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Velma By Ambientcold-slight Edit Bybeb by beb01
Velma By Ambientcold-slight Edit Bybeb
I really like Ambientcold's drawing of Velma Dinkley but didn't like how it was slanted, so I straightened it. Original at:
ambientcold.deviantart.com/art…
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Bernie’s Bakery had been a part of Amity Park for over 80 years. The original Bernie was long gone, as was his son. His grandson lived out in California and left day-to-day operation of the bakery to the Head Baker, a wiry, small black man named Alfonso.  Alfonso’s white hair and wrinkled countenance suggested he may have been there since the beginning.

Danny Fenton pushed through the heavy oak door and headed over to the display of Halloween doughnuts. It was the night before Halloween and Danny was making a snack run. The store hadn’t changed much in 80 years. Blond wood paneling  waist high with plaster leading up to the twelve foot ceiling. That in turn was ornamented with plaster floral wreaths. Fluorescent lights had been added in the 40s. Twinkling Christmas tree lights circled the large plate glass front window but the sconces for the original gas lights were still mounted on the walls. Pumpkins, witches and scared cats hung from them currently.

“I’d like a dozen doughnuts,” Danny told the clerk behind the counter. “Ah ... three of the cream-filled ghosts, three of the jelly-filled pumpkins, ah...” he searched among the selection, then noticed that the  clerk hadn’t begun to fill his order. He looked up and found something familiar about the white-faced zombie clerk. “Val?”

“Yeah, it’s me. Don’t tell anyone about this, OK?”

“That you’re working in a bakery?”

“No, that’s I’m wearing white-face. A Black wearing white face! The irony is killing me.”

Danny's first thought was 'you're a zombie! Zombie was supposed to be pasty-face,' but didn’t think it mattered to anyone but her. “Yeah, but you’re a zombie so I think it’s OK. Nice costume, did you make it?”

“Me? Sew? Don’t be ridiculous!” Val had been part of the inner circle of rich girls at their high school, till her father lost all their money. Suddenly she was an outcast from her former friends. But some habits die hard: making clothes was for losers and poor people.

“I thought you were working at the drugstore down the street?" Danny asked.

“They’ve already put up their Christmas decorations. If I hear one more 'ho-ho-ho' I was going to explode. So when I heard they had an opening here at the bakery I leaped for it.”

“Well, I’m glad the stores’s open,” he said, “ but isn’t midnight on the day before Halloween kind of ... ah ... risky?”

“Nah,” Val answered as she folded together a doughnut box and started filling Danny’s order. "I’ve got a silent alarm button, there’s surveillance camera all over the place and, like the sign says, “Cashier has only $40. And if someone does want to rob the place my orders are to let them. There’s nothing in here worth getting killed over. And with Halloween tomorrow, if we don’t sell these doughnuts and cupcakes we’ll have to pitch ‘em.” She waved her hand at the two cases filled with Halloween decorated sweets.

“What about ghosts? Jack O’ Lantern ... the Headless Horseman ... ?” Having fought them in the past Danny knew that they were real. “It’s true what they say about ghost coming out on Halloween. Dad proved that there’s some kind of cosmic alignment that thins the walls between earth and the ghost zone making it easier for ghosts to invade our world.”

“Ghosts! You and your father going on about ghost all the time. If some ghost tries to hassle me, I’d just kick them into the next county!” Yes she would, Danny reflected, having been kicked around a few times by Valerie. Just as he had two lives, so did Val. By day she was a hard working teen but at night she donned some expensive ghost-fighting gear and went out looking for ghosts ... Danny Phantom in particular. But as Danny Fenton he wasn’t supposed to know any of that. It made life difficult remembering what he was and wasn’t supposed to know.

As she closed and taped the box shut, Val asked, “So what brings you out in the middle of the night to the only doughnut shop open in town?”

“Sam called out of the blue suggesting we have have a Halloween party.  Seems her parents are having a Halloween party for adults only...”

“You mean the kind with the keys tossed in a fishbowl?” Val asked.

Danny looked at her disgustedly. “N-o-o. It’s just a bunch of old people talking about trust funds, how terrible the government is, and how horrible kids are today. Sam had to get out of the house.  So I’m off to bring refreshments for her party... which we’re having at my place.”

“Sounds like Manson.” Val and Sam did not get along, perhaps due to the fact that while Sam denied that Danny was anything more than "a friend" she became highly jealous when Danny and Val has gone dating for a time. Sam, with some reason, argued that one shouldn’t date a girl who’s trying to kill you. But as long as Val didn’t know that Danny Fenton was also Danny Phantom, Danny figured he was alright.

Why Valerie Grey hated Danny Phantom had to do with how her father had lost his money. He owned a high-price security firm. He had been hired to ghost-proof a laboratory only to have it wrecked by ghosts. The resulting lawsuit had taken every thing he had. They had been forced to sell their mansion and moved into an upstairs flat in the poorest part of town. Her father unable to anything but the meagerest positions, Val had taken on two and sometimes three part-time jobs after school to help make ends met. And it was all because of Danny Phantom. What she didn’t realize was that Danny had been trying to stop a gigantic ghost dog from tearing up the place. By the time Danny had figured out how to control, the ghost dog, Cujo, the place was a shambles. The owners blamed Valerie’s father; Valerie blamed Danny Phantom.

“How long are you staying open tonight?” Danny asked as he handed over the money.

“Just till midnight. That’s six hours for me ... all the state allows for minors ... and they couldn’t find anyone to come in to relieve me so they have to close up. Alfonzo will open up the front when he comes in at four to start the day’s baking.”

There was a large antique pendulum clock on the shelf behind Valerie. It’s face was an ad for a drink called “Moxie.” It started gonging. Danny glanced at it. “Looks like it’s midnight already. Want me to wait and walk you home?”

Val reached under the counter and flipped some switches. Most of the lights went off, including the neon “open” sign in the window. “Nah, It’s OK. I’ve got some stuff I want to do tonight. Have fun at your party.” Val was leading him to the door. She laughed as she pulled the door open. “I’m in costume, the one time I’m ready for a party, but I just can’t wait to get this make-up off.”

Danny suspected the ‘stuff’ she had planned was flying around in her high-tech ghost-fighting gear looking for him. He was tempted to tell her that Danny Phantom would not be flying tonight.

“Hey! For old time’s sake...” She leaned in and kissed him. On the lips. And held it for a moment. “I miss the fun we had together.”

“Even thought it was all caused by Technus?” Danny reminded her.

“I don’t think it was all Technus.”

The clock tolled the last note. As the sound died away Danny started to say “Happy Halloween” when the front of the bakery crashed in on them.

There was a splintering of wood, the thud of falling bricks and crash of the huge plate glass window shattering. Dust filled the interior of the shop, getting into Danny’s eyes and mouth. His first instinct was to go ghost and slide through the wreckage but Valerie was here. If she saw him change... He just couldn’t let that happen. So he pushed against the wood and bricks that lay on top him. He got his head clear and called, “Valerie?”

There was a muffled “Yeah!”

Danny slithered out from under the rubble, found Val, and pulled her free.

“What the hell happened?” she screamed, anger more than fear clouding her face.

“Shhh!” Danny pointed.

It was a thing. Clearly not human. It stood around ten feet tall. Long body, short legs, and arms that touched the floor even when it was standing up. It’s head brushed one of the fluorescent lights and with a snarl it rips it out of the ceiling. Danny couldn’t take his eyes off it’s head. It looked like some kind of pumpkin with flames of yellow fire popping out of its eyes, nose and mouth. It’s nose was just a slit but it’s mouth had fangs coming down from the top and rising up from the bottom. Pincers grew on either side of the mouth. Large. Hard. Opening and closing with harsh clicks. Ear like a giant bats sprouted from its sides and the top of its head was open, like a carved pumpkin, with flames leaping a foot or two out of the hole. It walked on its knuckles, swinging its tiny legs forward from time to time. It was climbing through the gaping hole that had been the front of the bakery, sniffing the air with some relish. It paused in front of a table of decorated cakes, sniffed loudly. It picked up a rubble covered cake. It had been chocolate frosted with marzipan tombstones. The creature brought it to its face. A tongue of flame shot out of its mouth, licking the side of the cake. It paused, then shoved the whole cake into its mouth.

“What is that thing?” Val whispered

"I have no idea."

They watched as it picked up another cake, sniffed it, then swallowed it whole. A loud rasping sound filled the shambles of the bakery. Danny vaguely recognized it was purring.

