Hello all. Another story suggestion from my good friend Llinos Cathryn Wynn-Jones this week. The link to her blog is available in the links section of this site! You should go have a read, as she is very good!
Anyway, without further ado, please enjoy ‘a story about politics in squid society’.
2014 – A Year In Stories
Prime Minister Squiddington floated behind his coral desk. It had been a tough week for him, and all of his ministers in the government of Great Squiddon. One of the constituent Squiddoms was seeking to break free as an independent nation, and the Prime Minister was very keen to see that this didn’t in fact happen.
The Squiddom in question was Blotland. It was populated predominantly by Cuttlefish and had experienced a history of mostly home rule. It was only in the last few hundred years that Blotland had been subject to the Squidlish crown.
The cuttlefish enjoyed a large degree of autonomy, a fact which gave the Prime Minister enough of a headache as it was. And now they wanted independence! Ha!
The Prime Minister settled to the seabed behind the coral reef and rubbed his bulbous head with one of his tentacles. He had not slept for days, and he had only managed to find time to see roughly 500 of his children this week.
The referendum was in three days, and there was still much work for him to do.
The next day, the Prime Minister and the leaders of the two other major political parties were in Blotland. Squid Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Squideral Democrats, was nervous. He flitted left and right as they swam up to some of the rebellious cuttlefish.
“Calm down,” the Prime Minister said to him as they swam. “You’re going to put them off voting to stay with the United Squiddom if you act like that. You’ve been doing it all the way since Blubdon.”
“I’m sorry,” the Deputy Prime Minister stuttered. “I just can’t bare the thought of losing them.
“Perhaps,” suggested Squid Milliband, the other member of their party, “you should leave the talking to me and the Prime Minister.”
Squid Clegg’s tentacles drooped in disappointment.
They finally reached the cuttlefish, who had all been floating around, waiting to see what all the fuss was about.
“Oh I see how it is,” piped up one of the braver members of the group. “Can’t be arsed to put the work in to keep us but you come swimming up here on your beaks and tentacles begging us to stay when the time comes. Well it’s too late. We’ve made our minds up and we want out.”
The Prime Minister rubbed two of his tentacles together obsequiously. “Now, now, there’s no need to be like that. We love all of our subje…I mean vote…I mean we care about all members of the population of the United Squiddom equally. We just want you to stay.”
“Well bugger off,” another of the cuttlefish interjected. “We aren’t interested. We don’t want none of your wars with the octopi, or any of your illegal above sea drilling.”
“Yeah,” the original speaker said, not wishing to be outdone. Never mind what you’re planning to do with the National Whelk Service.”
A chorus of murmured agreement spread around the assembled cuttlefish. Squid Clegg wrung his tentacles nervously.
“Why don’t you all just sod off back to Westsquiddister where you belong and let us manage our own affairs up here in Squiddinburgh?”
The gathered cuttlefish made the subtle but distinctively very important switch from a group to a mob, and advanced on the three politicians, who had agreed (in a 2-1 vote with Clegg on the losing side) that leaving their bodyguards behind would make them seem more friendly, and much less intimidating.
Squid Clegg let out a shot of ink in a panic, and the three of them turned on their tentacles. They didn’t stop swimming until they were safely past Squidrian’s Reef and back in Squidland.
“That was a disaster,” said Squid Milliband when they had reached the safety of the Caves of Parliament.
“We would have been calamari if it wasn’t for Clegg here being a huge coward,” the Prime Minister agreed.
“W…what are we going to do now?” Squid Clegg stammered.
“I’ll think of something…” the Prime Minister replied. “I’ll think of something.”
The next day was a big day for the Prime Minister, as he was up against Alex Salmon, whom the independence campaign had recruited as their leader.
The debate was largely a disaster for the Prime Minister and his side, as Salmon, the master debater, skilfully deflected all of his questions, and fired back several challenging ripostes of his own in return. However, the Prime Minister was not completely stumped. As he had promised Clegg and Milliband he had thought of something, and as the debate drew nearer to its end, he prepared to unleash it on Salmon.
