Shadows & Sensations
by J. H. Wear
The Cat, the Wolf and the Spirit: Sherri enjoys transforming into a panther to roam the forests, until a white wolf appears. As she fights for control, a new spirit exerts its power.
Cry At The Moon: An abandoned campground looks perfect for four college students to have fun. But a creature that has its own desires awakened inhabits the campground.
Fallen Angel: Carl finds out Halloween can be a perfect time to dress up and be yourself.
The Princess of Time: Nobel Carter is an alcoholic, saved one night by a former lover. During his recovery, he falls for a mysterious woman, challenging what he wants.
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Click the story title to view each excerpt:
The Cat, the Wolf and the Spirit
Cry At The Moon
The Princess of Time
The Cat, the Wolf and the SpiritChapter One
She moved easily among the trees and brush with the quiet confidence that nothing could threaten her, the muscles rippling along her flanks. She was the top of the food chain as she examined the environment with eyes that captured all the stray light that filtered down in the late evening sky through the canopy of leaves above. What her eyes missed her ears and nose picked up, and now a scent was guiding her down along the river valley. The smell was a mixture of smoke and meat, and it pulled her from more than a mile away.
Her claws dug into the earth and the rotting leaves, leaving dimples in the ground as the only trace she had been there. She glided like a dark grey shadow, silent and deadly. Her pink tongue wiped along her mouth, and she paused, her long tail slowly moving back and forth. A sound attracted her, the yowl of a coyote in the distance. The big cat wasn't worried about being attacked; the coyotes were too smart for that, and if the coyotes were reacting to a perceived threat, she wanted to be prepared. Part of her brain told her to avoid contact with people; the part of her brain that could reassert control over her. So she checked carefully to see if she could determine what might be attracting the coyotes' attention, but it appeared they were making meaningful noises to each other.
She hissed, annoyed at them for interrupting her journey then her powerful hind legs sprang forward as she swallowed up the ground in a series of bounds. It felt good to release the power of her legs for a brief moment before she settled back down to the easy pace to which she was more accustomed.
A mile upwind, four young men and two women were huddled around a rusted steel pit that burned old tree branches. Behind them on a picnic table a twenty-four pack of beer sat as they laughed at their own efforts to cook the hotdogs on coat hanger wires. It was unlikely the police would be coming around to tell them the park closed at nine p.m. if they kept the noise down. Too much noise and the people living in the homes on the million dollar lots that overlooked the park would phone in a complaint. The Friday evening was warm, and the perfect way to spend it was to drink beer and have a cookout. They faced a minor problem of mosquitoes, but the insect repellent worked to keep them away. They felt relaxed, happy and safe. Of course, the feeling of safe in this case meant they were oblivious to the golden eyes that watched them.
The cat waited until the humans were gone before cautiously entering the open area of the picnic area. The food had been consumed save for two partially eaten hotdogs, and she carefully pushed the meat around with her nose on the ground before eating it.
It wasn't the type of meal the cat really wanted, and certainly the thrill of a chase and kill wasn't there, but her instinct was to eat when she could. As a predator, there could be a long wait between meals, and she was not opposed to being a scavenger.
The second mind began to assert itself, and the cat reluctantly began its journey home, occasionally leaping among the trees in a burst of energy. It took almost an hour to return near its starting point, and she hid among the bushes near the asphalt foot and bike path. She neither saw nor heard anyone approaching from either direction. On the other side of the pathway stood a row of fences that shielded homes from the park beyond. She saw one fence where the gate was left ajar, and after a moment's hesitation she sprinted toward it. The blur of grey reached the gate and pressed through the opening. The cat turned in a circle and used its paw to push the gate closed.
Safe now from the threat of anyone seeing her, she went to the side of the house to lie down in the dark, stretching out on the cool grass and closing her eyes. The cat felt its mind slipping toward sleep, though not the kind of sleep it usually had where it was still just a heartbeat away from being fully alert. The human mind began to assert more control but never quite completely subdued the cat's mind.
