Carter smirked as he felt the change come upon him. Sheriff by day—and a damn good sheriff, too. He almost singlehandedly kept Rancho de Dios County the safest, most law-abiding county in the entire Republic of Texas. No cattle rustler or stagecoach robber would dare cross into Rancho de Dios, lest he join the three dozen or so whose necks had already been stretched by the man the Austin Chronicler newspaper had called the "One-Man Anti-Crime Machine."
But, ah, when the full moon arose, and the change came upon him . . . Carter had given up long ago deciding whether this was a curse or a blessing, a horror or a joy that every month for two or three nights he would turn into a four-legged hunting and killing machine, the power and senses of a wolf combined with the cunning of a man.
And now the change. Oh, the sense of coiled energy, of power! But moreso, the hunger. The hunger, sharp, agonizing, as if his human form hadn't fed in a month. The actual killing was fun, the bloodlust enjoyable, but it was the sating of the physical hunger, the absolute need to devour warm, twitching flesh, that drove him on these nights.
And so this night the hunt began. Food was sometimes difficult to find, though far from impossible; the Texas hill country was sparsely populated, and his hunts frequently took hours. Cattle were the food he usually had to settle for, but he preferred to satiate his hunger on the odd human. It was a relatively safe menu, because, well, wild animal attacks were not unknown out here, were one of the risks one took in pioneering the west.
But suddenly as he topped a small hill, his mouth began to water almost before his brain realized what it had seen: two men on horseback, sauntering past him on a barely-discernable dirt trail at the bottom of the hill. One was on a big white horse—ohh, Carter thought, what a TASTY white horse that would be! Killing the two men would be easy . . . then a quick chase and the white horse was his. The other horse, the small dark one, would wander around masterless all the following day and would be Carter's dinner the next night.
His man-brain bade him be quiet, but his wolf-brain could not suppress the growl of satisfaction as he leapt from the hillock down toward the two men.
The man on the white horse spun in the saddle, drew his pistol and fired with a speed that Carter, in all his years of both being a gunslinger and having faced the best gunslingers, had never seen. There was a burning sensation, and in the fraction of a second before all went black he felt his body hit the ground. There was one last millisecond of wonder—in his wolf-form he was immu . . .
The two men looked down from their horses at the body which, as they stared, changed in the weird moonlight from a wolf to that of a man.
"I've never seen anything like that in my life," the man on the white horse muttered. "Have you?"
"Mmm," said Tonto. "My people call it 'wujaka.'"