By Chris McAuley
“Come young one and sit with me, I have a story to tell you. It is painful and true”. Old Jack’s throaty intonations drew Lucille towards him and the warmth of the trashcan fire. They had found each other as the young girl had experienced the first pains of the change. She had been walking home with her boyfriend as the transformation began. Her insides felt twisted and her skin felt unbearably warm, as she doubled over in pain, she heard her boyfriend asking her if “she was on her moons?”.
She certainly was, although not in a way that he had meant. Her head ached and her teeth felt too large for her mouth. The agony eventually became to much for her and she blacked out. When she next opened her eyes, she was semi naked, covered in blood and she had pieces of meat stuck in her teeth. Looking down upon this sorry sight had been the heavily lined face of Jack. He wore a weary smile and although patient with her questions, quickly draped a jacket over her shoulders and lead her out of the alley. The first change was always bloody and dangerous. It would take many lunar cycles before she could control the beast which only wore her human face.
Jack produced a skewer and some marshmallows from the bag beside him. Winking as he began to hold the treats over the flames he proclaimed, “I believe its best to snack on stories while they are being told”. Taking his eyes off his young wards face and looking upwards past the crooked concrete building towards the blue azure of the night sky, Jack told his tale.
“We wolves were born of the Earth, we feel her under our paws, our snouts can detect the shifts in her spirit and when we hunt, we take her bounty. In time, I will teach you the rites and rituals of our kind. You will need to know these things before joining a tribe. I left my pack a few years ago because of a great shame which hangs over me today. I was deeply in love with our ways, the preservation of the forests and in my two-legged form fought against the polluting nature of the humans. I protested and sabotaged, that kind of thing. I didn’t participate in any riots or acts of serious violence; it is important that we aren’t noticed. Certainly, it wouldn’t be wise to get arrested or imprisoned. Imagine changing form while in a jail cell. My tribe were peaceful and we lived in harmony with one another. Any mating jealousies were settled through honorable combat and we only hunted that which we would eat.
The chief’s son was the only member of the clan who was discontent. It’s a story as old as time Lucille. He was not prepared to wait until his fath