by The Dove
“I swear, if I see one more freaking algebra problem, I’m gonna hurl!”
You could say Sam Baxter was agitated. Well, maybe agitated wasn’t quite as strong a word for what he was feeling. He was nothing short of busting a gasket at the thought of yet another homework problem that took more than one hour to do. Just for a single problem! His algebra teacher was one sadistic individual. I mean, seriously, like, who was even going to need to know how to find “x” or solve for “y? Who used that stuff anyway? Only the people who actually taught the stuff, that’s who!
These were all thoughts Sam was thinking as he barreled down the country roads of his small hometown, the sharp chunks of rock and gravel sliding and spinning before flying out like shrapnel underneath the heavy-duty tires of his pickup truck. Sam was finishing up his junior year at the local high school and all his friends could definitely say he wanted to be done with it all and move on, outside of this rustic dump of a town. He had aspirations for college, of degrees and diplomas, and an actual career that didn’t involve him working as a busboy at the local diner. More than anything, he wanted to be in an academic setting where his creativity and outgoing nature was rewarded, not smack dab in the middle of some sort of staged reality popularity show where every action was judged by its own merit in relation to popularity and other frivolous social statuses. Sam loved school, but at the same time hated how he had to get from one academic setting to another. It was, unfortunately, a means to an end, even though it was part of merely growing up.
Even though he was faced with these realizations, Sam still managed to excel in his creativity and drive for higher thinking. All the teachers knew it too. Only so many people could discern such abstract ways of dealing with the complex, multi-ended and often controversial topics in debate class or even alternate solutions to the semester’s most perplexing calculator-crunchers in algebra, regardless of the level of insanity the instructor exhibited. The teachers knew him by name and were never afraid to say hello to the dirty blond-haired boy, his hair cut down and short with spiking in the front, his perky blue eyes always eliciting a greeting whenever they crossed gazes with a faculty member in the hallway. Sam was always a little embarrassed to engage in much contact with them at the thought of being made into a so-called “teachers’ pet” and the laughing stock of his baseball team. Even though Sam was fed up with the status quo of the school life, he couldn’t help but play by the rules of the book. Sam, though, in his own mind, would write his own book before he was through with it all.
“That Baxter boy is going places”. “He really applies himself when he isn’t stressed over his extracurriculars”. ‘He takes on so many tasks at once, let alone his baseball investments. I don’t know how he manages!” “He is one of the mot hardworking young men I know”. He was in my class last semester; what a creative gem that boy was!”
Such were the forms of praise that Sam heard from his teachers and advisors. Indeed, Sam was a hardworking young man with a rich extracurricular foundation to boot. He was active on the high school baseball team and even served as an officer at the school’s honor society. This semester, though, Sam was just stressed. He wanted to be done with his junior status and ride that senior wave of accomplishment all the way to graduation day. More than anything in the present moment, Sam just wanted a distraction. If he could, he’d stop time and relish in the majesty of his own solace; his own schedule and freedom to do whatever the heck he wanted. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. Sam may not be able to stop time but little did young Sam know, his world was going to change. Very, very soon.
It was a beautiful and windy spring afternoon as Sam pulled into the gravel driveway of his home. The house wasn’t anything too special he had to admit but it did have a nice country charm to it. It was odd seeing such a suburban-looking house back in a country pastoral setting such as this. Sam and his family lived back deep in the woods of their town along the boundary of the county line. They didn’t have much property to their own, just the house, a shed with a motorized garage door that was installed by his father, and the well hidden under a fake rock you see at home and garden stores. Sam indeed missed being able to hang out with all his old friends back in the city but the country had a special blend of comfort to it. He didn’t have to hear the hustle and bustle of the cars, the shouting expletives of angry drivers, and the angry couple who lived in the upstairs apartment of 94B. Ever since Sam’s parents found new vocational duties in the country, the family was able to actually purchase a house and enjoy their own solitude without the constant reminder of monthly rent and rowdy, unkempt neighbors.
