Friday flash fiction – Totality Blues

Jason’s been obsessed with this eclipse ever since he smelled it coming a month ago.

“Bro, I’m telling you, this is my big chance. You better keep your distance because I’m gonna rip this thing the hell up.”

I crack a beer to hide my sigh. He’s trying too hard again. It’s always like this. He thinks he needs to prove himself. To be the head of the pack. To be better than the Alphas.

It’s like that time he spent the summer holidays in a basketball clinic because he thought beating Bristleback Johnson in a pickup game would impress the whole school. He doesn’t even like basketball.

Or what about when he got it in his head to build up immunities? Licking silver nitrate off the back of old Polaroids gave him mange for a year. Mixing powdered belladonna into his chai lattes gave him the kind of flatulence usually reserved for corpses recovered from swamps. And the less said about his experiments with mistletoe, the better.

He explains his theory for the tenth time. “See, if I shift just when the moon eclipses the sun, it’ll be, like, a lunar super-charge. Lycanthropic totality.”

I’ve given up pointing out that a full moon is a hemispheric reflection of the sun, so if anything a full solar eclipse is the exact opposite of optimal conditions for getting his monster on. He’s determined to try it out, though, what can I say? I tell him I’ve got his back.

There’s a crowd. The whole town’s come out; it’s like a huge summer barbecue but with dorkier sunglasses. No signs of trouble because Jason’s older brothers – the policeman and the ambulance officer – keep the peace by sheer presence alone. A crowd surrounds Jason’s dad, the shifter-rights lawyer who turned this whole suburb into a were-friendly community. Norms and howlers, living in harmony. It’s not hard to see why Jason thinks he’s got a lot to live up to.

Everybody else is watching the skies, and here’s me watching Jason. A shadow falls across us and he jumps up. He chugs his beer and takes off his shirt. “This is it,” he yells, climbing up on the roof of his Corolla. What a sight. “Check this totality!”

Hair sprouts, his back arches and teeth stretch his face out of shape. I look away.

There’s a ripping sound, the smell of ozone, and Jason’s howl jumps up in pitch by about two octaves. I start yelling. Help doesn’t come until the occultation is over, and when Jason’s brother arrives with a first aid kit and oxygen, he’s got the giggles.

“You’ve burned your fur, you’ve stripped the enamel off your fangs and you’ll have a migraine for a week,” says the brother as he loads Jason into the back of the ambulance. “And you forgot to put on your glasses. God, you can be a dickhead.”

I put his paw between my hands and give him an encouraging squeeze. “Don’t worry about this, mate. You’ll get there. It’s just going to take some time, okay?”

No need to rush things. My boy’s still got some changes to work through.

Hi, wow, this makes seven straight weeks of Friday flash fiction, which is about three more weeks than I thought I’d manage. If you like this week’s story, or any of the previous ones (which are collected under this link), I’d appreciate your sharing them on social media. Or sending an email to your weird aunt or that guy you like-liked in high school but never said anything because come on. Or just leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Though not love-love.

Well, okay, maybe a little.

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