“Let’s get some jobs,” my friend Molly said without looking at me or Amy.
“I can’t do anything,” I said.
“We could do something together,” Molly said. “Like open a store.”
We all agreed it was a good idea and put our clothes back on, which we had taken off to go for a swim in the lake.
We had no money to buy a building for our store, so we cut down trees with our fingernails and stacked the logs to make a cabin in a muddy clearing about half a mile from the lake. We had nothing to sell but ourselves, so we made a sign from a strip of Amy’s white pants and our blood: Sex for $100.
For two weeks, the only people we saw were families of campers. We sat in front of the cabin sunning ourselves under the sign. Mothers screamed and shielded their children’s eyes as if we were demons. Their husbands stared.
Then, in the third week, we saw a man, a shirtless backpacker in khaki shorts. He hiked with a tall stick and wore a blue bandana around his neck. His shoulder-length hair was bleached from the sun, his skin tan and wet with sweat. Molly pulled down our bloody sign and stuffed it in her pants.
“What are you doing?” Amy screamed.
“Hiding the fact that we’re sluts.”
“Okay,” Amy said. “That’s a good idea.”
I started running toward the salty man. Molly chased after me and grabbed me by the arm. “Act natural,” she said.
“I am,” I said.
Molly and Amy sat down cross-legged. I scooted next to Molly, stretched my legs in a split and leaned forward to show this man how flexible I was. I kept stretching until he stopped in front of our cabin. We were all looking down like we didn’t see him standing there.
“Oh,” I said, looking up. “Hello, sir.”
“You just go for a run?” he asked.
“Why do you ask that?”
“Because you’re sweaty and stretching.”
“Can we help you with something?” Amy said like he was bothering us.
He told us that he had been camping with a group of friends, but they were attacked by a lion one night. This guy got away because he had been masturbating about a quarter-mile from the campsite when he heard the screams. He finished masturbating and then climbed a tree and stayed there listening to his friends die. The next morning, this guy went and got his backpack and hiking stick and started walking.
“So from now on, every time you come,” Molly said, “you’ll probably think about your friends getting killed by a lion.”
“I hope that doesn’t happen,” he said.
“Let’s find out,” I said. “I’ll have sex with you for $100.” I stood up and leaned against the cabin with one hand, stretched my quadricep with the other.
“I don’t pay for sex.”
“Okay,” I said. “Then I’ll do it for free.”
We went inside the cabin for privacy and he got on top of me. It was boring actually, so boring that Molly and Amy had been peeking through the doorway but decided after two minutes they would rather go look for berries. He only took another two minutes after they left; he roared like a lion as he came. I wasn’t coming, so I had my eyes open, and I saw his long hair turn rough and stick out from his head in a mane. He pulled his dick out of me with a force that threw him against the muddy floor.
His body grew coarse hair all over. He opened his mouth in another roar so I could see his teeth grow long and sharp. He pounced toward me as his hands and feet padded out into heavy paws. “Oh no,” I said.
Fully transformed, he circled me, still on my back on the cabin’s floor, my sweat sinking me into a puddle underneath my body.
I tried to scream, “Help,” but it came out a whisper. I propped myself up on my elbows but couldn’t see beyond the lion, who had stopped circling and stood purring in front of me. He moved in closer, and I could feel humid breath on my skin. He licked my arm with his strong, sticky tongue, then my stomach, pushing me deeper into the muddy floor. I started to rub the mud all over my body, thinking I could trick this lion into thinking I sunk into the earth. He saw what I was doing and started to help, putting his paws in the mud and then on my body.
I was covered in muddy paw prints when Molly and Amy walked in the door with a handful each of some purple berries, juice dripping down their chins like vampires. They screamed and dropped their berries when they saw the lion patting my body with his paws.
The lion roared and turned to face them.
“No,” I said. “Don’t hurt them. They’re my friends, remember?” The lion turned back and flashed a sharp-toothed smile. We went back to covering my body with mud. Molly and Amy joined in, and we all played in the mud until we were covered from heads to heels. We giggled and rolled around until our sides hurt. The lion laughed roars as he pawed us around like balls of girl-yarn.
In the morning, we woke up covered in dried mud and curled against the lion like a litter of nursing cubs. We yawned and stretched, bathed in the lake, and made a new sign for the store. This time we wrote on my white T-shirt in blood: Get rolled in mud by a friendly lion: $50.