Daniel : Chapter 2

“You don’t even know his name, do you?”

Daniel looked over to see Anna standing in the bathroom door, toweling her hair dry.  The white t-shirt reached her knees, and left her looking impossibly young.  “He said we can stay.”

Anna sighed, then shook her head and hung the towel up on the back of the door.  “Who is he?”

“I don’t…”  He sighed.  “He caught me breaking in.  Gave me food and a hundred bucks.  He’s okay.”  Scary as fuck, but not the type to hurt kids.  “You should go to bed.  He said you can have the bed.”

“Daniel…”  Anna crossed her arms and bit her lower lip.

“I told him about Trent.  He can protect us.”  Daniel gave her a reassuring smile.  “Look at him, he could break Trent in half.”

“He’s scary.”  Anna nodded.  She took a couple deep breaths and started up the stairs.  “Daniel?”

“What’s wrong?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t know.”  She shook her head.  “Something is strange about him.”  She frowned.  “He’s scarier than what’s hunting us, so what’s hunting him?”  She shook her head again continuing up the stairs.

He watched her vanish into the bedroom.  That was actually a good question.  The guy carried a gun, checked the windows, had zero difficulty getting him into a sleeper hold, and…  Daniel stood.  What had he gotten them into?  Still, they were better off today than they had been yesterday, and it had been a couple months since he could say that.  He started another kettle of hot water.

The exterior door opened, and the big guy entered carrying their bags.  Daniel immediately ran over to take one from him.  He set it down behind the couch, then grabbed the dry towel and offered it to the guy.  The guy gave him a blank look.  Daniel shifted awkwardly.  “You’re wet.  And cold.”

Another blank stare, then the guy took the towel.  He started drying his hair as Daniel went back into the kitchen.  “Do you want cocoa, mister?  I noticed some tea or…”

“I’m fine.”

“You sure?  Cause I can make —”

“I’m fine.”

“Okay, then, I’m…”  Daniel hesitated.  “I’m gonna get in the shower.”

“More towels in there.”  The guy pointed at a cupboard near the bathroom.

“Thanks, uh…”  He swallowed.  “What should I call you?”

“What?”  The guy turned toward him.

“I mean, I can’t just keep calling you mister…”  He shook his head.  “I mean, unless that’s what you’re into and then hey, yeah, whatever you want but do you have a name or —”

“Stop talking.”  The guy sighed.  “Matthias.”

“Matthias?”  Daniel shifted from foot to foot.

“Just Matthias.”  He pointed.  “Shower.”

“Right.”  He grabbed a towel and went into the room.

After a couple weeks of trying to wash in the sink, the stream of hot water felt amazing.  There wasn’t much in the way of product, just a bar of soap.  He made fairly liberal use of it, then reluctantly left the shower.  He blinked.  The only clean pair of sweatpants he had was sitting on the counter.  He hadn’t even heard Matthias open the door.  Daniel dried off, then yanked the pants up over his hips before stepping out of the room.

Continue reading Daniel : Chapter 2

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Daniel : Chapter 1

Matthias set the wad of newspaper beneath the two logs on the fire, and lit struck a match.  He stayed crouched long enough to be sure the wood was going to light, then rose.  The cabin was secure enough that he hadn’t bothered to relight it earlier.  He’d have to turn on the propane tank and generator in the morning though, if he wanted hot water.  He shrugged, then sat down, letting the gun rest on his knee as he waited for the would-be thief to wake up.

It didn’t take long.  Maybe a minute.  The kid came awake with a jerk, and immediately began yanking at the handcuffs securing him to the column.  “Knock it off.”

The guy’s eyes widened when he saw Matthias, and he swallowed.  The expression on the dumbass’s face was almost comical.  “Who the fuck are you?”

“Kid…”  Matthias rubbed his forehead with his free hand.  “If I’d broken into a cabin only to get put in a sleeper hold by a guy twice my size that I never saw coming, then woke up handcuffed to a post with a gun pointed at my face, I’d like to think I’m smart enough to be a bit more polite.”  He leaned forward.  “So, the question is, who the fuck…”  He narrowed his eyes.  “Are you?”

“I didn’t know anyone was here.”  The kid started shaking his head frantically.  His blue eyes looked frantic.

