|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
I dialed the number cautiously, secretly. I'd told Fiona that I was going down to the corner deli to get a newspaper, but I went to make a phone call instead. I could hear the number ringing as I waited in the cold, draughty phonebox. Maybe I should hang up now, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
"Hello, this is WANT, can I help you?" said a woman's voice abruptly at the other end. Too late.
"WANT?" I queried.
"Western Assistance Network Trust. We're an umbrella organisation for dozens of self-help and community groups here in Perth and Western Australia. Now what can I do for you?"
"Ah, well, I have this problem you see, and I, um, met this guy in a pub, and he said there was a group for people like me..." I let the sentence dangle, hoping that she would pick it up, so that I wouldn't have to explain.
"Yes, well most of the groups here are for helping people, and most are formed by the people needing that help. So what's your problem?"
"Well, you see, that is... ...sometimes when my girlfriend's out I get these urges. It's, it's like I'm someone else, you know?" I hoped she did, but didn't expect her to.
"I see", she said in a calm voice, "well that's nothing to be ashamed of. I have some contact details here for a group called `Transformers' that might be able to help. They meet here every second Thursday and the next meeting is tomorrow night at 7pm."
She told me the details, which I wrote in my notebook and quickly put in my pocket just in case anyone should see it. Silly, really -- who really cared about this dark secret of mine except me? I tried telling myself this, but I didn't believe it. This was a dark secret. I didn't dare tell Fiona about it. She'd leave me for sure. But I needed to talk to someone. Maybe this "Transformers" group could help. It was worth a try.
I thanked her for her time and hung up. Then I popped into the deli and bought a newspaper I didn't really want. It was best to have an alibi just in case. Fiona was busy in the kitchen when I returned to the duplex. I didn't need to worry after all.
Time passed very slowly at work the next day. I was constantly thinking about what the group and the meeting might be like. I'd told Fiona that I'd be late home, that I was going to do some window shopping for her birthday present, and she had accepted this. Thursday was late night shopping night in the Suburbs, so it was a good cover. The truth was, I still hadn't bought anything for a present. Fiona liked surprises, and I would have to find time to buy something between now and next Tuesday.
Six o'clock came and I knocked off work. I work in a warehouse just north of the city. It's handy because it's close to Northbridge and the train station. I stopped at a food hall and had a kebab and a coffee. My mind was not on my food. Then I caught the Fremantle train to Grant street Station.
The woman had said that the WANT premises were along Railway street not far from the station, next to a primary school, and that I couldn't miss it. It was a cold and wet night, and the street looked gloomy as I walked away from the station. Ahead loomed a sign: "W.A.N.T. Inc -- premises 50m up driveway". Leading away from the street, a dimly lit driveway snaked past some parkland and led to two buildings in the distance. A row of trees and shrubs obscured these from the street, but from where I was, I could see that the lights were on in the smaller of the buildings.
Taking a deep breath, I proceeded to walk up the driveway. As I got closer I could see that there were several cars parked outside. Most were empty, though one seemed to have an occupant who was just sitting there, waiting. I skirted around this car, and made my way down a pathway to the smaller building. On the nearest door was a cardboard sign that said "Transformers Meeting in Progress. $4 / 1st time free". This was the place all right. I opened the door and went in.
I was at the end of a corridor. To my right was an open door to a dark and apparently empty room; to my left was a closed door (the light was on in the room behind it) with another sign that read "Changing Room". Down the end of the corridor was another room. This one was also lit, and I could see through the open doorway the figure of a man sitting next to a table. He cracked a big toothy grin and I walked down the corridor and into the room.
The man was one of the hairiest I'd seen. He also appeared to be much too large for his clothes (though he himself was quite short) and it seemed a miracle that he didn't burst out of them. Next to him on the table was a mug of coffee and a tray of biscuits.
"Evening" he said with another grin, and in a voice that could saw wood.
