Flash Friday 08/07/2016: Changing Room
Judy, Sally and Jack were sitting around a kitchen table, looking at their hands of cards. On the wall, a calendar had its days X’d out. People wrote what was happening for each day of the week, but all that was written in the box for the current day was ‘FULL MOON!’ in big red letters, with sad faces drawn in around the letters. From an adjacent room came the constant sound of something large being filled with water.
Judy checked a clock on the wall.
“Six minutes,” she said, half-heartedly. “Hope Chris manages to finish before midnight. I wouldn’t like to have a repeat of last time.”
“He’s been at it for the last half hour,” Jack said. “If he’s not done by now, he’s at least mostly done. We can take care of him.”
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s your go, by the way.”
“Oh, sorry. Three sixes.”
Jack sighed and began to collect all the cards from the center pile. At the same time, the sound of running water from another room had stopped. By the time all the cards had been collected, Chris had entered the room wheeling in a large plastic tank of water. He wheeled it to an empty spot at the table, then climbed into it fully clothed, squatting to ensure maximum water coverage. Everything below his neck was submerged.
“What’s up, Chris?” Jack said. “Glad to see you made it before time was up.”
“Yeah, no worries,” Chris said. “After you saved my life last time, I thought I’d be a little better prepared.”
“Right. Judy and I were just talking about that. What a mess that was. Your turn, Sally.”
“One King,” Sally said. Nobody called her out for it. “Three minutes until midnight, by the way.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Sounds of footfall could be heard upstairs. The sound moved toward the stairs, which they promptly went down, and then stopped just outside the kitchen. Opening the door, Dave poked his head through, looking at the sombre scene with the only smile in the entire house.
“Whatcha,” Dave said. When nobody replied: “So, uh. Really soon to midnight, so I’m going to go ahead and leave now. Sorry that I’m not sticking around, it’s just–”
“No need to justify yourself,” Sally said. “You just got the luck of the genetics draw, that’s all.”
“Right. So, I’ll be off now. Yes.” Dave went to close the door, opened it again, said a quick “Sorry”, and then closed it properly. Everyone listened as Dave left through the front door.
As soon as he heard the front door slam, Chris quiclky spoke: “So how come he got to be a wolf?”
“Like I said, luck of the genetics draw. We don’t get to pick what we become, we’re given it. It’s just so much that most people like us get to be wolves, and we’re the…unique ones.”
“But why have we got to be ‘unique’, as you so kindly put it?”
“You can’t pick and choose, Chris. You just make do with what you get.”
Chris snorted. “Well, if you ask me, this whole thing is a load of–”
The clock chimed midnight.
If anyone had peeked through the window at that given time, they probably would have thought they were looking into a mad scientist’s laboratory. Human-like figures convulsed and twitched as the underwent a change of fur or feather or even scales. Thankfully, the concept of onlookers had been previously considered, and large curtains prevented any unwanted spectators from seeing the frightful sight. As quick as it had began, it was over, leaving several human-sized and fully-clothed animals where humans once were.
“You know,” Sally the weremouse said, “you never quite get used to it.”
“Probably for the best,” Jack the werepig said, trying hard to keep hold of his cards with his hooves. “The moment you get used to your entire body morphing into something else, the moment a part of your sanity dies.”
“Still not as bad at the first time it ever happened,” Judy the wereduck said. “That was a real surprise, let me tell you.”
“For you?” Chris the weregoldfish said, jostling in his tank with annoyance. “You can still breathe air. I was lucky I was next to a river on the first full moon that affected me, else someone would have had the biggest fish and chips dinner they’d ever had.”
“Yes, well,” Jack oinked. “No point making a feud of it now. Let’s just ride tonight out and get back to our lives.”
The card game tried to continue, as much as people could play cards using hooves, paws, and wings. In the middle of struggling to continue their game, a distant wolf howl echoed through the night.
“Tch,” Chris said, his face bittered. “Glad Dave’s having fun, at any rate. Come on, sod these cards for a laugh. Wheel me over to the living room and let’s watch a movie.”
Their wereforms left much to be desired for the case of opposable thumbs, but their eyes still worked very much the same. Thus, as much as it was a decision made by the moon cycle rather than the housemates, that night became a night of going through the DVD collection and putting on whatever came to their fancy. Just so long as it wasn’t An American Werewolf in London.