Copyright © 2003, 2015 by D'Artagnon
Tom the Wolf
The shower didn't seem to be working. The blood washed off his skin easily enough. But the scent, the mental stain of it, lingered. His fingers were already wrinkly like the faces of old men, bunched together for a reunion picture. Again he reached for the soap and scrubbed it deep into his face cloth. His tears of panic mixed in with the falling water.
It was something he hadn't done in a long time. Crying. The last time he can remember crying is when his uncle, a young executive at a financial exchange company in New York, had been confirmed among those lost on that tragic September morning, so long ago. He remembered being just off the bus from school and seeing everyone in the house gathered around the TV, watching over and over the footage of the towers collapsing, the planes striking the buildings. He remembered seeing his mother, sitting on the couch with his Aunt Myrtle, both of them holding each other tightly, pale, their eyes red rimmed with their tears.
Then the tears for Uncle Terry had been tears of utter sadness. Uncle Terry had been a kind man, always ready with a joke and a smile, gifted with a wry sense of humor. A man that felt things deeply. Tom had been devastated at his loss. He had looked up to Uncle Terry. Without the burden of family duty, they had been friends. He had bawled his eyes out like a toddler for days.
Now he was crying again, but this time in panic. How did the blood get on his hands? After quickly checking his own body over, he knew that he himself wasn't hurt. That the blood hadn't come from his own body. But if it wasn't his, then whose?
His memories of the night before were blank. Empty of anything that might explain what had happened. He scrubbed his hands again, trying to remove the coppery blood smell. The hot water started to shift down the scale, rapidly cooling as the water heater in the cellar drained of its heated contents. But still Tom scrubbed, letting the burning sting of the water change to a freezing sting. He leaned over against the wall and slid to the tub floor, the cold water still raining on him. He curled up and cried harder.
When he finally could control his panic again, he reached out and turned off the spigots. The scent of blood was fainter now, but still a stirring memory in Tom's mind. He climbed out of the tub and wrapped a towel around himself, shivering from more than just the cold. The steam on the mirror had already begun running down the glass in tiny rivulets.
He looked up into his own eyes, staring unrelentingly at himself. His dark eyes were as his mother's and aunt's had been when Uncle Terry had been killed. His shock of dark hair hung low over his forehead, obscuring his vision partly. In all his 16 years, he had never seen himself so stressed out. Never.
"Get a grip, here, Tommy," he whispered, looking into his own eyes. "Pull it together, man."
After an hour in the shower, scrubbing until his hands felt raw, the scent of blood still ingrained in his senses like a slap in the face, he wrapped himself in a towel and bathrobe, and slipped downstairs to get something in his stomach. He had taken to drinking coffee in the mornings lately, watching local news before going to school. It was usually one of the only times he got to spend with his mother during the day. She worked two jobs and was always very tired. It was his growing up ritual.
Now he just needed that bracing rush of caffeine, something to help slow his speeding nerves. He didn't even flick on the tube as he walked into the kitchen and started the coffee brewing. Searching around in the fridge didn't help any, so he pulled a box of frozen waffles out of the freezer and set the toaster up. His mind was still churning, trying to remember what he had done the previous night. The aroma of the coffee helped calm him as he sat down at the kitchen breakfast bar.
Then he began to remember. He had gone home early that night. The party at Reggie's house had kinda run itself down as the host got into a fist fight with Archie, again. Of course that bitch Veronica had set it up. She just loved the attention of having two boys fight over her all the time. Tom wasn't much into that whole unhealthy relationship business. He walked Betty home, reluctantly accepting a goodnight kiss from her. At some level, he knew she wanted him, wanted to get into his pants so badly that she probably had sworn off dating any other boy in town just to try to get Tom. But it just wasn't going to happen.
The pop of the toaster startled Tom back to reality. He prepared his waffles like he always had, letting the butter melt in a little before pouring the cold syrup over the stack. It also gave him a chance to pour his coffee and add just the right amount of half-and-half and Equal to the mix, making the coffee go from a dark, brooding color to a warm tan, thick with aroma. The ritual of the coffee alone helped calm him more, even as he felt the edges of his memories slowly peel back.
Tom had known for a long time that he was bi-sexual. It was just something he knew. And while he had accepted that as fact and truth since he was 13, he hadn't told anyone. Not that he had any fear about it. It just wasn't anyone's business. He kinda resented the fact that others kept trying to tell him what to do, how to feel, who to like, when to make a move, why he should date someone. All that wasn't anyone's business but his own. Especially since lately all he could think of was guys. Not so much just for the idea of having sex with another boy, although he had to admit to himself that some of his best times alone had been thinking about guys.
No, Tom was a rare breed in that he was looking for companionship. He wanted the kind of understanding that only another guy could truly bring to a relationship. Girls were great and sexy and emotional and all that, but they just didn't understand some things. When he put his arms around someone, he wanted them to know that he wasn't doing it just because he was turned on, or that he was being supportive and protective. He wanted someone to understand his strengths and weaknesses as intuitively as their own. He wanted a true communion of spirit and soul, not just a rush of pulse and the surety of flesh.
