In the Company of Wolves: The Beginning, p.1Steve Lang / Actions & Adventure / Science Fiction
In the Company of Wolves
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Editor: Charlie Michener
Cover art: William Wood
Please find this and other work by Steve Lang at:
Copyright © 2017 Steve Lang
All rights reserved.
Special thanks to David Wilcock, Graham Hancock, Richard Hoagland, Dr. Steven Greer for the Disclosure Project, Joseph Campbell for his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and to all who research the mysteries of the universe to further remove the veil of mystery and secrecy.
I’d also like to thank my editor Charlie Michener for once again helping me turn my vison into coherent written word, and William Wood for his artistic ability. You guys are part of my team and I’m extremely grateful.
It was a dark summer night in the year 2060. Cold, hard rain pounded the three hundred acre cattle ranch that Derrick “Mac” MacDonald and his family owned. They were waiting out the latest in a series of torrential downpours as hail pelted their roof and windows like BB’s from the sky. Their single-story ranch house shook and bumped with each clap of thunder from the tormented sky while lightning bolts illuminated the soggy air. Mac worriedly rubbed his five o-clock shadow. He was afraid that at any minute a bolt from the hand of Zeus would electrocute the cattle stables, complicating his night further. If the cows got out, or if there was another fire like the one that had killed ten cattle on the Jefferson ranch, he and his wife would be alone in fighting the flames. There was no fire department this far out in the country and their nearest neighbor lived three miles away. The backcountry in Missouri at night was dark and unforgiving territory, and being twenty miles from the nearest town could give pause to the bravest men when Mother Nature grew hostile.
Mac’s wife Carol stood beside him at the window as they looked out with furrowed brows. A flash of electricity over the top of a hill to their north caught a tree, igniting the branches, tearing the large oak in half with ease. The children, Bobby and Serena, played video games in the next room, quarrelling with each other as if nothing were the matter beyond their virtual world. Mac could hear them arguing over who was responsible for the last dungeon failure.
“It’s the sixth storm like this in a month Mac, and I think they’re getting worse each time.” Carol said.
“I know. Let’s just keep our heads and hope the storm will pass in a few hours. The satellite shows it’s only supposed to be a brief downpour.” Mac looked at his phone and could see a dark green mass moving over the spot on an electronic map where their ranch appeared as a little red dot.
He had not explained to Carol that earlier in the day a science reporter for a local television news program had been talking about changing weather patterns in the near future. Government scientists had been forecasting weather on a mass scale that had not been seen in over five thousand years. This was based on evidence from ice core samples found in both Antarctica and the North Pole. The reporter explained that they were unsure when or how the weather would change this time, but theories that had been circulating for years by what were considered to be fringe outliers and conspiracy theorists were now catching the attention of local newscasters, and particularly the attention of a balding man named Ted Trotter, in a tweed suit, who covered the story on an afternoon news program in the Midwest. However, the total number of viewers was estimated to be around three hundred by the news station WYAG. So, what turned out to be one of the biggest stories in the history of news programming went unseen by almost everyone in America, but Mac had been watching, and he was worried. Besides, Mac had more experience than the average farmer. His time working on Unacknowledged Special Access Projects for the government had taught him more about what may have been coming than he cared to think about.
“It’s after ten and I should get the kids to bed.” Carol said.
“Mmmhmm.” said Mac.
Carol knew he was somewhere else, and just like when he was at his old job, she could tell there were things he was keeping from her. She shook her head, kissed him on the cheek and left him staring out into the darkness. Mac watched for a little while longer as his mind drifted back to the laboratory projects he had been working on before his retirement from the Air Force. What he could never tell his wife, not only from a contractual standpoint, but from a moral one, was anything about the horror show he’d worked on when he and his team were in the catacombs beneath New Mexico. Carol would never look at him the same again if she knew about his past, and although he had trouble looking himself in the mirror most days, Mac needed to feel that he could still look at his wife and know she loved him. God only knew he’d stopped loving himself a long time ago. There were too many ghosts, and too much carnage along the way. All of that death and violence, just to find what the Consortium wanted: a new Earth. Mac stared into the void, allowing his mind to travel back to those dark times, until he felt Carol’s hand on his shoulder.
