The past two months had been arduous, physically and mentally tiring as well as tossing his world, his goal and research, upside down, topsy-turvy, knocked to hell in a hand basket, however one would desire to describe it. The entire direction of his thought process and his pre-drawn conclusions or theories changed radically, leading him down a rabbit hole he’d never imagined, into the supernatural world!
He glanced at the odometer and then his watch, noting he should arrive at his destination in International Falls just before the dinner hour. His travel, he predetermined, at least this segment, would consist of two nights and three days on the road and he was growing weary and anxious at the same time. Perhaps a night’s rest before he began his reconnaissance would refresh him, allowing a rested mind to provide a fresh perspective on something he’d viewed previously but hadn’t tumbled to. The miles seemed to tick by with rapidity as he headed north.
Lord knows how he would’ve existed or survived, for that matter, without the rather substantial grant provided by an extremely generous and anonymous benefactor funding his research and travel. The obsession he became fixated on in while in high school, the desire to discover, study, and verify a subspecies of Canis lupus lupus, the American Gray Wolf, larger one and a half to twice as large as the native wolf, had been his quest since he’d read a magazine article, written by a gentleman whose name he couldn’t recall thereafter, chronically the sighting and photographing of extremely large tracks of such a creature. Scholars generally debunked the possibility of such a creature existing as being “photo-shopped” or faked.
He wasn’t convinced it was faked; after all, hadn’t wildlife biologists discovered and then identified a subspecies of the Canada Goose near Rochester, Minnesota and named it the Greater Canada Goose?
Undeterred, Ted Symthe pursued a degree in Wildlife Biology, a Master’s Degree, and a PhD with the intent to study such a creature, if one existed. In his search for employment, he obtained a temporary position with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The job wasn’t one he really relished, Game Warden rather than a Wildlife Biologist in research, but the consolation was it did put him in a favorable position to study the animals of the forest, specifically Gray Wolves in their natural habitat, where he was assigned. He was a researcher, not a real people person and for some reason just didn’t have the type of personality suited to the position.
It was on one of his sojourns into the forest primeval he happened upon a solitary, very large wolf –a wolf much larger than he normally encountered. There were plenty of opportunities to observe the Gray Wolf in Northern Minnesota, his assigned territory, but this one was much larger than the normal wolf, perhaps one and a half to two times bigger. He was able to snap a grainy picture of the creature. The sight of the wolf and the picture cemented his theory there did indeed exist a larger subspecies of the Gray Wolf, but one sighting was not empirical proof. It could’ve just been an anomaly. Absolute proof would mean more than one sighting, more pictures, or even capture of one of the creatures.
Ted spent considerable time questioning the local population and various visitors pursuing recreational activities in the area, seeking to determine if they’d been witness to any such large creatures. He was assured over and over, no such creatures had been seen. Oh, there were numerous reports of hearing the wolves howl at night and an occasional sighting of the normal sized Gray Wolf and more of coyotes, but nothing to confirm what he was seeking. Only one group of young men seemed to know more than they told him, but no matter how hard he tried, he could weasel nothing from them of importance.
Suddenly his position was eliminated and he was offered a research position at a small private university in another state. The job requirements and responsibilities allowed him to devote his time to working on his quest for the “greater Gray Wolf” as he termed his project. The funding was sufficient to allow some travel in his research and soon he was following leads, of which there were very few, throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He found there were many rumors of large wolves, but no actual evidence of their existence.
Ted communicated with the academic world, hoping there might be some research or evidence various biologists might have he was unfamiliar with or unpublished. The responses were not encouraging! Until two months ago when he received a text message from a Dr. Stanley Steele, a retired professor of Wildlife, now living in Eagle Lake, Maine.
The text was cryptic and odd- odd enough to spur his curiosity. It read simply “Big wolves exist. You’re barking up the wrong tree or pissing on a short post. We need to talk. Come see me.”
Ted thought a moment, muttered “What the hell why not?” aloud and responded, accepting the invitation.