Cry At The MoonPrologue
Darren walked around the slowly disintegrating picnic table. The wood was dark where rot had set in and buckled under its own weight. New campgrounds featured tables made of a combination of wood and concrete, but Parkland Campground had the less durable tables and structures. He sighed. Nothing here was worth salvaging and hauling out to another campground; even the wood wasn't worth turning into firewood. Nothing else to do here but close up the gate for good. He looked around and spotted his student helper smoking a cigarette by an open-walled dining room, basically a roof covering four tables and a wood stove. He strolled over to him, watching the crickets jump out of his way in the tall grass, the buzzing noise they made was the only sound he heard under the hot sun.
"Well, Sergio, that's all she wrote. Nothing worth saving here."
"Sure looks junky. Everything falling apart, grounds unkempt. Might as well close it. Not many people are going to come to a place like this anyway."
"You know, at one time, this was a real nice area for people to spend the day." He gestured around. "The grounds were in good shape and so were all the tables and buildings. And several pathways took you to kind of a beach area, or even up to those hills out west. But a few years back, they made a new double lane highway, and this road that runs by here suddenly became a secondary road. They also made a new bigger and better campground a few miles from here. Progress, I suppose." He looked around again, as if trying to capture a memory or bring one up. He stared at the perimeter of the grounds. 'Was that the wind that caused those bushes at the edge of the grounds to move? Sergio, look over there. Do you see anything?" Darren pointed to the far side of the grounds.
"What am I supposed to see?"
"Those bushes were shaking, like something was disturbing them. Maybe it was the wind."
"No wind today. Might be a dog or bear. But I don't see nothing."
Darren could perceive no more movement, so he shrugged his shoulders. "Time to go."
The two men walked toward the pickup truck parked near the entrance of the grounds. The green vehicle was marked with the provincial park crest on the doors.
"Darren, those bushes are moving again. Whatever it is, it's moving in the same direction as we are."
Darren looked. The bushes were moving slightly. Something was definitely there. Bears were pretty rare in the area, but not unheard of. There were also foxes, deer, coyote, wild dogs and the odd wolf. Any one of those could be the cause of the disturbance, but whatever it was remained hidden by the bushes.
"Let's walk quickly to the truck. Don't run, in case it is a wolf or a bear. That action might cause it to chase us instead."
"Gotcha. I think I saw a glimpse of it. It was black and the size of a big dog."
"Likely a wolf then or a wild dog." Darren was heavier and shorter than the young summer intern, and was having trouble keeping up the pace. He felt the sun's heat, the trickle of sweat on his brow and heard himself taking deep breaths. "Our truck is near those bushes, so be careful as we get closer. We have some loose tools in the back, like the shovel. Grab it if you see anything suspicious close to the bushes where the truck is."
As they approached the truck, Sergio stopped and picked up a rock. He hefted it in his hand a couple of times and then proceeded to the truck, slowing down as he neared the bushes that were only a few yards from the pickup. He heard Darren's heavy breathing as he passed the truck. Man, Darren's out of shape, he thought as he slid past the tailgate. He moved to the passenger door and opened it, casting one more look at the bushes. His heart jumped. He felt frozen in place until he heard Darren yell at him to get inside. Then he leaped inside and slammed the door.
I want to warn you that this is a horror story, so if you're looking for an erotic angle you will be disappointed. One other note I wish to add is that there really is a Haunted Lake Golf Course, though the rest of the story is pure fiction.
Carl Thieson turned his Ford Escort down Highway 12, the small motor protesting as he accelerated along the open stretch during late evening hours. The fall weather had turned cold during the day as the wind picked up, baring the trees of their dead leaves. Carl slid the heater control up higher, feeling a chill from under the dash. Normally the six foot, two hundred pound Carl didn't have a problem with keeping warm, but tonight he was wearing only a Roman Gladiator's costume. The short white uniform with fake metal pleats fell just short of his knees while the top revealed half of his chest and back.
