The Curse of the Were-Penis
by Emily C. Skaftun
Since the night of the blackout, Hal’s penis had been different.
For one thing, it was bigger and darker than it had been before. Hal couldn’t explain it, but then he hadn’t really tried. When Internet research failed to turn up anything but porn, he’d concluded that it probably wasn’t an STD, and that was good enough for him. He didn’t like to dwell on the half-remembered incident in the park.
Hal also noticed—but ignored—changes in his mood. So what if he was hornier than usual? It didn’t affect his everyday life. He still went to his crappy job as a telemarketer, staring at his close blank cubicle walls and shivering in the office’s too-aggressive air conditioning. He still played God of War, and ate Chinese take-out. He still engineered ways to bump into the girl who lived across the hall, then chickened out before asking for a date, like he’d done since moving in almost a year ago.
None of this prepared him for the throbbing in his penis that woke him a few weeks after the blackout—four weeks exactly, though Hal didn’t realize it. He was used to wood in the morning, but that morning he was more like iron, skin stretched so tight it hurt. Still half-asleep, he wiggled out of his shorts and tried to jerk off, but he couldn’t seem to get ahold of himself. His penis seemed to be ducking him, weaving away from his grasping hand. Hal opened his eyes and sat halfway up. Indeed, he saw the thing bobbing around as though it would like nothing more than to break free from his body entirely and go inching away along the floor, after what he wasn’t sure.
Hal had always hated the stereotype that men thought with their penises; he liked to believe that he, not his body parts, was in control of his desires. Today, though, he had to admit that his penis had a will of its own. It strained, tugging itself at the root. It had changed more too. It was bigger than he’d ever seen, purplish in color, and—most shockingly—covered in hair. Overnight his pubic hair had thickened, twisting about the shaft in tendrils that reached halfway to the head.
Again Hal tried to touch it, only to have it dodge out of the way. He sat up, fully awake now. Using both hands he cornered the beast, drawing a circle around it until, with a shock of pleasure and acute pain, he held his shaking organ in both hands. One shimmering clear drop appeared on the tip, and with relief Hal thought he was about to come. He moved one hand up to the head, squeezing it in a practiced manner. Eyes closed, his whole self tensed anticipating release, but what he felt instead was a sharp, stabbing pain in his index finger. He opened his eyes quickly, surprised to see blood and a flash of something white disappearing back into the head of his surly penis.
If he didn’t know it was impossible, he would have thought the thing bit him.
In fact, impossible as it was, Hal did think it. He tried to sweep the thought under the rug with all the others, but he couldn’t imagine away the blood now dripping from his finger onto his sheets, and he couldn’t shake the sense—impossible!—that when it lashed out his penis had made a sound. Crazy as it seemed, Hal’s penis had hissed at him.
Hal’s panic took a subdued form. He was afraid of what his penis had become, and his first thought was that he needed help. He had the phone in his hand, dial tone bleating, before he had the second thought: who could help him? Whatever was happening wasn’t normal. A doctor wouldn’t know how to fix it. His cut-rate insurance probably didn’t cover it. So though he felt panicked inside, he forced himself not to act on it.
Hal called in sick to work. He felt as though another being had taken residence between his legs. A hostile being. Even with pants on, the bulge of his angry penis was conspicuous. He thought staying in was the best policy.
The day passed slowly, filled with video games, reruns of Law and Order, and pacing through the cubicle of his apartment like a trapped rat. Hal’s penis throbbed like a finger crushed in a car door, and sometimes, disturbingly, he thought he heard it snarling. Viagra ads, with their warnings about erections lasting four hours or more, seemed to mock him.
At dinnertime, still unable to leave the house, he called for pizza. When the knock came on his door he opened it a crack, peering around the door with his body behind it. He was alarmed to see that the driver was female, but his penis was excited, pulling toward the door like an unruly dog on a leash. Like a divining rod to water, his penis ached toward the woman on the other side of the door. It thrashed so violently under his clothes that he worried it would finally break free. He had to stifle the urge to yell at it as he would a misbehaving animal, and it took all his control not to tug it down or shift his clothes to conceal the riot underneath. He managed it though, out of fear. The wound on his finger had healed without a trace, but he remembered the pain. Once bitten, twice shy.