Dr. Steele’s home on Eagle Lake near a small town by the same name, in Northern Maine. It took Ted the better part of a week to drive there, winding his way through the Eastern United States to Maine and then north, traveling on Interstate 95. He almost missed the exit leading to State Highway 11. At that point in time, he’d wearied of the traffic and seemingly endless hordes of people he encountered and welcomed the forested area of Maine, although there was still plenty of traffic. Had he missed the exit, he mused, he’d have continued into New Brunswick, Canada. Of course, the direction he was traveling now would carry him there as well, if he should stay on the highway.
The directions Steele gave him, once he arrived in the small community of Eagle Lake were easy to follow. Steele lived not far from the town and a sign with an arrow pointing, along the side road, announcing “Steele’s Camp” led him down a short lane to a nicely built and appointed log home sporting a large screened-in front porch and a detached two car garage situated on the lake. The view of the lake and surrounding forest appeared to be excellent and, from the utility wires leading to the home gave every indication it was modern and not without conveniences.
Ted parked his pickup truck, walked up onto the porch, and reaching for the doorbell to announce his presence, noted on either side of the door way, about waist high, set permanently in the door framing, was a plastic encased silver dining knife.
“Odd,” he thought, but perhaps Steele was a bit eccentric and had a reason for placing the knives in such a manner, perhaps as one would do with a four-leaf clover or a horseshoe above a door as sort of a talisman. Ted wasn’t unfamiliar with eccentricity since many often referred to him as eccentric or “odd.”
The door was opened by an elderly, white-haired, lithe, and well-fit congenial and somewhat handsome man, who, with a huge smile, extended his hand in greeting.
“Dr. Symthe?” he inquired, hopefully.
“Yes!” Ted replied, accepting the hand, noting as he did, Dr. Steele wore a silver bracelet on each wrist in addition to a wrist watch on his left.
“Come in please,” Dr. Steele invited, leading Ted to the living room. “Please have a seat. Perhaps, since it is after four in the afternoon, you’d care to join me in a cocktail? I’m accustomed to having a brandy this time of the day and I’d be delighted if you’d join me,” and softly to himself, “since you’ve passed the first test.”
Nodding appreciatively, since Ted thought he could use one himself, his mind was suddenly conflicted, wondering what the “first test” he thought he heard Dr. Steele mention, not that it caused him any distress, but it did cause him to question why he was really here. He felt uneasy, as if something would bring some significant change to his life by his presence in this house and meeting this man. For some reason, the name seemed familiar, but he just couldn’t seem to put a finger on it. The man was odd, it seemed, but not particularly dangerous, Ted thought. Although, he did smell strongly of an unusual cologne.
“Neat or on the rocks?” Dr. Steele asked.
“On the rocks, please, with a touch of water.”
“Just the way I enjoy it myself,” laughed Steele.
Ted took the opportunity, while Steele was in the kitchen fixing their drinks, to scrutinize the parts of the home visible to him. The living room, where he was seated, was equipped with a stone fireplace, several chairs, a couch, lamps, and end tables. A door led to what appeared to be a dining room and beyond a kitchen, a hall leading to more rooms he assumed, and a sliding wooden door, open at the moment, revealing some sort of office or library. Dr. Steele returned with the drinks, served Ted his, and settled down in one of the easy chairs near Ted. Before he could comment on Ted’s visit, Ted opened the discussion.
“Nice place! Have you had it long?”
Dr. Steele nodded, answering, “Yes, in fact, it’ll be forty years this month I bought the property and thirty years since the construction of the house was completed. When I retired, twenty-five years ago, I moved in permanently, year around. Since then I’ve made many improvements, mainly to modernize it and bring into the internet age. I find it most comfortable, especially since I retired. It gives me the quiet and solitude I need on occasion and the opportunity to continue my research.”
The home, situated on about two acres fronted on Eagle Lake, contained four bedrooms, two on the upper level and two on the lower. The master bedroom was on the lower level and had a private bath. The other bedroom on the lower level accessed a bathroom via the hall. The two bedrooms on the upper level had a bathroom there for guests to use. The downstairs consisted of the living room, kitchen with large pantry, dining room, the aforementioned bedrooms and bathrooms, and a library or office area where Dr. Steele worked. The house was heated with Liquid Propane and a fireplace, only not as efficient, could provide sufficient auxiliary heat during cold weather or emergencies. A whole house auxiliary generator supplied electric power in case of a power failure due to weather or other unforeseen problems.
