Stumbling down the hill, I take a moment to fumble for my flask, patting down my jacket in hopes of finding the elusive container. The grain alcohol held within is something I could use right now, as I think my ankle may be broken. The snow had just begun to fall slowly, swirling around in playful flurries that left my frame coated in sprinklings of white dust.
Sniffing, I give up the search and continue walking, limping as my ankle throbs from the pain of every other step.
“It’ll be better soon,” I mutter, pulling my jacket around me tighter. My malnourished frame is something that’s left me fairly weak when compared to other homeless boys, which generally brings me an empty stomach but kind words from restaurant owners who are about to throw out old food. Hell, a few times it’s even gotten a few day-shifts as a dishwasher, laboring in the sweltering heat of a hot and sticky kitchen filled with tattooed chefs.
I’d wanted to get a tattoo once, but now… now it just seemed pointless.
Marching off of the side of the road and into the forest running along the two-lane stretch, I gaze up at the night sky. The moon is lazily winking at me, waning slowly until it looks like it will close for a few dark nights. The forest is a series of thin reedy bodies with long arms stretched out, scratching at me angrily as I pass them by.
I reach into my pocket and pull out what I’d shoplifted from the Walmart, right before they’d kicked me out for “loitering”. A one-pound roll of fatty ground beef. My mouth watered at the thought of some charred meat, topped off by the whiskey sloshing about in my hidden flask. I roll it in my hands, the tube of meat green on one end before showing through clear plastic the ground meat. I hear a wolf howl in the distance and freeze. I bring a hand up to the side of my head, fighting the throbbing headache the lurches onto me.
I’m clearly losing, judging by the way I stumbled into the tree with a hiss. I feel warmth trickling from my ears, and find a steady stream of blood dribbling not only there, but my nose as well.
“Oh no…” I cringe, wiping away the blood before running deeper into the woods, ignoring my ankle. I don’t have time to worry about it right now, I need to get away before I hear anything else. I need to get away before something else surprises me!
I push through some underbrush and trip over something long and metallic, hitting the dirt hard with a loud grunt. Dozens of scents fill my nose, all stretching my mind and expanding my brain. Vanilla, lavender, sweat, charred earth and wood, water, used condoms… I pull my hands over my face and fight back the urge to scream.
“Hey! What’s going on out here?” A sleepy voice announced as a light flashes into existence from an electric lantern. Looking up out of reflex, I spy a shirtless guy standing in front of one of four tents, a girl in his tee shirt standing behind him. The girl smells enticing, her skin clean from a scentless soap that has a slight stench of the man on her from some intense sex they’d had within the last half-hour. Looking at her, she has a mane of fiery red curls, black rimmed glasses, and a septum piercing in her nose. Her skin is as white as the snow falling down around us, and she matches my stare with a curious one.
“Who the hell are you?” The guy demanded, walking up close enough to grab the front of my jacket, hauling my frail frame up to hang just below the lantern in his other hand. I shudder as he drags my swollen ankle across the dirt. All I can smell now is his scent and blood. Sweat, testosterone, and blood.
I snarl at him, kicking him in the chest on reflex with my bad leg. A loud snap confirms my ankle is broken, leading to me falling onto my back while howling in pain. He’s stumbled back, rubbing his bare chest, while the girl has run past her boyfriend and over to me.
“Oh my god, how are you walking? And you’re bleeding, wow, Chase, get the first aid kit from the back of the jeep, this kid needs some help!” The girl ordered her boyfriend, dropping down to her knees next to me. I can smell him on her, his sweat and grime marring her pristine form. I growl a little, opening my eyes wide to stare up into the sky as my vision is flooded with crimson.
I lash out and grab the girl by the wrist, squeezing down hard. She looks at me and lays her hand over mine, patting it.
“It’s okay,” she said, not understanding what is going on. “I’ll get you patched up. I’m a nurse, I know how to help you!”
I thrash and spasm, my bones realigning within my body with a dull grind that echoes through my frame. My ankle pops, the broken bones knitting back together as they lengthen. I’m panting as everything is growing hot, and I blink back tears of blood; this isn’t good, I need to get her away!
