I just woke up from the strangest dream…

I was staying at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, although neither the building nor the grounds looked right. My mother and and I were walking outside talking when we saw a rather large black wolf roaming close by unattended. Its fur looked as soft as down; fluffy and inviting. The kind of fur that you would love to pet and scratch and bury your face in. But there was something oddly menacing about the creature’s face… its eyes. His eyes. Somehow I knew it was male although I could see no evidence of that. Some psychic impression of a masculine force that I found both threatening and alluring at the same time. This was a a bit disturbing, and even more so when we realized that it was moving toward us.

I suggested that we slowly move in the other direction so as to not startle it or draw undue attention to ourselves, but it just kept moving closer, now picking up speed. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest… as thoughts of maulings and rabies filled my addled brain. Grasping my mother’s hand I pulled her away from our intruder as we began to walk faster, faster… now trotting toward  a group of picnic tables partly surrounded by some tall trees and shrubs. As if the beast knew our plan, and hellbent on stopping our escape to refuge, he began running at full speed toward our position, a realization that sent our already elevated levels of concern over into what can be described as the first levels of panic.

“Run!!” (Did I yell that or was it someone else?) Ignoring my mother’s physical comfort, I pulled her arm as hard as I could as I made a mad dash for the tables, my mind reeling with fear and with purpose. Upon reaching them we stepped up on to the bench, and then onto the table’s surface, feeling accomplished and relieved that we had survived unscathed. Our pursuer, however, had other plans. He began to snarl and growl, his eyes filled with a type of primal malice I had never considered until that moment. It chilled me to see it, but this sensation was short lived, replaced by white hot fear when the wolf began to step up first onto the bench and then next onto the table; his front paws now violating our beloved sanctuary.

With as much speed as I could muster I swung my train bag toward the creature hoping to scare it away; my mind filled with conflicting thoughts… primarily of safety and defense, but now also of concern for my beloved bag. Thoughts of pristine name-brand black leather being scratched and mauled beyond repair, and now embarrassment at having these frivolous concerns. I swung a second time, now a third, and the creature responded favorably, retreating slowly down the table and the bench until it had completely yielded the high ground to us; our feelings of security returning. Did I notice something else about it? A tinge of gray? No, more than a tinge. Had the creature somehow changed color during our encounter? Before I could ponder further a slight movement caught its eye and like a bolt of lightning it streaked away from our position to a small path of flowers and bushes across from us where some unfortunate creature had been foraging for food.

With the wolf turned away from us my mother and I seemed to share a single thought between us though no words were spoken. Just as we began to turn to make our way down from the table in the hopes of making it to one of the nearby hotel buildings and thus to safety, the wolf turned to face us once more and we were frozen in horror. No, not horror, for that would require some understanding or at least an assumption of a threat, but what we saw now was so foreign so as to replace any prior concerns with crystal sharp disbelief; slicing through my brain and leaving me helpless to do anything but watch the spectacle playing out before me. The wolf had now not only changed color once more –now black and gray with an undercoat of golden yellow brown– but had now seemingly changed shape. His front legs seemingly more muscular than before, his paws replaced with what seemed to my eye to be hands. His torso was likewise muscular and had it not been for the thick coat of fur that covered him completely I would have thought it human. Could this be a human being? In the moment that it took to begin to dismiss such an absurd notion the creature grabbed hold of his prey which I now saw was a small raccoon, and lifted it with both hands to his mouth and bit into the still living animal. It was precisely the kind of stance and motion that one would expect from a bear, but coming from a wolf –even a somehow changed wolf was more than common sense could allow for. Blood flowed over his lips and teeth as he enjoyed his meal, turning to face us now head-on so that I could witness this mockery of the natural world, or at least a mockery of my understanding of it. “A werewolf?” I asked myself. “Is it even possible?”

With him enjoying his catch seemed the perfect opportunity to flee and so we bolted from the tables and ran as fast as we could toward the hotel, our pursuer not following. Inside and to safety at last we were joined by other guests and then the hotel staff who were now all talking at once, leaving me unable to decipher what individual words they were saying but their speech all filled with the tones of concern. My heart beating hard in my chest, but calming now as I took deep breaths and began to feel more secure. I heard someone ask us what it was and as we recalled our story they looked on in amused disbelief.

“Oh, the hotel has people in costumes all around here, I’m sure that’s what that was.” The person’s genuine and yet somehow simultaneously patronizing tone washed over me like snow.

“Well if that’s what it was,” I replied, “then I’m going to have to complain to management.”