1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Story [Appalatian A-Team, Dogman] ...You Can Hire The A-Team - Underrepresented mod!challenge COMPLETED

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Sith-I-5, Jul 30, 2018.

  1. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    ...You Can Hire The A-Team

    Shane Vendrell - protagonist property owner, rural West Virginia
    Colonel 'Hannibal Smith' - leader of the Appalachian A-Team
    Lieutenant 'Face' - A-Team member. Works in marketing for the West Virginia Mountaineers basketball team
    Mary - Purportedly, an A-Team intern.

    The Appalachian region and people. For mavjade.

    And what is going on here:
    One of my hobbies is listening to podcasts of traumatised witnesses who have encountered a terrifying creature in rural North America, and beyond. Some of these people have kept their ordeal and anguish from family and friends, for fear of being laughed at, or called crazy.
    I was already planning to explore the phenomenon in fics, and this A-Team suddenly seemed like a good team to have on the ground.

    "Ee-it's got a cop motor." Shane muttered proudly, for the umpteenth time, as he knelt on the mattress, and looked out the open side windows at the verdant green forest. "440 cubic inch plant, ee-it's got cop tars, cop suspinsions, cop shocks. Ee-it's a model made befar catalytic converters so ee-it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is ee-it the new Bluesmobile or what?"

    He grinned as he proudly recited the Blues Brothers' quote about the very model of car that he now sat in, a retired 1974 Mount Prospect, Illinois Dodge Monaco patrol car. The outside in basic black and white, five-pointed gold star on the passenger and driver's doors for the Mount Prospect jurisdiction.

    And he had converted that Dodge car into a deer stand.

    The idea had been sparked by seeing on the internet, what someone up in Wisconsin had done with one of those old yellow school buses; and like them, he had elevated the Dodge car up off the forest floor, on a tower of concrete O-rings that were leftover from a construction project, with a gangplank going up to it.

    Deer wouldn't know!

    Shane had 125 acres of property, fields of cereal, a few livestock, a lot of thick woods that seemed to be popular with the White Tailed Deer, and a great view of the omnipresent Allegheny mountain range, visible over the trees to the East.

    He noticed that he was rapidly losing light, as the day moved towards dusk, and figured he would give this a couple more hours, before going for his four-wheeler ATV parked under the trees.

    A quare, meaning 'strange', sound from a couple hundred yards yonder the woodline, sent chills up his spine, drawing his attention.

    Was that, was that a baby a-crying?

    The sound definitely sounded like there was a baby in distress, down there, but strangely, the source seemed to be advancing through the brush towards the clearing, not fast, but a lot faster than a baby should be able to in that kind of terrain.

    It definitely gave Shane the chills.

    He shifted inside the vehicle so that he could move from the mattress that filled most of it, into the driver's seat, allowing him to actually sit up, and peer out the open driver's side window.

    He felt an emotional pull to go aid the stricken infant, but the pace of its advance through the undergrowth, stayed him, as if something was pretending to be a baby, to entice him out into its clutches.

    That in itself was a bit of a mind blower. Apart from a bear, or a mountain lion, there was nothing in the woods of West Virginia that he could ever imagine having clutches within the context of him wanting to stay out of them.

    But neither animal could impersonate a crying human infant.

    The car shuddered slightly, and he could hear the sound of someone, or something, coming up the gangplank. Sounded bipedal, just two footfalls instead of four, and whomever it was, was displaying a surety of balance, that even he wouldn't in this lack of light.

    He looked out the open window, as the vibrating gangplank came up[ to that side of the vehicle, and spied a pair of fire bugs flitting close by, bright amber against the pitch black darkness of the treeline.

    They blinked out simultaneously, then reappeared.


    Shane quickly wound the window back up, getting the pane of glass between himself and whatever it was coming up to the door, as he had just realised, those twinned fire bugs...those...those were eyes!


    There was suddenly a snarling wolf-like creature on the hood of the car, crouching tightly with those backward-facing knees that such creatures had, whilst Shane could only stare out at what the light within the car could illuminate for him.

    This, this thing should not exist!

    This was something of Hollywood, not something real!

    It looked like something from the Underworld vampires versus werewolves movie, representing the latter.

    The shoulders and chest were like those of a football linebacker, tapering down into a smallish waist, then the lower half was all canine. And, and, this thing was definitely a male. No argument there.

    Shane stared into its face. Those...those eyes. They looked like they could see right into his soul.

    The door handle beside him rattled, startling him.

    Crap! Whilst he had been staring at it, captivated by that terrible gaze, it had reached over and tried the door, but thank heaven that he had locked it. He always did whilst up here, not wanting to accidentally fall out. Cos, y'know, **** happens sometimes.

    His mind startled out of it's paralysis, Shane pressed his booted feet into the footwell, and stretched up in the seat, giving himself room to pull his thigh-holstered sidearm, a scoped .357 Magnum, specifically a Chiappa Rhino 60DS revolver, with a wooden grip, and a black barrel with four lozenge-shaped holes punched through it, and aimed it through the windshield.

