“’You know, violence is never the answer,’ I whispered in the Thug’s ear, making him jump a foot in the air. Unfortunately, he held onto the knife he was threatening a young lady that, let’s say, he’d rendered into a state of indecent exposure. I didn’t particularly approve of his idea of a good night out, and decided to be a Good Samaritan and stop him from ruining someone else’s.
Turning round, the thug decided to threaten me instead, his scarred knuckles clenching the knife tightly.
‘Get out of here before I cut you, prick!’ He growled at me. I responded with a winning smile, which seemed to only exasperate the man further. He took a swing at me with the knife, so I caught his wrist, and, applying pressure, forced him to drop the weapon. The unfortunate young lady took this opportunity to run past me and into the street, hopefully to somewhere safe.
The unruly gentleman, who, now that I think about it, did have a slight stink of cheap whisky about him, took a swing at me with his other fist. Thinking quickly, I responded by slipping to one side, pushing on his shoulder and making him stumble into the wall of the dank alley. Quite unfortunately, he slipped, landing heavily on the floor, hitting his head with a resounding crack. I took the time that he was unconscious to call the police, you arrived, and here we are.”
The Police Officer looked at me from across the table. It was not a happy look. It was the look of a man who disliked having to do paperwork at 11 o’clock at night.
“Mr. Chambers, while the victim does agree to your statement of coming to her rescue, the man whom you assaulted tells the story quite differently. Apparently you grabbed him, and slammed his head into the wall repeatedly, until he blacked out. Now, considering the state of him when we arrived to the scene, your statement, and the woman you were defending’s statement, I believe we can let you go. We may need you to return at a later date, for more interviews, or to appear for a witness statement.”
Smiling, I thanked the officer and headed out of the interview room, the police station, and onto the street. Crossing the road, I headed into an alleyway. Once assured that there were no homeless people waiting amongst scattered rubbish, and that the darkness afforded me reasonable protection from the prying eyes of the street, I flowed from one form to another. I became slimmer, fat being absorbed into taut muscle. Tawny fur with smoky gray stripes slipping out of my pores. My face narrowed, and my jaw shifted forward, bringing my mouth and nose together as my ears climbed steadily upwards, finishing as pointed triangles on top of my head. My hands shifted almost imperceptibly, my fingers widening as retractable claws slid out. This took place over the time of an agonising minute, an almost pleasurable slow shudder of pain. I nearly forgot to slip off my shoes before they stretched or broke.
My sharp claws dug into bricks and mortar alike, thrust through with unnatural strength, and I climbed slowly. One movement at a time, I clambered onto the roof, and became free to roam around my hometown.
As I leapt around the rooftops, wind ruffling my fur, I reveled in the smell, sounds, sight of my town at night. Racing rapidly homeward, faster than I could approach by car, I cast my thoughts backwards, into memory, remembering the first time I changed like this, terrified and exhilarated all at once.
We were on a field trip, visiting a zoo. It was so fun, running around with my friends, seeing all the animals. That’s when I saw him, Trent; I think his name was, the smallest kid in our class. He was trying to see over the fences, get a better view of the lions. I was running over before I even knew, dashing towards him as his foothold slipped, and he fell straight in, dropping almost on top of the male lion. I didn’t pause to think, just vaulted the fence, landing in front of the younger boy, who was silent with shock. The lion let out a coughing growl, and I stared into its merciless eyes. Raising my arms, fully aware of the frailty of my young body, I shouted at the lion, as the world distorted into startling clarity, blues and greens flashing to vibrant life before my eyes. Sure I was about to die, I screamed at the lion. And, amazingly, it took a half step back, suddenly unsure. I stayed still, standing in front of Trent, who had begun to sob quietly behind me. I don’t know how long I stood there, facing the lion. The next thing I remember was a strong arm wrapping around me, and carrying me from the lion’s den.
They sent me home early, and I went to my room. I was on my bed, lying over the covers, fully clothed, shock stopping me from thinking, from acting. As I stayed there, time flew, and darkness claimed my room, sunlight no longer hitting my small window. And then it started. The itching. That same vivid coloration, blue and green growing brighter, even in the darkness. And the itching, growing worse and worse until I ripped my skin with my nails. And then I entered pleasant darkness.
