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Be Careful of the Howler

The Howler

By Dennis HumphreysPublished 2 years ago 25 min read

by: Dennis R. Humphreys

Scientists have been studying the human mind for years. The one thing they found consistently, is that is an amazing result of evolution. Whether individual, or multiple brains acting as one, they can generate different outcomes than expected. They can increase occurrences when the odds dictate otherwise. When flipping a coin for heads or tails, normally you get a fifty, fifty chance for either coming up. When a person concentrates his attention on the outcome being heads the number recorded can be something more like fifty one percent heads, forty nine percent tails. It isn't a big difference but it's a measurable difference that demands attention. The power of the mind is not fully understood but the best example is what hypnosis is able to achieve... many times it isn't just measurable but there's a physical outcome in reality.

“This place is so fucking boring. We have the whole summer off and there's nothing to do. I'm tired of playing video games anymore. They're all the same,” said Colt, but having ADD was partly to blame for his boredom.

A carefully designed curriculum at school addressed the problem during the year, but now it was summer break, he was on his own. Both his parents had to work, and his mother tried to plan a few things for him to do, but he did everything else but what he was supposed to, with no supervision. He was too young not to be supervised, but too old for a babysitter, so what do you do? Dina Lansing tried checking regularly with her twelve-year-old son Colt during the day on his cell phone and since he spent most of his time with his best friend, Scott Tyler, it was a natural to try and keep an eye on her son through his mother, Mandy Tyler since she worked only part time and kept tight reigns on her son.

The problem was Scott was creative and thought up the most hair brained schemes, mostly as jokes, that got him into trouble. Anyone associated with him did as well and he had a natural ability of attracting his peers into his schemes which would end up getting them into trouble.

“So, what do you want to do? I'm kind of tired doing the same stuff,” Colt agreed. They lived in a suburban area right on the edge of rural area where miles of farms existed.

“I don't know. We could go looking for Big Foot around here. There have been a couple of sightings,” Colt suggested.

“Ahh... they got some guy in Ohio that kept claiming he saw big foot and he made the whole thing up... made these big footprints and everything. Somebody probably did the same thing around here,” Scott told his friend, figuring it would be a waste of time to look.

Then Colt got a bright idea.

“Then let's make our own big foot for around here and scare the heck out of everyone,” Colt's friend asked.

“I can get on the Internet and find out how some of these people make fake prints. We can go into the woods and break branches to make a shelter. We can use my dad's hoist for that, so it looks like something strong broke bigger branches to live in for shelter. We'll get bones and things from the trash at Godfrey's, since he cuts meat... lay them around the shelter... stuff like that. We'll think of some other stuff to do,” Colt told Scott.

“Shit that would be cool. Let's go see how we can make the prints,” Scott suggested.

They ran back into Colt's house and got on the Internet. After about twenty minutes Colt had the recipe for potential trouble labeled hilarious. Both boys died laughing thinking about it. They imagined the fear they would strike in everyone's hearts in the area.

The more Colt thought about it though he thought maybe they should do something a little different than Big Foot. That's all you heard about with people going out and hunting him after a sighting. Maybe we could start something different he voiced to his friend.

“Like what?” Scott asked.

“It says these guys cast their own feet and then they poured liquid rubber into the cast. Then when they had duplicates of their feet they soaked them in turpentine, so they'd swell up twice the size. Then they'd put them on stilts and walk around on them to make the prints in the mud and sand,” Colt explained. “How about if we get some casts of some big dog and do the same thing?”

“That would be cool. We could start a werewolf thing,” Scott caught on. “But where are we going to find a dog that's going to sit still long enough for us to cast his feet?”

Colt thought awhile. That would be a problem. The dog would have to sit perfectly still to get a cast and a dog wouldn't stand long enough to get a good cast. There were some fast-drying plasters that would still take too long. There were some other things like a plastic putty, but you'd have to press the dog's feet into it. Someone that knew what they were looking at would be suspicious the way the material spread unnaturally. A live cast would be best.

“I got it. I'll tell Dr. Palmer we're doing a summer project for school, and we need the cast of the biggest dog I can get... all four feet. Maybe he can do it while he's got a dog under sedation,” Colt told his friend.

“Do you think he'd do it?” Scott asked.

“I don't see why not. I can only ask,” Colt told him.