“Sure, you didn’t.  Who are you?”

“Look, you can just let me go, and you’ll never see me again, I swear.”

“Let’s try this one last time.”  Matthias stood, setting his sights at right between the thief’s eyes.  “Who the fuck are you?”

He swallowed.  “Daniel.”

“And you were breaking in because…?”  Matthias raised an eyebrow.

“Needed supplies and…”  The kid swallowed again.

“Supplies are in the kitchen.  You were after something else.”  He shifted to aim at the kid’s kneecap.  “Who sent you?”

“Nobody sent me.”  The kid drew his knees up to his chest.  “I needed money.  I was looking for that or something I could sell to…”  The kid cringed.  “Please don’t kill me.  I was just trying to get enough for gas and maybe a motel and oh god.”  He was shaking now.  “Please don’t kill me.  I swear I didn’t know anyone was here.”

For the love of…  The guy looked like he was about to start crying.  “And of all the places to rob…”  He shook his head.  “You came here?”

“It was far away, nobody would see me and…”  The kid’s voice caught a little.  “I’ve never robbed anyone before and…”  He shook his head.  “It would take the cops a while to get here and not a lot of people use the cabins in the winter and I didn’t think anyone was here and…”  He shook his head.  “Please, I won’t tell anyone about this, I swear.”

Matthias started laughing.  “All the places to break into, you pick mine.  That’s…”  He shook his head, and holstered the gun.  He could smell the waves of terror coming off the guy.  “You poor stupid fuck.”  He started pacing.  Even if he did feel like killing some hapless teenager, disposing of a body in subzero temperatures with three feet of snow on the ground didn’t appeal to him.  And another storm was on its way.  Kid would have no choice to stay in town, and if he talked to the wrong person…  If they knew enough to be in town he was already screwed.  He walked behind the column and started digging the keys out of his pocket.  The kid tensed, then relaxed again when Matthias started removing the cuffs.

“I won’t say anything, mister.  I swear.”

“Good.”  Matthias leaned in close.  “Saves me the trouble of pressing charges.”  The kid flinched.  “Get up.”

The guy stood up, swayed a little, and promptly passed out onto his floor.  Matthias sighed.

Continue reading Daniel : Chapter 1

Ash : Chapter 9

He still hadn’t spoken.  Magda sighed.  She thought back to what Stephan had said.  He’d been right about the collar.  Maybe he was right about other things.  She stood.  “Ash, come.”

Ash followed her into the bedroom, then climbed up on the bed.  He curled up at the foot of it, as he did every night.  She switched off the overhead light, leaving the one on her nightstand glowing.  Then she laid down.  “Ash, come here.”  She patted the bed next to her.

Continue reading Ash : Chapter 9

Ash : Chapter 8

Magda stopped the car, and stared up at the small house.  For the first time in decades, she was grateful she hadn’t been able to bring herself to sell the place.  Twice a year she came up, checked on things, sealed it back up tightly.  She’d missed the last check.  She sighed, then looked over at the young man watching her from the back seat.

He hadn’t spoken since they’d found him.  He’d respond to his name with curious looks or a barking sound, but trying to coax actual words out of him had just resulted in him whimpering and cowering like a beaten dog.  She’d managed to get him to wear a pair of sweat pants, though they were too short for him.  Trying to take the collar off had just made him whimper and cringe.  What the hell had those bitches done to him?

“Ash.”  He looked up at her.  “Ash.”  She gestured to house.  “We’re here.”  He made an inquisitive whining noise.  Magda opened the door and got out.  She’d only gone a couple steps before she heard Ash bark at her.  She frowned, then sighed before going back and opening the door for him.  She wasn’t sure if she felt more frustrated or sick at the fact that he started crawling after her instead of walking.  Stephan had a point.  They’d have taken Ash to the psych ward.  And with his father dead…  She wondered if he even knew.

It took her a couple tries to get the generator started.  Ash followed her though the house as she looked around, crawling after her as she checked each room.  Everything was dusty, but usable.  Better than she’d expected from a place she hadn’t set foot inside in almost year.  She turned the well on, then waited until the water ran clear.  Ash stared quizzically at the glass she offered him, and reluctantly she poured the water into a bowl and set it down.  He drank it before following her into the living room.

