“I need another blanket,” Susan muttered. “This is ridiculous.” The walls of the young woman’s tent rippled against the light wind and she shivered under her blankets as the cold settled densely around her. The constant light snowfall pelted her tent with muttered pattering sounds. Susan peeked over the edge of her covers to watch her small tent sway. She could feel the cold somehow reaching through the blankets to seep into her and her bones ached from it. She weighed her options. On one hand, she felt like she could survive well enough with her parka, clothes, gloves, hat and four blankets. Going outside meant opening the tent and letting the sparse heat out. But, on the other hand, she had another thick comforter in the back of her Subaru. Susan shifted on the thick padding as she considered.
“The beach,” Susan said, her voice muffled by covers. “Hot tea just brewed. Oh, hot coffee. That’s a good one. Walking into a bakery during winter. Fireplaces. Summer. In Florida. Aw, man.” Susan wriggled from beneath her blankets and gasped at the sudden sharp hardness of the surrounding cold. Once she’d pulled on her boots, she unzipped the double lining to her tent and moaned as the wind wrapped its invisible arms around her. “J… just a little… oh Jesus. Just a little…” The ground and trees around her were covered with thick, smooth snow. The sky was the color of a dark bruise and she could barely see through the distance. A small part of her whispered in fear that she didn’t know which direction she was parked but she was sure she’d faced the tent towards her car. Mostly sure.
Susan set off, crunching through the snow as lightly as possible. She used small tree trunks as handholds when she passed them and occasionally tested the ground when she wasn’t sure about her footing. While this wasn’t her first camping trip in the Northern Cascades, it was her first in winter and her first in this spot. She was fairly certain the area had no drop-offs but she wanted to take no chances. Silvery moonlight occasionally lit her way when the clouds parted enough to allow light through. This is taking too long, she told herself. I should be at the car by now and I can’t even see it. Real fear started setting in as she paused to look around. Her feet ached in her boots so she tried to move her toes.
Through the near silence of the forest around her she heard the sound of a car engine. Susan’s heart leapt in relief. If there’s a car coming then that means the road is nearby and the turnoff should be close, she told herself. Susan tucked her arms into her armpits and hid her face. She couldn’t see the road but she decided to angle slightly to the right. With a low howl, the wind picked up and snow flurries thickened. She could feel her ears burning in the hood of her parka. The light from the car flashed and then vanished as it took turns and went over hills. It sounded louder but-
Suddenly, the vehicle was in front of her. Susan had a moment to make out a large pickup truck with a small snowplow mounted on the front. She squawked and stepped back. Susan’s brain registered the soft snap of thick, semi-solid snow breaking but it was too late. Her eyes caught the startled eyes of the driver as she fell over backwards. Too slow, she pulled her arms from her sides and flailed at the tree next to her but she was already falling. Tumbling and turning through the air, she tried to scream but the cold stole her breath. Her life story did not flash before her eyes. She said no prayer and formed no coherent though. Over and over in her mind she thought, I’m falling! I’m falling! I’m falling! I’m-
The ground appeared suddenly and violently and she mercifully couldn’t remember the impact. Susan woke to herself gagging and, when she coughed, she tasted blood. Her head spun violently when she opened her eyes so she closed them again. Her whole body was in pain but it seemed to radiate from her left side. Every time she breathed in, she winced. Susan rolled to her right and groaned as her left side sent waves of nausea down her body. She forced her eyes open to look.
“F… fuck.” Susan groaned. A rib. A rib was halfway out of her left side. The blood soaking it was shockingly red in the sudden harsh moonlight and Susan wanted to throw up. “Wait… just… wait…” Wisps of steam spiraled above the wound and the cold burned her. Far above her she heard a voice call out but she couldn’t make out the words. Susan slowly reached for the rib and then touched it gingerly. It moved and she felt the tip of it digging deep within her. With trembling hands, she pulled and the bone came out. Susan hissed through clenched teeth at the feeling of it moving through her flesh. Now, with the bone out, the pain in her side lessened and she rolled to her back. She’d made a small snow crater when she hit the ground and she now lay within. She felt tired. Susan held the bone above her eyes, squinting through the pain to look at it. It was old and pocked with small holes and dark with age or dirt. “Not… not… not mine. Hah. Haah.”
Susan’s numb right arm dropped to her side and the bone tumbled away. “Pretty,” she whispered. Snow whirled above her in the semi-darkness. She couldn’t feel the cold much anymore. Someone was yelling and crashing around but all she saw was the delicate dance of the snowflakes as they fell ceaselessly from the sky. Her breath melted smaller flakes as she talked quietly. “Warm… warm showers. Hot pockets straight from the microwave. Gross but so good. Hot tubs. The sun on… on… on…” Susan’s eyes slowly closed and the world winked out around her.
She was falling again. All around her were trees reaching and pulling at her but she felt the weight of gravity and she was falling. Susan gasped, suddenly awake. Lights. Lights and a weight on her chest. And noise. And smells. But lights. So bright. Old springs groaned under her weight as she shifted, wide eyed. The dream still clung to her.
“Hey, whoa whoa. Hey,” a voice told her. Susan looked to her left and winced at the movement. A young man walked quickly toward her. Susan grabbed the blanket and pressed herself against the corner of the wall. The man had both of his hands up in front of him as if showing her that he wasn’t a threat. He was tall and had a light beard over fair skin. His hair was brown and curly and there were a few wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. He wore a loose, green long sleeved sweater and an old pair of blue jeans. “Don’t- hey, don’t move so much. You’re hurt. I’m a park ranger. I saw you fall.”
The man pulled a simple wooden chair from a small table and brought it over to her bed. “Do you mind if I sit?” He asked her.
Susan shook her head slowly. The man was handsome in a rugged kind of way and, despite everything she’d been taught growing up, she felt immediately relaxed. His eyes were kind and worried. His voice was smooth and low and comforting; she had thoughts of her father holding her in his arms, rocking her to sleep. Still, she held herself tight and close to the wall. Men were men and she’d left her innocence back in her teenage years. The man sat carefully, five feet away from her.
