This was my very first post, but I’m reposting it–with a few changes–because I’m having a touch of writer’s block.
Maybe someone can correct me on this, but I’ve yet to see a werewolf movie, TV show, or book where the sudden appearance of the sharp teeth is explained. One moment, the character has normal human teeth, and the next, giant fangs jut out of nowhere. It’s always irritated me. Here’s a brief list of movies, shows, books, etcetera, where this has happened: The Wolfman (original and remake), The Howling, An American Werewolf in London (and Paris), Ginger Snaps, Being Human (U.K. and U.S.), Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet, Skinwalkers, Underworld . . . you get the picture.
The change into a different creature I can understand. The bending, breaking, and reshaping of bones is far-fetched, but within the realm of reason as it applies to fiction. Same with the copious amounts of body hair. But the teeth have always bothered me. I just can’t get behind teeth suddenly growing in size and turning into wicked sharp fangs.
It’s a dumb thing to be bothered by, but I really don’t have much else going on right now, so.
I decided, when I was coming up with the concept of my book, and the various rules that my werewolf character would live by, that I wanted to make the sharp teeth a key part of the story, and of the character. I wanted them to always be present in her mouth, a quirk that she would have to adapt to in order to pass for a normal human being. Granted, they wouldn’t be two-inch long monster fangs, not when she was human; they would hide farther up in her gums and jaw, and make their appearance when she changed or became agitated. This would lead to blood leaking from the corners of her mouth, which I thought would make for some interesting scenes.
Here’s the first change scene, which introduces Elizabeth’s sharp teeth. She’s in the shower, minding her own business, when the severe headache that has been bothering her off and on since she was bitten reappears for the last time. And no, there’s no full moon. The Gunthers, who will be mentioned in a few paragraphs, are her next-door neighbors.
My hand was on the shower faucet, ready to turn off the water, when the vise reappeared and cracked open my skull like a walnut shell.
I clamped my hands to my head, terrified I would feel my brain pulsing under my fingertips. I felt nothing but wet hair. Then my skull shifted slightly under my palms.
I dropped my hands, trembling from revulsion and panic, flashing back to high school biology, the skull in the glass case on the teacher’s desk, the teacher droning on about fibrous connective tissue binding the bones of the skull and blah, blah, blah.
Amazing that I could recall that. I laughed. I sounded insane.
There was a sudden taste of copper in my mouth. I spat out a clot of bright red blood, watched it splash between my feet and circle the drain, going, going, gone—
Wait. There was something else swirling in the blood and water—
I knelt, ignoring the blast of pain from between my temples, and grabbed it.
It was a tooth, root and everything. A canine.
My tongue searched, found an empty right upper socket.
While my tongue probed the slowly bleeding hole, something hard and sharp shoved through it and nicked my tongue. I spat more blood. My tongue returned to the socket and found it occupied. I pressed a finger to the new arrival. It felt like a tooth. I ran my finger over it. This new tooth was a lot sharper. Like a prop from a vampire movie.
Or a werewolf movie.
I shut my eyes. Opened them when I tasted blood again. My left upper canine this time. It rolled across my tongue, and I spat it out.
In the next couple of minutes, I lost my human teeth. Every single one. They were too big to go down the drain, so they sat on top of it, a neat little pile of calcium rubble.
I moved my tongue across the new arrivals. They were the same size, shape, length as the old ones, but the incisors had tiny serrations, and the premolars and molars had jagged points. The canines were very sharp. I poked them with my tongue and turned it into pink Swiss cheese. After a few seconds, my tongue stopped bleeding, stopped hurting. I barely noticed. I had strange animal teeth in my mouth. I wanted to yank them all out. If my fingers hadn’t been throbbing, I might have tried it.
“Please God, this isn’t happening,” I moaned. “Please, this is not—GAAA!” A hot steel spike jolted through the center of my spine, twisting the vertebrae. I dropped to the shower floor, started writhing under the spray.
“No,” I gasped. “No, please stop, stop . . .” I fought my way up to my hands and knees, my movements herky-jerky. Being on all fours took some of the hurt out of my back, so I stayed there, head lowered, wet hair hanging in my eyes, wondering how long this was going to last. Could I make it to my cell phone and call an ambulance? What would I tell the 911 operator if I managed that feat?
Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?
