Zondadari never ceased to be filled with dread anticipation before the transformation.
In the privacy of his secluded Maltese villa he stood on the stone balcony, dressed in black leather, his shoulders draped with a cloak of the same colour and material. Very theatrical, but appropriate. As the pains filled his chest and raked across his back, he hunched forward, his fingers grasping the stone hand-rail for support. Mediterranean fir-pine trees cast their deep velvet shadows onto the balcony, concealing most of the pale yellow moon. Shadows were his friend.
Slowly the organic material of his clothing pressed against him, even into him, taking on the contours of his large muscular body. A straying wild bird flew over and shrilled and then darted away quickly, discouraged by the unholy smell that emanated from him during his change.
One day, he feared, his heart wouldn’t hold out against the battering it took.
Coherent thought shimmered. He started seeing double; then multiples of everything. Disoriented, he lowered himself down on one knee. It would be a few minutes more before he would be able to control the numerous images.
Small gaping flesh-red mouths, with razor-sharp teeth, appeared on the surface of his body. Disproportionately large furry ears flicked out at all angles and black beady eyes glistened all over him, like a constellation of the devil.
Five minutes of harrowing pain passed and already he was separating, literally coming apart. With an unpleasant sucking sound, dark shapes peeled off from the form that had been a man. But he was a man no longer.
With a flick of thin yet deceptively strong leathery wings, the freed bats broke away from each other and landed on the balustrade.
The shape-shifting was complete. His mind was the sum of these forty-six creatures. He could see through the eyes of a single animal or perceive separate images through all of them. They did his bidding – because they were him in every sense. Every sense.
The hunger was upon him again.As one, the bats flew up into the night sky