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View Full Version : Bagla's Children, The Searcher. Chapter one in its entiresy. the full 11500 words



W.Goepner
April 12th, 2014, 07:30 PM
Hey all, I have done some editing, Again. I must give an explanation of some sort to help with some confusion.

The MC (James) has been away from his family for more than 18 months. He returns home to find for them it was only a week. The time play is explained later in the story, but the story opens with his first night back home with his wife and children.

The first two chapters are a build up to him telling of his time away from his family, and introducing the change ability to his children and wife.

I intended to keep this from you in hopes that the story would be an intrigue and pull the reader in. Now that it seams I have failed with this endeavor. I will ask YOU how do I accomplish it, WHAT do I need to add to get the reader to say AHA!



Here it is. I have been warned to not expect a bunch of critiques because of length.

I have, however begun some restructure and might have bumbled it. it is only the beginning passage I worked on. Please enjoy.


One



Discovery




James was not sure if he had just fallen asleep, when he became alert. The visions that faded from his mind troubled him. “Were they dream or was I imagining them?” He asked himself. Try as he might he could not bring the visions back into focus.

His eyes and brain slowly clearing, he looks about at his surroundings realizing, he is in his bedroom lying next to his wife. He thinks back to a time he yearned to be in this position, longing for it for quite some time.

James slowly rolls on his side to face the woman asleep beside him. Raising himself on to his elbow he gently brushes the dark blond strands of hair from her face. A smile appears on her lips, the smile that always made his heart race. A smile so loving, so tender, yet so mischievous. Slowly a grin comes to his face as he remembers the frolicking of the last evening. He thinks to himself, “Yes this is my wife, my human wife.” He is puzzled at that thought. Why would he make a distinction of a human wife?

He lay back staring at the ceiling, his thoughts running wild through his mind. A whisper of a noise alerts him, he gently sits up. His mind is preoccupied while he scans the room pausing briefly on the door, he tries to reason why he would make such a distinction. The more he tried to focus on his memories the stranger they became. Memories that felt like dreams which flowed through his mind yet stood bold in front of him. It was then he realized it, and then his mind and eyes focused on it. There standing at the foot of his bed was the woman of those distorted dream like memories. Draped in a gray-tan robe she stood there, expressionless, unblinking, unmoving, in the same room, the bedroom of him and his wife.

Pictures, visions, memories, thoughts raced through his mind. Memories of how he once longed to be with his wife. How he pained for being away from her, not knowing if he would ever see her again, not knowing if she would still be there for him. His mind came back to the now, back to his wife, who was lying next to him. But this other woman standing at the foot of his bed, was his mate, his life mate. Essentially, she was or is another wife.

James closed his eyes a moment to try and erase the memories, the picture. Again his thoughts raced through memories of how he fought with the desire. The desire to be with and mated to this other woman. He opened his eyes to see the woman still standing there. She said nothing, as she stood waiting. James gently removed the covers from himself, careful not to awaken his wife who lay beside him as he eased himself from the bed. He looked the woman over from head to toe, as they headed to the open door of his bedroom. Stepping aside he let her pass through first. When she did, it was not as a human but as a canine. She was a wolf like creature, with gray-tan fur. Sleek, light of foot for she made little sound on the hard wood floor of the upstairs hall.

James looked upon her with a satisfaction, a longing, the desire to be close to her. He shook his head almost voicing his thoughts. “No, no. She is just my new dog. Of course I am found of her. But not as my mate, we can’t breed. I am a human not a dog. That would be disgusting.” Even though James thought this, and somewhat believed it, he knew better. He knew that something had changed in his life. Something that would also change the way his wife saw him. He just could not figure what. He looked down on his dog once again and the sight of her brought back more of the memories, memories of two dogs and their frolicking about discovering each other after what seemed a long and difficult time. “Was one of those dogs me?” He thought as he began to feel different.

His heart started to race, James felt his senses quicken and heighten. His sight began to change from full color to shades of gray and brown. His perception changed, everything he once would just reach out for, was now above his head. He felt odd, yet he knew this feeling to be right for him. There was one thing that he knew was just right. As he stood nose to nose with the female dog he just thought of as a pet.

The memories started to flood his mind once again. Memories that say she is more to him. She is more than just a pet. He tried to remember just how he had happened to come by her. How he became so attached to her. His thoughts fogged as he felt tingle in his nose. It started to ebb throughout his body and ended in his loins. His heart started to pound as the excitement built. It sent awareness through his body and back to his head. “She is in heat!” James thought.

James looked over his shoulder to the room where his wife lay asleep. He felt the desire to follow as she moved away from him toward the stairs. Hesitating a moment longer he looked back to his bedroom one more time before he followed her. He noticed the agility and nimbleness of this female dog as she descended the stairs. He quickened his stride to be beside her, just as they rounded the wall at the end of the stairs. Shoulder to shoulder they walked to the carpet a few strides ahead. The whole time James’ mind focused toward the feeling and satisfaction that he, and only he may have her. She will mate no other for she was his and his alone.

Suddenly she jumped to the side turning to face him in midair. He bound aside turning to settle beside her nose to tail. He went down to his elbows as she did, she sniffed his middle and tested his eagerness. He rose and stepped to her rear sniffing and testing her for her heat. Again he felt the twinge flow through his body as nature began to take its toll. She turned her tail away from him, spinning to face him she pawed him on either side his neck with her front feet. He stood up on his hind legs placing his paws over her front legs as he pushed toward her. She sprang off him to sniff at him again. He pranced around her to sniff her tail. He tested her heat once again, it sent a pulse through his body the urge was too great. He lifted his front to her haunches. She stood still. He pushed himself up on her and mounted her. It was done, they were tied. After a moment of resting on her back he turned so they stood panting quietly, tail to tail until his eagerness subsided. They repeated the dance of dogs mating two more times before they were exhausted. They then curled up together on the carpet and slept.

