Story Time!

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Note: This was written in 2010. I just don’t want to lose it, and I’m kind of proud of it.

I don’t often get taken by the writing bug. When I do, though, it gets… sometimes surreal.  I woke up from a nap this afternoon with a story running around in my head. Here ya go. Enjoy.  Welcome to my polluted stream of consciousness.

*****

I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I couldn’t help myself, but in the back of my brain, I knew I shouldn’t have been out there.

The night was perfect: crisp air, full moon, wispy clouds, a hint of woodsmoke every once in a while on the breeze. By morning, there would be frost on the stubble of harvested cornstalks in this field. And still, I walked around like I owned the place.

I didn’t see, hear, or smell anything out of the ordinary. My nose was cold and my breath was fogging the air in front of me. My brown hoodie was thermal-lined, so I was mostly warm enough, and my fingerless gloved-hands were deep in my pockets. I had almost reached the circle of blue-white light cast by the power pole’s light when there was a frantic, angry bleat from behind me to my right, and before I could do anything, even before I could turn and see what the hell made that horrible sound, I was flying through the air to land facefirst on the crunchy grass at the side of the gravel turnaround. Dazed, I tried to lever myself up, but my hip gave out; I could already tell that I was going to be bruised like nothing else had ever done, and I probably wouldn’t be able to walk in the morning.

Painful as it was, I managed to get myself on my hands and one knee with my right leg straight out behind me. Must have been too good of a target, because the next thing I knew, I had something big and sharp clamped on to my ass. Howling in even more pain, I swung backward with my right arm and made contact with the head that had its viselike teeth sunk into my backside, and it ripped away, pulling one pocket of my jeans and what felt like half of my butt, too.

I glimpsed a big hairy body with curled horns about ten feet away from me, with a pissed-off look on its face. It started to slowly stomp toward me on its spindly legs, tiny hooves barely making sounds on the grass. I remember thinking, oddly, “How can something stomp and not make any noise, especially with those little hooves?” I had gotten myself mostly upright again, and I could tell I was bleeding from my right ass-cheek. The damn thing came at me again, and I managed not to get myself thumped in the stomach. Those horns are bad enough when you get them in the butt and thigh; I’d never breathe again if I took them in the gut.

My noise-level finally roused my grandmother and she sent my uncle out with a baseball bat she kept by the side door to find out what was going on. He managed to scare the thing back into its pen with the bat and by just scaring it back in there, then he came and got me up off the ground. We made our way back to the house, me limping with my arm around his shoulder, him laughing because of the situation.

“This isn’t funny, Jake,” I said as he helped me into the house.

“Oh, believe me,” he said, “It is.”

My grandmother helped me down onto the bed in the spare bedroom where I was staying for the weekend. “What happened out there? You sounded like you were being attacked and killed!”

“I was!” I said.

My uncle Jake lost it at that point. “By the billy goat! He got out of his pen — I told you he’d be able to work that latch; he’s way too smart for a goat — and went on a rampage trying to protect the girls.” He sat down at the kitchen table and erupted in fits of belly laughs.

“Stop that! It’s not funny! I’m gonna be black and blue in the morning!” I scowled at him, which did nothing but set him off again.

Grandma doctored me up and offered to take me to town to see the doctor in the morning. I nodded and made excuses to go to bed. I read my book for a while — Coyote Rising by Allen Steele — and fell asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, my mouth felt like some kind of forest creature had shit in it and then died, so I lumbered, slowly and painfully, to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a shower. I smelled badly, and my very hair itched. The shower mostly helped, but my scalp still itched for a few days.

Life went on for a few weeks. My visit to the doctor was fine and the bruises went away. My world returned to as normal as my world ever gets. My uncle still gave me crap about the goat attack, but I let him. About a month later as I was walking along a back path through campus, I noticed a couple of paper plates on the ground. I went to pick them up, and before I knew it, I was shoving one of them in my mouth. I stopped myself, panicked. Somewhat in a horrified daze, I dropped the garbage in the trash can as I rounded the corner to the rest of campus and headed for home. I’d email my professor and let her know that I went home sick, which was not really a lie.

When I got home, I just kinda sat there for a bit, unsure of what was going on. I took a shower, disinfected my mouth (because, um, ew, garbage!) and didn’t sleep all night long. I watched the mostly-full moon rise and a while later, watched the sun rise. Like some sort of freaked-out zombie, I got myself ready for school and decided to take another day off.

As I sat around my apartment, I finished my book, started the next one, cleaned up, dozed a little bit, watched some crappy daytime TV. Absently, I noticed that my scalp was itchy, right above my eyes, around the hairline.  About dusk, I had a craving for something… salady. I went to the store and got myself the stuff to make an enormous salad — big bag of spring mix greens, some mushrooms, a tomato (which, y’know, I hate), a couple of peppers (which, y’know, I also hate), a bag of shredded cheese. I had a fantastic recipe for a raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing at home, so I picked up the ingredients for that. As I was wandering around the store, I put the cheese and fresh mushrooms back. I picked up some goat’s milk feta crumbles and a can of mushrooms instead. It made me feel better for some odd reason. I also hit the health-and-beauty aisle and grabbed myself some anti-itch shampoo and conditioner. Something had to make this stop.

I went home and made the salad in the biggest mixing bowl I had. The craving was mostly sated by the bottom of the bowl, but not quite. I needed something more. I hadn’t cleaned up from making the salad yet, and as I was looking around the kitchen, I saw the can from the mushrooms. I don’t remember moving; I just remember chewing on the can itself and feeling mighty better. Again, that sick, horrified feeling came over me. How the hell was I able to chew on a tin can?? My teeth weren’t meant for that, and my digestive system certainly wasn’t. I threw the can in the recycling and spit out what was in my mouth then stumbled for the bathroom, where I got pretty violently sick.

I was cleaning up when I noticed the tiny bumps at my hairline. That had to be the cause of my itching, which, I might as well tell you, was just getting worse. As I scratched at them, the skin split and there appeared to be … uh, horns. Little button horns. I wiped up the blood as best I could, and just looked at them as they got larger. At the same time, I noticed my fingers not working so well and the hair on my arms getting longer and silkier.

There’s a kind of detachment that happens when you feel like you’re losing your mind. Somehow, I managed to get out of my clothes without ripping them. The transformation finished and as I looked out my apartment window, I saw the split image of the full moon rising. My brain translated the images from my new eyes like they were supposed to be that way, but about half my mind knew that I wasn’t always this way.

Forget all the stories you read about werewolves; they kinda lie. Oh, I’m sure that the wolves will tell you differently, but you keep your human intelligence and reasoning when you’re in beast-form. Hell, after a couple of months, I learned how to control the transformation enough that some Beltane festivals have a real satyr in their midst. They don’t have a freakin’ clue how I make the costume so realistic, but calling on Pan has never been more… interesting.

Three nights out of my month are now tied into the moon, more than ever. One of the things that the legends and stories don’t tell you, though, is that when you get bitten, it’s not actually so bad. Well, the biting itself sucks a great deal, but you have access to all kinds of interesting things afterwards. I can choose which breed I turn into. I know it’s weird to be a were-goat and it’s not something I would have chosen, but I couldn’t have asked for a better critter. I trusted one person in my knitting circle with my secret. Did you know that when you shear a cashmere were-goat, on the next night, all that fleece comes back and you can do it again? Yeah, fun, huh?


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