Mooning Over a Monster

Chapter One

Frankenstein’s monster fucking The Creature from the Black Lagoon doggy style is inspired. I never thought of myself as an artistic genius until this moment.

 

But will my audience be impressed?

 

A long time ago, I convinced myself not to care what other people thought. At least, not enough to affect me emotionally. But I still can’t go out in public. Not when most humans’ opinions when they see me are …

 

Ah! Monster!

 

Terrifying beast that’s come to devour my soul!

 

Run!

 

Call the authorities!

 

Shoot it!

 

Much worse than leaving the house on a bad hair day. So, I avoid everyone, even as I refuse to care about their opinions.

 

But I do care about him. My delivery guy. The single audience member for my front yard setup.

 

Through the glass of my upstairs window, I hear the buzz of his engine approaching. I know it’s him because I live at the farthest corner of Lake Galen. The road to my house is a ten-minute dirt lane from the closest paved surface.

 

Through the trees, a bright blue moped appears. He must have some durable tires to make the trek on that silly machine. But he does make it once a week, as he’s been doing for the past few months on the days I treat myself to lunch and caffeine from Coffee & Claws—Folk Haven’s best and only coffee shop. Bonus for me: seeing the burliest, handsomest deliveryman I’ve ever spied on from my bedroom window.

 

Yes, I’m a creep. Might as well lean into it.

 

The guy shuts off his engine and kicks down the stand that keeps his scooter upright. With a turtle-shell helmet clipped under his chin, the only hair I see is the vibrant red beard covering the lower half of his milk-pale face. But the bushy mass can’t cover up the wide grin or muffle his booming laugh.

 

He likes it.

 

Over the years, I’ve collected life-sized figurines of my favorite classic movie monsters. Actual monsters that go around, murdering terrified fictional humans. Not monsters like me, who just happened to be born more different than most.

 

A few weeks ago, on a whimsical urge, I arranged the figures outside for a monster picnic. Only I forgot to bring them back inside before ordering myself lunch.

 

The delivery guy came upon my creepy garden scene.

 

When I heard him laugh, the delicious deep bellow rising from his belly, I immediately developed an addiction for the noise.

 

The next time, I had Jason chopping wood while The Wolf Man cooked marshmallows over a cardboard fire.

 

The week after, Dracula and The Mummy danced the waltz under a disco ball suspended from an overhead tree branch.

 

Then, there was a poker game.

 

A bake sale.

 

A cheerleading pyramid. That required three hours to arrange and a lot of strategically placed wire.

 

Still, they were all tame scenes until now. This was a risk.

 

Delivery Guy takes his time observing my pornographic arrangement, fists planted on his hips, intoxicating chuckles leaking from that glorious beard. I went so far as to blow up an air mattress and fit it with sheets—rumpled from vigorous sex play, of course—and pillows and condom wrappers.

 

I am committed to my craft. Just like the creators of the figurines, apparently, because when I pulled down Frankenstein’s monster’s pants, I discovered an apple bottom, green as a Granny Smith. No dick though. Bummer.

 

Delivery Guy finally turns toward my house, and I step back from my window even though I know he can’t see me through the wildly expensive glamour I paid a witch to equip the glass with. Even if he could spot me, according to Heath—the bear shifter who co-owns Coffee & Claws—the guy wouldn’t care.

 

“He’s my cousin. A shifter. So, don’t be worried none about him seeing you,” Heath said when I called a few weeks back about getting food delivered to my place.

 

Yeah, right.

 

Even among the massive number of mythical creatures who live in Folk Haven, I’m an oddity. Most mythics have a human form they can change into to easily navigate the world. I’m not so lucky. And my inability to blend in freaks other mythics out. Like being around me will somehow screw them up too.

 

A loud knock sounds on my front door as I settle on the top step and gaze down at the portal I let less than a handful of people through. Delivery Guy isn’t one of them.

 

“Hey, Satine!” His voice booms through the thick oak door, undeterred by the barrier. He says my name as if he knows me when we’ve never conversed other than my odd artistic displays in my front yard. “Your food’s here! And I gotta say”—he keeps talking to my door, assured that I’m listening, which, of course, I am—“ten outta ten. No contest. My favorite by far. I always knew they were a bunch of horny dudes.”

 

My cheeks ache from grinning so hard, and I bury my face in my hands even though he can’t see.

 

“Hope you enjoy your sandwich. Better get out here soon, before the ants get to it. I snuck a bear claw in the bag ’cause Heath had a few fresh from the oven. Thought you’d like something sweet at the end of your meal.”