“We’ve got to get out of here while it is still distracted." He grabbed Val’s hand and started pulling her towards front of the shop. Val pulled back. “My stuff is back there!” she whispered insistently.

“You’ll never get past it, Val. We’ve got to go this way!” He pulled harder.

“My stuff!” She insisted. Then they both froze as the creature stopped eating and tried to listen for voices.

After a heart pounding moment the monster turned back to the table of cakes. It picked up one with orange frosting and licorice flavored bats and nibbled on it. Then took the whole table, cakes and all and shoved it down it’s throat. It’s mouth expanded to take in the table. It swung around and faced the doughnut counter, sniffed again and tore the counter loose from the floor and shoved it into its mouth, glass, metal, doughnuts and all.

Danny had finally dragged Val to the front door, they were standing on it actually. Danny looked back at the frightening beast. “I think we know what the bogeymen looks like, maybe.”

“It appears to have quite a sweet tooth, doesn’t it.”

Danny pulled Val through the ruins of the front door and they started running down the street.

"There goes another job," Val complained when they got to the corner. "But if it's the Bogeyman, why did it show up before Halloween?"

"It didn't. Halloween started five minutes ago. We're used to thinking of hauntings starting at the end of the day but the thinning of the walls between dimensions starts the instant it turns October 31st."

"Yeah ... um ... Danny. My ... ah ... bike is chained behind the bakery I've got to go get it..."

Valerie was obviously trying to ditch him so she could run back to the shop and recover her ghost-fighting gear. Danny ought to dissuade her because of the risk of being caught by the bogeyman but as he was trying to ditch her too, he just murmured a “be careful. I’ll head downtown looking for a phone to call the police.” Val was too busy thinking about her gear to wonder why Danny didn’t have his cell phone with him. He watched her run down the cross street to the alley running behind the bakery. As soon as she disappeared Danny went ghost and soared back to the bakery. He figured he’d have no more than a minute to dispose of the ghost monster before Val interfered.

Swooping in through the hole it had torn into the building, Danny socked it hard on the shoulder and turned to make his exit, which turned into a desperate flight from an ever-expanding arm. But the arm stopped stretching after a moment and shrank back to its normal size. The monster went back to what it had been doing. Having consumed all the cakes, doughnuts and pastries it was sniffing at appeared to be a plaster replicate of a wedding cake. It sniffed at it dubiously, took a bite out of it and spat the crumbling plaster out, tossing the rest of the display piece away. It picked up another plaster cake....

Danny swooped in another and knocked the plaster display piece into the creatures face and darted out at top speed. The bogeyman turned and lumbered after him. Danny had wanted him out of the building before they fought in an attempt to contain the damage. The monster had just stepped out of the building when Danny was unexpected struck by an electro-sonic bolt. Pain sizzled through his body and he fell out of the air, landing hard on the pavement across from the store. Squinting his blurry eyes, Danny could see Val mounted on her flying jetboard soaring past him then turning towards the bogeyman.

“Damn it, Val,” Danny muttered. “Stop interfering.” He was forcing numb limbs into standing up when the creature flung an arm up and swatted Val from the air. She didn’t know about the arms ability to stretch and was caught unawares when it doubled in length. She smashed up against a billboard above the store across the street. Her jet board went spiraling off into the dark while Val fell limply towards the ground.

Danny forced himself into the air and rocketed towards her, catching the costumed ghost fighter just inches above the pavement. He willed her to go intangible and was able to cancel enough of her momentum that she hit with only a hard thump.

“Get your hands off me to damn dirty ghost,” she screamed struggling to get away from Danny while simultaneously pointing her blaster at him.

“I’m not the enemy,” Danny said, exasperatedly. “That monster is. I’m trying to drive it back to the Ghost Zone. Just get out of the way and let me do my job.”

“Your job? Hah! You’re in cahoots with that thing. You’re trying to make me loose my job just like you made my dad loose his!”

“I was trying to stop a ghost from tearing up that place, not wreck it.”

“It was still wrecked!”

“But I wasn’t the one who wrecked it!”

“You’re a ghost and you were there, that all I need to know!”

Danny grabbed her blaster before she could fire and aimed it away from him. “Val, just listen to me... Hey! Where’d the bogeyman go?”

They both turned to look at the shattered bakery. The gangling creature was no where to be seen.

“Oh, great,” Danny snapped. “Your interference allowed the ghost to escape!”

“My interference!”

“We’ve got to find it before it destroys anything else. Where would it have gone?” Danny was vaguely aware of Val trying to jerk her blaster free from his grip. “You said it had a sweet tooth. Maybe it’s looking for another bakery...” He turned to the girl and shot, “Where’s the nearly 24-hour bakery?”

“What?” Val had been too busy trying to get her gun free to listen.

“Another bakery. Where is it?” Danny repeated.

All Val could say was “Let go of my gun.”

“We’re going to need help.” He let go of the gun and Val stumbled back against the building in surprise. Danny put his fingers to his lips and blew a shrill whistle.

Val, by this time, was a little confused. She holstered her gun then pressed a button on her wrist control panel, summoning her jet board. It’s autopilot brought it to her a moment later. By which time a digging sounding could be heard, though where it was coming from couldn’t be located. Val was still looking for the source of the scratching when it was replacing by happy yipping as a small glowing ghost-dog came running up to Danny and leaped into his arms. Danny was rubbing its ears while it joyfully, slobberingly, licked his face. “Cujo!,” Danny cried, “Good boy! Good Boy. Who's a good boy?"

“I knew it!” Val exploded behind it. “You were in cahoots with that dog! He’s your pet!”

Danny turned to see Val leveling her blaster at the little puppy.

“Val ... put ... the gun ... away!” He warned her as the puppy began to growl. It wiggled out of Danny’s arms and leaped to the ground, growing in size to meet the pavement. In seconds it was a six foot tall, adult looking English bulldog. It’s growl turned into a snarl, exposing teeth longer than Val entire head.

“Cujo! Sit! Stay!” Danny shouted. The dog looked at him, back to Val, growled, looked back to Danny, then dropped to its haunches.  It continued to glare at Val. Her eyes, bulging whitely could easily be seen through the mask of her battlesuit. When Danny asked her again to put her gun away, she did.

“Cujo was one of the guard dogs at the laboratory your father was securing. He was just looking for the squeak-toy he had as a puppy. Once I found that and worked on some obedience training, he’s coming a little sweetie. But you don't want to make him anger.”

“Little...?” Val wondered.

“Relatively speaking. I think Cujo can find our missing monster. Cujo, come!” Danny lead the monstrous dog into the shambles of the bakery and held up a fragment of the plaster cake the bogeyman had rejected. “Smell!” Danny commanded. “Find!”

The immense ghost sniffed the chunk of plaster, then began sniffing around the floor. He trotted out of the bakery and started down the street. “Come on!” Danny called to Val as he floated along beside his hulking little puppy. He immediately regretted speaking to Valerie. Just because he thought of her as a friend didn’t mean that she thought of him as a friend. Who knew whether she was more interested in taking down the bogeymen or ... himself.

Cujo lead them down a couple blocks, zigzaging from street to street before stopping in front of some warehouses. A hole in the wall of one pointed out the location of the bogeyman.

Danny slowed to a hover and turned to face Val. She had her gun out but quickly lowered it as he turned. “What we’ve got to do is soften him enough so that I can suck him into this.” He held up a small short cylinder with several buttons and knobs.

“What’s that?” Val asked, never having seen one before.

“It’s a ...” Danny stopped before saying ‘Fenton Thermos.’ He didn’t want her to wonder why he, a ghost, would be wandering around with tech from the city’s foremost ghost fighting industry. “...containment vessel.”

“Why does it look like a thermos bottle?”

Ignoring the question Danny called, “Come on, let’s go.” And angled down towards the hole in the building. Getting closer he could make the faded paint that announced the “Great Lakes Candy and Nuts Emporium.”

Flashing into the building Danny saw the beast was holding a barrel of taffy in one paw and tossing them one by one into his flaming mouth. Danny exploded the barrel as a way to get the bogeyman’s attention, made faces at the monster and in general tried to lure him out of the building.

The creature lunged for him as Danny danced out through the hole, then hastily dodged a blast from Val. “Sorry!” she called but Danny thought she sounded insincere.

He fired a bolt of ectoplasm at the creature. It mostly bounced off it’s scaly hide, but there was enough bite left in the blast to make the creature howl. Flames erupted from the hole in the top of its head, climbing twenty feet in the air. Danny could feel the heat coming off him and backed off a bit.

