tagNonHumanBultungin Meets Skin Walker

Bultungin Meets Skin Walker

bySamuelx©

"Zombies aren't what you think," I said to my partner, Toronto Police Service Detective Alawa 'Ally" Hartfield as I watched her flip the channel on the TV set in the Toronto Police Service station lounge. She was watching iZombie, a show I found cheeky, and the premise of it was quite ridiculous, zombies being able to blend into society through cleverly applied makeup and a bit of discretion. If only it were that easy, I thought.

"Malik, you watch too much science fiction," Alawa replied, tossing her long black hair for good measure while rolling her eyes at me. It was getting dark, and even though the full moon was several days away, I could feel its irresistible pull. I don't need the full moon to change, since I am not a Werewolf, but I love it just the same. I scratched my arm, feeling the hairs prickling underneath. When Alawa's eyes met mine, I put on my practiced smile.

In my lifetime, which stretches across many centuries, I've seen many things, including spirits and creatures from other worlds, other dimensions. It almost offends me, the human habit of humanizing that which is clearly not human. In the realm I came from, the supernatural blends in beautifully with the mundane, and the two aren't as mutually exclusive as one might think. Can't tell that to Westerners, though. They like their monsters tame...

"Perhaps I do, Ally, let's get to work," I said casually, and Alawa got up, stretched and then marched to the briefing room. Sergeant Wilson Torres, in charge of the evening division, was at the front of the room, and he looked at us as we filed in. As I expected, the other officers were already in the room, thirty six of us in total. We were gearing up for the leftovers of the Canada Day Festivities, and it was promising to be a rough night for us...

"Alright, people, Canada Day officially ends at midnight but we know better, the downtown core is packed with revelers, lots of incidents, lots of drunk revelers, lots of roughhousing, a few arrests, nothing we can't handle, please report to your assigned sectors," Sergeant Torres said in a crisp, businesslike tone. I looked around the room, and my fellow officers facial expressions ranged from bored to eager to barely awake. This was going to be a fun night.

"M.T. I got first dibs on the first aggressive drunk," Alawa whispered, and when I didn't reply fast enough, she dutifully nudged me in my ribs. I looked at her, smiled and nodded. Sergeant Torres shot us a look, and as usual, Alawa failed to get the hint. I sometimes wonder if Alawa's stubbornness comes from being a small-town gal, she's originally from the Cree people of the Desmarais Settlement of Alberta, after all, or just a facet of her personality. I'll find out someday, I'm sure...

"Hoping for a night without incident," I said quietly, and Alawa looked at me and shrugged. We've known each other for a while now. I came to the City of Toronto, Ontario, from my hometown of Accra, Ghana, ten years ago. I didn't lie when I told the Canadian Immigration authorities that I was fleeing persecution...I simply fibbed when it came to the exact type of persecution.

"Me? I want to kick some ass, I'm a Cree woman and many of my people never cared much for Canada Day, as far as we're concerned, those people celebrating downtown are on Native ground, which was never ceded to them," Alawa said, somewhat angrily. When her eyes met mine, there was a haunted look in them. I nodded as though I understood, even though, I only think I do. The history of Native folks in Canada, especially in Ontario, isn't an easy one.

Alawa told me a lot of things about herself, early on in our pseudo-relationship. Growing up as the daughter of a Native man and his white Canadian wife wasn't easy for her back at the Fort William Reservation. A lot of white Canadians have a strong dislike of Natives, and a lot of Natives have a dislike of those among their people who marry outsiders. All of those experiences made Alawa the strong and resilient young woman that she is today...

Ladies and gentlemen, I got a story for you. I am Malik Tetteh, or M.T. to my close friends. The nation of Ghana, and much of West Africa, is home to a unique breed of creature, the Bultungin. We are beings that are neither human nor animal, blessed with the unique abilities of both. We can go back and forth between human and animal forms, and the people of West Africa call us Bultungin or Were-Hyenas.

A long time ago, there was a conflict between the Pack I was born into, the Tetteh Clan, and the Amponsah Clan. The Amponsah Clan were victorious, and mine were forced to live the land which had been our home for many centuries. I fled to North America, and finally found a home in Ontario, Canada. Over the course of the next ten years, I built a new life for myself.