Sam and his father (sometimes his mother would join along too if she wasn’t busy pet-sitting at the neighbor’s residence down the street) would take a long walk together down into the dense forest behind their home. A short ten-minute walk back into their woods and across the edge of the pastureland of the neighboring farming family led them into the large and vast hunting reserve in the backwoods of the county. It used to be a timber-harvest location for an urban lumber company. Ever since the company foreclosed, the owners purchased the now-cheap property and turned the vacant land into a seasonal hunting location before selling it back to the county. His father oftentimes told him about the beautiful waterfall that remained on the property; completely untouched and undisturbed by the former property owner. If one listened carefully as they crossed the pasture, they could hear the rapids tumbling over the rocks far off into the reserve. His father promised to take him when his job settled down, but alas, his work duties always seemed to be at the forefront of his agenda.
Opening up the garage with the electronic key hanging above his visor, Sam parked his truck, leaned back in his seat and rubbed his forehead.
“School, friends, baseball, graduation plans, college applications. I wish it could all just, I don’t know, disappear for a while.”
Sam looked out the glass window of the garage and into the deep expanse of the forest. A large spider was busy crafting a web in the corner pane of the garage window. Dust and soot from the rafters of the garage were filtering down and settling onto the fine fibers of the silken web. Sam sighed.
“Nature always seems to find a way to move on, doesn’t it? It’s resilient and unwavering. I suppose I have to as well. Anything to get out of this school.”
Taking a deep breath, Sam stepped out of the driver seat of the truck, grabbing his backpack before slinging it over his shoulder. Sam opened the backseat passenger door and grabbed his large duffel bag of baseball gear and cleats. It had been a long day at practice and Sam’s track shorts and sports t-shirt were still somewhat saturated with his sweat. Sam couldn’t help thinking about how nice a snack and a nap would be after a day at school. He could work on homework in the evening after the family ate dinner. Right now he just wanted to let his mind rest and wander. As he started down the gravel driveway, he suddenly stopped.
“Oh, crap!” Sam exclaimed as his eyes widened in realization at what day it was.
The first of the month. Yep, it was that day again. The day when Mr. and Mrs. Baxter went down to the city to do their work-related errands. They tended to not get home until around midnight, by which that time young Sam had already nestled in for bed in order to get started with his early school-day the following morning.
“Guess I’m cooking my own grub tonight,” He thought to himself as he gripped the felt handle of his duffle bag in frustration.
Step by step Sam walked up towards his house, setting down his heavy load before turning his house key in the door. The door swung open into the modern furnished living room as a pair of paws came barreling down from upstairs. A wiry brown and white greyhound thrust its forepaws onto Sam’s legs as the sheer impact of the swift pooch had him stumbling back out the door and almost down onto the front porch. Quickly closing the door behind him to prevent the animal from escaping, Sam knelt down to greet the family friend.
“Well, hey there Lina! How’s my buddy doing today? Were you a good girl while I was at school?”
The thin-ropelike tail of the greyhound began swinging back and forth in her excitement, the clattering of the tail against the doorframe and nearby sofa eliciting a warm smile from Sam as he stroked her head and patted her ears.
“Let’s go see what food Mom’s got for us in the kitchen.” Said Sam as Lina licked his face at the mention of the four-letter word she recognized so very well.”
