Forty-six lonesome years. That’s how long I have waited for this night. The moon is hardly ever full on Halloween. Soon the change will come, and once the pain of the bone-shifting transformation has passed, all inhibitions will be lost. I will be free, if only for a few hours. The change takes me every full moon, but Halloween is the one day I get to blend in with the rest of the world.
I wasn’t always a werewolf. When I was nineteen, my boyfriend and I went camping on one of those rare weekends that neither one of us had to work. The weather was beautiful, so we decided to sleep under the stars around a small fire. The mountain air was crisp and inviting, but the night was forbidding. I woke to the sound of screaming. The biggest wolf I ever saw was tearing my boyfriend to pieces. I have never seen so much blood. I kept a pistol stashed inside my sleeping bag and instinctively reached for it. My hand closed around the soft rubber grip, but not before I felt the animal’s canine’s dig deep into my right thigh. I still have the scars. I cried out in horror and shot the creature twice in the chest at point-blank. The beast fell backward with a tortured howl, and to my surprise, ran away on two legs. I’m almost certain it lived, but my boyfriend wasn’t so lucky. When I explained to the police what happened, I left out the part about the wolf running off on two legs. I knew they wouldn’t believe me. I hardly believed it myself. The next two days I felt very ill, and my face began taking on new features. My brow became more prominent; my small nose flattened and stretched. Incisors grew long and sharp. Soon I discovered what it all meant, that it wasn’t just a wolf that had bitten me. Since then, my life hasn’t been the same.
I pace back and forth across my apartment, anxiously anticipating the rising moon. It has been such a long time since I have been able to feel safe around people . When I go out in public I get strange looks and fingers pointed at me. These expressions and gestures are always accompanied by whispered exchanges. I miss my old face. I have removed all of the mirrors from my apartment, so I am not reminded of the freak I have become. Not tonight, though. Tonight, even after my full transformation, is my time to shine. I will walk tall and proud among the rest of the costumed freaks. I’ve decided my first stop will be Karaoke, but I can’t say exactly why.
I can feel the change coming. The moon now sits high and full in the sky. The first thing I do is strip off my clothes. I won’t be needing them for a while. How liberating! My senses are heightened, and the muscles swell beneath my skin. I’m not surprised as the pain of twisting bones and stretching flesh grips my body. I’m a convulsive fetus upon the floor, but I’m used to it. As quickly as it began, it’s over, and I kneel on all fours to release an exuberant howl. The night is young, but I only have six hours before the transformation begins to wear off. The door handle seems to have shrunk as I grasp it with my enlarged, fur-covered hands and give it a turn. I leap out into the alluring night, almost throwing the front door from its hinges.
As expected, Mickey’s is packed. The place is always hopping on Halloween. The parking lot is stuffed with cars. People are staggering in and out. A lighted billboard next to the entrance announces Karaoke and a Costume Contest. Perfect. Drunken attempts at carrying a tune drift toward me and assault my sensitive ears. I weave through the parked cars toward the entrance, and catch the door as a young couple is walking out. They stop to look at me. The tall, dark-haired man doesn’t look so tall standing next to me, and his blond girlfriend just stares with big, round eyes. She looks like she stepped out of a cartoon.
After a moment of silence, the woman says emphatically, “That costume is amazing! Are you entering the contest?” When I don’t answer, she continues, “I’ve never seen a costume so realistic. You really should sign up.” I nod and slip past them into the dimly lit, smokey bar.
I have been singing for quite a while now and have met some interesting people. Mickey’s sits right on the freeway, so there are people here from all over. I just stepped down from the microphone for the last time. I made “Werewolves of London” my finale, just for kicks. Everyone wants to know who designed my costume. I just keep replying, “If I tell you, I’ll have to eat you.” There is a brunette with green eyes, dressed as a witch, sitting four stools down from me, and she keeps giving me the evil eye. She doesn’t seem to be as impressed by my “costume”. She has been staring at me all night. I hope she won’t be any trouble.
The bartender sets a frothy glass of ice-cold beer in front of me and tells me it’s on the house. I haven’t had a drink all night, but all that singing has made me thirsty. Alcohol has a greater effect on the wolf, so I sip slowly. Next, he hands me a clipboard and tells me I have to sign up if I want to be in the Costume Contest. I have him sign for me, since it’s impossible for me to grip a pen with these claws. I take in the atmosphere. My nose is piqued by a buffet of different scents. My pointed ears pick up on the plethora of conversations people are having. As time goes by, conversations and laughter become louder. The smoke thickens and stings my nostrils. Finally, they are announcing the participants in the Costume Contest.
I stand before a bar full of people, having just been announced the winner of the contest. I am handed a ribbon and a bag of goodies, courtesy of Mickey himself. Everyone applauds- everyone, that is, except the brunette in the witch’s costume. She just stares at me with those accusing eyes. I am handed a microphone, and the bar grows silent. I clear my throat and try to think of something clever to say.
Before I get a chance to speak, the brunette witch points an accusing finger at me and screams, “She’s a phony! This is a costume contest! If that’s a costume, why don’t you take off your mask and show us your real face!”
Oh no, my perfect night has taken a turn for the worse. I hold the microphone to my muzzle and say, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Everyone in the bar begins to laugh, but the focus is still on me. This feels all too familiar. One person screams, “Take it off! Take it off!”, and others join in. They’re pointing their fingers at me as they chant, “Take it off!” and the crowd begins to close in on me. I’m horrified. How have the tables turned on me so quickly? I can feel a growl beginning to form in my belly. It swells up into my chest and erupts from my throat, hushing the crowd. Everyone stands wide-eyed and agape. Once realized, it’s nearly impossible for a werewolf to control its anger. I suddenly feel the need for a massacre. I have to get out of here now. I made a vow to myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t harm people. I learned to suppress the urge to hunt, but my instincts are taking over.
I burst through the door and embrace the night air. I point my snout to the sky and let out a lonely howl. I can feel the change coming on again. I have to get home fast. I can’t let anyone see me transform. I also don’t have a stitch of clothing to cover my body. The last thing I need is to be thrown in jail for indecent exposure. I get down on all-fours, because the wolf in me runs faster this way. The fresh air tastes sweet after being in Mickey’s all night. My long, pink tongue swings from side to side, lapping it up. I’m almost there now, only one more mile.
I’ve made it just in time. I close the front door as the jaws of pain clamp down upon me. I feel my muscles shrink, and the bones twist themselves back into place as I’m thrown to the floor. My hair is stuck to my face. I’m drenched in sweat. Exhaustion paralyzes my body. Slides of the night’s events flash through my mind. It will be nineteen years before there is another full moon on Halloween. Perhaps I will try this again, but I don’t think I will be entering in anymore costume contests.