Miscellany

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14
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Thought I’d write a few short horrorish stories to add to Miscellany this month, in honor of the season. Here is one of them.

The transformation was brutal, as usual. Sinews strained and shortened, joints cracked, bones splintered and re-formed beneath stretching, shrinking, writhing skin as coarse hair forced itself outward to form a thick gray pelt. When it was over he lay panting in the fallen leaves that covered the still-green grass, sucking in the sultry air of an Autumn that had yet to grow cool. His senses were filled with knowledge no two-legged beast could gain, sounds and smells communicating to him where everything was and what it was doing for a surprising distance; had his eyes been open, that distance would have been doubled.

He was so very glad he was able to keep his intelligence when he changed. Human senses were dull and dim and frustratingly limiting.

He opened one yellow eye, then the other, pupils widening to take in what light was available. The moon, his moon, was a rich yellow-orange disk hovering just above the horizon and well beyond the dark trunks of the trees, and the sky above those trunks was sparsely scattered with fat, drifting clouds like sheep grazing in the wide fields of the sky. Mmm, sheep. He sighed in remembered pleasure. Sheep weren’t about the hunt or the chase, they provided a simpler, cozier sense of satisfaction. And they were there for the taking.

His eyes fell on his backpack, lying undisturbed some six feet away under a tree, and he could smell the club on the clothes that were neatly folded inside of it – stripping before the change was a risk, but replacing clothes was an annoyance he’d rather do without. He stretched, scenting sweat and sex under the more cloying surface smells of cigarettes and alcohol, his own dark, earthy musk mingling with the lighter sweet-and-sour scent of the women. It had been a good night. Four women he’d had sex with, one of whom had come back for a second round. A few more women who had been interested but not quite ready for him, and he’d let them know that was perfectly all right and promised to come back to see them again the next time he was in town. He would, he always did, and either the next time or the time after that they’d be ready and waiting, panting after him, saying they hadn’t been able to stop remembering his cologne and the way he’d made them feel special and wanted.

He’d never worn cologne, but he didn’t tell them that. There were people around, still, who thought they knew his kind and felt they should be hunted. He rolled to his feet and snorted, shaking leaves out of his thick coat. Sheep, hunting wolves. It was such a joke.

He raised his muzzle, scented the breeze. There was a bitch in heat running around at the other end of the woods, but he’d attend to that later. First he needed to drop the backpack off at his den, and then maybe he’d go for a run, enjoying his return to the freedom of four legs and a real nose and ears, shaking off the lingering remnants of the world of sheep. The moon was vanishing below the horizon now, and from the other side the sun’s coming was stretching faint fingers between the trees that would gradually strengthen into bright, rosy rays of gold. He’d be snug in his den by then, of course, cozily dreaming of long night-hunts, of the swiftness of rabbits and deer, and of the pups he’d created and who would someday learn to hunt by his side. The smile that stretched his muzzle was wide and sharp and oh-so satisfied. His sheep would be waiting for him the next time the moon rode full and high, some of them already swelling with his pups, others begging for the opportunity. And all of them, as usual, ready for the taking.

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