The boys took off on their bikes right away. The veterinarian was six miles away over hilly terrain. They wanted to be back before their mothers got home. Neither boy was to go outside the neighborhood on their bikes. If Colt's mom called for him to come right away and it took a half hour or, so he'd be in trouble.

“Could we speak to Dr. Palmer?” Colt asked the young receptionist at the vets.

“Can I tell him what it's about and who you are?” Celia asked standing up behind the desk.

“I'm Colt Lansing and this is my friend Scott Tyler. It's about a school project we're supposed to do over the summer,” Colt explained.

“Alright, let me go see if the doctor has time to see you and I'll be right back,” she told the boys.

In a few minutes she came back out, and the vet was behind her. Colt recognized him because they took their cat there.

“Hi boys. Now what's this about a school project? I assume you're asking me to help you with something,” the doctor said.

“We're supposed to investigate something over the summer, a part of the human body or an animal and show why it evolved like it did. We decided to do something on a large dog to show why and how it evolved, in this case, it's feet. We need to cast the four feet of the largest dog we can do and we can't cast them while they're awake. They're too fidgety,” Colt told him.

“So, you thought I could do it while one was sedated. That's some clever thinking there boys. Sure, I can do that for you. Let's see... Celia, the McIntyres are bringing in their Newfoundland Hound soon for that cyst operation. Could you check on that,” he asked his receptionist.

Celia went about on her computer checking to see the schedule.

“That's an interesting project. All these breeds were developed to help people to do certain things. Some, like the smaller terriers, to crawl down into particular varmint holes... Elk Hounds to hunt elk, Labrador Retrievers to brave cold waters and bring back ducks and geese killed in the water. Like your retrievers have webbed feet, to help swim in the water,” the vet was explaining.

“They're coming in next Monday with Goliath,” Celia advised the doctor.

“There you go. I should have the casts for you next Tuesday. Why don't you call me before you come in and double check with me to make sure I have them? Celia, there will give you the number and you give her your names. I have to get back to work but I'll see you two next week,” he told them.

“Thanks,” the boys answered, got the number, and gave Celia their names.

“I would like to have gotten Celia's number,” Scott told his friend.

“Yeah, right... and what would have done with it? Before we head home. Let's stop at Micheal's over here and buy a can of liquid latex there. I've seen it there, so I know they have it. They should have bottles of turpentine too. That way we'll have it,” Colt told his friend.

On the way back they talked. The only other thing they needed was the wood to make stilts. Scott's father did a lot of wood working and projects around the house. He had a piles of scrap lumber by his shed under a tarp. There would be enough to get what they needed there. Colt figured by the time they got the molds everything else would be ready to go and by next Wednesday their werewolf might come to life.

They rode directly to Scott's house to get the lumber. Neither of their moms were home yet, so unhindered, they went through the pile. They lived in the same neighborhood six doors away from each other. They rode the same bus to school and were in the same class. They couldn't help but be best friends, tied up in the same scheme.

“Do you know how to make stilts?” Scott asked.

“Yeah, my grandfather showed me how one time, and he made me a pair, but dad backed up over them in the car, and they got busted,” Colt explained. “I'll take the wood home and when you come over tomorrow, we'll build them.”

Scott bicycled over to Colt's house after he ate the breakfast his mother prepared. Today was one of the days she wasn't working at her part time job at the grocery. Colt was already up after his mother left, excited about getting started on their big scam.

By the time Scott got to Colt's house and ran to the basement, Colt had cut all the pieces to the stilts. He cut out enough for two sets, figuring maybe there could be a pair of werewolves in the area.

“Aren't you getting a little ambitious there making two sets?” Scott asked his buddy.

“Maybe, but this may really stir some crap up. It'll give you something to do anyway, while I make prints and then we don't have to worry about brushing your footprints away after we make these,” Colt justified himself.

In just a few hours both sets of stilts were done. Colt had drilled holes and used screws to assemble them. He dad always told him to use screws if he wanted a strong structure. He even ran his dad's belt saw over the ends to make nice round handles to hold, like a bicycle. They took them outside and found they worked well so they put them away where no one could find them, and to keep their plans secret. All they had to do now was wait for the molds.

“Hi, is this Celia? This is Colt Lansing. Dr. Palmer told me to call to see if we could pick up something he was going to have ready for us today,” Colt told the receptionist while Scott was making faces and body gyrations simulating what he'd like to do to the receptionist. “Get real Scott.”

