[Vfw-times] story: two sided town (3/3)

Oren Otter bevary at atcjet.net
Wed Apr 19 08:02:58 CDT 2000

"I had thought it might be advantageous to make use of my small form." said
Luke as he skittered along a
rafter. I came here to the administration building to do some snooping
around. Something about Wolftongues
bothered me, you know? I wanted to see what else I could find. I realized
that Wolftongues'
room-within-a-room created this little crawlspace up here, so I snuck in
this way..." 

"Watson, that's illegal!" 

"Illegal for a man, maybe. Who's going to prosecute a rat?" 


"Listen! While I was crawling around, I discovered that there's a
crawlspace in-between the inner wall and
outer wall of Wolftongues' office. And there, I discovered something that
just blew me away!" 


Luke stuck his head down into the darkness, then pulled it back and looked
at his companions in dismay. "It's
gone!" he exclaimed. 

"Quiet!" whispered Kelly. He looked down through a lighting panel.
"Someone's coming in below us!" 

Craig and Luke peered down into the room, confident that the grid-like
panel would be sufficient cover to hide
behind. Into the office stepped a jackal walking on his hind legs. He was
dressed in a suit, tailor made for his
canine frame. His face had a severe predatory stare, and a smile which was
positively frightening. 

Meeting Craig's gaze, Luke pointed downward and mouthed "Wolftongues!"
Craig was surprised to be able to
read the word on Luke's rodentian lips, but then, he had already realized
the same thing. 

Several others followed the administrator. There was a hyena, a cheetah, a
horse, a gorilla, and more than a
few wolves. Luke and Craig exchanged a meaningful glance. 

"All right, everyone listen!" demanded the jackal. "We're going to have to
step up our time table.
You-know-who has learned too much. He's been causing me no end of trouble,
and he's called in federal level

"You want us to off the feds, boss?" 

"If you should see them at any time during the night, you are ordered to
destroy them. Of course, after tonight,
that may cover quite an expanse of time." 

The animals laughed menacingly. 

"We can't do that!" cried the horse. 

The room fell silent as everyone stopped and stared at the mare. 

"I mean... How do we recognize them? We don't know what they've turned into." 

"Is that your real motivation for your statement?" asked the beast in the
tailored suit. "I'd hate to think that you
were starting to develop a CONSCIENCE again! Not after the last time!" 

"No, master!" 

Wolftongues placed his paws on the horse's head and yanked it down to eye
level. "Listen to me!" he shouted.
"We are the Shima! We are strong! Nature created us to be the masters of
the Earth, and all others to be food
for us! If you are not with us one hundred percent, then you are PREY! Do
you want to be prey Mary?" 


"DO YOU?" 


"Horses are normally prey animals, you know. Would you like to have the
honor of offering up your life to your
betters as we feast on the meat that was once your throat?" 

"no, master!" 

"Then I would loose that conscience if I were you. Understood?" 

"Yes, sir!" 

"Oh look, now I've upset you!" Wolftongues paced around the desk and
sighed. "There isn't anything more to
be gained from you being jittery. Go to the kitchens. Have something to
calm your nerves and I'll be in to
speak with you privately when we are done here." 

"Yes, Sir." 

As soon as the horse had left the building, Wolftongues clapped his paws
together. A wolf and a hyena came
instantly to his side. 

"Einstein, Bose... Go and help yourselves to a snack as well. And make sure
that the kitchens' power tools are
all in working order." 

The animals laughed like a psychopath about to strike. 

"Make sure no one sees you. Now go!" 

"We've got to save her!" whispered Craig as he scampered down a rafter. 

"What?" Luke balked. "US against THEM? We'll be slaughtered!" 

"What was that?" asked a voice below. 

Luke was instantly behind Craig. "I'm with you." 

* * * 

A weasel, a rat and a possum stood in the doorway of the mess hall,
watching a wolf and a hyena advancing
on a frightened mare. 

"It's party time!" said the wolf with a vicious grin. 

