Tooth and Claw – Chapter 11

AUTHOR: Francesco Nassimbeni

PUBLISHER: FunDza Literacy Trust


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I run, I run, I run. I don’t think about where I am going. I’m too confused.

I’m terrified. I can’t understand why I am on all fours. I’m in some kind of trance.

Soon there are trees around me. Grass under my feet. I am on the vacant plot between our small suburb and the highway.

Here I am able to relax a little. The patch of land is deserted. I see some cars coming down the highway – very few. I look up. The moon shines bright like a giant eye. Without knowing why, I call into the night.

Again, that wild howl cuts the air. That’s when I realise – it’s coming from me.

My body tenses again. There’s something wrong with me; something has happened to me. I pace up and down the barren field, agitated.

I’m thirsty. I see a pothole. It was raining three nights ago, so there’s water in it. I lower my head to drink. I see a reflection in the puddle.

It’s not me. I look closer. I don’t understand this at all.

A cat. But not the kind of cat people keep – something bigger. A face looks back at me that I don’t recognise – dark fur, green eyes, fangs.

I’m frightened; I run away from it. I wish I could wake up. I’m so scared. I think, ‘Just look at the traffic, and wait to wake up’.

So I sit patiently, watching the odd car come by, and wait for this dream to end.

It doesn’t. I’m more confused than ever. I don’t want to look at myself in the puddle again. But I have to. I need to know if what I saw there is real.

I walk over to it again. As I do so I look down at my feet. I see paws advancing, making no noise.

My breath catches in my throat.

I can hear everything – mosquitos, the quiet breath of the wind, the gentle roar of far-off traffic.

I take a deep breath and look into the puddle again. Again, that same face.

I am a leopard. A black leopard with shining green eyes.

Now, I have heard about this kind of thing before. In books, in intsomi, even in movies. I have seen a movie where a guy turned into half-wolf, half man. And I heard a story about a witch who could turn into a fox.

But I am not a witch, and I’m not in a story. I’m real. And this isn’t a movie, either.

I drink some of the water. I lap at it with my tongue. It tastes brackish, but cures my thirst.

I need to think.

As I am drinking I see my paws changing. They’re becoming smaller. My hands emerge. I notice I am crouching in an uncomfortable position.

I touch the water. My hand again. I am … me again.

I need to work out what to do. Piko will be frightened of me now, but he also might tell people.

I look at my arms and legs to check that they are there.

I can’t believe that five minutes ago I was a completely different creature. I’m still stunned. I think I must be in shock, but I’m also … awakened, somehow.

This is happening.

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how.

But this is happening.

“Well, well, well,” I hear a voice behind me say.


Tell us: Do you believe people can really change form and become an animal? If so, in what circumstances?

6 Responses

  1. Not humans, u don’t really change but something in u that one never knew they had can awaken, she didn’t know she was capable of such n that she had so much strength in her.

    14 Feb 2017 at 22:38
  2. No comment I’m not a believer in such things

    6 Feb 2017 at 20:09
  3. No I believe the change it’s not physical…It was the anger,sadness and all those emotions mixed together… So the mind just showed her those emotions so that she can see them

    5 Feb 2017 at 15:26
  4. A very nice story bt sad on the other side.

    4 Feb 2017 at 14:58
  5. Witches can change form. I think.

    4 Feb 2017 at 00:42
  6. I believe the change is not physical, it’s the suppressed emotions after an individual has endured ill treatment and suffering for a long time.

    Sipho Sikhosana
    3 Feb 2017 at 11:31

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