Brian and the doctor talked for an hour. By that point, Brian had shifted back enough to look just rough, and not wolfish. He’d also convinced the doctor to bring him some food. Dr. Abrams was nervous, as Brian had barely made it through surgery, but he watched Brian eat eggs, corned beef hash and drink nearly two full mugs of tea. He listened to his stomach and intestines and was amazed to hear normal digestion sounds.
“Brian, you astonish me. I still say you should be dead or at least in critical condition,” said Dr. Abrams.
“I know, but we heal fast. Heal better if we can eat or sleep or both,” said Brian. They’d already discussed the fact that Brian would probably sleep for a whole day once he did fall asleep. The fear of falling asleep and shifting had kept him awake. Now that Dr. Abrams understood what Brian was, they were arranging for Brian to stay in isolation. The cover story would be that they were afraid he’d have a relapse due to the bullet wound. Dr. Abrams had ‘eaten’ the food and thanked the orderly who brought it.
Both men were distracted by a knock on the tent pole. Dr. Abrams stood up ready to stop whoever it was from coming in while Brian moved to look like he was asleep.
“What do you want?” he asked as he poked his head through the curtain to see three men standing on the other side.
“We’ve come to see Sargent Davy,” said the first man.
“Well, you have to go away. He’s in serious condition and can’t be disturbed,” said Dr. Abrams.
“He’s my Papa, and I will see him,” said Henry. He rolled his shoulders back, trying to look as big as he could.
“Just a moment,” said Dr. Abrams. He pulled himself back into the room and turned to Brian. “Do you have family here? A son?”
“Aye. Sons, son-in-laws. Henry, Henri, Jacques,” said Brian. He tried to sniff the air, but could only smell hospital and the doctor.
Dr. Abrams stuck his head out the curtain again. “Are any of you Jacques or Henry?” he asked.
“Aye!” said all three.
“Come in quietly then,” Dr. Abrams said.
The three men came in and started talking quietly in what seemed a mix of French, English and something else. Brian answered them in the same language. Dr. Abrams stood and observed the three men interact with Brian.
“Are… are you all shifters?” Dr. Abrams asked. “Might as well break the ice this way,” he thought.
“Aye,” said Henry. “Family. You? You what? Don’ smell right.”
“I’m um… complicated,” said the doctor.
“That what he tell me. He ver’ old. Smells dusty. Won’ tell me, but at least he no damn fairy,” said Brian.
That made the younger men laugh. Fairies did exist. Small nasty little creatures. This man was no fairy though. Not even mixed blood. Very different. He wasn’t afraid of them either which was a bonus.
“Your father says he may shift in his sleep. Is it possible to stop that?” asked Dr. Abrams.
“Non. It is better if he does shift. He heal faster,” said Jacques. The other two men nodded.
“Damn. I’m trying to figure out how to keep this from being found out, but I’ve got to sleep, even it it is only for a little while,” said the doctor.
“Sleep in the chair. We watch over Papa and keep them damn orderlies away,” said Henry. “Not the first time we do this.”
The doctor looked from Brian to his family. “Okay,” he said and got ready to take a nap. “Wake me if there is trouble.”
“We will. Don’ worry,” said Henri.
The doctor fell asleep with the three men watching over Brian. Brian shifted soon after and curled up to sleep. Henri took first watch. Jacques the second and the doctor woke just as Henry took his turn. He was surprised to see the huge animal in the bed.
“My god. How on earth do you stay hidden?” he asked Henry.
“We work in the forests. Lots of us go into the military though. Work as special forces. Snipers, scouts, dog handlers. That is the best. Then we can ‘be the dog’. My Papa has two sets of medals from the Great War. Some for Brian Davy, some for Buster. That is what we call him when he shifts,” said Henry.
Dr. Abrams nodded and wondered how many other field medics got rude surprises. He went off for breakfast and brought enough back for two. When ‘Buster’ smelled breakfast, he growled until Henry shared the plate. They put some water in it for him to lap up and then he went back to sleep.
“How long will he stay like this?” asked Dr. Abrams. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep orderlies and nurses out of here.”
“If we can let him sleep a little more, I can maybe get him to shift. Otherwise, we take the ‘dog’ that you fixed up out to the lines and let him sleep until he wakes,” said Henry.
“How do you keep from being found out?” asked the doctor.
“Easy. You go out, tell some general that a sargent turned into a wolf. You won’t even get back to this tent. They lock you up, call you crazy. Say you have the battle fatigue. If they do believe you, I got papers for one Private Buster, canine troop. He got shot, you fix him up. Same time that Sargent Davy nearly die. You so tired you mix them up in your sleep. I walk out with the dog. You get sent to some nice little hospital,” said Henry.
Dr. Abrams sat and thought about it. Henry was right. No one would believe him. They’d chalk it up to stress and ship him home. Then he thought about all the Canadian troops. “Just how many of you are there in the Division?” he asked at last.
“There were 145 of us to start with. Three have died. Six went home. Discharged. The rest, here,” said Henry.
“And no one has figured out anything?” Dr. Abrams asked.
“Non. The ones that go crazy, we send home. Some just can’t take the noises. We fix, they go home,” said Henry.
Wolf stretched. He was hungry. Needed meat. Wolf sniffed the air. His cub, that other still in the cage. Wolf try to stand. Hurt! Wolf whined.
The doctor and Henry both turned as the wolf behind them whined. He watched as Henry went over and bumped noses with the huge animal and then ruffled the fur between his ears. Henry was trying to settle the wolf down.
“Should we get him to shift?” asked the doctor. “Or does he need more to eat?”
“Meat would be good. Not too cooked. Or, I take him back to the tents,” said Henry.
“Let me see what I can get. If anyone comes in, you… oh hell. You know what to say,” said Dr. Abrams as he headed out the door.
Ten minutes later, Dr. Abrams came back with a large bone with a hunk of meat attached. He almost had it near the wolf when the wolf snatched it from him and began to chew the meat off of the bone.
“Damn!” said the doctor.
“Papa, he is ver’ fast,” said Henry. “Donkey or horse?”
“Horse. Said one of our dogs needed meat,” said the doctor. He watched as the bone was soon clean. Then he watched the wolf begin to crack the bone in pieces. Within ten minutes, it was gone.
“You want me to see if I can get him to shift?” asked Henry.
“Please. It will make it much easier,” said the doctor.
Henry walked back over to his Papa. “Papa, you need to shift. I know it hurts, but you must. Come on. You don’ want shot for bein’ a dog in the hospital,” he said. “I don’ have no leash!”
Wolf heard his cub making noises. His belly was full and he wanted to sleep. It took a minute, but Wolf knew that the cub wanted him to be a two-leg. Wolf stretched again, bones popping, scars aching and then he shifted.
“If I hadn’t seen it happen, I… I wouldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Abrams.
“You got that willow bark?” asked Brian. He hurt all over and all he wanted to do was sleep.
“Willow… oh. Aspirin. Yes. Just a minute,” said the doctor. He left the room and came back with pills and water. Brian took them quickly.
“Thanks,” said Brian. “An fore you ask, it work better than that damn morphine. I won’ shift, but I need to sleep.”
Dr. Abrams nodded. Jacques was sitting next to Brian and he nodded in agreement. Dr. Abrams left to change clothes and see if there were any casualties.
Two days later, Henry brought his Papa clean clothes. Dr. Abrams wanted him to stay longer, but Brian refused. He promised to take it easy. Dr. Abrams gave him a large bottle of aspirin and asked Brian to check in with him in a few days. Both men knew that wasn’t likely. The Hitler line had fallen and the men were on the move.