"Evening," I replied, "is this Transformers? I spoke to someone at WANT and they sent me here". It was a silly question, considering the sign outside, but it was best to be sure before I made any more moves. I sat in a chair next to him as he replied.
"Sure is," he said, "has been here for the last two years. We used to meet in Pier St before that. The Gay & Lesbian Action Group used to let us use their building. They were quite understanding." He looked thoughtful. "Do you want a hot drink? Help yourself to tea, coffee or milo."
I declined the offer. "Is this it?" I asked in a slightly disappointed tone.
"There's a couple of guys `changing' in the room near the door. They should be out any minute. It's a bit early. We get more turning up after 7:30. Get a lot more on a full moon, funny that."
"I saw someone outside sitting in a car" I volunteered.
"Yeah, get a few of those," he replied, "Takes `em a while to build up the guts to walk through that door. Best to leave them outside until they're ready."
"Right, I see" I said, not really seeing but taking the explanation as given. "Look, I need to talk to someone about these, these, um, urges. I get them every so often, mostly when my girlfriend isn't home. I just need to, to..." I trailed off again like I had on the phone. I needed just one more piece of confirmation before I spilled my guts.
"...to change? To become someone and something else? Is that what you're worried about?"
"YES!" I said, relieved and reassured that whoever this guy was, he knew what I was talking about. "I just feel so... guilty!" I slumped down in the chair, relieved of my obligation to tell someone.
"That's OK", he said, "it's a perfectly normal thing that happens to about one in every ten thousand men. Happens sometimes to women too, but that's much less frequent. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"No, I guess not" I said, agreeing in principle if not in spirit. I was about to say something when the sound of a musical car horn came from outside.
"That'll be Dave I expect." said the man, "Oh, and my name's Eddy."
"Harry" I said in acknowledgment. Dave came into the room a minute later. He was big, bigger than Eddy, and hairier. He was also wearing a style of clothes that I'd thought had gone out with the 70's.
"Hello everyone! Aha!" he said, seeing me next to Eddy. "You must be new. Afraid to change I bet, waiting to see what it's like. My name's David anyway, Dave for short, nice to meet you." Dave made an even bigger grin than Eddy had.
I couldn't help but warm to Dave, despite his bluster and overbearing good cheer.
"How many you expecting tonight?" Dave asked.
"Don't know, there's two in the Change room. They should be about through by now." said Eddy. As if on cue, the door to the room at the end opened. Another large, hairy man lumbered into the room. I thought I could see someone or something else, but the outside door opened and banged shut before I could make out the details. With this, a blood curdling scream came from the direction of the playground.
"My friend's a purist" said the newcomer. Dave and Eddy exchanged knowing smiles. I must have looked puzzled, because Eddy said "It's OK, there's no one at the school, the other side's an office and no one can see from the road." There was the sound of another howl.
I got up and went outside. The playground was badly lit, and it took some time for my eyes to adjust. Someone was moving about in a noisy fashion. Then I saw him. He was naked, but also covered in coarse hair from heat to foot. As he came closer I could see dirty long fingernails and what appeared to be fangs. He was growling and throwing bits of wood and shrubs about.
He caught sight of me and made a direct line to where I stood. Then he was growling and making a grimace at me, barely a metre away. Rather than shrink away in terror, I felt new sensations arise in me. Not anger, not bravado, but I wanted to respond in kind! I broke out in a sweat but stood my ground. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two cars coming up the driveway. But I daren't divert my attention from this, this madman in front of me. I could make out his face quite clearly in front of me. It seemed somehow different from a human face, though I could see that too. The nose was large and shaped differently. I noticed this and a hundred more details, and I was mesmerised by it all.
I don't know how long we stood there, grimacing and growling at each other. It could have been hours or seconds. Then I felt a thick hand touch me on the shoulder and Dave's voice say "There, it's alright, you'll get your turn. Just go inside and have a cup of tea." I pulled back slowly, and did as he said. As I moved away I heard him talking to the wildman. "Now come on. It's Gerald isn't it? It's OK..."