“Hi Colt, you can come in anytime today. I'll have your package for you at the front desk when you come in,” Celia told him and hung up the phone.

“Well?” Scott asked.

“She said she'd have the package ready for us at the front desk, to come in anytime,” Colt repeated to his friend.

“Oh man, she's going to have her package ready, so we can come anytime!” Scott marveled completely twisting the meaning of what she said. He probably believed his personal meaning though.

They bicycled there at high speed, getting there quickly. There was Celia at the front door and Scott ready to have a heart attack.

“HI guys,” Celia said. She held out the package wrapped up in a plastic Walmart bag.

“Thanks,” Colt cried and grabbed the package, leaving as quickly as he descended there.

'Do we need anything else?” Scott asked his partner in crime.

“No, my dad has some vast dry spray varnish to coat the molds with and mom has dish soap to brush on top of that when it dries, to keep the latex from sticking. I have the turpentine... no that's it,” Colt took account.

By noon, the boys poured the liquid latex in the two hind foot molds. Colt took them outside to dry quicker. It might take a couple of days with this much latex and both boys were ready to start foot printing.

After three days, Colt pulled the latex duplicated feet out of the turpentine. They had swollen to twice their size. They were large to begin with, but these made the thing that made them look gigantic. The second set of hind prints were half dry for Scott's stilts so in two days the other pair of stilts would be ready.

Colt glued the latex werewolf feet to the stilts with industrial glue. He was afraid to use nails or screws to attach them thinking the hole he put in them might weaken them. He had no idea yet how they would hold up.

The first pair of stilts were ready for their trial run, but where to begin?

“I know let's over to Mrs. McClosky's. You know how she is with her flower garden? We'll leave prints in the dirt and stomp a few of her flowers so she looks really close when she waters,” Colt suggested.

They bicycled to her house. She was always driving into town to get things for her garden, and she belonged to a garden club, she met with for lunch and things. They were a close-knit pack of women and passed on gossip they had heard to the rest of the group. She was the perfect place to start. When they got to her house her car was gone. To be sure the boys knocked on the door and she didn't answer, so they went to work.

No one could see them from her neighbors' houses where they made the prints. It was quick work. Colt jumped on the stilts and walked through the garden deviating just a bit to trample some of her larger plants. When Colt finished and looked back it was an admirable job... and very believable.

When Mrs. McClosky came home, she brought a couple extra flats of flowers to fill in spots in her garden out back. She carried the three flats she bought to the back and immediately noticed the disturbance in her garden, with some of the flowers being trampled. She stood wide eyed looking at the large footprints in the dirt and pulled out her phone to take pictures. She placed her gardening glove next to them for reference and took several shots.

“I don't Stephanie,” said Elaine McClosky to her neighbor on the phone, “I think they were some kind of wolf prints... they were huge,” she told her friend.

“Call Marty Eisenbeis, the game warden. See what he says, he's not that far away,” suggested Stephanie.

“I don't know Elaine. I've never seen canine prints this large. They look like some kind of dog or wolf prints, but nothing like I've ever seen. Plus, they're only the hind feet. This thing, if it was a canine, was walking on its hind legs,” Marty, the game warden and local dog catcher commented.

“You mean like a werewolf?” Elaine McClosky made the logical jump.

“Now don't be going there. I didn't say that. When you get prints in wetter soil sometimes something heavy will spread them out and make the feet look larger than what they are,” he reasoned with her.

“But these are ten inches maybe bigger, and they're only the hind feet. There's no way,” she told him.

“Yeah, I know it's unlikely but let's see if there are any other reports like this first, before we make any conclusions,” he warned her.

Of course, when he left Elaine McClosky got right onto the phone with her neighbor Stephanie.

“He said he never saw anything like it. It walked on its hind legs and the foot prints were at least ten inches big. It might be some kind of werewolf,” she told Stephanie.

“I thought those things were just in the movies?” Stephanie asked.

But by the end of the day the garden club had all the details and more, as the story was retold. As others got hold of the information, they expanded it until it was only slightly recognizable. By this time the boys had planted a few more tracks in gardens and outside windows of houses, leaving enough of a disturbance for homeowners to look closer and find the large tracks. Towards the end of the day, Colt took the stilts down to the creek and placed tracks in the soft sand of the bank there, so people fishing would find them, perhaps that evening.