* * * * *

Linda woke early to find she was alone, she checked the bathroom off their bedroom, stepping in to the hall; no sound came from the rooms of her children, she figured they were asleep. Thinking James must be outside with the dog she headed downstairs. Glancing to her right as she reached the end of the stair, she saw them.
Laying on the carpet was her husband naked caressing the ear of his dog. “OH! MY! GOD!” She yelled. “What are you doing” James and his mate scrambled to their feet. His mate stepping up to defend him, with teeth just showing and a low growl, James grabbed her by the ruff of her neck and put her beside him. The three of them stood a moment looking at each other.Until the sound of the children coming out of their rooms broke the silent standoff. There was little time and James had little choice. He shifted shape to the dog form just before the children made the corner

“Wow! Two dogs.” The boy said as James and his mate bound into the kitchen. James’s wife watched them disappear around the wall. A look of total astonishment was set on her face, after seeing the second dog where her husband once stood. She quickly restrained the children from entering the kitchen, as she heard the door to the back yard open.

“Woe! Hay! What the…? Get out of here.” James said, as the sound of scrambling dog feet on the kitchen floor. “Hold it girl, you are not going out there to get knocked up.” James closed the door and released Ahkeer as he rounded the wall to where his wife and children were standing, he was wearing a gray-tan robe.

The look upon his wife’s face, told James more than the words she was unable to utter. He thought quickly and spoke as if he just saw her for the first time that morning. “Oh honey, I am so sorry, I must have left the door ajar as I went out for a stretch. I think she is coming in heat.” He said pointing to the dog. “We’ll have to keep a close eye on her so she does not get caught by the neighborhood strays.” His wife still had a dumbfound look on her face. It was a look that bordered between anger and panic. To distract them from the moment James placed a hand on each of the children and said. “Jim, Tanya, Good morning. Are you hungry?” The children nodded their heads. “So am I, so let’s go set the table and mom can make us some breakfast.”

“Dad where did that other dog come from.” Jim asked.

“A stray I suppose. Must have jumped the gate to get to Ahkeer.” As he was saying this he ushered the children in to the kitchen. Jim ran to the door to see if he could spot the other dog.

“I think he went back over the gate Jim.” James said, “He made a beeline in that direction.” As his wife watched him and the children walk in to the dining room. James stole a peek around the wall as he spoke, “Honey I am really sorry I left the back door ajar. But we could use something to eat. Hon?” James put concern in his voice. “Did that other dog startle you?”

She focused on him, and beckoned him to her. James spoke as he approached her. “I’ll look into putting an extension to the gate, so no other dogs can jump over.”

In a strained voice she whispered, “That was you I saw there?” She said as she pointed to the carpet she saw them lying on. “I know you were there lying next to her. Then you were… I mean you … there, was another dog, and then you were at the back door. James, am I going crazy?” She asked with a slight tremble in her voice, and tears dampening her eyes.

James took her in his arms and whispered softly in her ear. “No Linda you are not going crazy.” He kissed her then whispered. “I will tell all as soon as I can figure out how to tell it and not sound mad myself.”

Linda pulled back to looked into his eyes. She could see the concern in them. She could tell he loved her very much. But there was something more, something she could not quite put to ease. She slowly pulled from him and walked in to the kitchen. “All right now, what do you two want for breakfast?” she asked. The two children spoke almost at once. “Pan cakes.” Jim Said. “Fruit Loops.” Tanya piped in.

James came around the wall “How about Belgian waffles with whipped cream and strawberries?”

“Yes!” The two children chimed out together

“Yummy! I love Belgian waffles and strawberries.” Squeaked Tanya.

“I do too.” Said Jim.

James collected the plates out of the cupboard, as the children got the silverware out of the drawer. As he helped the children set the table James stole glances toward his wife, then the children and the dog. His mind was full of memories. It was filled with the ideas of how to break the story of the past year to them. A year, to him, yet it was just a week to his wife and kids. A year spent in another land. Actually on a totally different world. A week long vacation he had took to clear his mind, to get back to the native side of himself. Oh, what a native side. More like an animal side.

James mind wandered to the day he went walking out into the valley where he found the porthole hidden within the waterfall. Absently he sat down in his chair. Ahkeer came to him and placed her head on his leg. He stroked her head, caught up in his thoughts. Remembering the day he first found out he could change shape. His mind wandered and floated through the year he lived away from home. “How am I going to tell the story of a year of my life to my wife and children?” He wandered. “For what possible reason would they believe me?”

James was so caught up in his thoughts he did not even hear the doorbell, or Linda’s harrumph of disgust as she went to answer it. It was the children’s giggling combined with Linda calling his name, which brought him back to reality. “James? Honey? There is a guy named Bill at the door to see you. Ahkeer seems very happy to see him.”

“Bill? Here? I thought he was…” James trailed off as he headed to the entryway. Ahkeer was all but licking the face of a man who was kneeling to scratch and pet her. “Ahkeer!” James started to scold her.

“It’s all right James. She is only greeting an old friend.” Bill chuckled as he spoke. “All right Ahkeer that’s enough for now. We’ll get to talk later.” He said with a wink as he rose to greet James. Linda went back to the kitchen to continue with breakfast as Bill pulled James to the side. “James! I know you have been home for only a short time but you need to come to talk with Bagla. He wants you to do more of what you did for Ahkeer’s people.” As Bill said this he looked in towards the dining room to see Linda and the children standing there, waiting for him and James to come in.

Linda spoke up. “Bill we were just about to sit down for breakfast. Would you like to join us? I have fresh coffee.”

“A cup of coffee would be great right now.” Bill said turning to James and speaking quietly. “James you told me about your wife and children on Bagiel. How about introducing them to me now? I take it you have not told them of your adventure yet?”

James looked at Bill rather strangely as they entered the dining and kitchen area. “Linda this is Bill I met him while I was away on vacation. He and I did a little job for his Grandfather. Bill this is Linda, my wife. Jim, our son, and Tanya, our daughter. Of course you know Ahkeer seeing as I got her from your grandfather.”

