Title: Cut the Ropes
Disclaimer: see chapter 11
A/N: Been a while, hasn't it? Sorry for the long waits. I'll try to update sooner. If you catch the really small hint, you might find out where our vampire friend got her tip.
And also... This was very boring for me to write. I got the most amazing idea ever, but I won't be able to apply it until I... Don't want to spoil anything. But, anyways, you know that feeling that you got when you found Hollowgo's Blood Solstice? Yeah. I got something that can top that. I found a 101 chapter Fleurmione fic. I am so proud of myself. Check my favorites if you're interested, beautiful fic. I also found a 48 chap Nina/Lily fic, for you Black Swan lovers. Beat that.
Side note: No, Emily and Bella will not be getting together. Emily is fourteen. Bella is nineteen. Technically, if anything did happen, it would be illegal and also pointless to the plot. But I'm not one for technicalities. It would still mess with the plot though, so...
One very last thing: I really feel like a bitch for saying this, but… I saw it being pointed out on another fic and I couldn't help but agree. Anyone who's an author can probably say they love reviews, that it means a reader cared enough to put some input, good or bad, into your story. I have 70 of you on alerts (after I put this out it might be less) so that's 70 reviews that could have been added to help get attention to CTR. Because, tell me, would you rather read a fic with 20 or 200 reviews? Even if those 70 people don't care enough to review, there's 40 of you guys who put me on favorites ( ). Those people probably care. But last chap I only got 4 out of the 40 reviewers possible… Any author could say that would probably depress them. It just gets me kind of down, like maybe you guys are reading this like its your job… I do that sometimes, and then I regret reading in the first place. Just something I wanted to get out there…
See you at ze buttum.
The Illusionist's Message
Why I chose to stop in the middle of the desert, I will never know.
There was sun. A lot of sun. And sand. A whole lot of sand. And the occasional mountain ridge from very, very far away. The sun was right smack in the middle of the fucking sky. It reminded me of this one annoying guy, named... Mitch Funion, or whatever, who would always huff at me whenever he talked, so I got a huge whiff of his dog breath. He thought it was sexy. Just like the sun, which was basically breathing shit onto me.
There was nothing. I've been listening to an AM Arabic rapper for the past twenty minutes, waiting for some sort of building or some small cloud that might possibly cover up the goddamn sun. It turns out the stupid bike had a CD player but no iPod compatibility. God damnit, and I forgot my earbuds at Alex's. So basically, I was having to choose between several hours of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" on loop or some Arabic trash bustin' rap like it was nobody's business. Well, it is my goddamn business because I've been listening to it for the past... How long have I been driving?
It doesn't matter.
My lips turned downwards as the chorus came on again. If I picked up any words, they were either "drunk" or "bitches". Nice to know their priorities in music.
The bike beneath me stormed along, leaving a giant blaze of sand behind. If I stopped, I would get the biggest face full of scalding hot sand. I think that's my only motivation to keep on going. I ran out of water a few miles back, and my map says I have another couple of hours left until I hit the edge of the U.A.E. Maybe I should just sorta prop myself up a bit, and just let the bike fly on its own...
I lifted my elbows up onto the handles, feeling the bike shift slightly off course with the change in pressure. The radio continued to bust rap like crazy, so I, being the massive Eminem fan that I am, roughly dislocated the antenna and tossed it to the ground, watching as it disappeared into the sand cloud.
I felt the monster shift around inside of me. It hurt just a bit, especially because I hadn't shifted in over three weeks. The transformation tickled at the very edges of my being, a slight burning sensation overcoming my extremities.
I listened on as the Kings of Leon blared through the CD speakers. More and more tracks on this endless CD passed as the road closed in to make an even thinner path.
Just ten minutes after the transformation began poking me in the side, it took all of my energy to ward off the blackness and keep the bike on track.
Fifteen minutes, and I was at the side of the road, gasping for breath as I tried to fight the transformation, or at least make it come as slowly as possible. My palms were flat on the ground, and I was coughing up the measly sandwich I brought for the trip. My throat hurt from lack of water.
There was searing pain coming on and off with every heartbeat. I could feel the skin snapping to conform to the bones, the heat crawling up my spine. I fought it back, though. The pin pricks grew fainter, until I felt them almost disappear. It took me a second to catch my breath, but the monster reeled back inch by inch, letting me slowly come back to my senses.
I got up and looked around. Once again, there was nothing, but a small green dot down the road caught my eye.
