WELCOME, HUMAN

WELCOME, HUMAN.



Come in, take your seat. The show is about to start. We know why you're here. You've heard the stories about werewolves on Wall Street, directing the world market, controlling the technology, walking the red carpet. You are curious, perhaps a little uneasy. Now you look a little more closely at the face behind the bullet proof glass of a passing limousine. Is he one? you wonder. Is he? You no doubt have many questions, but they will not be answered here. Tonight we're here to entertain. Because if there's one thing a werewolf loves, it's a good story.



The lights dim, the curtain rises. Hear the echo of footsteps as he walks into the spotlight, Monsieur le Loup Garou, your host for the evening. He is tall and fine featured, with rich dark hair that falls over the shoulders of his Armani tuxedo, and a spark of cool amusment in his eyes. Don't be afraid. Relax. Settle back. Enjoy the show. We here at Theater Devoncroix adore humans. You are perfectly safe .



For the most part.















Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OPENING NIGHT

Well, well. Thank you all for coming, and welcome to my little one man--or I should perhaps say--one werewolf-show. For the next few minutes, or as long as your tiny attention spans will allow, I’m here to entertain you, to inform you, to answer some of those questions that have been burning away in your little minds since you first learned about us.

And don’t you all look perfectly delicious, all dressed up in your finery? I’m honored, truly. The theater is one of the last great bastions of civilization, and I believe one should dress for it. And how very flattered I am that you chose to be here tonight, rather than out watching some absurd vampire film with a gaggle of swooning teenagers.

By the way, you do realize that there are no such things as vampires, don’t you?

Over the course of my engagement here at Theater Devoncroix, you will hear many stories about my life, my colleagues, my ancestors, my relations, the humans I have known and loved and discarded. Some of these stories will be true. Some will be outright lies. Please enjoy both with my compliments. As we begin, there are a few things you need to know to make your experience here more enjoyable.

1) This is a civilized establishment. Abusive attitudes, unseemly language and stupidity will not be tolerated.
2) I am the center of attention. Anyone who forgets that will be asked to leave.
3) Unruly children will be eaten. I like them sauteed and served with  a nice caper-butter sauce, myself.
Now, shall we get started?

I am werewolf. I am power, I am intelligence, I am perception. I am ferocity. I am appetite. I am everything that is pure and natural and unencumbered in this world, all that you ever imagined or longed for from the half-acknowledged depths of your  meager, malformed souls. When you dream of flying, you dream of me. When you dream of jungle greens and wild red sunsets, you dream of me. I am inside you, the savage and the angel, the beast, the shadow of what you might have been. This is why you hate me. And this, my dear, dear human, is why you adore me. And why you know, from the depth of your heart, that you will never be able to resist me. And should I shed this fine silk suit now, and stand naked before you, and let my lovely human flesh dissolve into the fire and the light of what I am, what I was born to be, you would weep with shame and longing. You would fall to your knees and worship me.

You, there. Yes, you my dear, in the green dress. You find that exciting, don’t you? I can feel your shudder from here. I can taste the fever of your skin, and smell your blood as it thrums in your veins. I can hear your heart flutter and pulse in your chest. And I can snap your neck like a twig between my two fingers, if I so choose.

But relax. I’m in a good mood tonight. Besides, there are much more amusing things to do with beautiful women, and I know them all. See me after the show. Bring your husband, if you like.  I’m not particular.
Now then, let’s get back to the topic at hand. If you found your way here this evening it is no doubt because you are a fan of the great Devoncroix dynasty, that magnificent loup garou clan who tamed the wild humans, delivered civilization from wreck and ruin, and led the world to a golden era of peace and prosperity that has lasted almost a thousand years. That’s their story, anyway. I have a slightly different version. I am not, you see, a particular fan of the magnificent Devoncroix, and the name of this theater?  That was only to get your attention. What you may have failed to realize is that there are thousands of us roaming loose among you, dining at your fine restaurants, directing your board meetings, launching your satellites--contentedly parting you from your money, your daughters, your virtue, and yes, my fine friends, occasionally even your lives--who have gone about their business for generations with nothing but contempt for the standards of those who claim to be in charge.  And our names are not Devoncroix.