“That is a very good point,” he conceded, as Salmon made another jibe about the millions of shrimp that would be saved with the withdrawal of funding for the swordfish defense system. “But, Mr Salmon, can I in return ask you this? Where exactly is an independent Blotland going to find the resources to work the North Sea shrimp fields?”
Salmon stared at him in disbelief. He clearly had not been expecting this question from the Prime Minister. “I, uh, I mean we, uh…” he began, stumbling over his words. “That is, we would, um.”
“The fact is, that Mr Salmon here cannot answer this question. Despite all of his beautiful flowery rhetoric, and his clever answers, he cannot give you a. Straight answer here. The reason for this, ladies and gentlesquids, is that he doesn’t know. The independence campaign doesn’t know.
“Currently those shrimp resources are farmed by Squiddish labourers, but that labour would be lost to you if you go ahead and vote yes to independence. And really, where would any self respecting cephalopod be without a regular supply of shrimp?”
He looked on triumphantly as Alex Salmon’s fins sagged in defeat. The Prime Minister may have taken a pummeling for most of the debate, but he had won the last question, and he knew that was the only one the voters would remember.
Sure enough when he listened to the Daily Conch news bulletin the next morning, it was encouraging stuff. His performance in the debate, though roped for a while, had given the No campaign an increase in the polls. Even if Squid Clegg had ruined the party slightly by opening his stupid beak and losing them some votes it was still positive.
It was the morning of the referendum. Soon polling caves across. Lot land would be opening, and the cuttlefish would be casting their votes. The Prime Minister crossed all his tentacles, which was no mean feat, and hoped beyond hope that the rebellious blighters would see sense and stick with the Union.
The waiting was the worst part. The polls closed late in the evening, so squid throughout the Squiddish Isles would not find out the result until very early the next morning.
The Prime kept himself occupied by engaging in some last minute campaigning on the streets of Blubdon, hoping that winning the expat cuttlefish population over down there would have a knock on effect up in Blotland. He had never kissed so many baby cuttlefish in his life.
In addition to that he was doing his best to keep the incompetent Squid Clegg out of the public eye. All he ever did was bugger things up, and he didn’t need him out there looking like a clownfish in front of potential voters on the most important day of the year. The Prime Minister cursed the day he had agreed to form the coalition with the bumbling imbecile. At least, he mused, that Clegg lacked political conviction, and so it was easy enough to get him to go along with any schemes the Prime Minister concocted.
In the end the day flew by, and the Prime Minister decided to grab a few hours sleep before the result was revealed.
The next morning the Prime Minister was woken early by his secretary, who informed him that Mr. Clegg and Mr. Milliband were waiting for him, and that the result was about to be announced.
The three squid gathered around the conch that had been set up on the Prime Minister’s coral reef desk. At first they couldn’t seem to get any sound out of it, but eventually after Squid Milliband tapped it a few times with his tentacles and then held it up to his ear to listen, they could hear the news report beginning.
“What a historic day we have here,” the news report said, in a thick cuttlefish accent, “as we wait to find out the results of what is undoubtedly the most important vote in Blotland’s history.
“And here comes the returning officer now. It looks like she is ready to announce the result.”
The conch went quiet briefly. Squid Clegg tapped it to try and make it work again, but Squid Milliband swatted his tentacle away. Eventually, a female cuttlefish’s voice could be heard through the conch.
“With an overwhelming majority, the Cephalopods of Blotland have voted to become an independent country. 66% to 34% in favour.”
The three politicians floated in stunned silence at the news, until the Prime Minister piped up after a few seconds.
“Oh bloody hell and bugger,” he said. “It’ll be the Whales wanting it next.”
This week’s story was suggested by Alastair Ball, whose very excellent birthday drinks I was at last night. I was a bit worse for wear this morning, but hopefully that hasn’t affected my writing!
Happy birthday Alastair, I hope you enjoy your story about ‘A man who bets his life on a card game.’
2014 – A Year In Stories
“I’m sorry, Mr Frampton, I really am,” the doctor said to Joey. “Breaking this kind of news to someone is never easy, and it really breaks my heart to have to be the one to deliver it.”
Nice sentiment, Joey thought. It breaks your heart to be the one to deliver it. I suppose you’d be just peachy if you had palmed it off on to one of the nurses to do.
