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 Jones (c) Martin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith Dickson. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners.

Identity Crisis - Chapter 24
The best laid plans of mice and weasels.

  Relaxing at home, Daniel sat sipping a drink, and smiled. Tony's people had followed the limousine to a condo and watched him go in. Telling him to have his people keep an eye on things, Daniel had called the professionals. They had checked in with him after getting a room outside of town. Giving them the address, they assured him that the target would be the subject of tomorrow's news once again.

  Looking over his shoulder at the young female leopard that had just wrapped her arms around him, he again smiled. Finishing his drink, Daniel got up and headed to the bedroom. Tonight was going to be very fulfilling.


  Sheila lay cuddled up to Arden's left side, her head pillowed on his shoulder. Idly rubbing the fur on his chest, she smiled at the memory of their getting in bed. He had clearly reached some kind of decision, and was finally ready to loosen up, however she wasn't quite ready to let him off the hook for the promise he forced her make before the shower. Giving an inward chuckle she realized that this was the first time in a very long time where she had gone to bed with a man and not actually had sex.

  Rubbing the muzzle in his fur around the neck, she inhaled his sent. There was the smell of the medicated shampoo, and the oils she had used to dampen its overpowering smell. Continuing to breathe it in she separated the numerous smells, finally latching on to the one that was specifically his. Everyone has a unique sent, but his was strange even for a bear. She had met thousands of people in her travels to conventions and such, but nobody with a smell close to it. 'I wonder if it's unique to his species,' she though.

  As he unconsciously shifted his left arm, he pulled her closer, his paw reaching around to her stomach he held her in a close embrace. Trying to avoid squirming, Sheila clasp her paw over the back of his, pulling it away from her ribs. His claws tickled. Pulling his paw up towards her muzzle, she wanted to get a better whiff of his smell. She was surprised that there was a faint rotten egg smell of sulfur. Inhaling again, she verified its presence. 'How did he get sulfur on his paw?'

  Using both paws she spread his paw out, and looked at it. She had seen an intricate scar on the palm, but had never gotten a clear look at it. Holding his hand so it would best catch the light streaming in from the window she saw the mark and froze. It was that face, the same one that was on the amulet. As she peered closer, she could see that it was, in fact, a perfect imprint of the medallion. Thinking back to the night that they had hit him, she replayed the scene.

  Zig Zag had slowed down for the rain, and there had been a lot of lightning. After exiting, there had been a lightning strike in the middle of the road. It had scared her enough that she had closed her eyes, and covered her face with her hands in fear. Then they were spinning, they hit something hard enough to shatter the glass on her side of the door, roughly shoving her over towards the console. Trying to reach for something to hold onto, she saw the ditch looming up and the nothing, until she had realized they had come to a stop.

  Remembering on, she forced herself to relive the experience that had been haunting her memories. Hearing the groans, walking across the road with that eerie fog boiling off of it, and at last seeing him laying there in the ditch. She remembered the look on his face when she touched him, and the recognition in his eyes as he asked her name. The hot almost burning feeling in her hand when he grabbed her, and the metal object it contained. And she remembered the smell, sulfur. She had thought it was the ditch, but now she wasn't sure.

  Lacing her fingers through the back of his hand, she held his hand safely away from her ticklish ribs, and lay her head back down on his chest. This was all so strange, so very strange. Closing her eyes, she promised herself she'd ask him about it in the morning.


  I was in my Blazer, driving down US 69 towards Plesanton. My girl friend Michelle was overdue and the store said she had left almost two hours ago. To make things worse, there was a severe thunderstorm coming in from the South West. Listening to the National Weather Service bulletins on my ham radio, I was concerned. Storm Spotters had already spotted dangerous cloud rotations down by Payola. This looked like it would be a very dangerous night. Glancing at the display, I verified that my radio was beaconing my position every ninety seconds. If I ran into trouble, friends would see me go off the air, and send help.