“Have you heard all the stuff people are saying? One person even said they saw a werewolf last night down along the creek,” Scott laughed telling his friend.

“Let's wait a couple of days until we get your stilts ready to make more prints. Everyone's looking now we don't want to blow it,” Colt suggested.

There were enough prints though to stir things up for several days. People were taking casts of them and summoning reporters. Marty, the game warden had his hands full. He was now getting calls all over the county to come look at just regular large, dog prints people found. People found prints outside their windows and called police saying they saw something looking through their windows the night before. Imaginations were beginning to run wild. Others were taking their pets inside and not letting them out except on leash. Others were even beginning not to let their kids out into the yards, if they were near the woods.

A couple of days later, the second set of stilts were ready. Colt suggested riding up the road a bit, early in the morning where there might be a little less attention paid to than what was happening in their neighborhood. They'd look to see first if any cars were in the driveways of houses they approached. They'd knock on the doors to make sure no one was there. If someone was there, they were looking for the Barlow house.

Most people both worked, and the kids were in day care, or someone was watching them elsewhere, so they could get away with things. They had a field day making prints around the houses and then through some of the wooded areas later in the day, where they wouldn't catch any attention.

“I heard from one of my garden club members up the road in the Sycamore Development this morning... they had another werewolf sighting and there was a jogger out last night that was being stalked by something large in the bushes. They found prints up there but now it seems there's a pair of them. Yes, a pair... you know what that means?” McClosky spread the word.

Now the media was involved. There were enough reports and enough sightings and concern for the local welfare to get them to cover the story. They covered the sightings as local werewolves. That expedited story, and there were more sightings where the boys hadn't even gone. Word spread about the local werewolves and documented sightings. There was one attack reported by another jogger running in the evenings through a wooded area where the boys hadn't been. Social media helped fuel things with all the blogs about whatever was going on, real or imagined. U tube videos started appearing showing prints and the people that found them, hunting the werewolves.

It got to the point, people were actively looking, so the boys' made excuses during the week, to go out at night, with warnings to watch out for anything strange, neither that either of their parents actually believed in werewolves. They would go to their hiding place, where the stilts were, and recover them for a while to create foot-prints. Scott's LED flashlight lit the way in the woods, and the woods edge near some of the houses so the boys had a less likely chance of being caught. They took advantage of a new housing development that was nothing but semi wet dirt, producing prints throughout the area.

“People are going to start putting game cams out. We're going to have to stay away from the houses now, I think,” Colt told Scott. “Otherwise, our plan is over.”

“I think it's over anyway, if we don't want to get shot. Haven't you been following some of the blogs? People are starting to go out with rifles at night with night scopes hunting the werewolves. They've even talking about it in church. Our pastor said it's the devil invading out community. The people there were scared,” Scott informed Colt.

“Yeah, maybe it's better to lay off for a while. This seems to have a life of its own now,” his friend reasoned.

And it did have a life of its own. For two more weeks the boys did nothing and parents were being warned of the creature and not let anyone in the family go out at night until the creature was apprehended. Any farm animals missing or found dead were attributed to the werewolves. Old animal carcasses and bones found in the rural community were considered the works of the wolf-like creature.

Both Scott and Colt were amazed how the story grew with so little effort on their part. In another week, four-wheel drive trucks were passing regularly by their homes with gun racks and someone standing in the back overlooking the roof of the cab. There was a network of them all communicating and headed for the latest sighting, which were constant. People's imaginations were running wild.

The boys decided to go fishing one morning after both of their mothers left for work. They had been warned about leaving the house under the circumstances but since the boys were behind the whole scenario, they saw no reason to listen. Walking towards their fishing spot they spotted large wolf like footprints in the bank sand. They were fresh and the boys had not made them.

“Looks like someone else is doing what we did,” Colt told Scott as they walked.

“There's always a copycat in these kinds of things. This story will go on forever until they find the person making the tracks,” Scott surmised. 'And then some people will say it's just a cover up.”

They followed the footprints quietly to where they normally fished, thinking they might see who picked up their lead. When they got to the bank where they sat often, casting their rods, there was as half eaten rabbit. The boys just looked at each other. On the far side of the bank, you could see where someone had walked up the spot disturbing the leaves and the dirt. There were scrape marks in the damp soil where tree roots stuck out like tentacles.