Questioned on the large size of the home, Steele admitted it was, but since he had several brothers and sisters, their families would often visit and made use of the home. He also entertained guests in his home and made use of the largeness. Apparently, Ted thought he enjoyed his family’s company, welcoming them, and others to his home.
“Married, Dr. Steele?” Ted inquired, noting there weren’t any pictures about indicating otherwise.
“My name is Stanley Joseph Steele, but my friends and family call me either ‘Joe’ or just ‘Steele’ so I’d ask you do so as well since I’m certain we’ll soon know each other quite well. Now, to answer your question, no, I never married, but I’ve not been without company or companionship over the years either.”
Steele paused, thinking a moment, eyebrows raised, yet quite non-threatening, “So, you’re interested in tracking down large wolves, if I read your blog correctly? What got you started on this particular quest? It’s unusual to say the least.”
“Actually,” Ted responded with a smile, “it was you! I realized, sitting here trying to remember where I’d come in contact with your name. You were the person whose article I read in a magazine while I was in high school. Your article, pondering the existence of a sub-species of the American Gray Wolf, so intrigued me I couldn’t help but become almost obsessed with the possibility. Imagine, a wolf one and a half to twice as large as the regular Gray Wolf?”
Steele laughed aloud, “So, I did, but if you recall, I noted I had no proof except photos of large paw prints and backwoods tales of big wolves. Critics lambasted me and my hypothesis accusing me of faking the pictures and basing my conclusions on rumor and superstition.”
“Well,” Ted responded, excitedly, “hold on to your hat because I have something even better- a photo I took of a really big wolf.”
Stepping outside to retrieve his laptop from his truck, Ted noticed the growing dusk, realizing time slipped by while they were visiting. He hadn’t made any reservations for a motel room in Fort Kent, approximately forty to fifty miles to the north, so he’d either have to leave soon to seek a room or ask Steele if he knew of any motels he could call for a reservation, thus delaying his departure longer.
Returning to the living room, apologizing, Ted, said, “I can only take a few minutes to show you this, although we could download it to your computer, since I need to find a motel room to spend the night.”
“No need for that,” Steele responded, “please stay the night here. I have plenty of room and we have much to discuss.”
Ted protested only slightly; he wasn’t about to pass up a free room and he had a great deal he wished to discuss with Steele. This might be his only opportunity and wanted to take full advantage of it. Setting his laptop down on a coffee table, he booted it up, and brought forth the grainy image of big wolf he’d photographed. Enlarging it, as much as he could without major distortion, he turned the laptop so Steele could view the picture.
Steele arranged his chair so he could see the photo better, studied it closely, nodding as he processed what he saw, before calmly beginning to question Ted on the location, time of day, distance from the subject he was when the photo was taken, time of year, and so on. He learned it was taken in the Kabetogama Forest, toward dusk, late spring, and with a cellphone. Convinced in Ted’s sincerity, apparent honesty, and his care in describing the situation, Steele began his comments and questions.
“You’re absolutely certain you’ve photographed a sub-species of Canis lupus lupus aren’t you?”
Ted was ecstatic someone may just believe him and perhaps collaborate with him on this apparent discovery. He sat hopeful Steele would continue.
“I think,” Dr. Steele continued thoughtfully, “we need to move your baggage into the downstairs bedroom down the hall and fix ourselves some dinner as I ponder this and we decide what should be done about it.”
Somewhat deflated in his enthusiasm, but not discouraged, Ted agreed. He was hungry and a sandwich would suit him just fine.
“I’ve a pot roast cooking in a slow cooker, along with potatoes, carrots, and some onion, since morning. With some hard rolls, coffee or milk, and perhaps a slice of chocolate cake, it should be sufficient for the two of us.”
“Sure as hell beats a sandwich,” Ted thought to himself, but preferred to say aloud, “It sounds great! I’ve done nothing but eat fast foods for most the week and this will be a welcome change.”