And then Hal felt a change. If he’d had a mirror, he might have noticed subtle changes all over his face. His eyes shone a little more than normal, an icy, supernatural blue. His skin was smoother and his shadow of stubble manlier. His nose was a little more Roman and less crooked. In short, he had become more handsome. He radiated an aura of irresistibility, like the star of an Axe Body Spray commercial. He opened his mouth, and the penis spoke through it. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world,” it said. Hal thought it was exaggerating quite a bit, but then, he didn’t really like blondes.
The delivery girl’s cheeks turned the color of the Pizza Now! baseball cap that strained to contain her curly hair. “Um, thanks. That’ll be $10.76, please.”
Under the direction of his penis, Hal took the pizza box from her, sliding his hand under the hot cardboard until it met hers, then lingering. The girl—Mandy, her nametag said—blushed even deeper. To Hal’s surprise, she didn’t pull her hand away. “Would you like a drink?” he asked.
“I have to drive,” she said. “I’m working.”
“Work can wait,” Hal heard his voice say. He put his arm around her and led her into his apartment. As he shut his door, he thought he saw movement behind the little window next to the door across the hall. But he closed that thought away.
Hal set the pizza on his kitchen counter and poured two glasses of whiskey. Mandy looked dubiously at her glass, then at Hal, before shrugging and tossing it back. Then Hal reached over and pulled the baseball cap off her head, and she shook her curls free like a sexy librarian. Hal was smiling, and that much, at least, came from him.
He was pretty sure it was the penis’s idea to kiss her, but he didn’t argue. To his great surprise, neither did she. Before long he’d taken off her rayon Pizza Now! shirt, and her rubber-soled shoes, and her khaki trousers, and then she herself slipped out of her panties and bra. Hal was glad about the last one, because ever since he’d tried to get to second base with Lisa Clark in seventh grade he’d had a fear of unclasping women’s bras. Mandy pulled Hal’s shirt over his head, and then he turned out the light before removing his pajama pants. He didn’t know if the penis’s teeth were currently bared, or if it even really did have teeth, but he couldn’t bear the thought of Mandy running away now, when he was so close.
In the dark, Hal’s hands found Mandy’s shoulders—how smooth her skin is, he thought—and he pushed her to the floor a little more roughly than he meant to. She gasped, but Hal could tell it was pleasant surprise, anticipation, not displeasure. His hands tested all the textures of her body, taking their time. These seemed for the moment to be under Hal’s control.
His penis, however, wasn’t waiting for foreplay. Like an animal, it sought out its quarry with single-minded determination, burrowing into Mandy and pulling Hal down on top of her after it.
Again she gasped, surprised. Hal held her close, pulled forward and back by the penis’s thrusting. He felt like the God of Sex, an unstoppable force that could achieve anything in the world. He felt free. When the climax came, it was different from any Hal had experienced before. Instead of one moment of release, he felt a hot sensation spreading from his penis slowly into the rest of him. It was unusual, but it was also the single greatest pleasure he’d ever experienced, and it kept coming.
Hal moaned in ecstasy, hoping this strange backwards orgasm would never end, when suddenly he saw the change in Mandy.
Her gasps had turned to yelps, and now, as he watched, to screams. She struggled under him, trying to push him away. Hal’s mind wanted to let go, pull out, make it right. But Hal’s mind wasn’t calling the shots. He held her tighter, as her screams grew in intensity, using one hand to seek out the TV’s remote control. The laugh track of some sitcom soon drowned out the pizza girl’s cries, and if there was a shadow of a face at his own little window, Hal didn’t notice.
Hal woke with a scream in his ears. He sat up quickly, only to discover a pounding headache. What had he done last night? Had he been drinking? He couldn’t remember the specifics, only a memory of rapture like he’d never imagined. Pleasure, and horror. Perhaps it was a dream.
Hal did remember most of the previous day. The strange, hungry penis, playing God of War, ordering pizza . . . and then it faded out. Sitting in bed, Hal was afraid to lift up the covers and look at his penis. It didn’t feel alive, but he knew the thing could surprise him. Finally he gathered his courage and threw back his blanket.
The blood shocked him. It was all over his penis and his legs and his belly, dried and flaking. But it looked wrong somehow: too red, too dynamic. It may have been the light, but to Hal the blood seemed to sparkle, tinged with threads of rainbow. His sheets and blanket were smeared with it. His underwear was nowhere to be found. Under the unusual blood, though, his penis was back to normal. If anything, it looked smaller than he remembered.