Bill gave Linda a gentle handshake. Then took Jim’s hand, “Hey James you never told me of your son’s strength. I bet he’d have no trouble cracking those nuts Granddad favors so.” Bill then got down on one knee and looked into Tanya’s eyes. He smiled as he took her hand and gave it a gentle shake. Standing he said to James, “You know these two will grow to be just like you James.” James paled slightly as Bill’s words hit home. The question in his mind was answered by a gentle shake of Bill’s head. They turned to sit at the dining room table. James and Bill settled themselves at one end of the oval table as the kids sat at the other end. Linda brought a cup of coffee for Bill and set a plate down for him. As Bill started to protest Linda said, “We are having Belgian waffles with whipped cream and straw berries.” She spoke with such finality that Bill could not resist.

James and Bill spoke quietly for a moment as Linda started cooking the waffles. “How long do you think I have been home?” James said to Bill.

“I am not sure but I figured you would at least tell them about Ahkeer.”

“I did. I told them I got her from your Grandfather for helping him out. I am not even sure of what happened, or even if it was real. I mean I just got comfortable with the fact that I was able to return home. Now you expect me to tell them that I was gone for over a year. Expecting that they would not become frightened and think I was crazy.” James looked up to see that he had been whispering a little harsher than he thought. His wife was standing in the kitchen glaring at the two of them. The kids were sitting quietly in their seats, slightly subdued.

Bill Spoke then, “Ah… Linda? I think you need to remove that one before it burns.” He pointed to the waffle iron. Linda hurriedly opened the waffle iron and removed the waffle. “A little dark but eatable.” Bill said, “Let me have that one Linda. I like mine a little on the crisp side.” Linda put more batter in the waffle iron. Putting straw berries and whipped cream on the waffle she handed it to Bill. “Mm… That looks delicious.” He said as he took the plate.

James got up from the table and started to help Linda by bringing her the remaining plates. “James what were you so upset about? That was some harsh whispering you were doing.” Linda said.

“That is one of the thousands of things I need to tell you but I cannot figure where to start. Hell I don’t even know if it is real or not. All I know is that I have been gone from home for longer than a week. Yet for you it has only been that week I took for vacation.” James then gently took Linda by the shoulders. Looked her firmly in the eyes. “Honey I have lived a whole year away from here. The story that I have to tell you is one that I would have someone locked up for. Yet I know it to be real. Just as real as I am standing here holding you.”

“Yeah!” Bill said. ”You’re holding her from completing her job of feeding these kids, let alone yourself. Look you two. Let Linda finish the food and then we’ll tell the story.”

“A story?” The two children were now all ears now. “Does this story have monsters in it?” Tanya questioned meekly. Hearing the fear in the girls voice Ahkeer walked to her and placed her head on Tanya’s lap.

“Not really Tanya.” Bill said. “It does have a lot of dogs and other animals in it though.”

“Dogs like Ahkeer?” She asked as she stroked Ahkeer’s head. James and Bill looked to one another with a slight surprise. For it was Ahkeer’s people of whom the story was about. How James helped Ahkeer and her people return to their home world. A world Bill learned of just ten years before. A world they all will visit soon.

“Yes Tanya. Dogs like Ahkeer and others not so nice. You see Tanya, Jim.” Bill said as he looked from one to the other. “Your dad has been on a grand adventure. He managed to save a whole race of creatures from being lost for a long time. He was able to bring them home to their own world… OW! Ahkeer!” Bill said rather loudly, as Ahkeer raked a paw across his hand. Startled he looked to the kitchen and Linda. “Ah Linda…” Bill said as he pointed to the waffle iron. Bill turned back to James as Linda removed the waffle and poured another. “James may we go outside a minute? I could use a little air.” Linda handed James his plate as he walked to the back door. He looked to her with a shrug and turned to the door.

Bill, James, and Ahkeer went out to the back yard. James closed the door and headed to the patio table. “Bill I have been home not even thirty-six hours. I have only introduced Ahkeer to the family. I finely got to sleep with my wife for the first time in over a year. I have no idea what all these memories are that are running through my head. They come and go in spurts and the best I can figure is, I need to figure them out.”

“Well James, I can tell the story as you told it to me and granddad. But, there is another way. I have the same abilities as him I can take the memories sort them and tell it.” James looked at Bill with an astonished look. “I know you are the same blood but you have the same ability’s as he does.” Bill nodded. “That’s why you said to come out here?” Bill nodded again.

“I know James that you have your doubts. But I have already been working on it. I have been probing your mind ever since I came in. The jumble of thoughts you have stuck in there and the memories are coming clearer every moment. I have found out how you came to be confused in your thoughts. How you had planned to forget the past year and make out like Ahkeer was just a dog.” As Bill said this Ahkeer transformed to the woman. Her eyes told Bill that he should not have said this in her company.

She looked at James as she spoke. “James? Is it true? Did you plan to not have me as your mate?” In her broken English, the ‘R’s rolled off her tong like growls. The ‘you and to’ came out in a sort of howl.

James squirmed in his seat, trying to not look her in the eye, he spoke. “Ahkeer. You know the feeling of being homesick.” She nodded. “I had it for most of that year. It was only when I thought I had no chance of returning home that I took you as a mate. Until then I was only…learning that I could be happy there, with you and the others. Then when I found that I was able to go home. It tore me apart. Wanting that what I once had, and keeping that what I just acquired. I had to convince myself in some way that I could accept, that would keep you happy and my wife…my wife.” This seemed to please Ahkeer, she threw her arms around him. Unfortunately Linda decided to come out the door at that time.

It took only a split second. James barely knew the change happened. Ahkeer heard the click of the door latch and changed instantly. It was not fast enough Linda saw it. The look of hurt and total disgust she wore as she filled James and Bill’s coffee cups was enough to send Ahkeer crawling under the table with a low growl.

As Linda spoke, it was with controlled anger, and through clenched teeth. “I knew I had seen you lying naked with her. I knew you had not been totally faithful to me. Though you made love to me as if you had not seen me in years. I knew something was wrong. First you were there naked, then there was a dog running with her to the back door. Now her, changing to a dog in front of me.” She turned to Bill. “You seem to know a lot of what has happened.” She said pointing an accusing finger at him. “Will you tell me what this is all about?”

Bill gulped then looked Linda in the eye. “James was faithful to you while he was away, at first. It was only after a long while that he chose to take Ahkeer as a mate.” At that time Ahkeer appeared on the other side of the table as the woman.

