The Monthly Change. Short Story.

Jay took a deep breath, waiting for the dizzy spell to pass. Once he felt steady, he stood from the wall and picked up his bag, a small cramping pain skittered through his body, he just had to keep breathing, that was all, just breathe through it. He had been taught how to do it since he was a child, but as he found out the first time it happened, being told what to expect wasn’t the same as experiencing it.

The last few weeks had been stressful, but he was finally free of Karen, and tonight, being his first true night of freedom, just had to coincide with the worst part of his month. He checked his watch, making sure he still had plenty of time to get home, he did of course, sunset wasn’t for another few hours, but it was reassuring to check. He had his own apartment but that wasn’t where he was heading, instead, he was going to his childhood home. It was only a short distance from his own place, but it was better to crash there. His parents didn’t mind, they had insisted on it. It helped they were a close knit family who actually enjoyed each others company. Still, tonight would probably help with the emotional release that it always brought. He had wasted four years on her before he realised she was a crazy bitch. Looking back on it now he was ashamed how he had ignored advice from friends and family, how he had started to see them less and less, catering to her every whim, no matter how ridiculous. Logically he knew he was better off without her, emotionally, mentally, hell even financially, but he still missed her. Missed the warmth of her lying next to him, that little laugh she had when she thought something was amusing, the smile she’d give him, the smile that started to become rarer as their relationship progressed. He shook his head, no, he wouldn’t think about her. He couldn’t go down that road again. He’d spent the first week post break up sulking in his apartment, only leaving for work and refusing to see anyone. The second week was better, he had started to make plans, meet old friends. The second week was also the week that she had started to ring him. He ignored the calls and deleted the voicemails. Nothing good would come of it. Three days after that the texts started, he read one, out of curiosity, then promptly deleted it and any others that came in. He had shared more with her than anyone else, he had opened himself up to her, told her all his secrets and now she was threatening to use them against him. He wasn’t too worried. Everyone pretty much knew she was psycho and those that didn’t, well, they didn’t matter. There was nothing she could do to him and if she tried, she’d just look crazy. His phone buzzed, he checked the screen, then put it away again. He had to change his number, it was the first thing he planned to do once this was over. Still, he needed to keep communication open with his parents, they worried about him. They were off visiting his older brother, a trip they had invited him on, but he had refused originally because he was still with Karen at the time and she didn’t approve, but after because he still felt ashamed. There would be other visits, other chances to reconnect with his brother, the first step had to be his though and that was always hard. The last time they spoken had been during an explosive argument when his brother had tried to get Jay to see how Karen really was. That was three years ago. His parents seeing what had happened, had ceased with their objections towards the relationship, afraid to lose their son. Jays cheeks started to burn as he thought about it. How could he even begin to repair such a rend? He remembered still the pain and hurt of the betrayal of his brothers words, how he thought his brother was supposed to support him no matter what, they had always been there for each other and now this? He had been so stupid then, so blind to everything. No. He wouldn’t think about it. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to redirect his thoughts, when that didn’t work he came to a decision, tomorrow he’d call his brother and apologise profusely and hope that his brother would be forgiving. It seemed a little underhanded, doing it while they all felt terrible anyway, but it felt good to have a concrete plan. They’d patch things up, they always did before.

The house was large and had a good sized garden. Jay opened the gate and carefully shut and locked it behind himself. He walked up the driveway and let himself in, he turned off the alarm system and reset it, it always paid to be careful. He made his way through the hall and into the kitchen. He always liked the kitchen, it was a large, airy room with plenty of light from a small conservatory. He opened the fridge and had a look at the stuff inside, deciding what he wanted to eat. He was feeling nauseas but he knew he’d feel better with something inside him. As he looked he grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl and started to take small bites. As he ate the apple he took things from the fridge, then he sat at the table and started to eat.

When he was done, he felt almost uncomfortably full. Another wave of dizziness washed over him, they were happening more frequently. His stomach gurgled as he fought to keep the food down. He shut his eyes and kept breathing as the pains shot through him. When they finally passed he sat up and shakily sipped some water. He’d have to move soon, but for now, he just wanted to rest. He set an alarm on his phone, ten minutes, then he’d make his way downstairs.

