In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler
It took about two hours as a cheetah and six miles for me to get to the city but I made it. The bell rang from an ally about a ten minute walk from here so I shifted to human form and stepped into the street only to almost get run over by a car. I forgot about those. I stayed on the sidewalk from then on and found my way past the hundreds of people in skimpy sheer clothing. I was appalled by their lack of cloths and skirts that served no purpose I could see, they didn’t cover anything. I found the dark dank ally but no sign of Tex. I thought of turning around when a single ring of the bell told me he was in the next building. It looked abandoned and ready to fall at any moment. I slipped into the building threw a broken window and landed about ten feet down on the other side on little shards of glass. Luckily they weren’t sharp. One ring of the bell sounded again. Almost like he wasn’t trying to ring it now.
“I told you to shoot it!” I heard Mill shout angrily.
“But uncle Mill…” Tex said.
“Shut up brat. I gave you an order and you didn’t listen to me.” Mill said.
“Uncle Mill…” Tex tried.
“Shut up!” Mill roared. “You’re no good to me now boy. Just a waste of time and money.”
“Mill no!” Tex said. I shifted to a wolf and charged up the stairs. Mill had a gun out and it was pointed at Tex who was shackled to a wall. I tackled Mill and took his gun in my mouth and carried it to Tex’ feet. I shifted to human form, letting Mill see clearly who I was, and used my marker to draw the symbol for free. The shackles fell to the floor and Tex took the gun.
“You!” Mill said to me. “I knew it. And your sister.”
“That was another shifter dumb ass. Now get the hell out of here before I turn into a dragon and rip you to shreds then burn the remains.” I said. He scrambled up and pulled a pistol from his belt.
“No!” Tex dived, the gun fired, I fell, Tex fell, Mill ran, then the floor crumbled beneath us and we fell threw to the concrete below.
I hit the floor with a hard thump and the sound of breaking wood. Tex was half covered in splintering wood and his eyes were closed. Did the bullet hit him? I tried to pull myself up and winced at the shock of pain. I seen my marker and stretched out to it. When I felt the cold plastic of the marker I let out a sigh. I drew the symbol for healing on my arm and it slowly faded along with my pain. I crawled over to Tex and threw the wood off of him then drew the healing symbol on his arm. It disappeared so fast that I almost didn’t get it done. I drew it again and again only to watch it vanish with no effect. I closed my eyes and sat there. He wasn’t a shifter, the shadow symbols must only work on shadow shifters. The bell rang and my eyes flew open. It was tied to his wrist. He had to move, the only way to ring the bell is to shake it. And you have to shake it hard for it to work. I watched and his fist flew into the air again then went back to his side.
“No… Uncle… don’t hurt them… uncle… not right… I cant… she’s my Angel… she’s a shifter… don’t hurt her… no.” Tex mumbled.
“Tex.” I said. “Tex wake up.”
“Angel… Angel.” he murmured.
“I’m here.” I said. “Wake up.”. He sat up so fast I almost jumped.
“Oww.” he said as the pain hit him. “What happened?”
“You leaped in front of a bullet and the floor broke.” I said. “Did it hit you?”
“No I don’t think so.” he said. He tried to stand but fell back into the rubble.
“My leg.” he said.
I made my way to his side and tore the leg of his jeans from the knee down. The bullet did hit him.
“You’ve got to take the bullet out.” he said.
“What!?” I yelped.
“Please. You have to take it out to stop the pain. Then wrap it up to stop the bleeding.” he said.
“I cant.” I said. “I don’t know how.”
“You have to. You owe me.” he tried for a smile.
“Alright.” I said. “I’ll try.”
I touched his wound and he inhaled sharply so I pulled away.
“Come on you have to.” Tex said. “It’ll only hurt for a second.”. I tried again and found the bullet not far in. I pulled it out and tried to ignore Tex’ cries of pain.
“There.” I said. “I got it.”
“Give it to me.” he said, he wiped the blood from the bullet and shook his head. “Silver bullets. He thinks you’re werewolves. They’re heavy duty bullets too. He wasn’t even trying to wound you he wanted a direct kill. The bastard.”
“There it’s wrapped for now but we have to get you to a hospital.” I said.
“I don’t know if I can walk.” he said.
