The Wolf at the Door
Oscar and Sylvia are interrupted one quiet evening by a wolf passed on on their doorstep. They keep the wolf overnight, which turns into a standoffish teenaged boy, Clifford, the next morning. His mother Nora shows up to retrieve Cliff promptly. That evening Cliff takes Oscar on a walk to convince him to keep his wolfish abilities a secret. The pair are interrupted by a pack of wolf-people who tried intimidate Cliff the previous night. Cliff attacks the pack to allow Oscar to escape. Oscar is nearly killed several times as he encounters helpful spiders, devious Thunder Children, and the angry talking White Faced Bear before Cliff can get him home. Sylvia and Cliff meet and Cliff gives Oscar his phone number to contact him about any further wolf-people sightings and nothing else. Oscar tries to record the day's events in his journal and wonders what his life has become.
One evening, Oscar and Sylvia are both reading physical books when a thud from outside interrupts them. Sylvia, then Oscar check and find curled up at the door a very large red dog which Oscar believes is a wolf, although there are not wolves in Oklahoma. The "dog" is breathing but won't wake up, so Oscar drags it inside (commenting on its size) and places it in the second-story bathtub with a blanket. He plans to take the dog to the vet in the morning and asks Sylvia to watch it overnight.
Sylvia wakes Oscar up early the next morning and brings him to the bathroom to see that the dog has turned into a unconscious, shirtless, teenaged boy with a black eye, a cut lip and messy hair. Oscar panics as the teen wakes up startled and confused before Oscar tells him he put a dog in there the previous night. The teen calls his mom for a ride, apologizing for staying out all night while Oscar gives him Oscar's red jacket. They sit in a brief silence before Oscar introduces himself and learns the teen's name is Cliff; Oscar tries to get information about the boy's ability to transform into a wolf but Cliff is reluctant. Cliff asks Oscar not to tell his mom anything as his Oscar invites his mother, Nora Hudson, in who is concerned and quickly embraces Cliff and expresses concern and exasperation over his running off and black eye, which are recurring issues. Nora apologizes to Oscar for admonishing her son in his home and introduces herself with a hug. Nora recognizes Oscar's home as one of Barbara's properties and tells him that Barabara helped her a lot when she first came to Podunk many years ago with baby Cliff and few possessions. She and Cliff then depart to go to work a school, respectively. Nora is friendly, but Cliff glares at Oscar as they leave. Sylvia comes out of hiding to comment on how exciting everything has been; Oscar is still in a state of disbelief.
That evening, Oscar takes out a journal he started when he arrived in Podunk to record the events with Cliff. Sylvia and Oscar exchange some banter before Cliff returns with a loud knock wanting to talk with Oscar. Cliff is still wearing Oscar's jacket (now with his own shirt underneath), which Oscar tries to call attention to (wanting it returned). Cliff is too preoccupied to notice. Cliff and Oscar take a walk, though Cliff is reluctant to speak, he (rudely) implores Oscar not to tell anyone about his ability to transform into a wolf, telling Oscar he's the only person who knows. Oscar promises not to and shares that he's living with a 1940's ghost, Sylvia. Oscar asks if Cliff's mom really doesn't know, especially considering Cliff's name (a reference to the children's book series Clifford the Big Red Dog), although Cliff insets she does not as he's never told her and she's never said anything. Cliff notes his mother is from Georgia and Clifford is a family name "or something." Oscar continues the conversation with humor. Cliff speculators that his father left when he was young and the wolf abilities must come from him. Cliff demonstrates his ability to transform to Oscar, who is amazed. Cliff tells Oscar about the previous night, he was out running when he encountered a pack of wolf-people like himself, for the first time in his life. They informed Cliff their population was dwindling, and they wanted to start a Colorado colony. They invited Cliff to join and were angered at his refusal. Cliff states they got pissed and he ran, throwing off his shirt (which had blood on it) to distract them. Mid-recollection, Cliff notices the wolf-people pack approaching again and tells Oscar he needs to run. The pack recognizes Cliff and encircles them, commenting on Cliff's mouthiness the previous night. The wolf-people pack is aggressive and Cliff antagonizes them in return, while Oscar tries to deescalate. After the wolf-people leader calls Oscar food, Cliff tells him to run and begins attacking, to distract them.