Ahkeer spoke soft and calmly, though her rough speech made it sound as if she were growling. “James had lost hope of coming home before he would take me as a mate. His heart, he told me was hurting for his fear of losing you to him forever. He missed his children terribly. My heart cried for him and his sense of loss. No Linda you may hurt but you should not be angry. It was over eighteen moons before he agreed to take me as his mate.”

Linda was still not over the shock of seeing Ahkeer changing to argue. The shock of seeing the woman where a dog once stood was forgotten as she realized Ahkeer’s words. “Eighteen moons, is that like a full cycle from new to full to new again?” Ahkeer nodded. “But that is Eighteen months and he was gone for only a week.” She turned to Bill then James.

Bill took Linda’s hand and had her sit in his chair. “Linda, James found out only that first day he could change shapes. It took him the better part of seven weeks to master it. As it took me three years to discover I too could change. Linda it is breed in him he is of the first line to come to this world. The genes that passed it down to him lay dormant in him until he went through the porthole.”

“Porthole? What Porthole? Where?”

“Easy Linda. I will tell the story to you and the kids together for it involves them too.” She looked at Bill with piercing eyes. Then trembling she asked. “Does Jimmy and Tanya? Can they?” She slumped down in the chair. Resigning herself to listen and hear this story.

As Bill nodded as he said. “Unfortunately you do not have that in your blood.” Jim and Tanya came out the back door then.

“We rinsed the dishes and put them in the washer.” Jim said. “Ahkeer, come here girl.” The dog trotted up to him as he knelt down to ruffle her ears. “You’re a sweet girl aren’t you? Dad have you seen that other dog again?”

Ahkeer turned and looked at James as did Bill and Linda. James hesitated a moment before he answered. “Ah not recently.” He hesitated. “Jim go get the other chairs and we will all sit and enjoy a story.” The kids ran off to get the chairs and returned dragging them to set at the table with the adults.

James sat looking into each of their faces, trying to think of where to begin. “Though I remember most of the tale, I think Bill will be able to fill in the gaps. Since it was just a week ago I should begin with the start of my vacation, though to me it has been more than a year, I think I can remember it well enough.”

“How could it have been a year Dad you were only gone a week?” Jim said looking at his father curiously.

“Well it is like this son I was gone only a week to you. For me and Ahkeer it has been over a year.” As James tried to explain this, his son looked more confused. Bill interrupted him. “Hold on James I think you are confusing the boy and I think Linda could use a little more convincing. Just tell it as it happened like you did when you told Grandpa and Me.” James scowled for a moment before he realized how hard it is, even for him to come to terms with it.

He relaxed a bit as he sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. Everyone’s eyes were turned towards him. Even Ahkeer showed no sign of stirring or turning her gaze away. It was a few moments before he stirred. James looked around the table at each face. Linda whom looked back with a curious anger, Bill’s with his amused understanding, Jim and Tanya’s with their expectant curious hope, then Ahkeer’s with her longing and knowing.

He smiled then turned to Linda and said, “A story worth telling needs to be told the right way.” Linda looked at him scowling, then her face lit as James got up and walked to the shed. Linda looked to the kids and told them to get their father’s leather backpack from his closet as she went around the back of the shed.

James opened the shed doors and drug out a bundle of hides from inside as Bill came over. Linda came back dragging a few poles that were bent in a slow curve. Bill watched amused for a moment then said, “I don’t know whether to ask if I can help, or what the heck is going on.”

James turned to him with a wide grin. “I remember it Bill, I remember it all and in the remembering I thought of my grandfather’s stories and how he always told them in the story house, or hut as the case may be. He always said that a story worth telling must be told the right way and in the right place. So we must build the story hut before I can tell the story.” He then turned back to the shed and pulled out another bundle of hides and a hoop drum. Bill looked on with a grin before Linda spoke up. “It would go a lot easier if we all pitched in.” Saying this she also turned to Ahkeer and nodded.

Ahkeer first looked to James then Bill and then to the house, before she changed to the woman. A startled “Eek” and a loud “Wow” came from the children as they walked from the house to the yard open mouthed and staring at Ahkeer. Who stood trembling transfixed her eyes darting from one child to the other.

James, Linda, and Bill stood startled a moment before Linda spoke. “I meant, for you to try and drag a pole or two as a dog.” Ahkeer turned to James the look of fear on her face made him hasten to her.

Placing his hands on each side of her face he looked in to her eyes and spoke to her softly, “It’s all right Ahkeer I had planned for you to reveal yourself but not yet, not like this, but what is done cannot be undone.” She relaxed in his hands.

Linda spoke, “You are hear now come give me a hand with these poles and we can forget the formalities at this moment. I must admit it is a rather startling thing to see.” Ahkeer started to fallow Linda to the back of the shed when she felt the soft touch on her hand. She looked down in to the curios eyes of Tanya, and behind her Jim. Linda came up to them as James and Bill watched. “Children I know you have questions and you might be scared but we need to build the story hut before you can be told how she can do that. For it is a part of the story and it must be told in its proper order. So one of you help us with the poles while the other helps your dad and Bill.”

As well the children knew that the story hut had to be erected and helping with the building was always a part of the story. A part that they knew they had to play for the story to be complete. Jim went with Linda and Ahkeer, while Tanya helped James and Bill. Once all the polls and hides were set out it took about two hours for the story hut to be built. First the center poll, a straight poll slightly shorter than the others, was tied to two bent ones at their thin end, forming a large arch with a straight poll in the center. Then two others were tied together. The center poll set were raised. The two children and Ahkeer held them as Linda and Bill raised the other set across the first. James being the tallest tied them together at the top. They set and tied two more sets together and raised them to form the frame of a dome. They tied sticks at intervals between them to stabilize the structure, except two where the entrance would be.
The next step was to set and tie the hides around the outside and place the straw stuffed hides inside for seats. A steel bowl shaped fire pit was brought from the garage, and placed on a metal stand near the center. The stuffed furs were set around the fire pit. Firewood was stacked by the entrance and between the stuffed furs. Two ice chests were set inside with food and drink.

