The Shadow of Geordie Harris
by Eric J Kregel
Part 1 appears|
in this issue.
|part 2 of 4|
The last morning of my bed rest, I found the house empty and I slept past my normal, 8 a.m. wake-up.
Waiting on top of my TV/DVD unit in the bedroom rested a homemade DVD with my name on it. I turned on the TV and fed the disc into my DVD player. After a few seconds of reading, a button appeared on the screen reading, “Press this ONLY if you want to find out what REALLY happened to you last week.”
Did I really want to know?, I asked myself. I already knew, eh? The doctor told me I was attacked and my report, along with Miles, said it was by a crazy person. That’s what the report said and the experts backed it up. Why should I think any different?
Then as I stared at the blue screen with this button, there was someone else — possibly Jane — who thought something else other than what the system and common sense was telling us. And if it was from Jane, why would she stir up any problems?
On that thought alone, I pressed play and watched the recording.
The beginning image was of my study at night, with the yellow light and the woodsman camo curtains in the background. I deduced later that the image came from a small camera I have on top of my computer’s screen. It used a DVD burning program I had never had the patience to figure out.
A creature then sat down in front of the screen, a creature worthy of my worst nightmares.
* * *
“The best way I can explain to you who I am and why I’m in your den is to submit to you an idea of Carl Jung,” the creature said through his fur and sharp teeth.
“Carl Jung thought that every human being has a shadow of themselves, the results of the various choices in life given to them. You, Geordie Harris, are presented with several ‘either/or’ crossroads throughout your day. You choose ‘a’ instead of ‘b’, ‘d’ instead of ‘e’. It’s all a part of free will, my friend.
“But what happens to all of the unchosen virtues and directions, hmm? They make up our other self, our shadow self. This is the idea put forth by Jung as means to reconcile all of us with what isn’t us and yet still an intimate part of who we are.”
Carl Jung? I asked myself. I’m staring at a demon, a creature from some Sci-Fi show sitting in my computer chair and this creature, with the same swagger as my high school literature teacher, is talking to me about Carl Jung. Am I dreaming? Have all of my dreamless nights caught up with me with one mother of a nightmare?
“Do you read me so far, Geordie?” the creature asked and I almost wanted to say “No” to the recorded image.
“If not, leave me a note; but I will assume you’ve grasped the concept of the ‘other-ego’, the discarded self resulting from our free will.
“I shall move on. Geordie, I know you hate horror movies but I also know you’ve seen enough of them to be aware of the concept of the werewolf, a horrible monstrosity stemming from a human bitten by another werewolf. These horror movies depict us as animalistic, feral creatures that can be killed only by a silver bullet. This much is poppycock, my friend. But this second metaphor, moving from Carl Jung to B-movies, is something I also need you to understand, since it describes everything.”
A werewolf! Now it makes a bit more sense.
“Poor Tom Irontree went down south to the States to watch his favorite country western singer and stumbled into a man in his shadow-self state. That shadow was nasty, was feral, and was only too happy to bite Tom and pass on the curse, splitting his ego into two essences.
“Tom — normally timid and mild and passive — turned wolf and became hostile to authorities and his opposite as well. He attacked you during his slow change, when his shadow-self was emerging and Tom was receding. This slow change, as I understand, is the equinox existence of the wolf.”
The creature looked around and furled his bushy, curly eyebrows in thought. With his claw, he scratched his forehead nimbly and shut his eyes, emoting relief from a good itch scratched.
When he stopped, he addressed the camera. “Ah, where was I? Poor Tom, hmmm? Regardless, he was cursed and passed his curse to you. The curse, after some of my research, is more metaphysical then medical. There’s no virus or cellular construct to look for. According to your friend, the South African, you are healthy and received nothing from Tom.
“But here I am, a monster in your house. That exposes the limits of science, hmmm?”
He looked around the house rapidly. “I must fly. I shall leave another DVD tomorrow morning, giving you more results from my research.”
The recording ending, turning my bedroom into a haze of blue from the screen.
* * *
My brother, working in a comic book store in Edmonton, picked up the phone. “Sherwood Park Comics, how may I help you?” he asked.
“Benny, this is Geordie. How’s it going?” I asked, cheerfully hiding my anxiety.
“It goes well. Did Mom tell you I just bought another unit to expand the shop’s boundaries? I think we’ll turn it into a hobby section!” Irrepressible, my brother always had ideas leading to ideas. A rare trait, I guess, for the youngest son in a family of eight boys, me being the oldest. Ever since he could crawl, Benny had been a creature of industry, seeing plans and strategies when the rest of us were happy just to take a Sunday off.
“Hey I got some trivial question for you. I need to find out all I can about werewolves. Lay it on me, fact and fiction.”
“Let’s see,” he said as I imagined Benny’s mental hard drive booting up. In addition to owning a chain of comic book stores, he also had a Masters degree in mythology from the University of Alberta. “Fact and fiction are going to be hard to separate, but here goes.
“The word ‘were’ translates roughly into ‘man’, so you could call a werewolf a man-wolf. Some Norse titles were closer to ‘ver’ or ‘warg’ wolf, but all are pretty much about the same thing: a man who can, at will, change from a human into a creature. The earliest recording was found with Gervase of Tilbury, who... am I losing you?”
“Pretty much,” I said. “I need to know some specifics about the myth. Do they change only on a full moon?”
“Only according to Gervase of Tilbury and Hollywood. A lot of changes can happen during the day, on a moonless night, or in the morning. Most European countries — Turkey with their kurtadam, Romania with their vârcolac, and so forth — all see them as shape changers, men who can turn into other beings.”