I went back inside leaving Dave to cope with the wildman. I made a cup of tea, and returned to my seat. There were four others there now. There was the man who'd entered before; a couple -- a hairy middle-aged man and a middle-aged woman; and a tall young man who looked out of place -- he wasn't hairy. The middle-aged man and the young man were having a discussion when I returned.
"Look," said the hairless one, "the trouble with a group like this is that it's just a bigger closet for Lyco's to hide in. It only perpetuates the problem!" He waved his hands about.
"Yeah, yeah, sure," said the other one, "and I s'pose you've got a better answer have you?"
"Well?" asked the older man.
"It's simple. We all go out on the streets as we are. Sure, some of us will get hurt, but in the long run we stand to win. Look at the gays and lesbians. That's how they started."
"I've heard all this before, Chris," said Eddy, looking at the young man, "and the trouble is that it's never you who goes out and does this is it? Always someone else. Well I don't want to be a martyr for the likes of you, it won't do me or my family any good if I'm dead or crippled!"
Chris looked annoyed. This had the ring of an old argument, and I could see that neither side would concede. They continued on in this ilk for some minutes more. I was growing bored, so I thought I'd check out the change room. I went down the corridor and looked in. It was a small room with a dressing table and a large mirror, a bookcase, a wardrobe, and an odd assortment of chairs. The floor was littered with hair and what appeared to be chalk or something. I was about to bend down and look at this when the outside door opened and another figure wandered in. Walking back down the corridor, I could see that the latest addition was a woman. She wasn't hairy exactly, but her features seemed very angular, her eyes somehow feral, and her hair was teased into twin points that made her resemble Eddy from "The Munsters".
"I see someone's out enjoying himself" she said, referring presumably to the figure that was still prowling outside with Dave.
"Yeah", replied Eddy. "This is Fred and Harry. You know Chris don't you?" he said, gesturing first to the unnamed man, myself, and Chris. "Meet Yvonne". Yvonne wore tight fitting jeans, a checked blouse, cowboy boots and several earrings in each ear. It added to the effect of someone wild and untamed, which was in contrast to the unkempt but casual men that were there.
"So what're you deadbeats up to? Same ol' thing I bet." she said with a tone of boredom. She pulled out a can of beer from a paper bag she'd been carrying, and ripped the top back to a hiss of foam.
This signalled further discussion from the group. Yvonne thought that it was boring. Chris thought it was ideologically unsound, and the rest seemed to think that it was what they needed. I got the impression that whereas Chris was in earnest in his debate about "coming out", Yvonne just liked to bait Eddy and the others when she could.
I stayed neutral and kept my mouth shut. Apart from not really knowing the issues, I had the feeling that if I contributed, one side or the other would shoot me down in flames. I was gradually feeling more and more uncomfortable and uneasy, however. Yvonne caught my eye during a break in the debate, while Chris and Fred discussed a new horror film.
"What's up with you then?" she shot me a piercing glance.
"Um, er, it's my first time" I replied.
"Humph, well at least you've got more guts that those mugs who sit in their cars in the carpark, and never come in!"
"It's not exactly what I expected" I said.
"And what was that, prey tell?" she asked.
"Well, I thought that there'd only be guys, or a psychiatrist, or something..."
"What's the matter, never seen a bitch before?" she said facetiously.
"Um, no. I haven't seen anyone else, like me before..."
"Oh". She seemed genuinely surprised. "Sorry, but I get so used to these old farts, that I forget that not everyone knows everything. What's your name again?"
"Harry" I said.
"Well look Harry, it peeves me so much that they do so little with this group, you know? So how long have you known, how long have you been changing?"
"About 5 years" I said. "At first it was, well, just the thought of it, but then, I just did it". I looked down, and let out a deep breath that until now, I hadn't realised I was holding. "Then I met Fiona. She's great, but I could never tell her, and when she goes out I get the urge to change."
"Why don't you tell her?" she asked in a level tone.