The lovely province of Ontario, Canada, has become my home. I hold a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Toronto, and recently became a citizen of Canada. After a lengthy process which included graduating from the Ontario Police College, lengthy background checks, health tests, psych tests and evaluations, I finally got hired as a police constable by the Toronto Police Service.

Much to my surprise, Alawa Hartfield, one of the youngest instructors whom I remembered at the O.P.C. is part of the unit I found myself attached to. How cool is that? It has been said that it's a small world, but I haven't always believed it. I've roamed places like West Africa, the Sahara Desert, the Arab world, Northern Africa, and even ventured into Eastern Europe. It's a big world, yet I keep running into some familiar faces no matter where I go. Honestly, I find it funny.

"Alright people, good luck, and try to come back in the same shape you leave here in," Sergeant Torres said, his deep voice snatching me out of my little trip down memory lane. I looked at Alawa, who was in deep conversation with Officer Vincent Nguyen, a tall, slim young Asian guy, and shrugged. When I walked past them, I could feel Alawa's eyes on me. Smiling, I kept walking, swiftly heading to the cruisers holding area.

"Yo, M.T. you couldn't wait a few seconds? Dammit," came Alawa's cheerfully flippant voice, and I sat on the passengers side, and flashed her a smile a shark would recognize. Alawa and I are friends, though she gets flirtatious sometimes. I think she's awesome, but I don't mess around at the workplace. I've heard horror stories of what happened to certain male officers who got involved with women on the job. It usually doesn't end up well for the guys involved.

"Get in," I replied, shaking my head, and Alawa laughed, then did just that. We got on the road, and made our way to downtown Toronto, which is basically fourteen square kilometers of sprawling urban jungle. Tonight, thanks to the events of Canada Day, downtown was packed with crowds, barricades, with cops, firefighters and ambulances in high alert. In the past, we've been briefed that public events like Canada Day might make attractive targets to terrorists, so we're always on the lookout for something amiss...

I've lived a long time, and the human capacity for violence and mayhem will never cease to amaze me. In the previous century, humans racked up a global body count which amazed even my kind. We the Bultungin sometimes go for wholesale slaughter, but never on the scale of humanity. My kind kill to survive, humans kill for pleasure, believe me when I say that there's a big difference between the two.

Upon arriving downtown, I found myself scowling, which is a thing I do when assailed by the scent of two many humans. In West Africa, we Bultungin tend to live in sparsely populated places, and even when we live among the humans, our hideouts are often fortified, and remote. A Were-Hyena's nose can smell many things, like Alawa's deodorant...no, not the one she uses on her arm pits. Being among humans can be torture sometimes...

"What's on your mind, rookie?" Alawa chimes in, and I take my eyes off the road, and look at her. Six feet tall, curvy and athletic, with light bronze skin, long black hair and blue eyes, a few years past thirty, she is lovely, from what I understand of local standards of beauty. Lovely woman, to be sure, but Alawa cannot touch the gorgeous women of the African motherland, no offense.

Alawa Hartfield has a reputation as a firecracker at the Toronto Police Service and with good reason. She's got that no-nonsense attitude that a lot of men, including fellow Toronto Police officers, find daunting. Alawa is also the division's top marksperson and the daughter of legendary Toronto Police Captain Samoset Hartfield, one of the first Aboriginal Canadians to reach such a rank in Canada. The elder Hartfield retired a few years ago.

"I need some Shawarma to get through tonight, perhaps on our break," I said, and Alawa shook her head. We both knew that breaks were going to be in short supply during the Canada Day festivities. The day shift left us quite a mess, with a lot of car accidents, assaults, public drunkenness, and all that jazz. Tonight, we're expecting more of the same, and perhaps worse...

"Malik, I don't know how you stay in shape, you never go to the gym, and you eat so much junk, Chinese food, Shawarma, Haitian food, and all that should clog your arteries and your midsection, but nope, you're fit as a fiddle," Alawa said, briefly taking her eyes off the road. She appeared to be marveling at me, and it made me feel distinctly uncomfortable...

"I'm different, I mean, I have a high metabolism," I replied quietly, and Alawa nodded, then fell silent, focusing on driving. Bloor. Yonge. The streets ticked by, packed with people here, and cars there. Oh, and the barricades, so many barricades, so many men and women in reflective vests. I tried not to think about what Alawa just said, because it raised some alarms in my head...