“Do you think you can get out of the building?” I asked.
“I’ll try.” he said lifting himself up.
He made it outside into the ally with the support of my shoulder, and fell against a brick wall.
“I cant keep going.” he said.
“No need.” I said. I looked up and down the ally then at Tex. “Pull the rains the way you need me to go to get to the nearest hospital.” I shifted to a black stallion and Tex watched the transformation in amazement. The reason for our name, Shadow Shifters, was because we seemed to turn into a black shadow like fog that then shifted and changed into something else.
I nodded my head and made that weird horse sound that’s like a neigh and a sneeze. I realized then that he obviously couldn’t jump on, so I knelt down and he swung his bad leg over my back. When he patted my neck I got up and charged off into the street. Damn the cars. He pulled the rains and I turned right then another then a left. It didn’t take long when I seen a big red H in the sky. I ran toward it faster now that I didn’t need direction. When we got to the door I almost forgot I couldn’t go in like this. I went to the side where people were less likely to see me and shifted back to human form then helped Tex limp into the hospital. The nurses whisked him off and left me standing in the waiting room.
“How did this happen?” A man in the blue hospital uniform asked me about a half hour later. “How was he shot?”
I didn’t know if I should tell a lie or not until the shadow symbol for half truth appeared on my hand.
“A man named Mill.” I said. “Tex is a military solider and he was capture by Mill. Mill tried to shoot Tex but I stopped him then Mill tried to shoot me and Tex pushed me out of the way.”
“You must consider yourself lucky to have your own hero.” the doctor laughed. “He’ll be fine to go soon don’t you worry. It was a minor wound that did little damage. Just some torn tissue and…” he went on with words I didn’t know and things I’d never heard of. I tuned him out then looked at my hand and gasped.
“Yes I know it sounds painful but he didn’t feel it.” the doctor said. I looked at my hand again. I don’t understand, did it mean Tex or someone else. God I hope it didn’t mean the doctor. The symbol vanished. “You want to see him?” the doctor finished.
“Oh. Yes.” I said.
He took me down a hall of endless doors that all looked the same to me and we stopped at number 213.
“In there when you’re ready.” the doctor said before he left. I opened the door and Tex sat up with red eyes. He looked tired.
“Hey.” I said unable to think of a better word.
“Hey.” he said. “I’m still a little groggy from the sleep drug they used. Did you see what they did to my leg? It’s got little stitches in it. They sowed it like it was cotton.” he giggled and I had a feeling the drug was still messing with him. “You think it hurt? I couldn’t tell.” he giggled again. “Hey hey! Look.” he pointed at my hand. “Pictures on your hand look like there moving. How silly.”
“What?” I looked at my hand and he was right. The symbols changed from hate and the one I seen earlier. Love. That’s when Conner burst into the room.
“Angel are you okay?” he said charging in.
“He’s funny.” Tex said.
“What?” Conner said.
“I’m fine.” I said. “Tex saved me.”
“Yeah I’m a super man. But she saved me number one.” Tex said and giggled again.
“You mean first.” I said.
“What’s wrong with him?” Conner asked.
“Pain killers and sleeping gas.” I said swirling my finger by the side of my head. “Crazy.”
“Zebras are crazy.” Tex said. “Are they white or black.”
“White.” Conner and I said together. The love symbol vanished but the hate symbol kept flashing. I looked out the window and let out a yelp.
“Ooo. Did you hear that?” Tex asked. “Like a puppy. I want a puppy.”
“Yes mate I did hear it. What is it?” Conner asked.
“Mill.” I said. The hate symbol vanished.
The symbols only vanish when I know what it was that set them off. The danger symbol flashed when I seen Mill’s gun.
“We have to go.” I said.
“Then lets go.” Conner said.
“We cant leave Tex.” I said. “And he cant walk out like this.”
“Then carry him.” Conner said.
“We cant leave. The doctors wont let him go.” I said.
“Then we need to get rid of Mill.” Conner said. “Great. I’ll go distract him.”
“No.” I said. “Bump into someone and shift into them then bump into Mill and take his gun. He cant do anything without it. There are doctors and security guards everywhere anyway.”
“Alright.” Conner said slipping into the hall.