Of course I would not have you think that the myth of the Devoncroix is completely inaccurate. They were, for all of their outrageous claims, an enormously powerful family who ruled the pack with an iron fist for the whole of the twentieth century. They developed science and technology you poor humans never would have come up with on your own, not to mention some of the most exquisite wines ever bottled. They controlled, among other things, the banking industry, the automobile industry, the communications industry, and let’s not forget the oil industry.

How’s that working out for you, by the way?

But enough about them. If you want to know more, I believe there are some books. Probably there will be even more; the ego of the Devoncroix is such that, even in failure, they will want to tell you about it. Tonight you came to hear my story, and perhaps you’ll be surprised at how many times my path has crossed with theirs... and with yours.

I will begin when I was a young man in Paris, which is where all good stories should begin. But first, I don’t want to be a bad host. Let’s have a brief intermission. Are there any questions?
***

ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: PARIS

Here is a story of my youth.

I had an apartment not far from the Moulin Rouge, and in the evenings I would go out on the balcony and smoke Gauloises and watch the comings and goings in Paris’s most infamous cabaret. You may have heard, by the way, that cigarettes are toxic to my kind, and so they are--in the same way that marijuana is to yours. So I’ve enjoyed a smoke now and then, particularly in my youth, and never mind if I lost a brain cell or two to the sensation. I have plenty to spare.

The year was 1963, and the air of Paris was perfumed with that peculiar mixture of reckless abandon and sentimental romance that is the hallmark of any coming- of- age story--whether it be a civilization, a city, or a boy. I know, of course, that I don’t look a day over twenty-eight, and thank you for thinking so, but that’s why you’re here, is it not?--To hear how the outrageous might be possible? For now, let me assure you that I was in fact a young man in Paris almost fifty years ago, and I’ll attribute my remarkably preserved youth to… cigarettes.

I love an audience with a sense of humor.

In modern times, the Moulin Rouge has taken on a somewhat desperate reputation, but in those days it was the very height of fashion for a certain type of loup-garou--not to mention a certain type of human. The females, all lovely and slim and exotically beautiful, would shave their bodies to look like loup-garou, and do all sorts of amusing things with poodles. They danced the Can-Can without underwear. They tangoed wearing nothing but G-strings. Occasionally I would go down and mingle with them, drinking cheap wine and smoking more cigarettes and laughing out loud at their antics. Pablo Picasso was often there, and he would sometimes sketch for me on the back of a napkin. To be honest, he was usually so drunk that the sketches looked like something a three year old would do, but I sold one of them last year for three quarters of a million Euros. Go figure.

There was a back room where only the wealthiest humans of a certain exotic taste were sometimes invited to join certain members of my kind in games of chance. It wasn’t very sporting, to be honest, because the poor creatures were so obviously outmatched, but it was amusing if one had had just enough to drink, and we always let them win often enough to keep them coming back. Occasionally the lovely young dancers would favor us with their company, either at the gaming tables or--for a few extra francs--in one of the private rooms that could be had if one knew the right people. I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy my share of evenings in their company, for as I said I adore humans. But after a time I grew bored and sought more challenging distractions in other parts of the city. Until, that is, a new dancer at the Moulin Rouge caught my eye.
She was tall and slender and ivory skinned, with a cascade of thick sleek hair the color of champagne. She was by far the most skilled of all the girls, and soon became a feature in every show. Now, I enjoy a good performance as much as anyone, but it was not her talent--or even her striking beauty--that drew me back to the Moulin Rouge. It was the fact that she was a werewolf.

And she was dancing for humans.