When she sat down on the couch, he hesitated before crawling up next to her.  To her surprise, he curled himself into a ball and laid down with his head in her lap.  When she just stared at him, he whined softly, and she could feel him start trembling.  Slowly, she brushed her fingers through his hair.  “It’s alright, Ash.”  She felt him start relaxing.  “You’re safe here.  I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

Continue reading Ash : Chapter 8

Ash: Chapter 7

She looked over the rifle Stephan had set on the table, then raised an eyebrow.  “So, when you said elephant gun…”

“I meant my grandfather literally hunted elephants with it.  And rhino, water buffalo, etcetera.”  He shrugged.  “Classic mighty whitey.”  He poked the box of ammo.  “No silver slugs though.”

Magda nodded.  “Can you shoot it with a busted arm?”

“It’s more my shoulder going to be an issue, but yes.”  He nodded.  “I can get off a couple shots, at least, though I might need some stitches replaced afterward.”  Stephan looked up at her.  “Did you get what you need?”

“I did.”  Magda looked away before looking back at him.  No matter how this ended, her life here was over.  She’d already hidden away the things she couldn’t bear to lose.  “You know if you come with me, then even if this works…”

“I know.”  He smiled.  “You’re my partner, Mags.  I’ve got your back.”  He looked down at the gun.  “And you have saved my life twice recently, so I kind of owe you.”

“There are two of them.  Lisa will be stronger and faster.”  She took a deep breath.  “She’ll also be focused on me.  Any idea what the other one looks like?”

“Name was foreign.  Sima, I think Lisa said.  When I asked who Sima was, Lisa said she was her roommate.”  Stephan frowned.  “That’s all I have.”

“She’ll be holding Ash.  So…”

“Mags…”

“He’s just a kid, Stephan.”  She shook her head.  “A pup.”

“I know.”  He took a deep breath.  “Just hoping I’m still a decent shot with this thing.”

“Alright.  Let’s go set our trap.”

Continue reading Ash: Chapter 7

Ash: Chapter 6

Magda gave a frustrated growl and banged her hand on the steering wheel.  She’d left the paperwork on her desk at him.  Dammit, and Stephan’s girl was bringing him dinner.  She really didn’t want to interrupt her partner’s date.  He’d accepted the restrictions she’d put on him readily enough.  He’d accepted all of it readily enough.  It was nice, having a person she could rely on.  She spun the wheel and started heading to her house.  Maybe she could sneak in and grab it without him even noticing.

Continue reading Ash: Chapter 6

Ash: Chapter 5

“They found Sarah.”  Magda sat down heavily next to the hospital bed.

“Not among the living, from the look on your face.”  Stephan gave a small shake of his head.  “You should have gone after her instead of carrying me back to —”

“Yours was the life I could save.”  Her voice was quiet.

“I know.  I’m not being fair, I…”  He banged his head back on the pillow.  “She shot you with my gun, and Sarah died.  I should have trusted you and just let you go do your thing.”

“You did trust me to do my thing, Stephan.  I should have been honest with you sooner.”  She swallowed.  “I knew I’d be putting you in danger by taking you with me.”

Silence fell.  Stephan took a deep breath.  “Talk to me, Mags.”

“I’m not sure how much you will believe.”  She looked away.

“I know what I saw.”  He shrugged.  “And they’ve got me on some really good drugs at the moment, so…”

“Ash was alive and at that location.  I went to his house, took a couple of this things so I’d have his scent.  He was in that vehicle with Sarah and the…”  Magda growled.  “Bitches.”

“They didn’t find him?”  Stephan raised an eyebrow.

“No.  I lost the trail at the campground.  They stole another car.  He was with them then.”

“Any chance he’s…”  Stephan frowned.  “Not sure what I’m asking here…”

“He’s not a werewolf.”  She put a hand on his arm.  “Neither are you.  The stories get that part wrong.  It’s not a contagious thing.”

“That…”  Stephan slowly nodded.  “Is one hell of a relief to know.”  He frowned.  “Then why hold onto him this long?”

“Good question.  I don’t like any of the possible answers.”  She leaned back.  “Vincent bought your story.  Thinks we were going to get the ranger and just happened upon the car.”

