Episode 1: Wolf-Lizard Hybrid Thing

Bee:

Uhh, doo, doo, doo…testing…1-2, testing…Umm…Is that...recording?...Looks like it...Well, it looks like I’m rolling, so, uhh...good!

Music: While Beasts Wander by Logan Nickelson.

Bee:

It’s The Beacon.

Music: Fades.

Bee:

So, um, sorry if that intro was a little rough there.  I haven’t really done any sort of recording before outside of, like…making cat videos, so I don’t know entirely what I’m doing with this yet.   

Because, y’know, it’s one thing to say you’re going to do a podcast.  It’s another thing to spend two weeks solid learning everything you can about podcasting, and it’s an even more anxiety-inducing thing to actually sit down in front of that microphone and try to spin those things you thought were podcast-worthy into an actual, um...podcast...thing.

Silent beat.

Bee:

That sounded kind of weird, didn’t it?  Um, I should probably just get to the point then before I lose all of you completely.

So, here’s the thing: I think I have superpowers.

Silent beat.

Bee:

I should probably clarify that.  I don’t mean “I think I have superpowers” in the sense of “I correctly guessed what they were going to serve in the cafeteria for lunch and I think that means I can see the future.”  I mean it in the sense of “I can start fires with my mind and I don’t know whether to call it superpowers or if that’s just too childish and also a fundamental misunderstanding of what these powers are.”

Silent beat.

Bee:

Hey, I should probably say what this podcast is and who I am, shouldn’t I?  I guess I’ll say then that this podcast is called “The Beacon” and that I’m your host.  You can call me Bee. Um, it’s just kind of a codename. I’d rather not have people finding me based on this info since that could make things, um, even more complicated than they already are, so um, I’d just rather be…Bee.

But I think I can at least tell you a little about myself without giving too much away.  Build that host-listener relationship and all.

Actor Sound: Nervous laugh.

Bee:

Um, so, um...I’m in the middle of my second year at college and I’m about halfway through a degree in communication studies.  I...I love pop culture studies and I hate public speaking and, um, let's see…What else is there?

Um, I guess I’m kind of a substandard student.  I’m not failing out of any classes, um, at least not yet, but I don’t exactly put my best foot forward in all my subjects.  I mean, I always just figured, it’s probably not going to matter in 20 years if I got a C instead of a B in Statistics 101, so why bother with the extra effort, right?  

I’m not really involved in any extracurriculars either.  No ensembles or sports or clubs or anything. I mean, aside from anime club, which I show up to sometimes but mostly because they always have decent snacks there.  In short, I'm not the type you’d want to slap on the cover of a college brochure or anything.

And that’s probably for the best at this point.  At least now, I’m not going to have any kind of “Buffy has to quit the cheerleading squad because she can’t balance cheering with slaying” type situation.  Because you always hate when something like that happens in a show, right? When the main character has to give up all their friends and favorite things for the sake of doing good, right?  Well, good news for us, that can’t happen if I don’t have anything to give up!

Actor Sound: Bee laughs nervously.

Bee:

Uhum.  Well, so, I suppose I should say exactly what happened that led me here to this microphone, claiming to a bunch of strangers on the internet that I have weird and magical.  And part of that, I can do by sitting here and laying it out for ya. Part of it, I can also do by playing you some audio from when it happened.

Um, see, because general education classes exist and because they are evil, everyone, regardless of their major, has to take at least one natural world science class.  Even someone like me who knows more about…

Um…

More about, um, some pop culture thing than some science thing.  

Anyway, to get that science requirement out of the way, I signed up this year for the easiest science class in the most bearable timeslot, which, for me, was a 9:30 a.m. Intro to Entomology class.

Y’know.

Bug studies.

Since it’s a class that involves a lot of, um, practical labs like dissecting crickets and looking through microscopes at some really unsettling anatomy, it hasn’t exactly been my favorite subject.  There were a lot of class periods I ended up skipping just because I just didn’t want to learn first-hand what the inside of a butterfly looks like.  

And even if I was skipping, my grade in there should have been fine.  It’s just that my first project in there wasn’t, um, hugely successful.  Let’s just say there was, um, an…incident involving a caterpillar I was supposed to be raising and afterwards, I, I didn’t really feel like reporting on my failure as a caterpillar mom.

With that bad grade and my lab absences, I knew if I didn’t score well on mynext major project, I would probably fail the class and have to take another dumb science lab which, at the time, seemed like the worst possible outcome to me.  