When you are what I am, a non-human creature in a human-dominated world, you cannot be too careful. Mother nature blessed my kind with many gifts, among them is extreme longevity, and the ability to shape-shift between human and animal forms. For this and a few other reasons, when Alawa and other mortals look at me, they see a six-foot-four, well-built African male with dark skin and a smooth shaved head. I don't look a day over thirty. I've looked this way for the past ten centuries...

"Malik Tetteh, the man with the secrets, you've got no LinkedIn, or Facebook, or any social media profiles," Alawa pointed out, and I quietly bristled. I'll never understand why today's humans get the urge to share every detail of their lives. There was a time when gentlemen and ladies valued their privacy, and didn't care to reveal their private lives to anyone other than their intimates. Whatever happened to such gentlemanly and ladylike discretion? When did it become the cool thing to reveal to the world whom you sleep with, or how many times you fart in the morning?

"Ally, come on, remember that officer who got fired for posting racist things about immigrants? She'd still have her job if she kept her thoughts to herself instead of sharing them on social media," I pointed out, and Alawa glanced at me, but said nothing. Not for the first time I wished my kind had been blessed with the gift of telepathy. Sadly, it's not one of our abilities, as far as I know...

"Point well taken, Malik, but if you're hiding your four wives and ten sons living back in Ghana from me, that's not kosher, I know how you African Muslim brothers do," Alawa said, laughing merrily. Although I was annoyed by her presumption, I let it slide. Let Ally assume that I've got a secret life, that's fine. She's welcome to think whatever she wants, as long as she doesn't suspect the truth...

I've never understood the humans need for organized religion, whether we're talking about Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any of the other faiths. With a first name like Malik, I am assumed to be Muslim by many people I encounter. I respect all religions, but the belief system of the Bultungin is something that no human can understand. I'm not about to get into it at this moment. It would take too long to explain...

"Ally, you've totally got me, in fact, I was thinking of divorcing one of my wives, perhaps Fatima or Mariam, and making you her replacement, you would have to convert, of course," I said cheerfully, and I batted my eyes at her while puffing out my chest. The police uniform I had on was already tight so that wasn't a good idea, but whatever. Alawa laughed and playfully slapped my shoulder, and then parked near the Eaton Center in Yonge Street.

"Oh please, if my dear future husband parks his dick in any vagina other than mine, there's going to be a double homicide," Alawa said, and when she smiled at me while exiting the car, I felt a chill down my spine. I've seen Ally use her gun before, a few weeks back when two armed goons tried to rob the TD Bank located off Bloor Street. Believe me when I say that the lady is a crack shot...

"Duly noted, Detective," I replied, and Ally and I headed to the barricades, where Officer Oscar Valdez was talking to one of the firefighters, whose truck was parked nearby. I'd met Oscar a while back, he's stocky, dark-haired, and originally from El Pueblo, Mexico. He's married to Nadine, a beautiful black lady originally from Nigeria and has three sons with her. He's also one of the friendliest officers on the entire TPS force.

"Officer Malik, que pasa? You're still stuck with Ally the Tool?" Oscar said to me as we exchanged dap, and Alawa poked his shoulder, hard. Oscar flinched, pretending to be hurt and Alawa grinned. The firefighter, a tall, blond-haired white guy with a mustache, looked at us. It seemed that he didn't like our buddy-buddy moment, but whatever.

"Buenas tardes, Officer Oscar," Alawa said, and she was suddenly all businesslike, scanning the area. Although downtown Toronto was packed with revelers, men and women wearing Canadian flag colors, families, tourists, and the like, the crowds were beginning to thin. I took a look around and allowed myself a smile. I recognized Canadians of West African descent, Ghanaians and Nigerians mostly, among those waving the red and white flags. My people are everywhere...

I felt a brief touch of nostalgia as I thought of my birthplace, the Afadja region of Ghana, in the mountains. It was there, in Tetteh Clan territory, that I first saw the light of day. This was long before the colonial days, before the golden days of the Ashanti Empire even. I am referring to the days of the Ghana Empire, which lasted from 700 A.D. to 1240 A.D. and comprised parts of modern-day Ghana, along with southeastern Mauritania and western Mali.

If I close my eyes, I can see the beautiful cities of the Ghana Empire, whose wealth came from its large gold mines. At one point, the Emperor of Ghana was one of the wealthiest rulers of Africa, if not the world. I fondly remember Emperor Ibrahim IV, for he was the one human ruler who allied himself with my kind, and we were his shock troops as he conquered nearby kingdoms, including the mighty forces of Mali. In my youth, I fervently served Emperor Ibrahim IV and thought he would live forever...

