A Wolf and a Half
"...evidence suggests that..."
"...not known if there are other..."
As I stirred, the discordant murmur of voices slowly resolved into audible extracts of hushed whispers. There were two voices, I hazardedone pronounced but meek, with an Australian accent that sounded almost genuine; the other soft but authoritative, with a British accent.Weatherman
... Or not, depending on what name he decided to go by nowadays.
I now knew for a fact that I was certainly NOT at home, or anywhere I was familiar with. I didn't even have to move my stiffened arms to deduce that I was bound somehow, but I did so anyway, and shackles clinked together behind my back. A chair
... So much for originality. The clinking got their attention, though.
Mr. Weatherman-in-a-suit was in front of me in an instant with an apology for my circumstances, although his stoic face suggested otherwise. Mr. Australia was next to him in a spotless white lab-coat, bespectacled and clutching a clipboard packed with notes, clucking like an excited chicken, to the barely concealed irritation of his partner.
A quick glance around and past them told me that this room was empty, and had a blackened screen of glass for walls.
Mr. Weatherman peered down at me with a coolly neutral gaze.
"What is the last thing you recall, Mr. Silov?"
"Um... waking up?" I replied. "Where am I? Do you... My car! Where's my..."
Silov, I will be doing the asking. Please stay focused."
I gazed straight into his hardened features and his ice-cold blue eyes, and felt an involuntary lump at the back of my throat. He hadn't changed, however much I liked to believe that things between us were otherwise. This time, however, was different
This time was serious
I nodded silently, and the game was on.
I squeezed my brows together and thought hard, now fully aware that anything I said would be monitored and recorded by dozens of invisible people on the other side of the screen.
"I was at a nightclub... There was... There were lots of people. There was music from..."
"Mr. Silov, do you recall the name of the place? And the time, perhaps?"
After a moment of mental straining on my part, Mr Weatherman started reading aloud from a list, until I picked one. He did the same with a time.
There was a creaking, trundling noise behind me, and I jerked instinctively to see what it was. Mr. Weatherman held up a hand to stop me.
"There is no need for concern, Mr. Silov. The doctor knows what he is doing, and with your cooperation this need not take long."
At this point, I laughed at the absurdity of it allthe interrogation setting that seemed plucked right out of a B-grade Sci-Fi movie; the stereotypical depiction of questioner, questionee, with a potentially mad scientist thrown in for good measure...
"You know," I started, as Mr. Australian Frankenstein slipped a tight-fitting metal helmet/cage over my skull. "...the only thing stopping this from becoming the next blockbuster horror flick is a vampire chick in spandex with smoking guns, or a mummy riding at the head of some undead legion, or a... a..."
"Werewolf?" Mr. Weatherman suggested, his expression unchanged.
"Yeah, Yeah! A werewolf, just like in those cheap 1900s movies, y know? The things that get all... hairy... and... and..."
I felt my voice becoming increasingly... strange... distant
... As if a thick haze was billowing out behind my eyes, and spreading, and draining all the energy from my voice. I was vaguely aware of a prickling sensation throughout my scalp where the cold metal of the device found skin, and a chill spreading down my spine. Somewhere behind me, the Australian 'doctor' was managing a cackle that would have qualified him for the original Frankenstein's successor.
But all that was lost to me as I found myself increasingly drawn towards Mr. Weatherman, or rather, his eyes. They gleamed far more intensely than the lighting should have allowed, bluish white like a winter's chill, and much, much harsher.
Just like they'd been on our first meeting, many years back, out in the frigid wilds of the Norwegian Forests. He'd worn a coat then, too, albeit a different one.
"Mr. Silov, would you be so kind as to focus on this image I am holding up, and try to recall what happened AFTER you... left
I registered the blurred outlines of the image as a wolf, or rather, a pathetic attempt by some third rate artist to capture the essence of one. But it was hardly necessary for whatever intentions Mr. Not-really-Weatherman had in mind.
How could they not SEE it?! SMELL it?! SENSE it?! Those damned blind FOOLS!
IDIOTS! You chain the DOG, while the WOLF sits amongst you!
There was a lot of commotion going on nowthe mad scientist was going 'Eureka' over the readings of the machine; shadows behind the dark screens buzzed with excitement and stood up, waving hands and pressing buttons; Mr. Not-really-Weatherman stood up.