The assignment should have been a simple enough—collect 20 native insect species and identify and display them.  And it did go okay at first. I got some easy catches—some flies and gnats and beetles I found in the dorm kitchen.  Problem is, it’s already mid-fall around here and bugs are dying off hre by the truckload.

I knew that if I was going to complete this project, I would have to widen my search area and actually take advantage of all that land the school has for this kind of research.

In normal circumstances, that would have been a good idea.  It’s not as though I live in a dangerous area, so it’s totally normal for people to go out alone without having to worry about much of anything attacking them.  

And regardless, I thought I was being careful.  I told my roommate where I was going. I brought a big, heavy flashlight with me, and my Swiss Army Knife.  And I even borrowed the recorder my bug professor uses for field notes, y’know, in case I wanted to take some of my own.

And...thankfully I did.  Thankfully, I recorded everything.

I think if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t even believe it myself.  Cause, you see…

Well, I’ll just play some of the recording for you.  This was just a little after sunset and…I think I was getting a little bored out there.

Setting Change: Forest.

Sound Effect: Leaves rustling.

Bee:

Captain’s log, stardate…1135-dash-4.  I have been lost in the dangerous wilds of Insectopia for a nearly incalculable…hour and a half.  Both supplies and morale are running low. Further study of this planet’s strange inhabitants may be required on another day.  Captain out.

Setting Change: Dorm room.

Bee:

You get the picture.  I was more bored than cautious at this point and I wasn’t being careful of my surroundings.  I think I was even thinking about putting on my headphones to help deal with the boredness. Thankfully, I didn’t though, because this is what happened a few minutes later.

Setting Change: Forest at night.

Actor Sound: Bee hums tunelessly.

Bee voice-over:

I was on the trail of a cricket when I heard something behind me.

Sound Effect: Noticeable branch snap.

Actor Sound: Bee stops humming.

Bee voice-over:

I’d already gotten used to a lot of the sounds in the forest, all the rustling leaves in the wind and the squirrels scrabbling around, but that snap was too loud to be any of them.  After a moment, I hadn’t heard anything else, so I turned back to my bugs. But I did at least flip out the biggest knife attachment, just to be safe.  

Then, I heard it again.  

Sound Effect: Different branch snap.

Actor Sound: Faint luptile growl.

Forest Bee:

Okay, who’s there?  I’ve got a knife, you know!  I’m not scared of you!

Actor Sound: Louder luptile growl.

Forest Bee:

Oh, god…oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god!

Actor Sound: Luptile lets out a loud, ferocious bark as it leaps to attack.

Actor Sound: Bee cries out in alarm.

Sound Effect: Major fire blast.

Actor Sound: Luptile lets out pained yelp, having just been blasted with fire.

Actor Sound: Bee briefly breathes heavily.

Sound Effect: Fire subtly begins to spread.

Actor Sound: Luptile growls, leading up to another loud bark.

Sound Effect: Energy slash.

Actor Sound: Luptile lets out an even louder pained yelp, having just been slashed with an attack of pure energy.

Sound Effect: Crash in underbrush.

Sound Effect: Four legs fleeing through forest, growing distant.

Actor Sound: Bee breathing even more heavily.

Forest Bee:

What the fuck?

Setting Change: Dorm room.

Bee:

So, here’s what happened.  First of all, I just want you to know that I wasn’t doing this, thinking it was a wolf or a bear I wasn’t “scared of it.”  I thought it was just another research student or some other jerk trying to spook me.

After I heard that snap, I looked around the forest for what felt like ages.  I was certain at first that I must have been going crazy, just hearing things.  Then, I shone my flashlight at a patch of darkness and caught the light on something—a pair of big yellow eyes that glowed sickly yellow.  

Whatever that thing was, it was huge.  Bigger than a wolf. Bigger than a bear.  As big as like—a Clydesdale, or something.  Um, I know that doesn’t exactly sound like the most intimidating comparison, but um, like, have you ever actually seen how big a Clydesdale is in comparison to a human?  It’s…it’s big.

Anyway, that thing jumped out at me from behind the bushes and at first, I thought it was a wolf.  It was kind of shaped like one, with those big jaws and claws, but I...doubted that, because when I shone my flashlight on its underbelly, I think I caught sight of…of maybe, scales instead of fur.  

Or maybe there was fur too, I dunno.  With it leaping at me and all, I was kind of more concerned in the moment with how it was going to maim me before I died than how it looked.