“How-” Susan’s voice caught on the words. Her mouth was incredibly dry. She swallowed but still her tongue clicked against the inside of her mouth.
“Oh, crap, hold on,” the man told her. He walked away from her to a small kitchen at the opposite end of the cabin. “I’m Chris, by the way,” he yelled as he filled a cup with water. “Well, Christopher but I go by Chris.” Susan eagerly drank the ice cold water when he returned with it. A sudden cracking, popping noise made her choke on her water; base thoughts of branches cracking as she fell made the fear return. But, rational thoughts returned and she realized the man, Chris, had a fireplace warming the cabin.
“How long have I been here?” She asked .
“A few hours,” Chris replied. “I’m surprised you’re awake, actually. It was a pretty long fall. Although, you missed every tree so you’re lucky there. And the snow helped. I’m – I’m sorry – I had to lift your shirt up a little to look at your side. You had some blood on you.”
At the mention of her shirt, Susan pressed her hand against her left side. Heat rose to her dark cheeks. Heat and anger.
“I swear I didn’t do anything else!” Chris’ hands fluttered around him as he spoke rapidly. “All I did was lift up the bottom a little bit and look and I didn’t do anything else. Except take off your jacket. And your shoes. And your socks. But that’s it! I swear!”
Susan’s fingers explored her side as the anger faded. It was stupid and she knew it. He’d had no other choice and everything else felt fine. Still, the thought of her asleep and someone she didn’t know touching her… she shivered from it and pulled the blankets closer.
“How bad was it?” She asked, afraid to hear the answer.
Chris shrugged in return. “Surprisingly good. The bruise is massive but I didn’t feel anything broken. I have some EMT training so I checked what I could. And you seem to be-”
“No,” she interrupted. “The wound. The… the stab wound. From the bone.”
“I- what wound? What bone?” Chris’ brows knit together in confusion.
“You said you looked. How could you miss-” Susan carefully pulled the left side of her long sleeved shirt up. A brilliant purple and yellow bruise radiated from where she’d pulled the bone from her side but there was no cut. No scar. Nothing to show where the bone had impaled her. “It’s- I landed on a bone. I thought it was my own rib coming out from my chest but it was old and… I don’t understand. It was halfway into my side.”
Chris stared a moment but then nodded. “It probably just looked bad. You could’ve just landed on top of it and pulled it out from under you? And the blood… well, you hit really hard. That could’ve been from biting your mouth or something inside and then spitting it out or… or something.”
Susan touched her side, long black fingers gently rubbing the area just below her rib cage. She knew he was wrong. She knew the bone had cut into her. But, he was right, there was nothing there. It seemed impossible.
“Does it hurt anywhere else? Inside or out?”
Susan shook her head. “No. Hurts a little on my left when I breathe but- oh, and I have a headache pretty bad. But, huh, that’s it. Shouldn’t it be worse?”
“Well, there was a lot of snow,” the man said. “I’ve heard of people falling from buildings and walking away so why not on snow? Consider yourself lucky, I guess? You can sleep here for the night and we can get you out in the morning, maybe find your car and campsite?”
Susan nodded. “I can take the couch.”
The man’s sharp, sudden laugh startled her. “No way. No ma’am. I’ll take the couch, you take the bed. I wasn’t the one that just dropped fifty feet. No way I make a lady take the couch. Besides, I already changed the sheets and I only do that once a year so it’d be a shame to let it go to waste.”
Susan smiled shyly but arched her eyebrow. “‘Lady’, huh? I can take care of myself, you know. I’ve slept on quite a few couches, thank you very much.” Chris’ grin widened and Susan looked back over her words. “At… at friends’ houses! Jesus, what’re you, my mom?” The man laughed again and Susan blushed.
The sudden silence widened between them and Susan’s blush deepened. Chris smiled down at his hands and coughed. “So, what is a la- a young female like yourself doing out here a week before Christmas? If you don’t mind me asking?”
What am I doing out here? Susan wondered. Out loud, she said, “I… Peace. That’s what I was looking for. Quiet. Time alone and away from people. Time to clear my mind.” Chris nodded, the understanding clear in his eyes. Susan took another sip of her water, relaxing again as she leaned back against the corner. “I do web development for a startup and it’s just non-stop work, work, work. A week ago my boyfriend broke up with me. Just left me a little note saying, oh gosh, what was it? Oh, right: ‘You’re never around to talk to me so I thought I’d write it out for you – we’re done.’ And, he was right. I didn’t make time for him. I looked at the note, crawled into bed and woke up four hours later to drive to work. Today was my first day off in a month and I’m not sure I’m going to go back.”
“Because they’re working you to death?” Chris asked.
Susan rolled the water glass between her hands. “Yeah. But I also get the shit work because I’m a woman. I don’t even think they’re doing it on purpose. It’s just that every single job I’ve had since I got my degree has been me trying to prove that I can hang with them. I thought putting in all this time with a small group would finally do it but I’m still stuck with the clean-up work. They do the big cool jobs and I just get the left-overs. Error handling and test cases and-” Susan stopped and looked up. Chris watched her and she saw a kind of sadness in his eyes. Was it for her? “I’m just rambling. Sorry. Nerd stuff. So, I got away. And I thought I could handle camping out but it looks like I can’t even do that.”
“Hah,” Chris laughed, bitterly. “Not very many people are good at camping during winter. I’d rather they all stayed away until spring or summer. Way safer.”
“Even you?” Susan asked.
“No, I like the quiet. I always have.”
Susan rolled her glass again. “Always?”
The radio blared to life and Susan thought she would either have a heart attack or pee herself. From the sudden, loud noise.
“Chris. Chris, come in.” The female voice ordered.
The man stood up and walked briskly to a desk nearby. He pressed a button on an old style microphone and answered. “Yeah, this is Chris. Go ahead, Jamie.”
“We’re gonna need your truck over in Big Beaver. Got some downed trees causing problems.”
