The sky was lightening as I crested the hill and my house came into view. I'd left more than forty-five minutes ago to go for run. Now, all I was looking forward to was a hot shower and pancakes with my father.
I stepped through the porch door and was just about to call out when I heard my father's voice.
"–told you Nikki wasn't here," he was saying.
"Her bed was warm. I could still smell her," an unfamiliar man said. His words sent a creepy shiver over me. Why was he smelling my bed?
"She's not here!"
Something was wrong. I backed up silently through the door and crept around towards the kitchen windows.
I hadn't recognized the voice of the other man which made me worried. Our house was the only one around for three kilometers in any direction. Anyone who would have been at here at five o'clock in the morning I would have known. This man, I most definitely didn't, and he was looking for me. A rush of adrenaline made the hairs on my arms rise and I held my breath to hear more.
"Listen old man. We will find her so why don't you save yourself the pain and tell us where she is?"
That settled it. I didn't know this man and my father sure as hell didn't and the fact that he was threatening my father made my blood boil. I never even thought to question why someone would be looking for me in the first place.
The voice that came next had an eerie familiarity to it but I couldn't place it. "It doesn't matter if she's not here. We'll find her." It was a woman's voice. "Martin?" she called. "Go check outside. If you don't find her then wait. She'll be back eventually."
"She's at summer camp. I told y–," my father was cut off abruptly and I swallowed my urge to burst in there at the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
Quickly harnessing it I inched back towards the porch figuring that Martin would take the quickest way out. One man and the woman. If I could take him out, then I might be able to surprise the woman as well. The fact that I had just considered killing someone, curiously didn't cause me a moment's hesitation. I quickly ran through her current options eerily calm for the insane situation I found myself in. I had no weapon and my archery equipment was in the mud-room. I glanced around quickly and my gaze fell on a shovel. I grabbed it just as the porch door swung open.
I crouched, tense as the man came down the steps. As his foot hit the grass I put all my force behind the swinging of the shovel. It cracked loudly into the man's face. He grunted and doubled over and I was already swinging the shovel for the back of his head. He fell limply to the ground and I felt a surge of success before the outdoor lights flared on.
"Shit," I muttered quickly glancing around.
I looked up and suddenly all the fight went out of me. The person now holding the gun to the back of my father's head was none other than my mother.
"How– What–?" I tried to speak but my brain was slowly shutting down. Shock was setting in.
My mother walked my father down the porch steps and with every step she took I backed up a step, my knuckles aching as I clenched the shovel.
Heavy hands fell on my shoulders and I didn't have the sense or the power to fight them off. Suddenly the absurdity of the whole scenario crashed down on me and I could no longer understand what was going on. I suddenly felt as though I'd just stepped in to some alternate universe where nothing made sense.
I looked at my father who had blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. He looked back at me and smirked. I could see the pride in his eyes but rather than make me feel stronger it made me realize how useless I actually was. I looked away, past my mother and saw two large dogs sitting on either side of the unconscious Martin.
My mother saw the direction she was looking and smiled. "That," she nodded her head carelessly towards the man, "is impressive. Is there anything else impressive that you can do?"
I looked at her blankly, utterly uncomprehending.
"No? Well that's good," she lowered the gun and walked towards me. She grabbed her chin gently and tilted my head up so that she could look in to my eyes. The feeling of my mother's hands on my skin made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. "Hm, interesting," she muttered to herself. "Let's see if we can change that," she said dropping my chin and walking away. The man behind me tightened his grip as I stared after my mother confused.
"What are you doing–?"
Movement caught my eye and I turned just in time to scream a warning seconds too late. One of the dogs leapt and lodged its teeth in my father's throat. Warm blood– my father's blood– splashed onto my face and I watched, mute as he sank to his knees.
I lashed out. Growling hoarsely I felt the shovel I was still gripping connect with a leg and the man behind me loosened his grip. I jerked my head backwards and all my movie watching paid off when it smashed into his nose. He let me go completely and I ran forward. The shovel came down on the dog next. It yelped and turned its bloody muzzle to me in a snarl.
With a snarl of my own I swung the shovel again and with a crunch of bone the dog fell to the ground. I fell to my knees beside my father, my weapon forgotten as I grabbed his head.
"Dad!" His eyes rolled weakly to meet mine and I shook him roughly. "Dad!" My shouts accomplished nothing and I had to watch as the light went out of my father's eyes.