“Should we follow the trail?” Scott asked Colt.

“Let's,” he answered, putting his rod down, then Scott put his down next to his near a bush.

They continued walking. There were more leaves now, but you could clearly see the trail by their disturbance, as they went through the woods. They were headed towards a farm ahead that raised Hereford. Cattle. They finally made it through the woods and were at the edge staring towards the barn, about half a mile away, when they saw a few cows running. When they watched, they saw a large creature running like a man, after them, but it was no man. Its head was that of a wolf's and it might have been six and a half feet tall. It ran fast, this dark muscular thing. It was a werewolf they were watching. Both boys stooped down where they were to be less conspicuous and watched as it chased the cattle and leaped onto one of the calves. The calf let out a short bellow and the creature silenced it quickly while the others stopped a distance away and cried like cattle do. The mother acted like she wanted to attack but knew if she did, she might join the plight of her calf. She settled on standing and bellowing a mournful sound that brought out the farmer from the barn with a rifle. He shot at the creature who picked up the calf and ran towards the woods again with the calf slung over its shoulders.

It ran directly for the boys and Scott screamed to run.

“Why, we can't outrun that thing. It might not even notice us if we stay still,” Colt suggested.

But the animal was aware of their presence and wasn't worried. He came into the woods stepping over them on purpose, so they knew he was aware of them, and went into the woods about ten feet, where he dropped the calf's body. Scott noticed the creature was wounded by the farmer's bullet as he stooped to eat the calf ripping thorough the flesh and devouring everything including the organs and what would be considered the guts. Colt noticed after his friend pointed out the wound that by the time he was finished eating, the wound had healed.

The beast looked tired as the boys watched him. Soon he had laid back and was asleep. When he had fallen completely asleep, he began changing. He lost musculature, the first thing to change and the hair seemed to recede into his skin while the teeth changed from carnivore to human teeth. Its harsh features mellowed in his face, and the claws shrunk in length. Soon he appeared more human than animal. There was something familiar about him but neither boy could make it out yet. As they watched the transformation, the final changes occurred, and they saw who it was... it was Doctor Palmer the veterinarian.

They looked at each other surprised.

“Do you think Celia's a werewolf?” Scott asked excitedly of his friend.

“Knock it off, Scott,” Colt admonished his friend as they continued watching. “Let's let him sleep and just watch.”

“We're watching a naked man, how weird is that?” Scott asked.

But it was then the doctor started to move and awaken. Soon he sat up and looked dazed and looked over at the boys.

“How long have I been asleep?” he asked.

“Not long,” replied Colt. “You're a werewolf?”

“I guess so, but I have no idea how. Not by way of the conventional stories. Three nights ago, I was sitting in my living room watching television when I began to get sick to my stomach. The pain got worse and worse... in my joints and muscles, even my teeth hurt. I thought maybe a had lime's disease or a bad viral thing suddenly hitting me. When I went to the bathroom to get something for my stomach, I was shocked when I looked in the mirror. Something else was going on, I was changing. My heartbeat seemed to race, and it grew louder in my ears as I began salivating and drooling, without being able to stop. I smelled like an animal, as my sense of smell and hearing increased. I looked out the bathroom window and I could see things in the distance I could never have seen normally. I saw a cow in the field, and I suddenly could feel the animal. I hungered for its flesh and the blood that dripped from it. The next thing I knew I was racing after it in the dark without hindrance, chasing it to its death. I tore it apart in a relentless ecstasy of hunger and satisfaction, devouring it until full,” the doctor explained.

“Were you bitten or clawed by a werewolf or a wolf. I understand it's a viral thing that could be transmitted?” Scott asked.

“No that's just it. I wasn't even scratched or bitten by any of the dogs at the hospital. I don't understand how this happened. It's almost as if someone wished it on me or cursed me. I'm forty-five years old. If it were genetic, I would have showed signs before now. I've become a Hollywood movie,” he answered.

The plight of the man may have been the boys doing since prior to that time there were no werewolves ever sited. The mass hysteria created by their joke created a reality so strong that it became a fact among scores of people that in the hearts knew it was real. Their convictions were so strong as to make someone become a werewolf, and the veterinarian was the unfortunate guinea pig in their minds.


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