SHADOW MAN--CH6: WHAT WOLVERINES WANT 6/15
- Chapter 6-What Wolverines Want
"Something I gotta tell you, kid, uhFawn," he mumbled around a
mouthful of Overcooked Spaghetti á la Toad. "Lehnsherr. Don't trust
"I mean it! Don't trust him. He ever tries to give you shots, pills,
anything weird like thatrun and don't look back!"
He glanced over at the chair where she sat to see if his warning had
taken effect, but she in turn was regarding him with a pitying little
smile. Scowling, he shoved in another wad of spaghetti and chewed
over the problem. How could he convince her? He didn't want to scare
the kid to death by telling her she was next in line for a metal
skeleton. Besides, she wouldn't believe him. Who would? Try a
different tack, then.
"You know why I'm here, kid?"
"Dr. Lehnsherr says you're in pain," was her prompt reply.
His laugh was as bitter as the scorched tomato sauce that graced the
gluey noodles. "Damn right, I'm in pain! The bastard's experimenting
on me! Cutting. Burning."
"I don't see any scars."
"Course not. I heal real quick."
He glowered at her over his bowl. "What?"
"Dr. Lehnsherr says you're distraught, psychotic, sick in the head
that kind of pain. He says you think you're part wolverine. That you
think you're tortured and persecuted. I mean, after all, burns always
leave scars, don't they? But you don't have any."
Logan sat on the bed drop-jawed, seeing everything turned inside out.
It was Magneto's word against his. And Magneto was the benevolent Dr.
Lehnsherr who wanted to help cute, fuzzy, little animals, while he
was the crazy, half-naked, hairy beast kept locked up for
observation. A sudden thought struck him.
"What do you do with the lab animals, kid?"
"Feed them, of course, clean out their cages, take observations."
"And that's what you do with me, too, isn't it? Feed me and take
The bit of color in her pale skin faded. Eyes huge, she mutely lifted
the bottom of her sweater to reveal a small tape recorder hooked to
the waistband of her jeans.
Logan swore, impressing even himself with the range of expletives and
the varieties of vilification that came readily to his tongue.
Fawn plugged her ears and ran out.
A few minutes later, in the midst of a creative (though highly
improbable) description of Magneto's family tree, a mighty yawn
cracked Logan's jaw and he sank back on the lumpy mattress as if it
were a cloud of softest down, slipping into the dream like a hand in
a glove. And he was home.
"How do you do that, kid? It's you, isn't it? The dream?"
She had appeared with the tray held out like a peace offering and he
had accepted it as such. So now his teeth ripped strips of dry,
stringy chicken off the bone, one of Toad's better efforts. My
complements to the chef, he thought, digging out a shred of meat from
between his molars.
Fawn grew red with embarrassment.
She did that a lot, blushed, Logan observed. Or maybe any slight
change of color was just more noticeable on her fair skin. He kinda
"I'm sorry. I won't do it any more."
"No. No, the dream's fine, but . . . "
She looked down at her hands. "I don't know how I do it. I wasn't
always able to. I guess it really all started when I was thirteen. My
mother was killed in a car accident. Five months later my father
"Great!" Logan muttered under his breath and forked up a load of
burnt, rubbery green beans.
"Janet had good intentions, I suppose," Fawn was saying. "She wanted
to be a model wife and mother. To her that meant a spotless house and
a perfect child. She whipped the house into shape in no time, but
even after four years she never could figure me out."
Fawn laughed, shook her head. "Ever since I can remember I've wanted
to be a zoologist or a vet. I love animals. Dad says I started
collectingbugs, feathers, stuff like thatas soon as I could walk so
my room's always been an incredible mess. One day Janet and I had a
terrible fightscreaming, shouting, throwing things."
"What about? Your room?" Logan asked in mid-chew.
"My dung collection."
"Your WHAT?" Logan yelled, and immediately fell to coughing when in
his outrage a quantity of bean juice went down wrong.
"It didn't smell!" she protested. "Much," she amended. "Try lifting
your arms," she advised when his wheezing continued.
He did so and air filled his lungs even as water leaked from his
eyes. He snuffled and dragged an arm across his face.
"It's called scatology," she explained, handing him the tissue
box, "the scientific study of feces. By examining an animal's scat a
scientist finds out what it eats and by that deduces where the
animal's probable feeding areas are. Then people or cameras can be
stationed in likely places for on-site observation."
Unbidden, a little printed card appeared before Logan's inner eye:
WOLVERINE SCAT: burgers and beer
FEEDING AREAS: any roadside tav
"Sounds fascinating," he croaked and blew his nose.
"It is!" Fawn agreed, not picking up on his sarcasm. "And I had
eighty-seven specimens! I won a Science Fair prize for that
collection. That's why I was so angry when I came home from school
that day and found Janet flushing them down the toilet. 'Where they
belong!,' she screamed at me.
