He slides his trousers down; his grip round my neck tightens; his face comes closer to mine and I can see his lips close up.
“Now just relax, baby, this won’t take long.”
A bolt of wild heat whips through my body. I bite his face.
He screams and tries to roll off me, but I cling to him. We tumble across the grass, struggling.
He is too terrified to get words out – all I can hear is the crunch of leaves as we wrestle.
His hand finds a rock and he smashes it against my head.
This infuriates me so I deliver two deep slashes to his chest. I see my claws unsheathed, brutal as blades.
His shirt rips open, blood spurts. This excites me.
I pounce on him and pummel his face with my paws, knocking it this way and that like a ball. He tries to strangle me, but I manage to bite his hand, my teeth sinking into his flesh.
He cries out in pain.
I let him get up, to see what he will do. I pretend to be finished. But I am not.
He runs. I let him run about ten metres, then I attack once more.
All I can think about is killing him. The animal in me has taken over. I try to stop myself but I can’t. I’ve seen his blood and it’s put me in a trance.
I don’t even feel angry, just want him dead.
I pounce on him, knocking him to the ground once more. I roll him over so I can look into his face. I bare my teeth and hiss. My fangs are one centimetre from his face. He gives up.
He wets himself. He starts to cry.
“I’m sorry,” he wails, like a child. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
I don’t want him to cry. I want him to keep fighting so I can fight as well, and kill him, because he deserves it.
But now that he has given up I find my interest waning. I sit on his chest watching him cry. My tail waves behind me lazily.
A second hiss into his face, baring my fangs, and he passes out.
I am done here. Bored, I stalk off.
My environment is new to me. I love the darkness. I don’t fear it. It feels like my element. I run.
I run across the field and into the undergrowth. I smash through leaves. It feels so amazing, so amazing to be free.
I look down. I love how my claws drag into the earth underneath them.
I climb. There is a small hill to the north of my suburb, the remains of a mine dump. Over the years it has become covered with sparse bushes. Soon I find a shallow cave. In it are traces of chicken bones – somebody once stayed here. I sniff again. They have not been here for years. I can stay here now.
I lie on the warm, gold grass outside of the small cave, and look over the suburb. With ease I find Piko’s house. The ambulance is there, and the police. He is being carried out of the door on a stretcher. His mouth is working.
I enhance my hearing to listen.
“Into a leopard … monster … a shapeshifter – she’ll be back.”
I notice the faces of the hospital workers lifting him. They think he is mad.
I will become just another missing person:
Piko’s niece – last seen 4th of November 2016 after her uncle suffered a mental breakdown. 165 centimetres, black hair, brown eyes.
They’ll probably look for me. They will never find me. I will never live in an orphanage. And I would die before I live with him again.
I don’t need him. I don’t need them. I don’t need anyone.
I have claws, I can jump, I can attack, I can hide. I will drink from streams and do what I want, when I want. I am dangerous. Lethal. Who would fight me? Nobody. Nobody will ever hit, hurt, belittle or harm me ever, ever again.
For the first time in my life, I am free. My animal mind satisfied, I move back into my cave, settle down, and sleep.
Tell us: If you could shape-shift into an animal, which one would you choose to be?