STEVEN JERAL HARRIS
He’s dressed in a pair of gray sweat pants, a dingy white shirt, and an old pair of white tennis shoes.
He is also wearing a book bag over his shoulders. I stand to my feet and giggle at his appearance.
"What are you wearing?"
He looks down at himself and laughs too.
"Clothes I don’t need anymore." He replies with his words mix into his laughter. "I look horrible?"
"No but your pushing it." I reply. "So, I’m guessing you guys will transform tonight, right?”
“Yup.” He replies.
Suddenly, I hear more approaching footsteps.
Eric and Jessica walks into the living room, pushing each other on the way down. They’re also dressed in raggedy outfits with book bags.
"Dude, what the hell are you wearing?" Jason asks Eric with broad eyes.
Eric looks down at his small pink shirt, which shows off his flat abs. But the black tights are too much to handle. I can’t help but laugh at him.
"I didn’t have anything else. I have to use Jessica’s stuff." Eric replies shamefully.
He looks over at his sister who is snorting.
"What are you laughing at stupid? It’s your clothes."
Maria comes down the steps next.
"Ay Iva, here..." Maria says while she tosses me a black hooded coat. "...it might get chilly tonight."
"What about you?" I ask her.
"Uh, fur...duh." She replies.
I pull the coat over my head and slip my arms in the sleeves. Luckily for me it’s just my size.
Maria spots Eric and his womanish appearance.
“What are you…?” She says straight-faced. “…I’ll just leave it alone.”
“I’m wearing clothes.” Eric says humourlessly.
Maria presses her lips together tightly and shakes her face.
"Everyone’s here but Mane.” Jason states.
"I swear he’s worse than a female sometimes." Eric says.
Jessica snickers and replies...
"You’re to talk, Erica."
Everyone laughs including me.
"Why do you have to be such a drag?" Eric asks Jessica.
"Why do you have to dress up like one?" She counters.
“Oh, dammnn.” Jason and Maria mutters.
We laugh at Eric as he stands there flat faced.
“I’m sorry bro.” Jason says while approaching
“Eric, let me get that for you.”
Jason kneels down and pretends to pick something off the floor. He presents the invisible object to Eric.
“What are you doing?” Eric asks.
“Here’s your face back.” Jason replies.
Eric pushes Jason’s hands away.
“Ha-ha.” Eric says tonelessly.
“Couldn’t help myself bro.” Jason states while giggling.
“Whatever.” Eric fires back humorlessly.
Suddenly I hear those famous heavy feet coming downstairs. Daniel walks into the living room and scans everyone, but his eyes stop on Eric. Daniel acts as if he didn’t see Eric standing there. He turns away, marches through the kitchen, and proceeds out of the back door.
We follow his trail off the back porch and into the woods. Daniel walks in the lead, Eric, Jessica, and Maria are in the middle. Jason and I are following behind them all.
"So, when will I transform?" I ask Jason.
"With us it happens around puberty. But you’ll know when it’s time. Before we transform, we have what we call, a spiritual encounter. The animal would visit you in a dream, or sometimes, call out to you. Have you noticed anything like that?"
"No not at all."
“No voices or anything?” He presses on.
“Nope. I would remember if something like that happened to me.” I reply.
"Well, it won’t be long hopefully. My animal spirit called out to me when I was sleeping."
"And after it visits you, what’s next?"
Jason breathes out slowly with wide eyes. It’s almost like he’s thinking about something traumatizing.
"Then you get these muscle pains. That means your body is preparing itself for the awakening. The awakening is another word for transformation."
"Is it painful?"
"It’s extremely painful, but that’s only the first time.” He says with a twisted face. “I wanted to die when it happened to me.”
“I’m dead serious.” He replies. “Your muscles are expanding and tearing. It’s like being boiled constantly. That’s the best way to describe the pain.”
“After that it’s just a matter of time before your human soul binds with your animal soul." He informs me.
“So, will I be stronger than Mane?”
He laughs again.
“Yes…” His laugh fades away and a serious expression forms. “…Mane’s strength won’t match yours. You’re frail now Iva, but when you awake…” He breaks to huff and puff. “…it’s a whole different story. I can only wish I’ll be there to see it happen.”
Suddenly I see a hint of gloominess covering his face.
“Soon more wolves will be in town. What happened to Noale is just the beginning Iva. We must be ready for what’s coming next.”
“So what other abilities do you have?”
“Besides transforming into an animal, we all have a distinct skill. Mane is strong. Athena is superfast. I’m sort of in between, well, balanced. Plus all felines are fast healers. And Raven and Aero can see things in slow motion. It’s a focusing ability. That’s the best way to describe their gift.”
“Wow, that’s cool.”
“Yeah it is.” Jason agrees.
Suddenly Daniel stops in a small clearing.
"Okay, we are far enough from the road." Daniel states to everyone.
Jason, Daniel, and Maria kicks off their shoes and stuff them inside their backpack.
"Who's going first?" Maria asks barefooted.
"I am." Jason says.
He breathes in deeply while shaking his hands and wobbling his legs as if he’s warming up for a track run. He stops and looks over at me.
"Iva, you should step back."
I step back with my eyes locked on him. He takes in a deep breath and holds it. I witness his body starting to tremble. I see a vein in the middle of his head coming into view. Suddenly I hear a nasty cracking sound.
I realize that his right forearm has snapped into two places, his left forearm follows. I gasp loudly but quickly cover my mouth. Then I hear another crack. I see his ribcage expanding. Then multiple cracks later, his face starts to turn beastly. Now his skin and clothes are beginning to tear open. I see orange fur underneath his flesh.
He yells out in pain, and then his yell converts into a roar all of a sudden. He falls onto the ground on all four paws. Just like that, Jason is gone, and a huge tiger is standing where he was.
Watch out for the next episode... New episode reads on Thursdays