  As I passed the Lawrenceville exit, the road narrowed from a four lane divided highway to an old fashioned two lain. Looking ahead as I drove south, I could see some very ugly clouds reflected in the lightening and the wind was beginning to shift. That was bad news; it meant that an inflow could be occurring. I'd have to keep my eyes and ears open for any indications of tornadic activity from other storm spotters or the NWS.

  Passing the 359th street exit, I got my first hard signs of trouble when I started getting hit with hail. Backing off on the accelerator, I radioed into Net Control on my radio that I had hail at my location. While I was listening to them query me for more information, some large hail smashed my windshield. It didn't penetrate, but the window caved in dangerously, and the hail was getting worse. I was going to be in deep trouble if I didn't find some cover.

  Dropping the microphone I downshifted and hit the 4x4 function on the drive train. I was still going almost 50 miles an hour, but I wanted all the control I could get. As the hubs synched up, a hard crosswind hit the car. The combination of water on the road, ice from the hail, the hubs locking in and the crosswind caused the car to begin to spin to the left. Hitting the gas, I tried to power out of the spin. Slowly the car straightened, then as the tire grabbed for a second, it sent me into a spin in the other direction. Standing on the clutch so that the tires wouldn't lock up, I felt the adrenaline pumping into my system and things slowed down.

  As hail continued to pound down, it cracked and shattered the windows spraying glass and water over the interior of the truck. I thought I heard a low rumble, but blinded by the rain, I couldn't see what was happening. The next thing I knew, I was sitting halfway into the passengers seat despite wearing a seatbelt. My truck had slammed sideways into a telephone poll, I was luckily it didn't break. Looking around for the microphone, I saw blood splattered across the interior of the vehicle. Checking myself for cuts, I saw that although I was bleeding, it wasn't enough to cause that much blood. Giving up on finding the microphone, I changed the beacon on my radio from IN-SERVICE to EMERGENCY and climbed out.

  Going around to the back of the tuck, I started to open the glass window, then just reached inside instead, retrieving a portable spotlight, a pith helmet and a rain-slicker. Donning the slicker and helmet, I turned on the flashlight. Proceeding to the passenger side of the car, I saw blood on the outside, slowly being washed away by the rain. Walking back the way I came, I kept checking in both directions for anyone else to come by. It looked like nobody else was stupid enough to be out driving in this crap.

  After walking a couple of hundred feet back on one side of the road, I crossed to the other side and headed back, checking it out. Seeing a spot of bright yellow ahead on the far side of the ditch, I began running forward. It was a body. Dread filled me as I looked at whoever it was. Face down; I couldn't see if it was a man or a woman. Relieved that they weren't in a Lonnie's uniform, I shook myself free of the shock and ran over.

  Whoever it was, they were pretty banged up; I could see the blood on the ground. Touching the neck, I felt for a pulse. There was no pulse. Rolling them over carefully, so as not to bend the neck, I got ready to perform CPR. It was a woman. As I cleared the hair from her face I froze. It was Michelle! She had changed clothes at the restaurant before heading back to the apartment.

  Leaning down, I was about to start breathing for her when I got a good look at the side of her head, it was smashed. It had been her blood I had seen on the interior of the car. Taking her into my arms it was all I could do to hold her.

  Crying, I called out her name over and over, the sky weeping with me in my grief.


  Waking up, I was disoriented. The dream, the memory had been so real. Feeling Sheila's head on my shoulder, I looked over at her sleeping form. Carefully, I extricated my self from under her, laying her head on the pillow. Quietly getting up, I made my way to the bathroom. Sitting down on the stool, I put my face into my hands, trying to get control of the avalanche of emotions. It had been almost eight years since the accident. I hadn't had the nightmare for years. What was bringing it back now?

