When You’re Ready
It took a moment or two for the sound of birdsong to register in my ear, but it was the damp kiss of grass against my skin that slammed me back to earth.
Eyelashes flew open. My fingers wound tightly into the green stems and soil. I felt my breathing knot in my chest as my pupils quickly contracted.
We’d been arguing back in the flat. The dull night light had played across the furniture and bare boards. He’d taken a wad of cash out of his wallet, slammed it on the table and told me to get myself sorted out. He thought the sweats and the strange glisten in my eye were the signs of a drug habit. He thought I was back on that stuff. My own brother…
He had no idea.
It was much worse than what he thought. It was much worse than what I’d thought. At first I’d figured I’d only picked up some kind of tropical disease when I was on holiday.
It came in waves. The nausea and stomach cramps were the most crippling. They’d felt like my stomach was twisting and changing. Of course, it had been. I was just too stupid to realise.
The mark on my neck had seemed perfectly normal. I’d woken up with it one morning on holiday. Tequila slammers had erased any memory of how I’d come by it, but that hadn’t seemed to matter when he’d come out of the shower. What can I say? He was dishy.
But being dishy was no excuse for what he’d done to me.
He’d assumed I’d die from the bite. He’d assumed that it wouldn’t matter and that I wouldn’t catch up with him for what he’d done to me.
He was wrong.
I pushed myself up from the carpet of grass, wiping the blood and spittle from my chin. The chill of the wind goosed my naked flesh. It was almost nice, helping to soothe the soreness and the heat within. It takes a lot out of you to change.
If you’d told me a year ago that this is what would happen to me, I would have told you to get yourself checked in at the psych ward. Now it doesn’t seem so funny.
I rolled my shoulders, easing out the stiffness. Despite the human nostrils, I could still smell the stench of his rotting carcass in the long grasses. Maybe I should have been more worried by how little that fazed me, but I was getting used to the scent of blood and the taste of raw meat.
I padded over to the body, soil tickling my toes. My gaze absorbed the mess of fur tarred with blood and sinews. Had he realised what he’d created with his selfishness? Revenge smiled coolly in the pit of my belly.
Curious, I crouched below the covering green shoots. Did it taste any different in human form?
I kneeled, lapping some of the sticky red residue. A wolfish smirk cut across my mouth. No. It was just as good.
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