BONUS SCENE ~ “Birthday Panic!”

This bonus scene was first published in my October newsletter. It’s part 1 of a 2 (or more?) part scene featuring Wilson and Oliver from Weekend at Bigfoot’s and not-seen-before characters who fit into the universe of The Recruit and The Choice, my vampire duology.

I think you should be able to follow along and enjoy this scene whether or not you’ve read any of the related books. It’ll be a bit spoilery (especially for Weekend at Bigfoot’s), but I figure the enjoyment of the book is in the journey, anyway, right? I reread fave books all the time despite knowing exactly what’s going to happen.

This scene also references an earlier bonus scene for this shared universe. If you want to read the details of that referenced scene, look for the dropdown link titled “Bonus Scene – Weekend at Bigfoot’s meets The Recruit/The Choice” on the bonus scene pages on my website, here:

Bonus Scenes – Weekend at Bigfoot’s

or here:

Bonus Scenes – The Recruit and The Choice

disastrous ~ abject ~ useless ~ soft ~ cow ~ nebulous ~ mature ~ brainy ~ faded ~ tearful

Wilson Banks stuffed his hands into his pockets and stared at the ground as Oliver Hughes paced with increasing urgency. The asphalt where they were standing at the far back corner of the Bangor, Maine Walmart Supercenter’s parking lot wasn’t truly interesting enough to merit such focused attention.

He felt as useless as the nearby empty cart corrals as his mind vacillated between calculating the least-likely-to-be-disastrous solution to their predicament and desperately trying not to splatter vomit across that already grungy surface. That would help neither their situation nor the mood of any poor sap who might step in it. Might help the roiling in his gut, though.

“To say that Lena will have a cow is putting it mildly,” Oliver muttered. “Not that I’m likely to get back to Tallbear to see it.”

Wilson winced. Oliver’s sister had had enough to say when Oliver had made the decision to move to Chicago to live with Wilson. She’d predicted all manner of doom and gloom befalling the Bigfoot community if Oliver ever failed to make it back to Tallbear in plenty of time for his annual shift. Doom and gloom that might very well come to fruition, so she had a fair ‘I told you so’ due.

“I’m sorry.” Wilson bit his lip and finally looked up to meet Oliver’s gaze.

“Not like it’s your fault.” Oliver lifted his hands with dramatic flair. “I never should have cut the travel timing so close.”

To be fair, there’d been a reasonable amount of cushion in their scheduling. Not the full week or two they would typically allow—that had always seemed like overkill—but several days of leeway.

Who could have predicted that a terrorist would plant a bomb at the airport they’d been scheduled to fly out of? Or that it would effectively take out both the power grid and the backup generators? Best case scenario, the airport in question would reopen in a few more days, but in the meantime, all flights in or out of that airport were cancelled.

Of course, all the nearest airports were flooded with people rescheduling their flights. Oliver and Wilson had been bumped from three different overbooked flights in the past couple days. The most recent, which they’d been assured they would be on, had dumped them two hours ago. That had been their last hope for a flight back to Northern California.

“Shouldn’t have trusted them. Should’ve have just spent a day driving to our contacts in the Cumberland Mountains community.” Oliver looked at his watch and shook his head. His usual meticulous grooming had taken a back seat to stress eating and working the problem—or trying to—but quite a bit of hair glitter remained to twinkle as his hair flopped back and forth. “Stupid, stupid, stupid! There’s not nearly enough time left now.” He barked out a harsh laugh. “If I get out of this unscathed, please, please don’t ever let me talk you into letting me tag along on another of your assignments this close to my birthday no matter how appealing it looks.”

“You will get out of this unscathed. We can head back up toward Pocomoonshine Lake. There’s a decent amount of forest there.”

“It’s probably the best bet, yeah.” If Oliver’s hangdog expression was any indicator, he didn’t have any confidence in that plan’s success. “And sure, it is kinda remote, but it doesn’t feel as isolated as the sequoia forests around Tallbear. More importantly, we don’t know the area. Don’t know where people might have cabins or be camping.”

“We’ve got all night. We’ll find something.” But in his heart, Wilson knew Oliver was right.

It wasn’t like they had either the time or ability to cover everything within a mile or so radius of some random seemingly-private spot. Oliver’s dramatic shift might draw unwanted attention to their presence, and there’d be nowhere to hide if anyone decided to investigate.

They both took a quick glance to the side where a mature man wearing faded jeans was ambling in their general direction. Presumably a Walmart employee, since that was who would park this far back in the lot, and there were a couple dozen vehicles scattered back here. And indeed the man—probably not quite old enough to be one of the store greeters—was angling toward a vehicle at the end of the row.

