There I was, running as fast as I could in my human form. Trying to somehow escape the trouble that I’d gotten myself into, but it was hopeless. And I knew it, but I ran anyway. I made a sharp right turn into an evergreen forest trying to throw them off my tail so I could get back to base without risking anything.
The men who were chasing me were dressed similar to policemen, but they weren’t the good guys. They were armed with neutralization guns with bullets filled with a liquid that would put you to sleep. They had on bullet proof vests that had the letters G-S-H. They Stood for “General Shapeshifter Hunters”. That’s exactly what they did. They hunted shapeshifters, like myself, and experimented on them. Luckily, they hadn’t gotten ahold of any of us yet. Otherwise they could use their knowledge to capture us all.
I changed into a cheetah and zig-zagged around the trees, but that didn’t work either. Just as I was about to change into a field mouse and try hiding from them, I was shot in the shoulder blade with a dart. I used every last bit of energy I had left to get as far away from them as possible. And the next thing I knew I’d hit the ground unable to get up. I was losing consciousness. The last thing I remember was hearing was the calls of the men and the commands that Mathew called to the gang.
“She’s waking up!” I heard Willow’s faint voice say. It sounded like she was so far away. My head was throbbing and my whole body felt limp. My eyes flickered open, but all I could see was a blur. They finally adjusted and I started to realize my surroundings. We were at our base, a decent sized den that we’d dug for ourselves to hide in.
“That was a close one, Adira. You’ve really gotta be more careful the trouble you get yourself into.” Mark said.
“Yes, Mother.” I picked up my head and joked with him. But my smile faded when I remembered the dream I had when I was asleep. I laid back down and stared at the ceiling.
“Had that memory dream again, huh?” Willow read my mind. I nodded.
Ever since I I could remember I'd dream about my past. I never had a family. My parents had left me at a park when I was only five. And it wasn’t some accident, they didn’t want me. For years I stayed at that same park and I waited. The regulars started to bring me food because they noticed my situation. The park was at the very edge of town and there was a wood near it. I’d go there and play with the animals when I was bored. They were my only family. When I was around ten I started to realize my powers. The love I had for land animals triggered a magic in me that gave me the ability to transform into any land animal I pleased. One night when I was fourteen I made a terrible mistake. Normally before transforming at night when no one was around I’d walk the area and make sure no one was watching me, that night however, I didn’t. A G-S-H stood hidden in the shadows with a camera while I took the form of an owl. From then on I was hunted by them. I couldn’t hide because they knew how to pick me out from the rest of the animals. My left leg was always pure white.
Mathew spoke up with his back to me. “Adira,” His frustrated tone said. “You put us all in danger. Again.” We were both seventeen and we were the same size, but he had a way of making everybody feel like he was the leader.
“I’m sorry, it was an accident.” I mumbled and sat up against the wall.
“It’s always an accident. You notice the responsibilities you have, don’t you?” There was that lecture he had given me so many times before. I looked over at Willow beside me and started silently mocking him and his adult like attitude. She giggled and did the same.
“I had it under control. They never would've gotten me, I’m a Mètamorphe Porderosa.” He pulled a dart out of his pocket and held it up for me to see.
“That’s right. You are a Mètamorphe Porderosa. You’re supposed to lead us into safety not a lab.” I knew he was right. And it tore me up.
I left base, jumped and changed into a hawk. I flew as fast as I could trying to fight the tears that threatened to come. I could barely hear Willow’s hoof beat over the wind as she racedc after me. I landed swiftly in a tree branch and tried hiding from her. Willow’s beautiful gold color and dark main shown in the sunset like magic. Hiding didn’t work very well, she found me and changed back to her human form at the bottom of the tree. Stupid white leg.
“Adira, please come down! Mathew was just over reacting!” She called up to me. Seeing that the branch was strong enough to hold me I changed into my original form and called back down to her.
“He wasn’t over reacting and you know it! Just go away!” I didn’t really want her to go. I needed somebody to talk to. I looked down into her crystal blue eyes and was reminded of how we met.
One night four years ago I was trying to get to Mississippi farther away from the G-S-H that were on my tail. I was trying to follow the back roads as a racoon as hidden as possible. That’s when a black van passed me, knowing that they would come back around to find me I’d jumped a fence that led into a pasture and changed into a white horse. I noticed that there was only one other horse in the pasture and she wasn’t coming to check me out so I decided that I was gonna go check her out. I trotted over and she turned her back and started walking the other direction. That’s was not normal horse behavior, they were a very social species. Knowing that she must be a shifter like myself I trotted up to her side changed form and put my hand on her side. She instantly changed form as well.