    The werewolf's already golfball-sized eyes widened at this, and with a blur of motion, the creature zipped away horizontally, leaving behind gobbets of green-white saliva on the windshield, and a pair of triangular gouges in the hood.

    " knows what a gun is." Shane murmured in shock, his gun hand shaking.

    He looked out towards the treetops where it had jumped, impossibly covering fifty yards to the leafy, upper branches of the trees over there, in a blink of an eye.

    The thing had moved so fast that he seriously doubted he would be able to get to his four-wheeler ATV (all terrain vehicle), before the thing was upon him. And he couldn't stay up here forever.

    Should he call the cops? And tell them what? That a ******* werewolf had him trapped?

    What...what about the A-Team?

    He was surprised that the thought had occurred, but thinking about them calmed him enough to be able to holster his weapon.

    This group calling themselves the A-Team, with the 'A' standing for 'Appalachian', had invited locals to a presentation at the meeting hall in town. They had described themselves as a private group dedicated to offering assistance in unique sets of circumstances; and that client confidentiality would be maintained.

    They had played a documentary showing a moustachioed man apparently speaking in front of US and Canadian search and rescue personnel, about an ongoing missing persons' phenomenon, going on in State Parks and Forests; as well as safety tips for people going out there: don't be first or last in line, don't wear bright colours, make sure to carry both a firearm, and a locator beacon. Satellite phones were also useful.

    Since hearing that, Shane had stopped wearing orange when he was out hunting. And he now carried a satellite phone.

    He shakily took the thing out now, a basic-looking handset like phones used to look, but with a thicker than usual aerial sticking out the top.

    * * * *

    It was over four hours later that Shane noted the glow of either searchlights or car headlights, playing over a portion of the patrol car's ceiling, indicating that company had finally arrived.

    He had taken to laying flat on the mattress, in the dark, and out of the creature's line of sight, so that if, well, when, it returned to the Dodge car, from any angle, he could aim the Rhino towards it's face, which had the effect of making it jump away again.

    He had phoned the A-Team a couple more times, to reassure himself that they were still on their way, across the great vastness of the county, let alone the state; and frankly not caring if his communications interfered with the gov'ment's Quiet Zone that straddled Pocahontas County, the Allegheny Mountains into next door Virginia, and a slice of Maryland too.

    Not being allowed to use microwave ovens, because of the electromagnetic interference, was bad enough.

    If they wanted to send someone to tell him to cease and desist, they were welcome to come along; he would leave with them, or whilst they were being eaten.

    Anyways, when he had called, a woman with a plummy British accent, "Mary", had suggested that the thing might not have meant to scare him, instead it may have sought him out for his assistance, and was trying to tell him that little Timmy had fallen down the well, but forced to do so without all the charm that a certain border collie may have been able to bring to the table.

    In his view, any scenario where that dogman had been responsible for Timmy's safety, and the little boy had fallen down a well, he doubted the thing would have needed help, not the way it's hands, yes, hands, had gripped the door handle and tried to open it.

    He shuddered anew, just thinking about the handle rattling next to his elbow.

    By time he rolled over onto his left side, and then onto his elbows, he could hear the beautiful, if laboured, purring from a Ford truck, and it sounded like a big'un, probably a Super Duty, one of the workhorses that were so common in the region.

    Then his phone was ringing.

    He plucked it off his belt, bringing it up to the side of his mouth. "Vendrell."

    "Sir, this the A-Team. We are on site, but cannot see you or the Dogman, just yet."

    He had described the creature that had jumped on the bonnet with some trepidation, expecting them to call him crazy, and hang up on him. Which would have been a problem, if that thing out there had no pressing engagements.

    Instead, the guy that he had talked to, had said that that sounded like a known creature called a Dogman, and yes, they were known to be able to manipulate door handles, both on vehicles, and on houses. They assured him that in most cases, even though Dogmen could obviously force their way into practically anywhere, they tended not to. Probably in case they picked up an injury from broken glass, or splintered wood, or something.

    "Yeah, I just seen your lights." He acknowledged now. "Give me a moment to put my torch on." He had one of those "strength of a thousand candle" things, and fumbled to aim it out the window and turn it on. The thing lit up the inside of the car in a stark blue-white light, and went up into the night sky like one of those searchlights that helped pick out bombers for anti-aircraft gunners.

    "Okay, we see you, sir. Hang on."

    They could probably see better than he could, right then, and shielding his shut eyes with a forearm, Shane listened carefully, and could hear the truck come to a halt right beneath his stand, and the sound of their door being opened, the voice of the woman from the phone telling the others that she would cover them whilst they got their guns out.

    He turned the light off, and when, moments later, they called up that he could come down now, he fumbled under the side of the mattress for the coiled rope ladder that he kept down there, since the gangplank would take him out towards the woodline, and he didn't want to be the filling in a **** sandwich. Selfishly, that was the role that he wanted
    them to fill.

