Curse of the Were…
By D. A. D’Amico
Oh, I was so close…
I’d just learned the whereabouts of the foul-mouthed Gypsy, the brother of the stuttering Turk who’d cursed me, when the moon rose to sit bloated atop the edge of a nearby skyscraper, its bright jaundiced light filling the street.
I reached the doorway just in time, leaving a boot behind on the rough cobblestones as my feet changed shape. Hair sprouted wildly. My face widened and my jaw snapped forward; fingers, once thin and gracile, expanded to become fat calloused sausages with long claw-like nails. A howl of pain escaped my burning throat. I vomited evil-smelling bile down the front of my swelling chest, collapsing in a heap of obscenely quivering flesh.
Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. I lay spent and panting on the granite stoop, wondering why Gypsy curses had to hurt so much, and praying this current change would be my last.
“Hey, are you OK?” A tall female cop poked her head into the doorway, recoiling quickly in horror at the sight of me. I heard the squelch of a radio and an angry voice. “I’ve got a six-four-H at the corner of Bouchard and Elm Streets, number nineteen.”
The reply was buried in a burst of static. The change did that, screwed with radio waves. I dragged myself forward, peering out. The cop had wandered to the end of the block looking for better reception, back turned. I took the opportunity to stagger across the street and into a darkened alley. I appeared to be a homeless drunk to the policewoman, so finding me gone wouldn’t cause much concern.
Bright points filled the small cul-de-sac, reflections from many windows above. I made it to the next cross street before I fell to my knees, exhausted. I’d changed again with the moon, and the changes weren’t good. My whole body ached. I felt fifty pounds heavier, and a head taller. I must’ve miscalculated by a night, because the first of the three ‘strobes of the moon’ had started early. That meant tomorrow was the full moon, and I needed to find the Gypsy before then.
I groped in my ripped jacket, pulling out a cheap disposable phone. A message told me what I wanted to hear: the Gypsy would be downtown that evening.
I needed to get moving, but my thick, clumsy fingers fumbled with the phone, and it clattered against the pavement. That’s when I caught sight of my new form. The figure glared back at me from a greasy puddle, hunched and threatening. Where my last change had a pleasant, almost handsome face, the vision staring through the muddied water looked like a geriatric punk rocker with a glandular problem and an allergy to razors. It was the worst transformation so far.
I cursed the man who’d cursed me–for both ruining my life, and for the impediment which had made him botch the job. If only his curse had been completed, I’d have had options. A full hex could be removed with the correct ritual, but a partial curse was impossible to exorcise. Something had to supersede it, a new curse to replace the faulty. This had been explained to me over a reading of tea leaves, and to my horror, I realized I’d have to be cursed twice in order to be redeemed once.
The Turk had expired before the crucial moment, stuttering the ‘were’ but not the ‘wolf’. I was left cursed with changing from a man into…a man (since that’s what the ‘were’ signified, something I hadn’t known at the time). If he’d just finished the chant I’d have had power and ferocity–and a way out.
Now I had to act fast, or endure shape-shifting again.
I picked myself up, staggering two more streets before trying to jack a car. It wasn’t easy. New Yorkers were a rough crowd. Finally, I managed to tug a frail-looking old lady out of her microscopic Smart Car, and squeaked away towards downtown.
I expected to have to search for the man, but he almost found me. I rounded the corner onto Broadway and clipped him as he stepped into a crosswalk. He threw F-bombs at me like there was no tomorrow, but no curse. So I backed up. I ran him over, honking the tiny little horn the whole time. I had to roll over him two or three times before I did any real damage. By the time I was finished, one or two passersby had stopped to gawk, but this was New York, so nobody really cared.
“You son of a bitch…” He choked as he swore. I got out of the car and ran to him.
“That’s right. Get mad, really mad!” I slapped him across the face. “Curse me.”
“I cast on you, you bastard…the curse of…” Blood and foam dribbled from his thin, broken lips.
“Don’t stop now,” I yelled. “Finish it!”
“The curse of the were…” His eyes rolled back.
“Yes! Were-wolf, you moron. Werewolf!”
“Were…Oh, fuck…” And he died.
“The were-what?” I shook him. “Were-what…what did you do to me?”
He hadn’t said it. It wasn’t done. I’d been prematurely cursed again, destined to change and unable to break free. But what had he cursed me with? He’d sworn, but hadn’t chosen a form. What creature would I become? What transformation?
Then, as the moon broke from the clouds, I felt a very special part of my body begin to respond. I glanced down as my trousers exploded, and with horror, I realized just what the gypsy had cursed.