“How did you know?” She spat.
“I have my ways. But we need to hide. Fast!” I glanced over at the van lights that were pointed at us.
“Follow me.” She changed back into a horse and galloped towards a barn. “Why did you lead them to me? Do you know how much I’ve lost because of the G-S-H? Do you know how many years I’ve hidden from them?” She glared at me once we were safely hidden in a stall and in our human forms.
“No, but I assume you’re about to tell me. Listen I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. I’ll probably be out of here by dawn or sooner, okay.” Before she could answer I snapped my fingers and changed into a mouse. I was about to scurry into a hole in the wall when she stopped me.
“Wait, you have two animals?” I changed back.
“No, I have all of them.” I grinned and started rapidly changing into all kinds of random species. She gasped and fell on one knee.
“Please, except my humble apology. I had no idea you were a Metamorphe Porderosa.”
“Get up.” I smiled and offered her a hand up. She got up and we shook hands. “I’m Adira.”
“I’m Willow.” She smiled back. From then on we’d been best friends.
“I’m not going away!” She called up to me. I scurried down the tree as a squirrel and met her at the bottom in my form.
“I’m scared, Willow. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” I could feel warm tears roll down my face. “And Mathew hates that I’m a Mètamorphe Porderosa. He hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you. He’s just like you. He’s just as, if not more scared than you are. Remember when we met him?” He was…” She didn’t say anymore. She didn’t have to. We both remembered when we’d met Mathew.
Willow and I had just gotten done with mowing a couple lawns two years ago. We were walking into an Olive Garden. With the money we earned we were finally going to eat decent. They sat us down at a two person table and we immediately drowned ourselves in conversation about things like the G-S-H and what we were going to order. The waiter came and asked for our order.
“Aren’t you a little young to be working at a place like this?” Willow asked the waiter kind of rudely.
“I’m fifteen and my dad owns the place. Now what would you like to order?” He took our orders and left. Just as he was about to enter the kitchen two men were seated next to us.
“Nuts.” I muttered when I realized the men were G-S-H. Willow and I quickly exited the building and ran around back behind the dumpsters only to find that the waiter who took our order was back there as well. His face was etched with pure fear. I nudged Willow when she was probably about to make a comment about the waiter. I had to find another spot to change form in since this boy was here. Before I could move an inch my ears caught the sound of footsteps coming toward us. We didn’t have any time.
“Willow, now!” I didn’t even bother to try and stay quiet. Willow changed form and I quickly mounted her. We were about to take off at a gallop when the waiter stopped us. Immediately knowing from his lack of shock at Willow’s transformation and his hiding from the G-S-H that he was a shifter I dismounted Willow.
“What are you?” I asked him quickly.
“Do you have to know?” I gave him a we could just leave you here look. “Okay fine, I’m a tortoise. Not embarrassing at all.” He said sarcastically.
“Perfect.” I smiled. “Meet us at the river a couple miles south of here.” I told Willow and she took off at a gallop towards the river. “changs form. Now!” The G-S-H stepped behind the dumpster and were now starting to shoot at us. I changed into an eagle, grabbed his shell with my talons and started flying as hard and fast as I could. When we were safely at the river we had the waiter explain.
“My name’s Mathew and I got my power from my love of reptiles. My family breeds snakes, tortoises and lizards. I had to run away from home to keep them safe from the G-S-H. I got a waiting job at Olive Garden as a cover up.” We started traveling away from the G-S-H together from then on.
“Yeah,” I muttered. I couldn’t tell Willow the truth about how I felt. “I need some time to think. If you need me I’ll be at the stream.” I told her as I changed form and flew off. I sat at the edge of the steam. Its water trickled through rocks and curved through turns. Dusk had come. The crickets chirped and a coyote called in the distance. I looked up at the star filled sky and thought about our gang. How we fit together so well. I thought about the G-S-H and how we would eventually escape them. I thought about how my friends all had families to go back to afterwards. I knew that when the G-S-H were off our tail the. I would lose the only family I’ve ever had. That’s why I got into so much trouble. The gang thought it was just me fooling around and not being careful of the G-S-H, but the truth was that I purposely kept us only one step ahead of them. My friends deserved a family and I shouldn’t get in the way of that. I flew back home slowly and entered the borrow, but as I looked into the eyes of the gang, Willow, Mathew and Mark, I knew that I couldn’t lose another family.