“And got attacked by someone’s pet bear?”  Stephan shook his head.  “That’s a terrible story.  I was in shock when I came up with that story.”

“The teeth marks in your arm kind of backed it up.”  Magda shrugged.

The silence returned.  Stephan exhaled.  “You’re a werewolf.”

“Yes.”

“Magda.”  He looked up at her.  “You’re a werewolf.”

“Yes.”  She nodded.  “Figured that out when I turned sixteen.”  She considered for a moment, and then met his eyes.  “In 1644.”

“Yeah.”  Stephan took a deep breath.  “I’m gonna need more drugs.”

Continue reading Ash: Chapter 5

Ash: Chapter 4

Ash shivered a little in the night air.  The temperature outdoors was starting to drop a little at night.  Autumn was coming.  The notion made his stomach twist.  It had been the beginning of summer when he’d been abducted.  It wasn’t outright cold yet, just cool.  And he hadn’t been allowed to put on clothes since his had been taken from him.  Sima might have allowed it, but Carol had objected strongly to the idea of him being allowed any clothing at all.  He shivered again.

“Are you cold, Ash?”  Sima petted him.

He made a small whining noise.  The collar hadn’t been activated in a while, but the last time he’d attempted to speak had netted him another two days in the box.  She unhooked the leash from her chair, and started walking him back to the building.  He started to follow his mist…  Sima.  Her name was Sima.  He was a cop, not a dog.  She led him into her room, and patted the foot of the bed.  He climbed up and curled into a ball.  She laid down and went back to her book.

It was getting cold.  It was past July, then.  He’d missed his father’s birthday.  The big five-oh.  He felt tears prick the back of his eyes, and blinked them back.  His friends were likely going on with their lives, now.  Making plans for the upcoming semester, starting new jobs.  His father had wanted him to meet someone who worked in the filing room.  A nice girl who’d supposedly made the cookies to die for.  Not so subtle hints about settling down and starting a family.  What was his father doing now?

They hadn’t been laying there long when Sima suddenly sat up.  “Oh, I almost forgot.  I got you something in town.”  She went to her dresser and took something out of her purse.  He looked down at what she set in front of him.

A bright blue plastic squeaky bone.  Her hand ruffled his hair.  “A new toy for my good boy.  Do you like it, Ash?”

It was a bright blue plastic squeaky bone.  It was a dog toy.  Her hand tightened in his hair, pulling the strands just a little.  “Do you like it, Ash?”  There was an edge to her voice now, a small note of threat.

The toy squeaked when he bent down and picked it up in his mouth.  He squeaked it again.  Sima smiled, and her grip on his hair once again became a pet.  “I knew you’d like it.”  She settled back down with her book.

His name was Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.  He was not her pet.  He was a cop.  He was not a dog.  The box was cramped, and dark, and painful.  He just had to pretend, so she didn’t put him back in the box.  He settled back down on the bed and began chewing on the corner of the bone.  His name was Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.  He was not her pet.  He was a cop.  He was not a dog.

Continue reading Ash: Chapter 4

Ash : Chapter 3

There was a scent on the wind.  The same as the car.  Magda started to follow, then got whiff of a more familiar scent.  She stopped in her tracks.  “What are you doing here?”

Stephan shrugged.  “You left the station.”

“It’s the weekend.”  She turned toward him.

“We’ve got a missing cop, and you decide to actually take a weekend?”  He shook his head.  “What’s going on, Magda?”

“Needed to clear my head.”  She twitched a shoulder.

“So, you pick the jogging trail that was the recent site of a couple joggers getting mauled by a bear?”  Stephan raised an eyebrow.  “What, are you planning on challenging it to a fistfight or something?”

“Mood I’m in, I could take a bear.”  She hesitated.  The scent was on the wind, but with Stephan here…  If it was what she thought it was, it was more danger than her partner could handle.

“Talk to me, Magda.”  He gave her a concerned look.

And if she didn’t follow the trail now, she risked losing it.  “Walk with me.”

“If you want.”  He nodded.

He didn’t say anything when after a while she led him off the trail, following her nose.  The scent cut across paths, taking shortcuts.  Didn’t comment on how weird she was acting, or why they were going through the woods in the middle of the night.  He just followed, trusting that she knew what she was doing.  And he kept his eyes peeled, watching her back as she followed the scent.