Shakily, Hal stepped out of bed and cleaned himself off. His stomach rumbled with the intensity of a mama bear defending her young. Not another rogue body part, he thought. But it had been a while since he’d eaten. Or at least, he couldn’t remember eating. He went into the living room, and was confronted with more of the shining blood, dried in a puddle on the floor. For a moment he paused, disturbed and intrigued, but then hunger got the better of him and he went past the blood into the kitchen. A pizza box sat on his counter, and when he opened it he found that it was untouched, and totally cold.
Oh well, he thought, separating a slice from the rest and taking a bite. An old saying popped into his head: Pizza is like sex; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
Hal didn’t like to think about what might have happened to him on the night the lights went out. He had avoided thinking about it for four weeks now, to the extent he could, but the blood on his floor and in his bed was difficult to ignore. Something had happened last night, and something had happened to him out there in the park.
He remembered the moon, full and bright, plenty of light to see by even without the sodium glare of the streetlights. Inside the houses and apartments, people had dug candles and flashlights out of forgotten corners, and the flickering light bounced out of windows onto the street. But no matter how many candles Hal lit, his apartment had felt like a cavern. Restless shadows made all his furniture eerie, menacing. The four walls closed in.
It had been a relief when he remembered his mother, alone in her old house. The new cordless phones only worked with electricity. Perhaps she needed something and couldn’t call.
He remembered walking down leafy streets. He’d cut through the park, and there he’d met . . . someone. The memories that followed were chaotic, incomplete, painful, but still sensual. Just thinking about it made him flush, made his penis—the traitorous thing—harder than had any porn he’d ever downloaded.
He didn’t like to think about who he’d slept with in the park, and he certainly didn’t think about what it might have been: man, woman, or monster. He didn’t dwell on whether to call it a fling, or an encounter, or an attack. He’d remembered more than enough already, and didn’t care to push himself any further.
And so, he thought, scrubbing the shimmering blood off his floor, I won’t. Hal hummed loudly, cultivating amnesia.
He had barely finished scrubbing when he was startled by the doorbell. The doorbell ringing was decidedly not a part of the routine life Hal was trying to get back to; aside from his mother and his blank-faced coworkers he knew few people, and none of them dropped by unannounced. His was a cubicle world; even away from work he felt the blank walls confronting him, circumscribing all his possibilities.
He went to the door and peered through the fisheyed peephole at a woman’s distorted face, framed by a mass of curly blonde hair. The events of the previous night came back to him in an instant, hitting him like a bucket of cold water. He remembered her screams, the blood trickling out of her even as his penis, sated at last, licked its lips and curled up for a post-coitus sleep. She’d run out of his apartment crying.
And now she was back. Hal couldn’t make out her expression through the peephole, but he was sure it wasn’t friendly. He wondered if she’d heard him banging around in the apartment, seen his silhouette moving behind the curtained window; could he pretend he wasn’t home?
“Hal, honey,” she called. “Open the door.”
Hal could detect no malice in her voice. He was still skeptical, but also intrigued enough to open the door a crack. The instant he did, though, the door flew open, bashing him in the forehead and knocking him off balance. He staggered backward, his hands drawn to his face. So he was only vaguely aware of a hand coming toward him before it grabbed him by his t-shirt and he was pulled, roughly, into the hallway. Hal found himself backed against the wall, held almost off his feet and pinned. He looked into another face, distorted this time with rage. The man’s eyes held an expression that was almost lethal.
From his left, the pizza girl’s face loomed into Hal’s field of vision. “Hal,” she said, “meet my brother, Max.”
In response, Max tightened his hold on Hal’s shirt, shoving him against the wall again. Despite it all, Hal’s only thought was about her eyes—had they been that blue last night? They radiated a primal power, like sapphires pulled straight from the earth.
Looking at him coldly, she said, “I told Max about some of your behavior last night, and he got a little angry.”
“Mandy!” Hal yelped, seeking her strange eyes over her angry brother’s shoulder. “I was so worried about you after I saw the blood on my sheets and floor today. Are you okay?”
Her eyes widened, twitching back and forth between Hal and Max. Then without warning Hal found himself pinned by the pizza girl instead of the brother. She was strong, freakishly strong. “Look,” she hissed in Hal’s ear. “I don’t know what that sparkly fake blood shit was, and I don’t want to know. I don’t want to talk about it, either. You’re a pervert, and a rapist, and”—she paused, turning away—”Max?”