    Like they say, you don't out-run a lion; you just have to be faster than the "Nurks", his personal nickname for an NRQZ (National Radio Quiet Zone) patrolman.

    Shane unlocked the door, swung it open, and dropped the ladder out, the mixture of wood and knotted rope doubtlessly unfurling thanks to gravity, and he was gratified by the sound of it slapping onto metal.

    Sitting on the edge of the mattress, with his legs hanging out, he held onto the door and frame to turn himself to face into the former patrol car, and kicking his feet until he could find purchase on the ladder and descended, till he could reach up above him to shut the door, and carried on going down, there being enough ambient light below him, between the Ford Super Duty's bright headlights, and the flashlights and weapon-mounted lights aiming around, for him to pick out four men and a woman.

    The men were dressed pretty much like him, blue jeans, plaid button-down shirts either tucked in or not, sleeveless denim jackets, pistol guns on their hips, rifle guns in their hands, either deadly-looking AR-15s or HK-47s with those distinctive banana-shaped magazine clips. They all had ball caps with frayed peaks.
    One had a dark blue cap with the gold 'W' sitting on a 'V' logo of the West Virginia Mountaineers basketball team.

    "I was afeared that you wouldn't come," he admitted as he dropped into the metal bed at the back of the truck, next to a four-wheeled ATV (all terrain vehicle), which looked a lot less used and battered than his own.

    Kneeling there, he spotted the woman, blonde, dressed a little less conservatively, bare arms, apart from metallic-blue bracers over her lower forearms, aiming a powerful flashlight and chrome-plated handgun up into the lower branches of the treeline.

    The darkness beyond the illuminated trees, was a threatening blackness that scared him now. He was a country boy and outdoorsman, and that darkness had never scared him before. But now that he had an idea of what could be in it, he, he didn't know if he would ever recover that ease again.

    She must have noticed his attention on her shiny red-and-blue minidress that left her shoulders bare, and emphasised her decollatage with a stylised gold eagle edging that sat atop the red corset that amplified her curves, whilst dropping from hip level, an abbreviated blue pteruges-type skirting of shiny fabric strips, barely covering her backside and hips, while a wider and slightly more modest panel at the front, daringly caressed her upper thighs.

    Shane forgot his predicament for moment, and silently drank in the sight.

    After a moment, she snapped a glance up to him, and then back to the trees, explaining. "I was at a family barbecue."

    "She's an intern." One of the older men volunteered. He had a salt-and-pepper Santa Claus-type beard that hid his chin and neck from view. It could do with a comb "Sir, I'm Colonel Hannibal Smith. Obviously not my real name. Now how far is your home from here?"

    "About three mile yonder." Shane raised a hand to aim it beyond the trees.

    "Mm. That's close."

    "Tell me about hee-it." Shane agreed, half-kneeling on the flatbed, and deciding not to move until told. This was his property, he should be in charge here, but he was at their mercy right now. "So, can you kill that thing? I'll pay you."

    "We would need a lot more firepower than this, Sir. And we don't even know if it was alone."

    The woman spoke up again. "From what the A-Team tell me, plenty of people have tried to shoot these things, and they just shrug it off."

    "They also have a severe vengeance factor like you would not believe." Hannibal added. "Dogmen don't know anything about turning the other cheek. You shoot them, they come after you. You annoy them in the slightest way-"

    "Like switching channels whilst they are trying to watch Love Island!" The woman quipped.

    "-and they will come after you."

    "Hee-it is waaayy too quiet." One of the other team members observed. "No crickets, no frogs, no nothing."

    Shane listened. He hadn't noticed the sound, or not, whilst in the car with the windows wound up, but now he realised, there was no sound in the woods. There is ALWAYS sound in the woods. Twenty four hours of the day. For there not to be, there had to be a predator in the area.

    And for people to know that there was always sound, obviously the various species making that sound, did not give a **** about humans.

    So the A-Team and their vehicle were not the reason for the silence.

    "Right, everybody into the truck. Sir-"

    "You can call me Shane."

    "-jump down, and slide into the backseat. Mary, in beside him."

    Shane put both hands on the side of the bed, and vaulted over it, bending his knees into a crouch as he hit the grass of the clearing, feeling the strain on his knees. He used the side of the Ford to help himself up, and then used the running board to launch himself up into the high seat, shifting his bottom along to put himself in the middle.

    Outside, Mary volunteered to ride in the bed, since it would be very tight inside with six people now, but the 'Colonel' shut her down, insisting curtly that no-one was travelling in the back.

    Shane re-assessed his view of her. She had a smart mouth on her, but she was very brave. Or very stupid.

    She slid in beside him, her right thigh touching his left one, but she then ignored him to peer out at the rest of the team as they ejected magazines from their weapons and half-backed into the vehicle, an unseen action by one of them causing a noticeable mechanical humming sound.

