The Dark and Shadowy Places

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Merciful Beast

Merciful beast. That’s the definition of an oxymoron, if you ever thought one. A beast is the total opposite of merciful. They are savage and relentless. They are machines created to survive. Survival of the fittest in a harsh, unforgiving world. They aren’t compassionate. They don’t give a second thought to anyone besides themselves. Sounds like a lot of humans I know, actually, which is scary when you think about it. I say humans, and not people because I’m not one of them. I’m not human. Not anymore anyway.

Now I guess you can call me a merciful beast. It’s hard to be. Really hard. But I have no choice really. I had no choice in becoming a werewolf. I bet no one has ever heard of a vegetarian werewolf. Because that’s what I was when I was human. I was vegetarian. I didn’t eat meat. And then I was turned into something that does. How is that for a twist of fate?

And I was raised vegetarian. I’ve never even set foot in a McDonald’s in my life. You can’t even trust their salads. No self-respecting vegetarian should trust anything in a fast food joint.

Fast food. I can laugh now. Now my food really is fast. As in, if I want to eat, I have to chase it, because, dammit, rabbits and deer really are fast.

But those times when I’m not all furry, I’m still a vegetarian. I guess I want to balance it all out. Wolves don’t eat any kind of fruit or vegetables after all. I can remember everything from when I’m my wolf-self. The taste of the meat, the feel of the blood, the…warmth as you’re devouring them. Oh, and the fur. Can’t forget that. It gets stuck in your mouth, and it’s hard to spit it out when you’re a dog. Yuck. Thankfully when I’m human again I can brush my teeth.

I try to be merciful. I try to go after the injured, the sick, the old things. Even though they don’t taste the same. Like veggie burgers don’t taste the same as real ones. I’d assume. Like I said, I’ve never been to a McDonald’s and I’m not going to start now even though, for a small part of my new life, I’m a meat eater through and through. But when I first changed, I attempted to eat some berries, since my ingrained humanness recoiled at the thought of eating meat – let alone meat that was still alive. That didn’t go very well, other than give me scratches on my snout which are still healing on my human nose and cheeks. And getting a mouthful of thorns? Not so nice. Carnivores definitely aren’t made for eating stuff like that.

I’ve only been…different…for about a month, and despite the myths, we don’t require a full moon to go all fuzzy. But no one told me that. My mentor forgot to tell me that little nugget of information. Mentor by the way, is a very nice way of saying, the person who decided to change your life forever and turn you from a normal human, girl in my case, to a girl that goes through more than one change a month, and turns into a furry, fanged monster. And that happens every time you get upset.

Unfortunately for me. I get upset a lot. Like when someone forgets to put the cap back on the toothpaste. Yep, I’m that kind of girl. I have a short temper. Which is really not a good thing, if you get mad when someone is walking too slowly in front of you, taking up the entire sidewalk and you start getting annoyed, which turns into being pissed off, and then I feel an itch at the base of my skull. That’s where it starts. That’s when I know it’s happening. But again, Mr. come up to you on the dance floor in the night club and bite your shoulder for no apparent reason Mentor never told me that either. I’d screamed at him. “What the hell are you doing, you psycho?” He’d laughed and grinned at me, baring the long canine teeth that were stained with my blood. “Tag, you’re it,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I said. He gave me another smile and shrugged. “I’ll tell you later.”

I grabbed him and hauled him out of the club. “No, you’ll tell me now,” I demanded. And so he did. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Who would?

The first time it happened, when the itch on my neck turned into a burning tingle that ran down my spine, I thought I was having some sort of weird episode. I was home, by myself thankfully, as my roommate Jill had gone to work but I had the day off and I was sorting through the laundry, when I realized she’d washed all my gym clothes together with a bunch of stuff it shouldn’t have been and my favourite workout shirt was ruined. I was angry. Workout clothes are expensive! When my back started burning, I ran to the bathroom, and looked in the mirror. I saw long dark hair sprouting down my back. And I would’ve seen more but I’d already shrunk below the bathroom cabinet, onto four legs.

And that was the day I destroyed our apartment. When Jill came back from work, I was trying to put the large bookshelf in our living room back together. I’d rammed into it and caused it to splinter and crash to the floor. I’d stuck some old phone books underneath one of the legs that had broken off. I’d already done my best at trying to stuff the stuffing back into one of the couch cushions I’d torn open with my teeth in my crazy burst of freaked out energy from turning into a normal girl who works at Starbucks, to a sleek dark furred wolf.

Jill’s eyes widened as she saw the destruction. “What the-?” she said, too stunned to finish the sentence.

“We were robbed,” I said, the words tumbling quickly from my mouth, naturally, but I turned away and didn’t meet her eyes. The things you have to do when you’re a werewolf, I thought. I wasn’t the world’s best liar. She took in the couch. “A burglar tore up our couch? Was he looking for hidden treasure?”

I smiled, embarrassed and just shrugged. “Who knows?”

“Were you here?” Jill asked. I paused a split second. I didn’t have anywhere to go today, so I told the truth. “I was asleep. I lay down to have a nap.”

Jill looked at the teetering bookshelf. “And you didn’t hear that?”

“Um…” I said. “Yeah, I heard a big crash. That’s what woke me up. But when I got out here, he was gone. It must have fallen over after he left or something.”

Jill muttered something under her breath, and then tossed her purse on the couch and ran to me. “Are you okay?”

I turned away from her again, busying myself with the stack of books I was trying to put back on the shelf. “I’m fine.”

But I wasn’t fine. It had taken me a long time to calm down, and turn back into me. Now it doesn’t take as long since I’ve been working on trying to control my temper. I try not to let things Jill does get to me anymore. If she finishes my almond milk without telling me, that’s not worth turning wolfy over.

But it’s still hard, sometimes. Especially when it’s that time of the month, when any little thing can turn me into an irrational monster. Literally. That’s why I spend a lot of time now taking long hikes in the woods now. Just to be on the safe side. It’s a lot easier to turn into a wolf in a forest, than in the middle of a busy shopping mall.

The major downside to being a werewolf is clothes. You go through a lot of clothes. I like clothes, but I like to be able to wear them more than a couple times. And when you change back, you’re naked. Which isn’t fun anywhere. Except maybe at home. So I always walk around with a change of clothes in a backpack now and when I feel the familiar itch at the base of my skull, I put the pack somewhere I’ll remember to come back to.

So this is my life now. Vegetarian barista who likes to kill and eat small animals whenever she gets angry. It’s not really something I can put on my business card. Werewolf for hire, can get rid of pesky vermin, call today!

I don’t recommend it as a lifestyle choice. Not that it’s much of a choice at all. I didn’t believe in stuff like werewolves, vampires and witches before. And even though I still don’t know if vampires and witches exist, I know I do, so nothing would surprise me.

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