The hyena, true to being a hyena, couldn't stop laughing as he contemplated
the delightful carnage about to

Mary, the horse, was neighing and whinnying wildly, eyes round with fright
and searching for a means of

"How are we going to save this woman?" asked Kelly. 

"By hoping that everything I've heard about weasels is true." Craig surged

"What? Wait!" 

Already, Craig was leaping for the hyena. The beast had barely enough time
to register surprise before Craig
was clinging to the fur on his neck. Something deep in Craig's weasel brain
told him exactly were to strike, and
strike he did. Like a flash of lightning, he sank his teeth into his
enemy's neck. Blood covered him instantly. The
hyena was dead before he hit the floor. 

"You killed Bose!" rasped the wolf in horrified amazement. The look faded
into one of burning rage as the wolf
slowly but inexorably moved in on the weasel. "You are going to pay, little
man. Nobody messes with the Fang
and Claw Gang!" 

Craig now found himself as helpless as Mary had been moments ago. The wolf
would be prepared for a neck
attack. He had no offensive options, and nowhere to run. 

Suddenly, the wolf's jaw dropped as his eyes went wide. A moment later, he
collapsed on the floor in utter
agony. Where he had stood now appeared Luke, who was wiping off his tongue
and saying "I cannot believe I
actually bit him THERE! You owe me one, Wilder!" 

"Gangway!" shouted Kelly. Craig managed to leap away just in time as a
large, heavy set of shelves came
crashing down on the whimpering wolf. 

Panting and heaving, Craig looked down at himself and took in the mess he
had become. "Water?" he said. 

In response, Kelly turned on the sink tap. 

Once he had washed himself, Craig looked over to Mary, the horse, who lay
curled in a ball with her hooves
over her head, despite Luke's best efforts to comfort her. 

"Mary?" said Craig. 

The mare did not respond. 

"Mary, why were these two trying to kill you?" 

Mary simply shook her mane. 

"No? No what? No, you can't answer?" 

"No, I can't!" 

"Why not?" 

"He'll kill me if I talk!" 

"Who? Wolftongues?" 

Mary shook her mane again. "That's not Henry!" she blurted. 

"No? Who is it?" 

"It is him, but it isn't... I can't tell you! He'll kill me!" 

Craig placed his paws on Mary's head as he had seen the jackal do, being
careful to be gentle and calm as he
did so, but demanding Mary's attention, nonetheless. "Mary, You understand
that these two were sent to kill
you, don't you?" 


"Whoever it is in there wants you dead. Telling us the truth may be your
only hope for survival. Do you
understand that?" 

The horse hesitated. 

"Do you understand?" 

"Yes. I do." 

"Who is the jackal?" 

"It's Henry, only it isn't Henry." 

"That makes sense." Luke commented. 

"That's the reason Henry doesn't believe that people turn into animals at
sunset." said Mary. "He doesn't
remember it!" 

"Wait a minute..." said Craig, sitting back on his haunches. "Are you
telling me that Henry Wolftongues has a
split personality?" 

"Yes! Exactly! When he turns into a jackal, his mind changes too. The
jackal calls himself Kachin." 

"Tell us about Kachin." 

"He's crazy... He thinks he's Genghis Kahn or something. Always talking
about how the Shima are supposed to
rule the world." 

"I'm a little confused here." said Luke. "I thought that the Shima were
wiped out long ago." 

"Not all of them." Mary explained. "A few survived and had half-blood
children. I'm part Shima myself. That's
why Kachin brought me in on his plans, even though I'm a horse." 

"Even though?" 

"He surrounds himself with killers like... like Einstein and Bose. Kachin
is the one who formed the Fang and
Claw gang. They're his private army!" 

"That's why they didn't turn on Henry Wolftongues when he confronted them
today." Craig deduced. "It's
because Henry IS Kachin, even if he doesn't know it!" 

"That's right. I've wanted to tell him for so long, but if I did, Kachin
would kill me." 