After listening to the message recorder from his Mom telling him where his night’s “rations” where (i.e. frozen TV dinners and some snack cakes in the cupboard), Sam let Lina out into the small wooden fence enclosed backyard behind the house for her to do her “business”. It was a beautiful day outside and surely she would want to stretch those strong legs of her. After sitting down at the table and sifting through the text messages on his smartphone, Sam heard the telltale barking of Lina at the door before he let her back inside. Sam once more picked up his bags and walked up the stairs to his bedroom. Unlike the stereotypical high-schooler, Sam’s room was relatively organized and in a well-kept position. A wooden bookshelf (built by his father and given to his son for his 12th birthday) sat next to a neatly made-up bed covered by a bedspread adorned with the logo of Sam’s favorite baseball team. There was a large circular indentation pressed into the corner of the sheet; no doubt where Lina had been waiting for her best friend all day. A fold-up desk sat opposite the bed, a small laptop perched on top with a couple photos of Sam’s high school buddies tacked onto a peg board that hung overhead. Opening up the sliding-door closet, Sam put his items down and sat down on the bed before all but collapsing onto his back, some of the silt and dirt from the day’s exercises at the school baseball diamond falling off Sam’s clothes and onto the bed. Again, the sudden pitter-patter of paws up the steps as Lina raced into the bedroom and leaped onto the bed, almost slamming into Sam as she landed with a large thump. Lina let out a small whimper as she rested her head on Sam’s chest. She was ecstatic to be reunited with her best friend once more. A day at school seemed like eons to the little dog.
“You’ve got it easy don’t you? Just a dog’s life; sleeping all day and eating whenever, not to mention whatever, you want to. No school and no obligations. No stupid algebra problems or honor society duties to fulfill. Not even baseball practice! Just a day of looking out the window and thinking about all the adventures you could have out there chasing squirrels and deer.”
As Sam talked to his friend, he flipped over onto his chest and rested his hands on the bed as he looked out the window adjacent to his bed. It was a beautiful sight. He could see so much as he looked into the forest. A vast expanse of emerald green trees and winding pathways etched throughout the woods as he traced the trails he and his father had traversed many a time. Beyond the forest, he could see the pastureland of the neighboring farm, sprinkled with wildflowers and a variety of horses as they grazed merrily in the springtime weather. Beyond that lay the hunting reserve, that wondrous environment that even he and his father still hadn’t fully explored. Sam felt at peace as he looked out on this expanse. Although it wasn’t “wild” in the truest sense of the word, it was wild to him. He was never much of a nature guy but he couldn’t help but want to explore and let his mind feel at ease amidst the serenity enveloping him. He imagined being able to run as fast as he could, faster than any baseball player ever could, as he raced through the forest and out into the countryside to be alone, his best friend right by his side.
“Man, I wish it could be that easy,” Sam said to himself as Lina cocked her head to the side as if listening to him and pondering over his musings.
A quick rumbling in his stomach reminded Sam that he still hadn’t gotten his snack. Heading back downstairs and into the kitchen, Sam grabbed a can of soda and a granola bar before sitting down at the dining room table while an eager Lina wagged her tail and begged for a morsel. As Sam ate his snack, he became aware of a strange looking package sitting on the opposite end of the table. Sam furrowed his brow as he slid his chair closer to the strange object. It looked to be a cardboard box wrapped up in black felt; a small red ribbon perched atop with a greeting card-sized slip of paper tucked underneath the band of the ribbon. He couldn’t remember it being anyone’s birthday, anniversary, or any other form of special occasion so he slid the parchment out and took a look at it. It read as follows:
You’ve been a busy boy this year in school and I know you need some rest and relaxation once in a while. This is a gift from me to you. Please enjoy it and use it whenever you need to just escape.
Sam couldn’t believe it. He had to read the note twice as he was so shocked.
“Why in the world would Ms. Novak send me a gift?”
Truly it was an uncanny incident indeed. The same woman whom his mother frequently pet-sat for was a strange one. She was an immigrant from the Croatian countryside within Europe and wasn’t seen much in town. It was thought she was a widow as well, with her husband long since deceased after his serving in World War II. She was, by all means, a mysterious old woman and even Sam’s mother didn’t see much of her when she pet-sat. His mother always said her small little cabin smelled of incense and urine-stained carpeting from all the cats she had. Yep, your typical old crazy cat lady with a dosage of “mysterious background” thrown in for good measure. What was odd was that Sam had only met Ms. Novak one time when he rode with his mother over to her cabin. How did she even know about Sam’s performance in school? It was all very odd and Sam had no inkling as to what this all meant.
“Well, if it’s a gift for me, who am I to decline?”