    "What's that?" Shane asked, understandably jumpy at every sound.

    "Nothing to worry about, just the running board being retracted."

    The doors were slammed and locked, and there was a palpable release of tension from everyone.

    The driver started to move the truck away from the stand, the headlights playing across the trees as he steered round to get to the pathway that they had come up.

    Hannibal turned in his seat to face into the back. "Okay, do you want us to drop you at your house, where you can make a stand; or do you want complete extraction from your property. We can all book into a hotel in town, and you can decide what you want to do from there."

    "What do you suggest?" Shane asked anxiously, shaken about by the truck's passage over the rough ground as it skidded onto the two-track path in the gap between the trees.

    "Nuke the site from orbit." The intern interjected promptly, peering out the left-side window. "It's the only way to be sure."

    "Well, you haven't provoked the thing, necessarily; so going home isn't the worst plan in the world." The 'Colonel' asserted, only to have all three other members, including the two that had been silent so far, retort, "Yes it is!" with varying levels of anxiety.

    He continued unphased. "The Dogman might just be sending you a message, not to hunt in this area of the property."

    "Well, hee-it's clean managed that loud and clear, then. I'm never a-hunting out in this part of the woods again."

    Hannibal continued, "However, I think we should get you out of here; re-evaluate things in the morning when it's daylight and we can actually see what we are doing."

    "Alright, let's do that. Go into town, I mean. Come tomorrow, it'll have turned back into a human anyway."

    "Hey, it's not a werewolf." Mary reminded, inadvertently jabbing Shane with an elbow as she tried getting a seatbelt from the vertical padding behind them.

    "We don't know that." One of the other A-Team members put in. "If these things exist, huge ******* canids who can stand and walk on their hind legs, who is to say that werewolves do not."

    "One cryptid at a time." Hannibal asserted, turning back in his seat to face the front, as beyond him and the front windshield, the headlights momentarily illuminated rough-barked trunks and branches as they barrelled through the darkness. "There have been thousands of dogmen sightings, with some jumping to the conclusion that they are looking at a werewolf, yet no-one has reported seeing a man change into a wolf, or vice versa."

    "And," commented the only other team member to really speak beside Hannibal and Mary, "there are as many dogman sightings during the day as night, and if the lore is to be believed, as you say, any werewolves would no longer be in wolf form." He held his AR-15 between his knees, with the butt on the floor, and his hands clasped around the business end of the barrel.

    "Cryptid?" Shane echoed.

    "Any animal not accepted by science."

    Vendrell realised that his wallet was indoors. "Actually, take me home first. My warllet is in the kitchen. I can grab hit, then I can pay for a hotel room, and hire you'uns properly."

    "We'll front you the money." Mary volunteered.

    "Thanks, Darling, but I likes to pay my own way. Take me home."

    "We'll go scope the place out." Hannibal decided with clear reluctance. "But if it looks, feels, or smells wrong, we book. You hear me?"

    Following Vendrell's directions, they steered right at the end of the two track, and continued for another mile, before the woods opened up into a clearing dominated by two-storey ranch-house in white, with bay windows and verandahs, and a raised porch going around the structure.

    They stopped about seventy metres short of the front door, bathing this side of the house in the headlights, while the men at both rear passenger doors, peered out to the sides, staring into the darkness.

    Shane leaned forward between the front seats. "You don't want to get me closer?"

    "Not yet."

    "Any family in the house?"

    "No. I live alone." Shane had already decided not to let on that his wife was at her mothers' in Wisconsin, along with their little girl; while he was renovating the house. Already, he had smuggled his ring off of his finger, and into a pocket.

    "Any pets? Cats or dogs?"


    "Recommend getting dogs if you decide to carry on living here, and keeping them in the house. I'm not saying that they will be able to take the dogman, but they can alert when it gets close, especially if it gets inside the house."

    "Whoa whoa whoa, inside the house?!" Shane started the exclamation, but both he and the intern blurted the last three words together.

    Hannibal sighed loudly. "If they really wanted to force the issue, there are very few human structures that could hold a dogman back, which believe me, is scary to both say and hear, I'll grant you that; but in the main, they don't seem to want to do that. They mainly like to scare people. But what is clear from many eyewitness reports, and research, they are opportunistic like anything."

    The man to Shane's right took up the explanation, whilst still looking out the window. "Sir, did you feel safe up in your stand back there?"

    "Hell, no!"

    "From your description on the phone, if that thing had wanted to, your patrol car would have looked like a badly opened Christmas present by time we turned up, with you likely disappeared. Instead, it tried the door handle, then effectively gave up. Same thing around houses and trailers. Dogmen, and God only knows what their endgame is there, typically test doors and windows at night-time to see if they are locked. And if they are not, they go rart on in." To emphasise his last words, he flattened a hand, palm down, and flowed it through the air towards the back of the passenger seat in front of him.