While the two of them ate dinner, they visited, not so much on Ted’s hypothesis, the existence of a sub-species of the American Gray Wolf, but on their academic experiences. After dinner, dishes in the dishwasher, they retired to Steele’s office, where they downloaded Ted’s photo onto Steele’s desktop computer, and Steele again began perusing the grainy photo of the large wolf.
Resting his chin on his hand, supported by an elbow on the desk, Steele observed aloud, as if pondering and digesting his conclusions, “Definitely a larger than average wolf, no obvious differences to the casual observer other than size, but very different.”
Ted leaned over his shoulder as Steele indicated Ted should come closer so he could point out several salient features to him. Enlarging the photo even more to reveal details on the head of the creature, Steele, pointed at the head, snout, ears, eyes, and facial features.
“It appears to be a mature, adult male wolf in its prime. There’s no whitening around the muzzle as one might find on a more mature or older creature. The general coat fur is almost fresh looking and, if this was in color, strong in the whites, Grays, and blacks contrasted with the forest. Note the ears are slightly more erect and forward, the face somewhat different, although that could be related to what attributes the male or bitch carried, but concentrate on the expression on the face.”
The wolf, half facing the camera, almost smiled, if human, as if spotting someone or something nearby or pleased with something he saw.
“See how the face, if you exclude all preconceived notions of what a wolf’s face must look like, contains some almost human characteristics? There is a pleased, satisfied expression seeming to appear.”
“But,” Ted interjected, “so do monkeys and the Great Apes. People often say dogs take on their owner’s facial expressions as well.”
“Agreed,” Steele mused, “but take a look at the legs, both forefront and hind. See the development? A bit slenderer, but extremely well developed, strong, longer, and more flexible. This creature is built for running as well as fighting. Now,” centering the attention and enlargement to the rear hind quarters of the wolf, especially the genital area, “look at the genitals, even in this grainy picture, there is something unusual, wouldn’t you say?”
Ted looked carefully, closer than he’d looked before. “Yes,” he responded slowly, “the testicles and penis appear much larger than one would expect, even for a wolf this size.”
“Did you notice any other wolves close by?” Steele asked, curious.
Ted didn’t; he’d been concentrating on his observation of the large wolf along the timber line and trying to get a photo through the windshield of his truck.
“Let’s enlarge this some more, just in case there might be something on the other side of the road he was focusing on.”
All further enlargement and enhancement revealed was dark shadows, trees, and underbrush, although Steele thought with some imagination, one might see one, perhaps two other large wolves in the darkness.
“So, Ted, when did you take this?”
“Shortly after I began my assignment to the Kabetogama area as the DNR Warden,” Ted responded.
“Did you take any others?”
“No, but just before I took this research position, I had a trail camera out trying to catch a poacher and it took two of three wolves before they were out of range of the motion detector.” Ted popped open the folder on his lap top, opened the file, and sent it to Steele’s computer to be downloaded.
Both photos were of excellent quality, clearly showing the three wolves, two larger ones close behind a smaller, yet still large wolf.
“Now, these three,” Steele began, “are young, mature males, possibly, if thinking in human terms, teenagers, full of energy, hormones, and fearless. Look at the muscle development, the sleekness of their coats, ears up, and anticipatory. Two of them, behind the smaller one, have their tales up, while the front one has his tail to side, exposing his rear to them, looking over his shoulder at them invitingly, expressing his desire to be bred.”
Pausing a moment to enlarge the picture even more, “Notice all three have their penises unsheathed, even the one in the front, albeit not quite as extended. All three penises are large, thick, and quite well developed but look closer at the two in the back.”
“Why those two are completely unsheathed! As you noted, Steele, their penises are large and so are the testicles. By the expression on their faces and the way their noses are extended toward the ass of the smaller one, I’d think they are about to mount the smaller one and breed it.”
Ted quickly flipped to the second picture. One wolf had its nose right up against the rear of the smaller one and two front legs off of the ground, just seconds from mounting.
“I really hadn’t paid much attention to this photo before concerning the action about to take place. I guess I was too absorbed with the size of the wolves and how it coincided with what I was conjecturing existed as a sub-species.”
“Not unusual,” he continued, “to see homosexual behavior among many species, including wolves.”