This was a mystery I could not allow to remain unexplored.
***

ACT ONE, SCENE TWO

I do beg your pardon for the delay. I am much besieged by the world of late, as I’m sure you can imagine… the fans, the press, the bloody book publishers beating down my door (I have sent them away, of course). But I am here now, and my time is yours.

As I recall, when last we met I was relating my first encounter with the mysterious dancer at the Moulin Rouge. Now you must understand, what fascinated me about this one was not that she danced. Our kind are known to excel in all the arts and it was just as likely that one might find a werewolf amusing herself at the Moulin Rouge as at the Bolshoi Ballet. It wasn’t even that she danced for humans. It was the fact that she so willingly and so liberally made use of that infamous back room with her human customers. That was extremely unorthodox.

Oh, please. Don’t be naive. Of course she was having sex with those humans. Most likely, the best sex of their lives, poor things. That was not what intrigued me about her. What I found so curious was her circumspection. Half her audience was werewolf, as I may have mentioned. In those high-stakes gaming rooms from which she lured her unsuspecting human victims, the most powerful players were werewolf. They knew who she was. She knew who they were. Why then the pretense? Why the skulking about, the secrecy? We are, as you may now have surmised, a people of reckless ego and a love for drama. We do not conceal our talents without a very good reason.

What, I wondered, was her reason? I became obsessed with finding out.

I watched her for several weeks, always from a distance. This is a fact not well known about werewolves: Our distance vision, particularly in artificial light, is only so-so. This makes sense, as we were evolved as night hunters, and we rely on our supernaturally enhanced senses of scent and hearing to make up for that minor--very minor--deficiency. I bring this up only to point out that I soon realized distance surveillance was not working for me, and I grew impatient with the cloak-and-dagger approach. So one night I simply waited outside the stage door until I heard her footsteps in the corridor, and as she pushed open the door into the alley I stepped forward to block her exit.

Before I could so much as draw a breath to introduce myself her outflung arm caught my throat and tossed me like a ragdoll across the alleyway. My head connected hard with a stone wall and I surged forward with a roar of rage, on her again with teeth bared and my fingers tightening on her throat, and she shifted balance with a sleek hard turn of wiry muscles and suddenly I was on the ground in a puddle of moldy rainwater and dog urine and tangerine skins and God knows what else with her breath burning my face and her hot saliva spraying into my open, gasping mouth and I thought, This could get very bad, very quickly.

We were still in our human forms, which of course is almost too embarrassing to admit. We give combat the dignity it deserves, and to be caught so off guard as to be forced to defend oneself in human form is something that generally doesn’t happen past the age of three. The only comfort, if in fact there was one, was that she had to be as humiliated as I was. Her eyes were glittering above me and her hair escaping from its clips to straggle over my face, her small shoulders like granite beneath the drape of grey chiffon and there was an instant--just an instant when I saw in her eyes a sudden flash of surprise, perhaps even shame, and I pounced upon it immediately, of course.

I caught a fistful of her hair and jerked her down and to the side so that our positions were reversed and she was in the mud in that lovely Chanel gown, eyes blazing up at me, muscles like iron as they strained against me, and that was when I realized what I had been too preoccupied to notice until now: the distinct scent of blood on her breath.

Human blood.

I was so astonished that my muscles went slack. I stared at her. “Who are you?” I breathed, sitting back.
She tossed me off and got to her feet, brushing off her dress furiously. I followed a little more slowly, still staring at her. “Who are you?” I repeated.

She returned a contemptuous gaze. “My name is Allesandra,” she said, and, abandoning the efforts with her gown, met my eyes defiantly. “Allesandra Devoncroix.”
***

ACT ONE, SCENE THREE

Allesandra Devoncroix.

Well, well now. Wasn’t that interesting?

