “All night?”
I blinked. “You do know how long a night lasts up here…” I began when suddenly a distant howl pierced the night. The wolf in my arms raised his head and a feeling of longing and sadness suddenly swept over me.
As it ended, I suddenly knew who it was. “That was her,” I breathed, looking at Nathan, “His mate.”
He nodded. But before he could speak, the wolf threw back his head and let loose a long howl of his own. I’m thrilled to say that before he finished, his voice was joined by hers. She had heard him and was letting him know it.
I have to say it was both strange and beautiful listening to them calling to one another. Emotions and memories, none of them my own, began filling my head until Nathan took one of my hands in his and called me back to myself. I was about to say something, but he placed a finger to his lips with his eyes closed tight. I stayed quiet.
After a few moments the howling came to an end, and I could hear were the sounds of the breeze rustling the trees around us.
Finally Nathan broke the silence, “A few miles north of us. The pack is with her. Here, put my coat on, it’s going be really cold up there.”
Obediently I did as he instructed, while he stripped down to nothing. Yes, I did peak, and I liked what I saw. Well, up until the fur started appearing. Then I averted my eyes.
After that, Wolf-Nathan came over started nuzzling his way between my legs.
“HEY! What’s the big idea?” I cried, feeling slightly annoyed. I mean there have been a number of times when I would have loved for that to happen, but that was when he was himself.
‘Get on my back and hold tight. Otherwise, there’s no way you can keep up with the two of us once we start moving,’ Once again it sounded like Nathan’s voice, but now I knew I was only hearing him inside my head.
Obediently, I did as I was told. After a few more ‘suggestions’ I half sat, half lay across his back, with my hands firmly gripping his ruff. I wasn’t really sure how well this was going to work, but then I felt some of the fur stretching and reaching up and around my waist and back. Feeling more secure I smiled and turned to our friend who had been anxiously watching and waiting.
“Let’s go find her!” I shouted and immediately he took off, with us in hot pursuit.
Soon the airport and all the signs of man vanished into the distance. In spite of the ride being a little bumpy, the ride was exhilarating. Initially, I let out the occasional cry of “Watch out for that tree…” or “Oh God you’re not going to jump that…” but then I got more used to it. I even kept myself from gasping when we leapt a twenty-foot gorge that no normal wolf could have managed, but by then I we’d be fine.
Eventually, I got so comfortable I began looking up at the night sky.
It was incredible. I’d never seen that many stars before. And many of them were so bright! Brighter then I’d ever dreamed possible. Then before I knew it we were in the open tundra.
OKAY, MY BAD, TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT TIME… I THINK…
PS: What can I say? These stories and the characters take on a life of their own sometimes.
The next thing I knew I was out in the snow, running across a huge clearing. I could see the edges of the forest on all sides. The dark trees seemed to stretch high into the night sky, I could see stars. Miles and miles of stars. I’d never seen so many before in my life. They seemed endless, and so very bright.
I remembered I was still running, and brought my attention back to what was in front of me. More snow covered ground and I realized that either the snow was really deep or… my head was a lot closer to the ground. Yet it felt perfectly normal… aside from the burning pain in my chest. Only it wasn’t so bad as before. I spared a brief glance downwards. There was blood, a lot of it. Yet even as I stared it was slowly disappearing, because it was being re-absorbed through the skin under my black fur.
Yeah, you read that right. My black fur. I was in Nathan’s head right then and he was on the run and booking across the snow at incredible speed. From what I was experiencing we were on all fours, which was why the snow was so much closer to our face. He must’ve shifted to full wolf form after being hit by the gunfire. In the past he’s complained about how uncomfortable it was to be hit by bullets, but he always seemed to be half-joking. Now I know how much it really hurts him. I’ve made a mental note to try to keep him from making himself an unnecessary target in the future.
In the distance I could hear the rangers and men with the guns far behind us. Their voices became more distant as we ran. They had given up the chase it seemed, but then I managed to hear the word ‘snowmobile’ mentioned. Neither of us liked that sound of that.
Then I thought, ‘Okay, we need to get out of here…’
Suddenly, I/we stumbled and stopped. Then I felt Nathan’s thought echo in my head.. ‘Marisa?’
Before I could respond, I started hearing, “Ri-sa… Ri-sa…” over and over again, followed by something cold and wet brushing against my cheek. I opened my eyes and found I was on the floor of the room at the airport. And a pair of worried looking eyes were staring at me.
They were wolf eyes, and to my immense relief, they were watching at me from a wolf’s face this time.