"Mary, is Kachin responsible for the disappearance of those five children?" 

"Yes. They got too close to certain areas he was operating in, and so he
had the Fang and Claw boys kill

"So why were the bodies never found?" 

Mary motioned with her nose to the two lifeless bodies. "Those two are
why." she said. "They're Kachin's
personal garbage disposal. Between the two of them, they can devour an
entire human body and never leave
any evidence that one existed." 

Kelly now stepped forward to ask a question. "You said that these kids were
killed because they found out
about Kachin's operations. What exactly is he doing?" 

"I don't know exactly, but I do know that it involves the volcano, Mount

"I know something else." said Luke. "When I was snooping around his office,
I found plans for a home made
atom bomb." 


"They're actually unbelievably easy to build. The hard part is getting your
hands on some heavy radioactives." 

"The plutonium!" Craig exclaimed. "Somehow, he managed to get a canister of
plutonium out of the nuclear
facility and then make it look like someone screwed up their math so that
it would seem that there wasn't one
missing after all. That way, the investigation would be over with in a few
days, he'd get away scot free and he'd
have time to build his bomb." 

"But what would he do with it?" Luke pondered. 

"What would happen if he set off the bomb inside Mount Christopher?" asked

Kelly pondered. "At the power level he'd be capable of constructing the
bomb with, not much. The walls of the
crater would contain most of the blast, as well a lot of the radiation. It
wouldn't erupt, since it's extinct. The
most that would happen is..." 

"The ash." 

"Tons of ash and dust in the atmosphere. A localized nuclear winter." 

"But worst of all," said Craig. It would be dark. The pollution would block
the sun, making it permanent
nighttime on the ground." 

"We'd all be stuck as animals forever!" said Mary. 

"The legend!" Luke exclaimed. 


"The Yondak were able to defeat the Shima by waiting until daylight and
turning back into humans. If daylight
never comes, Kachin has a massive tactical advantage which his ancestors

"Precisely." Craig concurred. "He plans to wipe out the Yondak and everyone
else living on their land, with the
exception of his own men." 

"But what happens when outsiders come in to investigate the blast?" Luke

"Then they would fall under the land's spell and be instantly changed." 

"Not only that..." said Mary. "The magic of the Shima grows stronger at
night. The longer it stays night, the
wider the range of the spell will become. Who knows how many could fall
under it's influence?" 

Kelly turned to face Craig and Luke. "Gentlemen, we heard Kachin say that
he had to step up his plans. That
means that we have to act quickly. For all we know, he could be setting off
his bomb tonight." 

Craig called Kelly and his partner over for a huddle. "Kelly, can you take
Mary someplace where she'll be safe
from the Kachin's men?" 

"The hollowed oak tree north of town. It's a social gathering point. Lots
of people. She'll be safe there." 

"Take her there. Watson and I are going to go after Kachin. I'm going to
try to find a local map. Watson, bring
me the ornate little box we saw in Wolftongues' office." 


"Because it may be the only hope we have of stopping Kachin." 

* * * 

"What I can't figure out," said Luke as he bounded along on all fours. "Is
why, if Kachin wants to get rid of the
Yondak, he doesn't just blow them all up with his atom bomb." 

"Dif guy ivn't right in da head." replied Craig around the bundle which he
held in his mouth. "He'v trying to fulfil
da plan of hiv Shima anfeftors. He'v got to kill vem by turning vem all
into animals." As soon as he finished
speaking, Craig took an abrupt left turn. 

"Where are you going?" Luke shouted. "The volcano is the other way!" 

"I know." 

"Aren't we going after the bomb?" 

"Not the bomb. Kachin." 

"You know where he is?" 

"If you were about to detonate an atomic bomb, where would you be?" 



"The caves!" said the rat in sudden realization. 

The night was dark as pitch on the path toward the caves. Neither the
weasel nor the rat could see much of
anything. Craig didn't even see the huge, meaty simian hand that reached
down out of the inky blackness to
grab him by the head, nor did he see the rock that smashed into his cranium. 