They came out at a parking lot.  Despite the hour, there were two or three cars still there.  She followed the scent to one space, and then nothing.  Whoever it was had gotten in the car and driven away.  She crouched, but the treads all overlapped, rendering any pattern too indistinct to be useful.  With so many vehicles, there was no way to tell for certain which scent was the right car.

There was a wolf hunting in her territory.  She took a deep breath, and looked up at Stephan.  He was just watching her.  “At the warehouse —”

“The woman looked like she’d been torn apart by wild animals.”  Stephan nodded.  “You think it’s like one of those weird cartels where they’ve got a pet jaguar or something?”

Relief filled her.  He’d made the connection on his own.  Wrong, but it gave her something to build on.  “The thought crossed my mind, I mean…”  She shrugged.  “When was the last time anyone saw a bear out here?”

“Where’d you learn to track?”  He looked around, frowning as he observed the lot.

“My dad used to take me hunting.”  It was close enough to the truth.  “Not sure I picked up enough of a trail to go on, but…”  She slowly nodded.  “I think the cases are related.”

“Let’s go have a word with the rangers, see if any of them spotted anything odd.”

Continue reading Ash : Chapter 3

Ash: Chapter 2

They led him into a different room.  Ash took a quick look around, but once again so no windows or other means of egress than the door itself.  There was a bed in the room.  It was starting to become obvious what they intended, but what he once would have thought of as a pleasant fantasy was quickly unraveling in the face of reality.  Carol pulled him toward the bed.  He started to balk, and felt Sima place the prongs of the prod in the small of his back.  “Be a good boy, Ash.”

He followed Carol, then laid face down as Sima directed.  The prod was handed to Carol, who kept it pressed against him as Sima walked to the foot of the bed.  She unfastened the ankle restraints.  He fought the urge to whimper as she spread his legs across the queen-sized bed, securing his ankles to the posts.  She removed his left wrist from the cuffs and secured it to the bedpost, then secured his right wrist to the remaining post.

Then she started tightening the ropes.  A few moments later he was racked across the bed, the ropes tight enough to strain his joints.  He could barely move.  “Are you comfortable, Ash?”  Sima petted his hair.

Continue reading Ash: Chapter 2

Ash : Chapter 1

Lisa smiled as the man on the tattered mattress moved slightly.  She rose, and walked over to look down at her prize.  He shifted again just a little, and then his eyes flew open and he began thrashing at the restraints.  His hands were cuffed behind his back, and a second pair of cuffs secured his ankles.  The third set had been used to fasten the other two sets together.  “You’re going to hurt yourself it you keep that up.”

He shifted to glare angrily in her direction.  Whatever he tried to say was muffled by the rag she’d stuffed into his mouth.  She smirked, then removed his ID from her pocket.  “Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.  That’s quite a moniker.”  She ran her thumb over the badge.  “You don’t really look like a Bernie.”  He had a muscular, athletic build from what she could see.  Definitely not the type she’d expect from such a frankly nerdy name.

Muffled grunts were all that answered her as he continued testing the cuffs.  She shrugged.  “Or a Rudy, for that matter.”  His eyes narrowed.  She licked her lips.

“He looks a bit confused.”  Carol chuckled.  The man on the mattress squirmed, trying to look over his shoulder at her.  Carol was leaning near the door, watching with some amusement.  “I’ll bet he’s a Berg.”

“What about it?”  Lisa walked over to crouch near the mattress.  “You a Berg?”  She reached out to touch the collar of his uniform and he managed to pull away.  The sounds he was making were most likely curses, and he was openly glaring at her now.

“So, tell me, what did he pull you over for?”  Carol raised an eyebrow.

“I was doing five over.”  Lisa smirked.  “Couldn’t risk them running my ID and his trainer was going to do it ‘by the book’ instead of just telling me to slow down and go on my way.”

The man on the mattress started making cursing noises and pulling at the cuffs again.  “Hey, now.”  Carol’s voice was sharp.  She sat down on the mattress and grabbed his forearm.  “Knock it off, you’re already bleeding.”  She shook her head and looked up at Lisa.  “You’re going to need better restraints.”

