Orange Wulderbeast in WV – Part Three

Dating a cop is difficult. They keep long, odd hours and even when you think they have a night off, their phone goes off and you’re left alone on date night, sitting at a table in a romantic restaurant in front of a half-eaten plate of chicken fettuccine and a cold pilsner of beer. And frankly, that’s the best case scenario. Because every time his phone rings, every time he slips his service pistol into his holster, there’s always a chance he won’t come back.

Dating a cop has its perks, too. For example, a casual “My boyfriend’s on the Job” is usually good for getting out of tickets. But when I got pulled over today, as the cop took my information and carefully examined my registration and proof of insurance, I was sweating bullets. It was all current and correct, I’m good about that, but that wasn’t what was bothering me. There just isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for someone with blood-soaked sleeves, a two unregistered handguns in the trunk (one loaded with silver bullets), and a dead Orange Wulderbeast poorly concealed under a ratty blanket on the backseat.

As the officer asked his routine questions, I could hear the drip-splash-drip of blood oozing from the Wulderbeast’s wounds and landing on my floor mats. That would be the second set of floor mats I would need to replace this year. The cop was prattling on, and I did my best to answer him, but the drip-splash-drip was so loud I could hardly think. It was louder than the ticking of my engine as it cooled, louder than my pounding heart, louder than the static on the radio mounted to the cop’s shoulder.

How could he not hear the drone of dripping, splashing blood? It grew even louder and sped up to match my frantic heartbeat. The sun was setting and I was running out of time. Suddenly I realized that the cop was staring at me intently. He’d asked me something, I was certain of it, but I hadn’t heard him over the roar of blood in the backseat. “Um, could you repeat the question?” I asked, with my most innocent smile, the one that said I didn’t have a brain cell in my head.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

I shook my head, mutely and he muttered, “Stay right here,” before returning to his car to run my information. I suppose I was speeding. I usually do, and this time I had an excuse. But what was I supposed to say? “Sorry, Officer but I have to bury the dead Wulderbeast in hallowed ground before the moon rises or it will come back to life and try to kill me?” I didn’t think that would fly.

I didn’t used to speed. Once upon a time, I was a very conscientious driver. I obeyed every sign, even the No U-Turn ones. I remember one time, driving with my father. I couldn’t have been more than sixteen and the ink wasn’t even dry on my license yet. I was doing 55 miles per hour in the fast lane. My father told me to move over to one of the slow lanes, but I refused. “55’s the limit here,” I told him. “I’m doing everyone a favor by making sure that they follow the speed limit.” It wasn’t working, of course. They were just passing me on the right, blowing their horns and giving me the finger as they sped around me.

“Mark my words, kitten, you’re not helping anyone. No one likes someone forcing them to follow the rules.”

“But…” I began, even as I flipped on my blinker and eased into the slow lane. Before I could finish my argument, he stopped me cold. “I’m your father. It’s my job to make sure you follow the rules.”

I suppose I remember the moment so clearly because I’d been showing off, trying to impress him. Trying to prove that I could be responsible. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to lecture me in human behavior. But what I really got out it was that only suckers followed the rules. From that day on, I vowed to only follow the rules that suited me. Unfortunately, today was the day I got caught breaking them, and I really couldn’t afford to wait around any longer. Either the cop would finally notice the blood, or the Wulderbeast would awaken in a murderous rage.

The cop had my license and I was driving the world’s least inconspicuous car, my 1965 Mustang. If I took off, I wouldn’t go half a mile before half of the New Jersey State Troopers surrounded me. If I stayed, I’d be mauled by something that looked like it belonged on Sesame Street. While Wulderbeasts aren’t especially dangerous, they have an annoying tenancy to get awful cranky when you kill them.

Right as I made up my mind to make a run for it, the officer returned. He gave me a warning and told me to slow down. Still breathing heavily, I thanked him and as soon as he was gone, took off for the cemetery. By the time I got there, the gates were closed and the sun was nearly gone. Ignoring the No Trespassing signs, I grabbed my shovel and the Orange Wulderbeast and climbed over the fence. I had him in a shallow grave and was tossing in the first shovel-full of dirt as the moon crested the horizon, and he didn’t wake up – to my immense relief.

