Ragbag Rumble

Red Rock 
#1
Tonight was... different. It was a sensation she couldn't pin down. There'd been a notable lack of jitters, no restless sighing or huffing in the back of her mind from a dog eager to be set free onto the scrubby landscape of Red Rock. Strange, and might have been unsettling if she were left to her own devices tonight. However, just like every Full Moon that landed on a School day, she dropped Jonas off in the morning, made sure he knew the plans to carpool with his friend to soccer practice, and trusted the nanny to pick him up after school and take him home, where she was being paid double to stay the night. The rest of the day was spent at work, then lingering around the EM with the other members of the Band that sought out companionship in the hours before the full moon making its appearance.

The companionship had kept her from thinking too deeply on it, allowed her the excuse of being surrounded by others to explain away the overwhelming sense of... normalcy. Still, things were quiet, even as they made their trek out to where they had designated as a starting point. She was still there, the dog, Heidi could feel her. But it was as if she were sleeping, curled into the corner of her mind, shrouded in a shadow that Heidi couldn't quite squint past. No amount of inward coaxing could shake her toward the surface, and the further the sun crept from the horizon, and the higher the full moon climbed... the more anxious Heidi found herself. Something was off.
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#2
 Catching on to all the little signals and realizations of her newfound closeness with the trash dog in her head had been interesting and honestly, sometimes, frustrating. Her human employees at Shift Happens felt like aliens sometimes, species from a whole other planet that couldn't even begin to comprehend her language. Microwave dinners and bottles of tequila had lost their shiny appeal. Normal women no longer enticed her.

 Then, today felt like a missed step on a new, muddy path - like she'd hit a slick puddle instead of a stepping stone and didn't know where she was. There was a jarring disconnect between herself and the otherness of her brain. No desire for touch, a rekindling of the itch for a tall drink. It left her feeling hollow and misplaced, tense with uncertainty, like GPS had led her a thousand miles in the wrong direction.

 Out in the cool, moonlit dirt, there was no fervent tingling of anticipation. No metaphysical yapping or ground-slapping, nothing driving her into cajoling or banter. She kept quiet as she walked wide, sloppy circles through the scrub, grinding down the remnants of a straw between her teeth.
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#3
Today had been strangely easy at work. Not that it was normally overly hard, but it had just gone very smoothly.

And now, out here with the band, waiting as they often did for the moment where it felt right to give in to the sway of metaphysical animals, Eli found himself without much pull for it. Or really... any pull. With the experiences of his reasonably long were-life, he knew instinctively that for all this felt good, it... probably wasn't. Though why or what was going on, he wasn't sure.

Was it just him?

He'd catch the nearest set of eyes, trying to silently gauge if they were having the same sensation. From where he sat, cross-legged and frowning, all he knew for sure was that no one had shifted yet.
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#4
Meanwhile down the road aways stood a naked man in his pat. Cross armed and tapping his foot as one hand idly toyed with the hairs on his chin. What jesus crack in my skull did you find to hide in you little rascal? Come on, now! Out with you! It was a strange but not unpleasant night and Remy was in his usual good spirits, only he felt at ease in a peculiar way despite the circumstances of the moon lifting and the rat dilly-dallying like it was.

Some time passed before he fetched a beer from his fridge and wrenched the cap off between his fingers. Then he sat his arse down on a log bench and reclined. Had a swig. Well alright then. It's not like I ain't got all night. Then a thought. Don't tell me you're pouting in there? Look I miss the other rats too but sulking ain't going to do us no good. The rat never stirred, and so Remy quietly sipped his beer and bided his time.
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#5
 She cleared her throat as she came over, looked from one face to the next and tried to get a read on the weird tension that seemed to coil tightly around the Band. "Sup, no one lost their shit without me?" Seemingly surprised as she looked from one to the next and rubbed her hands together. "... You guys okay?" A little more serious now as her own beast nosed and pushed for its peers.
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#6
The thump of the driver's side door marked the end of his journey as a period ends a sentence. But the sound was not a definitive snap, ringing out across the landscape like the crack of a shotgun. It was a muffled thud, announcing him with as much pomp and circumstance as a thief in the night.

A week earlier he had packed Heather away; sent her off with a chunk of the money that had meant to see him comfortably into Christmas. In her absence he had gone about his pre-moon routine as he always had, with the slow, winding intention of ending up in Red Rock by the thirteenth.

Halfway across barren Nevada he noticed the dog's quietude. Before, the mutt had felt restless and eager to be back. But the closer he came to Mountainside, the less he felt the coyote's presence, and by the time he reached the outskirts that itch in the back of his skull had all but disappeared; replaced by an all encompassing wash of calm as though he'd slipped into a bath.

He felt almost human.

At first he thought nothing of it. A similar sense of well-being had overtaken him during the last full moon when Alex found her crown. But as he wandered to the agreed meeting place and the moon rose, the creeping nausea and urge to climb out of his own skin never came. Like a verruca, resisting treatment for years before an unannounced departure, he began to entertain the possibility that he had somehow shrugged off the illness that had hounded him for the better part of a decade.

A fragile hope, one that shattered as he came across the rest of them; bathed in moonlight and still inexplicably human.