“Alright, you can do this, Addy,” I breathed. “Just act as much like an animal as possible.” It was dawn and I was about to do something extremely daring and kind of stupid. I changed into a deer and ran right out in front of the G-S-H that were searching for me. They immediately noticed my leg and started shooting. I ran and dodged like my life depended on it because it did. A sharp pain suddenly came in my left leg. My white leg. That was not part of the plan. My form changed by itself. I was human again. Not good. All I could do was watch as several men came up and cuffed my hands and feet and dragged me into their vehicle
I groaned as I woke up to the sound of Willow’s voice.
“Adira! Adira! You have to wake up!” Her voice rang in my head.
“What?” I groaned again.
“Wake up! You have to get us out of here!” Her words hit me like the dart and I was suddenly aware of my surroundings. I was locked in a cage and Willow was next to me. I went to grab the bars and ask what was going on when something stopped me. I was chained to the floor. “You’ve gotta change, Adira. Anything that has small enough arms and legs that you can slip through those cuffs and_” She stopped when two men walked into the room.
“We’ve hit the jackpot here, boss. See this one? He’s a seventeen year old boy without a record. He’s a fruit bat. This one over here’s called Mathew Henix. He’s also seventeen, but he has a record. We’ve been searching for him for about 5 years now. He’s a Texas tortoise. And see this one? She’s a little devil. Been looking for her for about seven years now. She’d also seventeen and she’s a Buckskin horse.” The first man stopped talking and glared at Willow.
“How about this one? She looks…promising.” The second man gave me an evil grin.
“Oh, that one,” He forced his attention off Willow. “She’s seventeen. She has the biggest record of all of them. She’s been seen as dozens of different kinds of animals, but when we took her blood test it showed that she was totally normal.” He shrugged and then started glaring at Willow again.
“And you say you’ve tracked them all over the country for years?”
“Yup. Sure are clever little kids.”
“They’re not kids, they’re animals. They’re mutts! But they sure are worth quite a few bucks.”
“I take that as a compliment, thank you.” Mark gave the second man a fake smile.
“Shut up, bat!” His loud voice echoed off the walls of the small room. “Now, what did you say they were each worth?” They walked out of the room.
“Now, Adira.” Willow whispered when we were sure the men had left. I tried to change into a gecko, but it didn’t work.
“Any day now, Adira.” Mark joked.
“Um, guys… it’s not working.” I said when my attempt to change into a ferret failed.
“What do you mean it’s not working?! It always works! You’re a_” Mathew started, but I cut him off.
“I know what I am!” My voice was much louder and harsher I meant it to be. Four other men suddenly opened the door to the room and pick up my cage from the corners. They fit it through the double doors and carried me into another room with a man wearing a mask that I’d seen doctors wear. When the four other men left the room he pulled out a needle and stuck it in my arm. I watched as he took my blood from my body and put it in a machine. After around half an hour of sitting there with the scary doctor and the noise machine the man from before came in. The one that the first man had called boss.
“So doc, what is it?”
“Well sir, her tests come in totally normal. She seems to simply be a normal teenage girl.”
“How is that possible? I just got back from looking at her records. She’s been seen as a cheetah, a mouse, a hawk, and dozens more. She can’t be normal…”
“Maybe you just made a mistake and grabbed the wrong girl, but I can tell you right now, sir, that this is just a girl and nothing else. And we’re not allowed to take captive any normal person. We must release her.” The doctor said.
“Very well then,” he pressed a button on the wall and two other armed men came in. “Free this one.”
“But, sir. I’ve been personally hunting this girl down for years and you just want to free her? No!”
“Do you want to keep your job, mr. Joe?” That was all it took. The two men quickly pulled me out of the cage and walked me all the way out of the building. They opened a door and threw me out like garbage, but I was out! All I had to do was free the gang. I tried time and time again to change into a mouse, but nothing worked. I guessed the evil doctor was right. I was normal. I was powerless, but that would never stop me from saving my family.
I sneaked in through an unlocked and unguarded door. These people really needed to upgrade their security. After walking through several empty hallways I finally found the room with the cages.
“No questions. We just need to get out of here. Willow, I need your speed.” I whispered as I fiddled with the keys hung on the wall. After unlocking the cages one by one I showed them the way out.
“Now can we ask questions?” Mark asked.