I look up at her and try to say something, but my jaw dangles uselessly. I can feel bone spurs pressing against the back of my head, pressing into me as they grow stronger and longer. She seems to be checking my pulse and lets out a scream as I drop forward, rolling across some snowy earth to stare up at her, silently screaming. I can see my body, now headless, the upper torso stretching as skin splits, revealing red meat beneath, muscles straining to contain a skeleton growing far too rapidly.
The body rolls over, dragging the cute girl with it.
She’s screaming now, and there are a lot of other voices coming from the other tents. I wince as I watch my ribcage squeeze out my innards, a steaming pile of broiling organs onto the snow. Where my neck had been as split, the protrusions stretching out that ripped my head clean off forming into an elongated skull. The protrusions break away into smaller shards, forming teeth into the ursine mouth, a length of tendon sliding up and wagging outside the new mouth like a tongue.
My old legs have reversed, ripping my pants and leaving my bony legs and hips in a hellish mess as the bone spurs elongate out of my former body. My feet have grown substantially, with hooked claws forming from the bones of my toes, my hands becoming massive paws supported by thick, corded muscles over thickened bone. My body rears back, hundreds of cracks as my spine stretches out, making a five-foot teen into an eight-foot-long monster. I stare with disdain as the screaming girl garners the attention of my remains.
The boyfriend comes running up and stops by my head, staring down at all the blood staining the snow. I mouth a warning at him but he instead levels a shotgun at the hulking beast that was my body and fires.
He pops the spent shells out of the gun without checking how well the buck shot had done. Shredded muscles curled and stretched, fibers connecting to spark life back into ligaments torn by the first volley. Blood seeps from within the beast, drizzling the pile of guts growing cold. The beast lunges forward, maw opened wide enough to swallow the shotgun, as well as the boyfriend’s hands.
It does just that, twisting to rip them clean off his forearms. The boyfriend quickly begins to waver as his blood pressure changes drastically.
I’m greeted with a crimson shower as more teenagers emerge from their tents, the electric lantern sitting in the snow where I’d been laying cascading a dreadful white glow over the monstrous entity my body had become. I dart my eyes down to look at the girlfriend, sniveling while holding her wrist. Blood is flowing from it, and her hand is bent back as if it were pulled on suddenly, but she seems to be out of the beast’s center of attention.
I heave a sigh and wet my lips before whistling out to the great beast. It pauses, swinging its head down to “look” at me with what I know are sensors just beneath the carapace. They track heat and sound. I close my eyes as the monster laps me up, wincing as it crushes me with the massive fangs.
Suddenly I’m back in control, to an extent. I feel dehydrated, and starving. I can “hear” with my entire body, and track through the hidden spots on my head the heat of the teens. I lean back my head and howl before I begin my hunt.
I pounce on two girls that came out, one with short black hair and piercings, the other a tanned girl with long legs. I devour those legs as I claw off the terrified face of her lover. My lower abdomen begins crushing the meat and bone I’m consuming, milking it for the precious blood I need to survive.
I hear the former girlfriend of my first kill crawling away from behind me. I take a lazy kick into her stomach, my three-toed foot punching a hole straight through her shirt and into her upper intestines. I smell the feces and sweet blood gushing from her, and swivel around to belch up the ruined shotgun in favor of eating her. She screams as my jaws close over her head, then falls limp when I begin tearing away great strips of meat and bone. The other teenagers are running for their cars, but I don’t care. The boyfriend, the two lovers, and the pretty girl
That’ll do for a night. In the morning I’d shed the monstrous body and be forced to find clothing. I know I’d read all about the slaughter in the papers in the coming days. I’d regret this, but as I move in on the boyfriend, who is begging for his life, I merely chuckle darkly. Being a big, bad wolf wasn’t so bad sometimes.
I kick something from my remains accidentally, and it clatters near some rocks. I swivel my head and walk over to it, rolling out my tongue to taste what I’d find.
Metal… leather… hints of whiskey…?
Okay, maybe the night wouldn’t be so bad now. That was always a hard thing to keep between transformations.