The Future is Today

Part 1: Welcome to the Future


Josh and Doug were best friends and they had been friends even before they went to school, but they became better friends when they found that they were different from most people. The thing that set them apart from ordinary people was that Josh was a werewolf just like his father and Doug was a mutant having psychokinetic powers. Even though they were really different, they acted normal and thus everyone assumed that they were normal. By the age of 16 they knew the full extent of their powers. One day, they were coming home from school after baseball practice when they heard a scream. Doug shouted, "Tina's in trouble!" They ran in the direction of the scream. She was being mugged by a group of thugs. Josh's eyes glowed yellow as he growled, "Let her go!"

The men turned around. There were two boys. One was an odd looking Asian with light skin, wavy light brown hair and blue eyes. The other was Hispanic with neatly combed black hair, brown eyes, and very light brown skin. One of the men said, "What are you going to do about it, punks?" Doug said, "You'll be sorry!" They let go of their victim and attacked the two teenagers. Josh was stronger than normal men even in his human form and had no trouble defending himself because he drew upon enough of his wolfen strength to make due. Doug on the other hand was not as versed in martial arts, but had no trouble because what he lacked in physical prowess, he made up in mental strength. They then heard other familiar voices yelling and saw a fireball and an ice beam come from the direction of the shout.

It turned out to be Tom and Jeff, Tina's cousins who were twins. Doug couldn't believe it. Their classmates were mutants. The fireball had landed on one of the attackers and his clothes caught fire. The stranger threw off his jacket and ran. Tina had recovered and ran to safety. Ice shot out of Jeff's hands and it froze a bat that was being held by one of the attackers. He threw the bat to the pavement and it shattered. He ran as did those that remained. Tina came out of hiding and said, "Thanks, guys." But then her eyes widened and said, "Josh. What's wrong with you?" Josh blinked, realized his eyes were still yellow, and he smiled saying "Oops". He was so used to having his eyes like that he forgot that people didn't know about werewolves. Tina saw the eyes slowly become blue again. She said, "And the teeth." Josh thought "Gee, were my eyes and teeth that noticeable?" He then ran his tongue across his teeth to see if they were human sized again. Jeff said, "What are you?" Josh said, "I'm a werewolf. I didn't fully transform because that would of taken too much time." Tom turned to Doug and said, "You're a mutant too, aren't you?"

They decided to walk home to further discuss what had transpired. Doug replied, "Yea, I'm a mutant and as you found, I have various abilities that have to do with the mind. I mostly try not to use my powers out in the open, but this was a special case." Josh nodded in agreement and said, "If people knew that I was a werewolf, just think of the panic. I wouldn't know peace again. Every nut with a gun would try to take an aim at me." The twins were just as guarded with their powers because they felt that the world wasn't ready to accept their kind.

An act of kindness bonded these two groups into a group of five best friends. Although Jeff, Tom, and Tina were in the 9th grade and Doug and Josh were in the 10th, that didn't matter because their friendship was stronger than age differences.

Chapter 1: From Here to There

The group started to hear rumors that the seniors were creating some type of dangerous machine for the annual class project that the seniors would leave as a gift to the school. They knew that experiments like this were wrong so they decided to put a stop to it some way. Tina didn't want to go because she feared that they were going to get caught and they were okay with that since they were grateful that she didn't reveal their plan to other people. They hid there after hours having Doug convince people that they weren't there. They had to hurry because it was starting to rain.

They were about to destroy it, when they heard a voice. It was one of the seniors and a 9th grader. She said, "What do you think you're doing?" Jeff said, "This experiment is dangerous. Using corporate funds to do something like this is wrong. Don't try to stop us from destroying it." She said, "I know that this is too risky and I also have plans to destroy it. My name is Minerva, my sister can overload the circuits. Eliza if you will." They started to realize that Minerva's sister was a mutant because Eliza's hand soon sparkled with electricity, but before she could do her thing, the school shook, the lights flickered with the unstable power, and the machine suddenly went haywire. Everything got so bright, but then it all faded into the nothingness of the unconscious.

Chapter 2: The Floating Prison

Josh's head was running and he felt nauseated. The other students felt like that as well, but they recovered in less time. He got up and looked around. This wasn't the same place he was earlier. This appeared to be some type of jail. Guards came running towards them. One of them yelled to get their hands up. They did so and were led away. Handcuffs were put on them and they were strapped to chairs. An older man started to interrogate them. He said, "My name is Hugh Calhoun. I am the warden of Prison Number 75. How did you get here? Oh, before you answer, this guard will scan you, so open your eyes as wide as you can." A guard took a strange object and held it against their eyes. There was a click as he pressed a button. The guard took out what looked like a credit card and put it in a machine. Warden Calhoun said, "Now let's see if you have a record." He pressed a button, but no matter how many times he pressed nor what he chose, the six people before him had no record of any kind. Minerva said, "We've done nothing wrong, therefore it is not right to keep us here." The warden said, "That much is true. Hmm, this is no place for law-abiding people. I'm sending you to Pasadena." He told the guard to put them on the day's supply boat.

The six were led by the guard to a dock. They looked back and it was obviously a manmade island. The guard then beckoned them to enter the boat and they did.

Chapter 3: The Journey to Pasadena

The 6 didn't know how long it would take to get to Pasadena. Everything around them looked so unfamiliar and they got worried. To pass the time, the six decided to ask questions about each other.

They would began by introducing themselves by their full name. Some things were already known, but it was more considerate if it was said again, besides something new might be revealed. They decided on going in a circle and they started with the person that the ship's pilot designated. He said, "Well how about that guy with the piercing eyes?" Josh pointed to him and the pilot nodded. Josh shrugged his shoulders and began.

Josh said, "Well my name is Joshua Ryota Jecong. My parents are John Takeshi Jecong and Lucy Anderson Jecong. I was born on October 13, 2050 in Houston, Texas. I've played football since Junior High. The rest of the team nicknamed me 'The Samurai' because I fancy myself a samurai on the field. I have learned Japanese because it's part of my heritage. In fact, I've learned it so well, I'm told that I know it like a native user my age. I hope to one day go to Japan and find my lost distant relatives." Minerva asked, "Why are they lost?" Josh said, "Well my father doesn't know who sired him. The only thing we have to go on is genetics and I don't want to discuss my dad's origins because they are painful to tell." Doug sensed that there were two reasons why. The first reason was that the origins resulted from an act of violence and the second was that he would reveal his true nature if he told about those origins. Doug quickly thought to him, "They are going to find out that you're a werewolf." Josh thought back, "I know, but I do have time before the full moon to decide how to go about it." Doug thought, "Fine if you don't want to reveal your power that's your business, but I'm going to."

Doug said, "My name is Douglas Enrique Hidalgo. My parents are Alexander Pedro Hidalgo and Rosa Ortega Hidalgo. I am a mutant belonging to the group of psychics. My powers are broad. I can communicate telepathically, read minds, transport myself and others across a limited area. I have the power to enter people's dreams, I can levitate and I can attack people by causing a mental explosion that can knock people off their feet. I'm still learning what I'm capable. Perhaps, I'm capable of much more."

The twins then began to tell their story. Tom said, "My name is Thomas Patrick Greene. I love hockey. I have the ability to use ice based powers. I can control it so a can give a light chill when the day is extremely hot or I can go to the extreme and chill a person so much that they shatter if they hit the ground." Jeff said, "My name is Jeffrey Phillip Green. I love soccer. I use fire based powers and can control it much like my twin. I can warm a person if they are feeling cold or I can incinerate them to ash."

It was then time for Eliza to talk about herself she said, "My name is Eliza Harrison. I love playing chess and enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy genre. However, I'm not into the horror stuff. It gives me the willies. I have the power of electricity. I can control the degree of it and I have been known to help my family when the power goes out."

Minerva then spoke last. She said, "I am Minerva Harrison. I'm known as the brains of the family because I seem to know how everything works. I like playing all sorts of games and enjoy poker the most. Unlike most of you, I'm just a normal person."

By then, it was nearing evening and they were still in the water with no land in sight. Doug asked the pilot, "When do we get there?" The pilot said, "In the morning." Jeff said, "Which Pasadena is it? The one in California or the one in Texas?" The pilot said, "Never heard of those two places. Pasadena is one of the biggest city in the land of Usofa." Doug crept into the pilot's mind. It was true, he hadn't heard of those places. He usually didn't get inside others' heads, but he was very concerned about their current predicament. He and Jeff left and went back to the deck. The others were resting in chairs either watching a magnificent sunset or taking a nap. The pilot said that he would make dinner after sunset because the water's current would carry them along. The sun finally set and nothing was heard except the wind and the boat's motor.

Josh was napping when a familiar pain struck him. He woke up immediately and swore. In the confusion of things he had forgotten to ask if there was going to be a full moon that night because he didn't think that there would be a full moon. Somehow the timing of the phases was off and if so, their situation was much dire than it seemed. He quickly cast his socks and shoes aside and took off his shirt. Already fur started to sprout on his arms, the world slowly lost its color, and his tongue touched his changing teeth. The boat was moderately sized, but it was small enough where everyone was noticing something was happening. Doug had seen it many times before and Tom and Jeff had only seen his eyes and teeth change, but Minerva and Eliza because they had only known the group for a few hours, didn't know that Josh was a werewolf. Josh finished his change and was hungrier than he was before the transformation so he stared to pace the ship wondering when dinner was going to be cooked. Doug sensed this and shouted to the pilot, "Can you start dinner now. Some of us are very hungry, ever so hungry." He hoped soon or else something very bad was going to happen. Eliza got scared because the werewolf was heading her way and she didn't want to get eaten so she reacted and threw a ball of electric energy before the twins or Doug could stop her.

Josh saw the energy come at him at such a fast speed that he couldn't avoid it in time and it hit him.

The pilot heard a yelp that sounded like a canine, but he knew that was ridiculous, but he went out to investigate. He saw 5 of the young people surrounding what looked like a werewolf. The sixth teenager was nowhere to be seen and he wondered what had happened.

It all happened so quickly. Doug couldn't do anything about it because neither he and the twins couldn't stop Eliza in time. They ran to the unconscious werewolf screaming, "Josh!" Doug tried to use his telepathy on Josh, but couldn't reach him. He said to the others, "He's out cold." Jeff opened the werewolf's eyelids, snapped his fingers and got no response from the eyes. The pilot approached and said, "Where's that other kid?" Tom said, "This is that other kid. He's a werewolf." The pilot was speechless for a while, but then said, "Get him inside." It took the twins and Doug to carry the werewolf inside. There they tried to sort everything out.

They kept a close eye on the unconscious werewolf and they all stayed silently watching for the first sign that he had recovered. Doug could sense the anger stewing in the Harrison sisters. They all looked at each other troubled as if a bomb could go off at any moment. Doug then sensed his best friend and he smiled.