“Or among humans,” Steele remarked casually. “Take a look at the larger two of the three wolves,” switching back to the first photo of the three wolves. “Do you notice anything unusual, different, or just a couple of wolves?”
Ted spent several minutes examining the photo, enlarging it, reducing it, comparing specific parts of the body of one animal to the other. Shaking his head commenting, “I can’t see any difference.”
Pausing, he suddenly exclaimed, “Holy shit, identical twins! There are no differences. Remarkable!”
“More than remarkable,” Steele added, “In all of my years of studying these creatures, I’ve not seen a set before, although, apparently, such phenomenon occurs. Where was this picture taken?”
“In a stand of timber just off of a swamp area not far from Sutton’s Resort, about three miles from Jessie Sutton’s cabin.”
Both men were silent as they looked at the photo. Steele finally looked at Ted and asked, “What do you know about the paranormal, supernatural, things that go bump in the night, fairies, brownies, nymphs, vampires, or werewolves?”
Ted furrowed his forehead, looking at Steele with disbelief, scarcely believing what this retired Wildlife Biologist, a man of science, contemplating what the question might imply. Steele was implying, without saying it, there were such creatures, something Ted found incredulous.
Hesitantly, he replied carefully, “What person, little boy or otherwise, or grownup for that matter, hasn’t heard tales of vampires, werewolves and the like? Haven’t most of us placed a tooth under the pillow so the Tooth Fairy could come and leave a coin or a treat in exchange for the tooth? Haven’t many of us believed in a little, plump elf dressed in red, riding in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, leaving us presents at Christmas?”
“Certainly, Dr. Steele, I’ve heard of and read stories of vampires and werewolves. How about Count Dracula? Do I believe they actually exist? I really don’t know, I’ve never seen one, only heard the old wife’s tales.”
“Oh, my young friend,” Steele laughed, “how wrong you are. You see, I’ve seen them and I believe. They are hiding in plain sight.”
“Oh, my god!” Ted thought to himself. He’s gone bonkers, round the bend, crazy as a March Hare.
“Maybe, Dr. Steele,” Ted said in a conciliatory tone of voice, not wanting to rile the man, “perhaps you better take some time and explain what you mean by ‘seeing them.’ What exactly did you see and why should I believe you? I’ve not come this far to be led on a fool’s mission.”
“You think I’m a candidate for the nuthouse, don’t you?” Steele laughed. “You’re the first person I’ve ever revealed this to knowing others would definitely so conclude, causing me to lose my position at the university and become a pariah in the scientific and educational community. Spend some time with me, Ted Symthe, keep an open mind, and then draw your own conclusions because, I believe you’ve tumbled on to something very few humans have ever witnessed, and it’s not a sub-species of Canis lupus lupus!”
“I’ve had forty years to wander and explore this part of Maine and while this house was being built, when I was much younger, I took the opportunity to do so.”
On one exploring expedition north and east of Eagle Lake, Steele parked his pickup truck on a forest logging road and hiked back into the rugged, forested wilderness. He’d walked, perhaps three miles, possibly four when he heard the sounds of a struggle, more like a dog fight with snarling, yips, and loud growls. Steele assumed it was probably coyotes or a small pack of wolves either fighting each other or in the process of killing or eating a deer or moose.
He headed in the direction of the noise, being quite careful and alert so he wouldn’t be caught up in the struggle and become one of the victims, climbed a small rock outcropping, and looked over the side into a ravine. In the clearing, down in the ravine were five wolves, really abnormally large ones. Three of the five were in the process of attacking another, while the fifth wolf, smaller somewhat than the others, stood to the side, watching, not joining in the fracas. In his mind, he thought this was a territorial fight or a battle over the lone wolf, which might be a female. If the latter, then the lone wolf was an interloper seeking a mate. It’s normal for younger, mature males to leave their own pack, travel distances in order to seek a mate, and start a pack of their own.
The lone wolf was bleeding badly and trying to retreat, but the other three wouldn’t allow it. Their vicious attacks meant they intended to kill the trespasser! Finally, with a lunge, one of the three leaped forward, grabbed the loner by the neck, and with a quick snap, broke it, killing his adversary.