Finally, hanging around the inside of the walls were carved wooden figures of birds, animals, and people. Placed on a shelf opposite the door of the hut was a carved figure of an old Indian woman with children and two pups sitting around her. Set below this leaning on the wall was the hoop drum and James’ backpack.

Bill and Ahkeer stood at the entrance looking at what was a couple of hours ago a pile of wood and bundles of hides. The children tugged at their hands and pulled them aside as James dressed in his native story telling attire walked up. They looked from one to the other and smiled. James entered first taking his place in front of the drum. The children followed him in one to the left the other to the right. Bill and Ahkeer followed to sit beside them, Bill beside Jim and Ahkeer by Tanya. Linda came in last lowering the flaps behind her.

It became dark except for the little bit of light that filtered through the small hole at the center of the roof. All was quiet as twigs and other tinder was placed in the fire pit. From the fire pit sparks flew and glowed out in the tinder. Then again they flew, stronger, brighter, and hotter. James’ face glowed with each breath he blew on the embers as small wisps of smoke rose to the hole in the roof. A small flame sprang to life, James added more twigs then a couple pieces of wood. James stood in the glow of the fire and looked around at the expectant faces. Even Linda had a glow of anticipation rather than the scowl she had earlier.
James rummaged in his backpack pulling out a small leather pouch. He opened it, poured a bit of the contents in his hand. Speaking in his native language he spoke the words of the storyteller. It translated to something like this. “This story is of a man’s journey. How he overcame loss, despair, hunger, and loneliness. How he saved a people from an unnecessary end. And how he was able to return to the ones he loved.”

Even though Bill and Ahkeer did not know the language they understood what was said. James then sprinkled what he had in his hand over the flames, the flames burned green for a moment then back to normal. He then passed the pouch to his right to Tanya. She poured a bit in to her hand then said, “I am a child a listener I must do my part and let the story teller tell his tell.” She sprinkled her hand full over the flames and again they glowed green then back to normal. She passed the pouch to Ahkeer.

Ahkeer took it looking at James. She poured some in her hand and thought a moment staring in to the flames. She looked up suddenly then said, “I am a member of this story and if asked I will tell my part.” She sprinkled the powder over the flames again they turned green. Handing the pouch to Linda, Ahkeer looked to James, but he was looking at Linda.

Linda poured some of the powder in her hand and spoke, “I am the storyteller’s wife. I will listen to his tell and not interrupt him as he tells it.” She sprinkled the powder over the flames they glowed green then faded.

Bill blinked and stared at the flames a moment as he thought he had noticed that the flames did not burn the same bright green as the other three did. He took the pouch from Linda and poured some in to his hand looked at it. He was expecting to see metal flakes or bits of wood or bark it was only sand. A little bit startled he looked at James, and James just nodded. Bill then spoke, “I also am a part of this tail and will offer my words when asked.” He then sprinkled the sand over the flames they glowed the brighter green he saw in James’, Tanya’s, and Ahkeer’s. He then handed the pouch to Jim.

Jim took it and poured some into his hand. Looking at James he said, “I am a child I will listen to the storyteller and do my part by listening and not interrupting, letting him tell his tell.” He then sprinkled his hand full over the flames it started to glow green then changed to a deep orange before returning normal. Father and son looked to one another for a moment then James started to laugh.

“We will see how well you do this time son.” He said as he took the pouch from the boy.

James sat down on a straw stuffed hide and placed another piece of wood on the fire. As he thought a bit he looked around at the expecting faces. Then he spoke. ”We all know this story starts a week ago with me going on a vacation. Then ends here in strange circumstances.” He said as he looked toward Linda. “Now let me tell it all,as I remember it happening.”

James looked around the group of family and friends. He could feel the expectation building. When he spoke, he was confident of himself and what he was about to say. “As I said, I went out to the hills looking for enlightenment. I went in search of the waterfalls and pool my grandfather told of when I was a boy. He called them the waterfalls of truth, the holy place for cleansing and prayer. It seem odd to me how I remembered the directions since it had been many years since grandfather had told me of the place. Following the road to the trail-way then to the rocks, there I parked the pickup and headed out on foot to the crest of the hills that surround the small valley. Looking down from my vantage I knew I had found the right place. At the north end of this valley one could see the waterfalls as Grandfather had said. At the base of the falls was the pool. Set to one side was a fire pit long since cleansed of ash. An old apple tree was growing near it, the fruit just looking ripe.

I approached the pool trying to remember how to proceed, when I noticed an odd glimmer or light from the waterfall. I looked at it for a while, not sure of what I saw. After looking a while I decided that it was just the sun’s reflection, I continued on, trying to remember what grandfather said was the proper way to proceed. Again an odd shimmer or rather a light from within the falls. This time I looked harder, I know I saw something, something within or behind the falls. Alas, nothing, just the sunlight glistening off the water, nothing unusual. Though a strange feeling came over me. I felt I needed to leave, almost like a desire to run away or escape. I knew I was failing to grasp the idea of how to commune with nature and the ancient ways. I knew that grandfather would be upset with me. Then it came to me, the ritual. The one he told me he would perform for enlightenment.

I became excited, and began looking about for the objects need to perform the ritual. I needed a stone from the pool, and a branch of sage bush. And I needed wood to burn the ceremonial fire. And then the most important thing of all, I needed the food for the offering.

I slipped out of my backpack and set it next to the fire pit. Then hurried about gathering the items I needed. I knew I had in my backpack my traveling rations, and then I looked over at the apple tree and knew that I had all I need for the offering. Looking along the stream bank I found enough driftwood to last me a few days. Of course around the meadow there was enough sage brush, seeing that it grows freely in the high desert. Then I came to the last thing, the stone from the pool. Each item being necessary in the ritual. The offering of food or tobacco to the great spirit, for my enlightenment, the branch of sage to wipe over myself and over the offering for cleansing, the fire the help carry my prayers to the havens, and last the stone, a symbol of mother earth for me to hold so the restless spirits will not try to take me.