  As I sat, trying to gather my thoughts, I heard a creek coming from the wall where the stairs were. Doing my best to stay quiet, I made my way over to the bathroom door. Standing inside the bathroom, I could see the doorway to the living room in the mirror of her dressing table. As I watched, the door slowly opened. Someone was in the house! Looking around in the dark bathroom for anything I could use as a weapon, I realized that I didn't even have my crutches.

  Cursing to my self, I looked again from the shadows into the room. I could see the door was about half way open. A small shape was in the doorway, dressed all in black. As I watched, it moved slowly into the room, scanning as it went. I caught the outline of a weapon silhouetted on the wall. As I watched he approached the bed. With his back to me, I had no choice. I didn't know if he was after me or not, but I couldn't allow him to hurt Sheila.

  Careful not to hit my cast on anything, I slowly made my way out of the bathroom. As Sheila rolled over on the bed, I saw this guy just watching her. Her words about someone stalking her once came back with a vengeance. Taking two quick steps forward I planted my left foot. Hearing something behind him he turned, but not quick enough. Leaning to the left and rotating counter clockwise, brought my right leg around as fast as I could. There was a loud crunching sound as it struck is head. Following through on the kick, I let myself pivot all the way around till I was facing the bed again. Whoever it was had hit the outer bedroom wall HARD. As I watched he slumped slowly down to the floor.

  Sheila woke up, "Arden? Is that you?" Making a shushing noise I whispered loudly, "Quiet."

  Not entirely awake she sat up, "What's going on?"

  Quickly I walked over to the bedroom door and closed it. Whispering loudly I waved at Sheila, "Damn it, be quiet! There's someone in here!" I saw the whites of her eyes as what I said sunk in. The creaking of the floor above us confirmed that someone else was inside. If anyone wanted to come through the bedroom door, there wasn't much I could do. Going over to the small guy by the wall, I looked him over. He was a mouse wearing a black body stocking, a military style equipment harness and some kind of night vision gear. The setup looked way to small for my head so I left it. Searching him quickly I found a pistol and two large clips for some sort of assault rifle. Looking behind me, I saw a submachinegun on the floor. Putting the clips and pistol on the bed I picked up the submachinegun. It was an MP5-SD, standard silenced weapon for covert operations forces. Not something a casual stalker would have. If I were right, his friend would come looking for him.

  Thinking about it for a second, I grabbed the little rodent and carried him over to the bedroom door. Hanging him on the doorknob, I gently let go to make sure that it would hold. Hopefully his friend would mistake him for one of us trying to hold it closed.

  Turning back to Sheila, I checked the MP5 over, "Sheila, call the cops." Seeing her stare at the mouse, I snapped my fingers a couple of time to get her attention. "Wake up! Call the cops, now!"

  Nodding she reached over for her phone, picking it up, I heard her hit the button on the cradle several times, "It's dead."

  Damn, that made sense. Spotting the cell phone on my side of the bed I pointed to it. "Get the cell phone then take it into the bathroom. Make the call from the dryer so nobody will hear you."

  Nodding, she picked up the cell phone and crawled out of the bed. Just as she was climbing into the dryer, I heard the doorknob. Backing into the bathroom, I mentally kicked myself in the ass for leaving the pistol on the bed. It would have been a far superior weapon for quick aiming. Just as I bent down so I could barely see the doorway in the mirror, I heard the rapid sound of something hitting the door. Straightening up a little, I saw the mouse jerking as he was repeatedly hit with bullets. Bending back down, I heard the crash of the door opening, the rodent flying into the middle of the room. Watching the doorway to see who came through I heard the sound of metal springing. Sticking my head up just a little more to get a better view, I saw a hand toss something into the room. Ducking back against the wall, I was momentarily deafened by an explosion.

  The guy had tossed a stun grenade in the room; fortunately I only caught a faction of its power. Shaking my head, I realized that all I could hear was a ringing. Peeking in the mirror and back into the room, I saw a tall form dressed similarly to the mouse. Having scanned the room, he looked over at the door to the bathroom. This was going from bad to worse. Odds were that he'd take me out if I tried to snipe him. It's not like these walls are going to stop a bullet. As I watched, I saw him pull another flash-bang grenade with his left hand while covering the door with his right. I was screwed.

