The trees at the edge of the lake sway in the gentle breeze, and the bloated, yellow moon that rises from behind seems to be almost taunting me as it silently signifies that yet another month has passed. Once again, it is time.
It always starts the same way: the hot flushes producing a light sheen of moisture; the strange tingling sensation that spreads across my skin, which in turn causes every hair on my body to stand on end. Then I know the transformation has begun.
I can feel my heart pulsate; gently at first, but soon pounding, sending the blood surging around my body until finally it feels as though it will explode at any minute.
My skin suddenly feels as though lava is running beneath it, and then the muscle cramps begin; sudden spasmodic contractions of excruciating pain that flow through my body for several long minutes. And just as the spasms start to subside, there comes another, new, even more intense pain that tears down my spine. I feel every vertebrae stretching and shifting, my back snapping in two as it arches over and moulds into its final position. I cry out in agony.
The full moon is bright and the night sky is clear, and as I stumble forward, stopping just a few inches from the edge of the lake, I catch a glimpse of my face reflected in the cool, calm water. I am horrified to see my skin contort so grotesquely as the bones beneath shift and expand. My eyes are taking on a harsh shade of yellow, the pupils rapidly constricting and dilating; spasms of movement. My eyes sting, temporarily blurred by a red mist that falls across them, and soon I know my sight will be perfectly optimised for night vision.
I feel nauseous now. The cracking, grinding noise as my skull elongates and transforms sends a shiver down my now changed spine. I can taste the coppery tang as razor sharp teeth and fangs erupt through my gums, causing blood to seep across my swollen tongue. I am now breathing in harsh, shallow panting breaths.
I can feel a breeze gently stirring my hair; hair that is already becoming coarse, wild and tangled. Its colour changes to a silvery-grey, and will eventually cover my whole body.
I am no longer able to stand up straight. Staggering forward I drop down on to all fours and stare at my hands and feet as my nails slowly make their transition into claws.
The moon may be glowing bright, but everything around me is becoming dark; my consciousness is fading fast. And as the transmutation nears completion, the beast within me will soon be released; a snarling, ravenous, carnivore that will have no pity or mercy. It will only care about its own desires: the desire to hunt, to feed, to mate and to be free.
I am now trapped within this evil quadruped beast, and normally only the breaking of a new dawn will return me to my normal state of being… but tonight will be different.
I have lived with this damnable shape-shifting curse for long enough, and even though I can never recall the events on the night of a full moon, I know that each time it occurs the beast within will have caused much unneeded bloodshed. How many innocent humans have I hunted down and slaughtered? How many people have I infected with this evil curse? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but however many it is, it is way too many. it all has to end… tonight.
The only substance that can kill this thing into which I transform—and the only way of ending the curse—is a precious metal that is as malleable as I have become. Silver.
My father, a Farrier by trade and the only person that knows my terrible secret, has painstakingly forged a bullet of silver, and as I look through these canine eyes, I see him standing over me, gun in hand, tears spilling down his cheeks. There is anguish in his eyes because tonight he must perform the most arduous task imaginable.
My father will have to battle against his natural instincts. He will have to fight with his conscience and ignore his ethical and moral principles in order to help the son he loves. His inner voice may tell him his actions are wrong, but his heart will know his motives are right. My father’s soul will be forever tormented, but I am confident that, when the time is right, he will pull that trigger and fire that silver bullet, for he has seen what this evil curse does to me, and he knows that this is the only way to end my suffering and to stop these brutal slayings.
I know it is the ultimate sacrifice; the beast within will be no more, the curse will be lifted, but in the process I will die. But there is no other choice. I need to end my torment and misery; I need to save my sanity.
I must die because I am a man who no longer wants to live in fear of the full moon.