Josh's head ached again and he rubbed his head. He looked down and saw his fur was puffed up with static electricity. He ran his paws through his fur and futilely tried to straighten the hairs. He then looked at the girl that electrocuted him. He growled and stood up. Eliza took advantage of his hunger and he hadn't provoked the attack. He started to approach her when Minerva intercepted him and jabbed him in the chest with her index finger. In fact, in her rage she sort of forgot that with one swipe of his paw, he could rip her guts out and end her life. She said angrily, "You got what you deserved. You're just lucky that she didn't shock you at a higher voltage. You stupid werewolf! You almost killed my sister! What do you have to say for yourself?" She kept rattling off poking him hard with every sentence. He stepped back each time she poked him and eventually he was against the wall. He was shocked because she accusing him of trying something like that. He opened his mouth trying to explain himself because she asked even though she couldn't understand a word he was saying. He whimpered and looked at Doug for support. Doug sensed his concern and said, "Minerva. Eliza. He wasn't going to attack. He was just getting restless because he was hungry. Eating anyone was the last thing in his mind. You wouldn't eat people would you Josh?" The werewolf nodded and his face read disgust. He then said, "She thought you were going to attack her and that's why she zapped you." Josh was even more appalled. He pointed to himself and to her. He rolled his eyes and put his paw to his face with disgust. He moaned, "How ridiculous." Even though they didn't know what he said, it was reading clearly to Doug what he was feeling. Jeff said, "He's okay really. Why don't we talk about everything. Okay?" Josh smiled and made the sign for peace.

Minerva was still furious as was her sister. She said, "Why didn't you tell me and my sister that he was a werewolf? He still could of killed her." Doug rolled his eyes and said, "He wouldn't do that. I've known him for three years. It was an unprovoked attack." Eliza said, "I don't care. He had a hungry look in his eyes." Jeff said, "We were all hungry. You should not have zapped him like that. Besides he saved our cousin from a mugging a few months ago." Minerva said, "He didn't maul them did he?" Tom said, "No. He just used martial arts on them. When he approached us and asked if Tina was unharmed, his eyes were yellow and his teeth were pointed. She asked what was wrong with them and he said he oops. His eyes became blue again and his teeth shrank. Besides he wasn't in his wolf form. He couldn't of mauled them even if he wanted to."

Josh laid back down still hungry and looked at the ceiling. In the confusion of things, dinner still wasn't made yet. The pilot quickly prepared a beef-vegetable stew and set the bowls on the table. The others were there already so Josh sat down joining them keeping his distance from the sisters because he could sense that they were still uneasy. He ate it with a spoon so he make a good impression on Eliza and Minerva. It was getting late so the pilot showed the young people to their rooms, but there were only two bedrooms. One would be for the boys and the other for the girls. They thought that they would have a bed for each of them, but there was just a mattress for three in each of the room. The pilot however slept in a hammock near the wheel just in case.

The boys looked at the bed. There was no way that it would fit all of them. Josh didn't want to be a bother and went topside to sleep in one of the lawn chairs. The boys got in the bed and fell asleep right away.

Doug yawned it because it seemed like it was morning. The pilot knocked on the door and shouted, "Pasadena sighted. We should be there in a few hours. I'm cooking breakfast now." The boys got out of the bed and put their clothes back on. The pilot went to the kitchen and turned on the stove. He cracked several eggs and took out tubs of chopped vegetables. He made them omelets which surprised them. The group sat at the table which was already occupied by Josh. At the dining table, Eliza said to Josh, "I hope you can forgive me for electrocuting you like that." Josh smiled and said, "That's okay, you didn't know. I wasn't hurt that much and my fur insulated me somewhat. No hard feelings?" She said, "No hard feelings." The group smiled because they could all get along now since the issue was resolved. Afterwards, they walked out onto the deck and saw a coastal city. Eliza looked down and said, "I think I'm going to be sick." The others discovered that she wasn't talking about seasickness because she pointed down and they all looked down into the clear blue water. Disbelieving what their eyes told them, they could see buildings underwater and could even make out streets and cars. The pilot said, "Some believe that an lost underwater civilization built them." They rubbed their temples and tried to forget the ghastly sights as the boat docked. As they disembarked, a moderately sized man greeted them. He looked like a policeman, but in this strange world who could tell and they still couldn't tell where in the world they were since Pasadena could mean anything. However, at least they knew that they were on Earth still because the stars and the moon had looked the same.

Chapter 4: Pasadena

The guard didn't speak much as he led them through buildings into a room. It was a nice room in a simple hut with a glass window in the back and a painting to the side. He said, "Welcome to Pasadena. I am Mayor Thomas Patterson. I rule the lands in these parts. I hear from Warden Calhoun that you appeared out of nowhere in 75's prison courtyard. I got a messenger pigeon which also stated that you have no identification. Minerva said, "That reminds me." She got out his wallet and showed him her driver's license. Patterson looked at the item and found it very odd. He didn't know what it was. It was as if they were aliens from another world. He said, "I'll as some questions. Something's bound to be mentioned that I know." The group eyed each other and they knew that they couldn't reveal their talents; At least not yet. Patterson turned to Josh and asked, "What's your name?" Josh said who he was. He was asked where he lived. Josh said, "Houston, Texas. 1379 Windsome Road." Patterson asked, "Where is this Texas?" Josh said, "Its in the United States." Patterson said, "I know of no such place." That sick feeling came again. Everyone knew about the US. He asked, "Who are your parents?" Josh said, "John and Lucy Jecong." He said, "Do you all live in the same city?" They nodded. He asked more questions to them all, but was still puzzled.

Patterson didn't know what to say. First it was their clothes. Then it was the strange artifacts. Now it was answers that he couldn't comprehend. He said, "Tell you what. You are welcomed to stay here because you seem like nice people. How about you take your relics and give them to the wise ones for inspection? They have been here for as long as anyone can remember and thus know many things. This guard can take you to the hills where they live. Tomorrow, you'll come back to my office and tell me what they said." The group got out and followed the guard out.

Chapter 5: The Wise Ones

The guard led them past the various buildings and the group got their first good look at the city. It was a circle with circles of buildings inside circles. Some buildings were stacked on top of each other and some were next to each other. Rope bridges connected the higher buildings. They followed the guard up a bridge and up a dirt path.

They came upon a set of houses. The guard said, "I'll be waiting at the bridge. Just ring the gong and they shall appear." The guard left and the group wondered who was going to ring the bell. Doug said, "I'll do it." He waved his hand and the striker rose and smashed into the gong. He placed it back and they waited. The front door of the large house opened and Josh's eyes got wider and the old peoples' eyes got wider also.

They cried out, "Josh!" Josh cried out, "Grandma Mary. Grandpa Nigel." The others were very puzzled. At least something here made sense. They said, "Come inside." They sat around a kitchen table and awaited to have a snack. Josh said, "Everything's just been weird. We were at school one moment trying to prevent a disaster and the next moment, we woke up in this prison and got on this boat to get here." His grandmother said, "Everything's been odd to us for 1,000 years." The group almost screamed. Josh said, "1,000 years, but you look like I remember." His grandfather said, "There was an accident and we were exposed to something. We're still living because no disease can kill us and we are just aging at a very slow pace. The reason why the town's called Pasadena is because the real one is underwater close-by. The Upheaval happened some years after you vanished without a trace and the world as everyone knew it ended. Cities were buried under sand, waters covered most of the world, and volcanoes poured choking smoke upon millions. The Earth suffered in anguish and the world's geography is no longer recognizable." Josh said, "What about my parents?" His grandparents looked nervous as if she didn't want to say. His grandmother said curtly, "Nothing happened except they died peacefully." His grandfather said, "Dear, he deserves to know the truth about his father." She replied, "Yes, but do you really think he can handle this?" Josh said, "What?" His grandfather said, "Come with me." They followed Josh's grandparents to a garden. Josh almost cried.

There in the middle was a bronze statue of his father in werewolf form. There was a plaque that read "John T. Jecong: 2025-2070. Beloved son, husband, and father. Dedicated on the 10th anniversary of his honorable death fighting the Recombinant. Saved thousands who would have died. May his memory live on forever." His grandparents said, "Buried under the statue are your parents. You can see the grave markers." Josh cried. He wiped away the tears and asked, "What's the Recombinant?" His grandfather said, "It was a genetic monster, one that should not exist naturally. You father managed to kill it, but died in the process. He was past his prime, but still fought as fierce. Your mother was killed trying to protect a group of children from the Recombinant a few hours earlier. We buried them together here. When you were missing, they searched long and hard, but after the Upheaval, your parents were already dead and as time went on, we felt you died." Josh said, "This is what you wanted to keep secret. That he died that he died so horribly? After saying that you have lived for a thousand years. I'd expect that he would of died, but not like this. Nothing lasts forever." His grandmother said, "No. We wanted to keep secret that your father was a werewolf." Josh's sad expression turned to one of shock. He said, "That's the reason? I've known since I was 13 because I'm one too." They said, "You are?" Josh said, "Yea. Been one since I was thirteen. Bit of a shock, but now my peculiarity doesn't bother me much." The guard came back and said, "Ready to go?" Josh and the other talked. He said, "You go back. I'll return in the morning. I have to catch up with my grandparents." The others went with the guard and Josh went back in the house with his grandparents.

Josh said, "If we're going to have supper, can you wait until after I transform. It's better if I eat after even though I will be unable to communicate verbally." They agreed to this request. They then asked, "Where have you been for the past thousand years?" Josh said, "Apparently that machine caused a rift in time and space." His grandparents then told him things that happened over those many years. The sun started to go down, so he said, "Excuse me." He went to one of the rooms and took off his shirt, socks, and shoes. He went outside to wait for the change by sitting on a wooden bench in front of his father's statue. He sed a tear and sighed, "I should have been there father. There is strength in numbers. That is why wolves travel in packs." The full moon rose and pain claimed him.

His grandparents watched in horror from their kitchen, yet they didn't want to interfere because they were feeling uneasy. While they knew the boy's father treated the Recombinant like an enemy, they didn't know if he would treat members of his family any different. The werewolf then started walking back to the cottage.

The grandparents were guarded as Josh came back in. He yawned and rotated his arms and stretched some more. He then sat down and awaited to be served. They guessed he was safe and his grandmother set a bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce. Josh saw no meat and in this form, he craved it. While this might fill him up, it would have to do, because he didn't know what kind of wildlife -if any- would be in this area so he had to make due with what he was provided. He twirled the fork in the noodles and chewed it. He thought it was very delicious and he smiled. His grandparents didn't know it was a smile and inquired into what he was feeling. His grandmother asked, "Is it tasty?" Josh nodded. This convinced the grandparents that it was a smile. She went to the kitchen and asked Josh if he wanted some lemonade. Again a nod. She poured a glass and set it before him. Normally he would use a straw to drink liquids, but he wouldn't be able to tell them. He didn't even know if they had any. He decided to drink it the old fashioned way. He slowly brought the glass and tried to drink it like a person, but it dribbled. He pulled it away and dried himself. He tried again and brought the glass to his mouth, but this time he drank it much like an animal using his tongue. This way was definitely more successful. He looked at his grandparents. They stared at first, but then resumed eating. The plate was emptied and Josh wiped the spaghetti sauce from his mouth as best he could. He wanted to help, but his grandparents said, "No need to help. You just go wash your mouth of that sauce in the restroom and relax in the study." Josh went to the restroom and washed his muzzle of the sauce and went to the study to relax. He found many books. More books than he'd seen before. In fact it seemed like a mini library. He looked and found a book that contained the works of Edgar Allan Poe. His grandmother came in and presented a platter of various cookies. She said, "Want a cookie?" Josh spied a chocolate chip cookie and he ate it. She gasped, "Isn't chocolate bad for you?" Josh nodded no. Chocolate was only bad in the same way it was bad for people. He was getting tired and motioned to her that he wanted to brush his teeth. She went to the restroom and found a toothbrush for him and told him to keep it. He brushed he teeth and got ready for bed. He then went back to the study, got on the rug in front of the fireplace, curled up and fell asleep. She turned off the light and went to her bedroom and slept.