“You OK?” She asked. Startled from his trance, he tensed up under her soft hand.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just worried about the cattle out there in the barn. This is a bad one.”
“They’ll be fine, and lord knows we can’t control everything. Let’s turn in and deal with this in the morning.” Carol said.
Mac turned to his pretty wife, gazing into her tired eyes. She was smiling back at him with the hopeful strength that good women in love seem to naturally possess, but the deep black and blue pockets under her eyes revealed just how worn down she was by her disease. Carol’s fierce love for Mac was his pillar when he felt weak. He could not imagine life without her by his side. Some loves are eternal, like a flame that refuses to die even against the strongest storm, and he burned for her. Mac loved her in that moment with more purity than he would ever be able to explain, and although she had no idea why he looked so troubled, Carol knew he had experienced hardships in his line of work in the underground lab. And she knew it must have weighed on him. She sensed, sometimes, that he was a broken little boy in search of solace from a maternal figure he would never find. Carol held him when he was unsure of himself and when he was troubled, but she always considered the idea that he never felt completely safe with her. But despite her doubts, Carol poured her love toward him in an energetic vibration that had bound the two together for more than two decades.
“You’re right. We need to turn in and the cattle will be fine until morning. My head is tired and I need to rest.” Mac said. Carol put her arms around him.
“You alright?” Mac asked.
“It’s a good day, yes.” Carol answered and rested her head on his shoulder.
The cancer that had been eating her away was, they hoped, in remission. Carol lived by her good days and bad since the diagnosis two years ago.
Mac and Carol walked toward the bedroom together, pausing to look in on their sleeping children as the storm raged outside. As they stood in the doorway, Mac put his arm around Carol and she laid her head against his chest. Mac knew his kids would eventually cry for their own rooms, but there was something so innocent about the two of them sleeping in the same room at the age they were: Bobby twelve and his sister ten. Mac and Carol knew they would miss this as time wore on and their children became the young adults other parents had warned them about. Bobby and Serena would seek independence, wanting to explore their surroundings without mom and dad always watching over, and as a parent that would be a hard row to hoe. Mac looked at his son and thought of him becoming a man in this terrifying world, and it made his heart skip a beat.
“Let’s get to bed.” Carol said. She patted his chest and Mac nodded.
He massaged her back before they went to sleep as he had done every night for twenty-three years, and thought about the thunder outside.
“Have you thought about us getting away from it all for a few days? Maybe travel out to the east coast and hit Myrtle Beach for a week?” Carol asked.
“That sounds like a good idea to me, but what would we do with the cattle while we’re gone?” Mac asked.
“We could hire Don Syminski from the next farm over to help out. He came out a few weeks ago to introduce himself and told me that he and some other ranchers in the area help out when people go on vacation, or get sick and can’t care for their farms.” Carol said.
“I guess that would be alright. We need a break.” Mac replied. He finished her back rub and they kissed goodnight.
Mac rolled onto his side, closed his eyes and fell into the same nightmare again. He was running down a hallway in the underground lab as a dark and unspeakable horror gave chase. The unseen fear was gaining and as he turned around his breath stopped; his feet became frozen in solid cement and he fell to the floor on legs of rubber. Mac began to see multicolored streamers reaching out from within a black hole, like fingers from the outstretched hands of doom. They reached for him, wrapping around his arms and legs pulling him in as he screamed. His sleeping body turned over and with the left knee he kicked Carol in the small of her back. She woke for a brief moment tapping him on the shoulder.
“Turn over! Stop kicking me.” She said in a half-awake mumble.