He threw another glob of ectoplasm at the monster and while it caused it great pain didn’t seem to be actually weakening it any. He considered using his Ghostly Wail on the being. That would surely knock out the bogeyman but it would probably destroy all the nearby buildings. And there was the fact that the Wail was so draining that he tended to collapse back to his human self afterwards. Can’t have Valerie seeing Danny Phantom change into Danny Fenton. So that was out.

The red costumed girl ghost fighter was having a little more effect with her electro-sonic blaster. At least the monster tended to retreat from its fire, which it hadn’t with Danny’s ectoplasm.

“Aim for its eyes,” Danny shouted and directed his blasts there. Val followed suit a moment later. The ghost withered under the combined fire.

Just as Danny thought maybe the bogeyman had been weakened enough to suck into the Fenton Thermos, it turned on him and lashed out with a tongue of fire from its gaping mouth. The explosion of fire was so awesome that Danny froze for a second watching it expand, then realized, too late, that it was aimed at him. It encircled him, yanking him out of the sky then dashed him to the ground. The impact left cracks in the pavement, sparks dancing in Danny’s eyes and pain shooting up throughout his body. He felt himself beginning to flick down to his Fenton self and fought to stay a ghost. He collapsed with a sigh.

Valerie watched her enemy being thrown to the ground with a mingled feeling of horror and elation. Then she was conscious that the monster’s full attention was turned towards her. She fired her blaster until the blaster glowed red from the heat. She put the gun away and threw a couple ectoplasm bombs at the thing before backing away.

Valerie was desperately thinking of what else she could bring to bear on the Bogeyman when the monster suddenly tipped over. There was a whitish blur tearing at the body. The loud, deep howl identified the blur as Cujo. The ghost dog had launched itself the moment the bogeyman had smashed Danny to the ground. It had grabbed one of the beasts great arms and was shaking it like a rag. The bogeyman willed the arm to be as flexible and stretchy as possible but the dog’s motions were too great to completely overcome. It tried to beat off the enraged dog with its other arm but Cujo had set its teeth and was not about to be dislodged.

The bogeyman threw out a tongue of fire, singing the great dog’s coat but that only made it more angry. Cujo dropped the insensate arm and leaped for the monster’s throat. The bogeyman roared and whistled like a steam kettle, its flames enveloping the ghost but bulldogs are single-minded.

Finally, in desperation, the monster grabbed the enormous dog and tore it from its neck. Great gouts of ectoplasm erupted as it dragged Cujo’s teeth away from, but mostly through its body. Flinging the dog away, it began running down the road as fast as its tiny legs could carry it.

Watching the Bogeyman run away, Valerie remembered the “containment device” the ghost boy had displayed. She jetted down to where Danny lay and rummaged about his body till she found it. The ghost  boy’s enormous pet stood by and watched her without growling. Perhaps he had accepted her as a friend, perhaps he - it - thought she was trying to help his injured master. Val found the containment cylinder. She turned it over and over in her hands. There were half a dozen unmarked buttons on the cylinder. She had no idea which button did what. She was about to experiment by pressing one button at time to see what happened when Danny stirred and pulled the device out of her hand.

“Sorry, can’t have you suck Cujo and me inside,” he explained, painfully climbing to his feet.

“I wasn’t,” Val protested and realized with a start that she meant it. She had been trying to capture the bogeyman. The thought of sucking Danny Phantom in with it hadn’t occurred to her. “You’re getting sloppy” she snarled at herself. She could have polished off so much unfinished business if she had only been thinking.

Danny staggered over to the giant dog and crawled up onto its back. “Let’s go find that thing,” he husked and the demon dog off in a gallop.  Valerie stood deep in thought for a moment, then hopped onto her jetboard, clamped her feet in the holders and took off after Danny and Cujo. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do when she caught up with them, but felt she ought to be in at the finish.

The trail only lead a few blocks away. Danny, still riding on top the mammoth dog, had opened one end of the cylinder and was pointing it at the weakened bogeyman. Eldritch energies seeped from the containment device and had ensnarled the monster. The energies were slowly dragging the creature towards the canister. For the moment the bogeyman resisted the forces by clinging to a light pole. It even seemed to be pulling away from Danny and the dog. Valerie looked from Danny to the bogeyman and felt a loss of which to shoot. Eventually she decided that the bogeyman was the greater threat. Animal-like it destroyed whatever was in front of it. Danny Phantom was a bit tidier.

She aimed her blaster at the arm the creatures had wrapped around the light pole. The bolt struck accurately. With a shriek the monster let got of the pole only to grab at a fire hydrant with it’s other arm. Val lined up and took another shot. The monster convulsed,, let go and began to slide right into the small cylinder, compressing as it entered the mouth. The instant it was gone Danny snapped the lid shut and flopped down on Cujo’s back, clearly exhausted.

Val aimed her gun at Danny Phantom. Now would be the perfect time to eliminate her hated foe, when he was too weak to resist. Then she thought of the giant dog he was laying on. If it was a ghost then it could fly. That it hadn’t so far only pointed to the force of habit making it act with a live dog’s limitations. Danny had warned her not to make him angry. Disrupting Danny Phantom’s existence would certainly count as ‘making him angry.’ She didn’t want to spend the rest of the night being chased through the skies by a monster that could treat the bogeyman like a rag doll.

She put the gun away before floating down near Danny. “What are you going to do with it now?” she asked. “Save it for the day when you want to destroy Amity Park?” Even though he had saved her life and taken on one of his fellow monsters she couldn’t resist taunting him.

Danny stirred, faced her and said, “Hey...”

After a long breath he added, “Where do you get these weird ideas? Amity Park is my home. I don’t want to destroy. This...” he hefted the Fenton Thermos, “I’m taking back to the Ghost Zone and release far away from any portals leading to this world. Armies of monsters ... sometimes Val I think you’re a little bit off your nut.”

“I’m not nuts,” Val hissed, “You are!” She stomped on the accelerator on her jetboard and zoomed away into the night.

***

It was an hour later before Danny Phantom dropped back into his bedroom. Sam and Tucker were there waiting for him. Danny flopped onto his bed with a mumbled “busy night.”

“Hey man,” Tucked asked. “Where are the doughnuts?”
The Bogeyman Has A Sweet Tooth
Halloween beckons. And the thinning of the walls between dimensions allows the Bogeyman to slip into Amity Park where its craven for sweets puts Danny Fention and Valerie Grey in peril. Can Danny hide his secret identity from Val? Can the two work together to capture the monster.
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The Utility Bag Velma got out of Freddy van was just a cloth messenger-style bag. It slung over her shoulder and hung down by her hips and had room for just about anything she wanted to put in it. It was a dull orange that blended right in with her skirt and sweater. She walked the couple blocks to the highway. The sun, what could be seen behind an overcast day, was lowering the west. The air was cool but not unpleasant. She quite enjoyed the walk. There were only a couple people on sidewalk. She smiled at them as they passed. It was a really nice little village if getting away from it all was what you wanted.

There was police tape festoon across the door of the bank when she got there. She looked to see if anyone was watching, then stepped across. She hadn’t expected the door to be closed. That could be a complication, she thought, since her memory was of the transformed bank teller hitting the inside of the door jam. She got out a large magnifying glass and examined the wood frame. She gasped with delight when she saw a few tufts of coarse animal-like hair caught on a splinter. She found her tweezers and carefully pulled them loose and dropped them into a glassite envelope. She wrote a note about time and location before putting the envelope in her bag. She searched for more hairs and put them in separate bags. Putting the glass back in her bag she went next door to a flower shop to interview the owner. There was a spring in her step knowing that she was helping ... The Batman.

][

The Peterson house was a big, old Victorian on a large and well maintained lot. A circular drive lead up to door.  Fred knocked on the door. Then knocked again when no one answered the door. He was able to knock a third time when a weak, shaky voice called from inside “Go away. I don’t want whatever it is you’re selling.”

“We’re not selling anything ma’am.” Freddy explained in his most patient voice, “We’re Mystery Incorporated and we’re investigating the disappearance of your husband. Could we ask a few questions?”

“Go away! I don’t have anything more to say.”

“But ma’am,” Freddy persisted. As Fred was talking Daphne heard a rustling in the bushes behind the house. She wandered around the corner and drifted towards the back of the building. A hooded figure was climbing down the steps from the back door. The person started walking towards a hedge on the back end of the lot.