Of course, it was Paris, and everyone who was anyone had the surname Devoncroix. This has less to do with their fertility than it does with the fact that everyone wants to be on the winning team. Simply because Allesandra bore a powerful last name did not necessarily mean she could claim any actual relation to the power in question. Still, there was something about those ice blue eyes, the tilt of the chin… I was intrigued.

I said, “My apartment is just around the corner. I should invite you back for a bite to eat, but somehow…” I paused meaningfully. “I don’t imagine you’re hungry. Perhaps a drink instead.”

She looked at me with narrowed eyes for a moment, reminding me uneasily of a jungle cat who is about to spring--or to bolt. And suddenly she grasped my shoulders and lunged in close, nostrils flaring as she inhaled deeply of the scent of my skin.

“I know you,” she said suddenly, eyes piercing me. “Did we run together?”

I was too startled to even laugh. “I don’t think so,” I replied. “I’m sure I would remember.”

She released me suddenly and stepped back, a devilish spark coming into her eyes. “Would you like to?” she said.

And before I could so much as dart out a hand to stop her, she reached her arms over her head and tugged off the skimpy chiffon gown, tossing it away as she kicked off her shoes. With a graceful, stage-drama pirouette and kick, she leapt into the air with a shimmer of light and a burst of spice-orange heat not three feet in front of me, and when she landed upon the street again it was in the form of a stunning, champagne-colored wolf.

This was wrong on so many levels. To execute a Change within the personal space of another werewolf is not only rude, it is dangerous, for all sorts of psychological, physical and neurochemical reasons I won’t go into here, and of course I was furious--and more than a little incredulous--when she did it. Secondly, we were in the middle of Paris, in case I haven’t mentioned, the largest city in Europe, and just where, exactly, did she think she was going to run? There were humans everywhere, and though fear of discovery is not a high priority--in this district, anyone who might catch a glimpse of us would be too drunk to believe his eyes, and even if he did, what was he to do about it?--still, there were automobiles and tourist buses and speeding trains, which were not only the devil of a nuisance, they took all the fun out of a freedom run. She must be mad.

And that, I realized, was exactly what she was as, with a challenging flash of ice blue eyes and a flick of her tail she bounded up and over the side of the building, scrambling over the rooftop, and disappeared from sight.

There was no question about following her. The electric lure of another werewolf’s Change, if you have never experienced it--and, being human, I suppose you have not--is impossible to resist. I could feel the fever starting in my skin, the static tingling in the hairs of my head, even before her paws touched the pavement. Stunned into inaction for the moment it took her to dart away, I used every human expletive I knew as I tore off my shirt and trousers--custom made, too, and the shirt was embroidered silk, for which I would not forgive her any time soon--and struggled with the stubbornly knotted laces on my shoes. The bane of our existence may well be our clothes: what to do with them, how to dispose of them, where to find them when we need them again. I have always thought of myself as a creature of impulse and a connoisseur of high adventure, but this was ridiculous.

The calling of the Passion is an intensely sensual and deeply individual thing; it is a moment of celebration, mastery, exquisite power and purpose. It is meant to be experienced in its every nuance, explored in all its grand drama, savored, reveled in, adored. It is the crudest possible taste to execute a utilitarian change like a common animal, yet that was what I was forced to do if I had any hope at all of catching up with her.
I burst into my natural form in mid air and caught a forepaw on the edge of a gutter, scrambling for purchase as I pulled myself up and over onto the roof top over which she had disappeared. I caught the scent of her immediately, intermixed with the exhaust fumes from the street and the hot oil and garlic odors from the restaurant upon whose roof I trod, and the whiff of a moldy puddle through which she had splashed. I was somewhat faster than she was, but she had had a considerable head start. I sprang from one rooftop to the other, skipping high above the streets of Paris like a child hopping stone across a stream, until the roofs abruptly ended at a bright intersection of glittering headlights and mercury vapor streetlights and the glow of a red traffic light. Unable to stop my forward momentum and caught up in her olfactory trail, I sailed off the rooftop and into traffic.