Uh, yes, uh, I think I’m changing into a werewolf, so could you send someone? A veterinarian, maybe? Hello?
I couldn’t be changing yet. It wasn’t time for the full moon, so this couldn’t be it. This was another bizarre bump in the road, like the muscles.
My upper canines moved. It felt like an invisible hand was tugging on them, working them free from the sockets. They slid down about an inch before stopping. They jabbed my lower lip, and I opened my mouth to accommodate them. And felt the lower canines move.
If they came out as far as the top ones . . . how the hell was I going to close my mouth?
I got my answer when my jaw wrenched out of joint. The tearing pain wasn’t as bad as the gunshot-loud pops. And now all of my teeth were moving.
The teeth, as they extended from the sockets, were wider, but that was okay, because my mouth was stretching forward to accommodate them. The agonizing taffy-pulling sensation was bad, but the accompanying snapping noises were so much worse. I wanted to pass out, willed it to happen, but I never did.
A scratching sound was coming from the shower floor. I looked down and saw my fingers. They were longer. They had claws. The claws jutted from my fingertips, bony and sharp. It was a few seconds before I realized the claws were the exposed skeletal tips of my fingers.
The vise around my skull tightened. My vision blurred and grayed, came back into focus when my muscles cramped and snapped my bones. I tried to scream. All that came out was an animal’s howl.
During it all, my heart raced and pumped the infected blood through my veins so hard and fast that it roared in my ears.
My muscles twisted and moved the broken bones into new positions. I flopped onto my side, the showerhead spitting water onto my head, the bones crackling and shifting inside my skin.
A few agonizing seconds later, my bones stopped moving. My body stopped hurting. I saw my legs and howled again. The muscles had maneuvered them into the shape of a wolf’s hind legs. My ankles and feet had stretched into hocks, and my toes had lengthened and gained claws.
My skin stopped itching. I stared at my arms. They were longer, and short hairs were pushing up through the skin. The hairs were flat, smooth, and dark red, the same shade of red as the hairs on my head. I sat up and saw that the hairs covered my entire body; they were a little thicker over my pubic area.
I also saw that I was now flat chested. All that pubescent work, wiped out.
My head stopped hurting. I felt better. I felt good.
I wanted to see what I looked like.
The medicine cabinet above the sink. The mirror.
I got into a crouch and then braced my hands on the slick shower floor and pushed up slowly. I was hunched over, couldn’t straighten up. Every attempt I made to unlock my back made me wobble, so I gave up. The hunched back . . . a balance thing? It didn’t matter.
I hooked my claws into the edge of the glass shower door and slid it open. I lifted one mutated leg out. I could barely feel the shower mat; the skin on the underside of my new, smaller foot had thickened.
I stayed that way, one foot out, one foot in, until I was certain I had my balance. Then I stepped out of the shower. It felt like I was standing on high heels. I took three tentative nursing home shuffle-steps to the sink, concentrating on the act of walking rather than how strange my wolf legs felt. I put my hairy hands on the countertop and kept my head lowered, watching the water puddle around my hairy clawed feet. I stared at the sink for a few moments and then forced my eyes up.
Someone had tossed my head and a wolf’s head in a blender and pressed Puree.
My nose and mouth had stretched into a blunt muzzle that resembled a pit bull’s more than a wolf’s. My nose had been reduced to a small fuzzy bump, marked by arching, elongated nostrils. My ears were longer, pointed, fuzzed with dark red hairs. They were folded back against what was now a flat, wedge-shaped skull. My face was covered in short hairs. The hair that had covered my human head had shifted down, was now located on the back of my neck, a kind of half-assed mane.
My eyes seemed to be the only thing still human about me. I blinked, watched the creature in the mirror blink its pale blue eyes. One long-ago boyfriend had told me I had the eyes of a malamute. If he could only see me now.
I opened my mouth, saw that my tongue was also still human. I raised a distorted hand and ran my claws across the mirror’s surface. Skrittt.
I watched the monster in the mirror peel its lips back as it—as I—snarled and bared bright white monster movie teeth.
I slammed my fist into the mirror, heard the musical shattering of the glass, felt pieces of it stick into my knuckles.
I held my hand over the sink, watched the pieces fall into it. The cuts shrank, then disappeared.
I laughed. It came out as a low chug-chug, and I stopped. I backed away from the sink, my movements jerky, wobbling. I crouched before I fell.