“Wait!” Daphne cried and ran after the hooded figure. Shaggy had started to follow after Daphne and her cry spurred him on. His long legs quickly overtook that of the hooded figure and he brought him down in a tackle. He was wrestling with the surprising strong stranger when Daphne caught up with him. “What were you doing around Mrs. Peterson’s house?” She said, yanking back on the stranger’s hood.  Daphne gasped as what she saw. It was a woman in her late sixties, small, frail, and very hairy. It wasn’t just a little hair under her nose or on her chin. She was a veritable “bearded lady.”

Daphne blinked at her for moment, wondering why she looked familiar. “Mrs. Peterson?” she asked at last.

“Don’t look at me,” she cried, pulling the hood back over her face.

][

Inside the house, they sat around a dinner table sharing a cup of tea. Mrs. Peterson continued to huddle under her hoodie but answered their questions unhesitatingly. She seemed to be relieved to have someone to talk to about her ... condition. They had seen that, like the wolfman who attacked them in the bank, she was covered in hair. Her face was wreathed in a two inch long fine white beard. The backs of her fingers were hairy. Behind the fineness of her beard her eyes were calm, sad and not pinpricks of hate.

Her husband had always been a wonderful man, she said, smart and clever, but a little vain about his hair, which had started thinning in his late twenties, soon after they’d married. It never bothered her but he was always trying out one hair restorative after another. About a week before he disappeared he had brought home something new, which he claimed would be the answer to all their problems. And it did seem to make his hair grow more strongly. She was happy that he was happy. But the restorative had one side-effect she wasn’t so certain about. It made her husband very... Mrs. Peterson searched for the right word or at least one she could bear to say. Her husband got very “frisky” and wanted to do it every night. The renewed affection was great the first couple of nights but ... she wasn’t as young as she used to be. Then her husband disappeared. Disappeared at the Bank so she had no idea what happened to him. It had been a shock when the sheriff had come around asking questions. Then a few days after her husband had disappeared she started noticing that she was getting hairy. First was the little mustache under her nose, then it was the whiskers on her chin. At first she wasn’t concerned. Old women get those hairs all the time. She’d just cut them at night.  But when, in the morning, they’d grown back and added some more then she started worrying. Also she had found herself growing irritable at the least little thing. Just like her husband had, she realized. So she had stopped seeing people, hoping that when her husband returned all this would be cleared up. She had great faith that her husband would return and her own weird deformity would clear up in time. And, no, she didn’t know who had given it to her husband.

Freddy asked to see the Restorative her husband had been using. Mrs. Peterson brought back a heavy, square-sided glass bottle of about 8 ounces capacity. It had a flat screw cap. It had no labels of any kind on it. It was about a third full. Daphne took a sniff of it and hurriedly recapped the bottle. It smelt pretty rank. She wasn’t sure whether Batman could get anything of value out of this but asked nonetheless if she could take it. Mrs. Peterson agreed. Daphne gave it to Shaggy to carry. Then, having no questions to ask, took their leave and went to see the mayor about his missing aide.  

Frank Ingle was a life-long bachelor. he lived in a small house, actually an old converted garage and lived, slept and breathed for his work for the mayor.  The mayor hadn’t noticed anything really different about him until the day he was found in his office, the place torn to shreds, bearded, panting. He lashed out at the mayor then  bounced out the doors and that was the last anyone had seen of him. Had Mr. Ingle been using any hair restorative? The mayor would never think to ask such a personal question of one of his employees.

Bob Thorpe, the mechanic had a small gas station just outside of town, which meant, about three blocks from city hall. A nephew of 14 or 15 years of age was tending the filling station. He had been working for his uncle. Then one day when he came in, his uncle wasn’t there. Not knowing what else to do he had kept on selling gas and putting off anyone needing work done on their car. He hoped his uncle would come back soon because he was running out of gas and didn’t want to have to spend the day around his father. Had his uncle been using a hair restorative? The nephew shrugged his skinny shoulders. His uncle, though, did hate being bald.

][

They couldn’t find anyone to talk to about the barber, Bruce, or Captain Hoar. Tired and dejected because they hadn’t found much of a clue towards this puzzle, they walked back to Shaggy’s Uncle’s house. They found Batman sitting at the kitchen table, cape swept to one side, typing in a report on a small cell phone. Velma was sitting across from him using the microscope she kept in the Mystery Van. She was making sketches of what she was looking at. They looked like scaly tubes from what Daphne could see. “Shaggy, come here,” Velma asked when she realized the others were there. “Yeah, Vel?” Shaggy asked then yelped in surprise as she plucked a strand of hair from his head. “What’s the big idea?” he began but Velma was busy mounting the strand on another microscope slide and fitting on the light table. She flipped to a new page in her notebook before looking down the eyepiece.

“What has you learned?” Batman asked as he put the cell phone away. Freddy recounted their interview with Mrs. Peterson and handed Batman the bottle of her husband’s ‘Hair Restorative.’ He sniffed at the liquid tentatively. Wrinkled his nose and hastily recapped the bottle. “So even though she didn’t use any of this herself she came down with hyperpiliosity.”

“Hyper-what?” Shaggy asked

“Extreme hairiness,” Velma filled in. “You know, the wolfman - or woman - syndrome.”

“That suggests,” Batman continued, “that this ‘tonic’ maybe be related to testosterone supplements, which can also by transferred through contact.” He reached around to the back of hus utility belt and drew out a small black box. He set it on the table opened it up, pressed a button that lit up a small screen. He flipped open a tiny trapdoor on the surface of the box and carefully poured one drop of the ‘tonic’ into the opening, then closed the door. He pushed another button. “I can hardly bring a whole crime lab with me,” Batman explained, “But this little analyzer can tell me a lot about this liquid in a general way.”

Freddy looked over Batman’s shoulder for a moment until he noticed the crime-fighter glaring at him. Batman didn’t like people standing behind him where he couldn’t see what they were doing.

“This is all very interesting but I’m going to take a shower. All this sleuthing has made me sweaty.” Shaggy said, leaving the kitchen.

“Don’t take too long, supper will be ready in a few minutes,” Daphne called after him. She started looking through the various drawers and cupboards in the kitchen looking for something she couldn’t find. After a bit Freddy opened the oven door and pulled out a large pot. “My mom always put large pans in the oven,” he explained. Daphne filled the pot with water and placed it on the store. She filled a sauce pan with a couple bottles of store-bought spaghetti sauce but didn’t light the fire under it. “Are you going to eat with us?” she asked. “It’s just vegetarian spaghetti but there’s more than enough for everybody.”

“I don’t eat when I’m on a case,” Batman began. He tried not to do anything ordinary when in costume as it distracted from the ominous character he tried to project. But it had been a long day and these people had been helping him on this case. Agreeing was the civilized thing to do, even if it meant getting spaghetti stains on his uniform. “But tonight I’ll make an exception.”

When Velma was finished making her sketches Batman borrowed the microscope to look at her slides. “Good work, Velma,” he said after a moment, “though it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about the hypergrowth of hair. If I had some of the equipment in the Bat Cave maybe we could got a better idea of what’s going on.” He looked up and saw her downcast face. ‘But if wishes were fishes, we’d all eat well tonight,’ eh?” he said to cheer her up.  “At least we can rule out The Joker, he said, turning back to the little black box on the table. “The autoanalyzer finds no trace of the Joker Serum that usually present in any biological weapon The Joker makes. That leaves us with only a half-dozen other scientists who could have made this potion, and no reason why.”

Daphne was getting out some plates. Batman picked up the small autoanalyzer, closed the lid and snapped it in place on his utility belt. “The way technology is going I may have to replace my utility belt with a larger one, or maybe even a utility bag like yours. They say ‘black is the new orange.’” Velma looked at the Caped Crusader with some confusion. Was that a joke?

Velma was putting away her microscope when there was a squawk from the police scanner Freddy had brought in from the Mystery Van. He always liked to have the scanner on in case an interesting mystery should pop up. “Calling all units,” the dispatcher began, “Home invasion at 1537 Laurel. Two men or two bears are reported ... Guys, I’ve got multiple reports and they all disagree about what’s happening.” The dispatcher had dropped her professional persona to add the last.

“Two bears?” Freddy wondered.

“Or two wolfmen,” Batman said. I’ll go investigate. Daphne, sorry to miss your supper.”

“We’ll go with you,” Freddy suggested.

“No. I wish to investigate from a distance while the authorities make the actual confrontation. I’ll let you know what was happening when I get back.” And he was gone before anyone could protest.