He wanted to be as protected as he protected another. He wanted to know that he was an equal, a friend, a lover, a confidant and a companion. Not just a boyfriend. Tom wanted…
Even Tom wasn't sure what words could describe what he wanted. He sipped at his coffee, feeling the ache in his chest over the indescribable something that was ultimately missing from his existence. That was driving him batty at times because he didn't know who to talk to about it, or even how. Uncle Terry would have been able to help, he felt. I just wish I could talk to him again, Tom thought, a single tear building up at his left cheek, feeling totally lost.
As he ate, he started to remember. His walk home had been punctuated by an incessant need to pee. He was still mostly a mile from his house, even cutting across the old trail through the woods that lead past Watching Rocks. He stopped off by a large elm and had a piss. The stream almost instantly steaming in the brisk fall air was the only sound he heard, even the sound of his urine hitting the ground and the underbrush and the carpet of fallen leaves, centuries old, was a bare whisper as the wind chased through the trees, eerily.
He finished his business, quickly, not enjoying the sudden cold that enveloped his boyhood. No sooner had he slipped his dick back into his boxers, prepared to zip up his jeans, than he felt a presence around himself. Something that at once frightened and angered him, at many levels. The fear won that contest of dominance, though, and he looked around wildly, his eyes searching for any sign of movement, ears straining for any sound. His heart quickened in his chest and he willed his feet to take up the path again. His throat tightened and he swallowed to clear it, making his own breath shudder out in a puff of steam as he cast about, starting to walk towards the distant lights of 15th Avenue, hoping to get home before his mother did, even as late as it was.
"Hullo, Thomas," a voice straight out of a slasher film said from behind and just to his left. It was a voice full of breathy overtones, like it came from out of a cave and partly echoed itself. Deep, dark in timbre and almost seductive. Tom got the feeling that the speaker, whoever he happened to be, was trying very hard not to make Tom scared. And was failing miserably at it. Tom's panic grew, and his feet stopped moving. He looked slowly about, craning his neck. Halloween had been just a few days before and such havoc night stunts should surely be over with, Tom knew. But something unearthly about that voice, its tone and inflections, even the foreign accent of it, chilled Tom's blood to icicles instantly.
"Give us a kiss, Tommy boy," the voice said again, this time much closer. Tom wheeled about, uncertain if he should run or fight. And as he saw what stood behind him, that decision fled him as well. Had he not already emptied his bladder, every seam of his jeans would have been soaked through as the terror gripped him.
The creature was a nightmare walking. Seven feet tall, covered in mottled patches of black fur, tipped silvery in the wan moonlight. Its body was vaguely human-like, but it was far too misshapen and huge to be considered a man. The face was twisted and ugly, rippled forwards with a muzzle of wicked teeth and no lower jaw that Tom could make out. The ears stood up tall like those of a bat. Indeed, the creature seemed to have a patagia membrane that hung loose between its arms and legs, like the glide-skin of a flying squirrel. Secretions of some kind glistened on the creature's skin and fur, making it look greasy and sweaty. Its body was thickly muscled and radiated a sense of raw physical power.
But most disturbing to Tom were the eyes. Wide and wild, they were, reflected moonlight giving off a sickly yellow eye-shine from within. One eye seemed to be constantly drifting off focus, lazy almost. But the intensity of the creature's stare was enough to make Tom's already chilled blood freeze solid as concrete, thick as cooling tar.
"Don't be afraid, Thomas. I'm only here to see if you are fit to live," the thing said, almost with a mocking tone. The skin at the back of the thing's jawless mouth seemed to pull up slightly, as if smiling. Bile rose in Tom's throat. His terror was such a physical thing now that he felt the muscles along his sides shaking, could almost feel his adrenaline glands pulsing on his kidneys with the need to run, to flee, to find a place to hide from this monster. It held up a vastly over-sized hand complete with wicked long talons, and brought it up under Tom's jaw. The greasy touch of the monster scared Tom immensely, as did the sense of this beast's strength and enormous body heat. Tom felt wild, felt himself beginning to submit to the panic and at the same time unable to do anything, scared stiff and still.
"Hummm, weak. I guess you aren't what we thought you were. Oh well, I haven't eaten tonight, so… I guess you'll make a light snack, Tommy boy."
The creature then moved in a blur. First it lifted Tom's jaw up a few inches and then released it. Before Tom could consciously lower his head, with his throat fully exposed, the creature lashed out with his other, equally over-sized hand, and raked his claws over Tom's neck, knocking him fully ten feet from the impact alone.
Tom rolled over, his hand going to his neck. He felt wetness there. Oh, fuck, I'm dead! he thought. He ripped me open and I'm bleeding to death! Tom looked around at the monster came at him, grabbed at one of Tom's legs and lifted him up off the ground by a pant leg.