“All right. I’m headed out. I’ll bring some extra chains and ropes. Is John there?”
Jamie’s voice dripped with frustration, even over the old radio. “Can’t reach him. Again. Probably sleeping it off. Again.”
“Got it. There in twenty.”
Chris came back to Susan’s side. “I have to head out. Dunno how long I’ll be gone but the place is yours. There’s food in the kitchen and a little bathroom in the corner over there. Headache medicine is in the cabinet above the bathroom sink. Try not to move too much, though. The wood for the fire is right next to it but you should be good for a bit. I’ll be back when I can. It was nice meeting you…” Chris stared as the sentence trailed off.
“Oh! Oh, gosh. I’m sorry. My name is Susan. Thank you so much for coming to get me. Jesus, I hadn’t even said thank you yet, have I? I’m a terrible person. I’m so sorry.”
Chris grinned at her and she blushed again. “No, ma’am. Just shaken. I’m glad it wasn’t worse.” In nearly the worst Arnold Schwarzenegger impression she’d heard yet, Chris said, “I’ll be back.” Susan groaned as Chris walked away.
With Chris gone, the house seemed less inviting. Susan laid her head against the thick logs of the wall, breathing in the old faded smell of tar and tree and lives lived alone in the wilderness. She felt a tiny hunger and realized she hadn’t eaten since lunch earlier in the day. As she did earlier, Susan weighed leaving the comfort of her blankets for the food in kitchen. Food won and Susan untangled herself, setting the glass on the small bedside table. When she swung her legs over, she realized she was still wearing her thick winter pants. Susan tugged them off and then sat, testing to make sure the house was warm enough for her to only be wearing the yoga pants she’d worn beneath the other pants. Satisfied that she wouldn’t freeze, Susan stood. The bare wooden floor made her shiver when her feet touched it but she scurried on until she reached the pantry.
Lightly stepping on one foot and then the other, Susan dug through the food until she found a box of trail mix. Moonlight filtered through the wooden slates covering the window above the sink. Susan sniffed at the trail mix and shook it, eyeing it suspiciously for any peanuts.
Susan’s eyes flicked slightly to the side. The skin on the bottom of her left hand was darkening. Thinking it a trick of the overhead light, Susan pulled her hand closer. The slightly lighter color of her palms was turning to black. The cartoon of trail mix crashed to the floor, spilling nuts and grains everywhere. Susan’s eyes widened and she turned her hand over and over. The back of her hand was still the rich mocha color she was used to seeing but the bottom of her hand – now the flesh under her fingers was changing, darkening the same as her palm. Susan gingerly touched the new skin and it was as rough as an old callus. The new growth puffed out slightly as she watched. Susan felt small tugs on her right hand and, when she looked, the same thing was happening.
“What the- ow!” The tip of her right index finger split open. She felt movement within the skin – something pushing flesh aside. Her fingernail broke apart as a pearly white claw pushed through her skin. In horror, Susan watched as the little finger and index finger of her left hand also split open. She could feel the flesh moving as the claws grew and, one by one, every finger flared with pain as all ten fingers grew claws. Small drops of blood fell from the deadly looking tips, each now extended half an inch from her fingers. And then, incredibly, they withdrew back into her hands. Unseen until now, the claws sheathed into new translucent growths at the tip of her fingers.
“What… what…? Oh fuck!” Susan dropped to her knees, clenching her stomach. Her guts felt like they were on fire and she screamed, beating her hands on the floor. The bones in her fingers popped, shortening as her hands thickened. As her hand struck the ground, her claws came out from their sheaths to tear strips of wood from the flooring. Susan screamed, stretching her back feet out, feeling bones crunch along their length, rearranging themselves into new, wider shapes as her toes splayed out. The same thick black skin from her palms darkened the bottom of her feet. Susan rolled to her side, kicking her legs while gripping her sides in pain.
The arches of Susan’s feet broke as they widened and she could feel the muscles moving. The sensation flowed up her body and she screamed as her calves knotted. She looked down, shaking and nearly crying. Her calves bulged out, pushing the stretchy fabric of her yoga pants. Susan frantically worked her legs as far back as she could to try to ease the cramps but the pain finally stopped when she felt and heard her shin crack. Susan watched in horror as her legs stretched out slightly but her attention was drawn back to her hands.
Small gray and black hairs pushed through the skin on the back of her hands – hands now doubled in width and size. Susan flexed her fingers and they felt alien to her. She couldn’t bend the fingers as well because of their stiffness but when she pushed a certain way, her claws pushed out. They seemed larger than before, perhaps an inch long and matching the increased size of her hands. The thick padding on the palm of her hand resembled at cat’s paw – as did the shape, halfway between a cat’s paw and a human hand. The hair grew thicker and patterns emerged, black blobs among her mostly light gray fur. Her skin itched as the fur grew along her hand, disappearing into the long sleeves of her shirt. She felt the fur creep up her arms and to her shoulders.
A sudden pain on her chest made Susan cry out. Her bra was cutting into her breasts and chest. Fumbling with awkward hands, Susan grabbed the bottom of her shirt and pulled, struggling to get it over her head. Her side was completely healed, light black skin free of any bruising at all. Her breasts pushed at the simple black bra, brown skin overflowing around the edges. As she watched, her left breast swelled, exposing one large black nipple just above the top of her bra. She bit her lip in pain and then cried out again as she tasted blood. She explored her canine teeth with her tongue and their sharpness scared her. All four canines were slightly longer and far more pointed than before. The pain in her chest brought her back as her right breast grew to match the left. Both of her fat nipples were exposed to the cool air and she felt them harden. Susan reached behind to unhook herself but her hands couldn’t seem to work right and she yelled in frustration.
