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Today I'm offering a snippet from the second book in The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo saga. Eli, as ancient shaman Eluwilussit is known today, discovers he has been given a gift. And it doesn't make him a shape-shifting Witchy Wolf like Ash. At first he isn't pleased...
Eluwilussit woke to find himself curled into a ball, his hands protectively covering his genitals. The fire was almost out. He had no idea how long he’d traveled. Peyote tended to steal time. Retracing his visions as best he could, he remembered that he’d beat the wall of the White World with his fists, remembered too that he’d slashed himself to get the attention of its inhabitants. Sitting up, he was met with a stench that indicated he’d fouled himself under Mescalito’s influence. He frowned. Adding another sliver of fat wood, he checked himself over in the light of the small blaze and found his skin smooth, clean and otherwise unmarred. Perhaps the stink was only a memory lingering in his mind like the rest. The Red World and its inhabitants were foul.
The spirits in the White World had seemed not to hear or see him, yet he couldn’t credit that. He could certainly hear and see them. The frown deepened as he remembered Bemidii kissing Nawkaw. The rest of it came out of the stinking haze. The forsaken ones had heard him screaming at the barrier and laughed at his frustration. Remembering now, a wave of nausea took him and he quickly turned his head to vomit but his heaving was dry. He’d survived the brutal gang rape in the spirit realm and it left a bad taste in his mouth in this realm. He craved an ice-cold Pepsi in the worst way. Mouth parched and filmy, he made an unsuccessful attempted to spit.
Another wave of nausea rolled over him and he curled on his side to let it pass. He wondered if submitting to those disgusting beings had indeed given him the means to shift his form into animals. If the trade were true, then it was worth the agony and debasement he experienced at their foul hands. With the skill and full knowledge of the Midewin shape-shifter, he would be a powerful Medicine Man. Sky Father would welcome him back. Aiyanna would be impressed by him, and they’d be together as they were meant to be. Even though he would have to live with his feet in two separate worlds, having her in one of them was worth anything.
Feeling stronger now, he tried to recall the legends of the shape-shifters. It was all he had to go on. He was never trained in this skill. Anger pricked him. Both Nawkaw and his pet could do this. Old Nawkaw must have told Ashkewheteasu how this was accomplished. Lifting his hand before his eyes, Eli stared at it and wished to turn it into a paw. He felt pressure in his bones and it quickly grew unbearable. He stopped wishing. Panting, he tried again. He watched as his fingers curled under as though his tendons were pulled by invisible strings. A cry tore from his throat and the hand changed before his eyes. When the pain in his bones subsided, he couldn’t believe what he saw. What animal had a paw such as this? Large and mottled with brown and gray fur, it appeared a cross between a deer’s hoof, a bear’s paw, and a man’s hand, with only two fingers and a thumb. Where his fingernails had been, long curved claws had taken their place.
Perhaps this gift was not an easy one to learn. He refocused his mind. The pain in his legs wrested another cry from him as bones altered and an animal’s shanks appeared. But this was not the wolf shape he envisioned! He tried again, returning to his own bare legs before assuming the same shape as before. What deceit is this? His rage increased with each attempt. And each was the same as the last. His arms and legs took the shape of some foul beast, with two toes ending in hooked claws. His fur was matted and sickly, his hide had weeping sores. He stood on his ugly legs, shook his hooked fists in the air and raged, “What have you made me? Sky Fatherrrrrrr!”
Dragging the deer carcass out to the road, Jimmy dropped his end of the rope when he heard a rumbling growl that seemed to come from under the ground. He turned to Scott. “What the fuck was that?”
Scott jerked to a halt. “Damn it Jimmy. Tell me when you’re gonna let go of the rope.” The doe was heavy, for all that she’d been field dressed.
Scott shifted the rifle over his shoulder and listened. “I don’t hear anything.” The sun was just peeking over the horizon. He looked around. There was nothing out of the ordinary as far as he could see. “What did you hear?”
“I don’t know. It was like a man’s voice, but growling.”
“I can’t describe it better than that.”
Scott pulled a half-full bottle of Jack from his pocket. Taking a swig, he handed it to his companion and chuckled. “Well it is close to Halloween. Maybe the bogeyman lives in these woods.”
