Snow crunched under foot as I eased through the woodland. My heart was racing. Feeling sweat line my brow, I took a deep breath and attempted to control that fear that sliced through me. Signs littered the trail, testament to extreme agony that had moved between the trees earlier in the evening. I followed the deep footprints in the snow, dodging splintered saplings. Trees bore gouges in the bark. I ran my finger over a mound of frozen sap gleaming in my torchlight. My woollen gloves slipped seamlessly over the smooth liquid where sections of bark had been ripped off.
Clutching the torn clothing that had triggered my quest, I took a deep breath of the rose odour that lingered within the fibres. I had to find out what happened. Moving deeper into the woodland, the gouges deepened as they climbed up the trunks. As I followed, the treads in the snow staggered through the snow, in places clearing the snow from the ground to expose the frozen soil beneath. Branches snapped on nearby trees, and blankets of needles lay like confetti beneath their bare skeletons. Tufts of fur caught in the rough bark where something had rubbed against the trunks.
Selecting a few golden strands from the nearest clump, I lift it to my nose. The yellow strands were tipped with black. ‘Cat’ tickled my senses and almost immediately my allergy rippled through my nose. Pressing my back to the trunk, I clutched my nose tightly between my wool clad fingers until the urge to sneeze dissipated. Sniffing, I blinked away the chill of tears from my eyelashes.
It took me two paces per stride to follow the trade that wove back to skirt the edge of the forest. In the moonlight, the snow gleamed silver. The indents of the tracks traced as shadows breaking the smooth surface. Deep oval as big as my spread hand traced the tree line. Four small pads fanned round the head of a large, oblong pad that matched my palm, and seemed to extend a length of my wrist.
Suddenly a snarl rolled out of the dark forest behind me. My heart jumped into overdrive and I froze. I watched my shallow breath dance in clouds highlighted silver by the light of the full moon. Waiting, I strained all my senses, and felt my nose start its familiar tickle. My eyes filled with tears and I sneezed brutally three times.
The rumbling growl changed from a threat to a chuckle and I heard the crunch of snow from behind me.
“It seems to me.” The voice purred. “That hunting an animal that you are allergic to…” The steps paced round me, keeping out of my line of vision. “Is always a bad idea…”
“Didn’t know…what…who…” My voice wheezed up my swelling throat.
“And what did you intend to do once you found me?”
“I…I didn’t really know…didn’t think that I would find…”
“No…I can’t imagine that you did.”
The pacing continued as the voice faded to a purr.
“What are… what will…?” I found I couldn’t finish the questions, my fear welling to new heights.
Instead of answering me, the pacing stopped by my right side. Tilting my head, I found I could see two pairs of fur clad feet, facing away from me. A thin tail danced on the snowline.
“Isn’t she beautiful.” The voice purred once more.
“I have heard that exposure is a tried and tested way of curing some allergies.” The feet turned, so I was staring at a pair of large velvet lined paws, the claws invisible in their yellow sheaths. “But I have a better idea for you.”
Something gathered me up by the back of the neck, stretching a soft hand round the leather neck of my overcoat and hauled me to my feet. I found myself staring into a glittering pair of eyes. Black circles were highlighted by the orange irises. The eyes were framed in the yellow and black speckled face of a jaguar. It’s long muzzle quivered, lips lifting to reveal the tips of fangs glinting in silver.
“I need a partner.” I was pulled towards it, so that her nuzzle pressed against my neck. I could feel that steady rise and fall of the curves of her breasts as my body lined against hers. Her soft muzzle fur and rigid whiskers jarred against my rough stubble. “What better partner than the one who comes searching for me?”
She pulled back to reveal the full fangs. Staring over her head, I stared at the silver moon as it watched the sacrifice. A dart of pain sliced up and round my neck, and slowly the moon faded into the darkness that descended on my mind.
My attempt at describing what could happen if you follow the trail of a were. I set the challenge to describe the trail of a (changing) were for the full moon rising group. This is my attempt to prompt a bit of inspiration.
Unedited, so please do spot any drastic errors!