So, some of you talked me into turning this into a serial–for better or for worse. For the first section of the serial: The Cold and Lovely Moon I
You can expect the next portion of the serial around the next full moon. (June 21st) I’m anticipating the serial being around 13 parts, but I’m still working through it, so we’ll see. Let me know what you think. If you look in the comments on the first part, you’ll notice how leery I was about adding to this. I’m still that leery, but I like both the characters enough that I’m willing to see it out. Plus, you guys are pretty persuasive.
The Cold and Lovely Moon II
My vision strobed with the beat of my heart. The light in the lab flicked on and off with each pound of my pulse in my ears. Pound. Pound. Pound. Light. Dark. Light. The stinging shivered across my skin, spreading and spreading. I arched against the stinging and screamed. My voice sounded strange to my own ears—like a howl. It echoed around the glass box, bouncing from wall to wall.
From where I lay on the floor, jerking with the vicious pain dancing across my nerves, I saw Tiberius changing—his limbs elongating like he’d stepped in front of a fun house mirror. His clothes tore at the seams as he expanded and stretched. He looked at me and pointed to the opposite side of the glass cage, and talons grew out of his fingers as he did.
What the hell was happening? His skin was dark as a shadow—a thin fur grew across him like black velvet. The monster he’d become dropped its head back as the front of its face puckered and long teeth seemed to elongate its mouth into jaws, snapping vicious jaws. Each strobe of my vision just seemed to make Tiberius scarier—like the bogeyman of my worst nightmares.
He or it or whatever gestured again toward the opposite wall.
The sound built and dropped with each beat of my heart. Shouts. Pound. Excitement. Pound.
Tiberius roared at me with another gesture of “get against the other wall” made with clawed fingers.
I scrambled backwards toward the opposite corner, but my limbs dragged and stung like they were melting. What was that sound? It sounded like bones breaking, like muscles tearing. Oh, hell, it was coming from me. I could hear it in my ears like my body was doing that.
Pound. Glass breaking. Bright light and no glass wall between Tiberius and me. Pound. Blackness. It stung. My skin stung like I’d been lit on fire. Hellish, hellish pain. And I bent forward at my waist. Pound. Then, I straightened up on my hands and knees. No, I was on my legs. I was on my legs. I was standing on my hands and feet, and it felt natural. No, I was on four legs. I looked down. My feet! They were muscled and taloned and padded. Oh hell. Oh hell.
The popping and bone-breaking and tearing sounds faded, but there was more glass breaking. It fell all around like sharp rain, and I heard each drop of each shard on the linoleum. Ping! Ping! Ping!
The thing that was Tiberius roared, arching its back and tipping its head back. He was all muscle and velvety black skin and teeth. His teeth! Long sharp pointed teeth. Half man. Half monster. His talons tore through the glass and metal as if it was made of sugar. The gridwork fell apart like a spider web.
He stood on his hind legs and grabbed and tore the hole wider. The white coats scrambled away in each strobe of the lights pulsing with my heart.
On. Off. On. Off. Bright. Dark. Bright. Dark.
My pulse pounded in my ears.
The color leached out of the world as if someone had washed it away.
Pound. The shouts of excitement had turned to screams after the other creature broke through the front of my glass cage. He raged and broke and tore. The noise of it all—it hurt worse than the stinging did now. I bolted out through the broken glass, around legs and in between bodies, all while avoiding the quick flash of fur and muscle that Tiberius had become. He moved like an avenging shadow, and I saw him kill the white coat he’d promised me he would. He looked up, and our eyes met.
He was a beautiful sort of ugly. Dark muscles covered in a coat of black velvet fur. A muzzle filled with teeth. He was as tall as a man, but his spine curved him into something more grim, and he seemed to prefer being on four legs as I now did.
I didn’t want to think I looked like that, even as I did.
Run. Pound. Run. The pounding encouraged me to move. Escape. Pound. Escape.
A white coat stopped in front of me, waving something that sparked and zapped, and I crouched and shifted back a few steps. Behind me, I heard a roar—a scorched shout of power and violence, and it hit my bloodstream making me rage. The roar said I was master here. I was in charge.
They’d trapped me.
These white coats had trapped me, caged me, subdued me.
I snarled at the white coat with the metal device sparking and spitting at me. This time when I crouched, it was to gather speed and force. The white coat’s eyes widened, and the scent of something wrong hit the air. Sweat. Fear. The man threw the sparking metal away and ran, and I chased him through the lab, bouncing and breaking anything in my path.
They’d trapped me.
I would never be trapped again.
Never be caged again.
The white coat ran through the exit door, and I stopped and looked back across the ruined room. My vision still strobed with my pulse. The sounds were steady now. Wood broke as Tiberius destroyed a table holding vials of various things. Blood splashed as he ripped and tore through the white coats. One white coat grabbed a heavy chain to subdue him, and it clanged across the floor.
The other monster looked at me and roared again. Go.
I understood him. Even as a monster, I understood him.
Go. Run. Escape. His hypnotic gaze chilled and heated me at the same time. Monster. Man. Enemy. Accomplice.
My heart pounded faster and faster—with exhilaration this time. Then the shouting and screaming and the intense look in the other monster’s eyes was too much. It was choking me.