“Wasn’t exactly planning on taking a prisoner.”  Lisa shrugged.  She reached forward to brush her fingers through the man’s dark blond hair.  He immediately pulled away and growled something from behind the gag.  “He was just a bit too pretty to pass up.”

“What happened to the other one?”  Carol examined the prisoner’s abraded wrist.  The prisoner managed to pull his arm away.

“Double tap.”  Lisa shrugged.  “Once I had this one in the trunk the old man had outlived his usefulness.”

More sounds came from the captive.  Carol reached up, grabbed his hair, and yanked his head back.  “I suggest you start considering how to preserve your own life.”

“So, which is it?  Berg, Rudy, or Bernie?”  Lisa leaned forward and yanked the gag out of his mouth.

“Fuck you.”  He spat the words at her.  “You murderous bitch, I —” He struggled, but with Carol holding him by the hair Lisa had no problem shoving the gage back into his mouth.

“He’s not very cooperative.”  Carol made a tsking sound.

“That can be changed.”  Lisa smiled.

Continue reading Ash : Chapter 1

Wren and Adam: Chapter 7

Wren glanced at where Adam sat in the corner of the room.  He was human for now.  Renee had been very clear about what would happen if he shifted without permission.  Not that it mattered.  With a single spell, Renee could teleport Adam back into the vicinity of the talisman.  He wasn’t going anywhere, and it was clear he knew it.

The talisman was more powerful than she’d initially realized.  It had apparently jumped up Adam’s own magical ability.  Whatever gift he’d had initially had been replaced as he’d adapted to the shape-changing.  Renee had dangled the talisman between her fingers as she’d discussed its power.  Then, almost casually, she’d held it over a flame.

Adam’s scream had been so intense he’d damaged his throat.  For nearly two days, he’d been all but unable to speak even after she’d healed him.  He was bound to the glimmering stone.  Unless it was kept by a witch, it’s magic would begin to decay.  Within a few days, it would be rendered inert.  And Adam would die.  Adam himself couldn’t touch the thing without blacking out, and the tiniest trickle of magic through it was enough that he could not disobey a direct order against the one holding it.  He was trapped.

Renee had made such talismans before.  Adam was the first to have not been rendered a drooling wreck by the process.  Wren was certain it was his own gift, the magic that had allowed him to adapt to animal forms, that made the difference more than her own assistance during the process.

She looked down at the talisman in her hand, then back up at Adam.  He stared up at her, his face devoid of expression.  “Focus, girl.”  Renee’s voice came from behind her.

Her will concentrated behind the talisman.  She closed her eyes, and felt Adam’s presence.  Despite his empty expression, she could feel the emotions beneath the surface.  Anger and despair were waring with each other.  Hatred for Renee and…  She swallowed when she realized that while she could sense his love for her, there was hatred now as well.  And fear.  Adam was scared of her.  You don’t have to be afraid.

A moment of confusion in his mind, and then a response. I wish I could believe that.

“Shift him.”  Renee ordered.

In her mind, she formed the picture of a dog.  No, not a dog.  She shifted the picture to that of a wolf.  Then she exerted her will.  Connected to Adam’s mind, she could feel pain course through him, though it was slightly disconnected.  The sensation of it was a heady rush that sent a shiver through her.  When she opened her eyes again, a gray wolf sat where he’d been a moment before.  “Done.”

“Good girl.”  Renee smiled.  “Now turn him back.”

Continue reading Wren and Adam: Chapter 7

Wren and Adam : Chapter 6

Adam shivered in the cage.  The hag had taken Wren to her bed again.  The frightening thing was that it seemed Wren now went willingly, eager for the chance to learn some new spell.  The old witch hadn’t beaten Wren in weeks.

These days, when Wren messed up a lesson, the hag simply dragged him out, changed him back into a human, and ordered Wren to torture him.  It was starting to almost be a relief to be changed back into some form of animal.  At first, Wren had begged not to be made to hurt him.  Now it seemed she just did what she was told, getting it over with to move on with her training.

He’d almost forgotten what it was like to be human and not in pain.  Or at the mercy of another.  He was given to Wren as a reward as well.  Last night she’d held him down while she’d ridden him.  After what had happened at the bar, he’d had no interest in being taken to Wren’s bed.  But his body had responded to her so eagerly he suspected she’d used one of her spells.  He wondered if the hag used such spells on Wren, considering how often the creature fucked his girlfriend.

