“Seems like our classic hit-and-run,” the voice of the sheriff was barely audible above the loud droning hum of the tow truck that was towing the little blue car from the side of the bridge. He looked over at the car, now on the road, and saw the silhouette of a slim, young officer hovering next to the car.
“Hey son, I thought you didn’t do night shifts. You’re skipping school?” The sheriff walked over to the young man, whose blond hair hung on his forehead, damp with perspiration. This young man was Elias Park, who had recently joined the force. He worked during the days and went to school at night.
I accessed Elias’ memories, pulled my lips to imitate his jovial and carefree smile, and said, “Not skipping school sir.” The voice that came out of my lips had a melodious ring to it. “Thought I’d be in the office tonight, you know, filing paperwork. Heard the call and came rushing to the scene.” I smiled sheepishly, giving him my most innocent, yet charming smile, and I hoped it shone through Elias’ face.
“Morbid curiosity is not tolerated, my boy,” said the sheriff and then gave him a pat on the shoulder. “I’ll let this one go. Now, what can you assess from the situation?”
“Hmm,” I crossed Elias’ arms, which are mine tonight, and said, “Well, judging by the looks of the car, I’d say the crash was a pretty bad one, for both of the cars. So it’ll be wise to look for a car with a battered hood and smashed window.” I took a closer look inside. “Now this is the mystery, sir, there is no one inside. There are some dry blood splatters here and there, and some that the seat soaked, but other than that, the interior is cleaned. Quite clean despite such a violent accident, I expected more blood.”
The other officer chipped in, “maybe we’re looking at kidnap. The driver from the missing car crashed into this one and dragged the victim out to bury the corpse somewhere else and then wiped the car clean.”
“Could be a possibility,” the sheriff said, “get the license plate and call a team to search the surrounding woods and highways leading out of town, the aggressor might still be nearby. Hey Park, hope we can get your help too…” The sheriff stopped in midsentence, Elias Park was nowhere to be seen.
As I ran through the woods, I literally shed Elias Park off. His blond hair fell in clumps on the ground, replaced by my shiny, tousled black hair, and his tanned skin peeled to reveal my pale skin underneath. What was Elias Park, now skin, fingernails, and hair, lay on the ground, waiting to be turned into ashes. The birthmark on my left wrist was throbbing with pain; I had been Elias for too long and had to flee before my transformation back to myself began without my consent.
I inhaled the fresh night air and felt the signs of weariness. I needed to sleep and I knew where I could go. It was a house not far from the suburbs and the bridge, nestled among the tall pine trees. It was a white, two-story house with many windows and a nice little porch. Despite the fact that it was abandoned most of the time, it looked like home. I stopped dead on my tracks, the windows on the first floor were glowing and two silhouettes were framed. Quickly, I climbed a tree and perched on a branch, cursing and waiting for the extra figure to leave.
After an hour, the door opened, spilling orange glow on the porch. Two figures, both tall and strong stood on the doorway. The male figure was husky and fierce looking, but the female figure didn’t seem to mind. I saw him leaned on her and whispered something in her ear. She just laughed. After that, the man shifted his body into a fox and ran into the woods.
I dropped from the tree and sauntered to the waiting figure with the long black hair. “Hey Rosa, hope you don’t mind that I spend the night here.”
“Don’t mind at all Jay,” she pushed the door wider to allow me inside the house.
“By the way, what was Reynard whispering to you?”
“Oh, he said that next time you should be more subtle. He could smell your sorry arse miles from here.” As Rosabella said this, she laughed. “Oh, and he doesn’t like seeing me with you, but he couldn’t kick your arse right now because he has to go back to the pack.”
I smirked. “Tell him it was good seeing him and ask him when he’s free to chat.” The moment I was inside, the smell of iron caught my attention. “Whatever happened here? You guys went rough tonight, didn’t you?”
Rosa rolled her eyes. “I told you I’m not into Reynard.”
“And he told you stay away from me.” I said. Then I saw the bloodied figure on the couch. Her face was pale, losing too much blood too fast. The young girl seemed to be fighting unconsciousness. I was unexpectedly disappointed in Rosa. “Quite a feast you had.”
“Don’t be stupid, we rescued her. Maybe Reynard is right, you’re a jerk.” Rosa pushed past me to clean some of the wounds.
I was relieved that Rosa hadn’t gone into eating human beings. “Just making sure. I didn’t doubt you at all. Wait, she comes from the wreck on the bridge? Are you guys out of your mind? You have the whole town looking for whoever ran into the girl and the girl!”
“You were at the scene? I had this feeling, Jayden, I felt like I needed to rescue her, to take her to safety.” Rosa cursed when the bleeding continued. “Damn it, can you shift into a doctor or something and help her?”
“You mean like Dr. House? You know that crap is not real.”
“Like a real doctor, Jayden.”
“Okay, I will try.” I focused my mind, searching through my memories if I had had any encounters with doctors. A memory popped in my mind and I started the painful business of changing. My bones re-shifted, new skin crept over my own; my hair seemed to be pulled into my scalp and new hair spurt out, facial hair too. It took me five seconds. I was a new person, and the thoughts of this person were flowing in my head, readily accessible.
“Who’s he?” Rosa asked.
“My old pediatrician,” I replied. That was all the memory I wanted to know about myself. I usually didn’t shift into people that knew my story. It was too painful to revive.
“Oh, Jay.” Rosa said softly, and I knew she understood my pain.
“I will clean her and stitch her up, and then we have to take her to the sheriff to process her.” I said.
“No! Please no, please don’t turn me in!” The voice came from the girl on the couch. Her eyes were brimming with fear. “They can’t find me.”
Rosa was soothing her. “It’s okay, you’re safe. We won’t turn you in. I promise.” The girl seemed to relax. Rosa then turned to me and said, “She’s been saying that she has to escape, something is after her, but she doesn’t know what or why. Seems like she lost her memory. Jay, please, let’s keep her a secret for now. Promise me that.”
I shrugged. “Whatever.” I set to work immediately while Rosa watched. Then after several hours of cleaning and stitching the wounds, Rosa felt stuffed.
“I will go out and hunt.” And she left.
“Thank you,” the girl whispered softly.
I nodded. I had to work fast, the pain was returning. I wanted to shift into her, to know her story, but that would be a violation since I barely knew her. So I started with the most basic question.
“So, what’s your name?”