“Are these creatures intelligent?”
“Some are, yes. Some are tricksters, who steal from people or lie to children, and then switch back into fine, moral people. Some say these myths are a way to hide tomfoolery in a community that would otherwise be considered moral. Some, especially in Eastern Europe, believed that women who were immoral became a wolf for nine months as punishment for their loose, sexual ways. Again, it was a way myth rationalized unplanned pregnancy.”
“And how do you kill one?”
“Hollywood and the English believed in silver bullets, but most myths don’t believe in such stops. Especially, I would say, if they held to earlier, pre-rifle cycles where firearms weren’t as handy.
“Most believe it’s to confront oneself. You smash a mirror of yourself, you run into your wolf form, you do a curse... things like that. Or the simplest way is to kill the man while he’s changing into the wolf.”
Tom Irontree. He hadn’t quite turned to wolf and yet he wasn’t human. I wondered if that was my fate, the only solution afforded to me.
“It depends on the story,” Benny said. “And it where it’s from. That’s the problem with fiction, I guess. The rules of fictional universes are always subject to the teller.”
“Well, thank you very much,” I said, hiding the deflation in my voice. “You’re a big help and congrats on expanding the store.”
* * *
I woke up to the sound of a deliveryman. I dressed and opened the door. He had me sign for a bunch of books, all ordered in my name with my credit card. When he left, I broke open the boxes. Most of them were books either on economics or computer programming.
I shook my head. I didn’t have this kind of money to blow on books. Four years ago, I went hunting in the States and broke my leg. I healed fine, but I didn’t have any international insurance and have to pay now a large chunk of my paycheck to get out of the medical debt.
So why am I buying textbooks on the economy? I asked myself. Well, I’m not. My wolf is buying all of these books with my credit card, spending money that I need to get out of debt.
Another DVD waited for me on top of the TV set. I had to go into work around 10 a.m., so I pretended to sleep in as my house cleared out. When they were gone, I slipped it in and watched my wolf self talk to me.
He didn’t look as hideous as he did the first time. Still, he had a wolf face with long teeth and thick hair across his body. The fur, though, looked like a long, unkempt beard belonging to a wizard or mountain man.
“Good morning, Geordie. Now on to part two of the explanation about what has happened to us.
“I change about an hour after your wife goes to sleep. Most of the time, this is around midnight but not always. What happens, usually, is that you sleepwalk out of the bed and into the garage, where you end and I begin. I then have free reign for about four hours, until which I, almost automatically, march into the garage and you sleepwalk back to bed. Then you sleep for four more hours.
“I am given access to all of your memories but it seems you do not remember anything I do. This is a shame because I’m learning an awful lot, doing some tremendous research on-line. I know you don’t know any of the marvelous data I am devouring because, frankly, I didn’t know it until I learned it. I have all of your skills and talents, but, it seems, whatever I accomplish doesn’t translate back to you.
“Perhaps in future recordings, I could run a tutorial, hmmm? Teach you the things I’m picking up?”
Already I felt a bit angry about a second renter, someone living in my space. And now he was slightly condescending... that put him into my “me-no-like” box.
“Regardless, I already have great plans. I shall inform you in the following recordings of a plan I have for saving the world...” He stopped as if surprised by what he said. “...Oh, that is quite remarkable, hmmm? Regardless, more to come. I do have a special favor to ask of you. I want to chat with our daughter tonight and explain to her that I’m not a big, scary monster. If you could prepare her for our chat, ahead of time, that could save her a lot of grief.”
The recording ending and I drove my fist into the mattress of my bed.
That creature, that thing wanted to talk to my daughter, my little girl, to make things all better and nice and think that a monster lives in every house. My face flushed with fire, shaking and gurgling obscenities.
I’m her father, I screamed inside of my head. Not you! You’re a curse, a by-product of evolution gone wrong! And now you want to play nice with my daughter. What if you go wolf on her? I need to keep my family safe, my daughter mustn’t be put in any danger.
That’s it, I decided. I won’t sleep. If this wolf comes alive only when I sleep, then I’ll stay awake and keep him away from my daughter. I’ll drink coffee, take some pills, and stay awake...
I stopped myself from that line of thinking because it wouldn’t work. Even now, under my present circumstances, I still got some sleep. I imagined myself trying to live without sleep, going on and on until I collapsed and then the wolf would emerge... and it could be anywhere, depending on where I collapsed. I could fall asleep in a movie theater, only to turn wolf in the picture. At church, during the pastor’s sermons, I could get all wolf. Or asleep at a traffic light...
I figured the way out of this problem was to be in control, to be in dominion over the creature versus what I felt, at that moment: that this monster had me when I closed my eyes. I had to come up with something to keep my daughter safe. When I went to bed that night, this beast would be near her, talking to her, touching her.
I wanted to kill him, shoot him like a beast in the bush. I could use my bow as I lured him outside and fire a couple of well-placed shots in the neck. He’d slink down onto the floor and I’d tell him not to mess with my family, that we were good people who didn’t need a wolf hanging around us.
Just after that particular fantasy zoomed through my mind’s eye, I leaped out of my bed. What am I? I thought. Am I crazy? He can remember all of my thoughts, all of my memories. If I plan out a way to kill him, he’ll wait for me to sleep and exact his revenge on my family.
Must think clearly, I said to myself. I’ll go to work. Ask around. See if I can do something, anything. I can’t deliberately plan on killing him, but what if something comes up? He can’t know that’ll come, can he? Go through my day and hope, dear God, he isn’t my exact opposite. I’m a good father; hopefully he won’t be a murderous one.
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2007 by Eric J Kregel