|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
The man slams the door shut behind him and bolts it. Only then does he release the breath he's been holding unconsciously ever since he left his car. Relaxing slightly, he double-checks the lock and steps into his home.
Another day in the urban jungle over. Safe for another few, precious hours.
Except he isn't really safe. Fearfully, he checks his appartment over for any intruders. None. He was robbed, once, and only blind chance prevented the burgular from discovering his secret.
He forces himself to act natural. It isn't dark yet; it'll look suspicious if he draws the curtains. And he must avoid anything that might draw attention to him. He forces himself to unpack the groceries, to go and change his clothes, to sit and stare at the television for a while.
Once it is starting to get dark - mustn't leave it too late, or people might realise how good his night vision is - he draws the curtains and snaps on the lights.
He allows his form to relax just a little. Nothing too obvious - no telling who might call unexpectedly. But just enough to feel more comfortable.
He has trouble stomaching human food, but if he followed his natural inclination and bought raw meat by the pound, people would soon notice. He spends some time arranging the kitchen for his meal. It has to look as though an ordinary man cooked hot dogs, even down to the grease on the grill. Once he is satisfied, he takes the raw sausages and rolls and hides them in a low cupboard which he has discovered can be opened and closed easily with a paw.
It's getting late, but he still doesn't feel confident enough to shift fully. It isn't inconceivable that a neighbour should pop round to borrow a cup of sugar, and failing to answer the door when all the lights are on might look odd. Granted, they would probably conclude he was in the bath, but if it happened a few times... Well, better safe than sorry.
Each day is a struggle. The stink of the traffic, the claustraphobic pressure of a whole crowd of people surrounding him, the predatory urges against which he must fight constantly. But, somehow, he survives. He hides himself away, submerging his heart in a wash of faked reactions and emotions, covering up his soul with a layer of mundanity. He even manages to force himself to smoke at work. If that doesn't throw people off, nothing will. Plus, it disguises his scent from the dogs and cats who know a dangerous predator when they meet one.
Time. He's probably justified in not answering by now if somebody does call. He makes one last round of the house - check locks, turn off lights which threaten to throw his silhouette onto a window, pour bowl of water. He rumples his bed and strips, tossing the clothes over a chair. Lastly, he pulls on his pyjamas and returns to the kitchen.
He shivers in anticipation. Carefully, carefully, he pulls off the nightclothes and stands naked in the darkness. The tension bleeds from him as he relaxes and his body begins the transformation into its natural state.
In the flat above, a she-wolf prowls, satisfied that she is alone.
Across the street, two parents touch off their own transformations, secure in the knowledge that their children are safely in bed. Their dark secret is kept for a little while longer. Unbeknownst to them, their eldest daughter is even now changing into a wolf cub in her room.
All through the city, night-shift workers grumble to themselves that they are unable to obey their instincts, all the while keeping up a facade of good humour.
And sitting all alone in front of a computer terminal, the one true human in the entire county taps away with a twinge of guilt that the stories he reads and writes are not entirely natural.
Solitude copyright 1997 by Mat Charles.
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