I could feel it following me again. Another just like me and at each transformation into this beast I had now become, it lingered a short distance from me. I could never see it physically but could smell its scent as it tended to remain around me for a long time after. It didn’t appear threatening, and sometimes it left me animal carcasses as gifts. It was nowhere around me because tonight I was on my own for the change.
The transformation always began the same it triggered by a sound, environmental or emotional stimulus such as bright light, like the moon.
I feel an itch in my nose, and it twitches. It’s not just an itch; it’s a sign of something more. I’m painfully aware of what is about to happen. My nose swells and slowly expands like a sinusitis infection erupting. The severe pain is worsening by the second. Suddenly even breathing in air hurts and stings. Every smell is penetrating my nostrils with a force of sensory overload.
Chills turn to a nervous panic inside my gut as I know the pain I’m about to endure. The hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand up on end elongating and growing outward. My head and neck stretch out painfully as though made from a rubber band. My ears morph outward and upward, and my skull feels like it is going to crack wide open.
I feel the wind at my back, and it’s so cold as the air begins to rip at my sensitive skin in a sharp sensation. Every part of me is transforming into something barely recognizable.
Skin is peeling from my body, and it burns like a deep scab that has only just begun to heal. It regrows thick and impenetrable.
Eyes itch but I cannot scratch them, for to do so would gouge my eyes out if I tried. They sting and suddenly I can see everything so perfectly. Every heartbeat and I can almost, with x-ray vision see the blood pumping inside of me prays body.
On my back, I lay twisting and tortured by the bones in my neck pulsing.
My spine is erupting outwardly.
My arms feel heavy are they growing?
My face ripping apart like something inside of me is trying to get out.
The moon is so fucking bright.
Everything is on fire.
The light of the moon seems to have a heart beating inside of it. Is it getting closer to the earth?
All color is gone, I can only see red.
Smell what it is?
I scream, but the only thing that escapes my snout is a deep moaning and a growl. I’m afraid of it till I realize it’s me.
The pain is god awful, and I’d give anything to make it stop, but it doesn’t linger for long. Soon, the pain is subsiding.
Touching the ground, it feels cold to the touch.
It feels, good.
There is a sound.
Someone is there.
Something behind those soft grasses.
What if they see me?
Like any animal, my first instinct is to hide.
I move fast, but instead of heaviness, all I feel is the wind blowing through my ears as they move from side to side. I hear every drip of snow and ice melting magnified times ten. I can listen to every car in the distance, every piece of music, television, and radio from nearby homes blanketed along the forest I now call home.
I must move, but the adrenaline feels delicious and all at once, unexpected.
The moon is breathing and beckoning me to come closer.
I am howling in ecstasy.
I’m the one howling.
I hear another in the distance answering my call of the wild.
It’s there again, my guardian angel. I feel at peace even though when I’m human I’m scared to death of turning into this beast. Once it takes over, I am one with the earth and God in heaven if there is one.
I feel like I am undergoing a religious experience. At that moment, I’ve never felt so free!
I see a cave. But first I must eat and there it is, just in the distance, not too far not to close. I leap before it has a chance to move and snap the rabbit’s neck in my new razor sharp jaws. It never takes long to swallow fur, tooth, and meat. It’s down my throat in seconds, whole.
I retreat to safety, my shelter a shallow cave in the ground. The cave is dark, and my body is tired from the transformation and the freshly caught meal.
I’m on all fours.
I feel cold rock beneath my hot paws, sticks, and dry ivy.
My new home.
I spent that first full moon in the cave down by an old stream. I made sure to move tree branches in front of it the next day so I could avoid being found out.
The change hurt like hell, but before I could feel myself change back and endure more pain, I passed out from the stress it did on my body.
The strangest part about all of it I heard another out there answering my call. It was there every time I went through the change. Like I was being monitored. I wondered if whoever was following me would come and try to find me. Part of me dreaded this transformation at every trigger, but the other part wanted answers.
It was like they all vanished after that night of Hell I had endured with my son, Jaimie. The only proof I had there was anyone else out there just like me was the day that cop dropped me his card. I was glad I at least knew I wasn’t crazy. I hadn’t seen him, nor was I able to track him down. He gave me no real answers, and he left me out here on my own. Granted I wasn’t far from home.
I left the area many times, hitching rides from strangers, but I always came back. I wanted to know my family was okay, even if that stupidly meant I was putting them in harm’s way by default.
I was able to use my animalistic instincts to hide when I needed to. I mostly went out at night, so if anyone was looking for me in the day time; which most detectives did during their nine to five hours. No one was looking for me long. I guessed after those first few days of the incident with the monsters they were assuming I was long gone. I hoped that was the case. It had been nearly five months since I had vanished. Granted it hurts like hell knowing what I must be doing to my family. The human side of me wanted to leave and protect them from what I may do, yet the other part, the starved one, wanted to stay to make sure no more of those creatures came back to hurt my family. I was one of them now, so I felt like I was better equipped to deal with them if they came back.