Wilson didn’t consider himself to be particularly brainy under pressure, but the nebulous idea that had brought them to this Walmart parking lot in the first place began fleshing out in his mind. A panel van might be the safety net they needed. They could rent one, then after Oliver’s shift, he could spend the day hiding in the back of that rather than wandering an unfamiliar forest.

They could go into the Walmart as they’d already planned, buy a huge cooler or two and enough fresh fruits and veggies to fill them, then go rent that van. Surely they could find somewhere remote enough before dawn for Oliver’s shift.

Oliver took Wilson’s hands in his as he whispered, “You know you’re going to have to abandon me in the woods, right?” His breath hitched, and his wobbly voice bordered on tearful. “We don’t have a breathing apparatus for you.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

Wilson and Oliver both jumped. That had come from the Walmart employee who was now veering toward them. His voice was warm and soft, yet his words were clear.

He seemed innocuous and friendly, yet something was off, because why? How had he heard Oliver’s whisper? Why would he think he knew what they were talking about, and why would he think whatever misconception he’d deduced was any of his business?

At best the guy was merely a busybody, but the possibility he was a serial killer felt further north of zero than the average encounter. Wilson’s stranger-danger meter pinged like a dagger to his heart.

Grasping Oliver’s hand, Wilson turned to scramble into their rental car, but in the very next instant, he found himself sitting in a moving vehicle—an RV?—buckled onto a sofa. blinking himself back to consciousness. Opposite him, buckled into an arm chair, sat the man who clearly was not a Walmart employee, smiling pleasantly.

Abject fear tore through Wilson’s mind, and his stomach clenched as if an icy fist were twisting his innards. “Oliver!” He turned his head quickly scanning his surroundings. There were four more men and women in the back of the RV with them, and two more in the driver and front passenger seats. Oliver was buckled beside him blinking like he, too, was coming back to awareness.

They were still holding hands. No…it was the opposite hand. Somehow that small thing—that they had been settled in a manner that might help ease their minds—helped. Not much, but he grasped that bit of hope like a lifeline.

Before either of them could say anything, the man spoke. “Rest assured, you are unharmed, and you will remain unharmed. We are here to help you out of the predicament you find yourself in.” His smile once again felt genuinely friendly as opposed to slick and cruel like one might expect upon waking up after an abduction. “Lena need never know how precarious your situation was.”

Wilson squeezed Oliver’s hand in a manner he hoped might be comforting, and Oliver returned the press. The man continued his monologue. “I sincerely regret the measures we had to take to contain the situation, but you were clearly about to bolt, yes?”

He didn’t wait for an answer, which was just as well. Wilson’s mind was too busy whirling with questions to decide whether or not it would be best to ‘fess up to that.

“Of course you were. I don’t blame you. That’s the sane reaction. But it was mission critical that the scene appear—for the sake of the security cameras, you see—as if we were all meeting up there as per some prearranged plans before heading out together. And that’s exactly what any casual observers and/or security cameras will see.”

“But, why?” Oliver found his voice first, and his eyes narrowed. “How do you know about my sister, and what is it you think you know about me and my so-called predicament?”

“Think?” The man outright chuckled at that. “We know everything about you and your people. We were quite excited to learn about the existence of another variety of paranormal beings when you pinged our radar in New Orleans a couple years ago. We’ve made quite a study of your people since then while also—” he nodded at Wilson. “—making sure you don’t write anything too on-the-nose about my people.”

Oliver’s grip on Wilson’s hand tightened painfully. The only time Wilson had been to New Orleans in the past couple years was when he’d been chasing down quotes for a story he’d been assigned about vampires for Sensational News (Never Fake! We Swear!). Oliver had tagged along for that one, too.



Wilson swallowed. “You’re not…uh…” But really, knowing that Bigfoot shifters existed made the idea of vampires also existing less insane than he would have considered it to be before learning Oliver’s secret.

In reply to Wilson’s not-quite-a-question, the man smiled, and with a pair of loud snicks, extended then immediately retracted a set of lethal-looking incisors.

Before Wilson could react beyond further stiffening, the man said, “That wasn’t to frighten you. Again, we mean you no harm. It was more to wash away any lingering doubts and to establish some mutual trust. We know about you and your people, Oliver, and now you know about us.”

Oliver’s voice was little more than a squeak. “Why are you helping me?”

To Be Continued in my November, 2023 Newsletter.

If you’re not already signed up for my newsletter, you can do so, here:

The next edition of my newsletter, including a continuation of this bonus scene, will go out either November 7 or 8.

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