In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler
I was sitting on a beach, my hands and feet buried in the hot sand. I watched the waves flow in and out, in and out. The seagulls cawed and the wind whispered threw the trees. It was peaceful. Until a wave grew to the size of a house and crashed into my face.
I woke spitting water out of my mouth and wiping it from my eyes.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Trying to drown you in your sleep. I guess it didn’t work.” Colby said.
“Very funny.” I said throwing the wet blankets off my bed. Colby just stood there with his little boy grin and an empty water pitcher in his hands. His messy blond hair was too long and got in his pretty blue eyes.
“Are you hungry?” I asked as I rung out my long blond hair. Colby calls it gold hair and complains that girls have longer hair then boys. My hair was down to my waist now but oddly never tangled. It just stayed straight and refused to do anything else.
“Yes.” he said wiggling in his place.
“Let me get dressed and we can get some food.” I said as I pushed the hair from his eyes.
“Kay.” he said then ran out of my room.
Once I was dressed in a simple t shirt and jeans I went to the bathroom to fix my hair. I quickly brushed it and tied it in a pony tail.
“Alright lets go.” I said as I opened the door to the house. Well shack really. It was only two rooms and a kitchen and most of it was falling apart. Colby didn’t seem to mind, but then again he was only seven. I was only eighteen but without parents I was the adult. I slipped on my sleek black suede jacket and put Colby in his little green jacket before closing the door behind us.
Colby was my little brother. We live out in the middle of the woods by ourselves ever since our parents died in a plane crash. The last thing our mom said was “Think like a bird. Think really hard and jump out the door.”. I was fifteen and Colby was four so we did what she said and jumped from the falling plane. When I lost sight of Colby I tried hard to think of birds, of flying, blue birds and robins, hawks and eagles. I watched the trees rush up to meet me and tried to flap my arms like wings. I heard Colby call to me but all I could see was trees and sky with little dots that I think were birds. My heart raced so fast I think it would have burst if I didn’t stop falling just before I hit a tree.
“Lets go. Lets go.” Colby said as he pulled me into the yard. I raced for the woods and leaped head first over some bushes, landing on all fours and charging off. I could hear the clumsy foot steps of Colby racing behind me and our nails scraping the rocks. I looked back and seen Colby’s tawny fur and strangely round wolf ears blowing in the wind. He let out a little bark and I jumped, without looking, over a log. I slowed by the river and waited for Colby to catch up.
I looked at my reflection in the water, I had very light blond fur and I still had my blue eyes. I was at least five feet from the ground with 170 pounds of muscle and fur. I growled at my reflection, showing my long sharp teeth. Colby watched me and gave a growling chuff to show his amusement as his tail waved wildly behind him.
We were use to being wolves. It was our favorite form to be in and our best form to hunt in. My brother and I are Shadow Shifters, shape shifters I guess, we can take any form we want at any time we want for however long we want. It’s fun but also takes a lot of concentration and effort. We never knew what we could do until the day of the crash. Our dad always told us we were Shadow Shifters but we didn’t know what it meant. He told us we were rear and special people and that we would live great lives one day. That day was not today. Without parents we had no home or money. I built our shack and everything in it, we catch our food and cook with a fire. And without school since I was fifteen, I couldn’t get a job. I cant say I’ll miss grade nine though.
“Is it cooked?” Colby asked again.
“Yes.” I said handing him his rabbit on a stick. Yeah ‘great’ lives we’re living.
“Yummy.” He said threw a mouthful of rabbit.
It’s a good thing our father made us watch all those documentaries on wolves and hunting or we would starve. The one thing I wish I knew was what my father meant when he said “You’re the last one of your kind. There are other males but one girl. Only one. You can save us.” I thought he meant I could save them from the plane but now I don’t think he did.
“Did you hear that?” Colby asked.
“Hear what?” I asked.
“Listen… there.” he said as a bush shook.
“Probably a rabbit.” I said but I kept steering at the bush just in case.
A big blond panther came racing from the woods and reared in the other direction when it seen us, it ran off and disappeared in the trees.
“Or it could be a panther.” I said shrugging my shoulders.
“He looked funny.” Colby said with his lips puckered and eyebrows pulled together in his thinking face.
“Funny?” I repeated.
“Umhm.” he mumble threw his food. “Like us.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Go chase him and find out.” Colby said.
“What?” I asked again.
“I’ll go inside, you go find him.” he said with a smile and trotted off toward the shack. Sometimes I think he knows something I don’t.
I did what Colby told me to and shifted into a panther then ran threw the trail the other panther was on. It took me awhile but I spotted the other panther and raced after him. When I got close enough I leaped threw the air and tackled the panther. He let out a startled yelp and struggled to get free. When he seen that I was another panther he stopped and I eased off of him.
“Who are you?” I asked. “And why are you in my forest?”
“Wha?” he steered at me.
“I know what you said, mate.” he interrupted with an Australian accent. “I don’t know how you said it.”
“With my mouth.” I said.
“No, mate. Listen. Normal animals don’t talk so I want to know how you did it.” he said.