In the morning, his grandparents made pancakes for breakfast. His grandfather asked, "Did you sleep well?" Josh said, "Yes I did. I needed a good night sleep after the past few days." He put on the rest of his clothes, brushed his teeth and went back to the town. He promised that he'd visit them again and they waved goodbye.

Chapter 6: Back in Town

Josh walked back to town by himself. The townspeople still regarded him with suspicion. He spied a nearby guard and asked, "Do you know where my friends are?" He said, "Follow the signs to The Nexus. Josh asked, "What's that?" The guard said, "That's where the residents hang out because it has everything. I think that they are there eating breakfast."

Josh followed the signs. The Nexus was everything that the guard said it was. He saw them at one of the outside tables. They greeted him and they wondered how his day went. Tina asked, "Did you have a nice time with your grandparents?" Josh said, "I sure did. They became quite used to me despite me being a werewolf." Doug asked, "What did you have to eat?" Josh said, "Spaghetti with marinara sauce." Doug said, "Any meat?" Josh said, "They didn't have any. I would of gone out to hunt, but I'm unfamiliar with the terrain and I don't know what kind of wildlife are in the area. I should ask someone." Jeff inquired, "A wee picky aren't we?" Josh said, "I am not picky, rather I just want to know what prey roam this area and how big they are. Besides, I don't want to decimate a whole population to satisfy my hunger." Tom said, "Just remember not to tell them what you are yet. Thankfully the pilot of the boat that brought us here promised not to tell anyone." Jeff smirked and said, "Aye, who would believe him?" Josh asked, "What did you have to eat?". Eliza said, "We had vegetable stew." Josh asked, "How did you pay for it?" Minerva said, "It was the Mayor's treat. However, this the town is like a large family so no one individual pays for eating. The town pays for the food that they need which isn't that much. The town grows most of the food." A waitress came and asked, "Is there anything more you'd like?" The group nodded no. They got up and went back to the mayor's office to tell him of their meeting with the wise ones.

Mayor Patterson asked, "Did the Wise Ones know what the things were?" Tom said, "They did. In fact they said that they hadn't seen something like that in years." Patterson was glad. His knew that he could trust in the knowledge of the Wise Ones. They didn't dare tell him that they were actually Josh's grandparents. Patterson said, "Well. If you want, you can give them to us. We'll put them in our museum. That's one way that our city makes money. The other method is through arts and crafts, primarily clothes. You look like you need clothes yourself young man." He was referring to Josh. He agreed because after two transformations his clothes were barely holding together despite him trying to take care of them. They then talked about giving their stuff to the Mayor for the museum, but who know when they might need something. They then told the mayor and he said, That's all right, we get curios from visitors and scavengers. As for you boy, we have an old lady named Alida Faber. She makes amazing clothes that everyone likes." He summoned an assistant to lead him to her business. Patterson said, "Luke will take you." Josh went with Luke to Faber's place. Patterson said, "While you do that. I shall take your friends to the museum."

Chapter 7: Alida Faber

Luke and Josh came upon a door that read "Alida Faber: Tailor. If you are not completely satisfied, that'll be the end of me." The assistant left and Josh went in the door.

He looked all around the large complex room with its many walls, but saw no one. Lights were on and there were things that belonged in a tailor shop, but no one was there. He shouted, "Hello. Ms. Faber, are you here?" He then heard a semi-heavenly voice say, "I'll be there shortly. I just need to finish lunch."

Josh sat in a chair and relaxed. One of the walls opened and a woman came out. She wore an elegant dress and she had auburn hair that was greying a bit that was tied in an extravagant bun which various pins were stuck to it. The woman turned and pushed the wall back to its original position. She bowed slightly and said, "Good afternoon. Who are you and how may I help you? Good Lord, your clothes are all ragged! You have desecrated the apparel you have on. Don't you have any other clothes?" Josh said, "My name is Josh Jecong. These are the only clothes we have. You see me and my friends got abducted and found ourselves here. We just have the clothes on our backs." Faber said, "Do they take better care of their clothes?" Josh said, "Yes, but I would take care of my clothes if it wasn't for..." He put his hand over his mouth and realized he almost blurted out his secret. So far he and his friends had kept their secrets from the denizens of Pasadena and he didn't want to tell this woman just yet. Faber said, "Let me take a look." She approached him and looked at him from all angles. She then spied a hole in the seat of his pants. In fact the hole was so deep, she could see skin. It was as if the boy had a tail, but it disappeared leaving the hole behind as a sign that it used to be there. She looked at him and said, "Follow me into my office so I can take measurements."

She went to another wall and pulled it. She went in and said, "Its this way. Pull the knob to close the wall." Josh did as he was told. He followed her through a maze of boxes, drawers, and closets full of clothes and other accessories which was associated with clothes. Everything was a mess and he got the impression that she was certainly disorganized. His mother would of fainted. Even though he was an adolescent werewolf he kept his room neat. Just because he looked like an animal sometimes didn't mean he had to live like one. They then made their way to a circular room with a stool and mirrors. He asked, "Your place seems larger than it looks." She chuckled, "Well my brother's learned in the magic of compaction. He's able to make things larger or smaller. The room where you entered is the real room, but with magic, he was able to add all this imaginary space." Josh said, "So this isn't real?" She said, "No, boy. It's all real, its just a artificial dimension that exists for this purpose. If you were to punch through the walls here, you'd find absolute nothing on the other side. I'd like to see you try to fit all this in the small space I was allotted." He said, "Do the people know about this witchcraft of yours and your brother's?" She said, "Yes. They know that the place was made with magic. They know that I'm a witch. Why do you think that the clothes that I make are so good." He said, "You make the people like the clothes?" She said, "No that would be unethical. The clothes that I made are so perfect, that the person can't help but like it. Now stand in that spot, but first take your clothes off." Josh gasped, "Take my clothes off?!" Faber said, "There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Well you can keep your underwear on." That he could live with. He took his shirt, jeans, socks and shoes off. She still couldn't believe that not only was there a hole in his pants, but his underwear as well. What could the boy be doing to cause such damage to his apparel? Josh was glad that he had been wearing boxer briefs since he was 13 because he felt that regular briefs didn't hold his private parts in very well when he was in his other form. Faber was getting more troubled somewhat and she just had to know why there was a hole. She liked clothes so much and this bothered her to the point where she couldn't think about anything else and asked, "Why is there a hole? If I can tell you that I'm a witch, you can certainly tell me what made that hole. It's important if you want me to make clothes for you. I insist you tell me. If you don't, I'll bid you good day as I show you the way out." He knew there was no evading and sighed, "Okay, but you have to promise to keep it a secret from the residents." She said, "I will." He said, "I'm a werewolf." She said, "That's it?" He nodded.

Even though he accepted what he was, he was still hesitant to reveal his secret to others. His father told him about all the troubles he went through and didn't want them to happen to him. She said, "That sort of complicates things, but nothing I'm not used to. I once had to clothe a centaur that was about your age. I never really saw one before, but he was nice about it and was helpful." Josh said, "There are such things as centaurs?" Before he could catch himself with the answer because he felt that if werewolves existed, centaurs could likewise exist, she said, "Yes. After Greece was flooded, the Hunters brought them over to Usofa. They live on an island called Espra about 7 days journey from here. Now I'm going to take measurements with you in your human form. Then I want you to transform and I'll take measurements again. That way your clothes will be comfortable all the time." He said, "What about my feet?" She said, "Well that's the only thing I don't do. I'm not a cobbler. Besides, don't you take them off when you transform?" Josh said, "Yes because otherwise my shoes would get ruined." She smiled and then took her measuring tape and measured everything. She then did it again after he transformed. She asked, "How long do you want the sleeves?" He ran a finger from his shoulder to his elbow and from his waist to his knee. She said, "I guess so you can use your limbs in the way they were meant?" Josh nodded. She finished and said, "You may become human again." Josh did so. He said, "When will the clothes be made?" She said, '"That depends on how many pairs you want." He said, "Five will be fine." She said, "Any colors you'd like?" He said, "Well mostly earth tones. They can conceal me better in any environment." She said, "What kind of fabrics?" He said, "Well comfortable, snug, and loose ones. Clothes that are maneuverable at any speed I'm going." She said, "I understand. You want to move as freely as possible in any form, but you want clothes to be just right." Josh said, "That's right." She then went down the hall. He started to follow, but she said, "Wait outside. That's one rule I demand be keep by my customers. No one watches me do my work. They'll be done in a few minutes." Josh walked back the way he came and reached a dead end. He pushed and found himself back in the main room. After closing the wall, he sat down in the floor and waited. The floor opened up in the middle and Faber came out holding a bag with five pairs of shirts, shorts, pants, and underwear. She said, "Try them on." He put the clothes on and they felt like he was wearing nothing at all. He then transformed and they still felt like he wore nothing at all. He looked in the mirror. His tail hadn't even ripped the cloth. He went back to being human and there was no evidence that his underwear nor his shorts were torn. He said, "Thank you." She said, "Your welcome." As he stepped out, she said, "Bring your friends over." He turned around to say okay, but she was gone.

Chapter 8: Secrets revealed

Josh went back to where his friends were staying. He saw them in the common room playing poker. He sat down and they looked astonished. He was wearing a green shirt and brown shorts. He said, "Ms. Faber made me five pairs of clothes which are perfect. I transformed twice and as you can see no trace of a hole." He stood up and turned around. It was obvious that the place where his tail would be didn't have a torn hole nor were there signs of damage. He sat down and watched them play poker. He looked around the room. There were a few other people there. Some were reading and others were playing other games. Josh asked, "So how was the museum?" Eliza said, "Boring. It was filled with common everyday items. A Mickey Mouse phone was the most guarded item because it was in a glass case and had a guard next to it the entire time. I saw a tape recorder, a VCR, a coffee maker, and other junk. They even had a movie poster of one of those cheesy sci-fi movies made during the mid 20th century. While their identifications were correct, the tour guide didn't know what half of the stuff did. I think we should tell them about everything there. At least it would be accurate." They were hungry so they went to The Nexus. Josh ordered a big steak. It would cover the previous two transformations and it would satisfy the one he would undergo in a few hours. It was getting late so they went to their rooms were they were staying. Luckily this time they had a bed, a sheet, a blanket, and a heavy quilt for each of them. The beds were just mattresses, but they were still glad that they were individual beds. Josh went upstairs to the room where the boys were staying to transform. There he would stay there until morning. There was nothing to do so he began his aerobics.

After a few hours, the door started to be fiddled with and he started to fear being discovered by a stranger, but he heard a voice. It was Jeff and he said, "It's just us." Josh settled down and got on the bed. Doug asked, "What have you been doing?" Josh stretched his arms and Doug told the twins that he exercised. He then sat back down laying on the bed. They then started to talk. Doug had to be the voice of Josh. They didn't talk much only about what Josh did while they spent their first night in the town. Josh yawned and he sighed getting tired. He took his clothes off and got in his bed. The other boys did the same.

Josh was dreaming of home running in the streets. He would occasionally run outside on all fours late at night when he was supposed to be sleeping. He wondered if his father had ever done that, but that didn't matter. All that he wanted to do was run around the block. He then smelled smoke. At first he assumed that this was part of the dream, but it was just too real. He then opened his eyes and yelped. His friends were still asleep, but he could hear distant shouting. He was very worried and so he barked as loud as he could which woke up his friends. Jeff said, "What's wrong?" Doug said, "Fire!" They put their clothes back on and went to the girls room. Jeff shouted, "There's a fire somewhere." The humans ran down stairs. Josh pointed to the ceiling and Doug said, "He's going to the roof." They met the inn keeper downstairs who said, "The mayor's home is on fire and its spread to nearby buildings." The group ran to that direction to take a look.

