The Shadow of Geordie Harris
by Eric J. Kregel
in issue 274.
|part 3 of 4|
On that day, I got a pair of handcuffs and cuffed my wrist to the bed just as Jane went to sleep. Before I went to sleep, I swallowed the key and figured the worst that’ll happen is that Jane will think I had a weird dream resulting in me cuffing myself to our bed. No real harm done and better than the creature messing with my daughter. The next morning, I woke up to an empty house and another DVD waiting for me.
The image was of Kesha sitting on the wolf’s lap laughing. He quickly shooed her away with a grin and faced the camera.
“You forgot, Geordie, that you have a second key in the nightstand for your cuffs. Luckily, I remembered.
“Your daughter is safe and sound, and there are no secrets from her anymore. I had to explain it to her many times since she was having a hard time getting it, as we all have. She’s a beautiful girl, really. You know that, since I can read your thoughts, and I know you love her. Aren’t I, though, your exact opposite? Shouldn’t I hate the people you love? It’s not as simple as that.
“It’s incredibly lonely, living my life, I must admit. The only solace I’ve received has been spending hours on a werewolf chat line. Yes, they have them, and I’ve been talking with many people who have our condition.
“And the way this whole ‘shadow’ thing works is that I’m essentially you, but made up of decisions different from the ones you’ve made. Your decisions, many feel, cannot alter one’s essence, only the type of person you are when all of the consequences have come to fruition.
“So you love your daughter; and, since I am you, I love her, too. That’s why I decided to tell her about this issue and you decided to tell her nothing.
“Now let’s change the subject, hmmm?
“You can’t kill me, Geordie, without killing yourself. I know this and, well, now you do, too. And don’t worry about your thoughts, Geordie: you’d go crazy trying to censor everything and I couldn’t do that to you.
“But according to a fellow in Idaho I met in a chat room, you can’t kill the wolf unless you kill the man. When we change, that’s the only time we can entertain death. This should be good news to you, Geordie, since you’re now bulletproof and impervious to death. I wouldn’t test that out, just yet... that theory is a work in progress.
“But we are bound, you and me. So I think it’s fair to tell you that, ever since I got into this world, I’ve been burdened. This is a great, big, evil world. And there’s an evil in particular I plan to attack: the debt crisis of North America.
“More about that later.”
The recording ended. I sat, unsure how to respond. I looked around the room, not sure if I had just been scolded or if something horribly wrong with who I am has just been exposed. I didn’t know. My daughter was safe enough, almost enjoying her time with Daddy’s opposite. If that’s the case, then am I a good father, really?
I pushed it out of my thinking. Instead, something stung deeper than a wolf monster cuddling up with my kid. It’s his cryptic insistence on the debt crisis in North America. When was there a crisis? I figured everyone had some kind of debt, surely, but I wouldn’t have called it a crisis.
I got out of bed, dressed, and got ready for my shift catching bad guys.
* * *
When I got to the station, my brother called and wanted to chat with me. “Say, Geordie, are you still on the hunt for werewolf lore and facts?” he asked brightly on the other side of the phone.
“Sure, I guess.”
“There’s a fellow in your town I’ve just sold a mess of comics to that says he is a collector of werewolf facts. Says he only reads Sci-Fi when it comes to comics and claims to be an expert.”
“An expert on werewolves, eh?” I asked. A couple weeks ago, if I had heard this, the alarms in my head would have screamed and I’d have been chasing him out of our town as a confidence man. Yet at that moment, someone sifting through the facts and fiction would have been nice, especially since my werewolf became fact.
“He’s coming from the city and will be home tomorrow. Here’s his phone number.”
I wrote it down and thanked him with the ease and condescension that I was doing him a favor, chatting horror with one of his comic cronies. In truth, I resisted the idea of waiting for a whole day. We had an intruder in our house, talking with my kid and using my computer and running up a debt on my credit card: I was burning daylight every second he was inside of me, taking over my world.
Plus, it was unnatural. The way things are supposed to be is that a fellow doesn’t have two parts to him. He lives alone, unified, and is responsible only for himself. I couldn’t but feel that the idea of a werewolf was breaking a rule, going against Mother Nature’s laws and systems. Like someone cheating on their taxes or stealing from the government.
Yet I didn’t do anything that day, other than my job and when I got home, I ate dinner and spent the night watching TV.
I slept. Awoke. And found another DVD waiting for me.
“Greetings, Geordie,” my wolf counterpart said. “I feel I must cut to the chase because time is of the essence. I feel I must ask for your forgiveness because I’ve given you an incomplete impression. It would seem, from my little reports every day, that I’m just alone on the computer, chatting with a variety of other people who share our split condition. That is partly true.
“In truth, I’ve doing much more on the computer than just on-line chatting. I’ve come across a great evil in our world, ruining the economy of our great nations. Simply, the evil is debt. Many profit from it, but many more, like yourself, are ruined by it.
“Do you know that 85% of North Americans’ debt is four times the amount of their worth, hmmm?”
I hadn’t ever really thought about it. Or chose not to think about it.