“That was a question,” I laughed. “They tested my blood and it turned out normal. They let me out and then I snuck back in and freed y’all. What more is there to explain?”
“How about the fact that you didn’t simply change form and free us when you had the chance.” Willow said.
“Or the fact that you were near the G-S-H in the morning before we were even awake.” Mathew piped in.
“No time. We need to go now!” The G-S-H were just behind us. Willow, Mark and Mathew changed form. Willow picked Mathew up by the shell with her mouth while I mounted and let Mark cling onto my arm with his bat claws. Willow wasn’t strong enough to carry us all when we were in human form so this was our substitute. She took off galloping faster than the wind while I clung to her main for dear life. I felt myself start to slip off her back and Mark let go of my arm. I hit the ground. Pain flowed through my body with the sudden impact of the earth, but at the same time I could feel powers in my blood. I tried, but I simply couldn’t change form no matter how much the power in my veins wanted me to.
“Get up, Adira! If they catch us again they won’t ever let us out.” Mathew must have left Willow and Mark to come get me. My legs refused to help me get off the ground and my heart beat like a rocket. I knew that if the G-S-H caught me again my blood test would never come out normal.
“Mathew,” I breathed and took his hand. “Don’t drop me.” I smiled and he immediately turned into a pure black horse right underneath me. “Don’t think. Just go.” I held onto his main and braced myself. He galloped faster and smoother than Willow ever had. We escaped them and found Willow and Mark. I tumbled off and changed Mathew back.
“How?” They all asked in sync.
“I followed my instincts, that’s how.” I answered with a smile, but I knew it was fake. I wasn’t happy. I would have to tell them why I kept getting in trouble. And my powers, how I couldn’t use them any more.
“That was awesome! You girls get to do that every day?” Mathew exited shock mode. Willow and I nodded, both of us knowing that speed was one of our best thrills.
“My turn,” Mark raised his hand. “I want to be a falcon!”
“You can already fly.” Willow argued.
“Yeah, but not fast.” He stuck his tongue out at her childishly. We all laughed.
“I’m gonna go take a walk. I need some time to think about all that’s happened.” I fibbed and left them. Once I was out of eyesight I started jogging away. I couldn’t be with them anymore. I just caused trouble and danger. I would have to run from the G-S-H by myself and after that…
I tripped over a tree root and fell.
“Keep it together, Adira,” I scolded myself. “You’ve gotten yourself and your only friends into enough trouble. You’ve lost your powers and your only family. You don’t need to go tripping too.” I felt warm tears on my cheeks. I wanted so badly to change form a leave them faster. The farther away the better. Or so I thought. And I started jogging again.
Hooves against dry earth. Willow was following me.
“Adira!” She called after she changed into her human form. “We should be getting back to base. It’s lunch time.”
“Yeah, sure…” I mounted her and she took me back. I’d have to leave them at night when everyone was asleep.
“You still haven’t answered our questions, Adira.” Mark said over a lunch of PBJ in our base.
“I-I lost my powers,” I stuttered. “That’s why I didn’t change form in the cage…” Their faces went blank. No one had ever heard of a shifter losing her powers.
“I’m sure you didn’t lose them,” Willow obviously tried to cover the nervousness in her voice. “After all, you did change Mathew into a murgese. You must have just lost the ability to change your own form on command. We can fix that… somehow.”
“Wait, where’s Mathew?” I looked around. Why I hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t there before, I’ll never know.
“He went out for a walk. Just like you. He’ll be back any minute now.” Mark answered with a shrug.
“That minute’s now,” He walked into base. “Adira, can we talk?” I stuffed the last bit of my sandwich in my mouth and followed him out.
“So?” I asked once we’d walked half a mile away from base.
“This sound familiar? Great job, Adira. You’ve lost your powers and your only family.” I gasped. He’d followed me. I didn’t want to answer any questions he had.
“Oh look,” I noticed a movement in the corner of my eye. “An eastern grey squirrel.” I chuckled nervously.
“You’re stalling.” He gave me a “I could wait all day” look and I just couldn’t hold it any longer. I blurted out everything I’ve felt over the past few years. It felt so good to tell him, I later told the rest of the gang about my past and how I saw them as family. Of course, they comforted me and we went on running from the G-S-H together. And after I’d gotten it all off my mind I got my powers back. All it took was a little bit of family and a whole lot of love.
Eventually when the G-S-H were off our tails they all went back to their homes and I visited often. I would stay in the ol’ park until another adventure came up.