    Shane went silent. He knew that it was not unheard off, for country folk to not lock doors at night, and leave windows cracked open, relying on screens to keep critters out.

    "Face, Mary, take Mr Vendrell inside. Let him grab his wallet, and if you feel the place is secure, a change of clothes as well. Close and lock any unnecessary internal doors."

    The team member with to Shane's right, opened his door and hopped out, letting him know which one was 'Face'.

    Shane slid after him, with the female following him out, sweeping her torchlight around, and pulling her own pistol, aiming it down at the shorn lawn that the truck had put twin furrows across.

    The man of the house totally did not care about that, and followed her to his homestead, stepping ahead of her as their growing shadows were spookily thrown up against the front façade by the headlights to their rear.

    He stepped up to the front door, unlocked it, and stepped into the already lit interior, with Mary close behind him, her pistol coming into view in his peripheral vision as she led with it, pointing it along the hallway to the back of the house, then up the staircase to the right.

    The hallway was strewn with large, knee-height, tan packing boxes, like he had not long moved in, and there was a dusty tarpaulin to one side.

    The front door shut behind him, and Shane glanced back at the sound to see Face there, peering through the nearest window, with his assault rifle pointing to the ceiling.

    Shane felt a sinking in his stomach, and suddenly felt that this was pushing things a bit. He shouldn't have come here.

    "Where's the wallet?" Mary enquired, her bob cut swaying slightly as she turned her head to regard him.

    "Kitchen." Vendrell pulled his .357 Chiappa Rhino and held it next to his thigh as his own gaze darted around, all the dark places and shadows that he was usually so used to, now felt threatening.

    "And where is that?"

    He pointed towards a dark opening ahead of them, and stepped forward, only to be stopped by her flashlight-holding fist lightly thumping him in his chest and leading him to the entranceway, her gun up at shoulder height, aiming into darkness, her other hand moving away from him to feel up the wall looking for a light switch.

    By time it occurred to him to help her out with that, the kitchen was laid out in a comfortingly bright light, bathing the off-white doors of the wall cabinets and the black-topped island that dominated the centre of the room.

    To take his mind off things, he tried to make conversation.

    "S-so, errr, what's that pistol gun you've got there?"

    She didn't look at him, intent on clearing the hopefully empty room with the weapon. "Bren Ten. 10mm automatic. What about yours; it's quite unique-looking."

    "This? Chiappa Rhino sixty Dee Ess, produced by Chiappa Firearms of Italy. Chambered for three-fifty-seven ammo. Ah-" He sighed with some relief upon spying his wallet on the counter, emblazoned white-on-black, with the stylised Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey design from the bottles, sitting next to a colourful cereal box.
    He stuffed that into the back of his pants, then reached up and swung open one of the cabinets over the counter-top, bringing down a metal cylinder that announced itself as 'Coffee'.

    This was proved true when he twisted off the lid, and up-ended the container, brown coffee granules spilling in an untidy hill across the counter, the smell instantly wafting across the kitchen.

    Shane plucked out an elastic-banded roll of money, twenties and and the occasional hundred, brushing and blowing it free of the detritus.

    "I feel like I'm in a coffee commercial." Mary quipped from the other side of the island, her blue-clad hip leaning up against it as she divided her attention between him and the now-visible back door. "Nescafe, the best money can smell."

    "Got what I need. Let's go."

    "Music to my ears. Face! We are on the way out! Face?"

    There was a pause of silence that had Shane and the intern exchange concerned glances, then the A-Team regular called from somewhere in the house, definitely not the lobby.

    "Jesus, don't do that!" Mary yelped. "You scared the **** out of me!"


    Shane joined her and Face at the front door, leaving the kitchen light on. Frankly, the dark scared him now; for one thing, he was never taking the trash out after dark, ever again. Or at least, not without being armed.

    **** that.

    * * * *

    Vendrell did not feel safe until over an hour later, when they rolled into the lobby of a Choices Hotel in-town, and thanks to the state's 'open carry' laws, nobody cared that they were visibly armed to the teeth as they entered across the polished marble floor, signing in at the desk and collecting their keycards, and with his and Mary's earlier exchange about each other's guns, serving as a form of foreplay, the two had by now agreed to share a Twin on the third floor.

    The End

    Although, not for the A-Team


    Roman military personal equipment - - for the pteruges.