"Let's see that pretty body of yours one last time before I rip your flesh some more, Tommy boy. Too bad you never knew I've always wanted to fuck you before I killed you and ate you. Guess I'll just have to do it in a different order than I always imagined."
Tom fell out of his jeans as the monster shook him, violently. One hand was clamped tightly to his neck, trying desperately to stop the flow of blood that seeped down into his hair and trickled into his ear canal. His panic and the realization that he was as good as dead and this creature's mad talk, as if they knew each other, made Tom suddenly very, very angry.
And that's when he felt the switch click over.
The change was subtle at first, a stretching of his body, a warping of muscles, the feel of his skin rippling. Then the pain came, as the bones elongated, switched angles, subtly reshaping themselves and the muscles attached to them. He felt his nose and chin jut forwards, skin pulling and stretching. He felt his entire body convulse with massive growth and expansion, and his shirt and jacket split along their seams. His jeans were already off, but he felt his shoes rip open, and his boxer shorts were suddenly as tight as briefs against his body, stretching to accommodate his widening hips, his growing thighs. He felt rather than heard his tail shoot out through one of the leg holes, pulling his boxers to one side. The last thing he felt was his Fossil watch snap off his wrist.
He felt himself get dumped on the ground and rolled onto his feet. But now, his feet were different. His whole body was different. He felt stronger, powerful, angry.
The creature stood back from Tom, a look of shock on his face as Tom gained his feet and stood up. He now looked down on the creature before him, and could smell the putrid stink of it as well. His eyes were suddenly as adapted to the dark as a cat's. His ears as sharp as any canine, and he felt a strength flood his body with other senses, as well. A sense of rage.
"Oh shit," the creature said and sprang forwards, its claws spearing out from both sides to try to gut Tom. But he suddenly had speed of his own, speed undreamt of. He slashed in with his own claws, one going high under the creature's malformed muzzle, the other stroking low, his long clawed fingers digging into the creature's chest.
A loud popping sound escaped the creature's body as both of Tom's strikes hit home. As if on instinct, he grabbed with both hands and crushed whatever he felt beneath. He held his right arm stiff against the creature's exposed throat and pulled hard with his left arm, still with his fingers embedded around the monstrosity's breastbone. Ripping hard, wrenching, twisting and screaming his anger and pain into the sky, Tom pulled the creature's frontal rib cage off its body.
The thing gurgled in pain and tried to clutch at Tom's ram rod stiff right arm as its entrails and slimy guts poured onto the ground. Tom flung the rib cage into the river, some three dozen yards away, and plunged his left hand again into the mess of still quivering organs. On an instinct he didn't know he had, he grabbed, squeezed, crushed and ripped out the creature's still beating heart. He raised the heart over his head and felt the vile thing's heart-blood wash down his furry forearm, drenching his chest, some even spilling into his open mouth as he howled his agony and anger and rage and pleasure and the thrill of the kill into the chilly New England air.
Almost with a surge of righteous indignation, Tom tossed down the abomination before him and stared at it in challenge, tossing the heart in the river as well, steam hissing between Tom's clenched canine teeth. And then something just as strange as his own transformation happened.
The carcass of the creature before him, unmoving now in its death rattle, began to change. Its features twisted and retracted, becoming less bat like, the fur sliding under pale skin. The facial features, once twisted in some insane, taunting grimace now became peaceful as they resumed a more human appearance. The small jaw finally matched up under the upper teeth, despite a pronounced overbite. The body shrank, resuming more human shape and proportions, although the entrails upon the ground and lack of frontal ribs remained, just shrinking to accommodate proper size. The blood still coated this creature's naked body as it resumed human form. And in that moment, as the creature fully became human again, Tommy recognized him.
His name had been Dylan. Dylan Rhymers, son of one of the town's older and more respected families. He had been in a few of Tom's classes, most notably PE last year and Drafting the year before. They had never been friends, but the thought occurred to Tom as he stared down at the eviscerated, naked and dead form of Dylan. A thought that scared Tom almost as much as the whole incident had.
Tom had just killed another boy. Sure he had been attacked and he himself wasn't even in his own proper body...but he had killed another human being. With his own hands. Tom looked down at his hands and saw them also returning to human, just like they had been before. With one clear and distinct difference: they were covered in blood.
Feeling the night wind on his skin and the blood congealing on his hands and body, Tom turned and ran. Ran for the security of his bed, his home, his place of safety. He ran and hid under the covers, wishing beyond all hope that it all was some bad dream brought on by the three beers he had at Reggie's party. He ran and he cried, his face burning in shame and fear over his own actions.
The coffee was cold in his cup as he set it down, not having tasted a single drop. The memory had been so intense that it had locked all his muscles in place. He involuntarily twitched as he realized all of what had happened in the woods just a few hundred yards from Watching Rocks, less than half a mile from his house.
He looked at his own hand again, unsure of whether or not they were even his anymore. Like there was something about them that was alien, wrong.
He put his hands to his face and began to weep, not knowing what else to do.
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