His girlfriend.  It was difficult thinking of Wren in such terms anymore.  At first she’d tried finding a way to make the shifting not hurt.  Then, at some point, it was like she’d stopped caring and just been concerned herself with finding the limitations of the spell and his own responses to the spell.  Eventually, he’d become so inured to it he just stopped screaming despite the agony.  His mind tried to go back to the events of the previous week, and he pushed the thoughts away.

There was something under the agony when the magic surrounded him.  Something he could almost focus on, touch.  At times he could almost feel it when he wasn’t being changed.  He sought for it, the strange sort of hum inside him.  They’d forgotten to feed him again.  A rabbit was too big to get out of the cage, and…  Adam frowned, and concentrated.

Agony filled him as his bones twisted and bent into other shapes.  He made no sound as his body shifted and…  And as a serpent, he slithered through the bars.  If snakes could have, he’d have laughed.  Immediately, he headed for the door, slipping beneath it.  A snake wasn’t fast enough.  He touched the hum again, concentrating.

Instinct guided as much as anything.  Rather than assume a human form, he found himself on all four paws.  A dog.  And then he started to run.  He went north, toward freedom.  He almost lost himself in the joy of it, the canine urge to just run and run.  After having been a prisoner so many months, stretching his legs even to flee was an almost indescribable pleasure.

The road was in view when the world around him suddenly spun.  He howled.

Continue reading Wren and Adam : Chapter 6

Wren and Adam: Chapter 5

Wren was going on about how exciting it must have been to fly.  Adam sighed and shook his head.  “What’s wrong?”  Wren put her hand on his leg.

“Imagine having your body put through a damn woodchipper, Wren.”  Adam met her eyes.  “That’s what it feels like every time she…”

“Oh.”  Wren’s voice was small.  “That’s…”  She looked away.  “That’s why you screamed.”

“Yeah, Wren.  That’s why I screamed.”  He leaned back.  “I’d almost rather she leave me a rabbit than keep…”  He shuddered.

“I figured out how to make the wax stop hurting you.  Maybe I could find a way to…”

“Find a way to get us out of here, Wren.  Please.”  He caught her hand.

“I am, Adam.”  She smiled.

He wished he could believe her, but half the time Renee entered the room Wren looked more excited than afraid.  Adam rubbed his arms.  Since most of the time he was left in animal form, Renee hadn’t bothered to provide him with any clothes.  Half the time it seemed he was lucky if either woman remembered to provide him with food.

“I think I could do it.”

“Wren?”  He looked up at her.

“I was watching, when she was shifting you.  I think I could do it.  It would have to be a dog or a cat, those are the only animals I’ve really been around long enough to be sure of getting it right, but I think I can do it.”

Adam stared at her.  He’d told her how bad it hurt and…  “Wren.”

“I’m going to try a cat, okay?”  She stood up, shaking out her arms.

“Please, don’t…”  He started shaking his head.

She took a deep breath before half closing her eyes and putting a hand on his shoulder.

A scream tore from him as his bones began to break and shift.

Continue reading Wren and Adam: Chapter 5

Wren and Adam : Chapter 4

She concentrated, trying to focus the strange stirring inside her.  Adam’s face was contorted with pain.  His wrists had been bound behind his back, then fastened to a length of chain.  Renee had then tossed the other end of the chain over a tree branch and used it to lift Adam up.  He stood on tiptoes, his entire body taut as he tried to keep his balance and prevent even more strain to his shoulders.

The candle failed to light.  Renee brought the whip down across Adam again.  His scream was muffled by the gag in his mouth as he struggled to regain his balance.  Blood ran down his sides and legs from where the lash had bitten into him.  “Try again.”  Renee narrowed her eyes.  “I don’t stop hurting him until the candle lights.”

Wren took a deep breath, and imagined that the wick was Renee’s head.  The candle lit with enough heat to melt away the first half inch of wax.  “It’s lit.”  She turned toward Renee.  “Let him down.”

Renee hit the lever to release the chain.  Adam fell to his knees, and Wren rushed toward him.  She put her arms around him as she focused the healing magic.  “Adam, are you alright?”

Continue reading Wren and Adam : Chapter 4