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Late For His Shift

By Peter G. Reynolds

Part 3

Ever since he was a cub, Ron knew he was different. He always identified more with the children in his suburban neighborhood than his own brothers and sisters. After the last clan war, his father had moved the family there from the backcountry as integration was an effective way to hide in plain sight. It wasn't an easy time for his siblings, wearing clothes during the day, going to a human school with tests and homework. BBQs with the neighbors, eating with knives and forks. It was a constant fight to keep the kids in line. But it was different for Ron. He was born after the move and knew of no other life. He never ran with his pack in the mountains, taking down a deer and eating it raw under the light of a moon so full and bright you couldn't look at it without squinting. Never lapped up spring water so clear you could see the fish swimming below, taunting you to try and catch them. No. The closest Ron came to this was family night at Sid's Steak House, and even then, he'd liked it medium.

So, it was no surprise to his siblings, as they surrounded him in the clearing, that he failed to completely shift. "Don't waste your time, Gary." spit another of Ron's siblings. He was a creature out of a child's nightmares, a mountain covered in thick red fur. The veins in his arms pulsed in frustration, and his claws scratched at a fallen tombstone, digging deep grooves in its surface. Priests would call him demon. Children would call him monster. Ron just called him Carl.

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