  Just as I was about to try to dive through the door I heard another loud bang, only this time it wasn't a grenade. Reeling from the living room door, the large form tried to turn and aim it's weapon. Again there was a loud blast and in the mirror I saw a form with a shotgun. Reloading he fired repeatedly at the form until it finally fell to the floor and didn't move. Stepping into the room, he turned on the bedroom light. Blinking at the light, I saw that it was a large bulldog in a security uniform carrying a pump-action shotgun. Looking at the two bodies in the room, he leaned against the doorway, lowering the shotgun. I saw blood on his face.

  Hoping he was on our side but not willing to assume so, I stepped out of the bathroom while aiming the MP5 at him. "Who are you?"

  Seeing the submachine gun in my hand, he dropped the shotgun and held his hand up. "I'm with BullDog Security. Zig Zag hired us to keep an eye on the condo."

  Gesturing to his head, I asked, "What happened to you?"

  Touching the blood on the side of his head, he suddenly realized he was bleeding, "I saw the little one jimmying the sliding glass door in the back, as I approached him the big one blindsided me."

  Hearing the sound of a police siren, I gestured for him to sit on the bed. Sheila came up behind me and touched my shoulder, "The police will be here in a minute." Looking down at the two now very bloody bodies on the floor she gasped and dropped the phone. I heard her run back into the bathroom and vomit into the john. Glancing down at the bodies, I suddenly had the urge to join her. Biting back the bile in my throat, I managed to control the urge.

  Just about that time I heard someone banging on the front door. Gesturing to the guard, I motioned him over to the front door. When we got to the front door, I gestured for him to open it. The cops, seeing me with a MP5, immediately starting yelling for me to drop the weapon, while drawing their guns. Cops were cops in any dimension. Flipping the safety on with my thumb, I ejected the magazine and set the weapon on the table. Putting my hands up, I waited for them to come in.

  To his credit, the guard tried to calm down the cops. "Hey! Take it easy! He's not the bad guy! He LIVES here!"

  Hearing this, they simply kept me up against the wall as all their comrades invaded the house. I heard Sheila yelling, asking what were they looking at. I chuckled knowing that she was almost back to normal. After a couple of minutes one of the cops came out of the bedroom and had the others let me go.

  Heading into the living room I sat down on a chair, giving my leg a rest. Kicking that rodent in the head had smashed the plaster on the front of the foot and my leg ached from the blow. As I was getting comfortable, Sheila came out wearing a housecoat and carrying a large towel. Helping me up, I wrapped it around my waist and sat back down. As the adrenaline slowly faded, I could feel my back. It was going to make me pay for this in the morning. Getting the attention of one of the cops, I asked him to fetch my pain meds.

  Trying to get comfortable I waited for the inevitable interrogation from the cops. This was going to take all night.


  Zig Zag was comfortably inside the spoon formed by James when the phone rang. Peeling her eyes open, she saw that it was almost there in the morning. Reaching over, she grabbed the handset. "What!?!"

  An unfamiliar voice was on the other end, "Is this Zig Zag?"

  Letting out a low growl, she was barely audible, "If this is anything but a life threatening emergency, it soon will be if I get a hold of you."

  Clearing his throat the other voice answered, "This is Detective Lewis from the Columbus PD."

  Now wide-awake, Zig Zag moved away from James and over to the edge of the bed, sitting up she asked, "What can I do for you Detective?"

  "There's been a break in over at one of your employee's condominiums, one Sheila Vixen," he replied, reading the name.

  Oh no! Arden had been right. Someone had been after him. "Was anyone hurt? Is everyone ok?"