So, I survived on food scraps mostly, or I hunted at night. I wasn’t the best outdoorsmen, but I found I was resourceful. I filled up my water bottle using the outdoor hose off to the side of my house, and sometimes I ate out of the garbage that neighbors would throw away. I raided the trash outside my house stealing discarded food from my family during the day when they were all at work and school. I made sure none of the neighbors saw me. It was amazing what they tossed out. Week old lunch meat, stale bread that was far from outdated. It made me want to tell my wife that for all her recycling mindset, she should have a better attitude towards the food she consumed.
There were days I had no idea what I was doing. I felt a bit silly hanging outside of my house, where I should be living with my wife and children. I thought numerous times over the last few weeks that I should go home and tell my wife everything.
I needed a shave and a real shower. I had snuck in the local truck stop just up the road a few times since to wash as best as I could. I even found that sometimes one of the truck drivers would take pity upon me thinking I was homeless and buy me a hot meal if I hung out long enough. The hiding was becoming crazy, and I knew something had to give.
It was one of those early evenings just before dusk that I decided to go by my home and check on things. I made sure I waited till I didn’t see any cars in the driveway. I didn’t feel like anyone, or anything was trailing me any longer. If I was tracked, I would have never come back that afternoon. My last change was a few days ago. I had not seen footprints or smelled anything out of the ordinary, except for my stink.
My wife’s truck wasn’t in the driveway, so I knew the coast was clear. I ducked down avoiding being out in the open crouching down by the hedges off to the side of the house. I always made sure I evaded watchful eyes.
I was kneeling close to the hose, and I was thirsty as hell this evening. The last morph went well, but it left you feeling like you had the worst hangover of your life for days after. Your body craved liquid. Anything to quench the thirst that came with your body ripping itself in two. I stopped in my tracks. I heard playful laughing. I was filling my bottle with fresh water when I heard her.
What? I slowly turned my head to face my now 16-year-old daughter Amelia. I had been gone for nearly six months and had missed her birthday. I wanted to run, but something made me stay. Perhaps it was that boy that held her in an overly comfortable embrace.
“Oh my god, it’s my dad.” She said to him standing next to that boy I couldn’t recall his name but that she was forbidden to see him.
I watched them both unsure what to say. Their mouths were a wide open full-on shock, and dismay obscured their ability to realize what it must have looked like to me, Amelia’s dad.
“Well, I’m outta here. I’ll text you later.” The teenage boy said. His hair was down past his shoulders his thick pointy eyebrows made an overly expressive eye roll as my 16-year-old daughter grabbed his hand in protest.
“Paul, you just got here!” Amelia looked at him crushed.
“Yeah…, but dude so did your dad. Text ya later babe.” Paul said eyeing me with an annoyance and then walking hastily off to his – was that a motorcycle?
Jesus, I had been gone far too long.
“Thought I told you, you weren’t to see that boy anymore,” I said forgetting who and where I was for a moment.
“Yeah, dad. A lot has changed since you left.” She rolled her eyes and began walking in my direction. She came towards me tears welling up in her big green eyes, and she wrapped her arms around me. It felt nice to feel loved and feel that touch of humanity. It had been so long. I heard her begin to cry. She was sighing with relief; I wrapped my arms around her tightly. Now what? I thought to myself. What was I going to say?
“Oh my god!” she pushed me away suddenly. “Jesus Christ dad you smell so bad!” She looked up at me wrinkling her nose. “You need a fucking shower!”
“Nice potty mouth young lady.”
“You look terrible; where have you been?”
“It’s a long story.”
“I have time. Mom isn’t here in case you were wondering.”
“I was actually.” I sighed in relief that I was spared that Spanish Inquisition for now.
“She won’t be back till Sunday. She left me here by myself. Sidney is coming over to stay with me so I won’t be alone, but I guess I’m not alone after all.”
“Since when does your mother leave you alone all weekend?”
“Since she lost her shit when you disappeared. There is a lot she doesn’t care about these days. It’s been only about you since you vanished. She never goes to the reservation anymore. Granddad and Aunty Maw keep begging her to stay with them but she won’t. She went to meet with a private detective to find out if they had any leads on where you were. If they only knew.” She stood shaking her head at me.
“He’s with mom. He never leaves her side anymore except to go to school. Mom thinks it is because
he’s scared she’s going to leave too.”
“I see..” my voice trailed off in deep thought. I knew I couldn’t stay.
“I’m glad you’re here. I feel like I should be mad at you, but I don’t feel like cooking for myself. You hungry?”
“How about I order a pizza?”
The last thing I wanted was a pizza. All I saw was that poor pizza guy mutilated in our driveway the night those things came. “Yeah, sure. Sounds good. Mind if I come in and shower and shave?”
Amelia laughed. “Your house dad; do what you want.”
That was my daughter the wise ass. I followed her inside, and that is when my nose went in the direction of her bedroom. I could smell that boy. One of the things I missed about being human was I didn’t know certain things. My new superpower was sniffing out where Paul had been in my house.