Taking a small steak knife from the kitchen, Sam began to cut away at the cardboard lining of the box, tossing the ribbon onto the floor as Lina looked on curiously. Half expecting to see a new baseball mitt or some sort of personally autographed baseball from a famous pitcher, Sam was surprised when a large circular objected greeted him underneath the wrapping paper contained within.
“What in the world!?”
Another strange mystery to add to the already growing list of odd occurrences. A very large leather-stained collar, complete with a silver buckle clasp and interwoven with beautiful, runic-like designs within the leather, greeted him. Its beauty and the fresh smell of textile chemicals overpowered him. As Sam picked up the object, he twisted it and turned it over and around in his hand. He was surprised to find the word “SAM” flawlessly etched into the underside of the collar, a flamboyant flourishing of the letters giving off a very regal appearance. Sam began to laugh as he began to think of the absurdity of the situation.
“Oh man, that Ms. Novak. What, is she into some kind of BDSM club or something? I think this is for you Lina.”
Without a second thought and a quick flick of his wrist, Sam tossed the collar onto the floor for Lina to play with as he went back upstairs towards his room, turning back every once and a while as he climbed the stairs to see his pet gently gnawing on the sides of the collar.
“Crazy old woman and her gifts.” Sam thought as he once more collapsed on his bed.
Sam lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling of his room. He couldn’t get the thought of the collar out of his head, it was just such a freaky thing to be given. Lina followed after her master as she climbed onto the bed and nestled herself next to Sam as he propped his pillow behind his head. In Lina’s maw was the strange leather collar from Ms. Novak. Sam took it in his hand, wiping off some of Lina’s saliva with his shirt sleeve, and looked it over once more. Sam couldn’t deny that it was a work of art. It seemed as if the runic symbols were painstakingly burned into the collar itself, although there were no stray marks or other signatures to indicate so. Getting out of bed, Sam walked across his room to the table, placed the collar onto his desk, and hopped back into bed, wrapping himself in the sheets as Lina snuggled in closer to her best friend. After about ten minutes of thinking about the collar, the upcoming homework assignments he knew he had to complete prior to tomorrow, and about his performance in baseball, Sam drifted off to sleep. He had enough stimuli for one day.
A few hours later, Sam woke to a wet and sticky sensation tickling his forehead. Opening his eyes, he saw Lina licking his head. Sam gently pushed her away with a playful pat on the head as he wiped his brow. Looking around his room, Sam saw that it was completely pitch-black, save for a striking refracting beam of moonlight piercing through the window. Sam leaned over across bed to look outside. Once more, Sam felt at peace. The cloudless sky was blanketed with a myriad of stars, the fullness of the moon carefully standing over as if guarding this celestial domain. The balls of flame and gas seemed to dance and twinkle before Sam as he looked upon the forest and onto the pasture and the farmhouses and other houses along the distant country roads lit up for the night. Sam stretched his arms in the air as he yawned and looked at Lina before glancing over at the digital clock next to this computer, a neon display showing 8:30 PM.
“Man, how long was I asleep?”
Sam’s stomach rumbled as he looked at Lina, turning her head in curiosity at the sound before looking at Sam and wagging her tail.
“You and me both girl. I bet you’re pretty hungry too. Well, let’s go get some grub. What do you say?”
Sam got to his feet and turned towards the door before suddenly stopping in his tracks. The collar that Sam had placed on his desk seemed to be, for lack of a better word, “glowing”. The moonlight shining through the window cast an eerie aura around the collar. The runic inscriptions seemed to be pulsating and moving as if they had a life of their own. Sam rubbed his eyes and took another glance. Was he dreaming? What in the world was up with this collar? As Sam walked closer to the mysterious object, he put his hand down on the outer rim of the collar where the inscriptions glowed. The collar felt warm to the touch. Sam thrust his hand back towards his body in surprise. He felt himself quivering, shaking with a nervousness as sweat began to roll down his forehead.
“This is absolutely freaky. Just what is this thing?”