As Oscar flees, two pack members peel off to follow him while a pair of wolf-spiders watch on. The pair transform into two supernaturally strong teen girls who restrain Oscar and terrorize him, threatening to tear his face off. A wolf-spider distracts them and Oscar takes his chance to escape and is forced to slide down a cliff onto an old lake bed. Oscar falls into a cavern below the lake, and prepares to defend himself. Two Thunder Children appear, promising Oscar help if he follows them. Oscar begins following them toward a mob of Thunder Children; the wolf-women find Oscar once more and a flood of wolf-spiders interrupt, frightening the wolf-women. Oscar follows the trail of spiders to safety, disappointing the Thunder Children. The spiders lead Oscar back to the forest where he encounters the White Faced Bear. Again, the wolf-women find Oscar, but are startled by the White Faced Bear who admonishes them for inviting the maddness trying to eat a human. The wolves are frightened off and the White Faced Bear stalks away. Cliff runs past looking for Oscar, who has yet to stand up form the ground. In shock, Oscar grabs Cliff and tries to describe the Thunder Children, the "talking bear", and the spiders before fainting. Clifford carries Oscar home using his wolf form and Oscar awakens in his living room to Sylvia's attention and Cliff's rude posturing. Sylvia and Cliff met while Oscar was out. Oscar again tries to tell them what he experienced, but the pair are skeptical, especially of there being bears in Oklahoma. Cliff gives Oscar his number and asks Oscar to tell him if he sees the wolf-pack again, but otherwise not to bother him. Cliff heads out stating he can't miss curfew without upsetting his stepfather. Sylvia is still appreciative and Oscar tries offering a ride which Cliff refuses. Oscar is still frazzled by his eventful night, begins writing in his journal "Today I met a boy who can turn into a wolf" before devolving into nervous laughter.
A pencil sketch of a spider weaving a web with the words "some guy" follow the chapter. The sketch is a reference to Cliff stating that Oscar was "just some guy" during the chapter, the role wolf spiders played in Oscar's rescue, and the wolf-women calling Oscar "little pig" as they were searching for him. A spider writing words in a web is a reference to Charlotte's Web, a children's story about a spider writing "some pig" along with other messages about a farm pig in order to save it from the slaughter.
A full color Wild Life general comic cover follows, with Oscar lying face up, unconscious in a puddle surrounded by Thunder Children.
- Oscar moved to Podunk just a few days before Clifford appears on his doorstep
- Clifford had the injuries he woke up with in Oscar's bathroom before talking with the wild pack of wolf people. Clifford also states that his shirt "had some blood on it" when he ran from the wolf-people pack, although he never states that they hit him, as he "just ran".
- Cliff notes that something spooked the wolf-people pack off as he was searching for Oscar. He doesn't recognize this is due to the White Faced Bear.
- When Oscar excitedly grabs Cliff, Cliff is alarmed and says "no touching, no touching". Cliff will dislike being touched by people he is not close to throughout the comic.
- Oscar will not learn the name or nature of the Thunder Children or the White Faced Bear until Chapter 4.
- Oscar meets a redheaded boy named Clifford who can turn into a "dog" (wolf). A popular American children's book series is called Clifford the Big Red Dog and features a large red dog.
- The wolf-teens chasing Oscar into a cave make an allusion to the children's story The Three Little Pigs saying "little pig, little pig... let us come in."
Some chapters, including Chapter Two, begin with reflections narrated in the past tense. This chapter begins -
- There are some truths that are never taught. One of them is this: When you hide, you find what's been hidden.
Chapter Two ends with a brief line of present-tense narration as Oscar reflects on his evening run-ins with supernatural beings and near-death experience-
- This can't be my life.