“So, what’s the prognosis, Doc?” Joey asked the man who was leaning on his desk so nonchalantly.
The doctor certainly didn’t have the demeanour of someone who was about to drop a death sentence on a kid. Though he supposed that if he had to tell people they were dying several times a day he would get quite blasé about it after a while too.
“It’s not good I’m afraid, Mr Frampton. We can operate, but if we don’t I’d say you have 6 months; a year at most.”
The doctor shifted position awkwardly, and looked as though he was about to say something that he didn’t want to have to say.
“Do you…” he began, before trailing off. “Do you have…insurance?” he managed, finally.
Joey’s shoulders sunk. “I…No.”
The doctor wrung his hands and, for the first time, gave Joey a look of genuine compassion.
Compassion with a hint of pity.
“I’m so sorry, Mr Frampton, I really am.”
“How much would the operation cost…you know, without insurance?” Joey asked speculatively.
Maybe there would be some way to raise some money fast.
The doctor picked up a clipboard from the desk and flipped through the papers on it.
“About $90,000,” he said after a moment.
Joey baulked at the figure. He was hoping it would be under $10,000. His old man might have fronted that if it meant his son didn’t buy the farm, but there wasn’t even any point in asking at that amount. His pop would have to sell the autoshop to raise that kind of cash, and Joey wasn’t willing to ask him to do that. He wasn’t willing to ask because he knew that his dad would say yes.
“If you need any information about counselling or palliative care…” the doctor said.
“Thanks,” Joey replied. “I’ll be fine.”
Joey stood at the bus stop outside the hospital as the rain lashed down on the plastic roof. He hunched his shoulders forward and stuffed his hands deep in to his jacket pockets, huddling in to keep warm.
It was strange. He had just been given the worst news of his young life, but he didn’t feel any emotion. He didn’t feel sad or angry that his life was to be cut so unexpectedly short. He didn’t feel anything at all. He was just numb.
Just as the bus pulled up to the stop a man in a sharp suit walked up and stood at the stop. The man was talking on a cellphone, quite loudly too, Joey noted as he climbed the steps of the bus. He fumbled around in his pockets, but to his dismay he didn’t have enough change on him for the ticket home.
Great, Joey thought. As if today couldn’t get any worse. He turned around to get off the bus and prepared to walk the two miles back to his house in the pissing rain.
“Yo, what’s the beef?” the guy on the cellphone asked as Joey tried to squeeze past him.
“I don’t have enough money for the ticket,” Joey explained. “So I’m getting off.”
“Are you kidding me?” the guy grinned at Joey, revealing a gold cap on one of his teeth. “I just win big, and I’m in a giving mood, so let me buy you that bus ticket.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t…” Joey began, feebly.
“I insist,” the high roller said, putting an arm around Joey. “One bus ticket for my man here please,” he announced rather louder than Joey would have liked.
The two sat down in separate seats, but it wasn’t long before the sharply dressed man had finished his conversation and had turned his attention back to Joey.
“So what’s your story, bro?” he asked. “You look gaunt, you ill or something?”
Before Joey had to chance to reply that yes, he was in fact rather ill, and that this should have been obvious given that they boarded the bus at St Catherine’s Hospital, he was cut off before he had even managed to open his mouth.
“Me,” the man continued, “I just won big, like I said. Poker. 100Gs.”
Joey’s ears pricked up. He had decided by this point to pursue a policy of ignoring the man and occasionally saying platitudes in the hope that he would go away. However, even though he was in no mood to talk to anyone right now, the sound of $100k was very appealing.
Poker too. He had been the campus poker champion back in college. It had gotten to the stage where no one would play him, because they knew he would win. Perhaps this was the solution to his problem.
“100Gs you say?” he asked as nonchalantly as possible.
Half an hour later, and a 3 mile deviation from his route home, Joey stood in front of what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse.
“2455 Hill Street,” he said to himself, looking at the scrap of paper the sharply dressed man had handed him. The address was scrawled on it, as well as a name.
The warning that the man had given him echoed through his head. These guys played rough. If you couldn’t cough up the dough, you’d be coughing up your own blood instead. At this point he didn’t have much to lose.