She stepped aside and before Hal could squirm away Max held him with one hand, slugging him in the stomach with the other. Between the wall and the fist, Hal compressed, folding over like a car bent around a telephone pole. Then Hal didn’t know exactly what was happening, except that all of it hurt. He was on the floor trying to roll himself up for protection like a pill bug, but explosions of pain kept hitting him, seemingly from all directions. A part of him knew it was their feet, Max’s and Mandy’s both, kicking him mercilessly.
After a while it stopped, and Hal lay curled into the fetal position. He looked up cautiously, and flinched when he saw Max’s big face leaning down toward him, with the girl right behind. “Stay away from her,” Max said. “Or else we’ll have to visit you again.” He faked a punch toward Hal’s face, making Hal cower. A twisted grin spread across Max’s face. “I think he understands.”
“One more thing,” the pizza girl said, her voice now sweet and innocent. “I don’t want you ordering from Pizza Now! anymore, either. Got it, sweetie?”
Hal managed to nod. Sensing an accord, he began to relax a bit. Which was when she kicked him right between the legs.
Unable to breathe, Hal writhed on the stained hallway carpet. He was dimly aware of Max and the pizza girl walking down the hall, hopefully never to return. Yet as bad as the pain was, he knew he deserved it. Or at least his penis deserved it. It was too bad the monster had already gone, leaving only Hal’s defenseless wang.
Hal was lying in the hallway, curled up like a shrimp, when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and saw the face of an angel: it was the girl from across the hall, peering into his face with a look of real concern. “What happened, Hal?” she asked. “Who did this to you?”
Hal just shook his head. He’d never been this close to her before, but her gaze felt unsettlingly familiar, and her soft fingers made him shiver. He pulled in a ragged breath.
“Is anything broken?” she asked, reaching toward his face. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”
Hal shook his head again, feeling a little better. His guts still ached, along with much of his body, and he could feel blood on his face, but he was at least able to take in a breath. He didn’t think there was any permanent damage.
“Okay then,” the girl said. “Let’s get you into your apartment and clean some of this up.” She shifted her position so that she could get an arm around his shoulder and help him up. Half supporting him, she led Hal into his apartment and shut the door behind them.
Hal didn’t know if it was Florence Nightingale Syndrome or what, but he and the girl from across the hall—Karen—immediately started dating. It felt so right so fast that Hal couldn’t believe he’d never asked her out before. How could he have worried she’d say no?
For nearly four weeks they were inseparable. They went to the movies; they went out to eat; they stayed in and played video games. They stayed in and fucked like bunnies. When she was there, Hal’s walls didn’t feel like barriers; together their possibilities were limitless.
Toward the end of the fourth week, Hal’s penis started acting up again. It was bigger again, and hairier, and this time Hal knew what it was capable of. He was preoccupied with worry all throughout his dinner with Karen, absentmindedly pushing food around and pretending to listen to the story she was telling about . . . something. Dogs, maybe? All Hal could think was that Karen was the best thing ever to happen to him, and he was about to lose her. She didn’t have a big brother, but if his penis did to her what it had done to the pizza girl, Hal figured the best he could hope for was a breakup, and the worst was prison.
“Karen,” he said, interrupting her. “I just remembered I have to go to my mom’s tonight. It’s our monthly card night.” He thought it was a pretty good lie, off the top of his head. Karen was surprised, but she said she understood, and with that settled Hal was able to participate in the conversation, pushing thoughts of his morphing penis to the back of his brain.
They were walking home when Hal looked up and was struck cold by the sight of the full moon. His penis throbbed with recognition, bulging against the front of his jeans, and suddenly he saw his future with utter clarity: every full moon his penis would transform into the hairy beast. It would take him over with its demonic thirst for blood, making him do monstrous things to satisfy it. In the end, he was sure, it would drive away every woman he would ever try to love, leaving him lonely. It would make him commit atrocities for which he’d be imprisoned or killed.
He had a were-penis, and it would ruin him.
For the moment, though, he was only concerned with one woman. When they kissed goodbye between their doors Hal’s penis was already straining toward her, pulling on his pelvis. It took significant effort for him to turn away from her and go into his own apartment.
And then he was stuck. He didn’t want to really go to his mother’s house, because the thought of what his penis might compel him to do there was enough to make him sick. But he also didn’t want Karen to catch him at home, and she only lived a few feet away: close enough to hear if he put the TV on, and to see if he had the lights on. So Hal sat down in the dark, and soon he drifted off to sleep.
He woke to the sound of his door opening. Hal’s first thought was that he was being burgled, but then the overhead light came on and he found himself blinking at a familiar figure in the doorway: Karen.
