Halloween Cinderella

by Bryan Derksen

Delores counted herself extremely lucky. Life had handed her luxury on a silver platter; when her grandmother passed away she inherited a huge house in the country and enough money to maintain it well for life. There was really no need for her to work beyond managing the family fortune. She did that quite well, and expected to pass an even larger estate to her own children one day.

But in the mean time, she and Daryl were young and there was time to raise a family later. They were still on an extended honeymoon, as she explained it; in a few years she expected it to get tedious and they would move into a more mature phase of their marriage. Until then they would relax and have fun, with nothing to tie them down.

Tonight they would be going to the McAllister's renowned annual halloween party. They would be attending for the first time this year, and Delores was looking forward to it; she had heard it was a classy yet fun affair. Unfortunately, she had put off renting a costume until it was too late. Fortunately, the attic was well-stocked with trunks of old, fine clothing her grandmother had owned. Some of it dated back to the turn of the century, real museum pieces, and would make excellent costumes.

Delores' grandmother had been one of those who had seemed likely to live forever; at age one hundred and one she had already outlived Delores' own parents and seemed to be still going strong. Though Delores had never known her very well, it had still come as quite a shock when she had simply died one night in her sleep. The shock was both due to her seeming immortality, and due to inheriting a large estate just when she was getting ready to have to work for a living. She had already been engaged to Daryl when it happened, and he was almost as surprised.

Daryl had already located and put on an old-fashioned suit that looked straight out of some British court, and was strutting stiffly about getting into character. Delores was more indecisive, having dressed up in a fine billowy silk gown that matched Daryl's era but not liking it. "It's this corset thing," she complained, "and these frilly petticoat-things and stuff. It's all so uncomfortable and impractical."

"Come now my dear," Daryl said in his best aristocratic tone, "It is the attire of a proper lady." Though it wasn't a terribly good imitation, Delores grinned anyways.

"Ah, I guess I'm still upset we had to resort to playing dress-up with this stuff," she admitted as she selected faux jewelry to match the aristocratic clothes. Actually, some of the stuff up here looked quite nice and expensive; as she fastened a necklace featuring a big emerald around her neck and checked herself approvingly in the full-length mirror, she even wondered if some of it was real. "I just wish I could go to the party as a werewolf, not some standard fairy princess."

"You and your were-" Daryl began, but was cut off by Delores' startled scream. He did a double-take, and emitted a yelp of his own. "How did you do that!?" he asked in astonishment.

Delores, still dressed in antique finery, was staring at her hands in horror. Their backs were covered in dark brown fur, the palms had leathery pads, and thick black claws emerged from her fingertips. She looked up at the mirror, and clapped those hands to her face; It had a short muzzle with fangs and a wet black nose, erect pointed ears, and yet more thick fur. She looked like a werewolf all right, as good as if the suit had been done by a major Hollywood studio. Better, even. It looked totally real, and Daryl had no idea where she had got it or how she had put it on so quickly.

"It... It's real," Delores said in a deep, growling, panic-tinged voice as she pinched and prodded at her face.

"Uh," Daryl's grin of amazement faded slightly, knowing that she must be joking but also noting that the emotion in her voice sounded genuine. "Delores? Are you serious?"

"Yes! Oh god, help me get it off!" The tone convinced him; whatever might be really happening, Delores was terrified. She grabbed the fur on her cheeks and neck, tugging it hard. "Ow! Help!"

Daryl rushed over and tried to take her hands. "Don't, I'll help. Delores, I..." Daryl ran his fingers through the fur on the back of her neck and head, looking for a zipper or other fastening. Instead he found only warm unbroken skin. He slid his hands down the back of her dress, looking for where the fur ended. It didn't. "I..."

"Daryl, what..." She coughed and tried to clear her throat, but her voice remained guttural "...what is it?"

"Is this a costume?" Daryl demanded, sounding a little alarmed himself now.

"No! It just happened!"

"Okay, let's just stay calm here..." Daryl tried to slow his breathing and collect his thoughts. "Let's work this out."

Delores was only half listening; she was staring at herself in the full-length mirror she had been trying clothing in front of moments earlier. She felt a weird sort of dissociation, as if she were looking at someone else; a victorian wolf-woman. But it was her, she could see herself in those dark canine eyes. She felt a sudden powerful need to get the clothing off, both to see what was underneath and because it was suddenly so damn uncomfortable. Even moreso than before, when it had at least been bearable.