He rapped on the door of the warehouse. There was no response. He went to knock on the door again, but before he could connect a panel slid open at eye level.
“What chu want?” said a voice from the other side of the door.
“I’m here to see…” Joey looked at the scrap of paper. “Kurtz. I’m here to see Kurtz.”
“Who sent you?” the voice asked.
“Luca,” Joey replied.
The panel slammed shut, and a few seconds later the door swung open.
“Entrance fee is $2000. You got it?”
Joey fished the money out of the inside pocket of his jacket. Luca, the man who had the windfall, was kind enough to give him the entry fee to the game after he heard Joey’s plight.
“In you go, kid,” the man said, taking the money from Joey.
The man receded in to the shadows to let Joey pass, but before he went by he stuck out an arm, blocking his way again.
“You know how we play here, boy?”
Joey swallowed and nodded slowly.
“Then don’t forget it.”
After walking down a short corridor Joey came across a room which had served as the management office for the warehouse when it was still operational. He opened the door and enough cigarette smoke to give him emphysema billowed out.
He entered the room to find a low lit gambling den with a card table in the centre. The felt on the table was faded green, and it was surrounded by 5 people, all deeply engrossed in the card game they were playing. There was one free seat by the table, which Joey took. None of the players had even so much as looked at him or acknowledged his presence since he walked in.
“Deal him in,” one of the players said, and some cards were duly given to him.
“The game is seven card stud, aces wild, gentlemen, may the best man win…”
Joey steeled himself, and hoped his skills weren’t too rusty.
“Show ‘em,” the man in the white suit said.
Joey’s heart sank. His bluff had been called again, and this was it. He was on the last of the $2000 entry fee, and if he lost this hand, this was it. He couldn’t understand how he had played so badly. There had only been 10 or 12 hands since he sat down and he was almost out.
Reluctantly he set his cards down, and the man in the white suit smiled broadly. “Looks like you’re out, kid,” he said.
“No!” Joey protested. “You have to give me another chance. You don’t understand.”
“We understand perfectly well. You played, you lost. You win some and you lose some, and this one you lost. You’re lucky we have a policy of not extracting extra…payment from first time losers. Now get out before we change our minds. This is a game for people can afford to play, so unless you can afford to play, leave.”
“What if I pay the extra price?” Joey blurted out, before he even realised what he was saying.
The room was suddenly bathed in silence. The man in the white suit shifted his weight and flicked the ash from the end of his cigar.
“You would make that offer on your first visit?”
“My need is great.”
“What would you offer as…collateral?”
“What are my options?”
One of the men at the table howled with laughter and held up his left hand. His little finger was missing.
“This bought me an extra $10000 once,” the mutilated man said.
“What price for my life?” Joey asked hesitantly.
The man in the white suit stood up and joined his compatriot in laughing.
“I like you, boy,” he said. “Because I like you I’m going to take you up on your generous offer. I’ll spot you $50000. If you lose, I kill you.”
“$100000,” Joey said, trying to bluff the man. He had nothing to lose. If they said yes and he lost, then he would die a little earlier than expected, and his family wouldn’t have to see him degenerate before their very eyes. If he won, he was saved. “One hand of hold ‘em. If I win I take the one hundred large. If I lose, I am yours to destroy at your leisure.”
The man considered him for a second.
“Alright,” he said. “One hand. You’re on.”
They sat down and the cards were dealt. Joey looked at his hand. An ace and a Queen. The cards on the table were a Queen and a pair of twos. A two pair wasn’t bad, but the other man was unreadable.
The bets went back and forth as the other two cards went down. Neither card was favourable, and it was quite possible that the grin on the man’s face was genuine.
“Show ‘em,” the man said, smirking. The two men flipped their cards over.
A week later, Joey woke up in his hospital bed, his parents at his side. The operation had been a complete success.
“You could have asked us for the money, son,” his mother told him as he regained full consciousness.
“You never told us how you managed to pay for the operation, son…”
Joey went to respond, but stopped when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. A man in a sharp suit leaned on the wall outside his door. He pulled a cigar from his pocket and chopped the end off with a cigar cutter. The man smiled at Joey and nodded, before walking off.