Josh bounded from building to building and saw the horror below. The villagers were trying to put out the fire, but it was a futile effort. Tom said, "I don't think we can afford to keep our secrets. We must help if we can." He, Jeff and Doug snuck through the line. A scream was heard upstairs. Mayor Patterson said, "Oh my God. My daughter. I thought everyone had made it out."

Josh heard this and was moved. The mayor had shown them much kindness and he should repay it. Who cares about his secret or what the people think. He leaped off and ran through the stunned crowd. He ran through the flames as they stung his fur, but he ran fast enough for the flames not to have that much effect. The little girl was huddled and scared. She was too dazed by the fire to be scared of him. He took a chair and threw it against the window shattering it. He scooped her up and held her tight and he jumped out landing on the ground. He set the girl down and she ran to her parents. He coughed, crawled to a birdbath, and washed his face. He looked at his fur and it was still dirty. Fortunately, the next time he transformed, it would come out good as new. He sat down against a tree to catch his breath because he had to avoid breathing much during the rescue. Doug used his psychic powers to draw water from the nearby ocean and dump it on the fire. Tom used his ice powers to form snowballs above the other fires. Jeff shot a wave of fire and melted the ice into water which put out the other fires. The mayor approached the people and said, "Whatever your are, thanks. Well talk about this in the morning." Josh didn't need to hide because everyone saw what he was so he walked with the rest of his friends back to the bedrooms. When they entered they took their clothes off and went to bed. Josh moaned as his head dropped on the pillow and Jeff said, "You said it."

In the morning, they had breakfast in Patterson's office. He said, "I can't thank you enough. Luckily we have another residence. Now that I've said that, let's get to business. What are you, some kind of magic folks? Minerva said, "No. Well, I'm not. My sister and our friends are mutants except Josh of course." Patterson said, "Okay, but what are you Josh?" The boy said, "I'm a werewolf." Patterson nodded. He didn't know what mutants were and he didn't know that werewolves really existed, but glad that they helped. Now that their discussion was over they left Patterson's office.

They decided to walk around town because the only places they had been was The Nexus and the museum. However, everywhere they went people followed them. The townsfolk wanted their autographs. This happened for several days and they didn't know any peace. They then talked. Tom said, "I think we should leave Pasadena." The others didn't know what to say. His twin said, "Where would we go?" Josh said, "West. To Area 51." Doug said, "There's no such place." Josh said, "My dad told me that such a place exists. He was my age when he found himself there." Minerva said, "That is a start. First we need some clothes. We've been in these for days.

Josh led them to Faber's place and she made them clothes that would be able to accommodate their powers.

They told the mayor that they were leaving. Patterson said, "I wish you safe journey. You are always welcome here." However, they didn't tell him the true nature of their journey. He gave them many supplies for their journey. Josh went to his grandparents and told them the true nature of their mission. They wished them good luck also. His grandfather said, "I will gladly give up these 1,000 years to see my daughter and son-in-law alive and the world back the way it was." With that the group left town on a mission of much importance

Part 2: The Journey

Chapter 9: Westward

They had been traveling for a couple of days. They used a map provided by the mayor and cross referenced it with the map given by Josh's grandparents. They eventually saw where they needed to go. Things looked so different. If it hadn't been for the grandparents' map, they wouldn't be able to tell that this was the land that they grew up in. Things were going great until their discovered that their food supplies were dwindling faster than expected. They started to panic because there weren't any towns for days. Josh said, "Don't worry. I know how to hunt." They had forgotten about his abilities. He said, "I'll try to bring in a big animal, but I can't guarantee that. I'll bring what I can. I hope you like what I'll bring back." The group set up camp. Josh then took off his shirt, socks, and shoes. He said, "Wish me good luck." They wished him luck and he transformed. He sniffed the air and tried to decide what was closer. He sensed that a rabbit was close by. He ran in the direction of the smell and found a whole group of them. He killed the lot and carried them back to camp in his hands.

The group was telling ghost stories when they heard some sounds. They got scared, but Doug said "Don't panic, it's just Josh." The werewolf came into the light and dropped his catch. He took two for himself and gave the rest to the others. They didn't know how to proceed, but Minerva took a guess. They first cut away the fur and set it aside because Patterson had told them that if they needed to make money, they should sell furs. They put it on steel spikes and cooked it. Josh brought the rabbit corpse in front of him and used his claws to take off the fur. He then bit into the meat. He thought it was very delicious despite it being raw. He ate the second one in the same way. The group was glad that they had Josh to help, otherwise they would of gone hungry. On their journey, he caught fish, other small prey, and one time a buck. If it was fish, Doug helped by bringing the fish out of the water because the fish wouldn't sense him like forest animals. It soon seemed like they were in an world where nothing existed, but themselves. Sometimes looking at the stars made them forget their past and just think that the only life they had ever known was this journey. They then came upon a quiet town named Petticoat.

Just like Pasadena, the residents eyed them with both suspicion and curiosity. They asked, "Where can we sell these furs?" A man pointed right. They went in that area and the dealer was glad to take the furs. He then gave them some coins. They asked the dealer where they could buy supplies. He pointed in the direction. They bought enough supplies for a month and the left the town. Luckily they didn't need to spend the night. The less time that they spent in a town, the better.

A few days later they came upon a well hidden sign. It said, "Ring the bell for ferry to Espra." Josh said, "Who wants to see centaurs?" Jeff said, "There's no such thing." Josh said, "Sure there is. Alida Faber told me." Minerva said, "It wouldn't hurt to be in a town such as that. I say ring it." Doug nodded and after he stared at it the bell rang. They waited and saw a ferry appear. A human appeared and said, "Do you want passage? You are all human, I can't give you passage to a secret place without reference." Josh said, "Alida Faber told us about this place." The man nodded and said, "I know her. She makes fine clothes. Get in." The 6 got in the boat and it floated into the fog.

Chapter 10: The Island Espra

The trip seemed to take forever because all they saw was fog, but then it let up. The boat docked and the rower said, "When you want to go back, just come back." The group then turned around and everything Josh said was true.

Centaurs to the left. Centaurs to the right. Except for that, it seemed so much like a normal town. They faced one of them and asked if there were any good places to eat. The centaur showed them to a place called "The Feed Bag". They at first thought that this wasn't a good idea because they didn't know what centaurs ate and for all they knew, they ate hay. However, it turned out that they didn't, but ate regular vegetables. They all had salad and then asked the proprietor where they could purchase weapons. Patterson gave them IOUs telling the owner to bill the city of Pasadena. They wanted weapons, but the city of Petticoat was unable to produce weapons, but Espera made the finest weapons known to magic folk. Although they had powers to defend themselves, it was best if they had weapons. Josh had a staff, the twins had swords and shields, Doug had a bow and arrow, Eliza had a hammer, and Minerva had a mace. After getting the weapons, they were preparing to leave the island to continue their journey when they were stopped.

There were three teenagers. The oldest looking one said, "My name is Xerxes. These are my cousins Thaddeus and Darius. My grandfather, Chief Sriloy, wishes to meet you outsiders." Eliza frowned and said, "Are we in trouble?" Gideon smiled and said, "No. We don't get any visitors and he doesn't want to waste this moment. Come with us." The group followed the teens. They had apparently traveled to the governmental sector of the island because there were centaurs with weapons. They entered the large hut that had an insignia painted on. Thaddeus said, "You will have to leave your weapons here." Darius said, "We'll keep an eye on them." Xerxes led them down the cavernous halls and eventually to a room. There were two old centaurs and two middle aged ones. Xerxes said, "Here they are grandfather." He then waited outside.

Sriloy said, "Welcome to Espra. Do you like it here." Jeff said, "It's certainly different from places we've been to." Tom said, "However, it is pleasant." Sriloy said, "This is my brother Danyos. These are my two sons Gideon and Hadrian. You have met my grandsons." Gideon said, "We'd like to know everything about you." Hadrian said, "Outsiders come here rarely, so share." Danyos said, "I'd like to write down your stories, if you want." The group talked it over and agreed to their words being recorded. They wanted to avoid revealing intimate details, but felt it was all right to reveal their secrets. They could stay safe with these people. They decided that Minerva would go first.

They repeated their boat stories, but they included the part about their strange journey. It confused the centaurs, but it was written down. Danyos said, "Is there anything else you'd like to tell?" They nodded no. Sriloy said, "Thank you for your time. Xerxes will show you out."

Xerxes led them out of the hut and they picked up their weapons from Thaddeus and Darius. He then led them to the dock and the rower led them to the other side of the large lake. Upon landing, they hiked for about an hour then set up camp for the night among the trees.

Chapter 11: The Book of Sacred Wisdom

They continued their westward sojourn and came upon the city of Creac which they soon found out was renowned in Usofa for its giant library. People would travel for days to research even the most simple of subjects. They also discovered the town was in turmoil. Jeff stopped this one round-faced old woman, "What's wrong with everyone?" The woman said, "You must be outsiders to not know that the Book of Sacred Wisdom is missing." Minerva said, "What's that?" The woman said, "My name is Agatha. Come with me and I shall tell you a tale."

The six followed her into her modest house and amazingly she served them a meal although they didn't ask for it. Josh asked, "Why are you being so kind?" Agatha said, "Who knows how long Creabc has?" Tommy asked, "Why?" Agatha poured the tea and said, "The Book of Sacred Wisdom was created centuries ago in the aftermath when a cataclysmic event claimed this world. It's very powerful, yet looks very simple. It was created by Matthias the first king of Dramln. It was deemed so powerful that the royal family of Dramln sent the book here to protect it. It's been here for all that time and was heavily guarded at all time, but somehow, someway, someone stole it and we've searched everywhere for it. If that book isn't recovered, this city and perhaps the entire world is finished forever." The six were very concerned as they bid Agatha farewell.

As they walked down the streets, they pondered as to what to do. They headed to the Library to investigate the matter, but were turned away by the guards because it was closed until the matter was resolved. They were disappointed, but Doug said, "Don't worry I can get us in, but I can only take one other person. Josh since you have a good sense of smell, how about you? You'll be able to memorize the scent of the thief and we'll be able to find him or her." Josh said, "All right" and the two went into the alley. Doug said, "Hold onto my shoulder." His friend did so and with a brilliant light they teleported inside the Library. Immediately he set up his mental cloak which would conceal them to everyone, but they still had to be quiet because the guards would still be able to hear them even if they couldn't see them. They carefully made their way to the crime scene and Doug whispered, "Do you smell anything?" Josh breathed deeply. The smell had lessened with time, but was still traceable and he whispered, "Got it." With the scent memorized they left the Library and returned to the rest of the group.

With the smell guiding him, Josh led them past groups of people, but the scent didn't match. They spent the next few days looking for a match and Eliza said, "I don't think we'll ever find the thief." The rest were starting to agree, but Josh exclaimed, "I can smell it." and started to run down the street.

Josh stalked the charlatan into an alley. His wolfen powers kicked in and before the man knew it, he was being picked up. His friends rushed on the scene. The man said, "Let me go. I've done nothing wrong." Josh said, "You've taken a very valuable book. Where is it?" The man stuttered, "I don't know what you are talking about." He was very afraid. This young man somehow had the power to pick him up and that wasn't all, the boy's eyes were an unnatural yellow and his canine teeth were noticeably longer than normal. Doug knew there was a way to get the information. While normally he didn't pry into other people's minds, this was an exception. He closed his minds and saw him using some strange technology to sneak in and take the book. The man gave the book to a robed figure and there was no way to identify him except that his ring finger was missing. Tommy made cuffs of ice and they led him to the guards. Jeff said, "Here is your thief?" One of the guards said, "But that's Duramar. He's a good citizen. Doug said, "Apparently not" and he used his mind to bridge the minds of the criminal with the lawman.

The six were branded as heroes even though the book was not recovered. Just like Pasadena, they left before the hype could increase.

Chapter 12: Lycanthrope Bound

A few nights later, Josh went to the forest to hunt for the group as usual. He didn't mind doing this because he felt that his friends were not skilled enough for this task and he didn't feel that he was being exploited. He felt this way because they lacked skill and instinct. His nature gave him the instinct and his father's instruction gave him the skill. They even asked him to be the sole hunter. He didn't find much so he presented a rat to each of his friends. Josh ate his rat and they sang songs afterwards. They stayed up somewhat late, but they had to go to sleep.

Josh was sleeping when his stomach grumbled. He moaned because he apparently didn't have enough to eat. He quietly got up and went to go hunt. Doug said quietly, "Where are you going?" Josh thought back, "I'm still hungry so I'm going to hunt some more. You can go back to sleep. I'll try to be back soon."

Josh yawned as he walked through the woods on all fours because his father had told him it was more strategic to hunt on all fours than on two legs. He brought up his right hand from the ground to smother a yawn and walked some more. He better find something soon before he surrendered to sleep and went back to camp in defeat. He suddenly picked up a deer scent and raised his snout into the air to determine its location. He would eat as much as he can and leave the rest for scavengers. He started to salivate since he knew he was getting closer and he should be seeing the deer now, but while the smell led him to this spot, there was no deer. Was someone playing a trick? He suddenly felt something beneath his limbs and was soon carried up in a net. He struggled to get free, but got more tangled. He then tried using his claws, but they didn't work well because while his claws could serrate flesh, they were useless against rope, so he just gave up and waited. The person who set the trap wouldn't live long.

The red light flashed slowly and it buzzed. The hunter was awoken and he grunted as he slowly walking to the panel. He rubbed his eyes and said, "Hmm Trap 5." He got his tranquilizer gun and stepped out of his cabin. Hopefully it wouldn't be too large, but worth keeping. People in these parts paid a lot for wild animals. He retraced the wire to where he set up the net. He soon found the net and there was definitely something struggling. He was always cautious ever since that boar almost broke his leg. So he raised his gun and it took an amazing three darts while something of that size would of taken one. Once the netted being settled down completely, he lowered the net and took it and found a creature. Most things he found would be given to a town so that they could make money. This creature however, was best suited for a circus. Luckily, there was a city called Zenibur not far from here about 7 days journey north. That placed excelled at entertainment and people came from all over Usofa to see the circus, visit the carnival, and explore the rest of the town. He carried the creature back to his cabin.

Whatever it was would make more money than things he captured in the past. He studied it and determined that he could not place the thing. It was obviously wolflike, but beyond that, who knew. He placed chains on it and went back to sleep. In the morning, he would set out.

The hunter yawned and got out of bed. He then went to the other room and found a boy asleep in chains wearing the same pants as the creature. He swore and said, "There goes the largest amount money. No one will put a human on show." Then it just hit him, this kid was a werewolf. His mother was a witch and had taught him some rudimentary magic, before she was carried away by a mob and burned at the stake. He could do a simple charm on a collar to lock him in his alternate form and also make him obedient to whoever owned him or else suffer a slight shock. This would be as long as he wore the collar. Of course he could keep the boy at bay until nightfall and then he would stay that way. He first ate breakfast and then loaded up his covered wagon. After that, he got out his two horses and got them ready.

Josh woke up with a pounding headache. He then saw that he was chained to a wagon. He called out, "Hello, anyone there?" A man appeared and said, "What do you want?" Josh said, "Who are you and why do you have me chained?" The man said, "My name is Thomas Wilson. You really don't remember do you?" Josh blinked and said, "I don't remember a thing after being shot at." Wilson said, "You remember being a werewolf?" Josh said, "Yes, I was hunting when I picked up a deer scent because I was hungry. Now let me go." Wilson said, "That scent was false. As for letting you go, I'm sorry chap. I'm getting low on funds and your my ticket to mounds of money." Josh shouted, "You can't do that! I have rights." Wilson said, "When the moon rises you'll be locked in your other form and there will be nothing you will be able to do that. The collar makes it so." Josh said, "Well see about that." He reached for the collar and Wilson tried to stop him, but Josh felt a shock similar to Eliza's but milder. He said, "I suppose you have it charmed to prevent me from taking it off." Wilson grinned and said, "Let's get going now."

Doug awoke to the rising sun and didn't find Josh. He searched in his mind for him and could not find him. His telepathic range had increased over the years, but their friend was not in that range. He shouted, "Wake up!" The others got up and discovered their friend was gone. Now they had to divert from their original mission to find Josh. The boys split his supplies among themselves and headed in the direction that he headed the previous night.

Wilson wanted to be friendly with Josh while he was human, but he wouldn't say anything. Josh didn't even want to eat, but was forced to by his needs. The moon rose and Josh transformed. Wilson kept the werewolf chained at all times which pleased him so he could sleep peacefully without worrying about being attacked. Although he was intent on getting his money, he wasn't mean, so he kept the kid well fed because a dead werewolf was worth nothing.

Chapter 13: The Werewolf Blues

They traveled for seven days, moving along when possible. Soon they made it to Zenibur's Circus/Carnival district. Wilson put the wagon away safely and unchained Josh. He said, "Remember, you try something, you will get shocked." Josh whimpered because he felt that there was no way out. They went to an intricately detailed trailer. A pudgy man got up and said, "Mr. Wilson, good to see you again. Thank you for those rabbits, they are popular with the children. What do you have this time?" Wilson lied, "This is a creature I found on my travels heading home after making a sale. I thought of this place the instant I found it." The other man said, "Why is it wearing pants?" Wilson said, "He is wearing pants because I felt that the dignity of those who view him needs to be maintained. I found him with regular wolves naked and I theorized that this one was deformed due to toxic waste." The man said, "I see and why does he have that collar?" Wilson said, "Although I have trained it for a year to be obedient, his wild nature still exists. That collar is to prevent him from showing it. If you feel at any time that he might get vicious, just say this word three times as a command. Also, I recommend sedating him so he'll be out like a light until morning." He then whispered into the man's ear the word. The man said, "Thank you for your time. Oh, what's his name?" Wilson said the boy's name. The man then called for an assistant to give Wilson his money. As Wilson left, Josh eyed him and promised revenge and placed the memory of his scent as a priority. The man said, "Well, Josh. My name is Frederick Nemo. You will be very happy here. You will be well fed and treated right. I may be kind, but I will not hesitate to punish you using the method Wilson told me if I feel that the safety of my guests or any of the employees are in peril." Nemo then led Josh to where the animal cages where. He said pointing to a cage that still reeked of tiger, "You will sleep here. This belonged to our prize tiger before it had to be put to sleep due to old age. Tomorrow, will be your first day. Until then, make yourself home." The cage will be painted to suit you and we'll make your poster. You'll be the best addition to our freak show since The Spaghetti Kid. He's retired now because he's as old as I am. Has been for years. He was a part of the show when my father ran this district. We've had many acts come and go. You're the first of your kind that we've had, so I expect profits to be high. Well, lad, in you go. He opened the caged wagon and Josh entered. He probably could of surprised the man, knocked him, and escaped, but that would prove he was something that he was not and then there was that collar. He resolved to bide his time. He laid on the hay to ponder his fate when he saw men come with paint buckets. They got on ladders and started to paint the wagon that was needed to be painted badly. A man then called him to walk out of the darkness. He slowly, "Stand." Josh sighed. Just because he looked like an animal didn't mean that he had the intelligence of one. He stood up and tried to pose. He wasn't sure if he wasn't doing good because he had no experience in that area. The painter then began to paint his full body and painted a ribbon afterwards. Josh looked at the artist's rendition and was pleased because he looked majestic like in one of those nature shows. The man then painted "Josh: The Man-Wolf" in ornate letters. A crude identification, but it will do, just as long as he wasn't portrayed as a monster. Later that day, he was fed a large piece of meat. Apparently it was a good exchange -economically speaking- since he was given the dead tiger's allotment of meat. After his meal, he went to sleep since it was very late.

He heard a metallic banging sound. Josh woke up and saw one of the handlers. He said, "Come or else I use the word." Josh got up and yawned. He then went out of the cage and followed the handler. Some other handlers filled a large tub of water and suds. The handler then reached to take his clothes off. Josh almost reacted, but remembered about the shocks. Josh got in the tub and the people started to bathe him. He wished that he could do it himself, but dared not to move much. While they bathed him, his pants were being cleaned. They then got him out of the tub and dried him off. They got out brushes and combed his fur. He put back on his pants afterwards. He was given eggs and sausage for breakfast and they led him to where the other sideshow denizens were. One of them asked, "Who are you?" The handler said, "This is Josh and he can't speak. If he get's out of line, just say this word." He then whispered the secret word to the one who spoke who was the resident midget and senior sideshow person. The handler left to tend to the circus duties. The midget walked over and said, "My name is Marvin Phillips, but my stage name is Alfred. I'm the leader of the sideshow folk. Pleased to meet you." The midget reached out, but Josh wasn't sure if he should shake. Alfred insisted, "Shake my hand I don't bite." Josh reached out slowly and shook his hand. Alfred smiled and said, "That didn't hurt did it?" Josh shook his head. Alfred then introduced the other people. He said, "This is my wife, Polly. There's Thor the strongman, Frank the Giant, Sue the snake charmer, and Sybil the resident psychic." Josh bowed to each one and they each said hello. Polly was the same height as Alfred and just as free-spirited. He sat on the floor as they got ready to start the day. Nemo dropped by and said, "It's showtime." Alfred said, "Why are you here. Your brother William usually does the sideshow." Nemo said, "I know I usually run the circus half of the complex, but this is an opportunity I can't pass up." He walked to Josh and asked, "Are you ready?" Josh smiled and nodded. He had performed before in his schools talent show before, but never in his werewolf form. Nemo said, "Great. You go before lunch when we get the most people here." He then went out of the tent to coordinate with the workers setting up the stuff. Josh was called out a few minutes afterwards by Nemo. He said, "Look boy, there's your poster." The teen was amazed and he felt like a star. He was told, "Go back in and wait. I assure you its worth it." Josh walked back in and listened to what Polly and Alfred were talking about.

She said, "What should we do today?" Alfred just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know, let's draw from the hat." The went to a well worn top hat and drew a piece of paper. Alfred said, "Well my dear, looks like were doing Shakespeare." She said, "Let's do Macbeth." He kissed her hand and said, "As you wish milady." They then stepped out of the tent and acted out a scene from that ancient play. Josh was amazed that after all these years, people were still doing Shakespeare. Sometime after that, they came back in and they congratulated each other on a stellar performance. Nemo came in a few hours after that and told Josh, "Get ready because you're up in a few minutes. I'll say something and call you out. All you have to do is sit there and if I say for you to do anything, you will do it, okay?" Josh nodded, but he wasn't sure what he would be asked to do. With that, Nemo walked out.

Frederick Nemo saw a large crowd before him, the largest in years. Apparently, the word got out quickly because of his signs. He tapped the wooden stage with his simple titanium cane to get the audience's attention. They turned their heads and listened intently on what he would say next. He said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls of all ages, I present to you a new act. From far away lands, here's Josh the wolfman." Josh heard him being called out, so he took a deep breath and stepped out. There were many reactions to his appearance. Nemo said, "Let's give him a hand." The crowd clapped and Josh bowed to thank them. He said, "Turn around so the people can get a good look at you." Josh walked about the stage so that the people could see him from all angles. One person asked, "So he understands, English?" Josh stopped and nodded. The same person asked, "Can you speak?" Josh whimpered and nodded no. The group felt pity. Nemo said, "Who would like to come up here and greet him personally? How about you young man?" He referred to a boy about 7 years. The boy reluctantly got on stage. Nemo asked, "What's your name?" The boy said, "Felix." Nemo said, "Let's give Felix a hand. Well, kid, say hello to Josh." Josh normally wouldn't be that tall, but in his wolf form, he had to get on his knees. The boy cautiously reached out to shake. Josh just brought his paw out, palm up. The boy placed his hand on his and the paw went up and down. He thought the boy was very brave because he thought he looked scary. He just walked around for a bit and then it was time to say good bye for the day. He went back in the tent and was greeted by Alfred. He said, "Great first performance kid." Josh then thought of something that he should ask before it's too late. He made a writing motion and Alfred said, "You want to write something? There's my desk." Josh, since it was a desk suited to the midget, had to sit on the ground. He wrote, "Where's the bathroom?" Alfred said, "You mean you're not an animal?" Josh shook his head no and he refused to do his business outside if there was a toilet available. Alfred said, "All right, I'll take you there, but no funny business." Josh nodded and he followed the midget to the facilities. Josh thanked his lucky stars because the last place that had toilets was Petticoat. He was quick about it and followed Alfred back to the tent. He then wrote him, "I'm human inside because I'm a werewolf. Tom Wilson put this collar on me. Its magic prevents me from becoming human." The working day ended and it was time to head back to his wagon. He was tired and decided to take a little nap.

Meanwhile, Alfred took the letter to Mr. Nemo. He said, "There's something about that new addition you should know about." Nemo looked concerned, "Did he do something?" Alfred said, "He did." Nemo slammed his fists on the table and said, "Looks like he needs to be disciplined." Alfred said, "Wait, its not what you think. He wrote this." He handed the paper to Nemo and he read it. He then said, "He wrote this? Do you believe him?" Alfred said, "I do because he seems so humanlike." Nemo said, "That will be it for now. I'll take him to see Sybil to see what she has to say."

Sybil's wagon was just as ornate inside as it was outside. Nemo asked her, "This being insists he's human. What's the story on him?" She polished her crystal ball and stared into it. She said, "He's from far away. I see an older being just like him, perhaps his father. Strange things indeed." She then muttered for a while as she was apt to do and then came out of her trance and said, "Yes, he is indeed human. The only thing different is his form." Nemo asked, "What do you think I should do?" Sybil said, "You're the employer, you decide." Nemo said, "Thank you." She screamed for them to stay, but they had already left and headed back to where Josh's wagon was. Sybil said, "I see something very dark, a creature of malevolent power. It's coming back and this time there may be no stopping it."

Nemo was getting tired and by this point, the cane did most of the work. He yawned , "Do you want to stay in the wagon you are in now?" Josh nodded. Although he didn't appreciate the bars, he preferred to sleep outside and the place he was provided was the best. Nemo said, "I see. Well, see you tomorrow. Try to be up at dawn because you'll be given your bath and breakfast. Someone will be by shortly to give you dinner." Nemo left and Josh was alone for the rest of the day. He spent the time watching the crowds come and go. Eventually, one of the handlers gave him a roast and he ate it and continued watching the crowds. After the crowds left and before he went to bed, he laid upon the hay wondering what his friends were doing, no doubt they were searching for him.

He heard birds chirping and it was very bright. Josh yawned and it was morning. He was soon served breakfast. The handler waited for him to finish before he said, "Ready for your bath?" Josh nodded and they went to where he was going to be given his bath. He got out of his clothes and into the sudsy tub. Unlike yesterday, he had to bathe himself. He didn't mind because he rather preferred that they didn't. He dunked himself in the water and made sure he scrubbed every part. He then took the hose, stood up and washed the soap off. He then got out and shook. A towel did the rest of the drying and he put his pants back on. He bowed to thank them and he headed to the sideshow tent. He got his first meeting with William Nemo, the person who ran the sideshow act. Unlike Frederick, William Nemo was thin. He brought out his hand and shook Josh's paw saying, "How do you do? You must be Josh. My brother has said a lot about you." The group said, "Good morning Josh." Josh returned the greeting with a wave. The midgets went though their routine of deciding what to do and they had to do soliloquies this time, so they went out separately, Josh decided to work out because he hadn't in days. The other people were amazed by this and Polly made a mental note to tell William Nemo when her husband came back in. When he did, she went out and told William Nemo. He asked, "What's the matter?" She said, "I think we found Josh's talent." He said, "Show me" and she led him inside. He went inside the tent and saw Josh performing martial arts. William Nemo approached the werewolf and said, "Do you think that you can do that for the crowds for your act?" Josh thought and nodded. He wouldn't of agreed if he thought that the stage wasn't big enough. After Polly went out and did her act, it was soon time for Josh to wow the crowd. He did his best martial arts and they clapped. After hours, Frederick Nemo personally came to his wagon to congratulate him on finding an act.

Every day was the same thing. Josh didn't like repetition, so he found a way to variate his repertoire of moves.

Chapter 14: Seeking Everywhere

The others had been looking for Josh for weeks. They showed his picture to everyone and once they got over the awe of such a thing, they said that they had not seen him. Then one day, they happened to come upon a group of merfolk living in a secluded cove. Doug again was the one who discovered this secret place. They were startled and most of them had already retreated back into the water when Minerva shouted, "Please help us." A young merman said, "Why do you need our help? Humans are nothing but trouble." Doug said, "Please help us find our friend. We think something bad has happened to him." The merman said, "Wait a minute so we can think it over." The merman then went underwater to seek his king.

King Skuilos of the merfolk was busy sorting out the next day's events when a merman appeared. He said, "Sir, some humans are on the surface, they are trying to find their friend and they think something bad has happened to him." The king said, "Are they armed?" The merman said, "Yes, but they seem very concerned." The king said, "Summon a royal group to escort me to the surface."

The group was waiting by the rocks when they received a surprise, an middle-aged merman wearing a crown. He said, "I am Skulios, I rule the seas in these parts. What do you want surface dwellers?" Tommy showed the king the picture and said, "Your Honor, this is Josh our friend. He somehow was abducted while out hunting some weeks ago." Doug said, "He only said he would be gone for a few minutes." Jeff said, "Were concerned because he's a werewolf and he's very strong." Skulios said, "There's a town of werewolves not far from here Just follow that river and you'll get there in a few days." The group said, "Thank you sir." The merfolk disappeared beneath the waves and the group followed the river.

They had reached the town of werewolves at evening, but it looked like a normal human town. Since it was so late, they decided to stay put for the evening and they went to the inn. The owner rushed through the transaction and showed them to their rooms. He said, "Be sure to lock the doors." Eliza said, "Why?" The owner said, "For your protection." Tommy said, "Protection from what?" The owner said, "Just do it." Doug sensed the real reason and said, "We know about the town's secret. We know that everyone here is a werewolf." The owner said, "How do you know?" Jeff said, "We were told by a group of merfolk." Doug said, "We will need to speak to the leader of this town tomorrow. Can you arrange it?" The owner said, "I think so." The group said, "Good night", went inside the rooms and locked their doors.

In the morning, they went downstairs for their breakfast. The owner said while handing them their plates, "Well I spoke with our chief and he has agreed to see you. I'll show you the way."

The town was busier than it was the previous day. They entered this stone building surrounded by a garden. The group said, "Thank you for seeing us sir." The man said, "I am Phelan. I am in charge of this town. I understand that you wanted to see me." Minerva said, "We are looking for this boy named Josh." She then showed him Josh's picture. Eliza said, "He's a werewolf." Phelan said, "Someone told me that he met a werewolf at a circus who was trapped in his wolf form named Josh. I'll summon him at once." They waited for a few minutes while an aide brought the person that Phelan was talking about. The man that was brought in said, "I did meet a young werewolf that fits that description. We wanted to get him out, but he said he would wait for his friends. Follow me." The followed the man out of the building and he pointed in a direction and said, "In that direction is the place where he is. Good luck."

The five then set of again in another direction looking for their friend.

Chapter 15: Freedom

Josh had been performing for weeks, but he had lost track of the real amount of time he had spent at the circus. Everyone had gotten used to him and he was used to the circus life. One day, while he was performing, he got an odd look from a woman in the crowd. He almost lost his concentration, but no one noticed. The evening proceeded like normal and Josh went to sleep curled up on the hay. He then was woken up by a voice. It was the same woman from earlier in the day. She said, "We've come to get you out." Josh didn't want to go. She said, "We don't have time for this." and her male companion shot tranquillizer darts into him. They then dragged him into a wagon and made off with him before anyone realized he was gone.

In the morning, Nemo was called to Josh's wagon. The handler said, "There are signs of a struggle." Nemo spent days trying to find out where their star attraction went to.

The two put the body on the table and an old woman said, "Get rid of that collar. He's free now. The young woman said, "Yes mother." She took the clippers and broke it. The old woman said, "Now then, he'll wake up sometime, but let's have lunch first." After a long lunch, they went back to the ballroom where they put the creature, but instead they found a boy and they almost tripped. They sat there and waited for him to wake up. Then the boy showed signed of regaining consciousness.

Josh's head hurt. The last thing he remembered was being in his wagon arguing with a couple of strangers. He then rubbed his head and yelled. He opened his eyes and looked at himself in vibrant color. He was human again and was very happy. He got on his feet and struggled to move because he had to get used to moving like a human again. Josh saw two men and two women before him. The old woman came forward and said, "My name is Patsy Damontree. This is my husband Shane, our son Martin, and our daughter Claire." Josh said, "How do you do? Why have you brought me here?" Mrs. Damontree said, "We rescued a wolf creature from the circus, but you're here. What happened to the creature?" Josh said, "That 'creature' is me. I'm a werewolf. Thanks, but it didn't feel right leaving without saying good-bye. Hopefully, my friends will find me here." He then lived there and got used to being human again.

Meanwhile his friends made it to the Zenibur circus. They heard people talking about the missing wolf creature and knowing that Josh wasn't there, they left to go find him.

Nemo had sent people to go look for Josh, but they couldn't find their prized attraction. They then came upon the Damontree Estate. Nemo's aide, whom Josh recognized as Russ, said, "We're looking for this creature. He was taken from our circus a few weeks ago. Russ saw a boy who looked like he wasn't related and thus asked, "Who's this boy?" Mrs. Damontree said, "This is Ryota. He lives here." Russ asked, "How is that you are here?" Josh said, "Mrs. Damontree found me as a baby on her doorstep and she has treated me as one of my own." Russ nodded and said, "So you haven't seen any such being." The family nodded and he said, "Thank you for your time." He then left and they breathed a sigh of relief. Josh knew that the circus people would be looking for him since he was so prized so he came up with a cover story just in case they came to the estate taking his middle name to identify himself. The Damontrees were very pleased with the story he came up because they liked him very much since he was such a courteous young man and after a week there, they treated him like one of the family. For days after, Josh wondered if he was ever going to see his friends. Then he began to doubt the mission. What would they find when they got to Area 51. Was it still there? Was there even a way to get to the past? He talked it over with Mrs. Damontree. She said, "Well Josh, you are welcome to stay as a member of the family. However, if you are intent in seeing this mission of yours through, then do so."

A few days afterwards, the door knocked and Claire Damontree answered the door. He said, "Yes, what can we do for you?" The girl showed her a picture and said, "Have you seen this boy?" Claire said, "That's Ryota. Please come in."

The group had been traveling for days and they feared that they were never going to find him. With a heavy heart, they agreed to ask one more time and then proceed on their original mission without him. They came upon a big estate and hoped that the people who lived here knew something. They knocked on the door and a young woman in her early 20s answered and amazingly she knew who they were talking about. She said as she led them into the study, "My name is Claire. We rescued Josh from a circus about a month ago. Of course I call him Ryota because I think it's much better than his other name." One of the girls asked, "Where is he?" Claire said, "He's outside helping our workers work in the yard. He should be in shortly." They waited there and the back door opened. Claire said, "Ryota come in." The five were getting uneasy with anticipation and then he came in. He had no shirt on and was very sweaty and dirty. He couldn't believe it his friends were here. He ran to them, but they said, "Josh, your filthy." He grinned, "Oh, sorry." He went to go bathe and he came back looking very clean. He hugged them all and sobbed a bit saying, "I thought I'd never see you again. How did you find me?" Doug said, "Just random searching. We headed in the direction you were going when you went to hunt. We then came upon a group of merfolk and mentioned that you were a werewolf. They pointed us in the direction of a town full of werewolves and a family of them had seen you at a circus and we went in that direction, but when we got there, you were gone. We searched at random and well here we are." Josh said his good-byes and the reunified group got back on track.

Chapter 16: The Hotel of Forever and the House of Reflection

The group spent the days thereafter talking about their time being away from each other. Josh couldn't get any peace when he went to go hunt, but they then let him do it by himself when they found that he couldn't catch anything with their presence. After some navigating, they made their way west. They then sighted the first building since they left the Damontree estate and it looked somewhat like a large hotel. They entered the lobby and since it was nearing evening, they decided to stay put. The receptionist asked, "Do you want to stay in a cursed hotel, the Hotel of Forever?" Tom asked, "Why is it cursed?" He said, "There are places where because people get lost for years and then somehow reappear the same age. Some places are haunted by specters. If that wasn't enough, just a few days ago, a group of children were attacked by this creature in the courtyard. It was raining heavily that day and they were running to school. We heard them scream and we shot the creature, but when we went in, there was a dead man naked. Doug asked, "What did this creature look like?" The man said, "It looked like a wolf." Josh slammed his fist on the table and swore. The man asked, "What's wrong with him?" Josh said to himself, "Attacking innocents. That is no way for werewolves to live." He looked at the man and stated, "You must show me these children." Minerva said, "I don't think we should get involved." Josh's eyes glowed yellow briefly as he growled, "It is my duty. What do these people know about werewolves?" He turned to the man and said, "I must see what the extent of the injuries are." The man reluctantly led the group to the medical wing where five children laid. There were three boys and two girls ranging from aged 7 to 13. Josh asked, "What are the extent of their injuries?" The doctor showed them. Josh meditated to search and he sensed five lycanthrope presences. He said, "These children have it." The doctor asked, "What do they have? Is it contagious?" Josh said, "No. It can only be transmitted through a bite or through the genes. They have lycanthropy. There's nothing to be done except teach them to get used to their new lives. When they recover, send them to the courtyard on the night of the full moon. They need guidance and only I can provide it. Make sure they wear old clothes. Also be sure to provide a lot of meat, raw meat." The children's parents were angry that this happened to them, and were annoyed that someone of the same kind would try to teach their children. Who knows what he would teach them? Josh said, "If you are concerned, then show up even though I wouldn't recommend it."

A few weeks later the children recovered and they were there in the courtyard. Josh said, "My name is Josh. By now you know you know what you have. It is very unfortunate that this happened to you. Do not think that you did something wrong and do not think that you turn into monsters. Rather you just become something else, a reflection of yourself. No matter how we get it, we all have to deal with it. Tonight and the next few nights, all I want is for you to get used to being in your other forms. When the full moon passes, I'll then teach you to transform automatically and I'll also teach you how to control the animal by working with it. That is all to teach since everything else comes from instinct. We will begin by meditating to reserve power because the transformation is very painful." Josh sat down on the ground and calmed himself and waited. The moon rose and he grimaced in pain. The children were more in pain since it was a new sensation. Josh finished transformation and got off the ground before the children did. He let them experience the new world around them before he talked. He couldn't tell what color they were, but their markings were different from one another. Josh sat there waiting for the children. He then said, "What do you sense?" One boy said, "Everything." Josh laughed, "Yes. It does seem like that. It can be a bit overwhelming. The thing is to learn is to focus on one smell or sound. I'll teach you that, but first, let's eat."

The group of werewolves walked into the dining room where raw meat already wait. Josh said, "I know it looks very appealing, but please don't fight over it. There is enough for everyone." Josh took a chunk of meat for himself. The children shared the meat, but it took some time for them to guess how to separate it. The adults were watching from a distance and they were surprised that they acted the same. The next evening, after supper, he asked them to concentrate on a sound or a smell and show the direction it came from. His final lesson was to teach them to go from one form to another.

After the situation was defuse, the children led the six on a tour of the hotel. One of them, Keith, said, "Remember to not go down a hall unless we say so." Jeff asked, "Why?" Tommy said, "Remember how the receptionist said that there are some places where people can get lost in a time warp." Jeff said, "Oh." They climbed a set of stairs and Keith said, "We're about to enter the center of the Hotel. We found something that not even the adults know about. So don't tell them. Frieda thinks it dates from the time that the hotel was built. They exited the stairs and found themselves in a place that could be an entire house by itself. It was nicely preserved and was full of stuff that had cobwebs and other things that looked like they hadn't been moved in decades. Frieda said, "This is where we store some of the useless stuff. However, if you will follow me, we can show you something amazing." They entered a room in the back of the house and Keith opened a closest. He said, "Do you notice anything unusual?" The six didn't notice anything, it looked like an ordinary closet to them. Keith pressed upon the back of the closest and it slowly moved. When it fully opened, they followed the children in.

The six couldn't believe it. This was the exactly like where they had been, but everything was mirrored. Not only that, but everything was in good condition? Just what was this place? Josh asked, "Where are we now?" None of the children knew exactly because while they knew that everything in this half dated to the beginning, they didn't know the purpose. They were running behind, so they went back to the other side and again told the six not to reveal the hidden room.

When the six left, Josh offered these words of advice to the kids, "Stay together because it's imperative that you stay as a pack. That way you can protect each other."

The gang left the Hotel of Forever and proceeded westward once more.

Part 3: The End in Sight

Chapter 17: The King Jasubai

Signs were showing that they were entering a large kingdom and the first town in this kingdom was called Dramlyn. They asked this one person, "Who controls this area?" The old woman said, "You must be outsiders not to know that King Jasubai rules this land from the city of Posderdim. He's a young person, but very powerful because he has strange powers. Why do you ask?" Doug said, "We wish to meet him." The woman laughed, "Well go right a head. The signpost in the middle of town will lead you there, but I don't think he'll meet you." Eliza said, "Why not?" The woman said, "Because you're outsiders, but if he finds you interesting, he might talk with you."

The group went to the signpost and they talked it over and Tommy said, "Well it couldn't hurt. It is on the way." They double checked with the map and walked in the direction of Posderdim. It took some time, but they managed to reach it a few days. The city was very busy, even more so than Pasadena. The teens had a very difficult time getting to the castle gates because apparently they arrived at the busiest time of the day and it took about an hour to get there. Minerva asked, "Can we see the king?" One of the guards talked in a walkie-talkie and asked if the king was free. The guard said, "Go right ahead. He's doing nothing at the moment." The gate opened and the group walked up the dirt path to the drawbridge when it lowered and welcomed them inside. Their shoes echoed through the halls and occasionally saw people at work. They stopped a maid and asked her where the king was. She said, "He's in the courtyard sparring with dummies." They walked down numerous and eventually found the way leading to the courtyard. They found the king in workout clothes practicing against obviously conjured enemies because they all looked the same and had featureless faces. That didn't amaze them because after seeing werewolves, merfolk, centaurs, and magically perfect clothes, things like this didn't surprise them. He fought very fiercely and looked as if he was capable of outclassing Josh. Then he shot a bolt of lightning at one of the dummies, he then froze another, incinerated another and with a wave of his hand made another one explode. The young king who was perhaps no more than 25, looked at them and said, "Hi there. I here you want to talk to me." Eliza asked, "I don't want to be rude, but how old are you?" Jasubai chuckled, "Well it isn't rude. Most diplomats ask that. I'm 25 years old and I celebrated my birthday a few days ago. What do you need to talk to me about?" Jeff asked, "Do you know of a place called Area 51?" Jasubai said, "Hmm, Area 51. There is a legend that speaks of such a place where mysteries happen, but the location is unknown. Time has erased the knowledge of the location." The group got disappointed, but Jasubai said, "Don't lose hope. In the basement of the castle are golden doors. They lead to a mystical place called the Infinite Beyond. My late parents told me that's where I got my powers. Maybe the beings who live there can help. I'll show you the way.

They went back in the castle and walked down into the heart of the castle and walked down the stony spiral staircase and came upon a giant pair of golden doors. Jasubai said, "Just knock three times and the door will open. Good bye and I hope you find what you seek." He then turned around and quickly ran up the stairs. Josh grunted, "Wonder why he did that. It's only a pair of doors." Doug went up to the doors and took the jeweled knocker and knocked three times. He then stepped back and they waited the doors opened. They almost screamed. They saw a bunch of swirly stuff and psychedelic colors as they felt themselves being sucked in. They tried to hang on to prevent themselves from being drawn in, but there was nothing to hang on to.

Chapter 18: The Road of Ages

They landed with a thud on the cement ground. A stone road was before them and it looked like it stretched forever. The rest of the environment looked like it was in space. It was so marvelous, they almost forgot what they were there for. They didn't know how long they walked, but it was a long time and soon all that could be seen was the road. They walked and walked. They would sleep on the road when they felt tired, but they soon felt hungry. They hoped that they would reach the goal before they starved. Finally, when it seemed like they failed in reaching the goal, they did.

It was a stone archway with a pair of doors. They knocked and an old man appeared. He said, "Can I help you?" Minerva said, "We need your help." The old man said, "My name is Mavar, welcome." Where ever they were, it looked like a monastery. Mavar said, "So what brings you to the Beyond?" Josh said, "About 1,000 years ago, something bad happened." Mavar said, "Yes, we know. We have tried to solve the puzzle, but we need help in solving it." Minerva said, "We can help." Mavar chucked, "Very well, perhaps you are the ones that can undo the curse. I'll give you this hourglass that will take you back home. I will also give you this compass that points to the goal. However, to get that artifact, you have to find Stella." Veronica came in and said, "Who will find me?" Josh said, "I will." She said, "Very well follow me."

