You think you know a person. You think you know them, right up until the day
they come out and tell you about all their deep, dark secrets and this whole other life
they've been leading that you never even knew about. At least, that was the case with my
good friend, Lyle Lawrence Kingly.
My name, for the information of the curious, is Niles Jameson. I knew Lyle Kingly
for a good many years and was actually an associate of his for a short time. We eventually
went our separate ways, I pursuing my career of choice, he pursuing his. I still think he
was just a little too young to go into the private investigation business, but we called it
'creative differences' and left it at that. We stayed friends, however, and tried to remain in
touch. So I was surprised, rather pleasantly, the day I received an overseas long-distance
call from Africa.
It was Lyle, calling to see how I'd been, what I was doing, that sort of thing. Then
suddenly his voice took on a more serious tone.
"Niles, you have to come here. I may need your help."
"What is it, Lyle? What's wrong?"
"I can't tell you over the phone." He whispered. "It's too important. You have to
be here."
"In Africa?" I said in disbelief.
"Yes, here. It's that important."
"But Lyle--"
"I'm an animal over here!" He hissed into the phone. "I can't tell you any more. I
don't dare. Please, Niles, don't tell anyone what happens when you get here, or anything
about this phone call. It means my life, Niles, and it could mean my death."
I caught the nearest plane out to Africa. I was worried about my friend. If I had to
go to Africa to hear it, I knew it had to be important. I stopped at his unreasonably small
office in the city, but he wasn't there. This meant, unfortunately, that I had to drive fifty
miles out of the city to his house. I was relieved when I saw his face answer the door. We
sat down and talked for a while, he fixed me a light snack, let me rest off some of the
effects of jetlag. We talked for a good long time before I finally asked him.
"Lyle, why did you make me come all the way out here?"
"You have family secrets, don't you, Niles?" I did.
"Secrets that you wouldn't tell anyone but those you trusted?" Yes.
"Well, I've got one of those secrets, a dangerous one."
"What is it?" I said to him quietly. And then he told me.
"Niles, you've heard the stories, the ones they always tell at Halloween -- about
people who change into animals?"
"Yes, but I don't see what that has to do with you, Lyle."
"Niles, I-- I find that the direct approach works best."
"WHAT! Lyle, what are you talking about?"
"I -- I'm a lycanthrope."

"You're a what?"
"A lycanthrope."
"A -- A--"
"A lycanthrope."
I was beginning to fear for not only my friend's life, but for his sanity.
"A-- A lycanthrope. You're a lycanthrope."
"Like a werewolf."
"No -- not a werewolf. But a shape-shifter nonetheless."
I decided to play along, whatever his game was.
"OK then. Well, what are you?"
"You know, I could tell you, but then you probably wouldn't believe me. I'm sure
you already think something about me, that I'm crazy or something, right? Am I right,
I shifted uncomfortably. "Look, Lyle, the last I knew, people do not change into
"Niles, please don't make me do this the hard way."
"Uh -- What's the hard way?"
"The hard way is that I prove it to you."
I usually try to be as open-minded as possible to all things, so I said to him, "All
right, then."
"You want me to prove it to you?" As he made this daring challenge, his eyes
started to take on a wild look in them.
"Prove it to me." He sighed, with an exasperated expression on his face. "I hate it
when people won't take me seriously."
And he did prove it to me. He changed into a beast, right in front of my eyes.
I stood there, in shock, and before I could do anything else, I heard it... A low
growl. The animal crouched into a springing position and, with a snarl, leapt upon me.
I was on the floor, paralyzed with shock and fright, as he stood over me. I could
feel the beast's weight pressing on me as two huge forepaws stood on my