His penis took over instantly, pulling him up off the sofa toward her. “Hello there, beautiful,” he said, running his hand through hair that seemed softer than he remembered. Even as he said the words, Hal thought they sounded slimy.
Karen didn’t seem startled at all. She looked at him with eyes that shone through Hal’s light-blindness. “I was hoping you’d be lurking here,” she said, a throaty lilt in her usually clear voice. “Even though you said you’d be at your mom’s.”
Hal wanted to yell at her, tell her to get out before it was too late. But he couldn’t. “I was thinking of you too,” he said, placing one hand on the side of her face. “I couldn’t stay away.” He struggled against the mental pull the penis exerted, managing to add, “But why are you here?”
Karen smiled. She looked into Hal’s face, again made handsome by whatever force animated his nether regions. She advanced on him, and Hal feared she’d been snared by the pull of his enhanced charm. “I just wanted to see you,” she said. “I was hungry.”
She kissed him, and even as he slipped his arms around her and pulled her wonderful body toward him, the voice in Hal’s head was screaming, run! He felt panicked, wide-eyed with alarm, though he knew his face was calm externally. He slid his fingers under Karen’s shirt and lifted it over her head. A look like pure melted sex in her dark eyes, Karen did the same for Hal.
The rational part of Hal’s mind knew fear, but the rest of him couldn’t help but surrender. Even if the penis had let him, Hal didn’t know if he could have stopped. Despite knowing he was about to hurt the woman he loved, he was in rapture. He hated himself. He hated his penis.
Hal ran his hands firmly down the length of Karen’s now-naked body. Reaching behind her he flipped off the overhead light, plunging them into semi-darkness. Then he unbuttoned his jeans and set the monster free. They bumped against the kitchen counter and the beast inside Hal grabbed Karen and bent her over the counter. Like a heat-seeking missile, his penis pushed into her, and the resulting explosion was one of pleasure. Karen gasped, breathless, and Hal moaned, howling like an animal.
Deeper and deeper he pushed into her, and she began to moan with a curious mix of ecstasy and pain. It wasn’t a sound Hal had heard from Karen before, but it struck him like a suddenly remembered dream. All at once the night in the park cam back to him in stark, bloody detail. Those moans, those shining predatory eyes—they were the same ones he looked down into now, watching him with a hunger that matched his own. He remembered suckling at the breasts now beneath him, tasting the glimmering clear fluid that flowed out of them, the same strange fluid he’d seen come out of his were-penis.
It wasn’t Karen anymore. Or rather, the woman before him was as much Karen as he was Hal.
Inwardly, Hal reeled with the shock of recognition. He tried to push away, but his arms responded half-heartedly, only rocking him back against her at a new angle. Meanwhile she reached for him with nails that seemed like claws, pulling him down on top of her writhing body. He could do nothing to resist it, even if his horror had outweighed the blissful firing of his every nerve.
Hal closed his eyes in acquiescence, but not before he glimpsed two sets of glistening teeth opening between the red lips of Karen’s perfect, hardened nipples.
When it was over Hal and Karen sank to the floor, each sighing with release. Hal wasn’t sure what had happened. He didn’t know if he’d hurt Karen, or if she’d hurt him. His chest felt raw and his back was lined with long stinging scratches. They both lay covered in blood—or whatever unholy fluid it was—that shimmered like viscous mercury.
“What are you?” Hal asked when he’d regained his breath. He sat leaning against the kitchen counter, looking down at Karen. She looked normal to him now, the mouths of her chest closed tightly, the cold fire in her eyes extinguished.
She propped herself up on one elbow, leaning like a nude in a painting. She grinned, and for one horrible moment Hal thought he saw an evil sharpness to her teeth. But then it passed and she looked once again like his angel. “I’m the only one for you,” she said. “And you’re all mine.”
Hal knew it was true. She was the only woman who could love him every day of the month, whom he could never hurt. Hal also knew that it was wonderful, the best thing that had ever happened to him. It was the fantasy he’d nurtured since first seeing her smiling at him from across the hall.
Hal’s penis seemed to sigh contentedly between his legs.
Yet Hal shivered. The walls of his cubicle, though beautified with her image, seemed closer than ever.
About the Author
Emily C. Skaftun is like a cactus that longs to be hugged. A graduate of Clarion West, her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Ideomancer. She is currently at work on a second novel, which will hopefully surpass its big sister novel by one day being published. Or at least they can keep each other company in their spinsterhood.
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