I scurried quickly across the polished wood, juggling my delicate burden as I
searched for one of the hardest things I'd ever had to find.
A seat at the Blind Pig Halloween party.
Dodging past the bear-morph who'd come in with Spots, I looked frantically for
someplace to put my punch and cookies. The Lupines' usual table wasn't our usual
table if there was too much traffic, and this definitely qualified. Right now,
most of them were mingling with the crowd. After all, Halloween is the one night
of the year that most SCABS can blend right in.
The funny thing is, we had lots of people trying to blend in with *us*. At one
end of the bar, two of the Boys were talking with a norm in a werewolf costume.
At the other end, Posti was holding court with a norm couple who'd never known a
picture-'path before. They'd come as a knight and damsel. Even at the piano, the
crowd was as much norm as SCAB, witch next to wings, wolf next to ghost (some
people still use those sheets, yet) ... and to think some people think this
place is bizarre on a normal night!
Looking in the direction of the shout, I finally managed to catch a glimpse of
Brian ... Dr. Coe if I still needed glasses. He was waving to me from a spot
beside an empty barstool.
After I struggled through the crowd, nearly losing my drink in the process, I
sat down on the stool with a sigh of relief. "Thanks."
"No problem. If there's one thing a Doctor knows, it's how crowded a room can
I raised my glass to the shag-eared optpmetrist/raccoon. "To Halloween ... The
day that comes but once a year, when all the noise is hushed. Not from any fear
except the fear of being crushed."
As I sipped my punch, Brian laughed. "You do have a way with words sometimes."
I looked up from my lapping, licked my furry lips and said, "Stress is a great
stimulant for the imagination, you know."
"I know, I know. So, what's up with you?"
"Well, Irma Vep closed today, but I did get a nice sendoff from the cast and
crew. They said they'd never had a better-trained werewolf." As he giggled, I
went on. "In other news, Spots and I are working up a dramatic group. Just a few
charity performances and the like. Could we get you in on it?"
"Well, that was certainly unexpected", he said with a laugh. "Honestly,
Wanderer, I'd love to ... but the clinic takes all my time except for sleep as
it is. Sorry."
"Oh, no problem", I reassured him. "Just a thought. Oh, and I found an
interesting old sci-fi book in the library today. The Lords of the Diamond, by
Jack L. Chalker. Ever hear of it?"
He thought briefly, then replied. "Maybe once. What's it about?"
I smiled, showing a few teeth. "Oh, not much. Just about how a bunch of humans
get changed by this strange extraterrestrial organism, and how some of them get
special powers, and can shapeshift, and ... "
"Come on!", he broke in. "You're kidding, right?"
"Nope. Just like I said it. Oh, there's a bit of a spy subplot ... but Chalker
always wrote about transformations of one sort or another."
He shook his head unbelievingly. "I can't believe it. I mean, didn't Chalker die
before the Mars probe?"
"As far as I know", I told him after swallowing a mouthful of cookie. (Mmmm,
chocolate.) "Pretty close to the mark, though. Even if he did make his
characters' powers bigger and better than ours. Still, not a bad read."
"I'll have to look it up sometime."
Looking over Brian's shoulder, I saw two people enter the bar. One was a large
man, norm to all appearances, with a stocky build and a barrel chest. The other
was a delicate blonde, also pretty normal-looking.
"Excuse me", I told Brian. "I just saw someone I *have* to meet." With that, I
got up and walked toward the door.
Suddenly, the bar went dark, the lights only seeming to glow dimly against the
blackness of the ceiling. Before anyone could deal with that, a blast of yellow
fire erupted near the door ... followed by a yelp and a solid THUD.
There at the door stood a demon, its skin alive with flame where it stood,
illuminated by its own sulfurous glow. "AT LAST!!", it roared. "REVENGE IS
Then, with a flash of yellow light, it vanished, leaving a small, still form on
the rail of the bar. Everyone gathered around as Brian lifted the fallen, furry
It was Wanderer. Lying there, still and unmoving. Brian checked the wrist pulse
... and frowned. Then the other wrist ... and he began to panic.
"Does anyone know CPR? This man's not breathing!"
For a moment, everyone stood and stared. Then, Spots rushed forward and knelt by
the furry-eared (and now furry-masked) doctor. "Does he have a pulse?"
"No. He had one for a moment , but ... "
"Someone call 911!", Spots called as she bent to apply the Kiss of Life.
And was stopped by a sudden cry.
"HOLD IT!", I shouted, just before Spots would have tried to force air into my
lungs. "My dear lady", I said in my dramatic accent, "While I would intensely
enjoy the touch of your lips upon mine, I will not have it by trickery."
Then I looked around at everyone else. "In other words: Gotcha."
As I grinned like a madman, the two people I'd ... ahem ... Wandered over to
meet came in. Like a dissolve shot, they melted into Stan, the Zoomin' Beings
ox-morph, and a young lady of my acquaintance.
"Ladies and gentlemen", I called out, "This little production was brought to you
with the combined talents of myself, Stan, and the young lady Jeanette, whose
acquaintance I made while on an audition. Thanks to her particular abilities", I
said with a grin, "And if you'll pardon the expression, 'All Hell broke loose'".
The bar groaned as the general mood settled back to normal, with Jack throwing
me a wicked look. Something tells me I'm going to pay for that maneuver.
As Spots took Stan off to one side (to yell at him privately, no doubt) Jeanette
and I advanced on Brian.
"I do apologize", I said. "I know I shouldn't have deceived you that way. But
everyone else seems to have so much fun with their jokes, I just couldn't resist
a joke of my own."
"Oh, I don't mind that", he said. "And you ... Jeanette? ... you made that demon
from light, right?"
Jeanette giggled mischievously before answering. "Right. You caught the way the
lights went, right?"
He nodded, then turned back to me. "What I don't get, Wanderer ... two things.
One: How'd the demon sound like that?"
I grinned toothily. "Simple. I gave Stan some diction lessons on the phrase and
borrowed a voice changer from a friend in Tech. Next?"
"Next", he went on, "How did you ... well ... play dead?" He shrugged sheepishly
at his lack of a better word.
"Oh, that's easy. My family has very flexible veins. When you checked my pulse,
the vein rolled out from under your finger. That's why it faded out. I --"
A tap on my shoulder quieted me. It was Donnie. With a wild look in his eye.
Holding a leash.
He just stood there and tapped a foot, since I'd proven a total washout at
"But it didn't hurt anyone."
Tap, tap, tap, tap ...
"And the bar's okay."
Tap, tap, tap, tap ...
Finally, I sighed. "Okay. But I still get to have my punch and cookies."
He nodded shortly and held out the loop end of the leash.
"Just a minute.", I said, and turned to Brian as I removed my cape. "Would you
mind seeing that my clothes are looked after. After this little scare, I don't
think I can really trust much of anyone else."
"Okay", he responded as I unbuttoned my shirt. "But you'd better be ready and
able to go tomorrow. I'm not carrying around your clothes forever, y'know."
With that, I folded my shirt and handed both it and the cape to Brian as I
prepared to fulfill the deal Donnie and I had made: If any Lupine Boy acted up
more than he thought was wise, the Boy in question got put on a short leash for
Bending down, I shofted to full wolf and let my pants and boxers drop to the
floor, where Brian gathered them up. Then, with little ceremony, Donnie took me
behind the bar and I made ready to finish my cookies and punch. True, it was
going to be a long night for me.
But it could be worse.
At least I got a place to sit.