"Sir, are you alright?" Alawa said, her voice snatching me out of my reverie, and I tensed when I saw who...and what she was looking at. A short little man, dark of hair and bronze of skin, was clutching his chest and walking toward us unsteadily. Officer Valdez had his hand on his gun holster, and the firefighter standing beside us took a few steps back.

"Alawa, watch out," I screamed, as the little man continued to advance on her, his eyes glazed over, and he was muttering something to himself in a language that I recognized as Arabic. Suddenly I realized what was going on, and I knew what I had to do. Please don't let me too late, I thought as I looked at the sky, before launching myself into the air, leaping between Alawa and the little man...

I landed right on top of the little man, and used my more-than-human strength to crush his chest, right as he ripped off his shirt, revealing the explosives he'd hidden underneath. The little man exploded right before my eyes, lighting up like a miniature sun, and the force of the explosion threw me away. As the blast threw me, I rebounded in mid-air, and, using muscles humans didn't even have, I leapt on top of Alawa, shielding her from the explosion...

I don't remember ending up in the hospital, nor do I remember much of what happened afterwards. The official story is that a radical blew himself up in downtown Toronto, and although he tried to kill members of emergency personnel such as police officers and firefighters, several of whom sustained injuries, he only succeeded in killing himself. Officers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Mayor of Toronto spoke about the incident, as did the Premier of Ontario, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Toronto Chief of Police. As for me, I was the hero of the hour. The man who heroically dove into the path of danger to save the lives of others. Alawa Hartfield got off with barely a scratch, as did Officer Oscar Valdez, and the firefighter, whose name was John Wilder, also lived to tell the tale.

"Malik, brother, you're one lucky son of a gun," Oscar told me when he visited me at the hospital with his wife Nadine and their three sons, Alexander, Miguel and Antonio. I shook hands with the burly Latino cop, whose eyes were shiny with unshed tears. I looked at Oscar and family and nodded. He looked none the worse for wear, save for a few bandages on his arms and face...

I was thrilled by their visit, but was surprised that Alawa hadn't come by yet. We were partners and unofficial police protocol mandates that a cop visits his or her partner in the hospital, especially when one is injured in the line of duty. I'm told that she was at my bedside when I was brought into Toronto General Hospital, unconscious and perhaps barely alive...

"Thank you, my friend," I said to Oscar, even as my mind raced with the fallout of the incident. I was at the hospital, which meant that the doctors and nurses had been running tests on me, taking my blood, and they'd notice any biological anomalies which would point me out as something other than garden variety Homo Sapiens. My species would be exposed to the light of day, and we'd be made extinct by hostile, frightened humanity...

"Hello Malik," came a feminine voice, and my heart skipped a beat as a new arrival stepped into my hospital room. There she was, Detective Alawa Hartfield of the Toronto Police Service. She was on crutches, wearing a long-sleeved black T-shirt featuring Tupac Shakur and too-tight blue jeans. I smiled at her and she shot me a strange look as she came near. Instantly I tensed, for I didn't know what to expect...

"Alawa, you're alright," I said, and Alawa nodded, then looked at me strangely. I bit my lip, and tried my best to look vulnerable...which is hard when you're a creature whom mother nature designed to hunt all manner of things...and last centuries. I'd been badly burned by the explosion, but was healing nicely. The question on my mind? Hmm. Let's see, what is going on inside Alawa's brain?

"Give us a minute please," Alawa said, looking at Oscar and family, who, although they seemed surprised by her request, nevertheless complied. Alawa crossed her arms and looked at me. This was it, the moment of truth. The moment that all of us have dreaded for the course of millennia. The discovery of the Bultungin species, the Were-Hyenas, by hostile humans who would then expose us and hunt us down like rats...

"So, you know," I said to Alawa, as I sat up, painfully I might add, and took a good look at her. Alawa was grinning, like a cat who ate the canary, or perhaps a human who unwittingly figured out one of the world's best kept secrets. Bultungin law is strict, in such a scenario, it demands that any human who knows about our kind be silenced, usually by ending their lives. I couldn't do that even if I wanted to, for I was weakened from having a bomb blow up in my damn face...

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