The latex human face looked real enough, but it wouldn’t lie flat. Andy sighed and poked the nose in with a finger. Even though the wolf mask underneath was made of very soft plastic, its muzzle was pushing out the outer mask. He pulled at the flesh-covered cheeks and used double-sided tape to adhere them to the bare skin just behind the lupine appliance.
With a little more fiddling, he was able to get the human mask to a reasonably lifelike shape. The lower part of the face was still protruding out too far, but angling his head slightly down compensated enough to make it look normal, if somewhat brutish. He grinned at his reflection, wondering how people would react to his wild and rather naked appearance.
Not completely naked, of course. He had a loose cover of leaves and grass providing just enough modesty to avoid arrest, and tufts of fur spotted all over his skin. A wild, matted black wig hung down to his shoulders. The overall effect looked like something from the front page of the National Enquirer – ‘Feral Teen Raised By Wolves!’ That was only half the costume, however. Under the homely human features was a second mask, this one a very nice wolf appliance that would spring out once he pulled off the outer covering during the costume event judging and ‘transformed’ into a werewolf.
Happily, the moon was cooperating by turning full on Halloween. He was sure there would be better costumes – he’d bought both masks at a local novelty store, and the rest was little more than fake fur and leaves from the grounds of his apartment building. However, there was a $200 prize for originality, and he was hoping his transformation trick would be enough to win that.
The wild man stared back at him with unblinking yellow eyes that were actually part of the wolf mask. Combined with the tufts of fur and wild, semi-nude look, it looked as if Andy were caught in the first seconds of change. He hunched over a bit, dropping to a semi-crouch that accentuated the bestial appearance and also helped make the distorted human face look more natural.
There was a knock on the men’s room door. “Come on, Andy!” Carla, his girlfriend, was anxious to get out to the main hall. Some of their friends were already waiting, but it had taken Andy a good half-hour to get his costume on. “Hurry up!” She was anxious to show off her rather graphic Playboy Bunny outfit –complete with rabbit ears and tail. It was good that Andy wasn’t the jealous type – Carla had the face and figure to match her costume, and would find a lot of other ‘wolves’ in the audience.
He shuffled to the door and yanked it open suddenly with a loud snarl.
“Augh!” Carla shrieked and jumped back. “Shit, Andy! You scared me!” She frowned. “That IS you under all that, isn’t it?”
Andy started to answer, and then decided to go with the animal sounds instead. It seemed to fit the beast-man image better. He growled and nodded his head up and down.
“I thought the wolf stuff came later.” She snorted. “Come on, then. And make sure you’re covered up good. There’s a bunch of kids here, too, and you’re pretty close to PG-13.”
He followed her out into the main hall, grinning as people’s eyes widened when they saw him. The flesh-colored bikini swim trunks he had on were almost invisible, and disguised with vines and leaves. Now that he thought about it, he probably looked like a Neanderthal with the jutting face and filthy-looking body. Maybe he wouldn’t pull off the human mask after all. It seemed that his wild man appearance was working better than he expected.
It was easy to get into the act. Andy continued with well-rehearsed snarls and growls. The original plan had been to save them for when he exposed the wolf head, but he was having fun now. Carla looked annoyed until he began responding to whistles and snapping fingers, as if he were a dog. He wasn’t going to be a tame pet, though. Andy made sure to snap and make mock lunges at people so they knew he was still wild and dangerous.
Unfortunately, when they called for contestants to go to the stage, he got a little carried away. Feeling a hand brush his arm, he spun with a vicious growl that sent the little girl who had touched him into hysterics. No more than five or six, she was dressed up in a pink ballerina’s outfit, with silver foil wings and a magic wand made of colored paper. He tried to calm her down, but his throat had gotten raspy from all the animal sounds, and the first attempt to speak came out as another guttural growl. She shrieked even louder, and hit him with her wand.
Andy was thrown back with tremendous force, crashing into a group of people who screamed and scattered. Dazed, he staggered up and shook his head. Damn! Had the girl’s father hit him? It was hard to concentrate, and a hot ache was radiating from the spot where the child had whacked him. Did she have a crowbar under that colored paper?
Instead of clearing, his thoughts were getting thicker. Andy’s heart began to race as irrational fear began to build. So many people, so close around him. Too loud, too bright. He felt a trickle of liquid running down his face and wiped at it awkwardly with thick fingers. Blood. It had a copper-salt smell that heightened his nervousness.
