The werewolf had a little lamb

Mary Had A Little Lamb

 New fiction and art by Master Nick Roberts

  Night fell over the little village, and each of its residents drifted off to sleep. All but one slept well.
Master_Nick-wolfsheadinnAs the full moon climbed a cloudy sky, restless energy spurred young Mary out of bed and set her to pacing back and forth, to and fro, as far as she could go in her little room. A recent growth spurt had left her feeling ungainly and strange in her body. Her footsteps sounded loud in her own ears. She didn’t want to risk waking her parents and making them cross, nor to stay cooped up indoors. As quietly she could, Mary slipped barefoot into the night.
 Though clad only in her undergarments, Mary suffered not at all from the evening’s chill. On the contrary, she felt almost feverish. Growing warm and red had recently become a common occurrence for her. After what had seemed an interminable stretch as a rail-thin girl, a very late bloom had seized her overnight. All at once, every outfit felt too tight around the backside and bosom. The attention for which she’d once longed now became a torment. Everything, from the briefest glance of a boy she liked to the rude comments from ones she didn’t brought a blushing heat to every inch of her skin. Even now, alone in the chill, she fairly itched with it.
 She thought of the cold stream which ran along the far side of Witchtree Hill. “I’ll go for a moonlight swim,” Mary said.
 Though she’d spoken only to herself, a little cry answered her.
 Mary recognized the voice and knew well from whence it came.
 Her father raised sheep in a little pen behind their modest home. One lamb had been born a runt and never seemed to grow much bigger. It had been a sickly albino creature, and her father had meant to put it down, but Mary protested. Tears in her eyes, she convinced her papa to let her keep the little lamb as a pet. She nursed it to health, if not to the size of its siblings. Mary and the lamb became fast friends and absolutely inseparable. It even followed her to school one day, and on many days after. The first time, the other children were delighted. One boy even made up a rhyme about it.

         Mary had a little lamb,
         whose fleece was white as snow.
         And everywhere that Mary went,
         the lamb was sure to go.
         It followed her to school one day
         which was against the rule.
         It made the children laugh and play,
         to see a lamb at school.
         And so the teacher turned it out,
         but still it lingered near,
         And waited patiently about,
         till Mary did appear.
         “Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
         the eager children cry.
         “Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
         the teacher did reply.

 After that, the lamb continued to follow Mary. Some of the children soon began to make fun of Mary, and even to suggest that the lamb would make a better meal than a pet, however small a treat that may be.
 Mary ignored the jibes as best she could. She felt a particular kinship with the little lamb. For the longest time, neither had grown much at all. But then, all at once, Mary blossomed. She had other concerns now, and had almost forgotten all about her pet, her closest friend. Though impatient to be off, cool and naked in the stream, Mary could not ignore her little lamb’s cry. She went ’round to the sheep’s pen and unlatched the short wooden gate.
 The sheep all huddled for warmth or comfort at the far corner of the pen. Only Mary’s little white lamb stood out.
 Ordinarily, the lamb trotted right up to Mary, eager for her company. On this evening, the little creature took only a few tentative steps forward.
 Mary put her hands on her hips and frowned. “You called for me. Do you want me or not?”
 The lamb took just one more small step forward, still several feet away.
 Mary sighed in exasperation, and scratched absently at one forearm.
 Overhead, heavy clouds wafted away to the West, leaving not but a thin mist over the moon. By its light, Mary glanced down at her arms and legs. She understood that as children became adults, they began to grow hair in strange places. Still, the dense fur sprouting from her now was simply too much. Indeed, it seemed to grow longer and thicker even as she watched.
 A hot itch spread everywhere at once. With small frantic strokes, Mary scratched behind one ear, grunting and even growling as the itch became intolerable.
 The little lamb trembled.
 Mary got down on all fours and cried. “Is this what’s it’s like to be covered in wool? So hot and scratchy! How can you stand it?”
 Still trembling, the lamb approached Mary, nearly nuzzled her, sniffed, then scrambled back fast, almost tripping over its own little legs.
 “What?” Mary sobbed, “What’s wrong with me?”
 The lamb sidled around her, hugging the fence as it went, keeping as far away as possible.
 “What’s wrong with me?” Mary repeated, then angry as well as afraid, “What wrong with you?” The last word came out as long, mournful howl. “Yooooooou!”
 The lamb bolted, scurrying around her. Mary realized too late that she’d left the gate to the pen ajar. The little lamb slipped through and ran away toward Witchtree Hill.
 Mary, once the subject of a schoolyard rhyme, now remembered another.

         Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
         And doesn’t know where to find them;
         Leave them alone, And they’ll come home,
         Wagging their tails behind them.

 Unlike Bo-Peep, Mary didn’t think she could count on her sheep returning of its own accord. Mary got up and ran after it.
 It felt good to run! Legs that had grown so long so fast as to make her dizzy now carried her down one slope and up the next at a pace she never could have imagined.
 As she came to the most steep stretch of Witchtree Hill, Mary went down again on all fours, at first pulling herself upwards, then running along in that fashion.
 The lamb ran ahead of her, just out of reach. The little creature was terrified. Somehow, Mary could smell its fear. She tried to call to it. It’s only me! Don’t be afraid! All that came out were grunts and growls of exertion. No matter. Some part of her wanted the lamb to be afraid. The runt would never know the pain of growing and changing. Innocent, ignorant little thing!
 Its white fleece seemed to glow like a beacon in the moonlight.
 The lamb reached the peak of Witchtree Hill and got no further. Mary pounced, and without thinking, bit into the back of the little lamb’s neck. It screamed in a manner almost human. A newly awakened part of Mary thrilled at the sound, while a shade of her former self cried in sympathy. She shook the lamb in her teeth, and it screamed no more.
Master_Nick-Mary-lil_lamb Mary dropped the limp body among the roots of the ancient, gnarled tree that gave Witchtree Hill its name. With fingers and toes hooked into claws, Mary pinned the body to the ground, then bent, bit into its midsection, and pulled out a long bloody string of flesh, stretching it ’till it snapped free and she could gobble it down.
 A splash of red spread out from the cottony white wool held between her legs. She lapped it up. The chase, and the change, had taken a great deal of her energy. Cramps worse than any hunger she’d ever known clenched not just her stomach but her entire abdomen. She replenished herself with as much flesh and blood as she could swallow, then kicked up the earth and buried what was left, though not much remained of such a little lamb.
 Like the distant shadow of a thought, the girl who had been Mary cried for the lamb. The wolf she had become howled at the moon.

 Mary slept fitfully, and late.
 Usually, Mary’s father woke her for morning chores. This time, he glanced into her room, stared at her for moment, then disappeared from her doorway. Mary, waking slowly on her own, had only a dim awareness of his coming and going. The sound of rapid whispers from the next room came next. In trying to decipher them, Mary left behind all drowsing.
 Her mother entered, looked at Mary, then took a seat beside the bed, rather that sit on the bed itself.
 “So,” Her mother said. “It’s happened.”
 Mary didn’t understand. She studied her mother’s eyes, and followed the path of the gaze down to her own undergarments, white stained with red.
 “Don’t be alarmed,” Her mother said, “It happens to all young ladies sooner or later.”
 All ladies become wolves? Mary shook her head. That was just a dream. Surely, that was just–
 “The curse just came later with you.”  
 Curse? I’ve been cursed?
 “There’s not much help for it,” Her mother said, then went on to detail just how Mary was to tend herself at that time of the month.
 Mary gradually got the idea that her mother wasn’t talking about lycanthrope at all. This was menstrual blood, not lamb’s blood.
 It was just a dream! Oh, my sweet little lamb, it was just a dream.
 Having finished giving instruction, her mother stood, and went to the door. “Oh!” She stopped and looked back. “Oh, Mary, what with all this, I forgot to tell you. The pen was left open. Your little lamb got out.”
 Mary felt a pained, hysterical bark of laughter threaten to escape. She stifled it, along with a mad urge to recite, Leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind him.
 Mary ran a hand over her abdomen, uncomfortable now from gorging rather than hunger or any other sort of cramp. Beyond the half-digested feast in her belly, her little lamb would never come home again.

Master_Nick-Mary-lilamb-b_wMaster Nick Roberts © 2013

For more disturbing fiction,
read “Gonzombie and Other Dark Tales”

“Wolf’s Head Inn” and
“Mary Had A Little Lamb”
Art by Master Nick Roberts © 2013
Prints are available.
If collector, connoisseur,
or a patron you may be,
if this art you would procure,
to begin, please contact me.

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