"What?! No, I couldn't risk it -- if she knew she'd leave me. I'm sure of that".
"You might be surprised. I told my girlfriend Sharon. She was upset at first, but then she got to like it". Yvonne gave her own version of the big grin, which was not so big, but looked very predatory. "Goes down well in the scene too, at least with the people I know."
"Well", I hesitated, "I could, I suppose, but I'd need to time to think it over..."
"Don't take too long. See Fred over there? He didn't tell his wife and then she found out. Threw him out on his bum."
Just then Dave came through the door. His shirt was ripped and torn, and his polyester trousers were covered in dirt and stains. "I had a talk to Gerald" he said, "He'll be in shortly." Dave saw me sitting next to Yvonne. "You still here?" he asked rhetorically, "Well look, there's a spare room down the end there, why don't you change?"
"That, that would be OK?" I asked.
There was a mutter of "yeah", "sure", and "fine" from those in the room.
"Really?" I asked, slightly disbelieving of what I had seen and experienced.
"Yes Harry", said Eddy, "That's what we're here for you see. This is a safe place, and if you want to change, it's perfectly alright. No one's going to take offence or poke fun at you here. We're all in the same boat."
"Al-alright" I said, and walked slowly down the corridor to the end room. I entered, shutting the door behind me. Then I just stood there, looking at the mirror. I watched my reflection looking back at me. I felt, like the hundreds of times before, the thrill and the sensation of the change. My heart started to beat faster and my body was wracked with an odd sensation that was half pain and half pleasure. Then the change was upon me in full force, and I stopped thinking the way I had.
My arms and legs shook and twitched. Lumps started appearing underneath my shirtsleeves. I sat down on a chair and bent forward, putting my head between my knees. I felt a nausea as contractions began to start in my stomach, while my chest was pushed out. I felt itchy, as millions of hairs all over my body seemed to grow, pushing up and out from underneath my clothes. Desperately I ripped my jacket and my shirt from me. While I did so, my fingernails started to grow and become thicker. I could feel my toenails do the same within the confines of my shoes, which I ripped from my feet.
I looked back at the mirror. I stood there in my trousers breathing heavily while the change continued. My face was altering. My nose was becoming larger, pushing out and widening at the same time. The skin around the nostrils was becoming tougher. My teeth grew too, not larger, but differently. I could see red veins in the whites of my eyes, and the hair on my head was wild and unkempt. I looked a lot like Gerald who was still outside.
Then, it stopped. I felt relief as the changed subsided, and a growing feeling of razor sharp senses and of feeling very much alive. I let out a howl of relief, pleasure, and of prowess. I was a hunter, a creature of the night. I opened the door, and rushed out to howl at the moon.
And that was how I joined Transformers -- a self-help group for Lycanthropes, who are commonly called werewolves. It took a while before I went back, but I did. The people in the group became my friends, and I, like them, learnt to control the change so that I could set my degree of wildness. It wasn't easy, but it was rewarding to be able to be yourself, without any fears at all. And I treasured this part of the group more than any other. I learnt a lot of things too. All that talk about us going out and killing people? Well it's all rubbish. OK, accidents happen, but when you're changed you go with the exhilaration, with the flow.
Eventually I told Fiona. It wasn't as bad as I thought. She was shocked -- yes -- but we managed to come to an agreement. She supports me, provided I have the good sense to keep myself discreet when I change. This means no running down the main street like a loon, for all the neighbours to see, or ripping out plants and shrubs and stalking animals in the local park. I sometimes let myself loose in the backyard, but in a duplex it just isn't the same. And twice a year the group goes out to a Romanian Restaurant, and eats raw meat while changed. Not a pleasant sight, but the manager's accepting and doesn't really care so long as he gets paid.
Next week, I'm going to tell my parents. It will be a shock I guess, but Fiona is backing me all the way. I need to be who I am, not who they want me to be. Risky business, but tomorrow is another day.
Self-Help copyright 1997 by Laura Seabrook.
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