“And yet they pay and pay and pay, to pay back something that is no longer of value to them when it is finally owned by them. And the multinational corporations grow and grow, taking in billions from people like you and they strangle small businesses whose chief revenue is not the interest from debt, but petty things like products or services.
“It’s an evil dwarfing our nation. So I’ve figured out a way, in the short time I’ve been alive, to strike at this great evil. I have written a computer virus that will crash any database that records people’s debts.”
What? I thought. He’s going to hack into computers?
It then made sense. I’m a cop and my exact opposite would be a criminal; I’m Dirty Harry to his Robin Hood.
“Knowing you right now, you’re outraged, but allow me to present my disclaimers. The debts that shall be erased will only be medical or educational. In short, only students and those sick but went into debt because their insurance did not cover them. Geordie, I believe you would be a recipient of the good from my virus.
“Let me assure you that this won’t change anything, my friend. Those who collect debts will outsmart my virus and restore their system. Plenty of Canadians and Americans will jump right in and be indentured all over again. All my little virus will do is wipe clean a system and free a few million souls, that’s it.
“I mean, does it seem right? People who get education, improve society, and mold culture shouldn’t be saddled with such high interest rates, hmmm? And the ill, whose socialized medicine doesn’t cover them or their insurance policy refuses to help them out, why are they being punished by the debt creature? And yes, the debt creature is far more insidious and evil than I, your werewolf.
“Time is of the essence, especially since you’ll be seeing a specialist tomorrow to be rid of me. I must work hard, faster than you, to free these people. I thought of keeping this from you, but decided not to: it just didn’t feel right.”
The recording ended and I realized that my other self was, indeed, crazy and a danger. The wolf was serious, planning to take down key credit databases and, with that, unravel a structure put into place that tied our system together. Certainly, I didn’t like owing anyone anything, but those were the rules. And rules make us civilized.
This wolf planned to undo everything that held our civilization by attacking our rules, our trade, and our money.
He had to be stopped.
* * *
I took a sick day that day and went to find the fellow attached to the phone number my brother gave me. His name was Tom Davros and he owned an acreage just outside of town, just before the farms and just beyond the railroad tracks.
Pulling into his driveway felt like stepping into a tractor museum. He had about a dozen antique tractors scattered throughout his property. The newest one was probably from around the ’60s, some dating back to the days of steam power. Most were rusty or tin colored, but some still had the green or red from the factory. My car parked in front of his log cabin with all of the tractors pointed at the house like soldiers guarding the castle.
Soon as I got out, Tom waddled out of his house and took a seat on his deck. As he sat down, I caught a glimpse of the man: bearded and pot bellied with a missing right leg.
He waved me over. “You’re the cop that called me about wolves, right?” he asked.
I stepped onto his board, feeling the boards wanting to snap in two once I put my weight on them. “Yes, you know my brother,” I said. “He says you’re an expert on werewolves.”
Patting the stub on his right leg, he moaned. “That’s right. Now I know the real stuff, not the myth or fantasy.”
“That’s what I’m interested in.” I took a seat in a gnarled deck chair across from him. “So you believe they exist?”
“I know many that are werewolves, my friend. Why? Have you been bit?”
“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that. And let me guess, you want to kill it?”
Again, I nodded, slow and determined.
“That’s gonna be a problem. It’s possible, but there are no promises, and a lot can go wrong.”
“Do I use a silver bullet or garlic?” I chuckled at my question, finding a stern gaze greeting my joke.
“No. It’s a fight against biology, really. You have to get the two of you together at one place. And there’s got to be a confrontation, see. The two of you confront each other and the strongest one survives.”
“What do you mean? We fight? How can I win against a wolf?”
“No blows. No bites.” He rubbed his curly, red beard. “You see, you’re a splintered man, and the two parts are now growing apart. In a year’s time, he’ll change and become his own person, no longer a reflection of yourself. That strength to change, that fiber of his being that’ll cause him to grow, that’s the stuff you measure, not brute strength. You make the confrontation and the strongest self wins.”
“So the better man will win? What does this confrontation look like?”
“When you go to sleep you change, right? So what happens is you get yourself sleepy but don’t go completely out. Get into that space in between being awake and asleep, when you dream and yet think. And then you get yourself a mirror and stare at it. The wolf will appear in the mirror and you can talk, curse, or do whatever. Then you get a gun or a knife or a weapon: something that’s used only for killing. And you destroy the mirror.”
“The strongest being survives, the fellow with the most resolve and ambition and life force and what have you. If it’s you, the wolf will fade away; if you’re the weaker, you’ll pop out of existence.”
I grinned at him. “Why are you telling me all of this? I mean, I’d never heard of werewolves until I became one. It seemed like civilization’s big, nasty secret. And here you are, spilling the beans. Why?”
“Werewolves aren’t right. They’re a break in the chain of humanity.” He leaned over to me, his green eyes surrounded by red veins bearing at me. “You know this, right?”
“My werewolf is a computer genius and he wants to do something horrible, something illegal. I got to stop him.”
“He’s your opposite, the sum total of everything you aren’t. Put him to death. That’s the right thing to do.”
* * *
Copyright © 2007 by Eric J. Kregel