My back paws thudded off the top of a white limousine, and I used it to push off and leap over a motorcycle and a Peugeot. I did not see the faces of the drivers. I struck the opposite sidewalk at a sharp angle, caught the side of a building with my rear claws, and used it to bank my forward direction and skid onto the deserted side street where I could hear her heart beat, and the laughter in her panting breath. She was waiting for me there, calmly investigating the contents of a restaurant take-away container, and didn’t even have the courtesy to glance around.

I was enraged by this time, more than a little battered, and fueled by adrenaline. I threw myself on her with a guttural roar, grabbing her by the scruff of the neck and shaking hard.
That was when I realized it wasn’t her.
***

ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR

Words to live by: Never attack a strange werewolf in a blind alley unless you are quite certain you can win.
The big brute must have outweighed me by fifty pounds, but I knew if I had any hope of getting out of that alley alive I couldn’t hesitate, or even acknowledge my mistake. I had to strike quickly, and I had to strike hard.   He spun to shake me off, but I out-maneuvered him, using my quickness and my lightness to my advantage.  Swinging around with a mighty roar, I tore at his eyes, blinding him, and then went straight for the jugular.  The poor beast never had a chance.  I dispatched him within moments, and, only a little winded from the effort, made my way home.

I did warn you this account would be sprinkled with lies.

What actually happened is not quite as glorious, but far more pragmatic. Sometimes, in the heat of a chase or the passion of a run, our senses are slow to catch up with the speed of our limbs.  That was exactly what happened to me as I so single-mindedly pursued Allesandra Devoncroix through the midnight streets of Paris at top speed, fueled on fury and determination. I caught the shadow of a wolf form in the alley and sprang upon it before my senses could tell me that the scent was wrong, the size and the shape were wrong. By the time he spun on me I knew my mistake and I sprang away, bent on nothing now but escape.  He caught me by the back leg and tore a chunk of fur out of it, making me scream out loud with pain, and then he caught my shoulder with his teeth and tossed me like a stuffed toy against the wall. I bounced to my feet and didn’t even pause for balance; I took off in the opposite direction as fast as I knew how.

He may have chased me for a block or two, but he did not try very hard to catch me.  There is an unwritten rule among those of us who run in the cities: we respect one another’s territory, and resolve our quarrels with as little fuss as possible.  If we did not, the streets of most metropolises would be littered with werewolf bones each morning.  By the time I reached Montmartre I’m certain my pursuer had lost interest and veered off in another direction; still I did not look back or check my speed until I arrived back at my own building.
My apartment was on the second floor, an easy leap from the garden wall to the balcony.  I changed in midair, which is always risky on an upward leap, and barely caught the railing with my hands.  I pulled myself up and over, and pushed open the balcony doors to my apartment.

Immediately I smelled her there.

I was bruised and limping a little from the sore spot on my leg, humiliated from my undignified flight across town, and completely out of temper.  You may believe me when I tell you that I was in no mood for games.
The apartment was located in one of those fine old houses from two centuries previous, with high baroque ceilings and marble columns and arched windows looking out over the avenue.  It was large, but divided into only two rooms and a bath.  I did not have to spend much time examining the evidence to know where she was.

Without bothering with lights--or, in fact, clothes--I strode across the marble floor and flung open the door to the bath.  There, illumined by candlelight in my big clawfoot tub and up to her neck in bubbles, was Allesandra Devoncroix.

TO BE CONTINUED....

9 comments:

  1. and i say also More please! what happened to the devoncroix novels?

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  2. I can't get enough, please post more!
    When can we get another Devoncroix novel??
    xoxo

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  3. Please continue mylady, all wish to know how this story goes.

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  4. Wow, I want more. This was amazing! Why can't literature depict werewolves this way? Everything about this is enchanting.. I am dying for another book. Please write more! Please!

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  5. Still waiting....(on book no. 3)

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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