Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Talbot’s Syndrome

You made a mistake when you stole my bike. You are probably wondering how I tracked you down, where all this blood came from, and why there’s a severed deer head here instead of the bike you stole. I’ll explain, not because I owe you an explanation, but because I want you to think twice before you go out to steal another bike. You came very close to making a fatal mistake and I want you to know just how close you came. I’m a believer in second chances, I hope you’ll make the most of this one.

I know nothing about you, but I can make a guess. I’m not sticking around to see if that guess is right, I’ll be long gone with my bike by the time you read this note. I’ve got to get on with my life, I suggest you do the same with yours. It’s a gift, don’t waste it.

I’m guessing that you’re a junky and you didn’t want my bike, you wanted a fix. You figured you could stash the bike and take it to a pawn shop in the morning. I don’t think they’ll give you anything for the deer head.

OK, I get it, you’re fighting a hard battle. We all are. I understand that, it’s why I’m cutting you some slack. Now I’m going to tell you my story, so maybe you’ll understand.

We all get breaks in life, some are bad, some are good, and a hell of a lot of them are what you make of them. And we all get our share of obsessions, beats me where they come from, but sometimes they save you and sometimes they destroy you. When I was 16, I had a lot of buddies who got into street racing and drinking and I probably would have too if it hadn’t been for the fact I had one other buddy who got into mountain biking and he loaned me a bike for a ride in the woods. First one’s free, I bet you understand that. Anyhow, I got hooked on something that’s mostly healthy and I guess that saved my life.

I said mostly healthy because I don’t think anybody thinks of broken collarbones or Alpha-gal Syndrome as healthy things. I’m the guy who broke his collarbone and my pal Nick is the one who got Alpha-gal Syndrome. Alpha-gal is something I’d never heard of and it’s not some high-status chick, it’s a disease like Lyme Disease that you get from a tick bite. There are a hell of a lot of ticks in the woods. You probably want to be careful around that deer head I left you.

Anyhow, Alpha-gal Syndrome is a weird-ass disease. It turned Nick vegan. No shit, something changed in his blood chemistry and now he can’t eat meat. I thought it was about the damnedest thing that could happen to somebody. And then I got bit by something that makes Nick's dietary restrictions look like nothing.

It happened like this. If you’ve ever had a job then you know that it can really cut into your day. I was still very into mountain biking so I got myself some lights and I’d ride the trails at night. Some say it’s spooky, I say it’s peaceful. Yeah, there’s animals but you know they are mostly more scared of you than you are of them and riding a trail by the light of a full moon is pretty much a magical experience.

One night a few year ago I’m riding one of my favorite trails and a deer comes crashing out of the brush and slams into my front wheel. Right as we both go down a big gray dog jumps on the deer and tears its throat open. Because I’m an idiot, I try to smack the dog away and it takes a nip at me. Then it looks me right in the eye and I belatedly realize that this dog is a wolf and I figure I’m dead. But the wolf scowls at me and leaps away.

I was worried about rabies so I went to the doc and got the shots. Four shots over fourteen days and the doctor said I’d be fine. There’s a whole hell of a lot doctors don’t know.

It was a month later that I knew I wasn’t fine.

The first thing was the fever. I’ve had fevers before, but nothing like this. Feeling like I was burning up doesn’t even begin to describe it. I felt like I was baking in my own skin. I also felt like it was damn important that I get away from everybody. I ran out of the house and into the woods, tearing off my clothes as I went. That’s the last thing I remember.

I woke up naked, covered in blood and next to a dead deer. Physically, I felt fine, better than I’ve felt in years. Mentally, I was a wreck.

It turned out I’d run miles into the woods. It took me all damn day to find my clothes and find my way back home.

The same doctor who’d told me I’d be fine still said I was fine. I’d told the doc about the fever and running off into the woods, but I left out the part about the blood and the deer. I didn’t want to get locked in the loony bin.

I was pretty sure I knew what I had. I mean, I’ve seen my share of horror movies. It’s all just good entertainment until it happens to you.

I eventually found another doctor, an old guy from the old country. It turns out they actually have a name for what I’ve got and it’s kind of the inverse of that Alpha-gal thing that Nick has. They call it Talbot’s Syndrome and yeah, it’s transmitted by the bite of a werewolf. Doctor Simic tells me it’s chronic and incurable, that’s the bad news. The good news is that’s it’s damn predictable. Once a month, like clockwork, I turn into a wolf and have to kill. But I don’t have to kill a human.

So it really hasn’t changed my life that much. Once a month, just as it’s getting dark, I hop on my bike and head for the hills. I have a system and it works pretty well.

Except last night, I stopped at a 7-11 on my way out of town. I was thirsty and stopped in for a root-beer. I thought I had time. I didn’t think some junky would pinch my bike in the couple of minutes I was in the store.

Of course I was pissed. I’m still pissed. And I was running out of time, the moon was starting to rise. I ran for the woods and you’re damn lucky I made it there and found an unlucky deer. Once I got the bloodlust out of my system, I turned my attention to the problem of recovering my bike.

There are certain advantages to my wolf-state. It was an easy thing for me to track your scent and it brought me straight to the bike. Wolves aren’t exactly built for pedaling, so once I had the bike located, I went back to the deer carcass in the woods to finish eating and wait for the sunrise.

I decided to bring the deer head and leave this note as warning.

I don’t know how to get off junk. You’ve got a problem that I don’t have and I’m sure that’s a bitch, but dude, I suggest you stop stealing bikes. Folks tend to be quite attached to their wheels and not everybody has as much practice keeping their rage in check as I do.