Standing up from my bed as I woke, I looked into the mirror, staring at the feline lines of my face, the tawny golden fur with dusky grey stripes hiding within. My eyes, vertical slits cutting through the luminescent green, took in all of this in incredible detail, showing me the play of air currents on my thick fur. Staring at the mirror, I placed my hands on it, and my hard claws clicked against the glass. I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and turned to my window. Sliding it open, I slipped out with fluid grace, my new claws somehow naturally finding weak mortar as I climbed to the roof. Spotting the house next door, the roof a few meters away, I ran for a jump few thirteen year olds would have dared try. Reaching the edge of my roof, my toes curling lightly over the lip, I leapt. And I was flying, soaring through the air, and landing perfectly on all fours on the neighbors’ house. I let out a ululating howl of triumph, a screeching roar that reminded me of the hungry lion. And then I ran on, into the night, reveling in the freedom of the rooftop jaunt.
Oh god, that was a good day, way back then. The first time I found felt free of a mother I saw as oppressive, a father who wasn’t mine. I became strong, fast, useful. I could help people, save people, and look good doing it too. I grew up with pictures of the SVRA teams everywhere, knew exactly what getting powers meant, what it meant I HAD to do. So I did it, my own way. No way I was giving up new found freedom, not even to join a super team. I learned to fight, which wasn’t hard, not with my skill-set. And I learned when to run, and circle back. It was fun, and it was four years of intensive self training. I grew up, and fast. There were rumors about me, some good, some bad. I felt like a badass, a superpowered crime stopping machine. Of course, I wasn’t really, but pride does go to ones head. And of course, with pride, comes the fall.
I cringed away from that memory, ignored it, shoved it down. Pain, and fear, not something I wanted to relive. Not when I do in half my nightmares. So I buried it beneath sensations, the wind in my fur as I flew across the rooftops, gaining speed with each leap, each thud of the ground against my feet. My eyes, spotting vivid colours in the dark of night, locked onto the lit windows of my house, my open window, and I leapt, crossing the street in a blur of motion, and dived into a forward roll through the small space. I shifted back as flew through the window, becoming clumsy, slow, weak. Deaf, dumb and blind, I thumped down on my bed, my heart beating fast, purging the adrenaline rush from my veins. I looked at my nightstand, the cup of still warm cocoa there, left by my mom, with a note: Stop sneaking out, Stephen. ❤
Grinning to myself, I sat up, picking up the cocoa and drinking from it in deep gulps, grateful for the sugary heat as tiredness caught up to me. Putting it down half finished, I collapsed, fully dressed, onto the bed, and slept, entering the dreams behind my eyes.
Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, my stride eating up pavement, my heart leaping into my throat. A sudden, deafening crack, and I stagger, before pushing onward. The man with the gun, shouting at me, shaking her roughly by the hair. I roar, becoming more bestial, shifting to all fours, my tail whipping out behind me as my clothes rip off my back. I cover the ground faster, take two more hits to the body, and leap at him, yowling my defiance, knocking him down. And slamming his head against the ground. The woman screamed as my charge knocked her away, but the man was silent, our blood mingling as his flowed from his skull, leaving him. I locked eyes with the dead man for a moment, before racing off into the night, away from the man I’d killed.
Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, dodging the bullets I knew were coming. The man threw the woman away from him, taking up a better shooting stance. I roared at him, taking a shot in the chest as I leapt into him, smashing his head into the ground. My blood mingled with his, as his life left him. I screamed in rage, fleeing the man I’d killed.
Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I forced myself to stay humanoid, ducking into a tackle at the last minute, driving him off her and forcing him to release her grip. I felt his breath leave him as I hit, and he went down, hard, his skull thunking dully against the ground, which was soon painted red with his blood. Why, why couldn’t I stop killing him! I roared, leonine, furious and afraid, and leapt at a wall, fleeing to the rooftops to escape the murder scene.
I woke up, sweating and screaming, as a cool, gentle body hugged me, rubbing my back. I leaned into the hug, crying softly, as my mother patted my hair, held me, and made everything alright.