I swung my arm at it, thinking I could at least maybe get in a hit with my knife and give myself a small chance to get away.  Problem is, I was in such a panic, I kind of swung the wrong arm, and I ended up using my flashlight as the weapon instead of my knife.  I also swung it way too soon to be able to hit it—or at least it-it should have been too soon.

See, when I-when I swung my flashlight, something else happened.  Despite all my fear, I was angry.  I was thinking I was going to die for such stupid circumstances—being some kind of horror movie opening cliche, all because of some stupid bug project for a class I didn’t even wanna be in.  

I swear, I’m not the type who gets mad that often, but that thought just made furious, and that fury was what took over in that moment.  I felt the heat of it in my stomach, and then it filled my chest and then it felt like it—burst through my arm.

When I swung my flashlight, I swung it with the heat of that feeling.  And, I think because of that, I didn’t just flash that monster with an ineffective beam of light.  

There were flames coming out of that flashlight.  Those flames hit the monster straight across the chest and face, and it screamed in pain before landing off course.  It was still whimpering and distracted as it tried to use a paw to rub out the flames from its muzzle.

The flashlight died then, and I had to drop it because it was suddenly burning hot in my hand.  The only light left around us was a few patches of leaves that had caught on fire too.

The monster was only down with its burns for a second, and as soon as it was ready, it took another shot at me.  It leapt again, even closer this time, but even though I was still super confused over the whole flames from nowhere thing, I knew I’d already hurt this thing once and now, I could actually have a chance to fight it off.  I felt powerful in that moment, and that power started to well up in my hand just like the heat and the anger from earlier.

When that monster jumped at me again, I swung at it—with the right weapon this time.  And as I swung my little pocket knife with all that power surging into my arm, this brilliant yellow slash of—of light, or pure energy, or something came out in an arc.  It slashed the wolf thing across one of its shoulders even harder than the fire. I could tell how powerful it was because it drew enough blood to douse one of the fires on the ground.  And apparently that was enough to make that monster decide I wasn’t worth coming after, because after that, it screamed again, it turned tail, running off into the darkness.

And, um...that’s about it for the recording.  Um, y’know, along with the—

Sound Clip.

Forest Bee:

What the fuck?

Bee:

I was understandably confused at the time, and I-I still kind of am.  I was stalked and attacked by a giant wolf-lizard hybrid thing for no apparent reason.  Then, I was also able to fight back with fire and energy blasts, neither of which should be possible, by the way, in case you didn’t already know that.  Um, but even with all that, afterwards, I was just...tired, like I’d run a marathon or something, and it’s not like I had anything else I could do, so I just...shoved everything I could into my bag and hightailed it out of there.

That was two weeks ago, and since then, things have been, um…difficult, to say the least.  After that night in the forest, nothing in the rest of my life had changed.  The very next day, I still woke up with the same roommate, attended the same classes, worked in the same café, but all of it felt surreal, as if that wolf thing had actually knocked me out and I’d woken up in a dream world where everything felt just sort of, muffled and slightly distant.

Although, that may have actually just been the sleep deprivation.  I didn’t sleep at all the night I was attacked, and hardly any the night after either.  I couldn’t close my eyes without thinking about what I’d seen of the wolf thing and how close I’d probably come to dying.

I mean, that’s...that’s still terrifying to think about.  This is the first time I’ve really gotten to say it out loud.  I nearly died, and I’m—I’m not even sure anyone would have known if I had.  I-I don’t know what would have happened to me if…

Um, nothing.  Nevermind.

Anyway, I also couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d done, and questioning if I’d even done it, if any of it had been real.  I was too terrified those first couple of days to even look at the evidence from that night just in case I-I wouldn’t see it and it’d just turn out to be some big hallucination or something.

But eventually, I had to make myself look back.  It was making me just as nervous to try to ignore it all.  I confirmed it by looking over everything that had happened to my stuff first.  My flashlight from that night was still melted from the inside out, as if it had malfunctioned and caught fire.  My knife was mostly intact, but a little warped along the edges, as if it’d been exposed to some intense heat. Like you heard too, I still had that recording, so it was pretty hard to try to refute that.

By the way, I basically ended up stealing the recorder.  I told my professor I lost it and he had to put it on my tuition bill.  I’m going to have to explain that to my mom later, but no way could I risk my professor recovering that recording.