  Calmly the voice answered, "There's nothing to worry about at the moment. Both Sheila and her houseguest are fine. There were two armed assailants that broke into the domicile. According to the witnesses, the houseguest and a BullDog security agent were able to handle the situation."

  Somewhat relieved, Zig Zag asked again, "So nobody was hurt?"

  She could hear the detective give a snort, "If you mean your people, no. Unfortunately however, neither of the two assailants survived the encounter."

  Relieved, Zig Zag slumped slightly, "Thank you. What do you need me to do."

  "I need you to arrange to pick them up. We will be working in the apartment for the better part of the day. If you have a place they can stay, it would be a great help."

  Nodding to the phone, "OK. I'll be over there as soon as possible. Thank you."

  Hanging up the phone, Zig Zag got up to get dressed. Taking some clothes and her shoes into the living room, she quickly got dressed. Heading into the kitchen, she took the keys to James's Land Rover. Climbing in, she started the vehicle, opened the garage with the remote and backed out onto the street. Closing the garage she headed over to Sheila's silently thanking whatever god was watching over those kids for keeping them safe.


  Pulling into the station, Michael took a look at the clock on the dash. It was 4:30AM. He had been unable to sleep at the motel and had decided to drive back to town. Getting to his desk, he looked through the notes on the desk.

  Reading through them, he saw that his John Doe had been released from the hospital, then a few hours later shot in a drive-by shooting. According to the hospital report, he was released after having the injuries repaired. As he continued to read the phone rang. "Jones"

  "Jones this is Lewis." Recognizing the voice, Jones put down the papers, "Yah Mike, what's up?"

  He could hear other voices in the background, "Dispatch said you had gotten back. I got some news on your John Doe."

  Curious now, he listened closely, "What do you have for me."

  Listening he heard the other Detective move to a quieter area, "Two assailants, professionally equipped, broke into the condominium where he was staying with one Sheila Vixen," there was that name again. "Apparently you're John Doe took one of them out while it was giving the vixen a look-over. He then hung the guy on the door to screw with whoever tried to get in after him. Unfortunately for the guy his friend decided to shoot first and ask questions later. The second assailant was taken down by a rent-a-dick that was hired to cover the premises. They were picked up a few minutes ago by Zig Zag and will be staying at her place. I've got the address if you need it."

  Nodding, he completed his notes; "I've got it already, thanks. You say this wasn't just a B&E?"

  He heard a bark of laughter, "These guys had low light goggles, stun grenades and MP5-SD submachine guns. They were wearing military style body stockings, equipment harnesses and body armor. If they weren't professionals, then they were one hell of a pair of amateurs."

  Letting this sink in, Michael thought for a second. Two attacks on this guys life in one day. Someone didn't like him. "I presume you found no ID on them?"

  "Yep. They were clean. The car was stolen out of Chicago yesterday from a used car lot. We have nothing on them." Finishing his notes, Michael thanked the other detective and hung up. Someone was trying to kill his man and that was not acceptable. He wasn't one to let an unsolved case go, death or no death.

  Calling down to the desk sergeant, he made sure that police protection had been ordered for Zig Zag's residence. Michael would head home for a quick shower and change of clothes. Once he was presentable again, he'd go talk to this guy again.


  Daniel had slept wonderfully. The professionals he had arranged for should have done their work, and Mandy had turned out to be more talented than he had at first hoped. Proceeding out to the kitchen, he heard Mandy making something. Inhaling he smelled eggs, ham and bacon. This was unexpected. Upon entering the kitchen, he saw that she had place settings on the counter. A glass of juice and some coffee was waiting for him. Smiling he walked over to her, "You have out done yourself. I never expected THIS kind of service."

  Pouring the omelet she had just made onto a plate already loaded with slab of cured ham, she picked up the plates and turned. "Normally I don't, however in you're case, I'll make an exception." Proceeding over to the counter, she set the plates down and gestured for him to sit. "A girl has to take care of her special customers if she ever wants them to become steady clientele."