    Appalachian English -

    Gun Laws in the United States by state -

    United States National Radio Quiet Zone (that was a last minute obstacle; finally settle on a county that nestles up against the mountain range, then find that you cannot use radio signals there!! I mean, come on!) -

    Counties of West Virginia -

    Dogmen (although the prose led into giving it a wolf visage, most reports head towards Doberman, specially with the "clipped-off ears", and Chow, descriptions, everything else - football linebacker's build above the waist, canine lower features, are from eye-witness reports, along with people fearing disbelief. Almost all eye-witnesses have trouble putting the bins out in the dark, for years afterwards) -

    Missing 411 (missing people phenomena) Huffington Post: Don't be first or last in line
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  2. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard FFoF Artist Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Nov 22, 1999
    Okay, I grew up in rural Illinois, nearly 500 miles west, but my first thought when reading about Shane's Bluesmobile deer stand was "I know people who would totally do that!" :p And recite the Blues Brothers quote every. Single. Time, too (but then the Blues Brothers is a Big Thing here, because we're 106 miles from Chicago...give or take..) The scene in deer country, with hunting stands and ATVs is quite familiar and very recognizable here. And then things take a left turn into the weird when the dogman shows up. How freaky is it that dogman can apparently mimic a baby in an attempt to lure Shane out, rattle the door latch with actual hands, and knows what a gun is ! :eek: I don’t blame him for freaking right the heck out! Honestly, he handles things better than most people would and has the presence of mind to call the A-TEAM...(cue theme song here).

    Like the original team, you’ve got an interesting assortment here, from the bearded flannel-wearing man in charge, Hannibal, to the less practically attired intern, Mary (who I recognize from some of your other stories; she’s quite the world traveler!) They clearly know their cryptids and given the spooky silence, it seems like they get Shane out of there just in time. Love the details that you’ve worked in here about West Virginia—I had no idea about the Radio Quiet Zone and not being able to use cell phones or even microwaves in some places!—and recognized other details like keeping money in a coffee can (my grandfather did that up until he died).

    This is a cool take on an A-Team-meets-the X-files kind of paranormal adventure. Good job capturing the rural setting and thanks for this fun addition to the challenge!
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    I loved the A-Team when I was younger, but to read your story was a bit difficult for me as a not-American. I liked it anyway, because it was fun and refreshingly unusual. Thanks for this contribution to the Underrated Mod Challenge!
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  4. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    I can tell you really did your research and I like it! :D

    [face_laugh] I can totally see this happening. My family wasn't into hunting so I don't know a ton about tree stands, (other than what I picked up from people I knew who hunted) but I know West Virginian's and they are all about using things in unique ways!

    This is when I knew you'd really done your research. Most of it isn't all that restricted, people in most of those areas can have microwaves and such, but near Green Bank which has the largest radio telescope in the US, it's really strict. You can go visit it, but sadly I've never been there because it's kinda a "you can't get there from here" place from where I grew up. One of these days I want to go, though.

    Ha! That's certainly true, it's never quiet in the woods! I thought this was a great way to help show something really weird was going on!

    Dogman is really creepy, I can totally see how people would be freaked out! Poor Shane is going to be traumatized for life!

    This was such a great idea, and a great execution! Thank you for doing Appalachia justice!

    Kahara, Findswoman and Sith-I-5 like this.
  5. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    @Raissa Baiard - Thank you for such a fullsome and meaty review, and for letting me know how much certain points resonated with you.

    Since these things have most often been encountered in rural areas, the podcasts - Dogman Encounters Radio - have given me an insight into the sort of people who 'hunt to put dinner on the table", and have deer stands; though when it came time to write this, I did not actually know what a "deer stand" looked like.

    Google brought up these elevated deckchair arrangements, the yellow schoolbus in Wisconsin, and a few other interesting looking structures that, as echoed in the story, deer wouldn't know!

    A different show, which specialises in narrating encounters in New Orleans and Louisiana, introduced me to the ATVs.

    I have learned many details peace meal, and hearing about the door handle testing was quite disconcerting, I can tell you.

    Whilst not universal, a lot of witnesses have expressed shock that the things know what a gun is, though I don't really get that the big deal is. I understand from British police that if a police dog is stabbed or slashed during the line of duty, it has to be retired, as it now recognises what a knife is, and the next time, will just go for the wielder's throat, instead of their arm.
    If a normal police dog can recognise a blade, I don't see what the big deal is about dogmen recognising guns.

    I am glad you liked this current A-Team, and well-spotted on Mary. I am tying this in with Mary Formal and Liz Merrick of British E-Branch, being seconded to S.H.I.E.L.D.
    However, my overseas' impression of rural Americans, is that since Prohibition, moonshine, and Reven-oo-ers, they don't trust the government, so Mary's presence here is explained away as her being an intern. Her excuse about being at a family barbecue, is taken from Bad Boys 2.

    I am very glad that this story worked for you, and thank you very much for such great feedback.

    @AzureAngel2 - Thank you for reading.

    Well, @mavjade , you were the target audience, and I am so glad that this worked for you, and thank you for revealing some of the bits that resonated.

    The Quiet Zone thing was accidental, and only encountered in the last 2-4 days of the challenge period. The intention all along, was to put the story as near to your home county as possible, to make it more familiar to you, but once the Hollow webpage's stated county was proved not to be in West Virginia at all, I had to select a county that matched my setting of being close to the Allegheny mountains, and selected Pocahontas, and it was whilst checking that place for a town, and hotels, that I encountered this Quiet Zone, which threatened to become a problem as Shane had already phoned the A-Team, and needed that freedom of communication.