'Wasn't any need to wait on my account.' A grin he did not feel passed from one face to another, trowelled on in a bid to disguise his disappointment and unease. Alex received the brunt of it; a silent request to know what on earth was going on.
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#7
Well, in the very least, it didn't seem like she was alone. All of them were standing around as if they were waiting on something, all frustrated and uncomfortable. Heidi crossed her arms over her chest, which was clothed in a thin tank top, her bottom half in a pair of pajama shorts. Easy, cheap things to shirk during shifts, inconsequential if they got destroyed. Alex came over to wonder at what they were waiting for, and Heidi frowned toward the Queen as she rolled her shoulders free of the tension that gathered. "Somethings off." She said, peering inward at herself to search for the suddenly meek coyote.

And then, the approach of a familiar face. Nice of him to make his return with such timeliness. Heidi regarded him with a tight line across her lips, not at all in the mood to entertain his grinning or joking. "Doesn't seem like anyone can shift." She said to Alex once again, her hands falling so that she could flex them at her sides, moving to pace idly, uncomfortable and confused. This... hadn't happened before. There was no reasoning for it. She knew the dog wasn't gone completely, but she sure was doing a good job at trying to convince her as such.
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#8
 There was a certain mark of calm that came with what she was, a type of collected that felt strangely watered down. It stood to reason that perhaps it carried on in the lead-up to the full moon. And while she was smart enough to know herself enough to tell it was off from the norm, it was a settling sort of dread to realize that, no, Alex, it was not 'a queen thing'.

 "Well ..." Slow to speak as she looked up at the sky overhead and tried to negate her own unease from registering all the way across her face. "It's probably just a fluke, this sort of stuff isn't an exact science or -" She looked to Fletch, pleased at least to see that the man was no worse for wear. "How long has everyone felt this way? All week?"
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#9
 It wasn't usual or advisable, but Hendrix wanted to try his hand at shifting alone tonight. Pushing the boundaries of that unspoken rule, he made his way to barely trafficked spot, parking his car with just minutes to spare. He got out, got ready, but the pull never game. His spine stayed rigid and straight, his bones didn't bow and his skin did't stretch.

 Was this some effect of the band? Of Alex? He'd shifted without them before, but never on a full moon. Worried, he cursed and dressed again, getting back in his car and driving towards their usual spot, arriving late.

 The discomfort was tangible, and Hendrix's frown deepened as he walked towards it. The band was still human, confusion making a pass at everyone's face. Half of him thought that with all of them together it would click and the shifting would start, but he was mistaken. "Normally I can hardly keep myself together during the day waiting for the moon run but I've felt fine all afternoon."
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#10
 Kai remained mostly quiet, wandering aimlessly still, to and fro, glancing at each person as they spoke. Shit was weird, seemed to be the general consensus! "All day," she chimed in shortly, biting her thumb shortly after on accident. She'd meant to grind down on another bit of straw! And even the aggravating pain and surprise of that did nothing to stir the stupid dog in her head!
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#11
When his efforts to make light of the weirdness went down like a gunned duck, Fletch shrugged, sniffed and tugged at his nose.

'Just today, aye.' He tossed his two cents in with the rest with a kind of careless indifference. One look at Kai or Heidi said their inability to shift troubled them deeply; Kai paced like a caged animal, and Heidi looked so tense and brittle it was a wonder the breeze didn't snap her temper. Personally, he would have been all too happy to skip that month's scheduled torment. But airing this opinion amongst a group who welcomed and relished the shift now denied to them was likely to have been as well recieved as his joking.

'These kind of flukes happen often, Gobs?' One, skeptical brow rose as he looked back at Alex. For how clockwork and inevitable life as a shifter seemed to him, their wise leader was awfully keen to extol the disease as inexact, unquantifiable, and random. Colour him unconvinced.
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#12
It wasn't as if... well, if she were free of the dog, she wouldn't complain. The comfort in her own skin as a monster was likely similar to a Stockholm syndrome type relationship, one where you had no choice but to get used to it and find the silver linings. There were plenty, just as there were downsides. But, this wasn't her suddenly finding herself cured. She had a feeling it would feel different than that. She felt human in the sense that the dog was not scratching at her brain, but her body and mind were strong and sharp as ever. She did not feel weaker, and the pain she'd dealt with daily before her turning was still very much absent. And so, they were all faced with something new and alarming, a reminder that the natural magic that they were all forced to adhere to was fickle and unpredictable. Who knew the consequences of tonight? Possibly only the moon herself.

"Today." She'd say in answer to Alex, first, then went on to speak to Fletch's question, perhaps out of turn. "There was an eclipse, two years ago, I think. When it hit, it felt... like this, sort of. Human for a day." She shrugged, sighed and looked to her bare feet. "This feels more like stage fright."
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#13
Eli was quiet.

Fletch showing back up was nice--his absence one that had been noticeable even without frequent and solid contact. Wondered where he'd gone, but didn't ask, merely nodded to the man when their gazes happened to catch. Alex seemed confused, and he supposed... they all did? His dog was normally a still and stern sort, but this was particularly stony, as if there was no life in him whatsoever.

He didn't add any input, everyone else covering it. Heidi, in particular, seemed to be thinking what he was thinking, with the eclipse. That had caught him, too. But that wasn't on a full moon, and that had been a complete severing. This was almost as if someone was trying to smother them all.

Stage fright was a good analogy.

He stood and walked a little further from the group, but without reason to go further than a few yards, eyes out towards the moon almost suspiciously.
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