* * * 

Craig wilder awoke with a splitting headache, naturally. This time, instead
of a possum's face against a ceiling
of wood, he was surprised to see a jackal's face against a ceiling of
stone. "Welcome back to the living." said
Kachin with an evil smile. "I congratulate you on getting this far. You're
a very clever weasel, mister Wilder. Or
is it Watson?" 

"I know who you are." said Craig. I know what you're planning." 

"Oh, do you now? Extra points if you do." 

"Your Henry Wolftongues' alter-ego, and you're planning to take over
Lunacorpora by creating a nuclear

"Take over Lunacorpora? What kind of small time loser do you take me for?" 

"I know about your plan to create a permanent night and destroy the

"Destroy them? Oh contraire. Take a look around you." 

Craig slowly rolled over until he was standing on all fours. He twisted his
throbbing head about and took in his
environment. He was inside the caves, as he suspected. All around him were
enormous cages. Huge,
monstrous cages with heavy iron bars. "You plan to keep them as pets?" 

"No, no. Livestock, my dear man. Don't you remember what my other self told
you? We Shima are cannibals.
We plan to take the townspeople along as we lengthen these tunnels to
extend into nearby counties." 


"I thought you were so smart. Try to keep up with me." 

"You plan to create the nuclear night so that you can round up the
townsfolk and bring them down here." 

"Where night is truly permanent. No sun, no humanity." 

"And you're going to use them as livestock as you tunnel into neighboring
towns and do the same to them.
You're forgetting one thing though." 

"And what might that be?" 

"You'll become human as soon as you leave the Yondak land. You'll be out of
range of the spell." 

Kachin threw back his head and laughed, barking and howling like a mad dog.
"I AM the magic of the Shima!
They cast the spell. I can re-cast it. I can re-cast it in every place my
forces surface. The entire world will be
mine before too long." 

"So why are you telling me this?" Craig said at last. 

"Tell me, my little weasel... how did it feel when you sank your teeth into
Bose's neck?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Honestly, Wilder... did you think that you weren't being watched? I had a
camera on you the whole time. I
saw the gleam in your eye when you severed his jugular. You're a
man-killer, Wilder, with the immense
brainpower to make you truly formidable. I want you on my team." 

A flash of motion caught Craig's eye. Kachin saw his focus shift and
whirled around. Like lightning, he
pounced. Before Craig even realized what was happening, Kachin had a
familiar rat pinned under his paw. The
jackal turned to the weasel and grinned. "Your partner on the other hand is
much more stealthy. He made it
past my men in the upper levels while you got yourself brained at the first
opportunity. Still, neither of you can
hope to take on me, alone or together." 

"I didn't come to take you on." said Luke. "I came to deliver a present!" 

Whipping his tail, Luke threw a small object across the cavern into Craig's

For only a moment, Kachin seemed to hesitate, then he started toward Craig.
The weasel took a quick survey
of his surroundings. Seeing that he was in one of the open cages, he
grabbed the door and locked himself in.
Kachin leapt at the door an instant too late. He stood there, staring in at
the weasel with a small, ornamental
box in his paws. 

"What do you hope to do with that?" sneered the jackal. "It's just a music
box." Behind him, Luke was
scampering to safety. He didn't move. He only stared. 

"When I saw this music box in your otherwise barren office, I realized that
it must have immense sentimental
value to Henry Wolftongues." 

"Shut up." 

"You're afraid of him, aren't you?" 

"Shut UP!" 

"Afraid of what would happen if he ever found out the truth." 


Craig opened the music box. Kachin stood transfixed and terrified as a
strange, tinny song filled the air. After a
few seconds, he began to quietly sing along. "NO!" screamed the jackal.
"You can't come out! I won't let you!"
Then in a softer voice, "What's going on? Where am I?" 

"Henry? Talk to me Henry." 