    Oh, it certainly is. I was freaked out for my locality, until I was able to reassure myself that the three main factors that increase probability of their presence - water source, corn fields, Indian (native american) burial mounds - did not apply to my area.

    Shane is lucky in that he has immediately found people that understand what he has seen, believe him, and do not think that he is crazy. That goes a long way to helping real life eyewitnesses recover.

    On the downside, he looked into it's eyes, and when people do that, that seems to be the main feature that haunts their nightmares. Now the advice is, if you encounter one, try to avoid looking into the eyes.

    Oh, you are most welcome.

    Thank you for reading and reviewing; and well done for suggesting it as a challenge idea, and explaining your normal issues with the coverage.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    I really enjoyed this! First of all, because it was such a fun, hair-raising romp. That dogman sounds seriously scary—and highly intelligent too if it recognizes what a gun is and knows how to open car doors, which makes it all the more so. Your detailed descriptions of the nighttime forest setting made me feel like I was right there by that “Bluesmobile” deer stand (and being from Chicago, I smiled at the Blues Brothers reference) in the middle of the night—it all really added to the spine-tingling atmosphere. But second of all, because you really did your homework here—you went all out to research Appalachian terrain and culture, even though it was an area that (I’m guessing) had been unfamiliar to you before. I, as a reader, learned several new things too—what a deer stand is, for example, and about the NRQZ, which was an especially cool touch—the idea of maybe kinda sorta not being able to call for help in the usual way added an extra dimension of tension to Shane’s predicament. I always love it when a story teaches me something new! :cool:

    I really appreciate that the Appalachian characters here are portrayed not just as “dumb hicks” but as people with smarts and authority. This A-Team really knows what they're doing: Hannibal speaks with authority about the dogman and instructs Shane clearly and calmly on how to safely stay out of its clutches. (And yes, it’s got clutches, all right! ;) ) Hannibal is an intriguing character, and there seems to be more to him than meets the eye—I wonder what’s behind his use of a false name. And as to Mary—well, there’s a familiar feeling to her, for sure. ;)

    Thanks for this very unique and fun contribution to the Underrepresented Challenge—It would be very cool indeed to see more stories with this group of characters in future! :D
    Kahara and Sith-I-5 like this.
  7. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    Hi @Findswoman , thank you for another great review.

    :D Then my job here is done. :) :cool:

    Thank you! I was definitely channeling the eye-witness' accounts that I had listened to, then did my best to visualise everything.

    I had a heavy heart when it occurred to me that I might be flying a flag for a Southern state that supported slavery and fought on the Confederate's side in your Civil War, but fortunately, I found that West Virginia wasn't having any of that, and seceeded; so I felt comfortable throwing myself into the project without reservation.

    Getting the language right, was the hardest part, with that Blues Brothers' quote the main obstacle. When I started to get a feel for the vocabulary changes, I started to make up some that sounded right, then erased them, and decided nope, official Appalachian English only, don't make stuff up.

    It helped that I limited the local dialect to Shane, and then one of the A-Team members.

    Closeness to deadline, as well as the flow of the story, dictated what got included, and what I found no room for, and I found it interesting by the end, the research that got left at the wayside, such as the airports, both civilian and military, that are in West Virginia; as well as aerospace codes that dictate each airport's usage, passenger numbers, etc., as Appalachia is a drokking huge land mass compared to Britain, so the A-Team being in proximity to Shane would be unrealistic. I was leaning towards the team having a helicopter to carry the truck, to cross greater distances, as well as having the SHIELD Quinjet that brought Mary along, meet the team on a runway.

    According to the Wikipedia page, once I read into it, emergency calls do have an exemption; so I felt that Shane's initial call for help would be fine, but his two extra calls whilst the team were on their way, and Mary trying to keep his spirits up over the phone, that could be enough prolonged electro-magnetic interference to have a Nurk officer sent over.

    Yeah, even as I wrote the encounter, I realised that having us alongside Shane as he witnesses the dogman, got rid of any risk of our observers or readers ridiculing what he might say later; and giving him a satellite phone was another moment bringing him into the 21st Century.

    The podcasts are mainly audio, so the witnesses or researchers sound like you or me, except with accents; and everybody has a an accent. It is only if they describe themselves, or you find pictures later, that some end up looking like Hannibal, someone you might cross the street to avoid.

    Beyond Shane, I could not think of any Appalachian type names, so ended up with the team choosing to use the names of the original A-Team members, so, Hannibal and Face, here, those are not their real names. There is a real element of, certainly with US witnesses, that confiding with friends would risk their reputations, and that either "a reputation is all a man has", or "I have a responsible position in the community" that would be put at risk.

    So even though the Appalachian A-Team are putting themselves out there, helping others, there is an element of making sure their own personal lives or families do not suffer any reputational hits.

