The Moon is on the Prowl

Howling at the moon in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Howling at the moon in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

 

Gritting his teeth, he wiped the water from his eyes in attempt to see through the downpour. The rain flowed in a continuous, sodden sheet that seeped through his wool sweater and trickled in rivulets down his back and chest.

Despite the discomfort, he continued on through the dense wood, his feet following the barely discernible deer path as if they had padded this way countless times before. Perhaps they had, he grimaced as the first tingling sensation rippled through him. He glanced skyward. You wouldn’t know it from the overall grayish-black cast of the heavens, but there was a full moon out that night.

He stopped in a clearing, quickly stripping the clothes from his damp flesh as that strange prickling began rippling along his skin, beginning on his scalp and undulating down his body.

He shuddered as the cramps began and stumbled to his knees. He would never get used to the change. The rain pounded against his bare skin as the hair coarsened and grew. He clenched his jaw, teeth grinding as he waited for it all to be over with. The rain became an almost pleasant distraction.

When the last of the tingling and cramping had subsided, he used his hind legs to propel himself to all fours. The madly stinging drops falling from the sky had now slowed to a drizzle and water droplets clung to the coarse, oily fur like dull diamonds in the murky mist.

He shook the water from his coat, before lifting his pointed snout to the cold, moist air; its black tip sparkled dimly with beads of brume. He rubbed his nose against the flank of his shoulder and sniffed again.

“Yes, definitely,” he thought. Somewhere out there some warm and red-blooded mammal crouched munching contentedly at its evening meal not yet sensing that yet another warm-blooded mammal was salivating at the thought of its sweet blood coursing down his throat.

But this was something small—a rabbit, or perhaps, a badger. The rain could both mask and intensify scents. He was looking for bigger meat. And then his ears pricked. He listened, attentively, and silently, for what seemed an eternity but was really less than three minutes. Yes. He heard it again. That distinctive snap. Something big (bigger than the small scurrying of night mammals) was making its way through the forest.

Whatever it was, it was attempting to be surreptitious. Maybe it was trying to hide from another of its kind. But, to his ears, so much more powerful now than they had been fifteen minutes ago, identification was simple. His mouth suddenly gaped open, tongue lolling as he salivated violently. His ears twitched again. Yes. Definitely human. More than he dared dream! And here she, for now he smelt the sticky sweetness of perfume mixed with its scent of fear, crept, unknowingly, his way.

What was left of the human part of his brain wondered what she was escaping from that had her exuding such a strong odor of fear, but the animal side was so much stronger now and he found himself padding, silently, in the direction of her scent. He knew he should fell guilt, but he was oh so hungry and her blood seemed to cry out to him.

He watched, soundlessly, as she cautiously peered from behind an ancient oak, watched as she threw a frightened glance over her shoulder and stepped in front of the tree using its venerable trunk as a shield. Her chest heaved, mightily, two or three times and she stuffed a cold, wet fist into her mouth to control a sob that threatened to erupt from the very depths of her. Tears flowed silently from the corners of her eyes and it was only their warmth that differentiated them from the cold rain that coursed down her cheeks.

Had his heart been more human than cold-blooded carnivore, he might have hesitated before stepping into her path. But, tonight, the moon was full and the hot blood called.

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