The beat becomes more intense as the drums take up speed. Fire flickers in the middle of the circle. At this moment, it is the center of the world. Darkness around them is complete, absolute, impermeable. The dancers follow the beat, shaking and swirling, and the stars above them mimic their movements. The air is sweet and warm and clings to the naked bodies.
Goen are the moments when they felt strange and uncomfortable. This is like a huge family - no, it's better, they are parts of one large spiritual organism. The drummers are hardly visible, only their hands glow at the fringes of darkness. They are the only ones wearing clothes, long dark robes with hoods and dark red sashes. Some toddlers are staring at everything around them in amazement. The older children are sitting in the middle, chanting in a language no adult understands. And the adults are far beyond the point of understanding anyway, twitching and twisting their limbs. Until one person, nothing special from her looks, raises her arms and silence slides over the group.
"We have gathered to welcome Christine into our circle." The voice is warm and soft, like molten butter. As the person steps closer to the fire with careful movements, the shadows in her wrinkles grow darker, and highlights flicker over her body. "Christine, come to me."
A younger woman steps into the circle. Her eyes are glassy, her steps somehow insecure. The first waves of power have washed over her, and her brain is desperately trying to cope.
"Christine, you'll find your inner guide, your true nature."
The drum beat starts again, slow and whispering at first. Seductive.
The young woman takes the beat and makes it her own rhythm, moving slowly and as if she was under a spell. Her movement has its own grace, a strange moving pattern, as if the intentions of the spirit and the body parts had not gotten used to each other yet.
Christina is in a far-away part of her brain, giving herself over to the drums. Part of her sees the fire, smells the sweat on the naked bodies, feels the dry ground beneath her feet. Most of her simply exists. Experiences. Learns. She has fur, claws, a long slender tail.
Without realizing it, she starts to purr.
The circle have taken up their own dance, always surrounding Christina and the other woman. The other woman is watching the scene with a secretive smile.
Cats play. They cuddle. They fight and hunt.
Christina has long gone and will not be back until the morning. The muscles in her arms tense as she digs into her prey, and warm liquid spills over her delicate hands. The circle has fallen quiet, except for the hysterical sobbing of one mother.
She is a cat. Cats hunt.