    The 'clutches' context thing, is because birds lay clutches of eggs, and I was heading a protest off at the pass.

    Thank you very much for reading, and for the comprehensive review and feedback :D
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  8. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    I love cryptids (and podcasts about cryptids, so thanks for the recommendation of one that I haven't tried yet!), so this was right up my alley from the start. :D You really captured the isolation and creepiness of the situation that Shane and the Appalachian A-Team (!) find themselves in, with the constant hovering presence of the Dogman even when he vanishes from sight.

    Things that sound human but are predatory creatures are very, very creepy. Even mountain lions and hyenas can sometimes fool people unfamiliar with their sounds, though in their case it's purely accidental. There's something viscerally horrifying about the idea of going to search for a person in need... that isn't that at all.

    It most certainly does! :eek:

    Who you gonna call? (Wrong franchise, I know! :p )

    Yikes, I can imagine the disruption that this would be -- satellite phones being not cheap. And hunter garb being generally bright for good reasons!

    Well, that just sounds like a fun way spend hours on end. Eek.

    [face_laugh] I really enjoyed Shane's dry humor throughout this -- he's an unsympathetic character in some ways with his cheating on his wife, but he's also razor-sharp and handles his predicament pretty well. As others have mentioned, you've done a great job of showing that both he and the A-Team are capable and have a very practical, no-nonsense approach to things that contrasts some common stereotypes of rural people with guns.

    :p That sounds like Mary alright, nice to see her again. I like that we get a nice assortment of characters in the A-Team; even if not all got a lot of on-camera time, it definitely feels like they all have a story to tell.

    I had no idea the National Radio Quiet Zone was a thing, so that was a really interesting tidbit. :)

    Why do I have a feeling that's her solution to everything? [face_laugh] But I'd feel the same; the Dogman is pretty creepy. Sounds like the same or a similar creature to the infamous Beast of Bray Road. There is something weirdly powerful and common about the image of a humanoid being with canine features -- after listening to so many podcasts on the topic of cryptids, it seems like it's one of the ideas that repeat over and over. I don't know why people see that, but I would not question the intelligence or truthfulness of the people who report these sightings. Sometimes people see really strange things and it's one of those facts of life that just are.

    (And umm, by the way? I have bad news and good news. The bad news is, you've probably got a dogman-type thing closer than you think. The good news is they're reportedly pretty chill.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
    Sith-I-5 and Findswoman like this.
  9. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Aug 14, 2002
    @Kahara - extreme apologies for the delay in responding.

    This Challenge, along with reading and reviewing all the other entrants, just took it out of me.

    So, you like cryptids, huh? I had been meaning to ask you for ages is that avatar pic of yours, footprints on that very subject?

    I wasn't into cryptids at all, but got brought down this rabbit hole by Youtube algorythms. I used to watch podcasts of this standup comedian, Bill Burr. He appeared on the podcasts of another guy called Joe Rogan. Rogan critiqued some historic Bigfoot footage (Patterson Gimlin film) ONE TIME, and then my feed kept throwing up things about "Dogmen". Resisted for two weeks, then finally investigated, and got hooked.
    Too many traumatised-sounding witnesses for this thing not to be real. I'd much rather it wasn't real, of course.

    Thank you.

    One of the creepiest aspects of dogmen that I have heard, and they have a plethora of them, believe me; are the handful of times when people have been out on their porch at night, smoking or whatever, and something prompts them to grab a flashlight, and they detect one or more of the creatures down on the ground, like when you do a pushup or pressup, creeping closer.

    I planned for this specimen to still be around, so that I could have someone play their light over the grass, and catch him creeping up, but I could not work it into the flow of the story.

    Oh yeah. As well as the baby crying, dogmen are infamous for another sound that can potentially attract 'rescuers'. The one that mountain lions do, but dialled up to eleven.

    GPS trackers, locator beacons are a cheaper option, just a $100 according to the Missing 411 guy, David Paulides.

    With some of these things running around, along with the Missing 411 phenomenon, I have gotten a lot more sympathetic towards the idea of at least some demographics having firearms.

    It does, doesn't it? What I don't get, with the Beast of Bray Road, it seems to appear to anyone who stops on that stretch of road, indicating to me that it hangs around that one area.

    With dogmen, and the apex predator that they are, it does make sense that they could potentially clear an area of its food source, small game, etc., and have to move onto another area eventually. How and why the Bray Road thing hangs around close enough to respond to local traffic, makes no sense to me.

    It's even worse than that. If you have listened to enough episodes of Dogman Encounters, you may have heard a British researcher who discovered the legends and sightings of something called 'The Flixton Werewolf'. Your Wolver is on the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. Flixton is north England, so south of Scotland! :eek:

    Thank you again for reading, glad you enjoyed it, and I am pleased to know someone with a similar hobby to mine. Maybe we can exchange PMs on the matter sometime.
    Kahara likes this.