Mac was far beyond her the reach of her voice as the darkness overcame him in the hallway outside the research lab. He was sucked through a portal and transported to a grey planet, orbiting a dim star. He lay looking at a cloud-filled grey sky, and as he stood up on the colorless rocky plain, he knew he was no longer at home. Somehow he had crossed into another dimension when the impossible darkness had taken him. Mac was now garbed in a red robe with gold bands around the cuffs and bottom. There were runic symbols stitched into the cloth in ornate patterns with purple and yellow thread. His mind struggled to alert him that he was dreaming, but it felt so real. A puddle of water had pooled in a crater by his feet and as he gazed into it, he realized that his face had transformed into that of a white wolf, but his hands remained human. The hood gathered around his shoulders and he could see purple sparks dancing in his eyes as his reflection glared back at him.
Mac looked up after a time and realized that he was not alone. He stared into the eyes of a large Minotaur, standing not ten feet from him. The well-muscled bull man stood looking at him with kind eyes, and Mac knew he looked familiar. The silent exchange between their locked eyes was a telepathic signal and Mac could see the two of them running across battle fields, stepping over the dead and dying and fighting shoulder to shoulder against an army of undead abominations. They had tasted the cold victory of many battles together, and Mac remembered his name was Yxx, chief of the Minotaur clan.
“We are well met, you and I, Mac!” Yxx said.
“Where am I?” Mac asked.
“The question is where will you be my friend?” Yxx chuckled. His smile was inviting, and Mac knew at once this was a man he could share many beers with as they sang about the victories and sorrows of war.
Mac began to walk toward the bull man, but as Yxx reached out for him to take his hand, Mac was pulled back into the darkness once more, drifting alone in deep space now, curled in the fetal position. Stars and planets whirled around him in their eternal celestial precession as he froze into a solid block of ice and drifted like wood that washes ashore after a tumultuous storm. Silvery, metallic ships suddenly appeared all around him, blinking into being with eerie inhabitants, watching him in the blackness as he floated, alone.
Mac snapped upright in bed, convinced there were spiders crawling all over the floor, sweating, breathing in labored gasps and terrified to put his feet down. He wiped a river of sweat from his brow and looked toward the bedroom window, only to see the sun had not yet risen. Carol was sleeping next to him, her eyes fluttering a little as she dreamed her night away in a peaceful state of REM. Mac calmed his racing mind with relief and when he leaned over to kiss her on the cheek he saw their alarm clock read five-thirty. He would need to go check on the cows and get to work before the sun came up.
He stood up, put on his pants and dressed quietly so as not to awaken Carol, and then he walked out into the kitchen to start some coffee and take his morning regimen of vitamins. The Smithson's bottles from his daily vitamin kit were lined on the counter like little soldiers waiting for him to empty one capful after another of their life sustaining powder into his measuring cup. Mac drank the eight-ounce glass and reflected on the dream. It was so real, and he knew they were getting more vivid each night. With his vitamins down the hatch, Mac started the percolator and waited as the aroma of freshly ground beans wafted into his nostrils. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon as he put a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster and got the butter from the refrigerator, and a cinnamon sugar mixture out of the pantry. He would eat a quick breakfast and then walk the property. Mac had a four-wheeler, but between the dreams he had been having, and stress from the condition his wife was in, he felt like he needed a refreshing walk around the acreage.
Before he let the cattle out to graze, he would have to ensure there were no holes in the fence line. Two weeks before today, one of the new titan storms that had been plaguing the country rolled through and sent a massive oak crashing into the fence. It had taken half the day to fix the torn wires, and that was after they got the cows back inside that had wandered through. He shook his head thinking about it, and rubbed the beard that was forming on his unshaven face. He had gotten lazy about shaving, a ritual he had adhered to every day of his military career; but out west he was in a different world with different rules. Mac had, for the first time, found somewhere he could be at peace. There were no secret experiments to involve himself with, no human genetic tampering, and best of all, no chain of command or board of trustees to answer to. Just his little family. Mac had chosen a hard retirement, even though he was warned cattle ranching was hard work, especially for a man over forty who has never done it before, but he was freer now than at any time in his life since childhood in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
While Mac waited for the toaster to pop he walked into the hallway bathroom to take care of his morning business and looked at himself in the mirror as he did. He felt older than his forty three years, like an overused washrag faded and torn from a life spent hanging on racks and being tossed around in washing machines. His face had a thin, worn out look. His crew cut hid the graying hair around his temples, and as he gave a mock smile in the mirror he caught a glimpse of the younger man he used to be. The crow’s feet around his blue eyes gave him away. He sighed, finished up, and washed his hands before going out into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast for the day. He ate the toast without much interest, and then he filled a thermos with hot coffee and headed out into another beautiful country morning.
