An essay by May Hayashi, as provided by Laura Duerr
Art by Justine McGreevy
“So! You’re May, right? What do you do?” Brianne asks. She’s standing a little too close, hanging on to every word I say, smiling nonstop like she’s in conversation with her very best friend.
I manage to not roll my eyes. Weredogs.
She latched onto me the moment I arrived at this networking event, identifying me (correctly) as an introvert who did not want to be at said networking event and assuming (incorrectly) that I just needed someone to talk to. Her name is Brianne, and I expect her shapeshifter form is a golden retriever or something similarly friendly and nonthreatening.
I haven’t been able to tell if she knows I’m also a ‘shifter. The uncertainty makes me more anxious. Plus, since this is the eighth time tonight someone’s asked me what I do, I feel an increasing urge to answer truthfully:
“I turn into a housecat and prowl the streets hunting evil spirits.”
“Oh, you’re a ‘shifter too? Cool!”
“Technically, I’m a necromantic ailuranthrope. You’re a golden retriever, right?”
“Oh my God, how did you know?”
Casual sip from drink; present business card; profit.
“Right now I’m a barista,” I say, “but I’m looking for admin work.”
“Oh my gosh. I was a barista all through college, and I loved it,” Brianne gushes. “You meet so many interesting people!”
I still can’t figure out if she’s identified me or not. Subtle mockery of a cat ‘shifter’s introversion is a time-honored pastime of dog ‘shifters. We make fun of them in return, mocking their simple work and light responsibilities (they’ve fallen far from the tree of, say, their Armenian ancestors, who could resurrect dead warriors by licking their wounds), but we do so privately, to the one or two associates we work most closely with. I haven’t interacted with a dog ‘shifter in years, but it’s likely Brianne hasn’t run into any cat ‘shifters recently, either. There aren’t very many cynanthropes in the city because it’s harder for them to move around unnoticed, and ailuranthropes keep to heavily populated areas, where our prey is more common. Weredogs keep people happy; my sisters and I keep them safe.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2017 collection.
May Hayashi is a necromantic ailuranthrope and admin assistant living in an overpriced studio in Snoqualmie, WA. She holds a BA in Mass Communication and studied necromancy under noted (within ‘shifter circles, anyway) Seattle ailuranthrope Ursula Alexander. She partners with Brianne on a regular basis, fighting evil spirits all along the I-90 corridor.
Laura Duerr is a writer, social media coordinator, gamer, and reader living in Vancouver, WA, with her husband, a rescue dog, and more cats than she’d like to admit. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Linfield College. Her other work can be seen in Devilfish Review and on her blog, Ruby Bastille.
Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.
“Grimalkin and Hound” is © 2017 Laura Duerr
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Justine McGreevy