Doggie's Secret Revealed

By: David Ihnen

NOTESChronologically - While camping near the river where the nice townspeople brought the tiyessa food and help
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Henry frowned and almost ducked back into the bushes as Oren trotted along the path to the river. Another couple seconds and the decision was already made.

"Hi Henry!" chirped the otter cheerfully, already mostly in otter form in anticipation of the river. "Wanna go swimming?"

"Yeah!" grinned Henry, falling into step beside him. He quickly looked more sober. "But I want to talk to you too."

Oren looked up at the farmboy, his usual smile waning as he saw the serious look on Henry's face. "What's wrong?"

Henry took a deep breath. "I'm not afraid of turning into a dog. I mean, I never was. I lied to you. I'm sorry."

Oren took Henry's hand and guided him down onto a patch of moss. "Tell me the whole story." he commanded softly.

Henry rubbed his neck nervously, and shifted from side to side. "Well, you see, there's a devil in me."

Oren looked scheptical. "Why do you think that?"

Henry crouched hugging his knees. "See, you don't believe me! But I do! Just forget it." Tears leaked from his eyes as he tried to bury them in his knees.

Oren patted Henry's knee. "I believe you Henry. But you've gotta tell me about it. Once we know we can help you."

Henry wiped some tears out of his eyes, gulping some breaths as he almost sobbed. "Its... Its... I get tingly... Then I can't move... I shake... Then its gone..." He looked at Oren through teary eyes. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't be here. I'm just causing you nice people danger. I just didn't know where to go! I'll just leave."

Oren shook his head. "No. You should tell Thomas."

"But he'll throw me out!" sobbed Henry, almost incoherent.

"He won't. I'll make sure of it." comforted Oren, "I promise." The otter lifted Henry's chin and looked into his tear blurred eyes.

"Will you help?" queried Henry, almost inaudibly.

"Yes. Now come on, lets find Thomas."

* * *

They found Thomas writing on some paper on a makeshift desk in his tent. Oren chirped to attract his attention. The leader looked up at the pair, The big farmboy doing his best to hide behind the more diminutive otter. It wasn't very effective.


The otter cleared his throat. "Ahem, Henry has something to tell you."

Henry stood up straighter and looked at Thomas.

"I... I have a Devil in me."

The otter nudged Henry's leg. "No he doesn't. He just shakes."

"I... uh, shake... its a devil in me! It scares me. I'm sorry. I'll just go." blurted Henry. He started to turn to leave. Oren held onto him, getting dragged a few feet before Thomas's words stopped the farmboy.

Thomas frowned. "No, stay. Tell me about it. How long has this happened?"

The farmboy sighed, "Long as I can can remember."

The leader nodded. "Can you show me what happens?"

Henry shivered. "I... I could. But... " He winced, looking at the floor. "You'll hit me."

Oren gasped. "No he won't!"

Thomas stood and closed the tent flaps. "Nobody will hurt you because of this, I promise. Not now. Not ever."

Henry sat down on the edge of Thomas' cot, guided by Oren. He looked between the two concerned faces. "Are you sure? I don't know when it'll stop if I let it happen." His voice was temerously soft.

The otter-man nodded. "Everything'll be fine. You can do it."

Henry lay down. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I just let go of..."

The farmboy was wracked by a sharp convulsion, then a series of shudders. His eyes opened and closed randomly, showing his frightened eyes.

Thomas and Oren crouched beside him, holding him to the cot. He half transformed and shifted back to full human, then almost frighteningly fast to dog, then back to half again, his form twitching along with the rest of him. This went on intensely for a few minutes. As the convulsions receded his form stayed at half dog, half human. His body shivered as if he were cold, slowly slackening as the expression on Henry's face showed the effort he was putting into bringing it back under control.

Oren stroked Henry's head. "Relax, its okay."

Thomas looked thoughtful, sitting back at his desk and watching the intermittently shivering dog morph. "I don't think he's got a demon. Like he said, this has always happened. I knew a man who did sorta like this sometimes once. He'd shiver violently for a bit, but say he wasn't cold. Like he's doing now. Scared people alot though."

Henry finally stopped shivering. He immediately shifted to full human. He lay there for a few moments sobbing before carefully sitting up. "I... I'm sorry..." he murmured, looking down, wiping his eyes.

"No, no." said Thomas, "Its quite alright. Its not your fault."

Henry looked up at him hopefully. "I... I can stay?"

Oren giggled. "Of course! You're a tiyessa!"

Henry smiled in relief. "but..."

Thomas guided the somewhat wobbly Henry to the door to the tent. "Tell you what. I'm going to talk with the doctor of the people in that nice town that brought us the food. Maybe he'll know what's wrong with you."

* * *

"Epilepsy." pronounced the doctor, after listening to Thomas' descriptions and speaking with the subdued Henry on Thomas' bed.

"Ep-il-ep-sy? What's that?" asked the leader.

Henry listened curiously.

"Something is wrong with his brain. It... goes crazy for a bit. Harmless, mostly. It happened to a child in our town who was dropped as a child. I have never heard of the victim remaining concious throughout before. It must be very scary for him."

Henry nodded gently, feeling the scar on the back of his head. "I've had this scar..."

The doctor parted Henry's mop and looked at it. "Pretty nasty hit you took there."

Henry nodded slowly. "They told me my father kicked me when I was just a baby."

Thomas turned to the Doctor. "Is there anything we can do?"

The doctor shook his head. "I don't have one. You might ask a shaman, though. They know much. He seems to have it pretty well in control all by himself. Just try to watch him, make sure he doesn't drown or fall off a cliff. From what you've said, I think he should change to dog at least twice a day. It sounds like it helps his body stay in control. That's the biggest danger."

Thomas shook the doctor's hand. "Thank you doctor. You've been a great help."

The doctor patted Henry's shoulder. "Buck up lad. You're fine. Its not your fault."

Henry smiled. "Thank you" he murmured as the Doctor and Thomas walked out of the tent.

A few seconds later Oren trotted in. "How did it go? What did he say?"

Henry scritched Oren's ears, smiling. "He said I have epil-epsy. My brain goes crazy sometimes. Probably 'cause of being hurt when I was little. He said I should change to dog at least twice a day."

Oren chirped a bit and tilted his head at Henry.

"He says I could get hurt if I fall or am swimming when I have a siezure." explained Henry, shifting into dog form, tail already wagging. "Will you make sure I don't drown, otter friend?"

Oren nodded vigorously. "Yes, I will!"

The otter climbed up on the big dog's back and they trotted together towards the river.

--- End Doggie's Secret Revealed ---

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