Still, the dark-haired Carl normally would have handled the chill well enough; he certainly had enough hair on his chest and legs to suggest he might be impervious to the cold. But tonight as he headed to a Halloween party at the Haunted Lake Golf Course he had an ominous feeling, one that arose from a nightmare he had last night. The details were lost as the dream evaporated in the morning light, though an image of vacant eyes remained as a hangover throughout the day.
The Princess of TimeChapter One
Nobel took a sip of his overpriced rum and coke, frowning at the noise of the crowd around him. He had covered too many political rallies and had developed a distaste for the creature that fed on itself. The people around him melted into globs of frenzied energy as the time grew near for the appointed one to enter.
Predictably, a man shouted from the platform, indicating "he" would be here soon and waved his arms to encourage the monster. It didn't matter who he or she was, they were always late, making the horde grow even hungrier.
Carter's eyes lost their focus, not caring to watch the dancing globs as they encouraged each other. And then he had a glimpse of her. She looked so out of place, composed among the frenzied activity around her. Her clothes were hardly practical for the rally, not wearing an outfit that spoke of importance, but one that would wear well during a summer evening. How he had missed her before surprised him, his career depended on him spotting something out of the ordinary. He took two long strides and stood in front of her.
She looked at him, in her high heels she reached his height, and gave him a shadow of a smile, her blue eyes watching carefully.
He breathed in the perfumed blonde hair, and his first words were suddenly lost to him. He worked his jaw, spilling out a memorized introduction. "Nobel Carter, Event News. What do you think of the rally?"
She looked amused. "I didn't come here for the rally, Mr. Carter."
"Why then, Miss…?" He took his eyes off her face for a brief second, trying to capture a look at her well-proportioned figure.
She paused before answering. "To measure the leader, Todd Fipps. It's Amersa."
"Measure? In what way?"
"Honesty, courage and strength. Don't you think a leader must have those qualities?"
He nodded, enchanted by her voice. "May I have your opinion of him later? How can I contact you?"
She smiled at his attempt at an advance. "I will give you my opinion when he arrives."
Suddenly the monster roared, drowning out any words. The clusters of people surged toward the stage. Carter pushed back, straining to keep in contact with her. He worked his way back to her, noting she was seemingly untouched by the madness around her.
Amersa watched the stage. When Fipps began to speak, a hush covered the room. She frowned and began to turn away when Carter stretched out to touch her arm.
"What do you think of him?"
"I'm sorry to say Mr. Fipps is not the man I seek."
"Honesty, courage, strength. He doesn't have all three. In fact, he's going to blame one of his workers for a mistake he made, so he lacks honesty and courage. Goodbye, Mr. Carter."
"Wait, can I see you again?"
Amersa stared at him, measuring him. "Perhaps."
"How can I find you?"
"You can't, but I may decide to find you." She turned away, stepping between the clumps of the excited people that stood in her way.
Carter tried to follow her and pushed away at the grinning supporters. He eventually lost sight of her and was left only with the faint trail of perfume. He breathed it in, as it reminded him of fresh cut flowers.
Annoyed he turned back to the stage where a smiling Fipps, displayinga time-honoured tradition, raised his arms, drawing more cheers. He lowered his arms to bring down the noise and began to speak of teamwork, of building together and finally of how worried the opposition must be. More cheers. Then he spoke of tonight as only the beginning, and he humbly accepted their support. A replay of cheers erupted. Fipps then had his wife come forward. With a grin of white teeth painted on her face, she hugged him and raised her arm with his. The cheers repeated. He shrugged and turned away, knowing Fipps could be replaced by any number of political leaders, and the crowd would react the same way. He walked toward the exit where a young woman spoke excitedly in the microphone in front of a baseball cap-wearing cameraman.
"As you can see behind me, Todd Fipps has just given his victory speech. A jubilant crowd is on hand to …"
"God, there is only so much bullshit I can take." He mumbled