“You promised to cure me,” I told the shaman, “to make me human again. Instead I got worse. A whole lot worse. I'm out for blood here, Doc.”
His forehead was covered with beads of sweat. It wasn't the heat; he leaked the sour stench of fear out of every pore. I admit that an angry werewolf can be a frightening sight, even one in his human phase and such dire straights as mine.
“The potion I gave you has worked for others,” he said feebly. “I'm certain that if you continue the treatment, perhaps using higher dosage…”
“Higher dosage!” I roared. He shrank into his leather chair and shook. The chair was huge, the focal point of a nicely appointed suite in a prime location downtown. Gone are the days when practitioners of the magic arts had to eke out a miserable living on the margins of society. The decor had a soothing effect on me, no doubt calculated. Slowly, I exhaled and said more calmly: “The dosage that I'm on right now has done enough damage, thank you very much.”
“Well, is it really that bad?”
“Doc,” I said, shaking my head. “What am I?”
“No, that's what I used to be. What am I now?”
“A werebunny! I'm a goddamn human-by-day, bunny-rabbit-by-night freak!”
“The side effects…”
“I almost got eaten in the forest last night, Doc. Is that your idea of a cure? It was my friend Jared who almost ate me, as a matter of fact.”
“He missed two appointments with me. You're saying he relapsed?”
“Relapsed, my ass! He started drinking the stuff you gave him until he got his own side effects. Then he poured what was left down the drain and vowed never again to set foot in your office.”
The shaman's eyes widened. “What, um… what happened?”
I smiled a mirthless smile. “He changed into a parking meter.”
“That's impossible,” he said with a start. “I personally supervised the brewing of the potion.”
“I'm telling you what I know, Doc.”
“There's got to be some mistake. A parking meter?”
“A broken parking meter. We’ve always joked that old Jared was good for nothing; now we have proof.” I laughed without bitterness for the first time today.
The shaman looked bewildered. He bit his lip, rubbed his forehead and mumbled something under his breath. Then he took a writing pad out of a desk drawer and scrawled something on it.
“Here,” he said and gave me the piece of paper. “Go to this address and tell them I sent you. This is a highly unusual procedure and normally I wouldn't do this, but I feel that I owe you for the inconvenience you've suffered, even if the cure is a bit… unorthodox. It's guaranteed to help you. Please send Jared there, too. We will, of course, consider it included in the cost of your regular treatment.”
“What is this, Doc?” I asked. The note has an unfamiliar name and an address in a part of town I've never visited.
“A wereman lives there,” he said.
“A wolf that changed into a man. His bite will permanently restore your humanity.”
“I've never heard of this,” I said.
“Werepeople? They are very rare and their existence is not widely advertised, but they do exist. It was really just a matter of time before they appeared. The phenomenon is poorly researched and not completely understood yet, but we have already figured out some, ah, practical uses.”
I studied the note for a moment, then nodded and stuffed it in my pocket.
“All right, Doc,” I said. “I'll give it a shot. But if I have any more trouble, I'll come back and rip your heart out, you hear?”
He pressed his hands to his chest.
“I am helping you every way I can,” he said.
“Then you have nothing to worry about. I'll see you next week, one way or another.”
I raised my head, let out a long howl, and left him cowering in that big leather chair.