I walked to the pools edge and looked about for a stone. Not one too big, just about the size of an egg. The only problem was, there was no stones to be seen except those about the fire pit. There had to be a stone in this pool some place. Even though the pool was clear I had difficulties finding a pebble let alone a stone. There had to be one I just knew there had to be. Then I thought maybe at the bottom of the falls. I decided to not take off my shoes, socks, or cloths, and just walked in to the pool.

Feeling around with my feet for anything that felt like a rock or stone, I approached the waterfall. Nothing, no stone, no rocks, just sand and muck. My hopes started fade, my quest for enlightenment was never going to happen. Feeling depressed and defeated I decided to plunge into the falls and at least wash the heat of frustration off me. It was then I noticed it again and this time there was no denying it, there was something about these falls.

Maybe it was the desire to plunge in, or the feeling of failure but this time it did not fade. I could see through the falls to a room or a space beyond. At first I looked around the falls to the rock face behind the water, it was solid. I came back around to the front to look through the falls to the same thing, a room or corridor. I raised my hand out in front of me as I approached the falls, fully expecting to feel the water falling on it. Nothing, I then moved closer. I noticed with each step the image became clearer.

I now had both hands in front of me feeling for the rock face behind the falls. I stopped a moment, my hands felt strange, pulling them back I looked at them. They looked normal. I reached in and felt about for the edges of what looked like a doorway again my hands felt strange. Ignoring that I found the bottom edge and hoisted myself in. I felt odd, still normal yet not. I tried to stand. It was hard to keep my balance. Holding on to the edge I thought it out why could I not stand? What was making it so hard to keep my balance? I thought maybe the floor was uneven or something. So I looked down at my feet, but I had none. There where my feet should have been were paws.

I was leaning on my right arm and hand so I looked at my left. There was no hand, I tried to turn it so I could see the palm but could not turn it beyond half way. Again there was a paw. I tried flexing it, yap it is mine. Awkwardly I pushed away from the wall and stepped in to the room. Not really a room but a long corridor slowly sweeping left in one direction and right in the other. I stumbled forward and landed on my hands, or paws rather. I stood there thinking a moment about how I had paws instead of hands and feet. I also noticed my hearing had become clearer, I was not sure but it seemed that my eyesight had changed to shades of black, gray, and brown. My sense of smell seemed to be greatly enhanced, I smelled green grass, mulching leaf of the forest, and fragrances of animals. Then I came to realize that being on all fours was more natural than being on two. I thought about it a little longer and agreed with myself.

I then decided to explore the place. I turned around to go out and get my backpack for it had the travel food and I could put some of the apples in it also. I looked out through the waterfall and saw my backpack lying on the ground next to the fire pit. Then I thought, how am I, going to carry it in this form. I started to turn away when I realized that the waterfall was not moving. It looked like someone had painted it there. It even looked fogged over, like smoked glass, clear yet not. I went to put my hand, or ah paw through but it encountered solid mass, a barrier of some form. I pushed harder, I even got up on two legs and pushed with my front feet, nothing.

I sat down and thought, how this could have happened. What could have made the thing close so I could not get through? What could be keeping me there? Then for the first time since arriving I began to feel a little scared. What if I could not get back? What if this was someone’s way of trapping others? Or even worse, what if I am dead? That was when I became so frustrated that I wanted to yell. But some sort of instincts came over me and I just sat back on my haunches and howled…”

It was at that moment Ahkeer startled every one. She had changed to dog and was sitting there with her nose pointed to the hole in the roof issuing out a howl so mournful that, when she got past the shock of the howl Tanya leaned over and embraced her, petting her head and said “Don’t cry Ahkeer he is home now with his family and you.” As Tanya pulled back Ahkeer turned and licked her face and lowered her ears as she looked to James. The shameful and apologetic look she had, set Bill, James, and Jim to laughing.

Linda looked at her watch and spoke up “Break time! Kids go inside and use the bathrooms and wash hands. While I make something to eat.” Ahkeer then headed out in to the yard and sniffed about until she found a spot and relieved herself. James and Bill went inside for their turn in the bathrooms. As they entered the house the children came running out. Jim stopped and looked out at Ahkeer, turning to his father he asked. “Dad, how does Ahkeer change like that?” He said looking up at his father’s face.

James looked down at his son and said, “It is the way of her kind. She did not know how to change until she and I became friends. Even so she had always been able to.”

Bill put his hand on James’ shoulder and spoke. “Jim your dad can’t tell you the story without the others, can he?”

“No I guess not. But why did she howl like that while you were telling the story?”

“I will tell that to you and the rest when I come back out but for the time stretch and run with her I think she could use a little encouraging right now.” She was lying next to the entrance of the story hut with her head on her paws, her ears hanging to the sides of her head. Jim and Tanya looked over at her. “Aw Poor Ahkeer, What’s the matter?” They were saying as they hurried across the yard to her. James and Bill stood watching a moment before heading to the bathrooms.

Once inside James pointed the way for Bill to the guest bathroom down stairs as he went up to the other. On his way up he remembered how when he told Bill’s Grandfather of the adventures he had in getting to know Ahkeer’s people, it played out before them like a movie. He told himself that he would have to ask Bill if he could do the same here.

His thoughts were interrupted as he heard the gaiety outside. The gaiety, he figured, of the children and Ahkeer running and playing in the back yard. Finished with the bathroom and heading down stairs, he was tying the waist of the deer hide pants, when he heard Linda holler. “Oh no James the children.”

James covered the remaining steps in two strides, and was standing at the door bracing himself with his hands on either side of the of the door jam. Looking out on to the yard he saw the children in mid transformation. Ahkeer, in human form was holding them tight, their Mother standing, trembling with a look of horror on her face. James rushed to her taking her hands in his pulling her to face him. She gave him a strained look pulling away she went in to the house. James started to follow her when he saw Bill in the kitchen shaking his head and pointing to the children.

He turned to see Ahkeer now a dog licking their faces, her tail wagging and she was wining softly. A glance over his shoulder at the kitchen window he saw Bill talking to Linda. He turned to his children and mate. Approaching them he noticed the shock on the faces of his children. His heart sank low as he remembered being in that same predicament.