She began fumbling with the laces and buttons, her hands feeling clumsy and unfamiliar and the claws getting in the way worse than her nails had when she had tried growing them long last year. Daryl tried to help, but she shoved his hands away with a snar l that surprised both of them; she was having enough difficulty on her own, and didn't want him getting in the way. "Sorry," she apologised immediately.

"S'okay," Daryl replied, but stepped well back. He was feeling rather unnerved by all this.

She managed to undo the dress down the front, and pulled it open. She gasped. There was more fur, the thickest yet, but her physique had also changed. She looked much more muscular and athletic, thick-bodied though still identifiably feminine. The corset had burst, but not catastrophically. Even more urgently now, she wriggled and shrugged out of the rest of her clothing, this time letting Daryl help her pull it over her head. They stood and stared, Daryl at Delores and Delores at the mirror.

It was no costume, that was almost certain now. Delores' legs would have had a hard time fitting into it. Though her overall leg length hadn't changed the proportions had; her feet were almost 18 inches long, while the rest of her leg had shortened somewh at. She stood balanced on the balls of her large feet with her heels raised and her knees slightly bent, and was quite comfortable that way. But most conclusively, for Delores at least, was the tail; she could feel her grip when she held it and there was no way a costume could do that. In fact, her entire skin felt too 'real' from the inside; it was clear to her that the only things she was wearing were her watch and necklace.

Daryl and Delores sat silently in the den, not knowing exactly what to do. After Daryl had helped Delores down from the attic, Delores had put on a loose shirt and Daryl had given her a pair of boxer shorts; she had put them on backwards, slipping her tai l through the fly. Then they had sit down to try to think of something to do next.

"Should we, uh, call 911?" Daryl suggested tentatively.

Delores snorted. "I'm not sick, I'm transformed. What could they do?" Despite her low, inhuman growl Daryl could tell that her brusqueness was a cover for fear.

"Good point. But we've got to find someone to help us out here, perhaps if we look in the yellow pages..."

Delores shook her head emphatically. "No, I don't want anyone seeing me like this. Not until I can be human again, at least!"

Daryl squeezed her pawlike hand reassuringly. "Don't worry, honey. Let's just think about this some more first, then. Uh... you haven't been bitten by wolves recently, I'm sure we'd have noticed that. Has there ever been a history of this sort of thing in your family?"

"You mean lycanthropy? No. But... the moon was full last night, wasn't it?" Delores perked up. "Perhaps it's just ordinary lycanthropy! Thank god!" She seemed genuinely relieved.

"You... you think you're really a werewolf then?" Daryl asked uncertainly. He'd never had any reason to think his wife was a werewolf before, and he was fairly sure he would have noticed something like that. Delores obviously hadn't either, until now at l east.

"Well, just look at me! And then there's the moon, and it's halloween for god's sake! That has to be it, right?"

"Okay," Daryl said, still dubious. "I suppose that might be it. But why is that such a relief?"

"It means I just have to wait for sunrise, or moonset maybe, and I'll be human again!" She laughed. "Oh Daryl, I was so worried!"

Daryl smiled weakly. She had occasionally mentioned liking werewolves in the past, and of course she had wanted to go to the party disguised as one, so perhaps this really wasn't so bad. "You're sure you'll change back, though?"

"Definitely, werewolves always change back. Whew!" Delores' relief was palpable, and her mood was suddenly buoyant. "It's amazing, I was so worried I might be stuck like this, but one night is okay. One night is great! I've always wanted to try something like this, if I could."

"You're feeling all right, then?"

"All right? I feel great! I want to enjoy this, I don't know how long it will last." Delores got up and stretched, testing her muscles and rubbing her skin.

"So... do you want to go to go to McAllister's?" Daryl grinned at that thought; it was exactly what she had wished for just moments before this had happened. Then his grin faded slightly. "I wonder..."

"No way," Delores interrupted, and pulled Daryl to his feet. "I'm not wasting this on a stupid ball." Then, dispensing with further explanation, she kissed him firmly on the lips.

Daryl just stood there, stunned. Delores had caught him completely by surprise, and her muzzle wasn't well suited for kissing either. She quickly realized this and broke off with a laugh, then hugged him instead. Daryl hesitantly hugged her back, still a little confused but regaining a little responsiveness. "Delores, uh," he began to object.

"Shhh," Delores whispered in his ear, "I really want to try this out, if you don't mind?"