][

Batman had developed a lope that covered ground efficiently and effortlessly. He arrived at 1537 Laurel just as the third police car pulled off the highway in front of the house. Lights from the three vehicles covered the front of the small ranch style house in a bright glare. Batman could hear the continued fight inside the house. There were hoarse screams, inarticulate roars, the smashing of furniture and occasionally crockery. Neighbors had gathered around the house but stayed on the road behind the line of police cars.

Batman ran back a block and down a street before coming back to the Laurel address now on the back of the house. It was never wise to get downrange when a gunfight might break out but he reasoned that the police would be reluctant to start shooting - 1537 Laurel was the given address for Tom Phelps, former bank teller and now mutant. As he got near the house he could hear someone speaking. The words were slurred and guttural, like someone trying to speak through a mouthful of teeth. “Tom, ya gotta see the Doc. It’s the only way. He’ll cure you. He’s done wonders for me already. Look, I’m not nearly as hairy as I usta be.”

There was a snarl for a reply followed by a great crash of breaking glass. A hairy wolfman burst through the sliding glass door on the back of the house pulled by a second, larger wolfman. He was wearing the shreds of a blue coverall. Batman guessed he must be BobThorpe, the mechanic. In the moment before they collided with him he wondered why Thorpe thought he was getting less hairy.  In the early evening light one looked has hairy as the other.

Phelps ran right over Batman, not even seeing that he was there. Thorpe planted a foot on Batman’s chest as he vaulted over the fallen detective.

It took Batman a moment to catch his breath, then he was in hot pursuit of the two changelings. As he ran he pulled his Batarang out of his utility belt and shook it out. The weighted tether was excellent for bringing down fleeing suspect, wrapping around their legs in a tangle that was hard to pull loose.

The two beasts ran for a quarter-mile into the woods, Thorpe steadily gaining on the the smaller Mr. Phelps. They had to slow up as they entered the forest, giving Batman a chance to get close to the pursuing larger beast. The caped Crusader let fly with the Batarang It banged into Thorpe’s legs, split in two, the strands wrapping and tangling together around his legs. Thorpe fell with a heavy grunt. Batman expected him to be out of action for a while.

Phelps, surprisingly, turned on Batman, throwing a punch at his face. Batman blocked the punch with his arm and the one that followed after that, and a third as well. “Mr Phelps, I am The Batman. I’m here to help you and all the others like you. The doctor you’re talking about isn’t trying to help you. He’s using you for some experiment. Come with me and I’ll get you decent medical treatment.”

“You’ll just put me in a zoo like you do all the other people you help,” Phelps growled back.

“Zoo?” The statement had Batman stumped for a moment. He never put anyone on display for any reason. Someone must have anticipated his coming and had filled these victims with weird, twisted lies about him.

He didn’t have time for further thought as Phelps again charged him. He slipped to the side, tripping the former bank teller as he charged past, slamming doubled fists onto the back of his head as he fall past. Phelps fell to the ground with grunt and didn’t move.

Batman bent over to tie him up when he heard a grunt behind him. He spun on his heels but not quickly enough. A large rock came crashing down on his head. He crumpled to the ground. Dimly he heard someone mutter, “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself!”

And then the rock came crashing down again.

][

After putting her microscope away Velma helped finish setting the table. She wondered at time why it was always her and Daphne cooking meals when they were on trips. It seemed so sexist of the boys not to offer to help. But then it always went so much faster when they did things. The boys were such klutzs in the kitchen.

She was finishing up when Shaggy wandered into the kitchen, wondering when supper was going to be ready. He was wearing a towel wrapped around his waist. Velma hoped there was more to it than faith keeping it up. She was going to say something about that when she caught a whiff of Shaggy’s scent. He didn’t smell of soap and hot water as one would expect from someone just out of a shower.  “What’s that smell?” she asked.

“I don’t smell anything Shaggy said.

“That’s because it’s all over you. You smell like garbage, or maybe a skunk.”

“More like wet dog hair,” Freddy suggested.

“What did you shower with?” Daphne asked as she realized the stench was vaguely familiar.

“The stuff in my Uncle’s bathroom,” Shaggy told her. \

“Let’s see it,” she replied and lead the way through the house to the bathroom.

The room was middling size, and contained a washer and drier, as well as sink, toilet and bathtub with a shower head.

“What did you touch in here?” Daphne asked.

“That soap,” Shaggy pointed to a wet bar of soap in a dish on the rim of the tub, “And that shampoo.” He pointed to a glass bottle sitting on a shelf inside the shower enclosure.

Daphne looked at the bottle closely. “You used this to shampoo your hair?” she asked.

Shaggy shrugged his shoulders. “Well, yeah. It’s shampoo, isn’t it. I assumed it was because why else would it be in the shower?”

“This looks just like the bottle we took from Mrs. Peterson’s house,” Daphne said, “The ‘hair tonic’ that turned her husband into a werewolf.”

“Wolfman,” Velma corrected automatically

“So I’m going to turn into a monster, too?”

Daphne looked to Freddy for an answer. “It seemed like Mr. Peterson used this for quite a while before anything happened to him. Some of the other people seemed to change almost instantly. How much did you use?”

“You know how I hate oily hair and the water up here is pretty hard so you have to use a lot of soap to get up a good lather...”

“So a lot?” Freddy hazarded.

Shaggy shrugged.  

Daphne sighed. “Well have to give this bottle to Batman when he gets back.”

Velma took the bottle out of Daphne’s hand and examined it. She sniffed at the liquid it contained, wrinkling her nose in disgust. She quickly capped it was slip it into her skirt’s pocket to take into the kitchen there the other bottle was.

Shaggy groaned, “Oh, no...” She looked to see him shaking and tearing at his hair, which was sprouting all over his body. Suddenly he leaped at her, pulled her close and tried to jam a bulbous nose in her face. Velma beat at him, shouting his name. As suddenly as he had attacked her, he sprang away growling something that sounded like ‘sorry,’ leaped over the Great Dane, who had been hovering in the hallway, and fled the house. “R’aggy?” The dog whined in confusion.

“Well!” Freddy in the silence following Shaggy’s escape. “I didn’t know you and Shaggy were an item, Velma.”

“We’re not.” the redhead declared as she pulled herself off the floor.

“We’d better go after him. I’ll get the flashlights out of the Mystery Van,” Fred said.

Daphne sighed. So much for supper. She went to the kitchen to turn off the stove.

“And maybe a change of clothes for Shaggy Velma said, holding up the towel their friend had been wearing a moment again.

][

For once Scooby Doo didn’t need bribing with snacks to sniff out Shaggy. He lead them out of the house, back into the woods surrounding the village and around towards the bay to the east. Every so often he would pause and howl out a mournful, “R’aggy!” The three remaining members of Mystery Incorporated waves their flashlights all around, looking, at a distance, like a laser-light show at some rock concert. But after an hour of searching they had not found hide nor of their transformed comrade.

“We need to set a trap and draw Shaggy to us,” Fred said, pausing in an open glen. This seems like a good place.”

“Oh, you and your traps, Freddy,” Daphne laughed.

“What are we going to use for bait?” Velma asked in a practical voice.

“We could rely on that heightened libido Mrs. Peterson was talking about,” Daphne suggested. “Maybe if Velma were to roll up her skirt some, show a little leg, Shaggy would come running.” She laughed lightly.

Velma, still stunned by Shaggy’s kiss (surely it didn’t mean what it appeared to mean), didn’t care to be teased just then and turned on Daphne. “Or we could just have Daphne put on one of her bikinis. That ought to bring Shaggy back running. And all the other victims of this plague as well!”

“Girls, girls,” Freddy began, trying to stave off a fight. As he looked past Velma he suddenly shouted “Run!”

Velma looked over her shoulder. “Jinkies!” she exclaimed and bolted after Fred and Daphne.

