by Arnold Snyder
“It’s simply been an experiment,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “I have notes on all of it. I intend to publish a paper on my findings within the year. It’s very exciting, actually.”
“A paper?” Bridget said, obviously not believing a word that came out of his mouth.
“Yes, I’m studying the implications of associative illusions in false memory, especially as applied to impaired spatial learning following emotional events. You have been my best subject to date.”
“Why am I in my underwear?” she said.
“I can explain that,” I said.
She turned and pointed the pistol at my heart. “Shut up,” she said. “You’ve been lying to me since the moment I woke up.” She looked at Vanschtubenbergh. “Tell me how I got here, Doctor.”
“Doctor Cathcart brought you here, as he already explained.”
“Yes, and he already explained that I’ve been in a coma for a year and we know that’s not true. Would you gentlemen kindly turn your backs?”
I quickly turned around as did Vanschtubenbergh. Pistols call for obedience. Would she actually shoot me in the back? C’mon, Doc, get us out of this!
“Now kindly remain that way as I dress,” Bridget said. “And don’t think I won’t use this thing if you try to peek at me.”
“I would strongly advise against shooting me,” Vanschtubenbergh said, so calmly, so confidently. “Feel free to shoot Doctor Cathcart, but if you shoot me, Devon will be quite upset.”
Thanks a bunch for giving her permission to shoot me, Doc! And who the hell is Devon?
“Devon?” she said.
“Your brother,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “The werewolf of Marseilles.”
“What do you know about Devon?” she said.
I had never mentioned Bridget’s brother to Vanschtubenbergh, nor had Bridget told me his name, so I also wanted to know what the Doc knew about Devon!
“I know he’s on his way here right now,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “His flight will arrive in New York later this evening, and by tomorrow afternoon, he’ll be right here in this very room. Perhaps you are under the impression that your meeting with my assistant, Dustin Cathcart, was accidental. It wasn’t. I arranged it. I wanted to meet you because I think you may have the same werewolf gene as your brother.”
“My brother is a werewolf because he was bitten by a werewolf. As I have never been bitten by a werewolf, I am not a werewolf.”
“Yes, well, I’ve heard a different story from your brother. He seems quite certain that he bit you himself, though he has no idea why you never transformed. It’s an anomaly I’m interested in studying.”
“Devon never bit me.”
“You were sleeping when he did it.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Devon will be here tomorrow. You may ask him about it yourself.”
“Look, I don’t know what the story is with Devon, but you guys drugged me with something. I have no idea how I got to this place or where this place even is. I woke up in my underwear with this idiot telling me I was his fiancé.”
“It was merely an experiment,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “Plus, I also felt you and Dustin would get along well. I think you two may be soul mates.”
“Soul mates?” she said with no attempt at hiding her disdain for the suggestion. “He wanted to hang me from the ceiling and fuck me in the ass!”
“And that’s a bad thing?” Vanschtubenbergh said.
“I never said I wanted to do that,” I said. “I was just making conversation.”
There was a long silence, then she said, “Okay, you can turn around again.”
She was dressed, standing beside the table where she had awakened. She still had the gun in her hand, but it was no longer pointing in our direction. “Tell me what you know about my brother,” she said.
“I have been corresponding with Devon for almost two years now,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “He mentioned to me that you knew he was a werewolf. Are you aware of the work he’s been doing? The experiments?”
“He’s a horticulturist,” she said. “Basically, a gardener.”
“A gardener who knows more about wolfbane that any other botanist in the world,” Vanschtubenbergh said. “Your brother, Devon, is a brilliant scientist, and together we’re going to make history.”
Bridget finally put her gun back in her purse. She turned to me. “Who are you?” she said. “I don’t believe you’re a doctor.”