It was strange being in the upstairs of my house. Newly repaired stairs awaited me from that night when that dog man jumped down them. I walked into the master bedroom where I used to share a bed with my wife.
I expected utter chaos, but I did not find it. The bedroom was immaculate, and the bed looked as though it was not touched in weeks. I peeked down the hallway into my son’s room. I saw my wife’s robe over one of his chairs and a blowup mattress on the floor.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. The chaos was in front of my face. My wife had been staying in Jamie’s room to comfort our son. I closed the door and went back to the master suite and showered.
I managed to shave and clean myself up enough to look respectable. I put a few things of clothing in my duffle bag and then walked downstairs into the kitchen to find my daughter sitting helplessly at the counter twirling her long black hair. My neglected princess, I thought laughing to myself.
“Did you order the pizza?”
“That is fine; I can cook us something. Your favorite maybe like a cheeseburger?”
She was staring at her cell phone with a sour look on her face. “Sidney isn’t coming over. I lied to you. Truth is she, and I fought after you left. We haven’t spoken since.” Amelia said sadly.
“You two have always been inseparable. Was it such a bad fight?”
“She said you probably ran off with your secretary at work. I told her that just because that is what her dad did doesn’t mean you’re like that. You are one of the good ones and that something had to be wrong! I can’t understand why you left.” She began to tear up.
Looking at Amelia, I walked toward her and sat at the counter across from her. “The men that came here that night were evil men. I only came back to make sure you were okay. Even my being here is dangerous.”
“You’re leaving again. Don’t worry your secret is safe with me.”
I looked down at my crippled hands. They had aged overnight from the brittle bones breaking and moving from the change into the beast that now lived inside me.
There was a sound suddenly that only I heard. I stood up and walked toward the back of the kitchen. The sun had begun to go down, and I felt sweat suddenly appear on my brow. I looked back at my daughter, and then I realized there was another one outside my house.
“Should I order that pizza?”
I ignored her as I looked out the back door. I saw movement in the grass. A dear raised its head, and I took a sigh of relief.
“Dad, you okay? You hear me?”
“Mmhmm yeah sure go ahead. Anything you want.” I watched eyeing the yard still. The hair stood up on the back of my neck.
“Pepperoni and sausage it is. Hi yes, I’d like to order a large..” Amelia’s voice changed drifted away suddenly as I drowned out every sound to concentrate on the other sounds and now smells. Something was coming up our driveway.
The front door opened suddenly nearly coming off the hinges. A tall man stood before us and just behind him a woman and another man. They weren’t human; they were like me. The woman eyed Amelia immediately. I could barely stop what was about to happen next. The man’s eyes were red and glowing. I could sense the change overcoming him. I could sense it in me. I was preoccupied with my daughter screaming.
“Dad!” She fell trying to back away from them.
I grabbed her and nearly hurt her trying to fling her behind me. She crouched under our counter shivering as she watched the alien looking strangers. They were shifting slowly but trying to control it.
“You killed my brother. By God’s law, I must make you pay. Only the one who turned you was part of my family. So I can’t kill you, but I plan to have fun making you wish you were dead.”
I turned away from him for a split second, and after I knew for sure, Amelia was away from them I ran towards him. Something in me wanted to tear his flesh from his body, and there was a part of me that loved it.
My daughter screamed again, and I noticed the female had vanished. She popped up behind me and had my daughter by the hair. I turned from the man for a moment to snatch the woman from my daughter. She growled like a rabid dog, and her eyes went black. I turned and then I felt it go through me.
Something sharp was in my side, and I looked up to realize the other male had full on shifted into a dog man. I held on as long as I could, but it hurt like hell making it nearly impossible to fight back. He began to rip at my skin until I felt myself shift. I looked at my daughter helplessly as she cried hysterically in the corner of our kitchen floor made immobilized by fear.
“I’m so sorry baby girl,” I said as I felt myself fall to the ground.
I heard it, but I couldn’t see it.
The tall man had grabbed Amelia bending her over our counter. With a wicked laugh, he leaned over her obscenely. “She smells nice. You ever consider giving her over, and maybe we call it even? A life for a life?” Before I could stop him, he clawed at Amelia’s neck ripping her flesh as a blood-curdling scream erupted from her mouth. Blood went in every direction, and my daughter fell to the kitchen floor.
I didn’t even pause. I went for the man’s throat and bit into him. Then we were on the ground outside after bursting through the sliding glass doors. We toppled down the back deck stairs and into the yard we were just as the moon burst through the trees. The other two were now running away into the woods, and I saw this evil dog man stop in his tracks. He shifted back to human form.
“Sorry we have to run.” he laughed wickedly. “But I think you have bigger problems than us.” I watched him, and his henchmen walk back towards the driveway.
I dismissed them and ran back towards my house. I had to care for my daughter and get her medical attention. However, when I got inside the kitchen, my daughter was gone. I ran towards the front of the house, and that is when I saw her.
Being carried in the female’s arms was Amelia, and then the woman smiled coyly at me. Before I could stop them, a car appeared, and they jumped inside speeding off.
to be continued…..