  Cutting off some of the ham, he speared some omelet and the ham. Taking a bite he chewed slowly, letting the flavor settle into his tongue. Smiling he leaned forward, "Perhaps we will be able to negotiate a long term relationship."

  Giving him a little wink, she leaned back, "That can be arranged." Picking up a remote control she turned on the TV and selected a channel. As Daniel ate, he became aware that it was the news.

  "That's right folks, our favorite snowman is in it again. If you will remember from our late news last night, some gang-bangers took a shot at ZZ Studios yesterday while he and a couple of other talent were leaving. Due to the quick thinking of our anonymous arctic asset, he managed to protect both of the other people while taking no less than five bullets in the back. To top that off, the wounds weren't even severe enough to cause a stay in the hospital overnight.

  This reporter has been informed that apparently our fluffy white friend was staying with no other than the Blue Goddess Sheila Vixen when two unknown assailants attempted to finish what the gang-bangers started yesterday."

  At the word 'attempted', Daniels stopped eating and paid close attention.

  "Police report that our gigantic gimp with the broken leg, used his cumbersome cast to clobber the crook, then while his comrade in arms was busy upstairs, he made like a busy little beaver and rigged up a delay while his sexy hostess called for the cavalry. Reports say that the second intruder had the drop on our man but was interrupted in the rudest manner you could think of. An employee of BullDog Security, who had been assigned to guard the house, but had been bushwhacked by the bad guys, recovered in time to introduce the second perpetrator to a full magazine of shotgun shells at close range. You've got to love those BullDogs!"

  At this point Daniel picked up the glass of orange juice and threw it into the front of the TV. Ignoring the sparks and glass emanating from the destroyed device, he simply glared at it.

  'How could this be happening? They were professionals for gods' sake!' Picking up his cell phone off its charger he walked back to his bedroom where he had some calls to make. He was going to have to do some fast-talking to explain how this could have happened.


  When James awoke, he found himself in an empty bed. Feeling over on Zig Zag's side, he found that the bed was cold. She had been gone for some time. Looking at the clock he saw that it was close to 4:30AM. Getting up, he put on a bathrobe and walked through the house. Not seeing Zig Zag, he checked the garage and found that his Land Rover was gone. Turning to try to call on the phone, he heard the garage door opening. Looking back through the door, he saw his Land Rover pulling up. As it pulled into the garage he could see that not only Zig Zag was in it, but also Sheila and Arden. He went out to greet her as she turned off the engine and closed the garage.

  Opening the door for Zig Zag he asked, "Hey, what's going on?"

  Opening up the back door, Zig Zag reached in and grabbed two small overnight bags, "Someone broke into Sheila's apartment tonight. They were both heavily armed. The police think it was a professional hit."

  'Good lord! This guy has professional hit men after him and she brings him into her home?" He was about to protest when he saw the look on her face as she watched Sheila help Arden get out. Looking over, he saw Arden doing as much to hold Sheila up as she was helping him out. He felt betrayed by his initial instincts to protect Zig Zag. This was her equivalent of family, and like it or not, he was going to support her in it. Taking the bags he led the way inside and to the spare bedroom. As Sheila and Arden came in, he noticed that Arden wasn't using any crutches. Hobbled by not being able to bend his leg, he was otherwise not having much trouble walking.

  Looking at the cast, James realized that the top part of the foot was broken, and had blood on it. "What happened to your foot?"

  Looking down Arden realized what he was referring to, "That's what happens when you give a large mouse a round-house boot to the head." At mention of the fight, Sheila excused herself and headed to the bathroom. Looking at James, "Please, I don't want to talk about it around Sheila, she's still a bit shaken up about it."

  Seeing that he wasn't dodging the question, James patted him on the shoulder, "I'm just glad neither of you were hurt." Giving a quick squeeze, James released him and left. Crossing the hall to Zig Zag's room, he saw her sitting on the bed, not moving.