“Whoa look at you two.” He said with a chuckle in his voice hoping to calm them. As they and Ahkeer turned to look at him, he smiled and put out his hands to them. Ahkeer changed half way to human and went to James with the children, he embraced the three of them. After a moment he released them and said, “Now let me get a god look at the two of you and see what you look like.” Stepping back from him they hung their heads. He knelt back down taking their chins in his hands he raised them so he looked into their eyes.

“Oh no that is unacceptable, there will be no shameful faces here. No one, is to blame for this. It was going to happen no matter what. Being stuck half way between is a little disturbing though. Remember when I looked like that Ahkeer?” She looked at him a grin appearing on her face.

“I also remember how it wore you down trying to go fully one way or the other. We can’t put these children through that.” Her concern putting a fretful look back on their faces, as she stood.
James glanced over his shoulder at the house to see Bill and Linda talking at the back door. James could hear Bill explaining to her, “Remember Linda I said they were just like their Father, I meant it completely not figuratively.” The look of horror had left her face now. Just concern clouded it. With a kitchen towel in hand she approached her family. As she did Ahkeer changed completely to dog and slunk back and then toward the house.

Once inside, she turned human as Bill closed the door. Turning toward him she nearly broke down, blurting out. “I never thought it would be this difficult. I thought I could be a part of his life and he mine. But his… other Mate and their children, I am not a part of that. I cannot be, I am an outsider to them. To her I am an intruder.” At that time the door opened and there stood Linda. She looked sternly at Ahkeer.

Ahkeer moved back not knowing the reason of the discipline from Linda. Preparing to defend herself from an undue discipline. Unrealized by Ahkeer she had started to change to her dog form. For in dog form she is quicker and more agile. Once she was far enough through the transformation her ears moved with dog ease. First forward then back. Seeing this Linda’s heart melted for the look was too much for her to be angry at. She let her shoulders sag and she slumped wiping her face with the towel.

Seeing the release Ahkeer went back to human form, and stepped up to Linda. “I will leave, this…family pack. A pack needs to have stability to survive. This one, would do that, better without me.” She turned towards the front door, feeling the grip on her hand she stopped and looked down to the hand holding hers. She turned to face Linda. Looking down at their hands and back to her face. Linda looked concerned and then smiled as she pulled Ahkeer to her in an embrace.

“Ahkeer you cannot leave. The children adore you and James needs your help out there. And I … I need you too. In some way that I cannot fathom, I need you. It might only be for the sake of the children. I do not know but I know this, I need you Ahkeer.” In saying that she embraced Ahkeer again, and to her surprise Ahkeer returned it.

“That is what I had hoped to have when I asked Ahkeer to come home with me.” The two separated when they heard James’ voice. “I had hoped the two of you would get along. I just did not envision it happening like this. Now Linda I would like you to see how we do this. It might help you to understand this all a little better.”

Linda looked concerned at him then asked. “Are you going to change too?” James nodded. “I am not sure I want to see that yet James. I saw you as the dog but…”

“No. I do understand it is something that takes a lot of getting used to. I know it took me a long time to get used to seeing Ahkeer transform. For it is not instantaneous for beginners. It took me a few days to fully transform when I first arrived in her world. But we cannot have our children halfway in between now can we? I just thought they might take it better if you were there. Right now they are afraid, for the look you had when you saw them. They did not notice the transformation happening until you said something.” Noticing the hurt look on her face, he quickly added, “Do not be upset with yourself I think I would have been just as bad if I did not expect it.”

A thought raced through his mind. Excusing himself he turned to Bill and motioned him to the front room. Once out of earshot James looked around to the kitchen wall and spoke in low tones to him. “You said she could not change for she is not of the blood right?”

Bill thought a moment. “Um yes. What are you thinking James?”

“You have the same powers as your Grandfather, Right?” Bill nodded. “Might you be able to give her the ability and then she can learn too, how to do this.” Bill looked over James shoulder at Linda and Ahkeer watching the children through the back door window.

“James I think she might agree to it, but I am not sure that I can.”

James turned to look as Linda headed out the door before he spoke. “Oh I just thought…” He trailed off as Bill shook his head.

Bill had that look of one listening to something no one else can hear. “Go out and get Linda. Grandfather wants me to explain it to her and you need to be here too.”

James hurried to the door and called to Linda. “Linda we need to speak a moment with Bill, he has something very important to say that just might help.” She glanced down at the children as she started to turn and spoke softly to them. “Children I love you. I was just very surprised that’s all. All right?” The children nodded as she went back into the house. James was waiting at the door when she entered.

They walked into the front room. “Can’t you just come and do it yourself? I am unsure of how to do it. Oh you can do it through me? Our link is strong.” Bill was saying as James cleared his throat as he and Linda approached.

Bill looked at them and had them to sit down as he try to explain it. “It’s like this Linda. You have the desire to help your children right?” She nodded. “You two do not want the children to fear the changing either?” They nodded. “Well Linda how would you like to be able to go through it with them?” Her eyes widened Fear and understanding crossed her face. She was too shocked to speak as Bill continued.

“You will be given the ability to transform and you can learn along with the children. It is actually easy, but for those who were born with it and had been taught how to control it. Now with you never having had the ability and the children not being taught well, it takes some learning. So how about it?” Bill looked from Linda to James. Then Linda turned to James. Sitting in his place was James the dog, with the look of pleading, a look that only a dog could have. She almost had to laugh at the sight.

“James, you better know what you are up to.” She said as she turned to Bill “All right. Just don’t let me turn into a frog or something like that.” Both the men laughed at that as James turned back to a man. Bill calmed and looked her in the eyes. “It is done.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that!” He answered. “Now let’s go show those children how to properly change shall we?”

“Lets? Like you and us? You change too?” Linda asked. Bill nodded.

“Yup. I learned like the children did a little after the fact.”

“You know I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story so I can put things together.” Linda was saying as they crossed to the back door.

Bill and James looked at each other and started chuckling. James spoke up “You know Linda I think you will fit right in. What are you thinking right now?”

“I don’t know really. How I might look as a dog? I think. Why?”