"So I threw her antique vase at her grandmother's big hall mirror,
smashing both of them. She stomped on my bird nests and dumped my
beetle and snake skin collections in the toilet too. It ended up
flooding the bathroom because all the dung didn't go down. Then we
moved on into the kitchen You get the idea."
Fawn picked up the plastic knife that Logan had scorned to use and
turned it around and around in her hands. "That night, six months ago
now, I threw clothes in my backpack, took some money out of Dad's
wallet, and left. I'd done a lot of camping and hiking with the
Scouts in this area, so I took the bus and came here. I planned to
live in one of the Scout huts during the winter and camp out in the
woods during the summer. Because the forest is where I feel most at
She glanced at him briefly, dropped her eyes to the revolving
knife. "You see, the kids at school thought I was some kind of study-
freak geek, and I guess I was because all I read and talked about was
animals. They called me Fauna and they didn't mean it in a nice way.
They meant it like beast, or creature, or . . . or something sub-
"Hey, it's okay." Logan's smile was crooked. He could guess what was
coming and knew her pain and shame because he had lived it
himself. "Something happened up here, didn't it, kid?"
Fawn nodded dumbly, swallowed, stared at him, willing him to believe
her. "It must have been about two in the morning when the bus let me
out down on the highway and I set off through the forest. There was a
full moon and I knew where I was going, but then clouds rolled in,
covering the moon. In the dark I got confused and I panicked. Just
what you should never do!" She blushed and grinned ruefully.
"So here I was blubbering and stumbling into things and calling for
help and " A look of wonder lighted her face. "A female fox, a
vixen, came out of the trees. She looked at me and just like that I
knew she came to help. She led me to a big pine and crawled under the
boughs. I followed and we slept there the rest of the night with her
at my side keeping me warm. The next day she told me of the base here
and the empty guard house over at the north gate."
Her eyes refocused on Logan and her expression defied him to
disbelieve her. "Animals talk to me and I talk to them. And I am not
"You're not crazy," he agreed, and at his calm acceptance of her
impossible statement some of her tension left and her shoulders
"You're just saying that. Why should you believe me?" she mumbled to
the strip of plastic in her hands.
"You're not crazy and you're not a freak. You're . . . advanced." He
found himself using Magneto's term and scowled, but what else could
he call her mutation so she wouldn't fear and despise herself?
"And I know you can talk to animals, because you talked to me. Didn't
Fawn gave a little self-conscious laugh. "I'm sorry. It shouldn't
work with people, but you're different."
Logan's smile of encouragement stiffened at the corners. You don't
know how different, kid, was his thought. Did that mean he was more
beast than man? "Yeah, well, that dream, that first night. How did
She blushed. "When Dr. Lehnsherr and Mortimer came to the base they
found me living in the guard house next to the gate. Dr. Lehnsherr
was angry at first. He thought no one would be here so he could do
his experiments in peace. Like I told you, he came to do research to
help animals heal quicker. But when he saw my little veterinary
clinic for the sick forest animals that I'd found, he was really
impressed and asked me to work for him.
"You see, ever since that night when the fox came to me, besides
being able to talk to animals I always feel it when they are afraid,
or hungry, or in pain. If they're hurting I usually know how to treat
the injury or illness. But also I talk to the sick animals, or,
rather, 'dream' to them to calm their fears, let them sleep. Because
it's when we're asleep that the body heals itself.
"One night, Dr. Lehnsherr came to me, saying he had a sick man up at
the base, a violent, frightened man who thought he was an animal, a
wolverine. He asked if I'd be willing to come to his lab and try to
dream something peaceful so that this man could sleep and heal. So I
A little puff of air escaped Logan's lips, half laugh, half protest.
He wasn't a violent, frightened beast . . . was he? "HowHow did you
know what to dream?
"I just sent back what I saw you wanted," she said modestly. "A
Her words hit Logan in the gut and for a moment he couldn't
breathe. "Yeah. Yeah, thanks, kid."
"You're welcome. Now maybe you should close your eyes . . ."
"No, wait! When When was it you first sent me the dream? Four nights
She looked at him and smiled. "It was three weeks ago. You're a lot
better now." And she began to croon.
Three weeks! Gotta get out of here! His head was whirling so fast it
felt like he was being sucked down a drain. He struggled to get off
the bed but the yawn seized him and he fell back, fighting the sudden
lassitude. The food! he realized even as his eyes glued themselves
shut. The bitter taste. Magneto was spiking the food with some kind
of sleepy drug! Maybe old Toad's a pretty good cook after all, was
his last, muzzy thought before the crooning pulled him down into the
dream, down into the den where he was safe and warm and loved. At