Sam picked up the collar, once more feeling that warmth in his hands. It was a very comfortable warmth, to say the least. Sam couldn’t quite explain it but it was almost very nice to hold, in a strange, creepy kind of way. Attempting to get a better look at it, Sam walked over to his window and lifted the artifact up towards the moonlight. With the looming shadow of the moon casting a backlight against the collar, Sam’s suspicions were confirmed. The strange runic symbols were indeed moving, wavering back and forth as they seemed to twist and dance across the leather. Sam watched perplexed for a few minutes as the designs seemed to spin and twist, faster and faster.
“Seriously, is this some sort of machine or toy or… something…?”
Sam’s voice trailed off softly as more minutes passed. The young man found himself unable to pull his gaze away. Behind him, Lina stood upon the bed, a low growl beginning to emanate deep within her chest. Suddenly, Sam’s eyes widened as the runes came to a sudden halt, reverting back to their original positions along the leather-clad surface of the collar as the intensity of their glow heightened and almost blinding Sam. His eyes averted the light as he found himself staring out into the sky and unable to look away, even though he was focused on nothing. His mind began to wander amongst the stars as his body began to move on its own. Sam began to unclasp the buckle on the collar as he straightened it out in front of him. Behind him, Lina’s growls turned to barks as the boy hung the collar around his neck, feeling the warm leather against his skin and fastening the collar around his neck. It was a very fine collar for this young man with the word “SAM” proudly displayed before the moonlight. The collar had found its owner. With a sudden lurch, Sam regained his composure as he fell to his knees. He felt fear racing through his body as he tried to clutch the collar and the buckle. The collar felt slippery as if someone had coated it in oil. Sam fumbled at the object around his neck as the warmth increased and began to spread across his neck and his body. Lina stood leaning over the bed, beginning to whimper and elicit small bursts of barking at her owner’s situation.
“My knees, I can’t move my knees!”
It was true. Every fiber of muscle in Sam’s body tried to lift himself onto the floor but it was of no use. Sam’s legs and knees began to feel like jelly as he collapsed onto his back on the bedroom floor, his breathing fast and rapid as his fingers grasped for the buckle of his collar. Sam began to scream for help as Lina’s barks grew louder, expressing his distress over the changes happening to her friend. Unfortunately for Sam, there was no one around to hear his cries for help or Lina’s distress. Sam’s body began to spasm uncontrollably as he felt a tingling, warming sensation moving across his body. Suddenly, he felt a rapid calm working his way through his frame. He couldn’t understand it, he was so scared yet he felt a sense of relaxation. It was a horrifying duality. The warmth surrounding his neck seemed to intensify as his struggling motions lessened and his body seemed to give in regardless.
“What’s… happening…. to me?”
A sudden ripping sensation jerked Sam awake as his raised his head. The tennis shoes he was wearing seemed to stretch as he felt a tickling in his feet. There was no pain, only a sense of warmth and the rapid shifting of muscle and skin as the ticking sensation increased. His athletic legs built for home runs and rapid sprints were being changed into something much more powerful, something more primal, yet, unbeknownst to Sam, still resembling a human. Sam’s toes burst through the front of his shoes as his feet elongated and grew. His joints twisted and bent, reforming into an animalistic digitigrade position as his bones reformed. Although the average human would be in immense, intolerable agony, Sam was free from this pain. Something was preventing it. Sam only felt the warmth from the collar surrounding him, relaxing him and providing him a sense of comfort amidst the unbelievable changes warping and transforming his body. As his feet grew, his digits began to swell as the skin on the back of his feet became rough and leathery. To Sam’s additional horror, the big toes on his feet seemed to meld into the side of his foot, forming a small appendage akin attached to the side like the hind feet of a canine. The nails on his feet began to sharpen and elongate, forming long and black claws.
In a similar fashion, Sam’s fingers began to elongate and move closer together, his wrist bending into a similar digitigrade position as his legs. Unlike his big toes, his thumbs seemed to remain on his hand as the calloused skin on his palms began to enlarge and harden into that same leathery, padded surface akin to his paws. A paw-like five-digit hand looked back at him. The comfort instilled by the collar momentarily wavered as Sam’s pawed feet clawed at the carpeted flooring.
