I signed the form and handed it over to Dr. Zelazny. She looked it over and said to me, “You’re sure about this, Laurie? This new drug is experimental, and there’s no guarantee it will actually help you.”
“I know, Doc. But anything that can stop these stupid fainting spells would be welcome.”
I suffer from narcolepsy, a poorly-understood medical condition where I tend to fall asleep suddenly, especially in moments of stress or surprise. In my particular case I also get nightmares while it's happening. The condition hasn't responded to the usual drugs, so I try to adapt my lifestyle to reduce the risk of an attack. It doesn’t help that much.
A couple of weeks after signing up for the trial Dr. Zelazny called me in and gave me the bottle of pills. She watched while I took my first one, then read me the riot act about reporting physical symptoms, reactions to food or drinks, changes in mood or sleep cycles, and the like. I told her there’d better be a change in my sleep cycle and she told me not to get my hopes up.
My friend Hardy (her real name’s Hardesty, so people call us Laurie and Hardy) picked me up outside the doctor’s office.
“Well Laurie? Is it working?”
“How should I know? I just took the first dose.”
“So you don’t want me to startle you and test it?”
“No thanks, Hardy. I want to take it easy for the next few days.”
Of course, city drivers don’t really care about my plans, so we had only gone about ten blocks before some joker ran a red light and nearly t-boned us. Hardy did a violent swerve and he just missed.
“That was close; you okay, Laurie!”
“Yeah. That guy just missed us.”
“Yeah, he did. And I got us out of the way. But more importantly, you’re still here.”
“What do you… you’re right. That should have triggered an attack!”
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
“This stuff works!”
“That too, I guess. But it means we can watch scary movies!”
“Hardy, I don’t like scary movies.”
“That’s just because they knock you out. Now you can try them for real.”
“Did anyone ever tell you you’re weird?”
“Aside from you? … Yeah, lots of people. Let’s do it anyway.”
I knew that tone of voice; she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I managed to beg off for a couple of days, but our Saturday night project would be watching a scary movie at her place.
Snarl! is a comedy-horror film about werewolves. The acting is cheesy, the plot is ridiculous and the effects are horrible. For some reason Hardy loves it. I don’t watch it because it’s chock-full of “gotcha” moments where something jumps out by surprise.
Popcorn and sodas at the ready, we sat down and started watching. The first hour or so would have been torture without Hardy’s running commentary. As it was I spent more time watching her than the movie.
Then came the sex scene. Our hero is energetically on top of this girl and somehow doesn’t notice that she’s getting blurrier and blurrier as they go at it. Finally he looks down into her eyes and… she’s a wolf! It’s one of the few good scares in the whole movie.
He jumped. I jumped. Even Hardy jumped, and she’s seen the movie like a hundred times. And then the world started strobing.
In an episode my world sort of dissolves into a nightmare series of still pictures from my perspective. I saw the wolf’s face. Hardy’s face. The hero’s face. Claws. Fur. Blurry motion. A weight on top of me. The hero screaming. The girl growling. Me screaming. Howling. Then blackness.
When I came to, Hardy was lying on top of me; she looked like she’d lost a two-round fight with a meat grinder. She was bleeding from several cuts and panting heavily. The pains and scrapes I was feeling told me she wasn’t the only one who’d been clawed.
I gasped out a question, “What… the heck… was that?”
“You got… all violent… I had to… fight…”
We lay there for several minutes, both catching our breath. When she picked her head up off my chest there were little pulls from clotted blood.
Hardy chuckled, “I should get the first aid kit.”
I watched as she limped toward the bathroom. The meat grinder had definitely won. By the time she came back a minute or so later I had one more question.
“Hardy, where’d all this dog hair come from?”