10. Transformation

Already, the air grows thick with the heat of the moon. Upon the horizon, the deadly red glow begins. Tachi hears the hunter’s plaintive gasps at every step. By the time they pass the threshold, she is nearly dragging him. Turning back and forth, the priestess looks for any coverings. Her own cloak, it was resting in the corner, is missing. “Daniel,” she spits.

Richard lies on the floor wheezing, holding his ribs. He points to the window. Tachi turns and looks out at the hillside. The deadly red wall of light crawls towards them. Turning back to Richard she sees that he’s pointing lower now, his gaze falling on the bed. Picking up the straw cot, the priestess leans it against the wall.

It works, mostly, but they still have the door to contend with. Made of wicker, it poses little obstacle to the deadly rays of moonlight. Behind her, the cot starts to sizzle. The room is completely bare. Tachi feels a quick pain in her hand. Jumping to the side she clutches the burned finger to her mouth. Shining through the ceiling a dot of red is cast upon the floor where she was standing. Gliding along the ground, it slowly approaches Richard.

Seeing it, he starts to roll away. There are more of them, as the moon rises higher it uncovers seven other such holes. Pushing himself to his feet, Richard and Tachi press themselves into the walls, trying to avoid the redlight. Blowing in from the east, moon dust flies into the hut. Coughing, they turn towards each other.

Seeing each beam by the dancing flakes of the pollen, Richard carefully walks around them to the covered window. Waving the priestess over, he beckons her. With cautious steps, Tachi zigzags around the bloodied light. She hears a tearing sound and stops. Looking up, she sees Richard pulling the cot asunder at the seam, the hay falling to the floor. Holding the limp cloth against the window, he motions with his head, bidding her come.

Moving around the last spot of redlight, she approaches. Gesturing with his head once more, Richard points upward. Pressing her lips tightly together, Tachi puts one hand next to his, holding up a corner of the cot. He lets go, and turns his head towards the other corner. Reaching, she holds up their makeshift curtain.

Richard begins pulling once more on the bed, until it is in two parts. Throwing the free half over his head, he walks to the door. Tachi smells the burning material, watching it turn black. The hunter comes to the door. Folding the cloth between the top of the frame and the wicker weave, he lets it fall, creating a protective seal between them and the moonlight. It almost reaches to the floor, but dangles five or so inches off the ground.

Stepping back, Richard turns to Tachi. Behind him, the shadows of a pair of boots creep under the door. Before the priestess can shout a warning to the hunter, Daniel swings the door open, enveloping Richard in a flood of burning brightness. She screams. Draping the remains of the cot over herself she runs to her rescuer, but stops.

In front of her, Richard just stands, his face contorting into a snarl. Turning on the cloaked fat creature standing in the doorway, he lets out a howl. Daniel falls backward, agape. Tachi watches as Richard grows taller, his shoulders widening to twice their width. Grey hair sprouts all over his body as he falls on all fours. Pointy dog-like ears spring out of his head.

Daniel madly starts to crawl away, trying to rise to his feet. Richard, the thing that was Richard, slowly puts out a paw, catching a bit of Daniel’s cloak. Pulling at it, the piggish man screams.



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