Grabbing the front of her bra, Susan pulled. Her biceps bulged beneath thick fur and the fabric snapped, freeing her engorged breasts. Susan growled at the release. She kneeled, sitting back on her legs and the length of them felt unusual. As carefully as possible, Susan cupped her breasts, feeling the rough padding on her smooth black skin. And then, she ran her paws down her stomach. Something was happening on her lower stomach. Susan felt a peculiar sort of pulling deep within the pit of her stomach as things moved around. Susan leaned back and newly formed hard stomach muscle flexed in the overhead light. She was entirely lean now, her stomach full of hard. In two lines down the side of her stomach, six circular patches of skin darkened slightly. In the center of those patches, the skin turned nearly completely black and she felt them push out. Nipples, she saw. Susan grabbed her larger breasts and pulled them to the side as she watched six new nipples twist and grow from small patches of areola. She moaned, carefully biting her lip with sharpened fangs and, unable to help herself, she touched one of the new nipples. At first she felt nothing but something tugged in her gut and she moaned again as the nipple hardened, responding to her touch.
Susan felt a different kind of prickling sensation on her lower stomach. She gently pushed the band of her pants down, exposing her mound. Light gray fur grew around her crotch, slowly at first and then faster. The fur poured up her body, surrounding the new nipples and then in a line up her chest and between her upper breasts. A soft sigh escaped her lips. It felt as if a lover’s hand was trailing along her secret spots as the soft gray and black fur spread over her body. Her lower nipples disappeared beneath the fur but then reappeared as tiny breasts pushed them out. Susan placed her paws on her thighs and then spread her legs. Something caught deep in her throat and a raspy, growly purr rumbled deep within. She kneaded her thigh muscles and they twitched under the attention. As if responding to her touch, her thighs expanded, skin and yoga pants stretching to accommodate muscles easily doubling in size. She could feel her ass growing and the combination of her thighs and ass thickening pushed at her pussy lips.
Susan’s claws came out of her sheaths as she rumbled her deep purr, reveling in the sensations in her lower body. I like this. Feels nice. Feels nice. More. Want more. Susan slowly wriggled back and forth, spreading her larger ass cheeks open and closed over and over. Focused thoughts became more difficult but she hardly noticed. More, she thought. Flexing slightly, her claws came all the way out and she traced a claw tip from the crotch of her pants and up to the band. The thin material separated easily, exposing her wetness. She purred louder and then cut the rest of her pants away from her body. The light black skin of her legs was vanishing beneath a growing carpet of gray and black fur. Densely defined muscles flexing as she sat up on her knees. Susan groaned and fell to her hands. Her upper breasts hung heavy and full and furry to the ground below her. She dug her back claws into the floor and stretched, luxuriating in the feel of her new muscles. In the size of her new body. Her black yoga pants fell to the floor in tatters around her.
Muscles and tendons and bones popped in her back as her upper body widened further. She licked at her lips and felt the roughness of her longer tongue. Fur grew up from Susan’s neck and along her cheeks. The fur on her neck grew longer than the rest, curving outward. Brighter colors flared around her as her pupils squeezed into vertical slits. Susan mewled in slight pain as her jaw cracked. The skin on her upper lip separated slightly and then puffed out as her jaw pushed away from her face. She spat and bloody teeth fell to the ground. Fangs pushed through her torn gums to join her canine teeth. Susan’s smooth black face disappeared under gray fur. Lines of black fur traced along her eyes and to the side of her face. Her ears twitched as they grew in length and size, light fur growing out to cover them. Small white hairs grew from the inside of her ears as the ears themselves grew to points, tipped in pure black fur. Finally, long white whiskers pushed painfully from the skin over her mouth.
Susan stood, feeling her breasts settle against the fur of her chest. She held herself up on the kitchen countertop as she tried out her legs. My legs? Why? Fur on me? Something. Wrong. Is wrong. Something. Who? Why? The fur along her belly was slightly lighter than the rest of her body. Standing on the tips of her feet felt right and the fur on her ears nearly brushed the ceiling. Susan tried to look behind herself when she felt skin moving above her ass. Unseen to her, fur and skin pushed out from her tail bone. A small nub of a tail grew out and she felt the fur from it sliding against the fur on her ass. A small four inch tail flexed behind her. Susan cocked her head in confusion at it. What? What that? Thing? Hungry. Food. Hot. Much hot.
The cabin seemed foreign to her eyes. Some things rang familiar to her but nothing made sense. It was shapes and odd things to her eyes and mind now. And too bright. She smelled food but nothing she wanted. Susan padded around, ducking under light fixtures until she reached the door. Out. Go out. She looked at the door and knew she was supposed to do something. Something was supposed to happen so she could go out. Susan pushed at the door and then growled when nothing happened. Let out. Go out. A small part of her mind pushed her to play with the doorknob but she fumbled at it, unsure of what to do. Finally, she growled, dug her claws into the floor and pushed. The door cracked at the hinges and she fell with it. Reflexes kicked in and Susan tumbled to a roll, coming up on her hands and feet. Good. Good, she told herself. Out.
The snow fell in heavy sheets and Susan reveled in it. Steam rose in clouds around her shortened muzzle and it tickled her whiskers. Scanning the ground and trees, she bounded quietly into the night on thick, padded paws; a silent streak of gray and black.
Susan woke to a sucking, bone-chilling cold. Her head was pounding and her entire body ached. She groaned and opened her eyes. She was lying on her side in the middle of the cabin and the fireplace was dark. Wind howled and she turned to see the front door missing. Small piles of snow covered the entryway. Something tickled the back of her mind as she looked at the door but she couldn’t figure out what happened.
“I’m naked. What the hell?” Susan said through chattering teeth. She pushed herself up and then hugged her arms around herself. “What happened? Oh, Jesus it’s cold.” Susan took a step and then stopped as her feet brushed against something. She looked down to see the remains of her yoga pants. Bending down, she picked them up and held them to the light. Another piece of her mind tugged at her as she looked at the tears and holes in the fabric. “What…” Looking around the small area, she noticed gouges in the wood of the floor. Susan bent to touch one. They were as big and long as her index finger. Over and over, five of them. Like… “Like fingers,” she said.
