He hated leaving the girl unconscious in the woods, vulnerable to any psycho that might find her. She should wake up soon and could use her phone to call for help.
He ran, panting and slippery with sweat, until he heard cars on the highway, ignoring the branches and stones cutting his tender bare feet. Now came the tricky part, finding some clothes and a way home. This trip had been his longest yet. He hoped his wife wouldn’t be worried.
He scooted along the edge of the trees up the slope of the on ramp and made it to the dumpster behind a gas station. The sun warned him that it was ready to fully reveal him with hints of light bouncing off the windows of the dark store. A car pulled into the back lot and a scruffy kid in jeans and a stained shirt with a Mobil logo on it stepped out. He stretched and took his time walking over to the door. His cigarette clung to his lower lip as he fumbled with his keys.
“Need some help?”
The attendant jumped, causing the hair hanging in his face to fly up and expose his widened eyes. He also dropped the keys in a murky puddle.
The kid looked around and decided it was nothing. When he bent down to pick up the keys, Pearce hit him over the head with a crate.
“Sorry kid,” Pearce said as he left the guy in his car after taking his clothes and enough money to get a cab to his office.
He called it his office, but it was just a storage unit. He kept clothes, his inherited gold, a stocked cabinet of food, and grooming supplies there. After he normalized himself, he grabbed his briefcase and luggage and took the cab home.
Before walking into his house, he reminded himself where he was supposed to be coming home from. Dallas.
“Hey, honey! I made it!” he announced.
“Pearce! We’re up in Lukie’s room!” Trina called down.
Pearce, now dressed in a gray suit, brought his luggage upstairs and heard her cooing to their four month old son.
“Lukie, Daddy’s home. Yes, he is. Daddy can’t wait to see you!”
As he reached the top of the stairs, Trina presented Luke. Pearce dropped his bags and hugged her and kissed the baby. Each reunion flooded him with relief and regret.
“It’s great to be home.”
“We missed you, Daddy!” Trina spoke for their son.
“I missed you, too, big guy!” Pearce said and took Luke in his arms.
“I wish you didn’t have to travel so much. You missed Lukie’s first bites of solid food,” Trina complained with a pout.
He loved her full lips and hated having to be away from his family. If he could only tell her. “I know. I’m sorry I have to miss so many milestones.” He glanced at his watch. So soon? He just got back! He broke the news to her, “And I’m afraid I have to go back out in a week.” He couldn’t believe he’d been gone that long.
“Again? Doesn’t your boss have a family? How can he do this to you?”
“He’s heartless. But in this economy, I can’t afford to say no, right?” Heartless.
“Well, you go change and we will spend all the quality time we can together! We will wait for you downstairs. Maybe Lukie will roll over before you have to go,” Trina said. Pearce appreciated her optimism. He didn’t deserve her.
That evening, he volunteered to give Luke his bath. He might be old enough for Pearce to tell if his hereditary problem had been passed down. It had skipped his own father, which relieved his grandfather. And then Pearce came along. Grandfather Wilson had been Pearce’s savior, helping him through the transition during puberty and coaching him on how to handle it all. He missed his grandfather.
Pearce had vowed not to marry and planned to run away out West. He thought he could find some open prairie or a reserve and hide out as a unicorn forever. When he met Trina, that all changed. Love is a powerful force. He wanted to tell her about his monthly transformations, but he never found an opportunity. He was afraid to lose her.
And now they had a beautiful son. As Pearce washed the baby, he looked for the spot. Each month, he dreaded finding it. So far it hadn’t appeared. He sighed with relief as he still saw no sign of it. If it didn’t show up in the first year, he would be safe.
Time passed too quickly and the day came for Pearce to leave for his trip. The moon would be full again in two days. He had to find a virgin and lure her into the woods so when it was time for him to transform, she would ride him till she was satisfied and he could change back. Lucky for him, the curse provided a sense for virginal flesh. There were so few left these days. He was getting too old for this.
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Trina told him, standing in the doorway holding Luke.
“Me too,” he said and gave them each a kiss. I wish Pegasus and Medusa had never gotten together, wreaking this torture upon my family for life. There must be a way to break the curse.
“Oh, before you go, I wanted to show you something,” Trina remarked.
Pearce turned back and got a chill, setting off goose bumps under his jacket sleeves.
“I found a strange blue mark on Lukie’s side. Look.” She raised his chubby little arm and showed him the spot.
Pearce howled inside. He had to find a cure!