  As he sat down next to her, she began to talk, "The cops asked me to pack up some clothes for them. They had removed the bodies, but there was still blood. Blood on the floor, on the wall, it just smelled of blood." Looking at James, "They tried to kill them James. What kind of people are we dealing with?"

  Taking her into his arms, he just held her. "I don't know Zig. I just don't know."


  I closed the door to the bedroom behind James and didn't bother to lock it; we are all adults here after all. Stripping off my shirt, I knocked on the door to the bathroom. Not getting an answer, I opened the door. Sheila was sitting on the toilet seat, her arms wrapped around her. Walking over I squatted down on my left leg while sticking my right one to the side. Taking in her chin in my hand, I lifted it up so I could see her eyes, "Hey, it's OK now. They can't hurt us. They'll never hurt anyone else."

  She gave me a hard stare, "But what about the next, and the next one after that?"

  Letting go of her, I stood up. "I don't know. I don't even know why they're trying to kill me for gods sake!" Turning I walked out of the bathroom, "Maybe it would be best if I just left." Picking up the overnight bag I put it on the bed. Taking out a shirt and some pants, I started to get dressed. Annoyed at the cast, I began hacking at it with my claws, slicing the side.

  Hearing this, Sheila came to the doorway, "What are you doing?"

  Pausing, I looked up, "What's it look like I'm doing? I'm trying to get rid of this cast. I won't be able to walk with it on for any distance."

  Coming over to me she put her paw on mine, "But it's broken."

  I looked straight into her face, trying to keep as neutral an emotional mask as possible, "It's better. Besides, what do you care? I'm just an unacceptable risk."

  Her eyes got wide at that then narrowed. Grabbing me by the shoulders she pushed me back on the bed. Practically sitting on my chest and arms, she growled in my face, "You are not just an unacceptable risk. I don't know what you are, and neither do you, but that's not the point damn it!" Sitting up, she looked down on me. "I don't know what you are, but I do know that you're important to me, and I don't want anyone or anything to hurt you."

  Sitting up quickly, I would have dumped Sheila on the floor if I hadn't caught her in my arms. Holding her close to me I looked down into her eyes. "I knew that. I never wanted to leave you. I just wanted to make sure you felt the same way." As she put her head on my chest I rested mine on the top of hers. "I swear we'll beat this thing. I promise."

  Feeling her returning the hug, I grimaced a little. "One last thing love." She looked up, eyes wide. I tried to smile, "Would you mind getting my pain meds, I think I pulled a stitch just now."


  As I lay in bed, Sheila once again tucked by my side, I quietly sang Nanuk's song of healing. Settling her head a little better, Sheila opened her eyes, "What's that you're singing?"

  Smiling down at her, "It's a song a very good friend taught me. She said it would help me heal."

  Closing her eyes, Sheila said quietly as she started to fall asleep, "I like it, it's pretty."

  Closing my eyes, I continued to sing the song for as long as I could remember too, eventually falling asleep myself.


  I awoke with a start. Looking around I saw the door open and Zig Zag stuck her head in. Seeing Sheila still asleep she whispered in a theater voice, "There's a detective here, says he wants to talk to you. It's the same tiger from the hospital. Tell him to wait, or go away?"

  I put my head on the pillow and though. I might as well get this over with. Maybe spend some time with Zig and James. Lifting my head back up I whispered, "Have him wait, I'll be right out." Nodding Zig Zag closed the door.

  Once again, I carefully extricated myself from Sheila. Giving her a kiss on the forehead, I put on some over-sized swimming trunks and a T-shirt. Quietly closing the door behind me, I gimped my way down to the dining area where I saw the same detective that had said he'd identified me. Walking in, I sat down across the table from him and shot him a very tired look. "How can I be of assistance Detective?" I asked with a yawn.