Jimmy grabbed the bottle, took a swig, dumped the dregs out on the ground at his feet, then tossed it in a thicket. “Way to go asshole. Leave me the dregs.”
Scott picked up his end of the rope again. “You’re just hearing things ‘cause you’re tired. We’ll get breakfast and coffee over at the HennyPenny.”
“Yeah. I could use some coffee. And a nap. I’m fuckin’ exhausted.”
“You’re fuckin’ hammered.”
“Hell if I am. You drank all the goddamn Jack and left me your backwash.”
Scott laughed. Walking on, they came upon flattened sheets of bark and a woven mat beside a hole in the ground. Scott said, “Hey look, a sinkhole! I’ve never seen one back here before.” Pulling his flashlight from his pocket, he trained it around the edges. This was old; it hadn’t just happened.
“Do you have to look now? I’m starving.”
“I just wanna see how far back it goes.” The cave below the sinkhole could be a few yards or hundreds of yards long. “Come on, let’s look.”
Jimmy sighed and set his gun against a tree. Scott did the same. A preliminary look into the hole showed hard packed ground about four feet below. Jumping in, they were pleased to discover they could stand easily after only a few stooped steps. The flashlight beam highlighted perfect stalactites coming down from the ceiling and stalagmites mounding up from the cave floor. They’d taken ages to form like that. “I don’t think anyone’s ever been in here before.”
Scott stumbled and shone the beam where he’d tripped. A gleaming skeleton stared up at them with sightless eye sockets. “Oh shit. Jimmy, look at this.”
“Damn. Is that like someone who died recently, like maybe murdered, or do you think an old skeleton? Look at its clothes. How old are the clothes?”
The flash light wasn’t strong enough to afford a better look. “I don’t know, I can’t tell. I’ll bring a bigger flashlight next time.”
Someone spoke from behind them, the deep voice sounding more like a snarl than a vocalization. “There won’t be a next time.”
Both whirled about. Scott’s flashlight beam came up from the floor. The creature’s feet had two sharp-clawed toes; the legs were barely fur-covered bone covered with open sores. Its torso was caved in, the emaciated cage of its ribs protruding under a taut membrane of flesh. The head defied description: not quite wolf, not quite deer, but a horrible combination of the two. A rack of small peeling antlers topped its head as if it were a stag, but the long sharp fangs displayed in its pulled-back lips suggested wolf. Ragged matted fur covered it from head to toe. It smelled foul, like roadkill in the heat of summer.
The hunters stood frozen to the spot, taking in the creature. Then Scott dropped the flashlight and ran to the sinkhole’s opening, followed by Jimmy. Clawing his way to the surface, Scott paused as he heard a thud. Jimmy must have stumbled over the skeleton. Within seconds Jimmy screamed, the terrified sound gurgled then went silent.
Scott’s hesitation now cost him, as suddenly he was pulled back into the hole. His screams scattered a riot of roosting crows from the trees.
Breathing hard, Eluwilussit stood over the bodies of the hunters. His new claws had ripped open their throats and sliced into their bellies. Warm blood trickled down his face. He ran his tongue across his lips, licking away blood. He was instantly seized with a great hunger. He licked again. Then he licked his paws. He eyed the bodies lying there, their sweet blood pooling. They were nothing but meat after all. Kneeling at the larger of the two, he hooked his claws into the belly gash and pulled the body open. The heat issuing from the opened gut steamed in the beam of the fallen flashlight. Ripping the warm liver free first, Eli ate his fill of Scott’s delicious internal organs and then feasted on the other man.
This wasn’t the gift he’d wanted or desired, but he felt powerful. He doubted he’d be able to use it to return to the Sky Father’s camp. He thought a moment, then the lips of his muzzle pulled back in a hideous grin. The bird stone would fly him there, and he knew exactly where it was.
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My Hot Summer Nights Prize: On behalf of my 2-book saga: The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo, I'm offering a gorgeous pair of handmade Native American beaded earrings as well as an authorgraphed copy of either book in my shape-shifting, paranormal, erotic romance.
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