“Oh, I got lucky on a bet,” Joey said. “Let’s just say a friend tipped me off to a sure thing.”
This week I am putting my story up a little bit early. Oh! What a treat for you lovely people!
This week’s story is the second suggested by Geoff Le Pard. It was meant to go up last week but I didn’t have access to the suggestion, so it got pushed back a bit.
Anyway, this is what would happen if… ‘Banned: the letter ‘G’ is to be dropped from the alphabet’.
2014 – A Week In Stories
Good Going, Gertrude
“Are you sure?” newscaster Leonard Fulcrum asked his producer, who shrugged and nodded. “The letter ‘G’ is banned and has been removed from the dictionary?”
“That’s what it says on the crib sheet,” the producer replied.
“And you checked with the researcher?”
“Johnny asked her and she said she pulled it off the wire. Look, just run with it, you’re on in ten, nine, eight…”
“Wait! Howard! Can I use the letter on camera?!”
Howard simply shrugged again. Or rather, he shrued.
The news show theme played and Leonard settled himself in to read the bulletins.
“Good ev…no…,” he began. “Hello… And welcome to the Ten O’clock News. I’m Leonard Fulcrum. Up first tonight…” he tailed off as he read the next line on the TelePrompTer.
You have to be kidding, Leonard thought to himself. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and regained his composure. After all he was a professional, and the show must go on.
“The …Reat Atsby opened at number one at the box office over the weekend, finally breaking the record set by Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the second film about trader …oh come on Howard. The second film about trader Ordon Ecko.”
Leonard prayed to any deity that would listen that there were no news stories about Gary Glitter, and that George Galloway hadn’t been cavorting around with any more Middle Eastern dictators recently.
“And now on to our bi…lar…top story for the ni…evenin…show. Apparently the letter ‘G’, and I suspect in the interests of fair journalism I’m allowed to say it there, has been banned and will be forthwith removed from the dictionary.
“Writers nationwide are reacting with annoyance, as they will now have to look back through all their works and switch words using the banned letter out for others.
“There has been an outcry by many whose names contain the banned letter, with thousands petitionin…askin… Howard I just can’t do this.”
“Just suck it up, Leonard, you’re live on air,” the producer replied in to Leonard’s earpiece. “Keep going for now, I’ll check it out.”
“The…people who run the country have asked for calm nationwide as they look in to alternative letters to replace ‘G’. They have said they will consider several options before a choice is made. When questioned as to why they made the decision to remove the letter, political sources refused to comment. More on this story later…”
Meanwhile, Howard, the producer, walked in to the research department backstage. There was only one researcher working on shift for the Ten O’Clock News, which Howard noted was unusual.
The woman in the office was not one he recognised. The lone researcher turned to look at him. As she turned she blinked a couple of times and squinted heavily at home.
“Mum?” she said, a hint of confusion and surprise in her voice.
“Er…no,” Howard replied. “My name is Howard Rubb, I’m the show producer for the Ten O’Clock News.
“Oh, that’s good. It would have been a bit strange if you had been my mum, she’s been in an old folks home in Scotland for ten years.”
“Err, quite. Who are you?”
“I’m Gertrude, the new temporary research assistant.”
“Where is everyone else? Where is the Senior Researcher?”
“Oh, they’re all on holiday, dear. That’s why they brought me in on temporary cover.”
A feeling of dread began to come over Howard.
“Look,” he said, sitting in one of the empty chairs in the office. “We’ve got a bit of a problem. Leonard, the newsreader, is questioning the authenticity of a news story that he has had to report on for the broadcast.”
“Oh yes?” Gertrude asked, sounding perplexed. “I checked them all, they all came off the website of the Associated Press. Which story was it?”
“The letter ‘G’ story. Has it really been banned? The government can’t seriously be considering banning it. That would make them the overment, and I don’t think they’re silly enough to do that.”
“Oh yes, it was up there with the rest of them. Susannah had left the tab open with the others after she left for me to compile the stories for the scriptwriters.”
“Would you show me?” Howard asked.
