I lay shivering and bloody on the floor of the forest, catching my breath. Around me, the full moon night was shouting with sounds but I could now only hear half of them. I tried to focus on the moon and saw it coming in to sharper focus as well as the dusting of stars around it. I breathed deeply, smelling the pine and soil, the scent of animals and plants, but my nose was not as keen as it had been before.
I got up shakily on two legs. It always took me a good few minutes to get use to the change. I lent my hands on a tree trunk for support then when I was ready I walked out of the dense part of the forest. I headed for an old rangers’ hut that I had made into my shelter on these nights. It was too dangerous to remain the forest in this form.
I struggled through the darkness, only finding my way because I had walked this so many times before. Also, I had marked the trees with cuts which I could feel with my fingers to direct me.
I let myself into the wooden hut and turned on the light switch. A single bulb pinged on and the room lit up. There was a chair, a desk, a bed, shelves, a little kitchen area and a fire place. I took a poncho from the bed and slipped it on. It would keep this fur-less body warm.
Going to the kitchen, I checked there was enough bottled water and canned food. I always felt hungry in this form, but I had to be careful with what I could get. Trips to the camping grounds and the nearest towns were long and I often spent all night searching for things. I didn’t feel like all that walking tonight.
I went to the shelves and looked at the things I had collected there; a few books I couldn’t read, shinny stones, broken ornaments, a map, a compress and a few other trinkets. Some had been here already but the rest I had brought back with me. I took down a large book, it was falling apart, so I was gentle with it.
Setting it on the desk, I sat down and began turning the pages. There were coloured photos and drawings of animals. With what I guessed was information about them alongside. I went to the section further at the back and looked at a few pictures there. Finally, I turned to the one that I knew was me.
I sighed and touched the main photo of the grey wolf. Then I feel into wondering like I always do. Why was I cursed with this change every full moon? And why did it take this human form? Could I not be a bird or another animal?
Shutting my eyes I tried as I’d done countless times to turn into something else or even back into a wolf. But nothing happened. I had no power over this body. Closing the book, I put it back on the shelf and sat back on the bed.
I’d have to wait this out, just like I normally did on staying in nights. I lay down and dreamt of running with my pack.