A few minutes later I seen an old man bump into Mill. I also seen the gun go from Mill’s belt to the back of the old mans jeans. Mill turned on him and snapped while the old man put his hands up in apology. A few more minutes later Conner came back into the room.
“So who’s up for lunch.” he said. I was about to question it when the doctor walked in.
“We can deliver your lunch to you or you can all make your way to the cafeteria. Tex should be fine, he’s a tough soldier.” the doctor said.
“Cafeteria.” Tex said. “The colors look soo cool.”
“Hum yes. That should wear off soon.” the doctor said.
We made it to the cafeteria with only minor Tex problems. He wouldn’t use the wheelchair so we got him some crutches witch he then tried to use to hit Conner who he thought was a monster unicorn. After that Conner tried to keep his distance from Tex who thought he was Conner’s shadow. When we got Tex some kind of hospital sandwich he complained there was sand in it. Lets just say it was a long night.
“How did you find me anyway?” I asked Conner after Tex fell asleep.
“After telling the pack to watch your brother I chased after you. When you hit the streets I lost you and wondered around until I heard that a horse ran to the hospital then vanished. I thought you were hurt.” he said.
“I would have been dead.” I said glancing at Tex.
“Is that one of your bracelets?” Conner asked seeing the bell on Tex’ arm.
“One of them yes.” I said. “I told him I owed him when he got Mill to leave, and to ring the bell when he needed me. That’s what happened at camp, I heard the bell.”
“And it hurt you?” Conner asked.
“Sort of.” I said. “It’s high pitched and he rang it very harshly.”
“Witch you would if you were about to be shot by your uncle.” Conner said. “So how many of those do you have?”
I pulled up my sleeve witch had two others on my right arm and one on my left. Then I pulled up my pant leg to revel ten more.
“Why do you have so many?” Conner asked.
“For emergencies.” I said. “Here.” I took one from my right hand and gave it to Conner who watched the bell swing back and forth without making a sound.
“I ah…” he looked at me. “I cant tie.” he cheeks turned red.
“Here watch.” I said. I took the string and slowly tied it as Conner watched contently. I pulled the lace from my shoe and gave it to Conner. “Lets learn to tie.”.
He tied it around my wrist but it slipped off and he cursed. He tried it again and it was too tight but it stayed tied so I didn’t object. He untied it and tied it again then tied it back on my shoe.
“Ha I did it.” he said.
“Congratulations you’ve only been tying knots for an hour.” Tex said.
“Sleeping beauty finally wakes.” Conner said.
“How long was I out?” Tex asked.
“Well lets see.” I said. “two hours for surgery, a half hour recovery sleep. Then you woke up for three hours or so and that was a mess. Then you fell asleep for four hours and now you’re up.”
“God what day is it.” Tex asked.
“Almost midnight on the same day.” I said.
“God. Where is Mill?” he asked.
“He went to his hotel.” Conner said. “With a mouthful of curses. The doctors wouldn’t let him in with a gun. Sent him away after calling the cops.”
“How didn’t they see you with it?” I asked.
“Cause I made it invisible.” Conner said gleaming. “I remembered you drawing the symbol and it worked when I drew it.”
“Congratulations. Now can we get out of here?” Tex asked.
“The doctors wont let you leave yet.” I said.
“Then tell them to go to hell.” he said.
“Tex.” I snapped.
“I cant stay here.” Tex said. “I have to get out of here.”
“You wont be stuck in the hospital for long.” I said.
“Not just the hospital. Here. The town. Mill is going to find me and with my mom gone I have no where to go. I have to leave.” he said.
“Well…” I let the sentence trial off.
“Well what?” Tex and Conner asked.
I sighed. “There’s a teleportation symbol but Tex isn’t a shadow shifter. The healing symbol didn’t work on him.”
“You tried to heal me?” Tex said.
“Yes when we fell threw the floor.” I said. “But it didn’t work so teleporting probably wont work either.”
“Maybe you can teleport yourself and pull me with you.” Tex suggested.
“Only problem is I don’t know how it’ll work. And I don’t know if we’ll get hurt.” I said then mumbled, “Or if I can get back.”
“What?” Conner said. “You could just teleport back couldn’t you?”
“I don’t know. The symbols have never done anything before and I don’t know what will happen.” I said.