“Ri…sa…?” it spoke again. Apparently, being back in his true form was making speech harder for the creature. But the fact that it could still speak at all, meant there was not telling how long he could keep his own shape. I started to wonder how he had gotten his own form back, but then I remembered, Nathan had actually shifted back to full wolf form. Thanks to the link between the two of them, which I seemed to share now as well, the wolf had reverted to his natural form.
Sitting up, one thought raced through my head. What would happen if Nathan shifted back to himself? Would the wolf’s form change too? I suspected that’s exactly what would happen, which meant I had both myself and my new furry friend the heck out of there and quick. The million dollar question was, how?
I turned to look at the window the wolf had come through earlier. I wasn’t too high and both of us could easily slip through, but then what? Security and rangers were still out there, no doubt with guns at the ready. And even if they didn’t shoot, the first questions they’d be asking would be where the hell did I get the wolf?
The answer suddenly came, loud and firm. “STAY PUT! BOTH OF YOU!”
“Nathan!” I cried and looked around, but there was no sign of him.
I saw my companion was looking around too, so he’d heard it too. He was on high alert now, but seeing no one he finally looked back at me with the most confused look. “Easy, he’s in our heads,” I assured my new friend and petted him gently.
He readily accepted the gesture and started rubbing up against me. Thanks to the ‘connection’ courtesy of the Sangui-Sapio, I could feel that he was very happy to not be alone anymore. But there was also deep longing inside him. He was missing his pack, especially his mate. Even if we got him out of here in one piece, and get the Sangui-Sapio out of him, then what? Even if there was some way to find his pack, would they take him back? And if not…
My thoughts were interrupted by voices coming from the window. Some of the security people had come back and I could hear them rather clearly. Moving quietly, I headed to the window for a quick look. To my surprise, I could see the men were still quite far in the distance, yet I was hearing them as clearly as if they were mere feet away.
‘Damn, no wonder Nathan always seems to know what’s going back at The Crypt,’ I thought. The Crypt is a club in the basement of an old building, that Nathan owns. And in spite of it usually being filled with young people, Nathan always seems to know when trouble may be brewing, or tempers rising, even across a crowded dance floor. From there he naturally intervenes before anything serious happens.
Just a dark shape lopes from around the corner of a nearby building and heads towards my window. It seems to be emitting a greenish mist as it moves. It even walks between by two security guards who take no notice of it whatsoever.
I smiled and opened the window a little wider. “Hurry up and get in here,” I hissed as he drew nearer. Just then I heard the wolf in the room with me give a little growl. Quickly I turned and saw he had his teeth bared slightly.
“Easy,” I told him, “He didn’t mean for this to happen to you. He’s going to make you better, then we’re going to get you out of here and someplace safe.”
I’m still not sure if he actually understood my words, he probably did. But I think mostly he trusted me and knew I was there for him. As he calmed down, Nathan slipped in through the window which I quickly closed. A second later, there was a knocking at the door.
“Miss? Are you all right in there? I thought I heard growling?”
It was the security guard who’d been stationed outside the room. We’d completely forgotten all about him! Clearly he’d heard the wolf growling at Nathan and was now inserting his key in the lock to come in. How the hell was I going to explain how not one, but two wolves had gotten into the room with me.
Just then, Nathan (still in his animal form) turned to the wolf and the two of them nodded. Just as the door opened, the pair of them breathed more of the greenish mist at the portal.
The guard blinked briefly and then smiled, “Are you and your dogs all right, Miss?”
“Yes,” I smiled and petted my ‘dogs’. “We’re fine.”
“They seemed to have calmed down,” the guard nodded. “Glad we were able to find them for you. You’ll need better kennel crates, if you’re going to keep traveling with them.”
So that was going to be our ‘story”, I thought and nodded. “Yeah, my boys are pretty strong when they get riled up. Thanks for all your help. We should be get going.”
“Of course,” the man smiled, “I’ll lead you through the terminal and outside.”
Which he did. Of course, Nathan and the wolf continued to exude their mist so that anyone who glanced our way simply saw me walking my dogs out of the facility.
As we walked, I did catch some of what the rangers and other security people were saying. From what they could tell, they nailed the ‘werewolf’ which turned out to simply be a bear with a serious case of parasitic mange. The body was already being disposed of and there was nothing for anyone to worry about.
Once we were outside Nathan led the way across the street and beyond the parking lot area. After making sure there was no one around, he began to shift back to human form. But as I feared, the wolf began to change shape as well.