I’ve still been too afraid to go back to that forest to see if I can find the burnt stuff I left behind.  Not because I’m afraid I won’t find it anymore, but because I’m afraid now the wolf-lizard will find me again.  I still haven’t heard reports from anyone about an unidentified giant creature, wounded or dead, showing up, but even without that, I-I just know that it’s still out there.  Something like that doesn’t just go away.

I mean, at least I think it doesn’t.  I don’t really have any basis for comparison.

The day after I checked on my equipment, I decided to try to, um…experiment a little.  That day, I headed out to the prairies beyond the archery range where it’s usually pretty devoid of other students.  I took my new recorder with me, as well as my pocket knife, and a second, much bigger bread knife I...admittedly, also stole from the cafeteria.  

Once I was alone out there, I started recording and tried to make magic happen.

I won’t subject you to most of those recordings.  Honestly, it was a lot of, um—well, you know that scene in the first Spider-Man movie?  You know, that, um, scene where he’s trying to figure out how to shoot web on purpose? Yeah, t was a lot of that, a lot of punching and swinging and grunting and just like, trying to recreate what I did when I made that fire and energy stuff.

I tried that for about half an hour, at which point, I was feeling both tired and stupid enough that I decided I needed a break.  If that doesn’t sound like a lot, believe me, I know—I am not exactly, what the kids like to call, “in shape.” But I-I still reasoned you-you can’t make magic on an empty stomach.

I opened my bag and tried to pull out the muffin I’d brought along for a snack, except, somehow, I managed to fumble it and drop it straight into the dirt.  

I’m not super picky about germs, so if I’d wanted to, I just as easily could have picked it up and eaten it.  But after all my failure that day, I just got really irrationally angry.  Like, steaming and fuming angry.

And as I stood there stewing in that anger, I felt that heat welling up in me again, and I began to recognize that heat.  And I figured, maybe...don’t get mad. Make magic.

Setting Change: Prairie.

Prairie Bee:

Okay, let’s do this, let’s do this.  Feel the fire. Feel the fire. Burn like the fire.  Crackling, flickering, flaming...burn.

Sound Effect: Small flame.

Setting Change: Dorm room.

Bee:

I made the fire appear out of thin air just with my mind, or magic, or superpowers.  Eventually, I just had to let it disappear because it was getting a little too big in my hands and I was worried about starting a fire in the prairie or something, but I still did it!

Suddenly, it felt like all the fog from the last few days was clearing because I found out—I have this power that I’m not sure exactly what I can do with it yet, or what I should do, but it just makes me feel like—like I can do something incredible.  

Or...maybe it just made me feel not totally helpless anymore.

And...that felt good too.

I don’t know.

It’s-it’s left me with a lot of questions.  Like I said, I don’t know what this power is.  I don’t know why I have it, and ss far as I know, I haven’t experienced any radioactive spider bites lately so there doesn’t seem to be any obvious direct cause for it.

There’s also the fact that I don’t have anyone in real life who I can talk to about this.  I don’t know who I can trust to both believe me and keep this a secret and, to be honest, it’s been kind of wearing on me.  

And finally, I just...feel certain that I can’t be the only one.  It just wouldn’t make sense, right? If the only things out there that break the rules of reality were me and that monster, right?  I know there have to be others, and I’m hoping that, by now, at least a few of you listening know that too.

I know at this point, most of you listening must be thinking that this is just a show.  Just fiction. And maybe that’s for the best. The fewer people who think this is real and come asking question, the better.  But I hope—I hope this can reach at least one person who’s going through the same things, and is suddenly realizing they’re not the only one.

Because, um, that’s-that’s really why I’m doing this show.  This is it—The Beacon. This is the signal that if you’re going through this same danger and confusion right now, and discovering you can do things you thought were impossible, then know that you are not the only one.  I’m just as scared and confused as you probably are, but my hope for this show is that you’ll hear it and we can find each other. And maybe in a few weeks, then I won’t have to annoy the listeners with just my voice anymore.

For now, um, that’s all I have to say.  I’ve got a lot of work to do now, including begging my bug professor for an extension on that report.  I’ll try to update soon, but, um, until next time, this is The Beacon, reminding you that you are not alone.

Music: While Beasts Wander by Logan Nickelson.

Sound Effect: Tapping spacebar.

Actor Sound: Bee sighs heavily.

Bee:

God, I hope this works.

Credits, read by Claudia Elvidge:

The Beacon is written and produced by Claudia Elvidge.  The voice of the monster is Matti Mali. For more information, visit thebeaconpodcast.com or follow us on Twitter @thebeaconpod.