The white coat left a door open, and I slid through it like I was a vapor. I was smoke—other than that beating, pounding heart. It still reverberated like a drum beat in my head as I leapt down the hill the building perched upon. My legs stretched in long bounds as I raced across the ground. I’d never been so fast, so free, so fluid.
A siren started blaring, and I could still hear screaming and shouting. It was too loud. Too loud. And I felt too free to be stopped now.
The stinging, like a sunburn across my whole body, stopped as the moonlight bathed me. The moon. It was in my brain and all I could think of. The moon.
Pound. Pound. Pound. The moon tore free from the top of the mountain. The pounding stopped. My pulse settled, and I felt free. Truly. Completely free. And I looked up at the cold and lovely moon and howled.
I heard him behind me, coming for me. The pad of his feet replaced the pounding of my heart. I wanted to be caught. I didn’t want to be caught. I wanted to be what I was. I was frightened of what I was. I was human. I was monster. Claws and flesh. Sharp canines with a mind. I bolted across the dark, moonlit ground.
Skidding to a halt in front of a tall fence, I slid on the grass. Trapped. I was still trapped. I wanted to howl again. I’d come so close. Then, a howl sounded behind me. It was approaching, coming at full speed. Tiberius stopped long enough to tear through the fence like it was tissue.
I followed him through the fence, but then sprinted, running away in the other direction, away from the other monster. Whatever he was. Whatever I was. I could outrun both. It felt like I could. Especially with the moon reflecting off my skin and fur. Every stroke of the reflected light filled me with more power.
Tiberius caught up with me. The pounding of his feet urged me to run faster. I wasn’t sure if I was escaping or encouraging the chase, but I needed to run. He sped up and ran even with me. A snarl erupted from his long muzzle filled with fangs, and he nudged me in the direction he’d been going.
I tried to run faster.
Another snarl, and he bumped me with his body of sinews and flesh and fur. Go this way. His eyes flashed when I bared my fangs rather than comply.
No, I will not be trapped. Ever again. I was free.
I snarled back.
He tackled me, tossing me on my back, and stood above me.
I struggled beneath him, twisting and bucking.
Tiberius snarled again, and the moon reflected off him. His short black fur and shadowy skin shimmered with a ghostly glow.
I stopped struggling.
His tilted intense eyes bore into mine. Follow me.
I jerked my head down and nipped his leg. I was free.
He howled in rage, and his head dropped as his mouth full of shiny teeth went to my neck as his body pressed me down against the ground. His jaw clamped at my neck, his teeth barely breaking the skin, but they would if I struggled. I was sure we both felt the pound of my pulse as I lay there panting. Thud. Thud. Thud.
The pain at my neck was as sharp as the impression of being dominated. His breath hissed across my neck in a dangerous caress as we both waited. The stinging at my neck brought clarity and a release from the madness and panic and need to get away.
Finally, I whimpered, a low purring sound in the back of my throat. He’d won. I’d follow him.
He unclamped his jaw and dragged a long lick up my neck before nipping playfully underneath my ear.
I bumped my face against his, stroking his face with mine. What was I doing? It felt natural though. The follow-up to the chase.
He backed up slowly off me and waited for me to flip over to my feet before nodding in the direction he’d been moving.
I looked down submissively before he bolted in that direction, and I followed. I followed for what seemed like hours. Sometimes it felt like following, but mostly it felt like chasing, and it always felt freeing. I moved like a liquid—a raging river—so fast, so fierce. Nothing could stop me.
When the moon was high above us, staring down like an overlord, Tiberius stopped, lifted up his muzzle, and sniffed the air.
I sniffed too. It carried the scent of fire and water and earth. And sweat. Eww. And fish. Less eww.
Tiberius nodded to where a tree had fallen beside another, forming a V at the base where they intersected.
I shook my head. I wanted to run farther.
He gave me a long look and nodded again.
I shook my head again. I could run for hours.
Okay. Whatever. I padded over there and nudged pinecones out of the way. I wasn’t laying on pinecones.
He followed leisurely, watching me, measuring me.
I turned back and stared at him.
He nodded down at the ground.
I looked down at the ground and returned to staring at him.
He moved closer and nudged my torso.
I did the same to him.
He made a low rumbling sound that sounded like a complaint. A moment later he head-butted me, knocking me down.
I snarled at him, but he just lay down, curling his body around mine. I poked my nose into his neck.
He grumbled again, lifted up his head and stared down at me.
Okay. Fine. I’d go to sleep like a good…whatever I was.
He tucked himself tighter around me, wrapping me in his body, in his heat.
The pounding of his heart, and the warmth of his body soothed me, making me drowsy. Okay, maybe I was too tired to run anymore. I shifted around, trying to find the perfect position for this weird new body to sleep in. I could feel my teeth poking my gums. I’d never be able to sleep with that happening. I opened my jaw wide in a yawn and closed it. Better. One of my back legs itched around the middle joint, and I wriggled to lick it. I’d never been able to do that before.
Tiberius’s head lifted again as he watched me. I licked his leg too just because I could.
He growled something that sounded remarkably like “stop” before he dropped his head on mine forcing it to the ground. Fine.
He was asleep within seconds. Typical male. Typical. Typical.
I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t at all… I yawned. I was wide awake. I wasn’t….
Copyright © 2013 by Wendy Sparrow