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Werewolf

U. M. Celovska is a transgender writer and editor from a small town in eastern Ontario. She studied at McGill University, before settling in Toronto. For 15 years she struggled with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, before finally turning a corner. She is now happily working on rebuilding her life. This is the first (but hopefully not last) time her writing has appeared in publication.

I have a secret to tell.
Normally, I run free with my pack, but I do not howl at the full moon like my brothers and sisters. Instead, I run deep into the forest, where no territory is marked. There, my coarse fur falls out, my teeth dull, and I am exposed as the soft, weak creature I am. For three days, I run on two legs, hiding in caves, up trees. I am cold and hungry and alone. This must be what prey feels like.
This full moon, other men found me. They spoke and I understood them. They gave me food and clothes, so I thanked them. Their kindness made me feel less afraid, less vulnerable. Then they gave me a gun. The wolves in the woods were wild, feral creatures, they said, and a threat to their farms. I did not want to kill wolves, I said. But I had taken their generous gifts of food and clothes, they replied, and I owed my help to them. And so, I hunted with them for three days. I used my gun to kill two wolves; it was easy. They were too far away and my nose too weak to recognize. We did not even eat everything we killed.
I returned to my pack and tried to warn them. The others would not be swayed. A few men with guns did not scare them. We started hunting later and later in the evening, when it would be harder to see down the barrel of a rifle.
The next full moon, I met the men again. I told them we should not shoot the wolves. They told me I was right, so we spent three days setting traps. Some would bite a wolf's leg and not let go until a man came along and shot you or you starved. Others were piles of meat laced with poison that made you shake and choke until you died. After setting the traps, we spent two days eating and drinking in warm, safe homes. When the third day came, we cleaned the traps. Never have I seen such death.
Upon returning to my pack, there were fewer brothers and sisters. The remaining were furious at the humans. I begged them to leave the woods, but they wanted the humans to leave. Together we attacked their livestock, chased their young, and killed their dogs. I showed my pack the safe paths to avoid the traps.
The third full moon, I tried to hide from the men, but they found me. They said I was lucky. That the wolves had started eating children. They showed me the carcasses of cattle, the fresh scars on their children, as proof. Proof that I had created. The men needed revenge, so they were resolved to burn the forest down. The trees would grow back but the wolves never would. They handed me a torch.
I have a secret to tell: every night on the full moon, I turn into a monster.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 3rd, 2022


Author Comments

I wrote the first draft of this story in an anxious panic before attending my first horror writer's group meet-up. "What if they make me write a story about something mundane, like werewolves?" I fretted, "I can write a story about werewolves. I'll show them."

I wanted to keep the writing style very simple and more stream of consciousness to reflect the narrator's more animalistic perspective. Conversely, I wanted to avoid a simple wolves=good, humans=bad Manichaeism, so the wolves do their part in escalating the conflict. Note that the narrator doesn't consider their humanity to be monstrous until after they have committed these acts.

The escalation is not all in actions either, a lot of it is in each side's understanding of the conflict. The stories each side tells influences actions in a vicious cycle These interpretations of events cast long shadows extending forwards and backwards. In fact, after this horrible conflict the narrator "retcons" every instance of transforming into a human as monstrous, where before they felt like prey.

- U. M. Celovska
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