 

I don’t say anything. No, Thank you, or, That was thoughtful, or, Can I touch your luxurious beard? Just keep my silence, like always.

 

“All right. I’ll leave you be.” The sound of his heavy boot on the gravel of my drive lets me know the best part of my week is coming to an end.

 

I don’t bother using the stairs, instead extending my wings and gliding down to the first floor. I peek out a lower window to watch as he retreats to his moped. The door will stay closed until his taillight disappears down my wooded drive.

 

Nibbling on the sharp point of my thumb’s claw, I wait for the puny roar of his scooter’s engine, fighting a smile as the compact machine dips under the weight of his broad body.

 

Five, four, three, two, one … I arbitrarily count down, as if I can guess the exact moment the key will turn.

 

But I guessed wrong because there’s no thrum of an engine coming to life.

I count again. And another time.

 

Then, I stumble back a step when Delivery Guy stands from his moped.

 

“What are you doing?” I whisper the panicked question to myself.

I want him to go. But I also don’t want him to go. And that confusion, along with his deviation from routine, spikes my pulse.

 

From the safety of my home, I watch the shifter raise his arm in the air, turning back and forth, as if searching the sky for something. That’s when I see the phone clutched in his grip and let out a groan.

 

There’s no way he’s going to get reception this far out.

 

Delivery Guy strolls toward my door.

 

Oh no. Oh no, no, no. I’m not ready for this. Maybe one day, after tons of preparation and at least a week of psyching myself up mentally. But sprung out of nowhere?

 

“Hey, Satine?” A gentle yet decisive knock sounds on my door, as if he knows I’m standing just on the other side. “My ride won’t start, and I don’t have service out here. I’m sorry to ask it of you, but could you help a guy out? Just looking to use your landline to give my buddy a call.”

 

A response. He requires a response.

 

I can talk to him. Talking isn’t seeing. My voice is normal enough. No reason for him to cringe away at that.

 

Now, I only have to deal with the mortification of him knowing I’ve been lurking, watching him this whole time. But what’s my other option? Stay quiet and make him hike miles back to town?

 

I’m a monster, but I’m not monstrous.

 

Stepping in close to the door, I finally break the silence on my end of our relationship. “I can call you the mechanic.”

 

He doesn’t need to be the one to use my phone, I reason. I can just as easily contact whoever he needs.

 

“Hey, Satine!” His voice vibrates with something like excitement. “You are there! This is so cool. I wasn’t sure.”

 

“Yeah.” That comes out too breathy to be heard, so I try again. “Yeah, I’m here. I’ll go call the auto shop.” I step as if to move farther into my house when, really, I could use my satellite phone here if I wanted to. I don’t have a landline, just a supercharged signal on my high-tech device.

 

“Wait!” His shout has me pausing. “Could you call my friend instead? They’ve got a truck I can toss my baby in the back of. No need to get Francis out here, charging me an arm and a paw.”

 

My best guess is, Francis is a local mechanic. I wouldn’t know because I barely drive my car anywhere and can change the oil myself.

 

“Sure.” I lean my shoulder against the door. “What’s their number?”

 

And please don’t ask me why I’m not opening the door.

 

Delivery Guy rattles off a string of digits, and I type them out on my screen, pressing the device to one of the slits on the side of my head I use to hear.

 

“Hello?” a feminine voice answers the call, and my gut twists in a painful jerk, made all the worse because I didn’t brace myself for the hurt.

 

“Hi,” I croak the word, frog-like, and then clear my throat of the amphibian tone. “Hello. My name is Satine, and I live on 913 Dark Wood Road. I have a deliveryman here, experiencing vehicle troubles, and he asked I call you to come pick him up.”

 

“I’m sorry, who?” the lovely-voiced person asks.

 

“Satine.”

 

“No, I got your name. Who’s the delivery guy?”

 

“Oh … uh, just a second.” I cover the receiver with my webbed fingers. “What’s your name?” I yell through the door.

 

“You don’t know my name?”

 

“No.” I always refer to him as Delivery Guy. Keeps a needed distance between me and dangerous emotions. “Heath just called you his cousin.”

 

There’s a mutter that sounds like unhelpful asshole and then, “Well, I’d like to formally introduce myself. I’m Mahon Vernon Deepcave the third. But you can call me Mahon. Or any other complimentary name you think up for me. I’m flexible like that.” He lets out a rumbling laugh. “Yeah! Make a note of that. I’m very flexible.”

 

I stare at the door, slowly blinking both sets of my lids, wondering for the first time if the creature on the other side of the entry might be stranger than me.