“Of course,” Gertrude replied, swinging her chair back round to face the computer. Howard noticed that she missed the mouse with her hand at the first attempt. “Oh,” she said. “Clumsy me!”
Gertrude clicked through the different tabs, all of which seemed to contain, as she had explained, legitimate news stories, all of which were found on the journalists section of the Associated Press website. Eventually she came to the tab she was looking for.
“Here you go,” she said. “The letter ‘G’ has been banned from the dictionary,” she read from the screen, with some difficulty, Howard noted.
He craned his neck around her to look at the screen. A look of horror passed across his face as he saw what was on the screen.
“Oh no,” he said. “Oh, no, no, no, no, no. You have to be kidding me.”
“What’s wrong?” Gertrude asked. “Did I get something wrong with the story?”
“No, you got the story exactly right. It’s just that it’s not real. That isn’t on the Associated Press website. That’s the Onion.”
“What’s that?” Gertrude asked.
“It’s a satirical news website. All the stories are made up. They’re jokes!”
“Oh dear!” Gertrude said cheerfully. “That is a bit of a problem isn’t it?”
“A bit of a problem?!” Howard said. “It’s more than a bit of a bloody problem! Leonard Fulcrum, three time winner of the National Newsreader of the Year award just read out a story from the bloody Onion live on air. Everyone knows Susannah likes reading the Onion on her lunch break. Couldn’t you tell the difference?”
“Now mister, I don’t like your tone,” Gertrude said. I didn’t know that. Plus I’m still getting used to my new contact lenses. The sites looked the same to me on the screen.
“You’re right,” Howard said, calming down. “I’m sorry. Just, be more careful next time.”
“You mean I’m not fired?” Gertrude asked.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” Howard said.
“Uh, Mr Rubb?”
“Yes, what is it?”
“Isn’t he still out there?”
The chair Howard had been sitting on span around as he bolted from the room.
Back out in the studio, Leonard was becoming more and more irate.
“Look,” he said in to the camera, rubbing his temple again to ward off the migraine that was marching its way across his frontal lobes. “I’ve had enough of this. This is ridiculous. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Howard burst in to the studio just as Leonard stood up from the desk. He tried to run on to the set but he was held back by one of the show’s runners.
When he protested that it was an emergency the runner simply reminded him of his own policy that only breaking news stories were allowed to interrupt a live broadcast, meanwhile, Leonard had reached the front of the desk.
“If this is really true, then the government – yeah I used the letter ‘G’ I’m a word. Do something about it. There, I did it again! If this is all real then I have something to say to those idiots down in Westminster. There will be rioting in the streets. You can’t just declare a bloody letter illegal. We will give as good as we get. Hah! You hear that? That was some alliteration! Bet you didn’t see that coming did you?”
Howard’s head was in his hands as the runner held him back. He decided it was time to end this and struggled his way out of the runner’s grip.
“I for one will not sit by,” Leonard continued. “Wait, Howard, what are you doing?”
“It was a scam, Leonard, it was an Onion article. You’ve been ranting for the last five minutes about a joke on the internet.”
Leonard stood, mouth agape for a moment, staring directly in to the camera. After a few seconds of contemplation he bolted and ran from the building. He knew his career was in tatters. Howard tried to chase him down but by the time he got to the street Leonard was gone.
Howard knew that his career was finished too. He was ultimately responsible for the content of the show and he should have done more to verify the story. He hung his head in his hands and sat down heavily on the curb.
Back in the research office Gertrude was still sat at the computer. She span around a couple of times on the chair before grabbing her purse from the floor. From it she pulled her mobile phone and dialled a number.
“Jenny,” she said as her friend answered the phone. “You owe me £100.”
“You never!” her friend replied.
“Yep, he said it all live on air. I told you I could get a national newsreader to read an Onion story on air.”
“I’ll stick it on +1, this sounds like its worth watching.”
“Next time make the bet a bit harder, yeah?” Gertrude said as she picked up her bag to leave. “This one was almost too easy.”
Hello all. This week’s yarn was suggested by my good friend Ben Ingber and the prompt was as follows: ‘A wolf spends each full moon as a human’.