  Zig Zag came in with a service set and after pouring a cup of coffee for each of us, poured herself one and sat down next to me. "You have no objections to me being here, do you Detective?"

  Opening his brief case, he shook his head. "None at all Ms. Zig Zag."

  Holding up a hand, Zig Zag corrected him, "It's just Zig Zag. No miss or anything else in front of it."

  Nodding, Michael noted the correction. Passing a picture over to me, he asked, "Have you ever seen these people before?"

  Picking up the picture, I saw a group of five bears standing in front of a camper. Shaking my head, I looked up at the detective, "Sorry, can't say as I ever have."

  Pointing to the picture he asked me to look again. Studying the picture, I suddenly placed it. Once had been taken like it in my world almost twenty five years ago. It was my family and myself on vacation in Key West. That was the summer I had learned to water ski. I recognized it, but it wasn't my family.

  Handing it back to him I shook my head. "I'm sorry, I've never seen them before."

  Nodding, the detective handed me a sketchbook. Opening it, I flipped through. Whoever this belonged to, they were as crappy an artist I was. About half way though the book I saw sketches of Sabrina, Zig Zag and Sheila. Zig Zag who was looking over my shoulder placed her hand on the page. "That's me."

  Giving her a nudge in the ribs, "Hey lady, you're famous. You've got to expect people to having drawings of you." Continuing to flip through the book, I finally closed it. Handing it back, I shook my head again. Finally he passed over a PDA. Picking it up I activated it. As I scrolled through the pages, I saw all the same programs I had loaded on mine at home. Activating the phone book I scrolled through the numbers. Most of the names were ones I recognized. The one most obviously missing were my relatives. My mothers number, aunts, anybody related. I kept those numbers in my PDA.

  Seeing the look on my face, Detective Jones asked, "Does it look familiar?"

  I looked up at him realizing what he had said. Turning it off, I passed it back. "It looks familiar, but I don't have a specific memory. Maybe it's just because I've seen a bunch of people with them."

  Putting the PDA back in his briefcase, he took out a picture. Handing it to me, I could see it was from a drivers license that had been enlarged. "How about this guy? Do you know him?"

  Taking a good look at the picture, I compared it to how I would look with dark hair, or fur. The face struck me as very familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. This must have been my counterpart. Handing it back, I shook my head. I could honestly say I hadn't seen him before.

  Obviously unhappy that he didn't get any kind of a response, he put the picture away and closed the briefcase. "Ok Mr. Bearridge, what can you tell me about what happened last night?"

  Zig Zag jumped in at this, "What's that got to do with trying to identify him?"

  Looking at Zig Zag, he shook his head, "Frankly madam, I don't have a clue. But twice in the last twenty-four hours someone has tried to kill him. There's only one reason I can think of, and so far it hasn't checked out."

  Tapping her claws on the table, Zig Zag pursed her lips a little, "And what reason is that?"

  Putting my hand on Zig Zag's shoulder I gave it a squeeze. As she looked at me I shrugged, "Hey, he's just trying to do his job." Looking back over at the Detective, "Like the lady says, what's the reason?"

  Leaning forward looked me in the eyes very intently, "The only reason I can think of for a corpse to have your fingerprints is if it was something to do with the witness protection program."

  That got my attention. Sitting up, I looked at Zig Zag and saw a confused look on her face too. This was perfect. Witness protection program, but if that were true, then some agency would have had to be involved. If no agency had answered him then it would have to be something illegal. That wasn't good. This could go either way for me. Shrugging I looked at the guy again, "I'm sorry, but I honestly don't remember anything about a witness protection program."

  Jones clearly wasn't satisfied with that. Leaning back he picked up the folder and placed it in the briefcase. Taking out a business card, he put it on the table. "Thank you for your time. If either of you think you have anything that could help, please let me know."

  I sat there looking at the card as Zig Zag showed him out. This guy was going to be my guardian angel or my executioner. Only time would tell.

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