“Someone, anyone, please! Wake me up!” Mom! Dad!”
As if responding to his cries of help, the changes seemed to accelerate. Sam’s yells began to grow deeper and deeper and more nasally as his nose extended and protruded from his face, his field of vision taking on a more binocular range as the sides of his bedroom and closet against the wall all began to creep into his field of view. Sam felt his gums itching as his canines elongated and pushed against the wall of his mouth. Meanwhile, his tongue swelled and thickened as Sam’s ears elongated and moved to the top of his head while his voice began to take on raspy, almost growling vocalizations; a human voice mixed with the grunts, growls, and whimpers of a beast. Sam’s blue eyes began to turn a twinge of golden brown as the colors of the world began to change around him. A sudden pressure building above his bottom caused Sam to roll onto his side. It felt as if a stick or pole was being pushed down through his sport track pants as a bulge pushed from within his pants. Sam clutched at the bulge as it began to forcefully rip its way through the back of his pants. Sam felt a skinned, bone-like appendage whipping and thrashing against the floor.
At this point, Sam was now sporting the visage of some horrifying creation. He was a freakishly deformed wolf-looking human, completely furless, with ruffles of dirty blond hair on his head. Still attempting to regain his strength and lift himself to the floor, the warmth of the collar around the now-anthropomorphic furless wolf’s neck ceased. Almost as suddenly as it stopped, a new heat spread against his body. Thick gray hairs seemed to sprout from Sam, carpeting and blanketing him in a double-thick layered coat of fur. Rapidly, the hairs spread across his body, covering him from head to tail as his changes into a true anthropomorphic beast completed. Sam felt a sense of full motor control over his body returning as he reached his paws up onto the bedspread and pulled himself up while a sharp shredding of the sheet reminded him that his former fingernails were now the claws of some animal. Lina cowered near the back of the bed with her rope-like tail wrapped around her nose as Sam’s large paw wrapped around the bed frame. Climbing to his feet and attempting to step towards the window, Sam felt himself fumbling over clawed paws and a newly-formed stance. Looking down, he could see the bending of his knees and ankles as large wolf paws rested against the floor, his nails splayed out against the surface. The tattered remains of his shoes were tossed to the side, seeming as if they had all but exploded from the force of the impact of Sam’s emerging appendages. Small scraps of cloth and white shreds of socks still dangled from the ends of Sam’s black nails.
For a while, Sam couldn’t even speak. He was completely speechless as his mind attempted to even remotely grasp the fantastical change that had just happened to him. After a few missteps, Sam gained the confidence of moving with his transformed body and quickly shuffled out of the bedroom, his extensive bushy and gray-furred tail hitting against the doorframe of the bedroom, and across the hall to the shared family bathroom. The shock of his change still hadn’t fully settled into his mind. He thought that surely a human teenager would be looking back at him as he looked in the mirror. He was simply dreaming, somehow hallucinating all this. Maybe he needed a good pinch. Heck, maybe even a solid punch for good measure. Yeah, that was it, something to snap him back into reality and return his mind back into the world of schoolwork and baseball.
The loud clacking of canine nails against the tiled bathroom floor was heard as Sam stepped into the room. He knew the lights were off but his vision seemed clearer and more robust as what was once almost pitch blackness at night now became lighter and clearer, although the full range of colorations composing his surroundings was diminished. Sam flicked the switch with his paw as the reflection of a wolf intermingled with human-like features looked back at him in the mirror. Sam’s face elicited a grimace in his shock, his fine dagger-like canines glistening in the overhead light above the sink. Sam would have nearly fallen backward into the hallway if he hadn’t quickly grabbed the towel rack hanging next to the mirror.
“No, I have to be dreaming. This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. What am I?”