2014 – A Year In Stories
Hungry Like the Wolf
The wolf ran through the forest. The time was near and she had to reach the point before it was too late. She crashed through a bush and fell as it stumbled, but rolled with the fall and was back on the run again in moments.
After another minute of barrelling through the undergrowth the wolf stopped, lifted its nose to the air and sniffed around, trying to catch the scent of the stash. A moment later and the wolf was on her way again.
A few minutes of searching brought her to the right place just in time. She began to feel the change happening as she dug furiously to unearth its stash.
The wolf let out an excruciating howl as the metamorphosis fully took hold.
The process took mere moments, but every time it happened felt like a thousand years of agony. The wolf had hoped that it would get better with time, as she adapted to the process, but it had been 2 years and if anything the process had only become more painful with time.
When the metamorphosis was complete the wolf stood up, on two legs this time, and brushed the soil from her naked body. The recently transformed woman reached down to the ground, where, in her wolf form, she had unearthed a duffel bag.
The first order of business was her hair. A huge mane of shaggy black hair came with her every time she transformed, and she had learned to pack a hairbrush amongst her supplies.
The hair tamed, she put on some clothes. Nothing fancy, in fact quite grubby and worn, but enough for her to blend in to human society for the 48 hours a month she had to spend in this accursed form. It had taken her a while to get used to that, she did not mind admitting, but after a few months she had managed to scavenge enough supplies that humans had left lying around that she could pass.
Just as she was pulling a stained hoodie over her head she heard the crack of a twig snapping. With her wolf reflexes she was leaped towards the noise and a second later found herself on top of an elderly, skinny human male.
The man was dressed in an all black ensemble, except for a white slip of cardboard inserted in his collar.
“Please don’t kill me!” he whimpered, as the wolf-lady snarled intensely on top of him.
“Whaaat did you seee?” she growled. Over the last two years she had managed to adapt her method of communication to a decent approximation of the human language known as ‘English’.
“I didn’t see anything!” the man protested, until the wolf intensified her snarl. “OK, OK,” he confessed, “I saw the whole thing. I saw you change from a wolf in to a person. I had to check my eyes. I must be dehydrated.”
“Whaat do you meeean?” she growled in return.
“Wolves don’t turn in to human beings! There’s no such thing as werewolves! They’re a myth.”
“Whaaaat is were-wolff?”
“When a, when a human turns in to a wolf at the full moon. It’s an old legend. I swear I wasn’t trying to hurt you!” The man burst in to tears. “Please don’t kill meeeeee.”
“I nottt kill you,” the wolf said, getting off the man. “Who you?” she asked the man, who has barely containing the racking sobs of terror.
“My name? I am Reverend Roger Smart. I run the local church in the town.”
“Whattttt you do in woodssss?”
“I was on a late evening constitutional,” Roger said, then upon seeing the confused look on the wolf-lady’s face added, “a walk. I was out walking in the woods.”
“Woodss dangeroussss,” the wolf replied.
“What is your name?” the Revernd asked, after managing to stop crying.
“I not have name. Wolvesss not have name.”
“May I call you Luna?”
The wolf mulled it over for a moment.
“Yes. Like Luna. Good name.”
“OK then. Luna…What just happened to you?”
“Most time I wolfff. I alwaysss wolff until I get bitten by human in fight. Now sometime I turn to humannn like you.”
“Does it always happen when the moon looks like that?” Roger asked, pointing at the full moon, which had now had time to rise properly.
“So you aren’t a wereWOLF. You’re a wereHUMAN!” the Reverend exclaimed. “this is incredible! Though I must admit, it has rather shaken my faith a little. Were…creatures are meant to be just stories. Next you’ll be telling me that vampires exist and my cousin is a necromancer!”
“What isss necromancerrr?”
“Never mind,” Roger said. “Are you hungry, Luna?”
“Yesss!” Luna replied. “You have foods?”
“Come with me,” Roger smiled.
Twenty minutes later they were back at the vicarage, and Mrs Thackeray, the housekeeper, was bustling about preparing some sandwiches, all the while complaining about the imposition of the Reverned bringing around a guest unannounced at this hour.
Mrs Thackeray gave Luna the once over as she placed the sandwiches on the table.
“So…Luna. Tell me about yourself,” she said, indignantly.