"Uhhh," Daryl responded uncertainly, then shivered as Delores gave his earlobe a light lick. He ran his hands up her back, rubbing her skin through the fur with his fingertips, and realized that he was quite curious himself. "Okay," he replied, a slightly goofy mood coming over him. It was a guaranteed one- night stand, right?

Delores woke late the next morning, snuggled against Daryl's side, slightly hung over but still feeling good. Last night had been incredibly fun; she'd never felt so free in her life. She had worn poor Daryl out trying to keep up with her wild night, and it hadn't just been the sex, either. She'd discovered other joys of having a werewolf's body; running at night dressed only in her fur, the incredible richness of smell and taste, the incredible eroticism of a good lower back rub, the sheer heart- swellin g feeling of howling for no reason at all. It was fortunate that their neighbours lived some distance away, or there would definitely have been police called. It was almost a pity it was over, she thought, though she still didn't want to have been trapped that way. Delores sighed and opened her eyes.

Daryl was abruptly awakened by her scream. "What! What is it?" He cried as he jumped to his feet, and then he saw the cause; Delores hadn't turned back, and the sunlight streaming through the window indicated it was nearly noon already. He saw that the fe ar was back in her eyes, even worse than before.

"I'm still a werewolf!" she screamed. "It didn't wear off!"

Daryl winced and tried to calm her down. He silently cursed himself for getting as distracted as he had last night; he'd known her conclusion had been too quick and too good to be true, and should have thought about it longer.

With her initial panic finally back under control, Delores sat on the edge of the bed and Daryl sat next to her. "Oh Daryl," She sobbed, "now what do I do? I wish I'd had a little self-control!"

That reminded Daryl of the idea that had occurred to him moments before he had become somewhat distracted. "Delores? What if you aren't actually a werewolf?"

"What else could I be?" She demanded. "Just look at me! I'm going to be this way forever!"

"Shh, shh, it's okay. No, I didn't mean physically. I mean how you became this way."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you remember what happened just before you changed? We were up in the attic digging through the crates of your grandmother's old stuff. And then you said 'I wish I was a werewolf,' and a second later you were. Could you have found, I don't know, so me sort of magic artifact that grants wishes?"

Delores thought back, trying hard to remember. Then her lupine face lit up; "The necklace! I'd just put it on!" She leapt to her feet and ran out of the room, Daryl only catching up with her after she had reached the attic and squatted down to start diggi ng through the pile of clothing she had discarded earlier. Her tail wagged hopefully as she rummaged, then after a moment she cried out in triumph and held up the necklace with the emerald setting. "I wish I was human again!" she spoke quickly. Nothing ha ppened.

"Here, let me try," Daryl said and took the necklace. "I wish Delores was human again!" Again, nothing happened. Daryl examined the necklace closely for a moment. "Maybe it only grants one wish," he speculated.

"Oh no!" Delores moaned.

"Wait, just stay calm for a moment. Let's try to think." Daryl rubbed his eyes and thought back. "Your exact words... what were the exact words of your wish?"

"Umm... I wish... I wish that..." Delores mumbled, unable to recall.

"I think it was 'I wish I could go to the party as a werewolf'. Yes, the party was definitely involved. Oh no," Daryl stopped in sudden realization.

"...What!?" Delores demanded at last.

"You haven't gone to the party yet, so the wish is unfulfilled. In order to grant your wish, you're going to have to stay as a werewolf until you do!"

Delores and Daryl looked at each other for a second, then simultaneously rushed downstairs for the phone. Delores reached it first, but had trouble pushing the buttons with her claws and passed it to Daryl. He dialled.

"Hello, Steve? It's Daryl... yeah, sorry we didn't make it to the party, something unexpected came up. I'm wondering, though, is it still running?... Oh. Okay... yeah, we'll definitely make it next year... Sorry... Bye."

Daryl hung up, defeated. "It's over," he said slowly. "And the next halloween party is next halloween."

"You mean... I'm stuck like this for an entire year?"

Daryl nodded. "I think so."

"Oh." Delores remained silent for a long time, thinking. She was stuck, it seemed, for a long time. But it wasn't permanent. "I guess... I guess I'll be going to the party as a werewolf next time," she said at last. "I think I can make it. I'll jus t have to adapt, keep out of sight until then..."

Daryl hugged her tightly. "We can make it," he told her, and she nuzzled his neck gratefully. He scratched her lightly on her back, and Delores grinned as her tail curled slightly. I'll probably want to be human again by next halloween, she thought to herself. But the McAllisters put on their party every year, as long as I can still change back I guess there's no particular rush...

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