People tend to look at Velma Dinkly and just see a short, heavy-set girl and assume that she not very athletic. They would be wrong. As a member of Mystery Inc. Velma got a lot of exercise. Mostly running. Away from monsters.  Like the four behind her. She was very good at running. She was chugging away, high-stepping over brush and fallen branches, close behind Freddy as apprehension filled her mind. Of the four of them Shaggy was by far the fastest, and Daphne was the slowest. And it never helped that she tended to wear light-weight fashionable shoes instead of study brogues like Velma’s. Daphne was going to be caught any moment and then they’d have to go back and rescue her ... and be caught in the process. On cue, there was a yelp of distress from the brunette. Freddy skidded to a stop and went back to help her. Velma gritted her teeth. The best way to help them, she decided was to stay free and alert Batman when her returned. She piled on more speed only to hear a thrashing behind her. She couldn’t afford to turn around to look. The thrashing got closer, then suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed her arm, yanking her to a stop. “Gotcha” a voice snarled. And a cloth heavy with some cold liquid was jammed over her face. She smelt the sweetish fumes of chloroform and tried to fight it off. She couldn’t stop panting from her run through. As the fumes filled her head and darkness loomed she had a sudden vision of herself pinned on a giant cardboard next to a multitude of likewise chloroformed butterflies.

...

And then nothing ...
Velma woke feeling violently ill. While waiting for the spasms to subside she looked around. She appeared to be lying on a cement floor inside some kind of wire cage. The cage was about five feet high and five wide with a wire frame door at the end. She was lying a few feet from the front of the cage but couldn't see how far back the cage went. Judging from the wire making up the cage it was designed to hold a large animals. Black plastic sheeting hung down on the outside of the cage blocking her view of the rest of the room. All she could see through the front was a sturdy, metal covered table in the center of the room and benches and cabinets lined against the far wall.

Gradually she started feeling better. She pushed herself off the floor only to pause from a sharp pain on her right leg. Looking down she saw a large damp patch on her skirt centered around the pocket. She reached into the pocket to see what was there only to jab her fingers on something very sharp. She yanked it out with a cry, stuck it in her mouth to suck out the blood only to immediately spit out the foul-tasting substance on her finger. The smell was bringing back a memory. She reached again into her skirt-pocket more carefully this time and extracted the broken half of a square-faced glass bottle. It reeked of the clear, thick liquid Shaggy had thought was shampoo - the 'shampoo' that had turned him into a wolfman! "Fudge-nuggets! Velma cried. She was tempted to whisper one of those four-letter words that other people used but her mother had brought her up strictly about the use of language. She remembered putting the bottle into her skirt-pocket intending to take it to the kitchen and put it with the bottle from Mrs. Peterson for Batman to look at later. Then Shaggy had transformed and they had all rushed out to find him. It must have still been in her pocket when she was chloroformed and broke sometime while being hauled here, where ever here was.

But there was still a burning pain on her leg. She pulled up her skirt to find a six inch cut running along her thigh. It was a shallow cut and mostly clotted over but still exposed. It must have been cut when the bottle broke. So not only had the wolfman serum been soaking into her skin, which had been enough to transform Shaggy, but it had an open cut to soak into as well. Great. Now she was going to turn into a wolfman just like Shaggy. She'd be stuck in side-show carnivals for the rest of her life -  Velma, the bearded lady!

With a snarl, she threw the bottle away from her and leaped at the gate in the cage shaking it back and forth, trying to tear it open with brute force. Eventually her temper cooled and she stood up - as much as a five foot cage allowed - and straightened her clothes. That was just stupid, she thought, wondering if her uncharacteristic outburst was an early sign of her transformation.

"Think, Velma, think," she reminded herself. First, where are the others? "Freddy? Daphne? Shaggy?" she called. The only response when she called Shaggy's name, a drowsy sort of snarl which suggested he was in another cage like this but in no condition to be of any help.

Second: escape. She had to get a message to Batman while she was still rational, to let him know where they were. She had already guessed where that might be - Shaggy's uncle's island wildlife center. Where else would someone have cages large enough to hold wolves - or people! And it's isolation from the rest of the community was perfect for whatever scheme Eric Mann was up to. Velma examined the door to the cage. A simple dropbolt held it shut but a padlock had been run through the tang on the bolt securing the bolt in place. "Jinkies! If only I had a lockpick!" she thought, then remembered that she had never mastered the art of picking locks.

If only, then, she had a file she could cut through the bars around the padlock, but of course she didn't...

Velma slapped her forehead. "I am such an idiot" she whispered. Of course she had a file. After being abducted as many times as she had, she had decided on some pro-active defense. It took the form of a nail file. A harmless looking, ordinary metal nail file, something every girl would carry. Except hers was make of carbide steel and the edge was grooved to form a miniature, diamond-tipped saw. She keep it tucked into her knee-high stockings where people wouldn't think to look.

She dug it out, looked around to make sure no one was watching and started sawing on the bar.

It took a lot longer then she had expected before cutting through the last bar and pushing the cage door open. She tucked the file back into her sock and stepped out. Freddy, Daphne and Shaggy were in the cages next to hers, but unconscious from the effects of the chloroform.  A fourth cage held an unknown wolfman, also drugged. Velma wondered who this man could be. Was it the recently transformed bank teller? The creature’s fur was surprisingly grey, suggesting an older man. Velma didn't have time to worry who the wolfman was. Rather she was dismayed to find that Fred, Daphne's and Shaggy's cages were all padlocked like hers. It would take her forever to saw through all of them. And she didn't have that kind of time. Either someone would come to check on the prisoners or ... she would change into a wolfman before there.

A Key! padlocks called for keys. Where would one keep one? On a hook by the door? She checked there. There was a hook for keys there, but no key. Next Velma went through the various drawers in the tables but couldn't find a key. This was really testing her patience!

With a growl she slammed the last drawer closed and considered her options. She really needed to get a message to Batman. Her cell phone wasn't on her waistband clip. As if her kidnappers would be so foolish as to leave it with her. Time before her transformation was running out. She had to move. With a sign of regret, Velma pulled the nail file from her sock and tossed it into Daphne's cell. Daphne was a smart kid. She's know what the file was for.  Her friends were going to have to look after themselves while she tried to find The Batman. With a last look at them, Velma opened the door and slipped out.

][

Outside the door she paused to take stock. Thirty yards straight ahead was a large stone bungalow. A mercury-vapor light hung from a pole near the back door. It revealed a clearing from the house to the bay. A lane lead from the house to a pier with a connected boathouse. A hundred yards past the house was a tower with a blinking light, probably a lighthouse beacon. Velma concentrated on the boathouse. If there was any way off the island, it would be there.

Because light was coming out of most of the house's windows Velma took off to the left, into the woods on that side of the house. She had barely got pass the house before hearing the howl of a wolf. She paused with a shudder. The howl sounded way too close for her comfort. Taking a bracing deep breathe Velma pushed on.

She was about twenty feet from the boathouse, edging out of the brush,when a number of floodlights flashed on. Velma frozen, then scurried back into the brush. She had barely found cover before the side door of the house and two men stepped out.

"You got the shotgun?" the heavier of the two men asked.

"Don't you have it?" His partner  replied.

"I thought you were ... oh, forget it. I'm going back inside to get it."

"The hell with that. Let's just check this out and get back inside. I'm missing my show."

"I'm not going out there without the scattergun. There's wolves out there."

"Du'h. The boss let them loose so we could lock up the furballs. Look, I've got my gun. One shot ought to scare them away." He lead the way towards the boathouse.  Velma backed further  into brush.

They walked around the boathouse, flashlights flickering into any shadows. "Didn't I tell you it was just wind blowing a branch in line with the remote sensors."

"Doesn't matter. The boss says we got to check out anything unusual."

"Screw that."

"Hey! We do what the boss wants or we become like one of ... them!" the henchman shuddered. "I don't intend to become one of his crazy experiments!"

"Keep calling him crazy' and you'll end up in a fur suit."

"You keep your mouth shut and we'll be alright."

"Maybe it was one of those wolves wandering around.  Anyway there's nothing here now. Let's get back inside." The two turned around and went back inside.

Velma watched them leave, then retraced her way back to the shed with the cages. With motion detectors strung all around the boathouse there was no way for her to get inside. Time for Plan B. What was plan B?

She crossed over to the shore and followed it away from the house. She was hoping for a forgotten canoe or rowboat but there was none. Soon the lights from the village came into view.

Velma stopped with a sigh. "I guess I could swim," she thought. The distant, though, was daunting and she suspected the water was icy. Maybe she could put together a raft if she could find a few logs and some vines....

A wolf howled.

It sounded pretty close.

A second howl answered it. Then a third.

Velma slowly turned around. There wasn't one wolf or two or three. There were at least six, all slowly advancing on  her.

Velma took a step back.

A light breeze brought a rank smell from the wolves.  It smelled familiar. It smelled - Velma gasped - like the chemicals soaked into her skirt. No wonder it turned people into wolfmen, it was derived from wolf pheromones!

