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Book Heat Level: 5
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Desperation was becoming a prevalent emotion in Mohan's life. With each passing moment, he slipped deeper into the unwanted state.
His food supply was limited, and he grew weaker with each passing week. Soon, he would be forced into the situation of journeying back into the human populace. It was dangerous for a creature in his situation.
As long as he remained in animal form, he had a chance of surviving. Yet, with each necessary shift to his human side, he grew weaker. His body ached with a gnawing hunger. Even in the warm climate of this new land, he was cold.
Mohan had been fortunate to find shelter; an old, abandoned farmhouse. It had several rooms and would have once been a comfortable home. Someone had left it to the ravages of time and was in need of much repair.
He would restore it if he had the resources. For now, it was a roof over his head and kept out the chill of the cold mountain nights. Still, even with a full blaze in the solid stone fireplace, it only partially kept the chill from his bones.
He had nothing with which to trade, nothing to barter, and he had limited English. All he would need to do was open his mouth to speak, and they would know he was not of this land. The clothes on his back he had taken from a pile discarded next to a large bin on a seaside street, near where he had come ashore. By day he had walked over many fertile, abundant fields through strange forests. As darkness fell, he had shifted and used the strength of his animal form. He hunted rabbits to help him continue on. As he moved further away from people and higher into the mountains, the safer he began to feel.
Stumbling across the farmhouse had been an answer to an unspoken prayer. He had collapsed in the old building, staying still until his exhaustion had faded.
His sleep was fitful, filled with nightmare images. The smells and screams in his head plagued him. He would never forget the pain and helplessness of everything he'd been forced to endure.
Why did he fight for survival when he had nothing to live for?
Mohan's natural instincts were more often a curse than a blessing. It was only natural to fight to survive.
The late afternoon sun filtered through the mountain trees. Already the air was beginning to cool.
Counting the days, he knew a few months had passed since he'd come to be here. His clothes were tattered and worn thin. He balanced the heavy load of wood he had collected for the fire. When dusk fell, he would hunt rabbits to feed his hunger then settle for the night.
He was still a distance from his cottage. His feet easily found the track back to his shelter. Deep in thought, he had not heard anyone or anything approach. His hearing was less acute while he was in human form.
He froze at the line of trees surrounding the old house. There was a large dark vehicle parked out front and attached to the back was a covered trailer.
Quietly, he lowered himself into a crouch and set down the wood. His eyes trained on the open door of the house. A figure appeared there. The baggy, pale blue, short-sleeved top and jeans did not hide the fact the wearer was a generously curved woman. A cascade of light auburn hair fell about her shoulders, gleaming in the last of the fading sunlight.
He noticed the old tarp he'd been sleeping on was carelessly tossed out and now lay by the end of the porch, along with a heap of old ruined and unusable furniture.
Mohan's jaw clenched in displeasure. What was he going to sleep on now? He waited and continued his observations.
There was no one else as far as he could tell. The woman proceeded to unpack the trailer, carrying box after box into his current home.
It was clear he had just lost his shelter. There would be no fire to warm his side tonight. He would be forced to move on.
Rising to his feet, Mohan curled his fingers so tightly around the slim tree by his side his whole hand throbbed. He welcomed the pain as he battled to bring his anger under control.
Forced. He was so tired of being forced to do things he did not want to do. He needed to regain some control, take back the little comfort he had managed to claim as his. Mohan faded unseen into the thick of the trees. He would wait until dark. He would not give up his new home so easily, and one lone woman would not stand in his way.