“Is there a return symbol?” Conner asked.
“Actually yes.” I said. “Let me try something.” I took some paper and my marker and drew the return symbol then the teleport symbol. I printed the words ‘race track’ and the paper vanished.
I thought it didn’t work after ten minutes of nothing when the paper appeared with huff prints all over it.
“It worked.” I said. “I don’t know if it’ll work on humans though.”
“Try me first.” Conner said.
“What?” I said. “You could get hurt, we’ll try a fly or something first.”
“No.” he said. “I already told you I’m only good at distracting people. The pack wont miss me if I don’t come back. Besides they have you now. That is if you plan to stay.”
I hadn’t thought about staying with the pack but it did make sense. They were all like me and Colby had other boys to talk to now. I guess we could stay. Should we?
“Just send him to shut him up.” Tex said.
“Alright but give me your hand first.” I said. I took the marker and drew the health symbol then the quick healing symbol then the protection symbol.
“What are all the symbols?” Conner asked.
“Protection.” I said. “Where do you want to go?”
“Hawaii?” he said.
“What if I teleport you above a volcano?!” I said. “No way.”
“Fine.” Conner laughed. “How about Australia. I was only there when I was small and I’d like to see it again.”
“Alright.” I said. I drew the return symbol on his shoulder and bit my lip. I hope this works. I wrote Australia on his arm then drew half the teleport symbol.
“Come on. I’ll be fine.” Conner said. I finished the symbol and Conner vanished. I bit my lip and paced the room. Ten minutes passed and no sign of Conner.
“What have I done.” I muttered.
“He’ll be fine. He’s bigger than paper maybe it takes longer depending on size.” Tex said.
“Sounds logical.” I said. “If he didn’t just vanish into thin air.” the door clicked and I jumped to close it.
“What? Is everything okay?” the doctor asked.
“Um… Yes.” I said. Opening the door and going out into the hall. “He’s getting changed into his cloths. He doesn’t like the feel of the hospital gown.”
“Not many people do.” the doctor said.
“Is he your brother?” the doctor asked.
“What? No.” I said
“So your boyfriend then. I thought so.” the doctor said and left. God I hate doctors, always assuming things.
“What did you tell him?” Tex asked when I returned to the room.
“That you were getting dressed.” I said. “So get dressed.” I threw his clothes at him and turned to watch the green door.
“Alright it’s good.” Tex said. “I hope the doctor will let us go soon.”
“I hope Conner gets back so-” I was saying when Conner fell from the air and landed on me. “Oww.”.
“That was amazing!” Conner said. “I was there and I fell right in a field of wild horses.”
“I’m glad you had fun.” I said. “So… you want to get off me?”
“Sorry.” Conner said jumping up and helping me to my feet.
“Did it hurt?” I asked.
“No but the landings are rough.” he said.
“At least you didn’t land on a cactus.” Tex said.
“Here.” I said throwing a damp cloth at Conner. “Make sure you get all the return and teleport symbol off.”
“Stubborn and bossy.” Conner said with a smile as he pulled off his shirt.
“In the bathroom would be nice.” I said averting my eyes. “or with the shirt on.”
“I don’t want to get it wet.” Conner said. “It’s new.”
“Alright.” I said looking out the window.
“You do know it’s just a shirt?” Tex said.
“And?” I asked.
“Boys go out with no shirts all the time.” Tex said.
“What? Really?” I said.
“Yes. Where were you the last four years?” he asked.
“The middle of nowhere.” I said quietly. “By a crashed plane.”
“You know where the plane is?” Conner spun me around with wide eyes.
“Y-yes.” I said. “I built our cabin a few miles away from it. I didn’t know where else to go. Where we fell is where we stayed.”
“You were in a plane crash?” Tex said.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Conner asked ignoring Tex. Huh… abs do look good. “Did you hear me?”
“Yeah.” I said. “I didn’t know you wanted to see it.”
“You have to take me to it.” Conner said dripping water onto the floor.
“Alright.” I said. “Tex are you okay here for a bit?”
“Sure.” Tex said. “Not like I can go anywhere until I’m let out anyway.”
“Lets go then.” I said wiping the water from Connors chest with my sleeve and drawing the teleport symbol.