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It's in the Skin
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

The fire burned dim and the wood collapsed into coals, as Patrick whispered the last words of the native ritual he'd found.

He had no idea whether it worked, but he figured the financial outlay was minor, especially in these days of eBay, and the unlikely reward was so great! The most expensive part had been getting an uncured deer skin, and getting a bucket of its blood for the moment that was upon him. Money had kept the hunter silent.

As the last syllables tumbled from his lips, he pulled the deer skin out of the trough it had been sitting in, blood dripping and oozing off of it in arcane patterns. Turning his head up towards the Hunter's Moon, he draped the skin around his body, over his shoulders, and the bottom of the skull on top of his head.

The skin was like cold slime, it felt like it was sliding and oozing across his skin. The blood with thick and clotted, and he felt it curdle trough the tangled stubble from where he'd shaved around his naked private parts. Without warning a wind rose, howling and grasping, sliding across his body with fingers of ice as his breath misted in the sudden chill.

He waited, blood dripping onto the ground and staining his feet with frigid drops. But nothing happened.

Nothing at all.

He sniffled, shivered, felt tears slide down through the blood dribbling down his face from the deer's skull pressed against his shaven head.

Oh, he'd take a ribbing for being shaved, but he could always say it was an initiation thing.

And then he felt warmth begin to pound through him, drenching him from the skin and being sucked into his cold body. The blood became more liquid, it began flowing around his skin, entering patterns, as the sopping hide slid and slithered across his flesh. He tried to move, but his muscles wouldn't respond, and he stood there as the skin stretched and enveloped him. He legs lengthened. Two toes grew as other shrank. Without volition his hands let go of the skin, but it didn't fall; he could see out of the corner of his eyes his arms stretching, his two middle fingers becoming the lobes of hooves as others vanished or shrunk to dewclaws. Leaning forward, he felt his head being sucked into the skull. For a second he was blind, and then he could see again, but in faded tepias, and all the way around him. Things gurgled inside him, his skin, his crotch, all shivered and tingled as he clopped own onto his four cloven hooves. He blinked his eyes, felt his new ears flick and then focus on a crackle in the glowing sparks as he raised his tail in a moment of panic.

It had worked.

Dear God, it had actually worked!

He took a careful step forward, feeling new muscles stretch and move in his arm, feeling his wrist curve, his remaining two fingers, now hoof lobes, stretch outward, before he put them back down onto the ground. They stretched a bit more, and he felt a strand of grass tickling the sensitive skin between them.

It had worked!

Licking his nostrils, he sniffed at the air, cataloguing scents of peppery man, of cedar wood, of ashy fire, of bitter smoke. But he ignored them all, ignored the detritus of his abandoned and unmourned human life as he bounded off into the national forest, enjoying the fulfillment of his desperate hopeless dreams as he finally lived in the body he was born to have!

The spring passed and blossomed into summer before Patrick began to wonder. It was like something was wrong, but he couldn't place it. Finding a quiet pool, he looked at his reflection, all deer, none human. He flicked his ears at the buzzing of a mosquito and cocked his head. He still had no sign of any antlers. Maybe they were late-- or maybe the transformation hadn't completed himself.

Leaning his head down, he sniffed at one of his forelegs, and then looked underneath. Nothing. Maybe--

Drinking some water, he bounded off.

As the season collapsed into fall, Patrick grew more and more worried. He finally got his answer during mating when a great buck chased after him. He tried to flee, but his body wouldn't let him. As the buck's weight settled on his back, and its mighty organ pierced him, Patrick had one last thought before the pounding pleasure burst upon him.

Damn hunter had snuck him a doe skin instead of a buck--


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