Mac walked outside and took a deep breath of fresh air. He sipped his black gold and made a mental assessment of the tree limbs strewn about the property. He walked the fence and thought about the idea of getting away to the beach. It had been so long since the two of them had been away together, and even during his military days he worked so often that he rarely saw her until late at night or on the weekends.
“You’ve let time slip away, my friend, and now she’s sick. Good going.” He said to himself. Mac kicked a stick toward the fence, and when he did he saw the hole.
Three hundred yards from the house, something had been blown into the barbed wire and took out a large section of fence, for what he counted as nine posts.
“Oh my god! What hit you?” Then he heard the mewling in a tangled mess of wire. A baby calf had escaped the stable and was tangled in the fencing.
“What? How did you get out of the stable? Trouble maker.” Mac said.
He could see blood on the calf’s body where the barbed wire had torn into her, and as she struggled the barbs dug in further, increasing her pain and cries. Mac ran back inside the house to wake his son and was surprised to see Bobby already dressed with his boots on.
“Where were you going?” Mac asked him.
“Good morning to you, too. I was coming to find you, because I thought you might be out there walking the fence.” Bobby smiled and yawned.
“Sorry, good morning, I was just surprised to see you up was all.” Mac said and smiled. “I do need your help. Looks like the fence was busted last night and there’s a calf tangled up out there in the mess. I have to cut away the wire before she gets hurt anymore. I wanted you to help me pull it away and then we can get her back to the stable.”
“Sure, let’s go. You need help putting new fencing up?” Bobby asked.
“Yeah, you interested in helping?” Mac asked.
“Dad, we live out in the middle of nowhere and I have three video games. I’m bored out of my mind if we don’t have any work to do around here and school’s not in. Besides, Serena bugs me all day long to play with her if I’m not working, so yeah, I’m free to help.”
Mac clapped his twelve year old son on the shoulder with pride, looking at this miniature version of himself. There was no other feeling like it on earth, and at times he felt like Bobby was his spitting image. Bad habits and all.
“OK, I need to go to the stable to get the wire cutters and then we can repair that fence before lunch. You get something to eat yet?” Mac asked.
“I had some toast a few minutes ago. I’m good until noon.” Bobby answered. The two walked outside.
“I was listening to a radio program out of LA called Your News AM that was talking about this weather we’re experiencing. It’s on an internet station and the guy said this is the end times, it was really freaky. He said the reason we’ve been seeing so many floods and hurricanes is because the earth is about to shift poles or something. He also said when that happens the world will basically flip upside down and the North Pole will become the South Pole, but before that there will be all kinds of crazy earthquakes and volcanoes erupting all over the world. Is that true, Dad?”
“This is what you spend your time listening to on the Internet? Those are just conspiracy theories from guys who don’t know a thing about what they’re talking about.” Mac said with a raised brow.
“Well, he seemed to be really fired up about it, saying the government knew about this issue fifty years ago and they did nothing to prevent it, that sort of thing.” Bobby said.
“The weather is a serious problem, but what he’s talking about is man’s intervention and the coming climate change. There is no conclusive proof that what we have done on this planet had any affect whatever on the environment or current weather conditions.” Mac said.
He told his son this to prevent him from worrying, but his time in the catacombs of the underground lab told him that time was growing short for humanity on earth. It was a difficult situation for Mac, to be a father, and also a former military officer maintaining Top Secret clearance with access to compartmentalized black budget projects. He had been assigned to USAP programs involving some of the creepiest experimentation since Nazi Germany, and most taxpayers would scream their heads off at Congress if they knew their dollars were going to fund them. But not even Congress had access to the information inside Mac’s head. Now retired, he had a duty to protect his family from some of what he had been exposed to, and even if Carol and the kids knew the scary truth of it all, there wouldn’t be anything they could do about it. The clock was ticking on humanity and he was going to enjoy the time they had left with his family in the backcountry.