Fight over, Steele was about to leave, but hesitated, wanting to see what else might occur. Clearly, these wolves were much larger than any he’d ever seen or hoped to. He was flummoxed as to what could’ve caused their phenomenal growth! As he watched, the victor began walking toward the one standing aside and as he approached, shifted into a young, naked, virile human male, clearly in the state of extreme arousal, hard, long, thick cock jutting out in front of him. As he neared the other, it too shifted into a young, vulnerable human female, probably age fourteen or so, perhaps younger since she had just a small, tuft of hair on her pubis area, clearly making visible her female slit.
“By all the gods, Ted, he spun her around, bent her over and mounted her. How he got that massive penis up into her vagina I didn’t know, but he did, and fucked her until he shuddered his release. When he did, he leaned forward even more and bit her on the lower neck, drawing blood, plunging that fat cock into her again and fucked her some more.”
The male stayed attached by the knot formed at the base of his penis, until their ardor subsided, it shrunk, and he was able to pull free. Both humans shifted back into wolf shape, the other two joined them, after watching the copulation, and they started to leave the ravine. The two observers suddenly stopped, looked up in the direction Steele was hiding, but he stayed concealed. Satisfied there was nothing to cause them any concern, the four left.
Steele turned his attention back to the slain wolf and saw instead a badly mutilated young man, almost unrecognizable as a human. It had shifted, in dying from wolf to human.
“I was horrified and frightened at what I saw! Until that day I never believed the stories of supernatural creatures, especially werewolves. Rubbish I’d thought, superstitious ramblings designed to frighten small children, sell books, and make movies. No more! I headed back to my truck, made a quick check on the construction of my cabin, and headed back to the city and my job.”
He tried to continue his regular academic duties, but at night, when the house was dark and stillness lay over his part of the city, when nothing but an occasional vehicle would traverse the street in front of his small home, vivid, horrible, sickening nightmares would awaken him. People would shift into wolves, attacking him as the three did the interloper, and leave him bloody and dying, ripped asunder, shredded in a manner too horrible to describe.
The nightmares brought him to the libraries in search of information on werewolves. There were no scientific, empirical information concerning their existence, but a plethora of stories concerning them. He did learn, or so the stories would lean one to believe, reading a story of a beast supposedly killed in France in the 1700’s by a silver bullet, silver bullets would kill a werewolf and silver would repel them since they were extremely allergic to the precious metal. Steele visited a jewelry store and purchased a silver bracelet for each wrist and began visiting yard and garage sales in search of old, silver flatware.
“So,” Ted interjected, “that’s why you wear the two bracelets and adorn your door with silver flatware?”
“Yes; not only the entry doors from outside but the windows as well. I’m safe inside my home.”
“That’s why you muttered I’d passed the first test when I came in, isn’t it?”
Steele nodded. “I wasn’t certain who or what you were. If you were Lycan, you’d not enter since the silver would’ve burned your skin and turned you away. Outside, I carry a .410ga/45cal. revolver, chambered for .410 shot shell or a .45cal. bullet. The shot shells are loaded with large silver pellets and the bullets are silver. At close range, say thirty yards or so, it’ll stop any Lycan in his or her tracks.”
“You said previously, Dr. Steele, these creatures were walking around in plain sight, evidently unidentified and unknown. How do you know that if they appear as normal human beings?”
Steele held up both arms and wiggled the silver bracelets. “These,” he declared with a smile. “Not only do they protect me, they also reveal who is a shifter, a Lycan. Walking through a crowd or down the street, shifters will avoid me, even leave the room when I enter just to stay safe from the effects of the silver. There’s no doubt in my mind when that happens, who and what they are.”
“So, it keeps you safe from the killers, right?”
“Aha,” laughed Steele, not all are killers. In fact, most aren’t I’ve discovered.”
“Okay,” Ted observed with a touch of irony, “so far, I’ve heard a story, whether true or not I haven’t decided, of you witnessing the murder of a person or something by three wolves attacking another and you declare you saw the victim shift into human form as well as two of the other wolves. That’s a lot to sort out. Now you say there’s good ones and bad ones. I’m not convinced yet, werewolves even exist.”
“You will, my young friend, you will before you leave here.”
To be continued: