It is New Years Eve 1981 and everyone wants to celebrate in their own special way.
The Padalecki’s are one of the most powerful and richest families in Vancouver and their son and his pregnant wife are both a little drunk, excitement fueled by alcohol and youth. They decide that they want to see in the New Year in the air.
The pilot cannot say no. You don’t say no to Gerald Padalecki, particularly if you know who his father is. He takes out one of the smallest planes, plans the route carefully and takes them up.
The storm comes along quick. The plane is caught in it and there is no escape. The pilot cannot control the plane and the young couple on board have no say in the matter. They are wrapped in each others arms as the plane goes down, deep in the Vancouver forests, miles away from civilization, the plane catching on the denseness of the trees as it falls.
The wife crawls out from the plane, alive by some miracle. She clings on to life long enough to give birth, alone and in pain, no contact made with the outside world, natural and feral, the baby big and healthy beside her.
For a while it looks as if both mother and son will die. Once the mother has gone, the baby is alone, no one to hear his cries.
The wolf bitches litter was born only days ago. She lost one of her pups, the weakest, and she responds to the cries that she hears. She sniffs at the bodies, human, but no danger to her and then she takes the screaming creature gently in her snout and carries him back to her lair.
And it is there that the story and the legend begin.
Jensen doesn’t really know why he got into Animal Psychology. Hell, he can’t begin to work his own screwed up life out, let alone help animals and their owners with their distress.
He likes animals sure and he likes people as well and somehow, with his degree and his qualifications and some luck he ended up doing this. He spent his days working in a small office in a large Vets surgery, spending his days trying to get cats to eat and dogs to stop biting their owners.
He likes his job, honest he does, it is the only secure thing in his life right now, especially since Tom left. He was lonely, sure he had friends, but he wanted, no, he needed, someone to love.
“Jensen?” His boss, Ellen, was an attractive older woman and very understanding. She looked harried, harassed, her white coat unbuttoned, her blouse rumpled, her hair tied back in an untidy bow. “Jensen – I need your help – with a very, very unusual request.”
He followed her into her office and sat in the uncomfortable looking chair. She was twitchy, a frown denting her forehead and she fumbled with the file in front of her.
“What is it Ellen?” He asked. He was tired, it had been a long day, he had dealt with two willful dogs, a nervous cat and a budgie that never made a sound. He had dealt with their owners as well and that had been as nerve wracking.
“There is a situation up at the Lavender clinic.” She played with the file again, her eyes haunted. “They need an expert.”
“Lavender clinic is – is – they have problem adults up there. Is this – do they have an animal problem?”
“Not exactly. Look, this is highly unusual and could be construed as very controversial. If the press get hold of it, it is going to cause a riot of the very largest proportions. They asked me to deal with it because I have an Animal Psychologist on my team, they have your human counterpart dealing with it at the moment but he isn’t doing so well.”
“What is it?”
“I’m not at liberty to tell you,” she said and sighed, obviously frustrated. “All I can tell you is that they need you over there now. They will fill you in when you get there. From this moment Jensen, you are an employee of the United States Government – good luck.”
The Lavender Clinic looked modern and ordinary. It was what, in the less PC days, would have been called a lunatic asylum but now was just known by its rather flowery name. Jensen parked his battered old car in the driveway and got out, staring up at the anonymous building and wondering what the hell he was actually doing there.
The security was tight as he entered and he had to identify himself and sign himself in. He noticed that there were several Police officers surrounding the reception and the staff looked very nervous.
A harassed looking man in a white coat and rubber gloves came over to him. The man was older than him with greying hair and a careworn expression. He rubbed at his stubble, pulling off one glove and offering his hand to Jensen.
“Yeah, that’s me. Do you – do you have an animal problem?”
“Of sorts.” The man forced a smile. “You need to know that this is not something any of us has dealt with before. I also need you to know that you have been drafted in because – well – because the ‘expert’ the bosses upstairs sent is now in intensive care.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry, I’m Dr Jeff Morgan and I’m in charge for now. I guess the best way forward is for you to come and see just what we are dealing with.”
Jensen followed him. They went down two flights of stairs into a corridor that looked like something from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and then came to a stop outside a large, glass fronted room that looked like a very high tech zoo cage.
Jeff Morgan said nothing and Jensen paused for a long moment and then peered inside.
The room was clinical in its emptiness. No bed, no sink, no bathroom facility. There was a pile of straw in the corner of the room, a bowl of, what looked like, meat and a large tub of water. Jensen frowned and then his heart leaped into his throat as something moved into his field of vision and he wondered if he were hallucinating.
It was a man, he was sure of it, large boned and well-muscled, his tanned skin healthy looking but scarred in places, marks on the naked flesh.
He wore no clothes and he was hunched almost on all fours, sitting back on his haunches, his forearms in front of him, his toes, the nails incredibly long, curled into the concrete floor. His fingers were long, the length enhanced by his nails, which curled like talons into his hands.
His hair was long, longer than Jensen had ever seen on a person. It hung over his shoulders and down his bare back, covering most of his body. His face was obscured by a thick, chestnut colored beard, only his nose and, wild-looking, slanting eyes visible. Jensen bit back a gasp.
“What the hell…?” He finally got out, aware that he was clinging to Morgan’s arm.
“A human – found two weeks ago in the middle of the largest forest around here. Savage, wild, uncontrollable. His behavior is that of an animal, he shows no human traits whatsoever and we cannot get near enough to him to actually examine him, or touch him in any way. A human psychologist went in last week; he is the one who is now in intensive care, his throat half torn away. We need someone who – who has a way with animals. We have been told that you are very good.”
“I talk to dogs and cats, sometimes birds!” Jensen was staring at the man, wondering what-the-fuck? “This is – this is something – something very, very different.”
“You can imagine what an impact this would have on everything we know. There have been ‘wild’ children before but never one this old, never one who has survived so long without human contact. We do not know how to handle him, we have no benchmark for this but, what concerns me, is that if we don’t try – he is going to – we are going to have to….” He trailed off but not before Jensen had mentally filled in the blanks. He stared back in at the man who was still hunched in the same spot, his eyes desperate, his whole body so tense that Jensen knew he was ready to pounce at the first thing that he saw.
“Are they expecting me to go in there?” He finally asked his heart in his mouth.
“You would be amply rewarded for this,” Jeff murmured and Jensen gazed at him, unable to form much of a response.
After all, what good is money if you are dead?