“I a wolfff!” Luna exclaimed proudly, not noticing the subtle inflection in Mrs Thackeray’s voice that suggested she didn’t really want an answer. “I turn in to human and Rogerrr Reverendd help meee.”
“I say!” Mrs Thackeray bellowed. “What nonsense! There were rumours of a wolf creature prowling the woods on the full moon but as a good Christian I don’t believe a word of it. Roger, Do you mean to say that you found a woman claiming to be a feral savage and TOOK HER IN?”
“The Lord commands that we offer kindness and hospitality to all those who cross our paths, Mrs Thackeray. Need I remind you of the story of the Good Samaritan?”
Seemingly not requiring a refresher, Mrs Thackeray merely harrumphed, and with one final sidelong glance at Luna, stormed out of the room.
Half an hour later, after Mrs Thackeray had begrudgingly prepared a bed for the guest, the Reverend prepared to say goodnight. However, just as they were about to mount the stairs, there was a knock at the door.
“I wonder who that could be at this hour?” the Reverend said.
He walked up to the door and looked through the peephole. On the other side he could see a host of people jockeying for position in front of the door. Some of them were brandishing microphones, while others had large television cameras mounted on their shoulders.
Reverend Smart pulled back from the door in horror.
“It seems the press has descended on us!” he said.
“Perhaps they got wind of your ‘friend’s’ whereabouts,” Mrs Thackeray replied with a smirk on her face.
“Nora Thackeray!” the normally quiet and mouse Reverend roared. “Did you tip them off?”
“The media circus will surely drag her away. She is an abomination in to god, Roger. If I had my way she would be destroyed.”
“How dare you bring this on to my home. You’re sacked!” he yelled, then added, “And stop calling me Roger. Only my friends may address me as Roger, and if I’ve learned anything over the last half an hour, Mrs Thackeray, it is that you are not my friend, and that you are no longer welcome in my home. Now pack up your things and go!”
“I say!” Mrs Thackeray said, looking as though she was about to boil over.
“I would dearly rather that you didn’t say anything at all!” the Reverend said, coming to the crescendo of his anger. Luckily Mrs Thackeray had already begun to slink up the stairs, with Luna bearing her teeth at the retreating figure.
The two heard a noise come from the sitting room, as if someone was trying to jimmy the window open. By the time they reached it the man was halfway through the tight spot.
“Oh do bugger off!” Roger said, rechanneling his anger as he slammed the window on the man’s head, causing him to fall backwards on to the ground. “Come with me!” he shouted to Luna.
They ran to the cellar and closed the door behind them.
“There’s a way out to the border of the woods in here,” Roger said. “Here,” he added, grabbing as much food as he could find that did not require preparation and stuffing it in to Luna’s duffel bag. “Take this and hide in the woods. I’ll hold them off as long as I can.”
Luna was just out of the back when the first journalist burst the cellar door open.
“Where’s the werewolf?” the woman asked.
“Were-huma…” Roger began, before catching himself. “I mean, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Have you been listening to the rumblings of a doddering old woman again? Mrs Thackeray is off her rocker. Honestly, a werewolf? How gullible do you have to be?”
After consenting to a thorough search of the house for the werewolf, Reverend Smart saw the last reporter off, empty handed, with a slam of the door.
“That should put them off the idea,” he said to himself.
One month later, as the full moon drew near, Reverend Smart trudged up the slight incline to the spot in the woods. He checked his watch and, right on time, he saw a wolf stalk out of the forest and pad right over to him.
Initially he exercised caution, as he was not sure how much memory Luna retained in her wolf form, and was not keen to receive a mauling. He flinched as the wolf increased her pace and leapt towards him, but laughed as he felt the coarse lick of her tongue on his face.
Moments later he opened his eyes to find a fully grown, fully naked woman leaning on him. It had been some years indeed since a naked woman had been this close to him and he blushed as he handed Luna some clothes.
“Come with me,” he said, after she had gotten dressed. “There’s plenty of food at the vicarage.”
Luna followed him as he walked back down the hill.
“Oh,” he added. “You’ll love my new housekeeper. Much more understanding than the last one…”