Monday, October 23, 2023

“Because the Night” • by Iseult Murphy

Kathy forgot it was the night of the full moon until a collar of white fur, like an ermine scarf, sprouted from her soft skin. 

She thought it looked stylish, highlighting the length of her neck rising above, and the angularity of her collarbones peeking below. She slipped into a shapeless shift dress, coiled her hair into a messy chignon, and went out into the night.

The chill evening breeze played across her exposed flesh, heavy with a burden of tantalizing scents. She passed her neighbour on the way to the park, his head sunken into his shoulders, his black leather coat curled tightly around his body.

“Going for a run?”

“I’ve got a date.”

With her heightened senses, the darkness peeled back to reveal its secrets to her. Catching her reflection in the blind windows of an abandoned house, she reveled in her huge, dark eyes, like pools of oil, and the pale antlers that emerged from her head to taste the air with their feathery branches.

She tasted the air and found him. His pheromones filled the air, shimmering and effervescent. Coruscating light traced his journey to the park.

He was visible on the sports field, rivaling the moon with his brightness. Seeing him again brought forth the vivid memory of their first meeting a month before. Hurrying home from work through the park, eager to be indoors before moonrise, she spied him chatting with some friends. A miasma of fresh sweat surrounded them, his smell the sweetest of the group. She stumbled into him as she passed on the narrow path, laughing an apology as he turned. When he reached out to steady her, she caught the bare skin of his wrist with her nails and ripped until blood beaded out.

Crouched on the grass in a moonbeam, he was now in the final throes of his first transformation. She stood in the shadows thrown by an oak tree, and watched him, enraptured.

Convulsing on his stomach, he ripped at his clothes until they were in shreds, revealing his body in all its glory. Soft white fur clothed him from neck to bottom, his segmented limbs silvery and bare. His fine antenna shivered as he tasted the air. With a final pulse, his wings fanned out from his shoulders, glowing white and lightly splattered with dots of black. A king’s cloak.

Overcome with desire, Kathy wanted to supplicate herself to him, but she needed to complete her own transformation. She fell onto the grass under the oak and thrashed against the tight prison that held captive the white fluff that flourished underneath, and the immense blade shaped wings, crumpled like wet paper along her back. She rolled and scraped the skin from her body. It flaked away like old paint, peeled off in strips until she lay damp and soft and new. The world exploded around her in sights, smells, and sensations that almost overwhelmed her with their kaleidoscopic beauty.

Quivering, tentative, she tasted the air. The male was above her, obscuring the moon as he flew over the park. She unfurled her wings. Batted them weakly, then with more strength.

A second shape joined the male in the sky. Larger, with leathery scythe shaped wings, its cries disorientated her as they filtered to the ground. She watched them dance through the air, a choreography of hunter and prey, until the larger creature fell upon the male. Both shadows became one and crashed to the ground. Kathy tasted blood in the air and felt wet vibrations of feasting from the undergrowth. She rose towards the moon, and by its light, flew home.

The next morning, primped and powdered for work, she crossed paths with her neighbour as she hurried out and he sauntered in. He wore a jacket, and his large ears and sharp teeth seemed less noticeable than usual.

“How did the date go?”

“It didn’t work out.”

“Shame. Maybe next month you’ll join me for a meal.”

Kathy laughed politely, but as soon as he was out of sight, she shuddered.


Iseult Murphy is a chronically ill multi-genre writer from Ireland. She has published several books and over two dozen short stories. Her short fiction has appeared in the Drabblecast, the Creepy Podcast, and Cosmic Crime Stories. Find out more about her and her writing at

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Priscilla Bettis said...

Another fun story from the talented Murphy!

Made in DNA said...

Too wild.