Chapter 19: Faber's Enigma

As Josh walked with her, she seemed oddly familiar. Josh said, "Have I seen you before?" Veronica said, "No. The clothes you wear are similar to those my grandmother makes." Josh said, "Alida Faber is you grandmother?" Veronica nodded. She came to a door and opened it. She said, "When the door opens. You may search for me, but know that I am unbeaten." The door closed behind her and waited for the door to open again. After a few minutes it did and Josh raced inside.

He found himself in a very odd room and perhaps the oddest of all he had been in. There were mirrors everywhere and each one showed Veronica running. He raced down the halls and found himself chasing Veronica, but out of the corner of his eye, he spotted another. Which witch was which? He sniffed and found that the two smelled alike. He turned around and followed the other one, but he saw another one and still more. He would of been driven insane with all the Fabers running around, but he saw a different one. This one was wearing the same dress her grandmother wore when he went to get new clothes. He transformed quickly and set off before he lost sight of her. He ran and soon caught her. He transformed back into a human and everything vanished leaving the two. She screamed, "You cheated. You're a werewolf." Josh growled, "Werewolf nothing. I caught you because you were dressed differently than those copies." She giggled and said, "Is that it? Then, I apologize. Never before has anyone noticed." She reached into a pocket and gave him the compass. She said, "It was fun, Goodbye." He was blinded and felt that he was falling. He landed with a thud and heard other thuds. His vision recovered and found the others beside him. The golden doors closed.

King Jasubai was waiting for them at the top of the stairs and he said, "So, did you get what you needed?" Eliza said, "We did. Thanks for you help." Jasubai nodded and said, "You're welcome." The group followed him up back the staircase and left the castle. Josh took the compass out of his pocket and it was pointing in a direction and he said, "Let's follow it." They followed it for weeks as they passed through all sorts of terrain. Some of it was so rough, they had to use their powers. Jeff burned vines and Tommy made ice bridges and snowy paths to smooth out uneven terrain. Josh kept all his senses attuned with their environment so that they could detect danger.

Chapter 20: Self-proclaimed Holiday

The six had been traveling nonstop ever since they left Pasadena and they agreed unanimously to not travel for a day because they found themselves in a nice forest that echoed qualities of a park. There were trees everywhere, fields of flowers, abundant wildlife and a lake. No sooner than a minute passed from their decision, when Josh transformed. This alarmed the others because he usually transformed when he was going to hunt or when the full moon rose and he looked very different during the day. He ran on all fours and jumped into the bed of flowers and frolicked about laughing because he felt so alive. The others laughed because they still couldn't get used to his laugh. The girls told stories of mystery, Doug told jokes and the twins wrestled each other.

Later in the afternoon, Jeff suggested, "Who wants to swim?" Doug said, "Now?" Tommy said, "But how?" Josh thought and Doug said, "Josh says that we can go in our clothes. Remember that Faber made them waterproof." They remembered that and after they had taken off their shoes they all ran to the lake and had fun in the water.

Josh was feeling very refreshed and he made his best kills that night and everyone was full. In the morning they set for the west once more. They couldn't tell how long they had been in this world, but that didn't matter because all the troubles of school life had vanished. After months of travel, they had reached their goal: Area 51.

Chapter 21: Sins of the Uncle

Area 51 didn't look anything like his father's description. However, he knew from the place that appearances could be deceiving. Josh reached for a door and it fell with a metallic echo. He shouted, "Hello, anyone?" Out of the shadow came a haggard young man. His face read surprise and he said, "How can I help you?" Eliza said, "Perhaps you can help us get home?" The man said, "How can I do that?" Josh said, "This compass led us here to the source." The man said, "Come in."

The man's home was as unkempt as himself and he said, "Excuse the mess, I don't get visitors here. Wait, while I clean up." The man left and returned after a few minutes looking very neat. The man said, "My name is Dr. Matthew Jecong. Who are you?" Josh said, "I'm Josh Jecong. These are my best friends Doug, Tommy, Jeff, Eliza, and Minerva." Matthew said, "How about that, we have the same last name." Josh grinned, "Yea. My parents are John and Lucy." Matthew looked like he was thinking and he said, "My ancestor Joseph had a brother named John who was a werewolf, and he was married to a human named Lucy. I must apologize, my father isn't here to meet you. He rarely appears anymore and I haven't seen him in days." Josh said, "Were related then, albeit distantly and I'm a werewolf too." Matthew said, "Show me. I've never seen one." Josh said, "Okay." He took off his shirt and his footwear; he closed his eyes and thousands of dormant brown hairs sprouted and grew long becoming a furry pelt. Josh's leg reshaped themselves to become digitigrade and his arms grew thick; All four limbs ending in sharp claws. The transformation of his face was the most gruesome to watch as the teen's face distorted into a muzzle. The last change was his eyes which ceased being blue and changed to yellow. Matthew shifted his glasses and said, "Whoa." Josh transformed back and Doug said, "What does your father do?" Matthew said, "He's a scientist like me. Would you like some tea?" The group nodded and he prepared a pot Earl Grey because that was the only thing he had. They continued talking about their adventures and Matthew was amazed that such young people had such incredible escapades. Afterwards, Josh and Matthew talked about their relatives.

Dr. Jason Jecong was so busy making final notations that he didn't notice the red light. He finally noticed and switched the computer so that he could see who was here. He noticed his pacifist son talking to a bunch of kids. He banged his fist on the table and said, "He's going to meddle with everything." He opened the drawer and got out a revolver and rode the elevator up.

They were still talking when the elevator opened up and a middle-aged man appeared and before they could do anything, he shot Matthew. The man said, "Good for nothing son." The man walked back into the elevator and it went down.

The six were shocked and they raced to the elevator to apprehend the fiend, but had to wait and they got agitated while waiting.

Dr. Jecong tapped on the keyboard quickly and begun a timer and locked the thing. Those punks were going to get a surprise. The elevator finally opened and they wanted an explanation. Josh growled, "Why shoot your own son?" Dr. Jecong said, "He was going to muck up things. What are you going to do about it?" Josh moved with inhuman swiftness and picked up the doctor off the ground. Dr. Jecong saw the boy's eyes turn yellow as the teeth became more canine-like. Doug cried out, "No, he's your own flesh-and-blood." Josh released him and Dr. Jecong laughed, "So you are the wolfboy that I've heard so much about. Funny how you don't look a thing like me." Josh said, "My biogical grandfather was Japanese and he's the one who passed the lycanthropy gene to my father who passed it down to me. I'm proud of my mixed heritage." Dr. Jecong said, "It wasn't difficult to take out one member of my family, it won't be so difficult to do it again. Then again, I'm not the first of the Jecongs to kill a family member, but you don't know do you?" Josh said, "What?" Dr. Jecong, "Your uncle killed your father." Josh growled, "You lie." Dr. Jecong smirked, "Nope. He's the one who created the Recombinant and shortly it will live again." He went to his desk's drawer and took out a heavy book that was simple yet radiated importance. The teens gasped, it was the Book of Sacred Wisdom. Dr. Jecong said, "It seems you recognize me." He then took off his gloves and saw that the left hand's ring finger was gone. He continued, "Using this sacred book. I have resurrected the creature that was never meant to be." The group became horrified because this distant relative of Josh's was the one was behind the theft. The beast inside him grew enraged and his hand became a claw and before anyone knew it, it sliced through Dr. Jecong's abdomen. The dying doctor laughed, "I'm still right because if you think about it long enough all the pieces fit together ever so nicely. OmniPlex funded the school project, created the machine that brought on the Upheaval, and begot the Recombinant. Those dummies had no idea what they unleashed. However, your uncle was innocent because they never told him what he was doing. He was ever so luck because he was the first victim." He laughed and laughed until he breathed his last.

The alarm got louder and louder as the countdown raced to zero. The group got as ready as they could while Minerva ran because she had no powers; Josh transformed in record time as a purplish mist left the chamber and a moan came out as heavy feet plodded and a shadow appeared. Josh then got his first real look at the monster that killed his father for Recombinant was reborn.

Chapter 22: Demon Recombinant Reborn

Recombinant's first attack missed and the five scattered about. Tommy and Jeff combined their powers, yet it didn't faze the creature. Eliza fully charged as high as a voltage as she could manage. However, the monster just shook it off. Josh growled and fully powered a Beast Rush and charged the head and bit down on the neck. The creature moaned and grabbed him and threw him across the room. He yelped and landed hard. Tom and Jeff got out their swords and thrust deep into the monster's body. Eliza took her hammer and smashed the creature's feet. They were slowly having an effect. Doug had attacked, but not with his Psychic powers. The creature was getting smarter and dodging their attacks and Josh thought to him, "Use your full powers on the Recombinant before it's too late!" Doug focused his mind on the creature and the monster was groaning and then with a sickening explosion, the creature came apart which left them soaked with the creature's organs. With their mission accomplished, they breathed a sigh of relief.

Chapter 23: Demon's Requiem

They were very sore from fighting and rode the elevator back up. They ate the doctor's food even though they didn't feel like it. With the demon finally dead, they wondered what to do. Josh said, "We can't really do anything until we've gotten well again." The group camped outside and only went back in the building for food. After a few days rest, they started to head back west when the hourglass shook, flew into the air, and shattered raining the hourglass's sand upon them. It seemed odd that more sand fell upon them than what the hourglass could hold. Everything got dark from the sands and couldn't see each other. Soon the sands dissipated and they found themselves back where they started, at the school.

Eliza said, "Are we really back?" Josh sniffed into the air and said, "I think so because I can smell the animals in the biology lab. They sabotaged the machine so it wouldn't perform its dastardly function, but made it look like an accident and not sabotage, then they left the engineering lab and went back home. Josh managed to sneak back in the house without being noticed and hoped that the others got home without being noticed as well. However the Greene twins were caught and they were grounded for a week. Doug managed to make his parents forget and Minerva managed to escape the wrath of her parents because of the project.

Soon it was the day that the seniors were to reveal the project which was to be their gift. The machine started to work fine but it soon developed problems and it fell apart. The seniors sighed because they failed. There was an investigation, but nothing could be found, so they concluded that the malfunction was due to unforseen circumstances. However, the senior gift was the least of their concerns. There was still the Upheaval and the Recombinant to deal with. Josh knew what he had to do.

Chapter 24: Here in the Now

Josh and the rest drove to his Uncle's house and told him what he was to do. Joseph Jecong couldn't believe them at first. He said, "Time travel is impossible and you don't have proof." Doug said, "I can show you." He closed his eyes and concentrated focusing on his memories to show him what they experienced." Joseph was overloaded and he said, "All right, I'll resign from my post." Josh said, "That's not good enough. Everything regarding the project must be destroyed."

Mr. Jecong and the teenagers managed to get into the science lab without detection using a combination of their powers. It was more difficult because OmniPlex was more guarded than their high school. Minerva imputed equations that would lead to a malfunction by changing numbers around here and there and by switching signs. They left the building in the same way and Mr. Jecong quit a few months after both projects failed. There was no suspicion that he had any part in their failures.

Josh and friends never revealed their adventures to anyone. After Josh's uncle quit OmniPlex, Doug erased the knowledge that they shared with him. It was difficult to adjust to normal life after nearly a year in the future of Earth. Their friendship persisted over the years even though they lived far apart.

The End