I guess a better person would have learned a lesson from all this – to follow the rules. But the only thing I took away from the day was don’t get caught. Well, that, and if you’re going to be replacing your floor mats every six months you might as well buy the cheap kind.

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Orange Wulderbeast in WV – Part Two

Remind me never to do that again.

I mean, I know that despite their name, there is nothing cute or cuddly about an Orange Wulderbeast. It’s like when people look at Pandas and think they’re so sweet and forget they’re Panda Bears, or Killer Whales, or Wulderbeasts. Imagine a cross between a ghoul, a zombie, and a Los Angeles housewife with PMS. But meaner.

I underestimated him. Or possibly her. It was hard to tell.

It was easy to track. Anything weighing three hundred pounds that walks on six legs and smells like rotting sulfur isn’t hard to find if you are looking for it. If it’s killed and eaten all the wildlife that couldn’t fly away within twenty or so miles, following its distinctive three-toed tracks is a cakewalk.

But you think I’d be smart enough to be afraid of something that has eaten or scared away all of the black bears, wolves, coyotes, and even foxes, in the corner of West Virginia it calls its territory. I mean, I am smart. Top of my class smart. Nearly done with my doctorate smart. For a smart person, I can be a real idiot sometimes.

Wulderbeasts aren’t easy to kill. That’s because they’re already dead, or at least not exactly alive. In Norway, you can buy diamond-tipped knives at just about any corner store, which is why Wulderbeasts aren’t much of a problem there, anymore. I don’t know how one ended up in the States, much less in WV. Maybe it’s like those idiots that import tiger cubs as a pet not realizing that one day, tiger cubs grow up to be, well, you know, tigers. According to a friend who has a contact in Sweden, there used to be a guy that made his living capturing and exporting Wulderbeasts. He’s dead now. Hazards of the trade, I guess. Some jerk buys a Wulderbeast. It gets too expensive, too dangerous, or just too smelly and he lets it go. The next thing you know, hikers and campers are dying by the handful.

That’s why I went looking for it. Three confirmed deaths, and if it was left alone, that would just be the tip of the iceberg. Smart or not, someone had to stop it. I volunteered.

I didn’t have a diamond-tipped knife. I couldn’t afford such a thing even if I knew where to buy one. My pocket knife wasn’t sharp enough to pierce its armor. Bullets seemed to bounce right off it. Getting into a punching match with something with the strength of a grizzly and the speed of a cheetah – that’s a no-win situation.

Oh, and there’s a teensy little catch. If you manage to cut out its heart and sever its head, it will still come back unless you bury it in consecrated ground.

Fun.

Orange Wulderbeast in WV – Part One

Orange Wulderbeasts aren’t really orange. And despite how cute and cuddly it sounds, they look nothing like big, fluffy muppets. The real name has been mangled beyond recognition over centuries, but I’ve done a lot of digging and I’m fairly confident that the original name was avdøde utenfor. Still sounds harmless enough, until you run it through a Norwegian translator. I’ll save you the trouble:

Deceased outside.

Yuck. All thoughts of puffy, big eyed, sherbet-colored bunnies flee, leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. Dead outside. Just the name evokes the big “Z” – the shuffling undead – not something I ever want to meet on purpose.

Luckily, there’s never been an Orange Wulderbeast seen outside of Scandinavia, well, not until now.

I’ve gotten into the habit of scouring the internet for stories of the weird and if they are compelling enough, I make a note of it. When I stumbled across an article about a couple of missing hikers in West Virginia, I was intrigued. I started researching and discovered they weren’t the first disappearances in the same area. There was a camper last year, and before that, it was livestock. A few years before that, there were a rash of pets that disappeared.

Escalation. Something growing bolder, or simply growing bigger.

Sure, it could be anything. A bear. Wolves. Maybe a cougar. A human serial killer. However, rangers report that there is no local wildlife. None. Zero. Zip. Nil. There’s not so much as a fluffy squirrel to be found. There aren’t a lot of things that could empty 20 square miles of wilderness of all living creatures.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not a Wulderbeast. Maybe the witnesses that swear something that smelled like swamp, ran though their yard on six legs at 3AM carrying off their full-grown Newfoundland dog were mistaken. Or maybe, just maybe, this is going to be a very interesting weekend.

Overnight bag packed. Car gassed up. Cell phone charged. Camera ready. Pistol loaded. Let’s do this!