With a feral shout of pure rage I turned on the remaining figures. The man who had been holding me was still crouched over, the blood from his nose dripping through the fingers of one hand on to the grass, the other hand clutching his knee. My mother stood a few feet away, a wry smile on her face.
I didn't know what to do. An unidentifiable emotion had me screaming my rage and my pain as though that would solve everything when all I wanted to do was beat something. My mother watched me calmly as I continued to scream. Catching that smirk on her face I stood and tried to run at her.
I felt like my blood was boiling. I suddenly felt too hot, too confined, too confused. The smell of blood was overpowering and I didn't know what to do with the rage I was feeling. It felt like it would suffocate me. A spasm ran through me mid-leap making my whole body writhe. I buckled and landed hard on the ground. I saw my mother lean forward almost eagerly as I siezed.
"Come on Nyx. Do it. Do IT!" She walked towards me twitching on the ground. The man stayed behind, the dogs now at his side. "Can't you feel it Nyx? Isn't it calling to you? Don't you want to kill something?"
Most of what she was saying didn't make any sense but she was right about one thing. I did want to kill something. Her. Her friends. Those dogs. All of them. What I wanted more than anything at that moment was to be something huge and terrifying, something that would make these people cower before me before I tore their own throats out. I tried to choke out the words but nothing came from my raw throat as another spasm rendered me impotent once more.
My mother laughed, inches from my face and I seized painfully, my muscles screaming in protest. I wanted to jump at her, claw at her, do anything I could but all I seemed capable of was falling to the ground. My muscles felt frozen and my vision was wavering but I fought my way to my knees. I clutched my arms around myself, trying to stop the seizing of my muscles.
My mother straightened in front of me, my eyes even with her kneecaps. Her voice floated through the haze that was slowly falling over me. I struggled to focus my anger on the sound of her voice. To move anything, even a toe.
"Can't do it can you? You can't even summon it up to avenge your own father. You were right. Nothing more impressive than a misplaced adrenaline rush." She stood and I watched as my mother walked away and heard her voice. "Leave her," she said dismissively. "We just killed her father. She can't Shift and she's fighting it so badly it'll kill her anyways...." her voice faded out.
All I wanted to do was sink my teeth into the flesh of the leg in front of me. All I wanted to do was watch the life seep out of my mothers eyes. I wanted to feel that heart beat flutter and stop under my own hands but all I could do was watch as another spasm washed over me and I passed out.
I came to with a wicked headache and soaked through with sweat. I took a deep breath and choked on thick smoke before realizing that the house was on fire. My body ached but I could move at least... too little too late. I hauled myself to my feet and lasted a few moments before I tumbled over vomiting. I stayed on my knees as I made my way towards my father. My hands ran in to something soft and I heaved back a sob, afraid to look at the corpse in front of me.
When I finally made myself look down I gagged, unable to comprehend what I was seeing. In front of me lay not my father but a macabre substitute of a human. The lower half of his body was a twisted distortion somewhere between animal and man. The elongated footpads and legs of a large dog slowly melded seamlessly with the smooth human flesh of stomach and torso. His arms still looked vaguely like paws, one of them bent at a grotesque angle and the snout removed any traces of humanity remaining in his very human eyes.
The corpse blinked at me. I blinked back, my brain attempting to stretch around the image before me. All I could understand was that I must've been the cause of his crooked arm. The shovel was on the ground a few feet away. He whined, and for the first time I noticed the blood around his mouth.
A shudder racked my body and for one terrifying moment I thought I was going to freeze again. This time I managed to control it, forcing it out of my limbs and into my chest, into a tight ball of rage.
The thing in front of me growled now and tried to move as he regained consciousness. I reached for the shovel, clenching it tightly in my hand. His lip curled as he tensed to pounce but quickly went slack as I brought the head of the shovel crashing onto his skull. Once, twice, and again. And again, and again, the ball of fire in my chest feeling like it was going to rip through my ribs.
I lost myself in the smell of warm blood and the rage washing over me and only came back when I heard someone crying. I looked around wondering who else could possibly be around before I realized it was me.
I choked it down as I looked at the mess in front of me. I could hear sirens in the distance and a new kind of fear washed over me. What would they do if they found this... this... I looked down at it once more and slowly, hesitantly my brain offered up the word for the being before me....