“Yes, well … that’s very astute of you,” I said. “I’m Doctor Vanschtubenbergh’s assistant—”
“Oh, he’s much more than that,” Vanschtubenbergh broke in. “He is one of the leading researchers on werewolves in the world. He’s made many important discoveries, some of which have shocked lupinologists. Do you subscribe to the International Journal of Lupinology? Dustin has published numerous abstracts on his work and soon will come out with a thesis on manipulating the genetic code of werewolves to create a species that would be kitten-like in their gentle playfulness.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. He could lie through his teeth like no one else on the planet. But what if she asks to see the abstracts?
She studied my face for a few moments, then said, “How did you know I was into suspension with ropes?”
“Suspension?” I said. Her line of questioning threw me. “It was not really something I knew. It was just something I envisioned.”
“Well you can unenvision the fucking-me-in-the-ass part,” she said, looking me right in the eyes.
“No problem,” I said, taking that as permission to keep envisioning her suspended from ropes. Naked. At my mercy. Her pussy slathered with Vermont’s finest Grade A golden fancy syrup. Just no sodomy. I can live with that.
Then she said, “Are you a werewolf?”
“Me? No. My god, no.”
“Are you really an expert on werewolves?”
“Compared to Doctor Vanschtubenbergh, I’m an amateur dabbler in the field. But werewolves are my passion and my business. I don’t deny that.”
“I’m the founder and CEO of Lupine Solutions, LLC. We have a database of more than thirteen hundred werewolves nationwide, available to us for any and all werewolf needs. We can provide werewolf services to individuals, small businesses, and major corporations.”
“I was not aware that such a business existed. What does anyone need werewolves for?” Bridget asked.
“I’ve already told you about what beautiful voices they have,” I said.
“No, you haven’t.”
That’s right … I’d told her about the werewolf choir a few hours before I’d brainwashed her. She won’t be able to recall anything about that conversation now. “Have you ever heard your brother sing?” I said. “Have you heard him howl at the moon?” Do I really want to tell this lie again? She’d forgotten all about it. I was off the hook.
“I’ve never been with him when he was a wolf. He stays away from family and friends on those nights. He’s very thoughtful that way. He has no desire to scare any of us.”
“Well, let me tell you, werewolves have gorgeous voices. Incredible range. They can go from mezzo-soprano to baritone without missing a beat. Doctor Vanschtubenbergh and I are right now forming a werewolf choir. They harmonize beautifully. We’re hoping to feature them at the city’s Christmas Pageant this year.”
In fact, I couldn’t think of a damn thing anyone could possibly use a werewolf for. They were dangerous, clumsy, rude, antisocial, and they smelled terrible.
“So, people hire werewolves to sing? Would it be unladylike of me to say bullshit?” she said. “What else can they do?”
“No, really, Bridget, they can sing.”
“And what else?”
“Well, just about anything. Some of them are quite educated. Quite skilled as humans. So they can work almost any job a person could do. Name a job.”
“Sure … a werewolf could be a payroll clerk.”
“Dustin, you are the phoniest fraud I’ve ever met.”
“I’m not. You’ve got me all wrong.”
“I have never met a liar so accomplished that he would attempt to tell the kinds of lies that just smoothly roll off your tongue.” Obviously, she’d never met the likes of Vanschtubenbergh before.
“How about this?” I said. “Tomorrow morning I have to go to our werewolf holding facility and deal with seven wolves we have locked up because they’re addicted to chocolate. Why don’t you come with me and help me? I’ll be happy to introduce you to seven real werewolves.”
“And why would you believe I have any desire to get further involved with you and your fraudulent schemes?”
“Because afterwards I’ll take you to lunch at Ozzie’s Oyster House.”
She gave me a look that said you’ve got to be kidding, but she said, “What time?”
Yes! Oysters get them every time!
“I’ll pick you up at eight a.m. Be ready. We have to get there while the wolves are still sleeping, and before they transform back to human. You’ll get to watch them change from wolf to were right before your eyes.”
“I don’t believe a word of that, but I’ll be ready. What time does Ozzie’s open?”
“Eleven-thirty for lunch,” I said. “So it’s a date?”
“It’s an appointment,” she said. “And I’ll have my pistol.”
Go to: Chapter Four