So much for the full moon.
What was I supposed to do now? How would I get back to normal? Could I get back to normal?
I tried to tell myself to calm down, but my muzzle wouldn’t form the words. I made a couple of harsh growls and then shut up.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, fought off the panic and desperation thrashing around in my chest.
My stomach rumbled. I was hungry again. Made it hard to think.
I needed to eat. I would be able to think after I ate.
My fingers roamed the unfamiliar landscape of my werewolf face, the claws unintentionally slicing open my cheek. I felt the blood trickle down my jaw, smelled it floating in the air. Felt the cuts shrink as they healed.
And then I smelled something else, something delicious. I raised my head and sniffed. My nose caught a ribbon of scent wafting from—my head moved, following the trail—under the bathroom door.
I stiff-walked to the door. Turning the knob with claws was difficult. I finally pressed the knob between my palms and rotated it.
I walked down the hallway, dimly aware that I was drooling. I didn’t care. I only cared about following that lovely, wonderful smell to its source.
I made a left turn into the kitchen, my clawed feet ticking across the ceramic tile floor, hands at my sides, fingers twitching and clicking the claws like castanets, tracking the smell like I had tracked LeDoux.
I went to the sink and found it empty. I was smelling the blood that had gone down the drain earlier. I growled in disappointment.
I stalked to the refrigerator and wrapped my claws around the door handle. I opened it and hooked another package of rib eyes.
It was tricky working the microwave with Freddy Krueger appendages, but I managed to hit all the correct buttons and thaw the meat enough to eat. I held it in my hands and tore chunks off with my new killer teeth, feeling vaguely ridiculous. I didn’t have the urge to go out and hunt the Gunthers, but this didn’t seem right either.
After dinner, I roamed the house, wondering how I was going to get back to normal. I wasn’t as freaked about it as I probably should have been. I had this feeling that if I waited long enough, I’d change back. Hopefully in time to make Jett Rink’s, which brought up a new worry: how to tell David that his girlfriend might occasionally be subject to the county’s leash law.
I don’t have to tell him, I thought as I watched my new shadow slide along the wall. I could keep this a secret.
I reached the living room and was about to head into the kitchen when my legs began quivering. I dropped to my knees, wondering what the hell was happening now. The trembling spread into my torso, then my arms, and then I heard the first bones begin to snap.
Oh shit, I thought, and braced for horrific pain.
It never came. Instead, there was a warm sensation that was oddly similar to an orgasm, and I concentrated on it as my body reverted to human. The process was a rewind of the initial change, but faster. Seconds after I dropped to my knees, my teeth receded, and I sat back. My now-human body was sore. The soreness would pass in about a half hour.
I tried to stand, but my legs were weak. They gave out and my ass crashed to the floor. I waited a few minutes and tried again. Success. I stood on straight legs that felt as strange as my wolf ones had earlier and limped to the bathroom.
The center of the mirror was shattered, but the lower portion was whole. I smiled at it, checking out the teeth. They had retreated until they were the same length as the previous tenants, but they were so white, the canines were so sharp . . . I’d have to be careful, have to do a Mona Lisa smile.
I turned off the shower and scooped up my old teeth. I threw them in the trash, wondering when I’d change again. I could try talking to Chris Ferris again, see if he was a bit more coherent this time. Of course, if I did that, I’d end up owing Rue Howell.
I flossed my new teeth, getting out the bits of steak. I tried to brush them, but ended up shredding the toothbrush’s bristles on the incisors’ serrations. I settled for a couple of shots of mouthwash.
I spat and ran my tongue over the teeth. Could I really control the change?
I thought I could. But I had to know for sure. I did not want to wolf out during roll call. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, rewound things.
I’m in the shower. It feels like my brain explodes. My nice, harmless human teeth are evicted. The new teeth extend out of the sockets, cause my jaw to pop out—
My jaw twitched forward. My gums burned. I gasped and spat a mouthful of blood into the sink. I found my reflection and flashed my choppers. They were smeared with the red stuff. The teeth. It started with the teeth. When I had felt that warm, salty gush of blood, I had panicked, and the change had backed off. I had made it back off.
I tried again, baring my teeth in the mirror, too engrossed in watching them slide out to feel it happen. I watched until my changing legs brought me to my knees.