Wyld FLASH August 20th 2021
Drawn by a soft glow, I leave my home of mud and slime, and I crawl through thorny bushes toward a strange dwelling at the edge of my domain.
There are creatures living there, neither green nor gray, neither covered in fur nor in the oozing, pungent warts that make me drool with lust. Their skins are pink and brown and every shade in between. They walk on two legs, and their paws curl in and out. I think it would be useful to have such paws, to carry fish and lizards back to my beloveds instead of having to use my maw.
Before I fall asleep, I imagine my paws reshaping, toes separating, twisting inward, and within a night’s time I have one toe standing apart from the others on my two forelegs. My beloveds cackle and howl at the sight, but when I mount them, one by one, I use my new paws to hold onto the tusks on their backs and to pull at their sensitive nether fur, and they no longer complain. Instead, they pant and moan, then mewl and nuzzle me like they are newborn pups.
The monsters open and close the holes in their heads, and gurgling sounds come out, to which the others respond in kind. Inside they stuff fish and steaming roots and leaves that give off a disgusting smell. These openings in the monsters’ heads are surrounded by plump sacks of flesh. I am puzzled as to the purpose of the flesh sacks, but they look very much like the fat maggots I dig from underneath the bark of dead trees in the deepest parts of the swamp. These thoughts make me hungry, so I leave to gorge. After two maggot barkfulls I am done, but I do not feel satisfied. I bring mawfulls and pawfulls to the lair; my beloveds get their fill, as do our youngest pups. Everyone purrs around my feet, but my mind is not with my family. My mind is among the monsters.
The creatures move fast on their hindlegs, as fast as my kind does on all fours. Their forelegs are often free and flailing about, though the large creatures sometimes put their forelegs around the small ones. The sounds that come from the head holes of the littles hurt my ears. They have no fur, just a bit on their heads, which must be why they are outside in the sun all day, storing the warmth for the night.
I think of my pups running around without their fur or tusks or claws, like the small monsters do, but none of my pups can morph at will, as I can. I did not choose my beloveds well, so my shapeshifting will die with me. I feel something I never had, a sadness for things that will never be. I do not like the feeling, and I am angry at the creatures for causing it.
Before I fall asleep, I imagine my back straightening and my weight being supported on my hindlegs, and, when I wake, I can walk as the monsters do. My pups seem unfazed, but my beloveds skitter away in fear and confusion. I have no patience for them right now, so I pay them no mind.
The second largest monster, the one with thick fur on top of its head, is the one who holds the power over its kin. At one time or another, all the others, small and large, are either mashing maggoty head holes with this creature or getting trapped, squirming and squealing, between its front legs. Yes, this is the most important one, the one I have to understand.
I watch the creature as it lies alone inside their dwelling. Its fishlike eyes are covered by flaps of skin. The top of its body moves up and down in a steady rhythm, so it must be resting.
I look at the claws on its paws; short and feeble. There are large, soft protrusions on the body that only this creature has, but neither does the other big one, the one with hair all over, nor do the little ones. Next to the flesh sacks around the now-closed head hole is something that appears hard and pointy. Is it a hidden tusk? I look for a long while, so I can soak up every detail.
I go back to my lair and remember the claws, the skin, the protrusions. I focus hard as I drift asleep, my family piled on around me.
When I wake, I am alone. My beloveds and my pups are hiding, whimpering in the far corner of the lair. They look at me with fear and disgust. My two oldest mates come at me, growling and hissing, letting me know that I am no longer welcome.
Outside by the water, I scream when I see my reflection among the lily pads. I look so much like the sleeping monster. My front paws are smooth, without fur, and I can bring them up to my head. I touch the soft flesh sacks, the hidden tusk above.
I stand up tall on my strong new hindlegs and set off toward the creatures’ dwelling.
When they see me, their head holes open and their fish eyes widen. I am sure they are excited to meet me.
I am ready to be enveloped between their forelegs, eager to mash my flesh maggots with theirs.
Author Bio: Maura Yzmore writes short fiction and long equations somewhere in the Midwest. Her speculative flash has appeared in Flash Fiction Online, The Arcanist, Utopia Science Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. Find out more at https://maurayzmore.com or on Twitter @MauraYzmore.
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