Avery snarled, charged with a disgust and a fury that made him swell with each stride. His sight reduced to blunt monochrome whilst his olfactory palate went from a stamp to a sheet of paper. The alchemy of transformation unwound and knotted his flesh into a familiar form. An engine of fur and teeth, charging forward without a concern for anything beyond it’s fury. The thing before him was a man, clothed in stinking and ugly flesh but his enhanced senses stayed his approach.
There was too much to him and at the last moment, rather than charge, he circled to the man’s left and gave a deep, hard growl. For some people, it was the last sound they heard. The fat man laughed and it sent a low shiver of repulsion through him. The sounds from the trunk of the car grew in urgency. Avery, lost to the fog of lupine rage focused on the man in front of him and put his weight into his rear legs, his hackles raising as his muzzle rippled in a snarl.
The man laughed, and his brown, broken teeth dripped with saliva. His left hand reached to the small of his back.
Avery leapt, bringing his paws ahead of him as they landed square on his ample, doughy chest. The momentum did the rest of the work and the man fell, the small nickel-plated revolver falling from his hand onto the asphalt. He landed hard onto his back, the impact forcing the air from his lungs with a sharp grunt. His face was flushed with blood but the smile was still fixed on his face.
He looked into Avery’s eyes without concern. It was an expression that Avery had not seen since the military. The amused, insane bloodlust that came from learning to love the sound of bullets and bodies falling. His breath was thick, it clung to Avery’s nasal passages like scat and he shook his head in an atavistic impulse. Everything in him screamed to end this man with his teeth, but there was a palpable foulness that tested Avery’s will.
The trunk of the car muted the screams from within, but that made the decision easy and in a swift, practiced motion, Avery took the man’s windpipe between his teeth and shook his muzzle from side to side. He did not swallow, but the taste of blood flooded his mouth nonetheless.
Once, Avery and Harlan had stopped at a roadside fried chicken place on the way home from a movie and Avery had bitten into a fat piece of chicken breast. His mouth had flooded with warm pus, where an abscess had escaped examination and he had ended up on his knees gagging and bringing it all back up in a vicious torrent of vomit.
This was worse.
He recoiled, letting the wet ball of cartilage and tissue fall from his lips onto the road as he heaved, already returning to his human form. He scrabbled for his clothing, eyes blurred with tears from the sudden, cramping nausea that overtook him. He pulled on trousers and lurched to the trunk.
He collapsed, managing to keep himself upright by leaning on the trunk.
‘Please let me out.’ the woman from the trunk.
Avery breathed in, his lungs coated and packed with viscous, boiling fluid. His head throbbed with a sudden, debilitating pressure but he held on. Blackness began to creep in on the edges of his vision, half naked and delirious, he pushed the trunk up and clutched at the sweat-slick, trembling hands that grabbed for him.
The last thing he saw was Mary Turner’s face before a cool, grey wave of unconsciousness overtook him and washed everything away. His last thought was that he had done enough.
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