“Well… ‘mate’… I’m not an animal.” I said.
“You’re not?” he said.
“No and obviously you aren’t either.” I said.
“No. I’m a shifter.” he said.
“Then show me.” I orderd.
“You first.” he said.
“We could do this all day.” I said.
“Together then.” he said.
“One… Two … three.” we said together then shifted back to human form.
He was about a foot taller than me with shining blond hair and green eyes, and he was defiantly strong. If your wondering how I know this is the real him and not someone he shifted to, well it’s because we cant shift to other human forms unless we’re touching them at the time.
He looked me up and down then said “Yeah you’re human.”
“What did you expect?” I asked.
“Not sure. I haven’t seen a female shifter before.” he said.
“Have you seen others?” I asked.
“Yes.” he said. “My pack. There are nine of us all together.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes. Are you alone?” he asked.
“No I have a shifter brother.” I said.
“How old is he?” he asked.
“He’s seven.” I said.
“Really? And he can shift?” he asked.
“Yes.” I said. “He first shifted when he was four.”
“Really?” he said again.
“Yes.” I said. “you asked me questions now its my turn. Who are you?”
“Conner.” he said “What about you, mate?”
“Angel.” I said.
“Like the magic people with wings?” Conner asked.
“Yes.” I said. “Is there a problem?”
“No. Do you spell it the same?” he asked.
“Yes.” I said.
“Are your parents shifters?” he asked then.
“I don’t know if they were but they’re gone now.” I said.
“How?” he asked. Before I could hit him he said “Was it a plane crash?”
“Y-yes.” I said.
“Then we have something else in common.” he said.
“Your parents were on the plane too?” I asked.
“Yes. Off for a business thing. Left us with a nanny.” Conner said. “A lot of shifter parents were on that plane and we don’t think the crash was accidental.”
“So who were you running from earlier?” I asked.
“A man named Mill Saunders. He hunts shifters. My pack’s been dodging him for years but he seems to have found us. And I suggest you and your brother get out of here before he finds out about you too.” Conner said.
“Were is everyone else then?” I asked.
“Moving camp. I was the distraction. All I’m good for really.” he said.
“So you brought a shifter hunter to my house!” I yelled. “My god we have to get Colby.”
“We?” Conner said.
“Yes we. You brought the hunter here now your going to help me get rid of him. We can be campers with our family he wont know we’re shifters.” I said as we jogged back to the shack.
“But he knows what I look like.” Conner said.
“Then look like someone else.” I said taking his hand. “Shift. Now.” he shifted to an exact replica of me only he had his black t shirt on and his old jeans.
“We look too alike. He’ll know.” Conner said.
“Umm… here.” I said taking a knife from my belt.
“Wow. No need for that.” Conner said.
“It’s for your hair.” I said. “I’ll make It shorter.” I slid the knife threw his…my… my hair on him and cut it to his shoulders… my shoulders. Wow this was weird. I don’t know how twins can live together when they look exactly alike.
“Is it alright now?” Conner asked.
“One more thing.” I said.
“What?” Conner asked.
“Look over there.” I said pointing to the side. He looked and I gently slashed the knife across his cheek. He took a sharp breath then touched his face. There was no blood just a little cat scratch.
“Just in case.” I said.
We came up to the shack and seen a man in his late twenties walking around the building. When he peeked in the front window I said “Excuse me sir. This isn’t your house.”
“What are you doing here?” Conner asked in my voice.
“Sorry ladies. I was looking for an animal that might have ran by here. I tracked it to this cabin.” he said.
“Well sir I’m afraid we were out eating berries all morning and I didn’t notice your animal run by.” I said.
“Oh. Is anyone else here with you?” he asked.
“Yes sir.” I said.
“Our brother and father.” Conner said.
“Do you always finish each others sentences?” he asked.
“Not always.” I said.
“But a lot.” Conner said.
“Well I’m sorry to have bothered you.” He said with an odd bow before leaving. We watched him leave and faked giggles until he was far gone. I ran into the house and when I didn’t see Colby I panicked.
“Colby!” I called. “Colby?”
“Here.” his little voice came from the underground cellar.
I pulled the carpet away as he opened the hatch and I hauled him up in a bear hug. “Is he gone?”
“Yes. He’s gone but we have to leave.” I said.
“Who’s that?” Colby asked.
“That’s Conner.” I said. “It’s okay he’s a shifter like us.”
“Really?” Colby said as he trotted over to Conner who was himself again.
“Colby Forrest. Nice to meet you sir.” Colby said.
“Conner Andrews.” Conner said. “You must be the man in the house.”
“Yes.” Colby said with a big smile. “I’m in charge so if you’re in my house you have to do what I say.”
“Yes sir.” Conner said. “I’d hate to see what he does to your boyfriends.”
“What boyfriends. We don’t know anyone.” Colby said.
“Well I have some people for you to meet.” Conner said.
“Really?” Colby said amazed. “Where?”
“Get your things first. Then I’ll take you to them.” Conner said.