Wait a minute. Blood? Through two masks? Just how hard had that damned brat hit him? He reached up again, expecting to find a gaping tear. There was only a small damp spot that stung slightly when he touched it. Andy’s gut clenched, and he launched himself through the crowd, heading for the restroom. He was having trouble maintaining control now, feeling the anxiety swallow up his thoughts as it expanded.
He burst through the door and headed straight for the mirror, ignoring the startled gasps of some men who scrambled out of his way. They ran out, still zipping up, as Andy gaped at his reflection.
A wild brute stared back at him, hair disheveled, yellow eyes blinking in amazement. Blood was dripping from a small cut on his forehead, and his lips curled back to reveal sharp, yellowish teeth. The face matched the mask, but its coarse, brutish features were obviously sculpted in flesh, not latex. What had been an illusion before was now reality.
He looked down and whined in fear. The leaves and vines had fallen off, revealing a filthy, naked, dark-skinned body that matched the primitive head. His lower legs were still pale, but as he watched, the darker coloring flowed down through his ankles. And left his feet callused and black-nailed.
The confusion and fear was almost overwhelming now, and he felt himself start to slide back into a kind of mindless panic. Then the door opened suddenly, and instinct took over. Snarling in anger, he leapt through the narrow opening, scattering the large screaming creatures, and ran towards the smell of fresh air. He crashed through a partially opened window, shook himself, and then loped off into darkness.
The sun felt good. Andy yawned and stretched in the thick grass, enjoying the warmth on his fur. Rolling up to all fours, he shook himself, and wandered over to the nearest tree to urinate. He was almost finished when he realized just what he was doing. Scrambling away from the damp trunk, he twisted around and yelped in surprise.
He was a wolf. Granted, he couldn’t see his own head, but the black-furred body was unmistakable. A dream. He was having a very realistic dream. Like the other one, where he had really become some sort of beast-man and run howling from the Halloween party.
The acrid stink of his own piss mingled with scents of earth, wood, moisture, and other animals. His heart skipped a beat. OTHER animals? A low whine sounded in his ears, the keening of a terrified dog that stopped suddenly as he realized he was the source.
No. This was impossible. Andy shivered, tail curled tightly between his legs. Everything seemed so real. He didn’t recall having ever dreamed in this detail before. Sounds, scents, the cool air on his nose and genitals. In a strange way, this heightened awareness of body and surroundings seemed normal. He took an experimental step. Movement came easily. Too easily. He manipulated four legs as if he had been born with them.
He clenched his eyes shut and tried to make himself wake up. In the middle of this effort, a pesky flea distracted him into chewing at the base of his tail. Oddly, the reaction cleared up any doubts he had. He really was a wolf. A very rational, intelligent wolf with human knowledge. Why?
The little girl. That stunning blow from her wand. It had done something to him, made the costume he was wearing real. The confusing memories from last night seemed to fit – he had become a beast man, even assumed the animal personae he had been faking. So why was he now a smart wolf? It was daylight now. Even if she had somehow made his costume real, the moon had been full. As a werewolf, he should have instantly turned into an animal.
Andy felt his panic subside as he tried to make sense of his situation. The beast-man had been a direct translation of his costume. If he tried, he could even remember the instincts, existing on primal needs and senses. A human with a wolf’s mind. Pretty much the opposite of what he seemed to be now.
A strange chill ran down his spine. The moon had already been up when the party started. Which meant that his ‘were’ form wasn’t the wolf. It was the beast-man. On the full moon, his teeth and claws would retract, the fur would vanish, and he would stalk the Earth as a naked savage.
The little girl! Andy had to find her, try to get her to change him back. Maybe she was a fledgling witch, or had some strange mental powers. Hell, she could be a space alien. But he found that he could remember her scent. It wasn’t much, but it gave him a starting point.
He nibbled at the flea again, then sniffed the air. A strong scent of squirrel made his belly rumble, and he trotted towards its source. The thought of hunting should have bothered him. Instead, he started to feel excited. Everything about being a wolf felt wonderful. The pull of muscles, the heightened senses, even the clear focus of his mind as instincts began to take over. He could get used to this really quickly.
Andy stopped suddenly, alarmed at that last thought. He needed to find the girl as soon as possible. Right after he filled his belly. Maybe a quick nap. He sniffed the air again, allowing his mind to relax into a more natural state. Hungry. And there was a faint scent of female…
No! He shook his head. Gotta cure werewolf. Focus on werewolf. His loins stirred as the female scent brought the image of a sleek black bitch. Werewolf. He tested the air again, tail up and eyes bright. Where wolf?