Sam extended a large paw towards the mirror, the leathery rough patches of skin looking back at him as the five digits of his former hand resembled that of a fearsome, flesh-rending weapon. His face was that of a wolf, his muzzle quivering as fear once more wracked his body. Gray fur covered every inch of his frame except for his hair, with still exhibited a dirty blond coloration upon his wolfish head, the spiked portion of the front of his hair almost coming down to meet the golden-bluish eyes of an animal. Acute, pointed ears twitched every which way as Sam began to hear the intermittent dripping of water from the shower head and the distant tapping of the smallest of tree branches in response to the wind against the second floor of his house; sounds and aural stimuli that he would never have heard as a human. His paws ran up and down his face as he felt the dense fur of his body, the prickly hairs of his coat giving way to a dense and thick undercoat made for protection and warmth. The hairs of his body filled out over the lining of his t-shirt, remarkably still intact amidst the changing of his body. His track pants were also intact as the elastic clothing of his shirt and pants for baseball practice allowed his newfound body to fill out and expand into the clothing.
Turning around to face his rear, Sam saw that the pants were now equipped with a generously large hole in the back where his bushy wolf tail had now sprouted. The sheer force of the appendage pulsating from the tailbone was no match for the sport-ready material. As Sam ran his paws through the appendage, he felt his nerves quickening as the tail began to flick and swish. Looking down once more, Sam looked at the long nails of his paws. His knees were now bent inwards towards his body, starting right below his knees. The view made Sam sick and he averted his gaze. As he looked up at the glass mirror once more, a canine whimper mixed with the soft voice of a human brought Sam back to his senses as he began to cry. Tears began to roll down Sam’s large lupine eyes as his muzzle became moistened from his sadness. A welling in his chest left Sam with an urge to scream, to release all the stress and surprise of what had happened to him. A primal, whispering urge in his mind caused him to raise his head and let out a long, mournful howl mixed with the cry of a teenage boy and the cry of an animal. It was a howl that elicited a howl from Lina as well all the while she wagged her tail at Sam. While Sam now looked completely different to her, she had become accustomed to Sam’s new form. It was still Sam and she could smell his scent on him.
Suddenly, every fiber of fear and rationality in Sam’s mind began to quiver and fracture before finally snapping into a million minute fragments within his psyche. Sam knew one thing right then and there, he was a monster and he needed to escape, to run away into the wild expanse of the woods. His family couldn’t see him like this. He was frightened of his future. His tail began to as his large gray appendage lowered to the floor clutched between Sam’s thighs, the sign of a cowering animal. A sudden clapping of his nails once more sent Sam barreling out of the bathroom and out into the hallway, an excited Lina following quickly behind him as she barked in excitement. As Sam’s paws reached the top step of the stairwell, Sam lost his balance and began to tumble down, crashing into the wall next to the doorway below. Scrambling to his feet, Sam threw open the door, his claws scratching the knob in his grasp, and ran out into the driveway.
As before, Sam’s vision seemed to highlight new paths leading into the woods that he would never have been able to see at night. Without a second thought, Sam ran down the trail he and his father had traversed so often before, his vision guiding him along the way. Tears flowed once more as Sam realized he had no inkling of where he was going. He just wanted to get away, to run into the forest and never return. He was no longer human, but a beast. Lina quickly trotted behind him as Sam pushed away twigs and other debris, his clawed paws oftentimes tearing and ripping away the branches in his path amidst his frustration and fear. Occasionally Sam would slip on the soft muddy ground beneath his feet, his paws seeping deep into the earthen ground. For all intents and purposes, Sam was running barefoot but it felt as if he was walking in shoes. The rough and leathery patches of skin on the underside of his paws were providing a layer of protection against the ground.
Eventually, Sam arrived at the edge of the forest. The emerald green pasture of the neighboring farming family extended out before him displayed in dull shades of color in accordance with his canine vision. Sam halted in his tracks as he looked out across the landscape, the grasses wavering and seeming to dance in response to the nighttime air. Sam took a deep breath as he realized he would have to traverse this land without being seen. Again he looked himself over and stared at his paws.