 

“Hello?” The voice from my phone recaptures my attention.

 

“Sorry, I’m still here. He said his name is Mahon.”

 

There’s a groan and then a muffled shout that has me thinking this person is doing the same hand-over-the-phone maneuver I just did.

 

“Calder! The silly bear broke his scooter again and wants to use my truck.”

Calder. I know that name. Calder MacNamara is a selkie in town. And if the gossip I’ve heard during my stealthy excursions is right, the water mythic just found his mate. Is that who I’m talking to? For some reason, the idea eases the wave of queasiness in my stomach.

 

“What are they saying?” Mahon calls through the door.

 

“Hey, Satine. Tell him Calder will be there in a bit. This is Delta, by the way. Hopefully, Mahon’s not giving you too much trouble.”

 

“Satine?”

 

Every time the shifter says my name, my scales tingle.

 

“Delta says Calder’s on his way,” I call. Then, into my phone, I say, “Thanks. And he’s fine. You can give Calder this number in case he gets lost and needs to call.”

 

“Weird to think there might be a corner of Lake Galen he doesn’t know, but thanks,” the woman muses. “I’ll do that. Try not to stab the whiny bear while you wait. He means well. Nice to talk to you, Satine.”

 

“You too.” And it was. I don’t talk to many people in this town. The food places I order from. My friend, Levi. That’s about it.

 

Everyone else I connect with is either through my remote work as a digital marketing designer or in virtual chat rooms for gamers. Delta somehow seemed more real to me. Maybe because of her connection to the all-too-real man just outside my house.

 

“All right. Well, I guess I’ll just wait out here then,” Mahon calls to me.

When I press my eye to the peephole, I see him settling his butt on the top step of my front porch.

 

“You know, just sit here. All alone.”

 

Was that a sniffle?

 

“No company.” He hangs his head. “By myself.”

 

If I had pupils, I’d roll them.

 

“Do you need a thesaurus?” I ask.

 

His head pops up. “Huh?”

 

“To come up with a few more ways to say alone?” Even as I snark at him from inside my house, I can’t stop the upward tug of the corners of my mouth.

 

In the rounded image of him in the peephole, I pick out a broad grin.

 

“No, no. I think you get the message.”

 

Then, the shifter starts whistling “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”

 

The put-upon act should annoy me, but I find myself fighting a laugh. And contemplating a bad idea. With a flick, I extend my wings, and then I jump into the air and flap my way back to the second floor. The maneuver comes naturally to me. Living on my own in this open–floor plan, high-ceilinged house, I fly as much as I walk.

 

I also don’t bother with clothes most of the time. As I pad into my bedroom, I glance down at my bare body. Indigo skin melds seamlessly with scales of the same color, covering my body in beautiful patterns I’ve learned to love over the years. The harder surface still leaves some soft parts of me exposed. Like my nipples and my vulva. Both a lighter blue than the rest of me. Same with my lips.

 

I press the pads of my fingers to the plush skin surrounding my mouth, and despite the thinness of them, I’m glad the gods let me have a set. I’d rather have lips than ears. Who needs those fleshy satellites sticking out from the sides of their head anyway?

 

My walk-in closet is sorely underused. I don’t bother with clothes most days of the week. Today is a rare occurrence. Snatching a loose set of black sweatpants and an extra-large hoodie, I slip the fabric pieces over my body. With my wings tucked tight against my back, they hide under the material, and everything fits fine. In fact, the outfit engulfs me, but that’s what I’m going for.

 

Less on display for him to judge.

 

This time, I use my feet to get down the stairs, walking barefoot until I reach the front door, where I slide on a set of slippers. The getup is cozy, and I might be more amenable to clothes on a daily basis if the seams didn’t snag on my scales.

 

I can still hear the delivery guy’s mournful whistling through the door. The tune lures me to him, as if the man were part siren.

 

But he’s not. If Mahon had any blood in him other than shifter, he would lose access to that term. Just like I can’t call myself a dragon even though that’s what my father is. And I can’t call myself an undine even though that’s what my mother was. The mixture of the two makes me other.

 

Makes me a monster.

 

With my fingers wrapped around the doorknob, I pause and reconsider.

 

Will Mahon cringe away from me like so many others have? Can I handle it if he does?

 

I glare at the dark wood of my front door, on my property.

 

Of course I can handle it. I am a work of art, and if he doesn’t see that, then fuck him and the scooter he rode in on.

 

Besides, I think as I unlock the dead bolt, I’m hungry.