This chapter is for The Death Maiden of Rain.
It wasn't long before Natasha found herself staring at Dr. Phunis' door as Lunetta frantically swooped through the late summer air. The sun was still fairly high in the sky, and Natasha wished it would stay that way; she dreaded the time at which it would sink beneath the horizon, and the full moon would ascend to take its place instead. She was curious enough about the transformation from human to wolf, but she wasn't sure she wanted to experience it herself. She would have preferred to read about it, but who wrote books on transformations? The author would be thought mad.
Dr Phunis finally opened the door, and Lunetta zoomed right through to settle on a perch next to Dusk in the living room. "Glad you're here early," the doctor greeted her, and stepped aside to let her in.
Natasha shrugged. "I figured it would be better to get here early than…transform in the car."
Dr. Phunis shot her a concerned glance and smiled reassuringly. "Nervous?"
Natasha sighed. "I don't know. I think it's just because I don't really know what's going on, and I hate feeling unsure of myself," she responded firmly.
He looked disgruntled for a moment, then turned and headed toward the kitchen. "What would you like me to tell you?" He picked up a kettle and began to pour its contents into a large black mug. Natasha was about to answer when she became mesmerized by the liquid in the kettle – it was bright purple, and the steam it gave off was icy green. It smelled awful, as if he had mixed rotten eggs with mayonnaise, then boiled it.
"Sorry." She tore her eyes away from the strange drink. "What can you tell me? I don't really have anything specific I want to know, just something that would set me at ease." She knew that was one request that was impossible to fulfill. "And what is that, by the way?"
"This?" He wrinkled his nose which gave him a rather odd look. "It is a potion, if you will, that makes the transformation less painful and allows my wolf form to be less aggressive, which will prevent attacks on other humans. Unfortunately, I can't allow you to have any of this quite yet, but after you've transformed a couple of times you can try it." He took a sip. "It tastes as awful as it looks and smells."
There was a pause during which Lunetta fluttered over to Natasha's shoulder and settled there comfortingly. Natasha stroked her head absently, and the bird gurgled happily. Dr. Phunis continued after a moment.
"As for your other question, there isn't much I can tell you. You can't really describe a transformation because the changes are so deep within you that you hardly know what's going on. I know this isn't reassuring at all, but it's just something you have to experience yourself in order to really comprehend."
Natasha had known he couldn't dispel her fears, but she realized that she would have to go through it no matter what. The fact that she really was a werewolf had finally hit her. She had no choice, no options. Natasha suddenly felt powerless, weak, and as if she had absolutely no control over her own life. The excitement she had first felt when she had found out about her new condition in the hospital that first day was gone – she had a hard time believing she had ever been excited in the first place. There was nothing about this that was stimulating or joyful. All she wanted was to be normal again, whatever that was. For a moment she wanted to scream, run, and cry; but the moment was gone in a flash, and she was left feeling empty as a shell.
"Cookie?" Dr. Phunis offered.
She took one numbly.
The sun had almost descended below the horizon before long, and twilight was beginning to creep over the landscape. Fireflies were floating in the air, their glow encompassed by the darkness closing in on them. When the crickets began to sing, Dr. Phunis asked Natasha to go outside with him. They left through the back door; Natasha shuddered as she walked past one wall covered with scratches, the scars and grooves in the wood cutting into her own soul. Her heart thudded faster and faster with each step she took.
It was too dark to see where she was going, so she tried to follow Dr. Phunis' footsteps exactly. He led her in some brushes and a small clearing; they pushed through more trees and brush that scratched her arms and clawed at her jeans. Finally, they reached a clearing that was empty except for a solitary bench. As she neared it, Natasha noticed that the bench was missing some corners and the edges were covered with strange marks. Her stomach jolted, but she attempted a smile at the doctor.
"Hungry?" She gestured to the part-eaten bench.
"Mm. That thing gave me quite a few spinters," he joked back.
She chose to sit on the grass rather than the wobbly bench, and she tried her best to relax and not think about anything. Unfortunately, questions kept exploding in her head like fireworks.
"Dr. Phunis? When we transform…what happens to our clothes? We don't have to take them off, do we?"
"No, the clothing is part of the transformation."
Still, Natasha couldn't get the image of a wolf in her jeans and t-shirt out of her head. She felt a bit awkward – she wished Dr. Phunis would talk to her and explain what was going to happen. She didn't want to show it, but she was incredibly nervous. Natasha felt like a tangled ball of emotions, all rolled up in her stomach. Half of her incredulously denied the fact that her human body could become that of a wolf, that this was all a joke, that it was impossible. Reasoning told her that it wouldn't happen. The other half of her innards were shriveled and quaking, frightened beyond all reason. She felt tense and jumpy, uncertain and defenseless. She had no control whatsoever. She looked down at herself, trying to wrap her mind around what was about to happen. Her long, slender, currently furless legs gave way to a thinner, bonier, stronger pair with powerful paws. Her flat belly became longer and heavier, thick fur cloaking it. She shuddered. She couldn't, she wouldn't let that happen; but she knew that it was all in vain.
Feeling unstable with fear, she gripped the grass on the ground beneath her. She felt her lungs contracting with panic, and she tried to breathe deeply to calm herself.
"Nearly time," Dr. Phunis whispered in the dark. Natasha felt a surge of anger toward him. He was supposed to be her mentor, he was supposed to teach her, he was supposed to help her. Instead he was sitting on the ground, idly mentioning this and that while she panicked. Couldn't he see that she was terrified beyond her wits? Why wasn't he doing something about it?
Her skin began to prickle, and her anger was forgotten. "Dr. Phunis?" she squeaked, unable to keep the fear out of her voice.
"It's alright. Just let it go – don't fight it. It'll be over in a few minutes."
Natasha looked down again, this time not needed her imagination to perform the changes. The hair on her arms lengthened and became thicker and darker. Her jeans seemed to be melting into her legs. She found herself lying on the ground, contorted with pain. She moaned, scratching the ground with her fingers, only to find that her fingers had become paws. She was now covered completely in dark, wiry fur, and she dimly realized that the most painful part was yet to come.
Her legs lengthened, feeling as if they were stretched and pulled and twisted away from her. Her cries became howls, her intestines squirmed, and her lungs expanded. Her tailbone elongated itself and her tail lay limp on the ground. She couldn't see anything, only the blinding glow of the moon that imprinted itself in her mind. Finally, it was too much to bear. As her eyes dilated and shrank, moving to either side of her head, her vision grayed and she couldn't even see the moon anymore. Her nose and mouth became one and stemmed outward. Her own howls became muffled. Rather than fighting back, she heard Dr. Phunis' words once more: "Just let it go."
She let go, and the black of the night became blacker.