The hairs on the back of Susan’s neck stood at attention as she made her way to the fireplace. She worked fast, thankful that her parents had a similar setup at their house and soon the fire was burning nearly too hot. She could remember getting out of the bed and then going to the kitchen but there was nothing after that. Nothing… “Snow,” she said, slowly. “Lots of snow. Deer?” She could remember a small deer, staring at her in the snow. A dream? She wondered. Susan massaged her slightly aching breasts but stopped when she caught herself rubbing at a spot on her lower belly as well.
“All right, enough messing around,” she told the empty room. “Let’s get to it.” Susan pulled on her winter pants and then found her long sleeve shirt in the kitchen. She fingered the holes at the bottom of the shirt and then shrugged, pulling it on, shivering as the fabric slid along her hard nipples. She dug around to find a small, ancient broom and then spent the next half hour cleaning up granola, snow and wooden shards. She found the door buried under snow just outside of the empty doorframe. The doorknob was bent slightly and there was a large dent in the middle of the door where the aluminum frame bulged outward. Small warning bells went off in her mind but she couldn’t quite figure out why. Chunks of wood were still attached to the hinges on the door so Susan gently set the door back in place as best as she could. Finding the right angle, she let go and the door stood awkwardly, shaking slightly against the wind.
Susan was stirring a skillet full of scrambled eggs when she heard the roar of an engine. Breaks squealed and a door opened and shut. Susan felt a sliver of panic. She’d cleaned up but the door-
The door came off the hinges, hitting the hard wooden floor with a crash and Susan heard a muttered curse. She came around the corner to see Chris standing, staring at the broken door. The man looked up at her and his eyes were wide. “What in the world happened?”
Susan could find no words. With all the cleaning she’d done, she’d made no time to consider what she’d tell Chris. “I… I don’t know. I woke up and it was like that. Broken on the floor.”
“Just like that? And you didn’t hear anything?” Asked Chris. “I mean, it’s completely ripped from the hinges.”
“No, nothing. I swear.”
Chris took several quick steps to her, looking in her eyes. “Are you okay? Nothing happened to you, did it? Are you feeling okay? Here, let me see your eyes.”
Susan pushed him off. “I’m fine. Nothing happened to me. I just woke… I woke up and it was like that.”
Chris looked the young woman up and down. No way she did that, he thought. No freaking way. He turned to the door and picked it up, setting it back in the frame. When he did, he stopped and turned back to Susan. The dent is on the inside. How… Chris stared for a moment at Susan and then he gently set the door back. “Well, I’ve had a bear sniffing around my trash now and again so maybe… I’ll fix the frame a little later. I have some tools and wood so it should be fine. But are you sure you’re fine? Your side isn’t hurting you?”
“Yeah. I’m totally fine. I even made some pancakes and eggs. To pay you back.”
“Why aren’t you-” Chris started but then stopped. Why aren’t you freaking out about this more, he wanted to ask. “Well, it smells good. I’ll take some. I’m sorry it took so long. I got the trees out then had to pull two people out of snow banks and then help a couple of stranded hikers.” Chris looked down and then blushed slightly, looking away. Susan’s nipples pressed hard against her shirt. Do I say something? Am I supposed to? Fuck. I’ve been alone for too long out here.
“It’s fine! It’s your place. Here, show me where the plates are and I’ll get food served and we can eat. Then you can take me to get my car.” Susan turned back to the kitchen and Chris followed. His eyes strayed to her ass and he forced them back up.
Chris watched Susan as she set the food on the plates he handed her. Her short black hair was thick and curled slightly above her shoulders. She obsessively combed her fingers through her hair to tuck the few straggling strands back into place only for them to stray again. Her brown eyes twinkled in the light (although he allowed himself some poetic license there) and she had high cheekbones just below a small curved nose. Her chin had an extremely light dimple and he found his eyes drawn to her lips. Full and beautiful and hiding nearly straight teeth; her left front tooth seemed slightly crooked. He wondered what it would be like to kiss her. Her skin was the color of caramel and he wanted to run his finger along her jaw line. You’re a creepy bastard, he sighed to himself.
“I hope the eggs aren’t too dry,” Susan said.
Chris blinked and then took his plate. They both made their way to the small round table he used for a dinner table and desk. Awkward silence stretched between them as they sat and poked at their food.
“Do you think-”
Both spoke and stopped at the same time and then shared a small laugh. Chris motioned for Susan to go first while she did the same for him and they laughed again. She has such an easy, beautiful smile, he thought.
“I was just saying,” continued Chris. “Do you think you’ll head back out after we get your car going? There’s the bed and breakfast two miles away and I’m pretty sure Sallie has some extra rooms. If you still needed to clear your mind, I mean.”
The corners of Susan’s mouth turned up slightly. “Well, I was going to say that maybe I’ll stick around here for just a little bit, if you wouldn’t mind someone kicking around? I could maybe steal some paper and write a bit or something? I like to keep a journal because it helps me organize a bit.”
Chris nodded. “Yeah, definitely. I have a few books too, if you get bored. It’s probably a good idea anyway because the snow is getting worse. Plus, I haven’t slept in a day and that’s not safe on the roads. If you don’t mind, I’ll sleep and we can see what it looks like tomorrow morning? I’ll just grab a few hours.”
“It’s your place. Go for it. Just show me the books and paper and I’ll be set.”
After a brief tour, Chris was snoring loudly on the small bed and Susan stood by the small bookshelf, digging though the books. Over half of the books were guides or true stories on wilderness survival. Very few were fiction and most of those were of the Old Yeller and White Fang variety. “Could it get more cliche?” Susan whispered quietly. She made her way to the small desk to find some paper. When she pulled a few loose sheets away, she uncovered a small round picture frame. Inside was a picture of a smiling toddler – a little girl. Susan stared and saw little pieces of Chris in the girl’s face. She brushed the photo with a finger and then took the paper and a pencil to the couch. Two hours later, the pencil slipped from her fingers as she fell asleep to the crackling and snapping of wood burning in the fireplace.