"Wilder? Is that you? You're not human! OF COURSE HE'S NOT HUMAN, YOU
NEITHER ARE YOU, NOW SHUT UP! What's going on? Why are strange words coming
out of my mouth?

"Fight him! Fight him, Henry!" 

"Shut up, weasel! What are you? What are you doing with my body? It's MY
body! MINE! You're nothing
but my miserable human side, and as of right now, you're never going to
exist again!" Lurching to the far side of
the cavern, Kachin reached a mechanical console and slammed his paw down on
a huge, red button. 

The earth shook. A terrible thunder rolled through the very rock and soil. 

"No!" cried Watson. "He's set off the bomb!" 

"Bomb?" whispered Henry. 

"That's right." Kachin answered. "The bomb that will end all humanity in
Lunacorpora! No more humans! Only
predators and prey!" 

"I cannot allow that." said Henry calmly. He took a ring of keys down from
a hook on the wall and tossed them
into Craig's cage. He then stepped quietly into a cage of his own. "What
are you doing?" demanded his other
self. "Give me back control! You can't do this!" Even as his mouth was
protesting, Henry closed and locked
the door. 

The bad guy was captured. The good guys had won. 

* * * 

When Craig reached the surface immediately behind Luke, he knew right away
that he'd been unconscious
longer than he'd originally assumed. It was already morning. The second
thing he noticed was that a heavy haze
hung in the air. Kachin had succeeded in creating his cloud of perpetual

And yet, it wasn't quite night. Sunlight was still filtering through the
particles of dust and ash. The area was
caught in a perpetual twilight, now. 

What's more, it was starting to show on Craig. His body was already
growing. His arms were beginning to
assume human proportions, as well as his legs and his torso. He was soon a
human man with the head, tail and
fur of a weasel, and there the transformation stopped. 

Luke, likewise, had become a humanoid rat. The two of them stared at each
other for a moment, and then
burst out laughing until they cried. 

* * * 

"I'd give it six months at the very outside." said the meteorologist who at
the moment was a humanoid squirrel.
Montana winds and rains being what they are, this cloud will be gone before
you know it." 

"Though I imagine it'll be a source of intense curiosity for some time."
Craig speculated. 

"No kidding. I've had three official visitors from Billings come out here
wanting to know why it got so dark all
of the sudden. These people are now a cow, a spider monkey, and a porcupine." 

"And what about the radiation?" 

"Nothing to be concerned about except right here at home." 

"And even that's not a problem." said Doctor Phillips. "Even with a partial
transformation every twelve hours,
the rejuvenation factor cleanses the radiation from our bodies each time we

A bloodcurdling scream silenced all who were assembled. It was a silence
borne not of fear or surprise, but of
knowing that in the very next room, a struggle was going on with which they
could not help. 

Interminable minutes later, a ferret-man in a priest's robes stepped out to
meet the elders of the town. A
thousand questions sprung up at once. The ferret held up his hands for
silence and spoke. "In answer to the
question about the precise nature of Kachin, whether he was a part of Henry
or something else, I can only
relate what it told me, namely that it claimed to be the totem spirit of
the Shima, and the force responsible for
the spell cast over our town. It had been trying desperately to carry out
its mission of subjugating and/or
destroying the Yondaks." 

"Was that all it said?" asked a peacock in the back of the room. 

"There was much more, but none of which was very useful, and none of which
I dare repeat in polite company.
At any rate, the being has, I believe, been successfully exorcized from the
body of Henry Wolftongues. As
soon as Doctor Phillips has seen Mr. Wolftongues and pronounced him sound,
you may come and see him one
at a time." 

Craig Wilder pulled rank to be the first in line to see the camp
administrator. The fire was gone from the
jackal-man's eyes as he lay staring at the ceiling. He smiled when he saw
Craig. The smile was no longer
frightening nor fierce, but meek, and rather humble. "That Kachin sure
played me for a sucker, didn't he?" 