“Look in the mirror.” James said, pointing to the head high mirror by the front door. As she went to look, James stood beside her part way through the transformation. So she saw the two of them together part human and part dog. She let out a little gasp as she saw their reflections. But then turned her face side to side admiring how she looked as a… She found standing very difficult right then as she caught the glimpse of a dog in the mirror. She went to speak and all that came out was whimpers and growls. James stood on all fours beside her and also there was Bill she assumed. As another dog was standing where he was.

She looked about, then trotted into the first floor bathroom. To her amazement she found moving as a dog easier than she had thought it would be.

In the bathroom she stood on all fours looking at a female dog, reflected in the mirrored doors of the shower. She turned sideways one way then the other. Looked herself over, and then, she was there on hands and knees looking at herself in human form. “Is that it? Is that all I have to do is think of being a dog and I am one? Or being myself, and then I am a woman?” Bill and James looked at one another.

James asked Bill “Did you help her or?”

“No! And he is telling me it was all her?”

“Who is?” Linda asked as the two men looked to her.

“My Grandfather.” Bill said matter of fact like. “He is just as astounded as you for it is normal for one to need coaching, but you took to it like one born to it.” Bill said smiling as she stood. “Now let’s go out there and help those children.” They walked out to the back yard. Ahkeer had the two children sitting in the shade of the patio umbrella. They were now giggling at one another and Ahkeer as she changed through fazes of the transformation. She stopped as the parents and Bill approached.

“Well children, have we a surprise for the two of you.” James said as he approached them. He looked to Linda and smiled then nodded. She looked a little aghast then realized that it would be natural to the children. But just then Bill grabbed her arm and motioned to the story hut. They all looked at Bill, who was looking around at the fences. They realized anyone could be watching, they decided to go into the hut. Bill lingered outside of the hut for a moment, looking about he then went in.

As he entered he spoke his thoughts, “Your neighbors usually are not the nosy types?” He asked looking from James to Linda. “No.” They spoke in unison.

“Good. Then we probably will not be disturbed.”

The children were now standing by the fire pit in the middle of the hut with the cushions pushed to the sides. They looked to the adults with curiosity playing across their faces. The four adults stood across from them Linda, James, Ahkeer, and Bill. James spoke first, “You two know Ahkeer and I can change, right?” The children nodded. “Well watch this.” He said as he looked at Linda. She took a breath and then thought of how she would look as a Dog. Then in her place was a dog. Ahkeer and the Children let out a gasp.

Ahkeer looked to James then Bill. “We will explain later.” Bill said to Ahkeer, as Linda-dog scratched at James’ leg. James looked down into the questioning eyes of his wife/dog. Then he transformed to his dog form, he then looked to Ahkeer. She did not need to be prompted, as she too transformed. All eyes were now on Bill. He rolled his eyes and gave a shrug then a dog stood in his place. He turned to look at Linda and James as Linda started to change to her human form so did the other three.

Kneeling down James and Linda looked into the eyes of their children. Linda spoke first, “I in just a short amount of time have been given a gift. More than one to tell the truth.” She said as she looked from the children to James, and continued. “I have been given two wonderful children who can change forms. I also have been given the ability to do so myself. And, in a very short amount of time I found out how to change my shape and did it twice with no help.”

The astonished look on the faces of the children gave her chills. “Now if she could control it as easy as she can do it, it would be better.” James interrupted. Linda looked to her hands to see them partially transformed. “You see children you now have to want to change fully. You have stayed as partial dog people because of the fright of your Mom.”

“Not a bad thing given the way she got to find out.” Bill spoke up.

“Yes.” Linda continued. “I need to learn as you will on how to control it. And yes you have to want to either continue to dogs or back to children. Either way you must want it.” They interrupted her with their thoughts. “I” They said together. Jim continued first. “Was thinking how fun it would be to play with Ahkeer as a dog.” “Me too.” Tanya chimed in. “I thought how fun it would be, to be a dog and run and play all day.”

With this Linda's face brightened. “Then let’s do it!” She said to them.

“Really?” was Tanya’s reply.

“Yes!” The adults said.

Jim was looking a little down cast. “But Dad your story.”

“It will wait until we have our fun. For we are a family that will have fun as dogs and People.” James said as he quickly turned into his dog form, Ahkeer beside him.

Bill remained a man as the family changed to dogs. They looked to him as a group. “Ah James I can’t right now.” He pointed to Ahkeer. James turned to human, as he started to question why, Bill said one word “Heat.” James turned and looked at Ahkeer and Linda, with the children. The memories of the early morning ran through his mind. Ahkeer at the foot of his bed, his transformation, and the joy he had as he went down stairs as a dog, then the joining, and then the discovery.

No. He thought, two males with one female in heat. Not a good combination. He nodded to Bill the understanding as he transformed to dog. The next few hours was spent romping and running and transforming. Ahkeer showed Linda the ways to familiarize as dogs. Linda was truly aghast when she needed to sniff at the tails of all the family, Bill included. The sensations that Linda felt as she familiarized herself with the others. Her children, her husband, Ahkeer, and Bill, was almost unfathomable.

A common scent was present between James and Ahkeer; the children had a sweet odor to their scent. Bill’s scent was masculine like James’, yet no Ahkeer smells to him. The hard thing was to smell herself. The idea was bad enough but to get around and do it. She spun around for a while then dizziness got to her. She sat, looked to the others, whom were mostly people laughing, the only one not laughing was Ahkeer. She walked over and sat beside Linda, tapped her with her nose. When Linda turned and faced her, Ahkeer twisted her body around to the side and nose down to her rump sniffed loudly.

That set the family in to another bout of giggles that even Linda and eventually Ahkeer joined in. As they started calming down and the children sat facing each other changing back and forth between each other.

Linda looked at her watch and announced. “All right we need to have something to eat and sleep.” The children started to protest. “No we have had a very exciting day. And, tomorrow, I have the feeling, will be long and exciting also. So the two of you go get cleaned up while I make dinner for us all, hopefully with help.” She said with a look at the other adults.

Other than Ahkeer having nicked herself a few times with kitchen utensils, and two children that could barely keep their eyes open. Dinner went off without a hitch.