There was warmth in her dream. Warmth and the reassuring comfort of the soft snow. Hiding her, quieting her steps. Letting her sink in to hide herself from her prey. Feeling the snow melt in clumps on her fur as she lies in wait. Cat eyes built for tracking movement in the brilliant contrast between pure white and dark night. The quiet forest is alive to her senses and she hunts on padded hands and feet, lean long body tracking, creeping and then stopping. A small doe stands alone, breath steaming in the cold night. It lifts its head and turns to look at her. She’s still, breathing into the snow to hide her existence. The doe’s tail is up. She’s transfixed but knows something is wrong. She’ll run. I’m leaping, yowling in the air as my claws dig into the doe’s side when she tries to bolt. My teeth find her neck and they’re sharp. I taste red meat and blood and my short gray fur is drenched in both. I’m excited. My blood is up. I feel my nipples aching and hard and my sex is wet. The chase. The chase is half of it. I feast, purring and growling as I bite and pull. Tearing with my claws. Releasing the warmth and the juices. I bury my face in the doe’s belly and-
Susan gasped awake and her mouth tasted of blood. Her dream slipped through her fingers and all she was left with was a sudden arousal. Her breasts and nipples ached for touch and she could feel the juices within her pussy. Susan idly rubbed a nipple before realizing she wasn’t alone and then she yanked her hand away, shifting uncomfortably.
Chris lay on his right side, facing the couch. His mouth was open but he was no longer snoring; simply breathing loudly. His left arm hung low to the ground and his blanket had come half-off. Susan stood and walked to him. After dealing with young clean-shaved men in the tech field for four years, she found herself appreciating Chris’ beard. And the way he looks at me, she thought. Not trying to figure out what my place is or why I’m there or how to fuck me over to get some promotion or kudos from some boss. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that; how much I missed being seen as an actual person. She wanted to trace her finger along the wrinkles in his forehead. He’s handsome.
Susan pulled Chris’ blanket up and tucked him in. She found her pencil and sat back on the couch but spent the time simply staring blankly. Scenes from her life played in the back of her mind. Always moving, moving, moving. Trying to push and find her place. Sleepwalking through one relationship after another while-
“Oh, you’re up.” Chris said sleepily. “What time is it?”
“I don’t- Do you have a clock?”
Chris turned and they both looked. The small round clock above the fireplace read a little after four pm and Susan’s stomach grumbled in agreement. How long did I sleep, she wondered.
“Wow,” Chris said. “Later than I thought. I hope you weren’t too bored?”
“No, not at all. I slept a little too. Still tired so I think I can sleep tonight. And hungry. I saw some hamburger meat the freezer. I could thaw some out-”
Chris held up his hands. “Nope. You’re a guest and you made breakfast. I’ll make dinner. I already have some chicken thawed so I’ll make a little chicken pasta thing. Is that okay?”
Susan smiled. I’ve been doing a lot of that today, she realized. “Yeah. Chicken sounds great.”
Dinner was quickly made and Susan kept Chris company. Both shared horror stories from their childhood with Chris winning over the retelling of “How I lost four baby teeth and nearly my eye to a forklift.”
They both sat at the small table again, laughing over a story of Susan eating a worm mud pie (out of pure hard-headedness, she assured him) when she was a child.
“Hang on, I think I have some wine if you want some. What was it? Red with chicken? Well, now that I think about it, it doesn’t matter. I only have red wine.”
“I’m in,” Susan told him. “Nothing like a fireplace and wine and good company to keep warm during a snow storm.”
Chris poured the wine into plastic cups as Susan made fun of him for it and then she stared at him as he took a sip.
“What is it?” He finally asked.
Susan blushed. “Ah. No, nothing. It’s just… I haven’t felt so relaxed in such a long time. I needed this pretty bad, I think. And you’re a gracious host. So, thank you, kind sir.”
Chris smiled and felt heat rise to his cheeks. “My pleasure, ma’am.” He reached his cup out and Susan met his with hers and they both laughed at the gesture.
Dinner passed quickly and the two soon found themselves on opposite sides of the couch, sipping what wine was left. The wind howled around them and they shivered from the occasional daft that made it through the broken door.
Chris nodded toward his radio. “I’m surprised I haven’t had any calls tonight. People must be staying away because of the storm.”
“Well, good,” Susan told him. “Because I think I’m not the only one that needs a break.”
“That,” Chris said, feeling the wine warm him. “Is a fact.”
The silence between them was no longer awkward as they simply sat and enjoyed each other’s company. Finally, Susan spoke. “Is… I saw the picture on your desk. Is that your daughter?”
Chris looked at Susan and then away at his desk. He started to speak and then stopped, swallowing. With his face still to the side, Susan saw tears glisten at the corner of his eyes. Oh no, she thought. What did I do?
“She…” Chris swallowed again. “Aw, I’m sorry. Yeah. That’s my daughter. Was my daughter. She…” Chris closed his eyes and a hot tear rolled down his cheek. Susan laid her glass down and leaned forward, resting her hand on his. His skin was rough against hers. Rough and warm. Chris grabbed her hand and held it as he shook silently. Susan bit her lip and then reached for him. Chris folded into her arms and she laid her chin against the top of his head, holding him while he cried. He smells good, she thought. And then, immediately chastised herself for the random musing. Slowly, gently, she stroked his hair and his trembling subsided.
“She was six years old,” he told her. Susan continued stroking Chris’ hair while he talked. “I… I was gone a lot. Me and her mom divorced earlier and I never tried very hard to take her full time. I couldn’t separate out my feelings for her mom and for my daughter. Her mom was a piece of crap and I left her there. I needed to work, right? I had to pay for child support and myself and all the stuff I needed. So, I was gone. I was gone when my ex fell asleep, drunk. With a cigarette. My daughter was on the second floor of the house. Sleeping. God, I hope she was sleeping when it happened. I pray she was. Nothing was left. Nothing at all. My ex and my daughter and the house. All gone. Stupid old house wasn’t properly up to code or protected. My ex had unplugged the fire alarm rather than change the battery. My daughter…”
Chris choked back a sob and Susan felt her own tears as he continued. “If I’d wanted, I could’ve had her. My ex had a history. I could’ve taken her. Or at least been there more. So, I quit my job after it happened. I quit and I drank a lot and was an asshole to my friends until my best friend beat some sense into me. He worked in the forest service and got me this job. Said it would help me get my head on straight. It’s been a little over a year since it happened.” Susan felt a small tear drip onto her hand. Chris’ voice was tremulous. “Merry Christmas, huh? It has helped. I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think and help other people out and it has done wonders. I just don’t know what to do next.”
