Sunday, November 18, 2012
Her ivory teeth flashed beneath curled lips.
"Be patient," she said coolly, scarcely more than whispering, "Be still."
The trees around her whooshed their concerns, chattering as the wind danced past them. It had been years since she'd felt a breeze against her skin.
A tremor skipped down her spine. The earth stopped, and there he was, as promised, emerging from the brush. His teeth were bared, eyes narrowed, sending an unspoken warning to the Two-Legged that stood before him. His grand paws landed softly as he crept closer. A low growl rumbled from behind his clenched jaw.
"I knew you'd come," she breathed finally, opening her arms in recognition. With a sour glare, she added, "Cool it, Skinwalker."
The bold move was enough for him to tear her to pieces, but he resisted, balancing steady on lithe limbs. Wait, wait, he repeated internally.
"There's trouble even we can't suppress anymore. We need your help."
The urgency in her voice calmed the carnal instincts screaming inside of him. Even the putrid scent of human flesh settling in his nostrils would not push him to attack until she'd made her case. He remained, coiled - ready, desperate to succumb to his most savage instincts once her pleading was decided unworthy. But that time did not come. Not this time.
Liam's snarl faded.
Liam's long, lithe limbs carried him gracefully through the dense wood. What little information he had been given was enough to send his most primal senses soaring. Without thinking - for in his animal form, he could scarcely reason - he let out a low growl - a threatening presence rippling through him. Barely skimming the ground as he moved, he made no sound. He was invisible amongst the trees.
When he reached the edge of the woods, he drew to a halt and sat back on his haunches. The fur along the scruff of his neck stood on edge as he gazed out into the open suburbs of his hometown.
Old rusty bikes lay strewn across carelessly overgrown lawns. The houses were small and close together, with few windows and poor paint jobs. A few driveways had cars in them, but not many.
After a moment of watching, listening, waiting, when he was convinced he was alone, Liam turned his back to the quiet street, and he Shifted.
Where wolf had been, boy now stood. He crept over to an old evergreen tree where his clothes hung, and he dressed quickly under it's immense branches. His fingers subconsciously reached for his throat. Knotted around his neck was a suede string with a single charm dangling down against his chest. He touched the tooth, just to check - to make sure it was still there.
Walking on two legs now and with half the grace, he ambled along the sidewalk towards a shanty gray house. The outside garden was rich with color, though you could hardly see it in the moonlight. The weathered burgundy door creaked eerily open, and Liam slipped into the darkness of the foyer.
"Mom? Alyssa? I'm home."
His mouth twisted into a wry smile. The crisp air around him carried with it a distinct scent of Man – of mortality. Perhaps it was his instincts – his heightened senses – the call of whatever it was he’d inherited – eating away at his humanity.
Liam was, by no means, a unique person. He was average at best, and ordinary in every attribute. But when he Shifted, he was strong; he was powerful, graceful and fierce. He became a Protector and a soldier as he became inhuman.
Months ago, he had been “normal.” He had been a mediocre student with no athletic capabilities and a handful of average-seeming friends. The Change had terrified him when it had come. He had awoken with a start as the clock had read 3:12 am and the city lay sleeping. Burning sought shelter in his throat as his vocal chords were shredded and regrown. His gums ached as teeth tore through the soft flesh. A shudder rippled through his body while his bones extended and warped, facilitating the shape of something unfamiliar and new. An animalistic strength surged through his veins, pulsated with the steady beating of his enlarged heart. After the pain had subsided, Liam found himself inexplicably canine, and inexplicably alive. Where fear had settled in the pit of his chest, relief now swept through. He felt peaceful – subdued.
Just as quickly as it had come, the metamorphosis dissipated. Exhaustion swept over him instantly, and he lay against the cool wooden floorboards drenched in his own sweat. Liam soon drifted off into a strange, dreamless sleep.
In the morning he had awoken to find his sister standing over him, screaming, mortified at the sight of his nakedness. Try as he might, he could not explain his peculiar state, or the shredded clothes around him, and so his mother, sister, and doctor attributed it to sleepwalking.