"It wasn't your fault." 

"Wasn't it? It was my stupidity that let him control me. I wouldn't believe
he existed because I thought the
whole town was stupid and superstitious." 

"Well, it's over, now." 

Henry turned his gaze to the ceiling. "Am I going to jail?" he asked. 

"What for?" 

"What for? How about stealing plutonium? Murder?" 

Craig looked up at the ceiling to try to find what Henry thought was so
interesting as he spoke. "The plutonium
case was closed years ago. As for murder... Yes it's tragic that five
innocent children lost their lives. But do you
think my superiors are going to believe that they were killed by

"I wouldn't." 

"As far as they'll ever know, their deaths were the result of wild animal
attacks, which is in essence the truth.
That doesn't mean, however, that the Fang and Claw Gang won't be placed
into several juvenile rehabilitation
facilities until they learn to be nicer doggies." 

Henry chuckled sadly, then said "Can I ask you a question?" 


"I feel silly asking you questions when I was at the center of
everything... but... Did the werewolf cult ever fit
into Kachin's plot?" 

"Nope. In fact, it isn't a cult at all. The werewolf club is just a bunch
of kids whose animal forms are small timid
little animals. They pretend to be werewolves in order to balance the
equation. Like the girl said, it's just a

Henry held up his furry hand, watching it slowly turn more paw-like. "It
must be sunset." he observed. 

"Yep." the fed agreed as he began to shrink to the proportions of an
ordinary weasel. 

"Boy, was Kachin mad when he found out that his cloud didn't work like he'd
expected it to." 

"Sure was." 

Henry pondered for a moment. "By the way," he said. "How did you know that
hearing the song from that
music box would bring me around?" 

"I didn't. I simply took a gamble that there was more to Henry Wolftongues
than the hard exterior you

"You were right. The song that the music box played... it was one my mother
used to sing to me as a boy. I
guess I'm still a little boy deep down." 

"A little boy who conquered a monster." 

"I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you, Craig Wilder." 

Craig smiled and stroked the jackal's fur with his paw. "I'd better get
going. Tons of paperwork to do." 

"Goodbye. And thanks again." 

* * * 

"Grab me a root beer!" Luke called to his partner as he wiped down the
windshield of the car. 

"Two root beers and the gas on pump seven." said Craig to the gas station
attendant as he handed over his
credit card. 

"Strange weather we're having these days, eh?" said the cashier while he
ran the credit card through the striper.

"Sure is." Craig replied simply. 

"I hear this here smog is from some weird happening or other up toward
Lunacorpora. You heading toward

"Just been there, actually." 

"I wouldn't go there. I hear the place is hexed." 

"Oh, it is. It's not a bad hex, though. I rather enjoyed it. Think I might
retire there before too long." 

"You mean to live?" 

Craig signed his receipt and took his card. "Yeah." he said simply. He then
walked out the door, hopped in the
car, and headed for home. 

The attendant stared after him with a predator's gaze and an evil smile.
"Don't stay away too long, agent
Wilder. I'll be waiting for you." 


The remainder of Craig Wilder's career as a federal agent was very short,
and full of accusations that the strain
of the job had gotten to his mind. His colleagues first began to wonder
when he started keeping a bowl of
ferret chow on his desk. Their concern grew when he took to wearing a fur
coat to and from work, even in the
middle of August. When his supervisor caught his gazing lustfully into an
issue of "varmint masters", he was
quietly removed from the department. Craig took all of this without
complaint, much to the bewilderment of all.
He simply called up his old partner, who had moved to Montana with his wife
and son a year ago, and asked if
they had any spare room in their treehouse. 

A few curious individuals happened to notice that shortly after Craig's
departure, a private investigator going by
the name of "Weasel Wilder" opened up shop in the remote Montana town of

And that was when things got interesting. 

But that's another story.  

-Oren the Otter
tlhaQ biQ Ha'DIbaH
The Changing Workplace: http://www.geocities.com/ottercomics

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