They lay on the couch together, holding each other as time stretched on. Finally, Susan reached down and turned Chris’ face to hers. His eyes were red and he looked up at her, unsure of himself. Leaning in, she brushed her lips against his and he jerked in surprise. Did I read him wrong? She wondered. There was always that small part of her that was unsure of men that weren’t of color. But then, Chris leaned back toward hers and their lips met. It was a hesitant kiss but she could feel his desire. Not only for her but for human contact. For the simple touch of another person. The echo of her own need was painful in response.
Chris turned, breaking her hold. His eyes were serious and worried. “Are you sure?” He asked.
In response, Susan lay back, draping her left leg over the edge of the couch. She reached for his face and he come to her. This time, she opened her lips to him and their tongue touched. Susan wrapped her arms around his head and held him, kissing, tongues twisting as she felt a heat begin in her lower belly. Chris broke away and lowered himself to press his lips against Susan’s neck. She murmured in approval and he kissed her lightly. When she felt his teeth touch her skin she felt the electricity begin to build within her. “Oh, yes,” she told him. Susan moaned as his teeth sank in.
“Wait,” she told him. “This… damn… shirt…” Tugging and pulling, she freed herself and then lay back down again, dark skin nearly shining in the light of the fireplace. Her breast lay nearly flat against her lean body.
“I’ve…” Chris’ voice was husky. “I’ve wanted you all day but… but no way I act on that. No way. Not… You’re a guest and…”
Susan pulled the man down to her nipple and sighed as he took it in his mouth. She felt the nipple tighten as he flicked it with his tongue. The nerves along her spine lit with fire, driving all the way to her pussy and she could feel her wet lips pressing against each other. Susan gasped when Chris’ teeth bit her nipple and he muttered out a “Sorry” in response. Susan twisted, digging her fingers into his back. “More. More teeth.” She arched her back, moving her hips in a rocking motion as the electricity built. She wanted to touch herself so badly, to bring herself to orgasm but she held back impatiently. Waiting for him.
“You’re so beautiful,” he told her as he pulled off of her wet nipple. Chris pulled his own shirt off and Susan admired the muscles he’d built from working in the forest. Strong shoulders, a flat stomach and big arms. He placed a hand on Susan’s breast and she bit her lip, nodding at him in encouragement. The man squeezed her softly and then traced a fingernail down her side and to her hip. Susan whimpered when he reached her side and then jerked when she felt his mouth on the same spot. He bit her gently while massaging her breast. Susan groaned when he tweaked her nipple.
“I,” Susan paused. “I want your mouth on me. Help me with my pants. God it’s been too long. You’re driving me wild over here.”
In one smooth motion, Chris pulled of Susan’s thick pans and she lie below him completely naked. Susan touched her pussy lips and then pulled her hand away. A string of her juice followed and she knew how incredibly wet she was. Chris knelt beside her and she looked him in the eyes as she brought her fingers to her mouth, sucking herself clean. She reached down with her long fingers and felt her pussy lips again. Ever so gently, she opened her sticky, wet pussy lips to him with her legs spread.
“Ohhhh shiiiiit,” Susan moaned as Chris eagerly bent to her wetness. His beard scratched against her clit and lips and she arched her back up to him, slim hips pushing herself harder onto his mouth. His tongue worked between her wetness and she grunted from it. Thoughts slipped away from her as he pleasured her. She was close but something was keeping her from going over the edge.
“Need you,” she told him, pushing his head away. “Need you in me.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this turned on. Couldn’t remember ever needing to cum so badly. Thoughts seemed strange. Words seemed strange. But, all she knew was she was on fire. Her nerves were on edge and the pressure in her belly had her near exploding with need. She purred her need at him. “Need. Need it,” she said.
Chris stood and undid her pants. He wore simple white briefs and she could see a small stain where his pre-cum had leaked. She could smell him and she mewled with a sudden urgency. She pulled his underwear down to free his straining cock. With barely a thought, she grabbed his thickness and pulled him into her mouth. She pushed herself down as far as she could while cupping his balls.
“Oh fuck,” Chris told her. “How’re you doing that with your throat? The vibrating thing? Jesus Christ. D… don’t… it’s been too long. I don’t know how long I can last.”
Susan looked up, purring her delight. She touched herself and moaned. No. No. Him. Want him. She thought. Small gray hairs slowly, lazily grew from the backs of her shoulders. She could feel the nearly silent whine as her canine teeth grew, teeth grinding on teeth. She pulled off, instinctively knowing how bad it would be to have his manhood in her mouth right now.
“Down. Go down.” She told him. Words were becoming hard to think and to say. She felt her lip pull up as bones cracked at the base of her spine. A small movement told her that her short tail was growing in. Need. Need cum. Now.
“I don’t have condoms. Are you sure? I.. I wasn’t expecting to have sex for… are you on birth control? Are you sure it’s okay? You seem kind of- ow!”
Susan nearly slammed Chris down to the ground. Her forearms and biceps bulged and strained against her skin. She growled low in her throat, rolling her neck as new shoulder muscles pushed at nerves and bones in her neck. Fur grew in around Susan’s pussy as she sat astride Chris. He leaned forward to suck at her nipple and she purred her approval. Her scent flooded the room, mixing with her sweat and fur. Susan reached back to grab Chris’ cock. She pressed the tip against her pussy and moaned loudly when she slowly pushed down. Her lips spread eagerly for his thickness. Chris bit her nipple and she jerked in response.