The basement was well furnished, with a mini-cinema and luxurious couches. Passed the cinema there was a small door, one that was usually kept locked. Jay entered the room, inside were four spacious cages, each separated from one another to prevent any injuries. Against one wall was a sound system, Jay turned it on and the sound of classical music filled the room, he turned to the other wall and turned on the TV, it was on mute, but the program could watched, it was mostly to provide distraction with colours. He stripped naked and stepped into one of the cages, he closed it over and locked it from the inside, then he carefully hung the key off the small hook outside. His hands were thin enough to reach through the bars now, but when the change happened, they would be too thick and too clumsy to get at the key. As he walked to the small bench another wave of dizziness struck, he stumbled then fell against the cold floor, he didn’t bother to get up. To his left there was a trough of water, kept filled with an automated system. The changed would cause dehydration and if he didn’t have access to water he would feel even sicker tomorrow. He felt another spasm of pain pass through him as he cried out. He tried to keep breathing, to focus on it and it alone, to block out the pain, but it didn’t work.

Jay lay on the ground, panting and shivering. His head snapped up as the door opened, no one was supposed to be here. His eyes darted to the key, he hadn’t locked it, he had been too distracted, stupid, stupid, stupid. “Leave, it’s not safe.” His voice was hoarse and weak, barely audible over the sound of the music. The person stepped through the door, he frowned, Karen? She was smiling at him. He remember how he had shown her this place, told her of the change. What was she doing here? He tried to get up but collapsed.
“shh, it’s ok baby, I’m here now. Just relax. It’ll be over soon.”
No, she knew she couldn’t be here, he had told her when they were dating, it would be too dangerous for her. She reached up and took the key from the hook and carefully opened the cage,
“No, don’t” His words were cut off as he screamed, the pain was all consuming now, his skin burning. He couldn’t think, couldn’t focus, there was only the pain, he started to claw at his skin, this, this was what hurt, if he could just get it off. He opened deep furrows in his flesh, but they did not bleed. Karen stepped back from the cage and approached another. They were strong, sturdy. He had told her what to do if she was here and someone hadn’t been locked up. She closed the door and locked herself in. She sat on against the wall and watched. The screams and howls were louder than she had expected, but they ended quickly enough. He was unconscious still, and would be for another few minutes. She took the time to study his body. It wasn’t as scary as she had expected. It was grotesque, sure, but she didn’t feel the innate fear she thought it would conjure. He was large, maybe seven foot tall, perhaps taller given his hunched position, and covered with a thick, grey fur. She couldn’t see his face, perhaps that would be more terrifying. He had told her all about this, about a year into their dating. It had caused a pretty big argument between Jay and his brother, not that she cared all that much, his brother always was a dick. They had spent long nights talking about it, him explaining and her asking questions. One thing that stood out was how harsh the punishments were. If they were seen in public it meant instant execution. They would gather together and kill the offending person to protect themselves from hunting or outside interference. That said nothing of what would happen if one of them was out in public and actually caused havoc and these days, what with social media and camera phones, well, there would probably be plenty of evidence. He started to stir, twitching against the ground. He lifted himself up, he was quite tall, then he turned and she suddenly was very aware that all that separated them were these bars. She kept her breathing low, calm. If he sensed her fear it would be dangerous. He turned, sniffing. His face was elongated and twisted, thick, sharp teeth jutting from his jaws, his eyes a deep black, he snarled once, then launched at the bars. Karen let out a little shriek of surprise as he struck the bars, the entire cage shuddered. She closed her eyes and lowered her head onto her knees. She would be all right, she would be safe. She heard bang and looked up, the room was empty. He had left. Faintly, over the sound of the music she could hear glass smashing. He was out of the house. She smiled and settled in, she wanted to be more comfortable. She had told him he would regret leaving her and really, he left her no choice.

No choice at all.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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