“The Destroyer,” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, appears in Stolen by the Fae, the 6th volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.
I discovered the house during one of my last crazy full moons. Nestled in the trees at the very edge of my twenty-acre territory, the house was small, white, with big windows and a large porch. In the back, a barn no longer used by cows, but still smelling of them, and to the side, a garage for a single car that seemed to be the only vehicle that used the dirt road.
I collapsed in old straw in that barn, beneath rotting eaves, and slept off wounds from my inadvertent partying. I was terrified by my own lack of control; I knew if I didn’t stop fighting over females, I would end up like the old black tom that I repeatedly chased off the hill. He had only one ear, no fur on that side of his head, and a white orb in place of his eye that occasionally oozed. He could still fight—and did, every full moon—but afterwards, he never seemed to recover.
He was in that barn too. Normally, just coming off the full-moon crazies, I would have killed him, but I was too tired. Besides, when I was myself, I rather liked him. That night, we actually talked like equals—alphas who worried about their prides. He confessed he had only seen two more summers than I had, that once he’d been as strong and powerful and terrifying as I was.
And then he said the thing that changed it all. He said, had he to do it again, he would take the Bargain.
The Bargain—offered, they say, only to what the humans call “feral” cats, not to the pampered indoor variety. Once a year, cats of a certain age—no less than two, no more than four—got to try being another creature for 24 hours. The easiest to become were the ones we knew: dogs, horses, cattle.
Only no feral cat chose human. Except the old black tom.
—from “The Destroyer,” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in Stolen by the Fae
New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award.
Publications from The Chicago Tribune to Booklist have included her Kris Nelscott mystery novels in their top-ten-best mystery novels of the year. The Nelscott books have received nominations for almost every award in the mystery field, including the best novel Edgar Award, and the Shamus Award.
She writes goofy romance novels as award-winner Kristine Grayson.
She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction River, published by WMG Publishing. She acts as series editor with her husband, writer Dean Wesley Smith.