Lower and lower she moved until she felt the base of him against the wet fur around her sopping cunt. Chris lack back with his eyes closed. His hands massaged Susan’s breasts and she moaned, enjoying the sensation as they grew in size. They ached badly while they swelled and the massage helped. Fur crept up her stomach and she felt the muscles in her ass expand, flaring out her hips.
She was close now and she rode him hard. Down and back, up and forward, pussy eagerly gripping and pulling as she moved. Her wetness was such that every time she slammed down on him, she heard the squelch of her juice. She yowled when he started pounding into her. That… that… spot… yes… spot… The electrical storm broke within her and Susan screamed in relief as her body shook. Claws ripped through her right hand and then her left and she fell heavily onto Chris, unable to work her hips. He continued pounding into her until he grunted once, twice and then she felt his cock swell. She growled, purring as his hot seed poured into her. Susan lashed out with her rough tongue, licking the side of his face and then whining as her jaw cracked, extending out of her face.
“Fuck, that… that… Oh Jesus! What the fuck!” Chris opened his eyes to see Susan above him. She was nearly completely covered in light gray and black fur. Her brown eyes were slit like a cat and she had a short muzzle. Long white whiskers pushed away from her face and she rubbed at them with a huge hand. Chris pushed back from Susan and his dick pulled out, still throbbing and wet from her. Susan purred and bent toward him. A tongue, far longer than it should be, rolled out of her mouth and he shuddered as it wrapped around his cock. “No! What the-! Hey!”
Susan looked at Chris in confusion and then grunted in pain as her thigh muscles grew. Spurts of thick white cum pushed out between her pussy lips, dripping down to the ground while the muscles trembled. She looked huge compared to what she’d been. Her leg muscles from thigh to calves to feet were massive, made for running and leaping. Her fur was thick and a small, non-scared part of him wanted to run his hands through it. While he watched, six sets of small breasts pushed at the fur on her lower belly. Six nipples identical to her much larger top breasts sat atop small little a-cup breasts, mostly hidden beneath that thick fur. Her hands – paws – looked deadly and they were at least the size of his head. She reached for him and he held his hands up. “No. Susan. What… I don’t-”
She stood. The fur on Susan’s inner thighs was slick with their cum and her breasts were magnificent and he cursed himself for noticing both things. She was at least seven feet tall at her full height. Susan looked at him for a moment and then turned. Nestled just above her ass was a small stub of a tail. And then, Susan dropped to her hands and feet and crashed through the front door. The wind roared its welcome to her.
Chris stared after her. “What have I done? Oh god, she’ll…” Freeze out there, he almost said. “I can’t just…” Chris grabbed his pants, pulling them on and then gingerly zipping up the front. His found his shirt, jacket and boots and then was outside. “SUSAN! SUSAN!” I can’t leave her out there. I can’t. What if something happens to her? What if… He stopped and grit his teeth. What if I lose her, too? “SUSAN!” Chris yelled.
Either she left no tracks or the snow quickly covered them. Chris spent an hour tromping through the snow, yelling after her but, finally, he gave up. Chris made his way back to his cabin, shivering and stamping his toes. Barely stopping to take his boots off, Chris grabbed his blanket and lay down in front of the fire. His fingers and toes burned badly.
“Stupid,” he told himself. “Stupid fucking idiot.” He played the last day over and over in his mind. She was surprise at the fall and the bruise and… she would’ve told me, right? If she knew this would happen, she would’ve said, right? What if she didn’t know? What if…
Exhaustion and stress took him. He dreamed, as he almost always did, of the house. The burning house. His daughter wasn’t sleeping. She was never sleeping in his dream. She was screaming. Screaming for him. The house was an inferno. Too hot. Too…
… warm. Chris woke and felt a great weight against him. The fire was low behind him but in front, pushed against him…
“Susan,” Chris whispered. She was still changed as before and she felt even more solid than she’d looked. More solid and incredibly warm. The fur on her shoulders pressed against his face and he pressed back, burying himself in her scent and warmth. She smelled of winter and woods and melted snow. Carefully, he reached over her, nearly cursing as his fingers touched her swollen left breast. Susan shifted, pressing herself back against him and he felt her tail move. Slowly, he moved his fingers down, stopping when he felt the thick bunch of fur around her mound. He stroked the fur of her belly and it calmed him. A slow, lazy purr sounded deep in Susan’s throat as he scratched at the flesh beneath the fur. The low, steady sound combined with her warmth lulled him back to sleep.
Chris dreamt of a great white field. And peace. Running the length of the field was a beautiful lynx. Running for the pure exhilaration of speed. She (he knew she was a she) was beautiful. Compact and thick with her winter’s coat. He watched her run until even that dream faded. To nothing.
When Chris woke a second time, pale light shone through the doorframe and window. Susan lay against him and she was naked and human and as beautiful as his dream.
“I remember some of it,” she told him. “I’ve been awake for a while but I didn’t want to move. You’re warm and I didn’t want to wake you up. I remember some of last night now. I…” Susan paused. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do with this. With my life now. What am I supposed to do, Chris?”
Chris gently rubbed Susan’s hard stomach, holding her close to him. “I… I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m lost too, Susan. But, all I know is that yesterday, dinner with you… laughing and sitting and talking with you… I can’t remember when I’d been that happy. I thought the answer was to come here and be alone. To sit and think and try to figure out what I need to do. You showed me that maybe that’s not right. When you held me… when you… gah. When I cried and you held me. I felt something heal. Something small. Just the start of it. But, I felt it. Maybe… maybe I could help you. Stay with me. Stay with me and we’ll figure this out. Let me help. You’re beautiful and you make me laugh and you’ve healed a small part of a wound that I never thought could be healed. Let me help you. Stay with me.”
Susan placed her hand on Chris’ hand. For the longest time, neither spoke.
Finally, glancing at the open doorframe, Susan answered. “I… I suppose it could use a woman’s touch around here.” Susan closed her eyes and pressed herself back against Chris.
Mentally, Susan continued her list from the day before: The warm embrace of someone that cares for me.