TW: Swearing, brief references to the beast with two backs.
I woke up with a headache that could crack a god’s skull. It panged for the pure blackness of deep space. Dusty floorboards kissed my cheek as I grumbled to my feet. Dancing in the air, particles of dust were keeping the party going. Throbbing agony pulsed with the beat of my heart. The ache extended far beyond the confines of my head into the air beyond.
Curtains that didn’t deserve the name were letting in most of the sun from outside despite being drawn. I gave them a middle finger to let the bastards know what I thought of them.
It wasn’t my home. I was sure of little, but I was sure of that. The familiar scent of grass was absent.
I’d been drinking the night before. And presumably some of the morning. A look at my phone might answer some questions. I patted my pockets. They were closer to the rest of me than usual. I’d clearly had too many wheatgrass shots. No phone.
Glasses? Where had I put my glasses?
The living room where I’d woken was minimalist. Posters of mountain ranges and the moon clung feebly to tape that had become emotionally attached to the wall. Someone was going to lose their deposit when that didn’t come off.
Where had I been? The bar called Ram Ewe? A vague memory of two guys headbutting each other flickered with the indecision of a streetlight in a dodgy neighbourhood.
Jessie lay in his own drool in the hallway. A sheet shrunk away from me as he turned. Only a collar and a sheet? I didn’t need to see that. Tail wagging as his lip curved with a smile. I guessed that someone in his dream was scratching behind his ear.
A bathroom towel pouring from the tiles of its home onto the carpet of the hall assured me I didn’t have to worry about making a mess.
My stomach grumbled as I staggered. I didn’t know what my tummy was saying and for that reason it kept talking, nagging at me. Running water made me think of the stream at the bottom of the garden.
Scents of cooking meat tickled my nose. It should have turned my stomach, not turned it on. That’s what you need, it said. Eat that.
I splashed the running water on my face and let it drip down my snout. Instead of dripping down my overbite into my mouth it fell with a splash into the sink. I felt my face. My hoof was too dextrous. My eyes confirmed it wasn’t cloven or hoofish. It was a paw. I had an underbite.
“What the fuck?” I murmured.
An image in the mirror looked up just as I did.
A reflection of a wolf.
I fell back, slipping on toilet roll and banging into the toilet. The seat slapped the porcelain with a clang.
Jessie barked in the hallway. Scrabbling sounds said he was disgracing the poor bedsheet further to cover himself.
“You alright in there?” The voice was female, vulpine and warm. Warm the way a predator’s heart is warm as it chases down prey through the fields. Warm like the trickle of sweat down your back as you run for your life.
“I’m fine,” I growled through teeth that were triangular instead of rectangular. It was wrong. It was all wrong.
“I’m making breakfast,” said the voice from the kitchen. “You must be ravenous after last night. I know I am.”
My paw, that should have been a hoof, opened the bathroom door. She tilted her head. Grey ears twitched. A wet black nose twitched.
“You smell like grass. Did you roll out of my bed through a field?” Her unnaturally round pupils focused on me. My heart began to beat a drumroll. “Never had it like that before. Was it your first time?” A smile that would have been reassuring if it wasn’t attached to the animals who eat my kind showed the bottom of a few teeth.
“First time yeah,” I nodded. I was trying hard not to wet myself.
“Aww. You’re a changed man now. There’s nothing like the first time.”
I’ve definitely changed.
“Where am I?” Asked Jessie, rubbing his head.
“Shouldn’t a sheepdog know that?” Asked the she wolf.
“I’d like to know where I am as well,” I said, sheepishly. “And what I did last night.”
“The answer to question two is not what, but who, me.” She pointed to herself, looking hurt. Perhaps insulted was a better word. I felt like I was about to be the only one who was hurting. “You’re in Lunaburg.”
“I went drinking with my buddy Barry,” said Jessie. “Then I was with you. Now I’m here.” He winced. “I’m sure I was wearing clothes for most of it.” He stood with a long protrusion from the sheet at the back.
“It’s me, Jessie,” I said to my friend. He was one of those friends who was a friend to everyone but not close friends with anyone. He went to all the parties. He knew sheep, foxes and apparently wolves. He got in trouble and had wild stories, corroborated by wildly blurry photos on his beleaguered phone. “I’m still Barry, despite whatever happened last night.”
“Barry,” snorted the she wolf. “Sounds like a sheep’s name to me.”
“I get told that a lot,” I said. Mostly by sheep who think it’s an excellent name.
“Barry?” Jessie asked. “Barry Ra-”
“Ready to go, yeah.” I cut him off before he could tell her my name was Ramstein. It was a sheep’s name without a doubt. “Thank you for the offer of breakfast,” I hesitated, not knowing her name.
“Blevine,” she said. Her hackles were up. Every impulse I had was telling me to run. Another opposing set of impulses were telling me to bite and rut with her.
“Wonderful to lose my virginity to you, and know you, in that order, I guess. I need to go. I’ve lost my phone.” And my body. “I really think me, and Jessie, need to find our things and work out what happened last night.”
“I don’t suppose you have any clothes?” Jessie asked. He used his friendly voice. It was the voice that had people calling him a good boy and rubbing his belly.
“No,” said Blevine. Her steely eyes sent a signal to my legs to shake. My feet sent a signal to my bladder that it was time to relax a bit. My bladder agreed, sending an ambassador downhill.
“Did you just piss yourself?” Blevine asked, throwing up her paws.
“A little bit,” I winced.
“This isn’t your territory, get out.” She pointed to the door. “Urgh, boys.”
“Clothes?” Jessie asked, his puppy dog eyes pleaded. His unwilling toga begged for mercy.
We were shuffled out into a hallway that stank of urine. In my new body I knew too much from the smell of those markings. I knew what the neighbours had been eating, drinking. Too much.
I’m a sheep.
“I’m naked,” moaned Jessie.
“You’re wearing a sheet,” I said.
“But it’s just a sheet and I’ve lost my phone and my wallet.”
I grabbed him by the scruff and growled in his face. “Who cares? You can get all of that back. I’m a sheep. At least I was. I’ve lost my body Jessie. What do I do about that? I’ve lost my body and my memory.” We padded down the staircase from Blevine’s flat.
“And your virginity.” He gave me a thumbs up. “And your phone, and clothes,” said the party animal. “And you’re covered in piss.” He opened a door into the street.
“That’s not helpful.”
“It was a night to remember though,” he smiled.
“BUT I DON’T REMEMBER,” I yelled. My voice was a growl that would have scared my whole flock to death. I scared myself.
“Memory’s a bit woolly, is it?” He smiled the same smile everyone has when they’ve just told a shit pun.
I punched him. It felt good. I had a newborn lust for violence. “What do I do? I just had sex with a wolf. What if she gets pregnant? Would the kid be half wolf, half sheep? What would you even call that?”
“A weep?” Jessie rubbed his chest where I’d thumped him. His tail had sagged between his legs. “Maybe you’re just dreaming.” He shrugged. “Have you tried pinching yourself.”
“When I dream, I count family members,” I said. “This isn’t a dream or a nightmare.”
“How can you be sure?” Asked the sheepdog.
“Because I would have woken up by now in a cold sweat.”
“I usually wake up in cold drool,” he scratched behind his ears, tongue lolling. “Come on. You can come to my place until we get this sorted out.”
“Ewe are welcome,” he said.
“Good boy.” I patted his head. The tail emerged from the back of the toga, wagging.