Tuesday Tickle: Bite Me Later
When Bite Me Tender came out, one of the big complaints about the novella was that people were left with a lot of questions about how Glyn and Levi got together. Now, I already knew all this, because, in the process of putting BMT together, I had to figure all that out. But, in the time between, having finished the squirrel, and Knight, and Christmas Goes Analog, and made a good start on a number of other stories, Glyn and Levi’s story kept nosing around, poking itself into plotlines and just plain old shoving other stories out of the way.
So, to make Monique happy, I have the two on the go in this series. Bite Me Later is the story of before Bite Me Tender. Bite Me, Furface! takes place about six months after.
Here’s a little bit from the beginning of Bite Me Later. Keep in mind this is a first draft, just as it fell out of my brain and onto the screen. No spellcheck yet, either. Lol.
Levi leapt off the end of the log and followed the vague path up the brook, until he got to the little pool, with their crate of illegally acquired beer. It helped to have friends who were legal drinking age.
He knelt on the bank and reached into the wooden box to pick out the stones he’d used to weigh it down, then dragged it out. The wolves howled again, closer this time. He glanced upstream, where the sound was coming from, then decided he’d better get back to camp. He liked the wilderness, but he was under no delusion that his appreciation of nature would make him safe if he ended up surrounded by a pack of hungry animals. And there’d been stories on the news over the past few years about an aggressive pack of wolves that had shifted their territory. Local farmers had lost cattle and sheep and even horses, that you would have thought could outrun a wolf. Conservation Officers had gone out hunting the pack, but had never found them.
Hoisting the crate up on his shoulder, he crossed the log bridge at a pace that would have been a scamper in a smaller man. He wished he’d brought his grandfather’s old rifle with him, but it had been just a night of camping and he knew enough not to bring a weapon with him when he was planning to get piss-loaded drunk.
The howls died away as he got farther from the water and Levi breathed a semi-embarassed sigh of relief. They’d be safe if they kept the ccampfire going, anyway—wild animals were afraid of fire. Good thing they’d been collecting deadfall for a couple of weeks now, in anticipation of the grand celebration.
He padded into the clearing and found Bryan lazing by the fire, beer in one hand, burning marshmallow torch in the other.
“When do you start work?” Bryan asked, before casually blowing out the flames and wedging the stick between his knees so he could pick the crisped outer crust off the marshmallow.
“Next week. They want me out at the cabins by the lake, instead of the house in town.” Levi set the crate down next to the cooler and started transferring the beer into it. “I’ll be framing and stuff, and when that’s done, they’ll switch me to putting the decks on the front of them.” He picked up his half finished beer and drank, before going back to his spot beside the fire. “It’s good. Good practice. Good money.”
“Better than working at the hardware store.”
“I could ask if they needed any one else.”
Bryan shook his head and stuck the marshmallow in his mouth. “Naw,” he said, talking around the sticky sweet. “I’d spend the whole time whacking the wrong nail.” He held up a thumb in example. “The store’ll do, until I figure out what’s gonna pay best. Not wasting hard-earned cash on school until I figure out where the money is.”
“Smart. Gramps wants me to go to vocational school, do carpentry or something.” Levi shrugged. “I dunno. It’s better pay if you get your papers. But I’m sick of sitting in a classroom. And I’d have to do summer school to get my math mark up high enough.”
“That would suck.”
“Amazingly.” Levi heard a rustling in the trees and he tensed, but then the wind came up and he realized it was just the tree tops swaying back and forth. He relaxed again, watching the sparks swirl up into the night sky, and emptied his beer. “Another dead soldier.” He got up to get a full one and stopped, staring at the woods just behind their tent.
“Get me one while you’re at it.” Out of the corner of his eye, Levi could see Bryan, with his head down, fixing another marshmallow to the end of his branch.
“Bryan.” Those were eyes.
Bryan looked up from his marshmallow. “Are you that drunk you can’t even carry two beer?”
Levi took a slow step back toward the fire. The eyes came closer, and the shape of a dog-like head formed around them.
“Bryan.” Levi tried to keep the panic out of his voice, but even he could hear the sudden tremor in it. Another rustle to his right, and another pair of eyes.
“What?” Bryan pulled his marshmallow out of the fire and stood up, scowling. The frown faded when he saw Levi’s expression. “What’s wrong, Levi?”
Levi didn’t dare turn his head. “We need to get out of here. Right now.”
Then Bryan looked past Levi and saw what had his attention so firmly fixed on the trees. “Oh my God.”
Levi nodded. “On the count of three, head for the truck.” There were more heads appearing out of the darkness, the flames flickering in their eyes.
They looked hungry.
“You ready?” he asked Bryan.
“Yeah,” came Bryan’s soft reply.
“Okay. One, two, three!” And they turned and bolted into the woods, running for their lives.