When the Wolfbane Blooms — Chapter Five

by Arnold Snyder

I was with Vanschtubenbergh at his lab when Devon arrived by cab. The Doc was beside himself with excitement. He had spent the past hour telling me that Devon had discovered a method of turning someone into a werewolf with a special concoction of wolfbane, one that did not require a full moon. “This is going to revolutionize the world of werewolves.”

“Are you sure he doesn’t just have another bloom-in-a-bottle?” I said.

Vanschtubenbergh cast me a disapproving glance. Bloom-in-a-bottle was a creation of his that was supposed to do more or less what Devon’s concoction would allegedly do. Vanschtubenbergh’s bloom-in-a-bottle was a dismal failure—or at least he thought so—and I was skeptical about Devon’s potion.

Also, I was in a bad mood because I’d failed to get into Bridget’s pants the night before, despite the oysters. We seemed to hit it off great during dinner and I was expecting to be invited in when I walked her to her door.

But she said, “I’m cramping. I just want to take a couple Midols and go to bed. I had a wonderful evening. I’m fascinated with this whole werewolf thing, and I’m excited about seeing my brother tomorrow and talking with him about it.”

What a letdown. Not even a make-out session.

Devon was tall and handsome and I could immediately see the family resemblance to Bridget. After Vanschtubenbergh made brief introductions, Devon unwrapped a leather pouch he took from his coat pocket to reveal a half-dozen syringes.

“Roll up your sleeves,” he said.

“You’re not planning on turning us into werewolves right now, are you?” Vanschtubenbergh said. “I still have some work to do today.”

“I just need some of your blood,” Devon explained. “I have to analyze it.”

Doc and I both took our coats off to bare our arms.

Devon got right to the point as he poked me and extracted a few milliliters of my blood. “Wolfbane is a poison,” he said, “a deadly poison. A drop on your tongue will kill you. But we consider it a poison only because no one has ever experimented with the effects of small dosages. I’m not talking milligrams. We know that a single milligram taken from the juicy root can kill a horse. I’m talking micrograms, and not very many micrograms at that. A good strong dose of wolfbane for the average adult male, say a hundred and eighty pounds, would be two micrograms, which is about one-five-hundredth of a milligram. That would make for a good two-hour wolf experience.”

“And, exactly what is a two-hour wolf experience,” Doctor Vanschtubenbergh asked.

“You will become a werewolf, the full transformation. You’ll grow fur all over your face and body, fangs, claws, a tail, an elongated jaw. You’ll have wolf instincts and sensitivities. A heightened sense of smell. You’ll retain knowledge of yourself as a human being, somewhat more than a clinical werewolf, one who has suffered the bite of a werewolf, would, and that small amount more human perspective makes all the difference. You’ll crave raw meat and you’ll be especially attracted to the prospect of eating a warm-blooded living creature. But your humanity will prevent you from acting out on your craving for human meat—unless there is someone who really crosses you—but you will not always be able to prevent yourself from attacking small creatures. You will cease to see small dogs or cats as cute or friendly, or in any way relatable. You will see them only as protein, fuel for your insatiable hunger. Even mice, rats, any warm-blooded beast will entice you to at least taste it, if not devour it. You will have no empathy with your prey. Their cries of fear and pain and horror will whet your appetite. But you will be able to resist, say, eating your mother’s cat. You’ll be more sensible than a clinical werewolf. If you do eat the pet of a friend or neighbor, later, when you’ve returned to human form, you’ll remember this heartless kill and it will disturb you.

“Taking bane in the proper dosage to bring on a werewolf experience is what I call Lycan Lite. It’s safer, more controllable, and it only lasts two hours.”

He set aside the syringe with my blood and stuck a needle into Vanschtubenbergh’s arm.

“Bane?” I said.

“Simply what I call a light dose of wolfbane. You will have to be careful around large dogs. You’ll feel territorial wherever you are and you may end up in a dog fight. A German shepherd would be no match for your strength, but it can do damage to you and would best be avoided. And be especially careful to avoid unspayed females. You will not be able to resist mounting a bitch in heat. If she’s a small dog, your enthusiasm for the conquest may kill her. If she’s big enough to accommodate you, you may impregnate her.”

“And what would the offspring be?” Vanschtubenbergh asked.

“A wolf-dog hybrid. Not an unhandsome animal. I have a daughter with a golden lab I mounted a few years ago. I know the owners, though they are unaware that I am the stud that impregnated their family pooch.”

“If it’s not too personal,” I said, “how did you happen to get alone with your neighbor’s dog when she was in heat and you were a wolf and your neighbors weren’t watching?”

“They often locked her in the barn when she was in heat, specifically to keep any wandering male dogs away. I didn’t plan it. I could smell her half a mile away. I knew I could get into that barn easily. It was latched, but never locked. So I went over there in the wee hours, let myself into the barn and had my way with Gypsy—that was her name—Gypsy. A beautiful animal, though her beauty had nothing to do with my attraction. She could have been the mangiest mutt on earth, but with that scent of estrus wild horses couldn’t keep me away.

“But understand this:  I was careful to leave the barn door unlatched and ajar when I left, because I wanted my friends to think they’d forgotten to latch it, and realize that Gypsy could have been out and about during the night. Or, that another dog could have gotten in. I wanted to provide them with a rational explanation for how she could have gotten knocked up. Despite the fact that I was so instinct-driven that I literally couldn’t keep my dick out of my friends’ pet, I plotted to allow them a rational explanation for what was inevitable. You do not lose your ability to think when you’re a wolf. In fact, you become more devious out of necessity. Gypsy was an older dog and she had just one pup, not a litter.

