Shifters this, shifters that! Everyone suddenly thinks shifters are romantic and sexy and—argh!
Clyde Baldwin gnawed on his meal and fumed. He’d heard so many people rambling and ranting about how sexy shifter books were, and movies, and so on.
It’d made him cringe. Clyde had wanted to grab the last few folks by the nape and shake them, hard.
For one thing, shifters did exist, and they weren’t a bunch of studly, sexy guys and gals. Well, not all of them, anyway. For the most part, they were just humans with a little extra…pizazz. All they wanted was to live their lives without being persecuted for being different.
Voices droned on as Clyde kept chewing. It was a pain in the ass having to remain in his critter form, but there was no help for it at the moment.
And the food tasted really good. Clyde shivered and took another bite. He could feel the change coming on, the need to prepare for the next stage in his life cycle.
Again. Over and over and over…Reminding himself to stop being an ungrateful turd, Clyde tried to focus on his dinner.
Unfortunately for him, his appetite was ruined by his own traitorous brain.
There was no way for him to avoid the reality of what he was facing. He’d been captured, and it was his own damned fault. If he had just resisted the urge to shift and try a nibble of—
Whatever language the guy beside him was speaking, Clyde didn’t recognize. Didn’t matter—the man was loud and annoying.
When he tapped on the glass of Clyde’s prison, Clyde growled, not that anyone else would hear him do so.
He was trapped and on display like some prized…thing! Never mind that he had feelings and hopes. Granted, no one knew he was a shifter. At least that secret was safe.
Small comfort that was, seeing as how he might never be able to be a man again.
The room he was in had security cameras in it. Clyde wasn’t the only creature in there, and besides them, there was a lot of art-stuff that looked like it cost a lot of money.
Another tap at the glass had him turning his head toward the annoying sound. His vision was better than if he’d just been a critter, so he was able to make out the features of the people staring at him.
Clyde committed each face to memory. It wasn’t like he’d do anything to the humans if he ever got free, but still. It made him feel stronger, as if he had a hidden super-power.
Besides the shifting thing. Something better, like the ability to read minds or bend spoons into lewd shapes.
He’d really love to have that ability! His parents, siblings--- all of his family, for that matter—would be horrified. No, not all of his brothers and sisters. He had a couple who weren’t uptight snots.
Of course, they thought he was an obnoxious brat. Clyde hoped he would get a chance to argue with them about that again. For now, his future wasn’t looking too good.
At best, he’d possibly—very possibly—be stuck in a glass cage until he died an early death. If he were forced to remain in his shifter form for too long, he’d turn into the critter and lose his humanity. That would mean a very short lifespan.
There’d be no more munching on yummies, no more changes and stages of development. As a shifter, Clyde could pick up on whatever lifecycle his creature should have been in during the season of the year. He could also pop out of it.
Except for the cocoon one. There was no early escape from that, as he’d found out when his brother Eloy had dared him to morph into a cocoon. It hadn’t been easy—there’d been the need to eat a lot and shed some skins, but when Clyde had been capable of it, he’d sent Eloy a smug grin…then trapped himself in a cocoon for entirely too long.
The worst part was, he could hear his brothers and sisters laughing at him.
The great part was, he’d also heard his mom and dad bitch those brats out and ground them all.
Clyde would have smiled at the memories if he could have. That just wasn’t possible as a caterpillar, or at least not the kind he was. Clyde really couldn’t speak for other species.
He kept himself preoccupied with memories of his family, which was way better than living in the present. The present was one fucking scary place.
Eventually, the people left and the silence that descended made Clyde’s brain rattle. He started eating but stopped almost immediately. If he kept at it, he’d end up molting and in another couple of days, the cocooning would begin.
Then he’d be even more vulnerable than he was now.
And he wasn’t even entirely certain that he’d ever reach the cocoon phase, not once a tall, thin man entered the room, holding before him a glass box—
Filled with dead, pinned caterpillars of every shape and size.
Clyde couldn’t breathe, he was so panicked, especially when he
saw the empty spot labeled Euxanthe wakefieldi larvae.
Oh…shit! Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit! Clyde stared in horror as the display case was set on a small gold table directly across from his prison.
Not a single butterfly was in that clear coffin. It was all larvae, every single one of them.
Then a woman arrived carrying another case, and a third person arrived with yet another collection of dead caterpillars.
Clyde wanted to shriek in terror and anger. He also wanted to find whoever had made a meme of dragon-headed caterpillars and shared it, because now people wanted to collect them!
He should have stayed in his room and finished his college coursework for the week. Or helped his Mom with dinner, should have done something other than go out and find some sweet leaves to chew on.
Because Clyde wasn’t ready to die, and he’d look atrocious next to the larvae on either side of his assigned slot. His heart ached for the dead caterpillars. Life was hard and not fair, he got that, but every larvae ought to get a chance to be a butterfly.
They shouldn’t end up on display for some nut job who liked to keep carcasses lying around.
Every larvae should evolve; everyone deserves to fly.
But reality was not about what one deserved or should have.
Reality was death and a stickpin.