“Why did this happen to me?”
The wolf boy cried. Looking up the stars and the moon lingering overhead, Sam felt the tears beginning to run down his muzzle. Wiping a paw against his face, Sam knelt down to the ground as he began to whimper. Lina licked the caked mud and grime from friend’s feet as he leaned closer to the ground.
“I’m so scared Lina. This has to be a dream. Please, dear God, just let this all be a dream.”
Sam rubbed his digits over Lina’s ears as he reached for the greyhound and held her close. As he leaned into his best canine friend, Sam felt a familiar warmth emanating from the collar. The warmth made Sam clutch Lina tighter as the sensation built in his neck and began to spread throughout his body. Sam crawled back and away from Lina as he knew what was about to happen to him.
“Please, let this nightmare be over.”
Sam’s body warped and twisted a second time as his arching back forced the boy to the ground. Sam’s posture changed as he found himself compelled onto the ground in a feral, bestial stance. His body swelled as sinewy muscle began to ripple throughout his body, his frame tearing through his shirt and eviscerating the already-extended fabric of his track shorts. Every inch of his body enlarged as his paws began to grow further, swelling and pulsating with new strength. Once again, Sam felt no pain, not even the inability to move his muscles as he had felt in his bedroom. This time, the changes seemed to comfort him not only in body but also in mind and spirit, alleviating him of his fear. The changes cast a blanket of distant familiarity across Sam; a familiarity that seemed to bring with a remembrance of longing. This was a longing that Sam realized he wanted, a true personal desire that merely had been set free from the depths of his soul and manifested by the enchanted collar around his neck. This was a longing for a fleeting and ephemeral freedom, a break from the mundane trials and tribulations of his human life. Sam wanted to reach out and touch that realm of nature he wished he could escape into. Now, for some reason or whatever, Ms. Novak and her gift were giving Sam that chance.
Sam did not struggle. Sam did not fight the changes. Sam, for all intents and purposes, merely let his body become one with nature. Lina looked on once more at her best friend, this time, not with anxiety or distrust, nor with fear or anger, instead, she looked upon the form of flesh and fur, claw and fang, with admiration and excitement. The tattering shards of Sam’s human identity lay at his now-massive wolf paws as a very large gray-furred feral wolf howled into the night sky, all traces of a human resonance gone. The runic artifact around the animal’s neck once more pulsated, this time instilling even more comfort into Sam’s heart and soul. Sam could still think like any human could. Alas, he could not talk and was slowing beginning to realize the growing temptation to break off into a gallop and run into the woods. He could think rationally but his senses and instinctual mindsets were expanding into a new world unlocking before him.
He wanted and desired this and so he became the embodiment of what he desired. With a deft burst of speed and a galloping of four powerful legs, all built for endurance and agility, the large wolf and the greyhound sped out into the pasture. As the moon cast her endearing gaze upon the canine figures racing and prancing through the countryside towards their destination of the hunting reserve, the excited barks of a large wolf echoed through the nighttime air. Sam was content with his best friend. He knew he could go home whenever he wanted. He didn’t have to be afraid anymore. A new world, all filled with the sights, sounds, and the smell of Mother Nature herself, has been introduced for Sam to explore. The glory of her nature and the ever-increasing sound of a waterfall echoing in the reserve reminded him that this motherly embrace was close at hand. As Sam stepped forward into his world of freedom, a canine grin etched across his face as he realized that he would be getting his fair share of use of Ms. Novak’s gift before school tomorrow.
16 January 2017 at 12:15:50 MST
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Accompanying Art: Currently NA
THIS STORY CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING:
Characters: Samuel Baxter (werewolf2045 https://www.furaffinity.net/user/werewolf2045)
Here is my first SFW (aka non-erotic) TF story! Commissioned for werewolf2045 This tells the story of young Sam Baxter and his dealing with the pains of growing up, schoolwork, and isolation in a countryside setting. Sometimes, though, a little wishful thinking can bring us back to nature. Oftentimes in ways we never expected...