Drop your human skin in the crease of the lightning-struck tree, and come with me. We’ll return for it at dawn. Let the fur course over your limbs like water, the rigid nails spring from your digits and the nose on your face sprout to house strong teeth and fine whiskers. You are wild now, and you’re mine.
Come, we’ll dance in the last rays of sun while the moon hangs high overhead. We’ll pump our legs and throw our shoulders forward as we gallop through the undergrowth. The tang of foliage is between our toes. You tear through a bed of ferns, and their juices streak your fur.
Push your nose into the dirt, against my side. Fold your tongue over rough bark, the trees that are our fortress. Leave bits of your coat and scent along the border.
We run the perimeter, noting where the deer raise their young, where the eagles nest after the long winter. Your tail swishes against mine, your ears swivel, tuned to forest sound. A half-smile hangs on your lips, your pink tongue falling to the right.
When the circuit’s done, press your nose behind my skull and take the flesh there, shake it gently, then release. I shoot off like a songbird from a hawk, dappling into the shadows of early night.
Follow me. Open your jaw and pant for pleasure, turn the earth beneath your nails and eat up the ground. I’ll be always a step ahead, a flash of fur, a glint of tooth. On the downslope you’ll charge against me so we roll and kick, grunting and yelping like pups. The streaming moonlight reminds us we only have so long.
When I break free, follow me up the slope. Slow your steps in reverence when I reach the top of the embankment where the trees are thin. Long for my throat as I toss my head back and pour my voice out into the night.
The blood purls in your veins and you step up beside me, your jaw opening in release. We are forest keepers, you and I, and our song is the heat of the earth, the cool of the sky, the clamoring life that pervades all.
When the last note has been swallowed by the hills, whine and pace. Nip my ear, and this time show me your throat. Raise your underbelly to the moon and me so you light up white. Graze my face with your paws and thump your tail.
If I go in for the kill, buck me off and fight me. Become the predator of legend, snarl and eyeshine at midnight. If I turn my head away and gaze into the night, kill a hare and lay it at my feet.
If I run, run with me. Follow me. Match me and push me. Shadow me until my breath steams and my muscles tremble. Then make me yours, as you are mine.
When the moon abates, put on your human skin.
A/N: This 500-word fiction is dedicated to the Blood Moon.
For more great art by Jen Hickman, please visit her website (http://umicorms.com/). Illustration © Copyright, Jen Hickman 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Stay tuned for extra content this week from Jen. Return next Monday for Audrey’s answer to this prompt.