To the fools, it would have appeared that he was moving to comfort a distraught prisoner, but I knew better. He was moving nearer to exert his dominance, to remind me that I existed at HIS convenience, HIS jurisdiction, and that it was HIS duty to ensure that I kept to mine.
I did the only thing I couldand let GO.
Before I was 18, I had been to 47 doctors.
After that, I lost count, because my adoptive parents gave up on me. I didn't blame themI'd have done the same if some charity case of an autistic child still thought that he was a dog, after hitting 5 feet.
I could never explain to them how I saw the world, or whyI wasn't entirely sure myself. But if I was forced to describe myself in thirty words or less, I'd say I was a dog trapped in a human's body, with a human's mind half of the time.
Why a dog?
Because wolves aren't domesticated; and being a part wolf would make me a what? A werewolf? I scoffed at the notion that I might ever be half as dangerous as those beasts I'd seen in the movies, or that they even existed.
And then I met Mr. Weatherman.
I was having a brisk walk on all fours like I could only do when others weren't watching, with minimal clothes on, and sniffing things and the air the way I couldn't do in cities, when I met a big, badass, wolf.
I recall our conversation as clearly as if we were in the same position as that dayHim, a mass of bristling fur and muscle and icy blue-white eyes and teeth that could shred a man to bloody confetti in seconds; and Me, a terrified dog-in-a-man's-suit attempting to simultaneously whimper, curl up, flee, piss, and spontaneously combust at the same time.
Werewolves were real, I learned that day, but not as the mindless, ravenous beasts that we imagined them to be; nor as the overly romanticized, harmless mutts that plagued bad fiction (Mr Weatherman laughed so dryly that I knew better than to continue); but as an intelligent, wary community that watched out for its own, and dealt promptly with any threats that could expose their secret existence to the world of ruthless men and their guns. And I was a threat.
"Give me one
good reason that I should let you live, tainted one," he'd growled.
I would later learn that there was a reason why werewolves forbade unions between their kind and ordinary humansoffspring were never fully of one descent or the other. I couldn't transform, but I behaved very much like a tamed wolf in many aspects.
I recall my whimpered answer, as I stood on the edge of life and death.
"I... I have a medical condition
that could be useful..."
I spent three weeks in a special cell, under the watchful eyes of a private scientific community, and entirely at their disposal where research was concerned.
I played my part of a captive well enoughcautious enough as might be expected, cooperative where it expedited matters, and equally curious of his captors.
However, it would only be much later, when Mr. Australian Frankenstein was presenting his latest startling neurological discovery to the rest of the scientific community and public alike, that I received an anonymous letter with only a single (thumb?)print for a signature.
I already knew most of what was contained from the newsMr. Australian Frankenstein had discovered a most unusual and rare case of schizophrenia, in which a human personality existed separately from an animalistic, canine personality within the same body. His supporting evidence included real time thermal imaging of a human skull showing atypical activity in the limbic (or mammalian, as he explained) brain that correlated to the animalistic schizophrenic behaviour of the test subject.
I downed another beer as colourful, technically detailed charts were used to explain observed hypersensitivity of the olfactory, and audiovisual senses during the experiments. I smiled when the scientist of the year went on to suggest that his findings could very well explain the misconceptions of lycanthropes throughout history.
"Humans love their science," Mr. Weatherman had once told me.
I nodded and pretended that it had been his idea all along.
I would never truly be one of the pack, but they hailed me as a brother nonethelessby duty, if not by blood.
For no matter how careful the pack was, there would always be 'slip-ups'rebellious pups who thought they'd seen the greener grass on the other side, old wolves who forgot the protocols, or simply members that found themselves unable to cope with the stress in the wrong place and the wrong time. And I would be there.
Thanks to me, they'll never have to silence one of their own for a foolish mistake again.
I am Silov 'Takes One for the Team' Tarroway, and under the instruction of Alpha Not-Really-Weatherman, I am always at the wrong/right place, at the wrong/right time, doing the wrong/right thing to provide a scientifically plausible cover-up for a 'slip-up'.
It's not an easy job, but hey... Someone's gotta do it.