Velma unzipped her skirt, stepped out of it and threw it at the advancing beasts. They fell on it with snarls, ripping and tearing at the cloth. But after a moment they stepped over the shredded skirt and continued on towards her.

Velma kept backing up until her feet stepped into water. There was a bit of a drop off causing her to lose her balance. She felt into icy, black water with a loud splash and a squeal of surprise. The water was only a foot deep but as she scrambled to her feet Velma realized that her decision had been made for her. There was no place on the island safe for her. There was no time to make a raft. She was going to have to swim!

She back out into the lake keeping an eye on the wolves. A foot of water wasn't going to stop them if they decided to rush her. The land was falling away rapidly, though, three steps back and she was already waist deep. A couple more and she was floating. She back pedaled about twenty feet, then paused to pull off her sweater. The open knitting normally was so warm and comforting but also soaked up water like a sponge. It already felt leaden about her. She struggled out of the sweater, kicked off her shoes, and turning towards the lights of Bullet Bay pushed off in a steady breast stroke. The shore seemed a long ways away. She hoped she had time to reach it before the transformation came over here.

][

Batman had trained himself to remain motionless whenever he woke up, listening intently for sounds of activity, searching with half-opened eyes for the presence of threats. Getting knocked unconscious was an occupational hazard. Surviving was the trick. He saw that he was inside a forest and that it was late at night, trees were silhouetted against a starry sky, but there was little to no moonlight. Yes, he remembered now, chasing the two wolfmen into the forest, fighting with one. The other he had thought tied  up with his batarang must have gotten free. And hit him with a... Glancing to his side he could see a rock about the size of his two doubled fists. Yeah, hit him with that.

Batman felt around his head, finding one large lump in the left side, just past the ear. The only reason he was live at all from his injury was the technology built into his cowl. Inside the lining was a peculiar gel that had the remarkable feature of becoming instantly rigid when struck a hard blow. That hardening had been just enough to protect his head from being cracked open like a melon by that rock. It hadn’t protected him from having a painful wound on his head or the possibility of a concussion. His eyes seemed to be focusing alright so maybe he’d dodged that complication.

By degrees he worked himself to his feet. With his head feeling like it was about to explode at every jolt and sway it took a long time. The two wolfman had, of course long since vanished. He consulted the clock in his utility belt. Just after midnight. He’d been out for over four hours. He hadn’t blunder this badly since Bane nearly killed him. Walking careful to avoid making his headache worse Batman retraced his steps back the house of Eric Mann, the house Mystery Incorporated was using.

Batman approached the house from the rear. He tended to do things that way, working in the darkness, avoiding being seen. It added to the mystery surrounding him; the fear he wished to instill in the minds of criminals.

He paused with a start when he saw the open back door. The evening was too cool to leave the door open. something was not right within. He slipped up the steps to the porch in a trice and pressed against the wall beside the door, quelled his breathing and listened intently for the sounds of anyone moving about in the house.

It was deathly quiet.

He slipped into the kitchen, searching any place of concealment for danger. He found no one. The pans for spaghetti were still on the stove,, the heat turned off under them. A quick glance showed that the pasta sat in the water  partly cooked. Batman remembered seeing Daphne put the pasta in boiling water. Whatever happened here, therefore must have happened shortly after he’d left. There was a note on the kitchen table, pinned under the small, square-faced bottle from Mrs. Peterson. The note could wait.

Batman moved into the living room, checking for injured victims or concealed threats. He noticed the bathroom door hanging in shards in the hallway leading there. He stuck his head in long enough to determine that no one was inside, then went upstairs and checked the bedrooms up there. His search complete, Batman returned to the damaged bathroom to figure out what had happened.

The room was damp as from a recent shower. A towel hung over the shower curtain rod, drying. Across from the shower, sitting on top of the dryer was a neatly folded orange sweater. No other clothes were with it, though. Aside from the broken door nothing was disturbed on the room, no sign of struggle. The door, laying in the hallway suggested that whoever had been inside the bathroom had broken out. A check of the door knob showed that it wasn’t locked. So whoever was in the room had a sudden fury to escape the room and forgot that all they had to do was turn the doorknob.

A final check of the bathroom found clothes thrown into the waste basket. Batman knelt and pulled out two orange knee-high stockings, panties and a bra. They were all water-soaked. The stockings were encrusted with muck up to the ankles, but on the soles the mud was compacted and semi-dry. Batman shook out her panties and examined them.  There were no rips, tears or strange stains on them. That meant that whatever happened to her, she had not been assaulted. Batman was relieved by that.

He was beginning to form a picture. Velma, for the clothes were obviously hers, had jumped or been thrown into the bay and swam ashore. The absence of her skirt and sweater was probably because she would have had to peel out of them or be dragged down by their weight. Being fastidious, Velma had washed up before doing anything else. But where had she gone?

Batman got up and examined the door frame. As he suspected there were tufts of short, thick reddish-orange hair. He didn’t need to bring his monocular into play to know that this was Velma’s hair, transformed into a wolfman. He realized that he should have read the note on the table before this.

Back in the kitchen he picked up the note. If he didn’t know this was from Velma he wouldn’t have recognized the handwriting.  Normally she wrote in a small, very neat, looping hand. This was all jagged and uneven:“Shag chgd. gang capt B I Infected t--”

‘Shaggy changed’ he guessed was the first part, but gang what?  And who was Captain B? ‘I infected too.’ That part made sense. But wait, if by ‘gang’ she meant Mystery Inc. then it wasn’t ‘Captain B’ but ‘Gang Captured.’ And B. I. ... Bullet Island.  But where had Velma gone after her transformation. Possible back to Bullet island but more likely, from what he’d determined from tracking the other victims, they seemed to wander around in a daze for a while. Velma could be anywhere. Damn it, he needed Scooby Doo again.

A growl from the doorway told him he wouldn’t have to look far to find the Great Dane.

“Wher’ ‘Raggy?” the dog grunted.

“Velma’s in trouble. We need to find her first!” Batman said.

“No! ’rrr! Shaggy!”

“Velma!”

“R’aggy!”

This is getting anywhere, Batman reflected. And he was out of pemmican with which to bribe the dog, assuming the Great Dane could be bribed to forget about his master for a time.

He stared at the beast for a time before realized that Scooby Doo was no ordinary dog and the usual tricks would not work on him. “I don’t know where Shaggy is, but Velma does,” he began. “She’s been turned into a wolfman but if we can find her I’m sure she can lead us to Shaggy and the others. So to find Shaggy we have to find Velma first.”

The great dane narrowed its eyes, either in preparation of attack or in thinking. After a long, tense moment, the dog asked, “wher’ R’elma?”

“You have to find her.” Batman told the dog. There was another long pause while Batman braced himself for an attack by a dog that weighed nearly as much as he did. Then Scooby Doo dropped his nose to the floor and started sniffing. Wordlessly he lead the way out of the house. Batman rushed back to the bathroom, picked up Velma’s sweater and stuffed it into a pouch sewn into his cape. He suspected she’d want it when he found her. He hurried after the dog.

][

The trail lead straight to the Bullet Bay harbor and up and down each of the piers there. Velma must have been looking for a boat to get back to the island and rescue her friends but they had been all taken up for the winter. She then wandered into the forest outside the village, wandered around there until she found the large clearing with the trap and the now cold hamburgers, where the gang had been captured earlier that night. As they entered the clearing Batman could see a raccoon sitting on his haunches on top of the trap set for the newly transformed men. It held one of the day old hamburgers in its paws nibbling on it. When it saw Batman it hissed, stuffed the burger into its mouth and slunk away.

Scooby Doo, seeing the mound of unclaimed burgers forgot about looking for Velma, or Shaggy and made a beeline for the meal.

“Stop! Sit!” Batman barked with such authority that the Great Dane instantly froze.

“Booby trap,” Batman explained, showing the dog where the trip wire was located. The dog bowed its head in mournful despair. All that food left untasted!

The ground in the clearing was covered in last year’s leaves. These were all kicked up from the earlier conflict. There was no way for Batman to read what had happened. Still he suspected Velma was still nearby. Lured by the scent of the roasted meat, but too wary to be caught in the simple dead-fall. Looking around he spied a large pile of brush. It was maybe six feet high and thirty feet long. Probably made when clearing the woods to set this trap. He looked at it closely and noticed that there was an opening maybe sixteen inches high facing the clearing. Maybe it was a fox hole, or maybe...

