The New Moon | Mark Howard Jones
"Look at that." Jan was pointing through the kitchen window.
"Look at what?" Will came over to her side, expecting to see an audacious badger or fox that had wandered into the garden. But the moonlit space was empty, the lawn free of any activity, including intrusions of the neighbour's impudent cat.
Instead, Jan was pointing up into the night sky. "The full moon. Look at it."
Will had seen the moon plenty of times and had little interest in astronomy. "What about it?" he asked in his best bored voice, beginning to turn away.
"Well, just look at it. It's strange. Too big." There was an edge of uneasiness in her voice that made Will think he had better take a look after all. He stood by her side and gazed up at the moon.
It hung in the sky, just as it always did, but Jan was right - it was different. It was far larger than Will had ever seen it before and the colour was all wrong. He thought pollution in the atmosphere might be to blame. "Yes, I see what you mean," he said and was about to turn away once more when he noticed something was missing. "Where's the man?"
Jan looked at him, baffled. "What man?"
"The man in the moon. He's not there!" Will peered up at the huge unblinking lunar eye and it stared back at him unkindly. But this was an unfamiliar orb, its pattern of craters a new and startling sight. Where the seas of moondust should be, white and placid, there seemed to be a reddish infestation, as if the moon had become diseased since it last appeared.
Will disappeared into the next room and came back with a pair of binoculars. He mainly used them for birdwatching, and they weren't intended for stargazing, but they would serve to bring the moon a little closer. He spent some moments peering at the surface before declaring "That's not the moon. At least, not our moon."
As he stared at the orb, its colour seemed to grow deeper and darker. At first Will thought it was a cloud passing in front but, when he lowered the binoculars for a moment, he saw that it was a clear, cloudless night.
As he raised the lenses to his eyes again, Jan asked "Well, shouldn't we tell someone?"
"Like who?" he replied. "The RAF? NASA? I mean, who owns the moon? Anyway, I doubt we're the only ones who've noticed."
"But where's our moon gone?" she demanded. Will had no answer.
Lowering the binoculars slightly, he saw that a thin bright mist clung to the treetops at the end of the garden. It seemed suddenly to turn red as the light from the moon caught it. Will chuckled, thinking that it looked like a bad 1980s TV special effect. Then everything he could see turned the same vile red hue. Obviously an optical illusion, Will thought, and blinked furiously.
He lowered the lenses from his eyes and let out a cry. It wasn't the lenses that had been affected. "My eyes ... it's my ..." Will lost the power to speak as his throat tightened suddenly. He massaged his Adam's apple and closed his eyes tightly, hoping that when he opened them they would be back to normal.
But when he did, he saw that a malign luminescene was flooding the whole kitchen. Unseen colours suddenly became visible as his eyes changed. His brain began to burn and he tried to call out to Jan. But his voice had been replaced by a strange, high, keening sound.
Will rubbed his stinging eyes and looked around him. Jan was huddled on the floor, rocking back and forth. He tried to reach for her but his muscles knotted, sending rods of pain up both arms. He collapsed onto his knees, panting hard, sweating and wanting to vomit.
After a moment or two, the pain began to ease and he tried to stand. His limbs felt unfamiliar; large and oddly shaped. He saw that his clothes hung in tatters from his body, ripped apart as his body continued to change before his eyes. His mind struggled to understand what was happening to him.
He was Will. But now he wasn't. Catching a glimpse of himself in a reflective cupboard door, he saw that he had become a larger, stranger beast. Tears of grief sprang to his huge, dark eyes. They were soon wiped away as his transformation became complete and the reflection of Waswill stared back at him, proud and tall and reborn.
Turning, he saw his mate, who had been Jan. She now stood tearing off the remnants of her clothes, as if they were an insult to her strong new body, muscled and perfect.
Waswill followed her and ripped the flimsy remnants from himself. They stood and stared at each other. They had become creatures new to this earth.
Waswill looked at his mate and saw how the changes that had been wrought on her body made her unbearably seductive. A heady scent rose from her lunar flesh. He wanted her and grew hard in anticipation.
From within Wasjan's labial folds, two tendrils extended, reaching out towards her partner's genitals. The opening in the end of Waswill's penis enlarged, like a small hungry mouth yawning, to accept one of the tendrils. As it worked its way inside him, he keened in lust, while the other tendril enwrapped his distended testicles and drew him deep into her eager opening.
Locked together at the hips, the reborn creatures arched their backs and extended their renewed limbs backwards to touch the floor behind them. After a few seconds they rolled onto their sides and continued to copulate, an unaccustomed ferocity and energy wracking their bodies so that they twisted into unnatural shapes.
Their climax wrenched forth a loud, unnatural sound from their throats, like nothing either had heard before. Yet it sounded so right, a fitting expression of their exultation.
Alarmed by the unaccustomed sounds, the family dog, Jamie, rushed into the kitchen, yapping furiously. The small Jack Russell stopped and began yelping in panic when he saw the creatures that stood before him.
Waswill understood what the animal was and remembered when he had got him from the rescue shelter. He remembered how much he'd loved the trusting, affectionate little dog. But that had been Will and Waswill hated the weak, annoying little creature. With his new limbs, he easily reached halfway across the length of the room and plucked the dog from the floor.
Placing his strong fingers either side of the dog's head, he squeezed and turned. The dog had hardly a chance to let out the beginnings of a yelp before the head came away in Waswill's hand. He tipped the opening he had made to his lips and sucked and slurped at the animal's juices for a few seconds. It felt good as it slid across his huge tongue and down his throat; it was a new flavour.
Then he held it out to Wasjan so she could also savour the taste. She made appreciative noises as she slurped at the former pet's carcass.
Waswill ran his tongue around the edge of the wound one last time before losing interest and hurling aside the dog's body. It hit the window, leaving an unpleasant red smear before sliding into the kitchen sink.
Wasjan fell on all fours and began pacing round the kitchen floor, waving her head from side to side. Waswill followed her, falling to his knees and breathing deeply of her female scent. It had been only minutes since they'd mated but he could smell that she was already gravid. Soon their numbers would grow.
He stood upright once more and looked around at the kitchen his former self had laboured so hard over. It seemed to him now to be a small, unimportant place; he wanted to be free of this prison.
Becoming used to his new flesh, Waswill raised his huge arms and smashed through the door to the garden. At his heels, Wasjan followed him out to claim the night.
Unaware of what lay before them, the two creatures stood side by side on the mist-wreathed lawn, their flanks rubbing together lasciviously, ready to people this old land under a new moon with a strong new race.
They raised their heads and howled long and loud in unison. From across the red-haloed town came a chorus of answering cries while, far above their heads, the sinister changeling orb beamed darkly down on its first children.