“So, you think he’s crazy?” Bobby asked.
“Maybe. I think he has some valid concerns, we all do, but I wouldn’t go around basing my knowledge of world climate from a guy you heard on the Internet without credentials behind his name. You have to be extremely careful where you get your information from, and what you choose to believe.” Mac said.
“OK, thanks Dad.” Bobby said.
“Last thing I’ll say about it. You’re going to hear a lot of things from different people and a lot of it is based on their agenda.”
“Agenda? I don’t know what you mean.” Bobby said.
“A good example of an agenda is the documentaries you find all over the web, right? I know you like to watch them, and these are people who have a passionate opinion about a topic and they’ve created a movie to sway you in one direction or another in order to gain publicity, or followers for their movement. Sometimes these people have a legitimate gripe, and those are the issues you want to look at and research to see what you can do to help, but others are simply political and you have to watch out for them, because in the background corporations are funding these ideas and they may profit when you support the movement without giving anything back to the people. It’s called propaganda and we’ve gotten very good at it as a species. My advice, do some research on your own, and read books about climate change that have been peer reviewed by other scientists.”
“How do you know so much about all of this?” Bobby asked.
“I’ve done my time on earth and fallen for enough lines of bullshit, pardon my French. Which is why we’re out here living on a three hundred acre ranch in Missouri and not in suburbia with the rest of theschmos.” Mac ruffled his son’s hair and grinned down at his rapidly growing little boy. Bobby smiled back with admiration.
He hoped his son would never know how bad it had all become, and that he would be an old man before the hammer fell, but there were no guarantees. When they reached the stable, Mac rummaged through his toolbox to find the wire cutters, and then the two of them hiked over to where the little calf was still lying helpless, looking at them with large black eyes that screamed “Help me”. Mac walked into the tangle and stood over the baby animal gently clipping the barbed wire as Bobby carefully moved it away from the calf. In thirty minutes she was free and could stand on her own. The two led her down to the stable, and by that time Carol and Serena were awake and standing on the front porch.
“How bad is it?” Carol asked.
“I don’t know the extent of the damage yet; I only walked three hundred yards up the fence before I found our young friend here tangled in a mess of wires.” Mac said.
“Is she going to be alright?” Carol asked.
“I think so. She got banged up a bit in that barbed wire, but it’s not too bad. If she starts to look sick I’ll call the vet. We’re going to repair the fence before lunch, you want come help us out Serena?” Mac asked. Bobby gave Mac a wary look that said no way is she coming, which made Mac smile.
“Nah, I’m gonna’ ride my pony Wild Fire after breakfast.” Serena said. Mac had gotten her a painted pony for Christmas and Carol taught her how to ride the small horse. Serena loved the pony and was learning how to care for another creature, which delighted her parents.
“OK, no problem. Have fun, sweetie!” Mac said,
“Looks like you dodged a bullet, she got interested in something else” Mac said, laughing. “There will come a time in your life though, when you want her around and you two will have to rely on each other. Especially out here in the wilderness.”
“Well, right now, she annoys the heck out of me.” Bobby said.
Mac chuckled and shook his head as he walked the calf to her stall, got out his medicine kit and cleaned out the barbed wire wounds. After he finished, he and Bobby put their wire in the back of the truck and motored up the hill to repair their fence. They were able to secure the section in a few hours, and since the sun was getting high in the sky he and Bobby drove the rest of the property instead of hoofing it. There were no more breaches in the fence, and so the two stopped at the hill where the oak had been split by lightning the night before.
“This is amazing!” Bobby said. “I was just climbing this tree the other day and here it is split in two.” He walked over and put his hand on the broken tree feeling the burned and charcoaled bark under his fingers.