“Velma, this is Batman!” he addressed the brush pile. "You’re safe now. You can come out."

There was no response. He took the sweater from the pouch in his cape. “I’ve brought something for you,” he told the brush pile and tossed the folded sweater into the small opening into the pile. Moments later a furry hand reached out and snatched the sweater. It disappeared inside the pile of brush, to be followed by some thrashing and rustling inside.

“Velma,” he tried again. “I need to rescue your friends but I can’t do that until I know you are safe. Please come out from there.”

“Forget me. I’m hideous.”

Batman looked around the clearing. He was  man of doing, of action. He was not comfortable trying to argue with people. Most of the people he had to deal with never listened to reason, anyway. “you’re ... changed,” he began, “but I know people who deal with this kind of transformation all the time. They can help you, help all the people who have been affected by this disease.” He waited and when there was no response from Velma he went on. “I know hideous. Hideous is looking into the eyes of the Joker and seeing no trace of humanity. Hideous is looking at Two-Face  and know this used to be ...” Batman stumbled. he was about to say ‘a good friend,’ but realized that was too much information if he was to keep his identify a secret. Harvey Dent never had that many friends and a smart girl like Velma Dinkley might easily figure out that Bruce Wayne was Dent’s friend and... The Batman. “He was a good man,” Batman finished lamely.

There was another long pause.

“Your friends...”

“I’m coming.” Velma said. The brush pile rustled and a moment later she crawled out from under it. “Thanks for bring my sweater,” she said as she stood up and straightened it out.

“Where’s R’haggy?” Scooby Doo leaped up placing his paws on her shoulders, rumbling into her face. Velma gave a little cry of surprise, then pushed the Great Dane down. “He’s on Bullet island with Daphne and Fred, and the other villagers, I think. There’s a bunch of hired guards and motion detectors.” She knelt down to give the dog a reassuring hug. “Don’t worry, with Batman here we’ll rescue him.”

Scooby Doo licked her furry face, then spat. “You taste awful,” he wheezed.

“Of course,” Velma sighed, standing up. “I was going to go back to the island but I couldn’t find a boat.”

“I brought one?”

“You brought the Batboat?”

“There is no Batboat. That just in that silly TV show.” As he was talking Batman had taken a pager-like device from his utility belt and was punching in some numbers and letters on its keyboard. Putting it away he said, “come.”

As she followed Velma asked, “Does that mean there’s no Batplane? No Bat-copter? Surely you at least have a Batmobile.”

“Nor a Bat-dog, or a Junior Batman.”

“A Bat-cave?” Velma asked. When he didn’t answer she assumed that was a yes.”

It was a short hike to the highway. Sitting on the side of the road was a black, GM Suburban. It had tinted windows, solid panels on the sides and a CB whip antenna but otherwise seemed just like every other SUV Velma had ever seen. Without a word Batman walked around to the back and opened the door, reached inside and pulled out a suitcase-sized package. He closed the door, touched a button on the pager device and the car silently drove away.

Velma was feeling confused by all this, then got even more confused when Batman smiled at her. The Batman she knew never smiled at anyone! “That’s the Batmobile,” he told her.

“But it looks like any other car!” Velma protested.

“I work in the shadows,” Batman say. “What better than a truck no one would look at twice.”

“Who’s driving it? I thought you worked alone.”

“Google’s not the one researching driverless cars.”

The Batman lead them back into the woods and along the shore till they came to a level, sandy spot. He put the package down and pulled on a rip-cord. With a quiet hiss of air it quickly unfolded into a tiny four-man raft. Stenciled on the side was US Navy surplus.
Reaching into a pocket on one sidewall Batman removed four padded leather bags. “Sorry, Scooby, I can’t risk your claws tearing a hole in the boat.” He handed two of the bags to Velma and picking up a foot slipped the bag over Scooby’s paw and velcoed it snug. He helped the dog and Velma into the boat, unfolded a paddle and pushed off from the shore. With silent stroked the envy of any Boy Scout he paddled towards the distant island.  As he paddled Velma filled him in on all she knew about the island, mentioning in particular the lights on the boathouse.

When she was finished silence fell over the inflated boat. She was about to ask the Batman something when he whispered, “Sounds carry far across water.”

She swallowed her question and turned to face the slowly nearing island. Scooby Doo had buried his head in her lap and she absent-mindedly patted him. She could feel him shivering uncontrollably. Scooby, like Shaggy was intensely loyal but not very brave. She thought about the Batman TV show that she’s watched all her life. It was what had encouraged her to become a detective. Whenever she was stuck on a problem she would whisper, “What would Batman do?” And somehow that would always give her an answer. So there was no Batplane, Batboat, Batsubmarine, etc. While the Batmobile was a prosaic car lacking the flaring wings and giant jet engine that had made the TV Batmobile so dramatic. It was kind of disappointing. Then again there was nothing disappointing about the man sitting in the inflatable raft with her. He was dynamic, commanding, masterful in all the ways that the TV Batman attempted to be. Only where the TV actor tended to speak in exclamation marks, the real Batman rarely spoke above a whisper. Perhaps that was to disguise his voice, but ... She knew she’d never be able to watch the TV show ever again the same way, this man was more The Batman then the actor on TV had ever been.

The boat was angling across the point of Bullet Island she noticed and coming up the far side of the strait. The waters here were pretty rocky and navigation was a challenge. Velma keep a sharp look-out for submerged rocks. They found a good landing point about half way up the island and pulled in to it. Batman pulled the raft out of the water and hide it in some bushes. Velma waited patiently. He stepped up to her after a moment. “Your friends are still locked in the cages in the workshop?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“I want you to go free them. Take Scooby with you for protection.”

Velma wondered who would be protecting who but didn’t say anything about that. “I looked for a key to their cages couldn’t find one. And I tossed my file inside Daphne’s cage. If she’s not awake they still might be locked up. And I don’t have another file.”

Batman paused in thought for second then reached into his utility belt and pulled out a compact mass that he quickly unfolded into a pair of wire cutters. A leatherman tool Velma noted. Off the shelve components for his utility belt. You can’t go around order stuff to be special-made for you without people wondering, paper-trails and all that. And of course none of the decals that the TV Batman had splattered all over his devices. Batman, the real Batman never left behind anything that could be traced to him.

“These should work,” he said, handing them to her. “I’m going up to the house to lure the gang out. How many did you see when they were capturing you?”

“Six or eight. Not more than ten. I didn’t stop to count, Sorry.”

“You’ve been doing great, Velma,” he whispered, sending a torrent of hot blood to her face.

“How can we help once we get free?”

“Stay vigilant. Stay undercover. Don’t try to help me. I work best alone.”

“Oh...” Velma was audibly disappointed.

“See to your friends,” Batman whispered before disappearing into the brush.

“Well!” grunted Velma. “Come on Scooby.”

deviantID

beb01
Brian Brown
United States
Current Residence: Detroit, Rock City
Favourite genre of music: Rock
Favourite photographer: Rich Lieder
Operating System: Windows 98
Shell of choice: Conch
Skin of choice: grayish pink with an admiture of yellow
Favourite cartoon character: Marvin the Martian
Personal Quote: "Fate is Hilariously Cruel" - Bender
Interests
After a grueling 15 months the WWII flashback in 9 Chickweed Lane is (hopefully) coming to an end.  This story followed a soldier that the Grandmother would eventually marry after the war, become a jerk embittering Eddie towards life, etc. During the past quarters of a year he and some French resistance woman have been trying to get to liberated Paris.  It's taken them longer to get back to Paris then it took the US to get from Normandy to  Berlin. And this whole time it's been a series of captures, escapes, witty banter and getting menaced again. And all this we knew that the Resistance Woman was going to buy it because she doesn't figure into any present time continuity. Seriously, 15 months on a single story arc. Even in the 30s during the heyday of newspaper strips stories did not run this long. I'm surprised the creator still has any papers running this strip. I would rather he just discontinue the strip then put us through something this again.
(Signed) Grumpy Old Man

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kaspired Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2015
Thanks for another fav!
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Steven990 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2015
U know frost969/wfrost999? Can u please him to unblock me and give me another chance PLEASE? :please: I really need your help. This is really important.
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Thanks for the fav!
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Thanks for the :+fav: on "Vanessa as Black Widow". :squee:
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You're welcome.
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Read story pweeze? Hurry! before bugging you gets to be too much fun!

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Thanks for the :+fav: on "Kim and Agent P". :aww:
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Hi, Dad!
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Thanks kindly :+fav:
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