“But I felt powerful that night. I had conquered all that I’d ever wanted to conquer. I knew that girl was going to be knocked up. Everything about her scent said she was ready. You should have seen her tail up in the air like a semaphore, waving back and forth to spread that heavenly aroma. I was her hero come to save her.”

“I’m curious,” said Vanschtubenbergh. “When you see Gypsy now, when you’re in human form, does she know you’re the father of her puppy?”

“As a matter of fact, she does and she’s very fond of me.”

“And does her pup know you’re it’s father?” I asked.

“I suspect, but I don’t know. The pup is a female and one of the reasons I was anxious to get as far from France as possible was to avoid that bitch when she goes into heat. She’s almost irresistible to me.”

“But she’s your daughter,” I said.

“That’s not a canine’s concern.”

“So, if I take this hit of wolfbane—” I started.

“It’s bane, Dustin. We just call it bane.”

“Okay, so if I drop this bane, I’m going to go out and eat my neighbors’ cats and maybe fuck their dogs?”

“Lycan Lite leaves you with much more control than that. You’ll be tempted, but unlike a real werewolf, you’ll likely restrain yourself.”

“I’m trying to make intelligent life decisions here, Devon. Why would I want to try this? Being a werewolf has always been considered a curse, not an achievement.”

“You don’t get it. Being a werewolf is being what a man really is—an animal. We’ve hidden ourselves inside our social structures. We no longer know who we really are—a life form, like all advanced life forms, that survives by consuming other life forms. If you feel who you really are, feel it just once, you will never forget the feeling and you will long to return to your animal nature. One taste of consciousness as a wolf and you will have a new purpose in life, a purpose you can fulfill with every transformation.”

“A purpose in life,” I said. “Killing and eating weak, helpless creatures, then looking for a bitch in heat. When you put it that way, I understand the attraction. But I wonder what Father Mcgillicuddy would say about it.”

“I wouldn’t talk to a priest about this,” Devon said.

“But he’s my Confessor,” I said. Not that I’d ever formally confessed any sins to him. I wasn’t even a Catholic. I’d met him at a rock concert. He was a fellow death metal fan.

“The Catholics used to persecute us, you know,” Devon said. “Back in the middle ages, when they were burning witches. They burned a lot of werewolves too. I’m pretty sure a priest won’t like the idea. They attribute werewolves to dark evil forces. They don’t accept that it’s just biology, perfectly explainable with science.”

“Father Mcgillicuddy’s different. He might want to try it himself.”

“Dustin,” Vanschtubenbergh broke in in a low, mellow half-whisper, “no priests. Nonnegotiable. I don’t care how much you like him, I don’t want some nutjob running around here waving a cross and sprinkling holy water.”

“Right,” I said. “I agree, that wouldn’t be cool.” But in my heart I knew I would talk to Jim, which is what I call him. Father James Mcgillicuddy. He was the closest thing I had to a real friend. “I’m going to think about this, Devon,” I said, then, “I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it, Doc.”

Vanschtubenbergh cleared his throat for effect. “I’m quite in favor of doing it very soon,” he said. “At two hours, it’s a relatively short transformation. That’s much more agreeable to me than the typical wolf trip. I’ve been tempted to inject myself many times, but I’m put off by the time investment. Plus, I appreciate that I won’t have to worry about it coming back, full moon or not, as I use blooming wolfbane frequently in my research. I like that. Unless I eat the bane again, it’s a one-time experience.”

“Let me clarify that,” Devon said. “It could come back but only under certain rare conditions of the moon, in conjunction with other weather conditions, barometric pressure, and even your blood type—you can expect it to come back once every few years maybe, but it’s totally predictable.”

“How predictable?” I said.

“Totally. That’s why I’m taking these blood samples. I’ll need to get my sister’s also. I’ll analyze these samples, then look at my moon charts and tell you when such an event might occur for each of you, still depending on local weather conditions.”

“I’m willing to give it a shot sometime next week,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “I’ve got to finish up my parakeet experiments first.”

“I could do it sooner than that,” I said. “But let me ask you this: If I try it and then you look at my blood and you tell me next Tuesday at half-past noon I’m going to experience another Lycan Lite event, is there anything I can do to stop it?”

“You’re unlikely to want to stop it. You’re more likely to be excited about it.”

“But if I have to stop it because it interferes with my life too much at that time, can I stop it?”

“Yes, very easily. Go somewhere where the barometric pressure is different. That’ll stop it dead. You often won’t have to go very far, especially if you can change your altitude. A few hours later, the danger will have passed and you can go on with your life.”

“Well, I’m not much for eating cats,” I said. “But I do like the idea of feeling my true animal nature. It sounds like something everyone should do once in a while. So, I’m seriously considering it. I’ll make a decision by tomorrow.”

I already knew I would try it. My heart was racing at the prospect. But I would have to see what Jim thought about it. Maybe I could convince him to try it with me.

Just then, Bridget arrived. Devon stood up and hugged her as she entered Vanschtubenbergh’s lab. The first words he said to her were, “I need some of your blood, Sis.”

Go to: Chapter Six

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