“Nature is an awesome force, and something like this is a perfect example of how powerful she can be. That was a single flash of lightning.” Mac said.
Up on the hill they could see almost the entire property and their nearest neighbor’s ranch house several miles away. It was a tiny dot of a homestead, and barely recognizable from this far out. They stood and looked into the distance. Dark grey clouds were rolling across the landscape and Mac could see thick sheets of rain to the east, coming down in a dense column.
“Hopefully that will stay right where it is.” He said. Thunder boomed in the distance where the rain fell. Mac kept his fingers crossed as they sat on the hood of his truck and watched Serena mount up on Wild Fire and trot away from the house.
“I’ll give her this. She’s getting really good at riding that horse.” Bobby said.
“Yeah, Serena’s a real natural. You have any interest in learning?” Mac asked.
“Maybe, but those animals kind of freak me out a little bit. I mean, what happens if it goes nuts and decides to take off while I’m sitting on top, or drops me in a river?” Bobby asked.
“Well, they’re very intelligent animals and if you treat them with respect you shouldn’t have any problems. I can teach you to ride.” Mac said.
“I’ll think about it.” Bobby said.
Mac nodded and turned his attention back to Serena, who was almost within shouting distance now. The ten year old girl was giggling with glee as she approached. Mac watched his daughter and imagined her becoming a woman someday with a bittersweet sense of passing time. Her blonde locks waving in her face, pretty brown eyes, and golden smile were sure to charm the pants off any guy; Mac just hoped it would be the right one and not before she graduated from college. Serena was a humorous, intelligent little girl who loved life, seeing the good in others even at such a young age. Bobby was a handsome boy with a rugged masculinity forming as his maturity grew, and Mac could almost see the man inside the boy struggling to break free. Bobby was headstrong and enjoyed seeking out dangerous situations on an almost daily basis. The kid reminded Mac of himself with nearly everything he did, and had it not been for the military straightening him out, Mac would have been another drain on society instead of a father assuming the role of responsibility to raise two children after serving his country in the Air Force for twenty years.
“Daddy, I’m getting good!” Serena yelled, as her pony trotted up the small hill.
“You’re doing great, sweetie! Keep it up.” Mac said.
“Yeah, you look good, Serena.” Bobby said smiling.
“Let’s go down and get something to eat.” Mac said. He gave one last look to the clouds east of them and got in the truck. Serena raced them down the hill, careful not to ride too close to the pickup truck.
“You know, we could have just picked the two of you up and put you in the bed of the truck.” Bobby teased.
“That’s not funny, Bobby. Wild Fire’s going to be a big girl soon and I think you upset her.”
“So sorry, madam!” Bobby said. He rolled his eyes.
When they got home, lunch was on the table and Carol looked tired, a little too worn down for twelve-fifteen in the afternoon.
“When’s the next appointment with your doctor, sweetie?” Mac asked.
“Two days from now.” Carol whispered and sat down at the table with half a sandwich and her hot tea.
“Mommy, are you going to be alright?” Serena asked with wide eyes.
“Yes sweetie, I’m going to be fine.” Carol looked at her daughter and smiled, but past a certain age, children know when their parents are lying to them. Serena saw past her mother’s feigning reassurance and slumped down at the dinner table, picking at her food.
Carol looked at Mac with pain in her eyes, and he tried to reassure her with his thin smile.
“We’ll get you the help you need. There are options we didn’t have twenty years ago, advances in cancer therapy have come far.” Mac said.
They all ate and tried to converse as if nothing were the matter, but Mac had an idea that may help his wife feel a little better and cheer the kids up. After lunch, Mac put the cattle out to graze and the four of them watched a very old comedy from the nineteen nineties titled, Galaxy Quest and spent the rest of the afternoon together as a family. Carol laughed so hard she almost threw up, when the Thermian ET’s entered the room in their squid forms and began to examine the four reluctant astronauts from Earth. The sound lifted Mac’s heart, and the children always fell apart in gales of laughter at that scene. If there was a way to save his wife, he would find it, and Carol’s laughter was a good start.