Story (c) 2000 by Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen Shiela Vixen, Clarisse, and Carrie Squirrel (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Mr. Canis, Dexter Collie, Angel Collie, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, Wendy Vixxen, and Wanda Vixen(c) Chris Yost. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley. Character ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. Character Cyberhorn (c) William Morris. Character Terl Skunk (c) Rodney Stringwell. Character James Sheppard and Marvin Badger (c) James Bruner. Character John Silverback (c) Himself Character Kittiara and the restaruant "Callahan's" (c) "Kittiara" Character Katja (c) Herself Character Mark the cheetaur (c) Mark White Eric W. Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz. Michael Smith (c) Marttin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith Dickson. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners.
Identity Crisis - Chapter 1
Who needs Harry Potter any way?

  OK... Where to begin?

  The Doc said that I should start at the beginning and relate the events as they happened to me.  I guess that kind of makes sense.  Even now I'm still not sure if this is real, a dream or a nightmare.  Allow me to introduce myself.  I'm Arden, as in the forest over in Germany.   When all this started, I was a 38-year-old networking specialist who enjoyed spending his spare time riding his motorcycle, checking out the movies, and reading.  Always reading. I stood a solid 6'1", weighed about 350lbs and enjoyed lifting weights.  Mind you, I'm not one of these guys that are body builders; I just do it as a casual workout to keep fit.  It's hard to work up a good sweat when one's sitting in front of a computer all the time.  To round out my face, I wore large, round glasses that helped take a little bit of the chubbiness out of my face.  Nice hazel green eyes, and brown crew-cut hair and a full beard rounded out the picture.  The only drawback was that I'm an introvert.

  Now I'm not shy.  Not by any means.  But my parents were "IBM" folk.  IBM stands for "I've Been Moved" for those of you who just crawled out from under a rock.  When I was growing up, IBM moved some of their people around more often than the military.  To be honest with you, we moved a lot.  You have no idea what kind of a trauma it is for a kid to move into town, actually make some friends, then a year or 2 later, have to pack up and move off, losing all their friends and start over.  It tends to work on your brain after about the eighth or ninth time.  We moved 17 times in 21 years.  Needless to say, I had a very small group of close friends and was not the type to go out "partying" or "bar hopping."

  So after the death of "Sparky" Shultz this year, and then my father a few months later from a stroke, I was feeling depressed.  Two of the big role models in my life had departed and I was feeling lost.

  One of my "new age" friends was constantly pestering me to try new things and push the limits.  It was entertaining enough, and learning to meditate was relaxing, but the one thing I never could manage was the 'out of body' experience everyone talked about.  You see, I wanted to talk to my spirit guide.

  Lisa, the girl that owned The Next Horizon Book Shoppe (sic) was letting me peruse some of the older books on Totemic based religions.  I'd done a vision quest when I lived in New Mexico as a kid.  My friend Jacky BlackCrow's father was the tribal medicine man (not that anyone in the tribe gave him any respect, including the elders).  With his guidance I experienced a vision quest and met up with my Totem.  It was a Polar Bear.  During the quest the bear told me that some day, we would walk side by side, and I would become one with him.  I never understood what he was talking about, and didn't realy worry about it.

  While I was perusing a book on Totemic rituals and rites, Lisa came over and sat down across from me.  Closing the book in front of me she said, "Arden.  I know right now is a very difficult time for you and I think I may know a way to help you with your search for an answer.  None of the other methods of reaching your spirit guide have worked so far and I thought that I might have something that can help."

  At this point she looked rather nervous.  Trying to put her at ease I said, "I appreciate the help, but if it's something that you're not comfortable with, please don't feel obligated to show me.  I don't want to do anything that we both know could be dangerous or risky."

  "I know.  That's what makes this all the more difficult."  Slowly she pulled out a small box from under the table.  "This has been in my possession for a long time.  It was given to me by a friend..."  As she spoke, she got this wistful look in her eyes.  "Someone I knew a lifetime ago."

  Placing the box in my hand and quickly pulling away she spoke rapidly.  "This is the Amulet of Lakesh.  Don't open it here.  Don't open it until you feel you must use it.  The person who gave this to me warned that it has a power that's not natural.  This power can allow someone to cross over, to reach the spirit world and beyond.  But it's dangerous.  The person who uses it must be willing to give everything up to cross over."

  I couldn't believe what she was saying.. Magic amulet?  Crossing over?  This was bizarre.  I didn't really know how to respond.

  "Lisa, I appreciate this, but... umm...." I said.

  "No.  You keep it.  I know it's not meant for me.  But I have a feeling that you may need it.  Please take it.  Inside you'll find a paper that gives its history.  When you decide that you want to use it, please read the paper closely.  Don't touch the amulet till after you've read the paper."  Lisa told me.

  Quietly she took a deep breath in order to calm down and continued, "If you don't use it, then please keep it safe.  Some day you will find someone who may need the amulet.  If that time comes then please give them the same warning I gave you.  That's all I ask.  Please, promise you will do as I say?"

  I was still in a bit of a shock.  For someone I jokingly referred to as a "new age flake", Lisa was the most down to earth "flake" in the bowl.  I was really getting worried about this.

  Examining the box it looked like nothing more than an ordinary jewelry box that you would get when you bought a large pendant or necklace.  Only thing I noticed was that there was an odd wax seal that covered the front of the box keeping it closed.  If nothing else, it would make an interesting addition to my nik-nak shelf.

  "Ok hon.  I'll think about it, and if I decide to use it, I'll make sure to read the paper inside first.  If not, then I'll keep it safe for whoever I feel it should go too in the future. I promise."  I told her.

  As I looked at her face, I could tell that she was doing her best not to cry.  She quickly lowered her head and spoke in a hush whisper, "You've been a good friend.  You're a good person.  I wouldn't give it to anyone who wasn't.  Take care and be safe."  And with that she stood quickly and darted to the back room.

  I'm not sure how long I sat there looking at that box, and thinking about what Lisa said, and how weird she was acting.  In the end I decided that whatever was in the box, it was obviously something important to her.  I'd take the box home so that she wouldn't worry.  Hopefully in a few weeks, she'd get over whatever is in the box and be willing to talk about it's history.  I mean, who believes in magic anyway?

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