My eyelids scrunched up as I tried to see what was on the horizon. I could faintly, very faintly make out a green and orange dot.
It looked exactly like a 7-11, but, you know, in the middle of the desert.
I picked the bike up and twisted the handle, speeding toward the mysterious dot. The worst it could be was a demon Transformer ready to kill me.
Let's not think about that.
Finally, after ten minutes of wondering if it was a mirage, it appeared. It looked like a small gas station. In fact, it was. The bike happily rumbled beneath me as I finally pulled onto concrete. I stepped onto the painfully hot blackness, feeling the heat through my canvas slip-ons. I approached the seemingly harmless 7-11, waiting for something to attack me. With my luck, this might be a portal into Hell.
The alarm jingled when I walked through the door. It was lit brightly with White light, but dim compared to the searing sun. It was wonderfully cold, the AC blaring freezing air into the hot ambient. Aisles of chips, sodas, and every comfort food imaginable lined the store, along with an empty cashier.
I opened up my pack. Phone, iPod... Where the hell is it?
Suddenly, a door in the back opened up, revealing a teenage girl with a similar complexion to everyone in the Middle East. Tan, with dark hair poking out from under her hood, big eyes, bigger nose... Brown eyes. Thank God. She looked straight at me, and her eyes widened a bit when she found that I didn't have my hair in a scarf.
She loosened up and perched her elbows on the cashier's desk, sighing. "Oh, thank God. You don't mind if I take his off, do you?" she said, pointing to the edges of her scarf.
"No, not at all," I responded, grabbing a beer in my hand. There was a quiet silence, before I continued. "I'm guessing you're not very religious?"
She laughed, her face lighting up as she let her dark hair down her shoulders. "Nope, I think it's a bunch of bull. All the sexism and stuff, too much. I actually went up to India to study, got some English out of that."
"That's awesome! I might be considered a high school dropout, but just some... Things, came up, so I had to go to London, and down here for..." Quick Bella, THINK DAMNIT! "A mission trip!"
She noticed the small pause, but didn't make any comment. "Where are you from?"
"The States. Washington."
"Bloody cold, isn't it?"
I shrugged. "I adapt easily."
I went back to browsing the beer selection, which was very small, and after a while she started talking again. "Are you gonna buy that?" she asked, pointing to the bottle in my hand.
I nodded. "Yeah, lemme just get my wallet..." I took out a few bills and coins, placing them on a table. She eyed the wallet, but rang up the beer anyway.
"Could I see your ID? I get in huge trouble if I don't look at one, it doesn't matter to me if you're over 21 or not though, but I need to see it anyway."
I opened the wallet, looking around for an ID. I finally found one, but when I finally took one long look at it, something looked oddly familiar.
Tan, with dark hair poking out from under her hood, big, brown eyes... Bigger nose...
Son of a bitch.
I pocketed the wallet, grabbing the beer off the counter while I was at it. She frowned, before asking. "What's up?"
I shrugged it off, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. "I have to drive a motorcycle, so I should probably stay sober."
"Right. What's someone like you doing all the way out here?" she asked.
"What's a seven eleven doing in the middle of the desert?"
There was a pause, before she leaned over the counter and gave me a mock glare. "Touché. But you still haven't answered my question."
"I don't even know your name!"
"Ari. Now you can tell me."
I shrugged. "From that town way down the road down to Dubai. Maybe five or six hours back at the speed I'm travelling."
"Wow. The old town is really far away. And so is Dubai. How fast?"
"Hundred, maybe one-fifty, but I think I'll slow it down a bit. Bike looks like it's about to pop..."
She turned her head to gaze at the bike. Her lips turned down in a cringe, and she said, "Yikes. I wouldn't want to be riding that. You could come in my car, I live in the U.A.E."
I paused for a minute. "How big is your car?"
"Pretty big..." she paused, staring straight into my eyes. "Hey, you're not part of that gang, right?"
"Oh, I see. Colored contacts? Badass bite marks? Rusty rides? I'm not stupid, you guys are a huge gang. But you're all in one big place, right? Not spread out... You're not recruiting, are you?"
"Oh! No, it's a fad. See, people up there like these. The bite marks are from all the animals. Bikes, you know, just 'cause they're awesome."
"Sure. I get it."
I browsed the small chip aisle, then grabbed a random bag of Doritos and paid for the gas I was about to get. I was really wondering how a 7-11 could end up all the way out here. But then again, it probably didn't matter.
I bid my goodbyes to Ari, exiting through the front door.
Hmm. I don't remember that pump being right there, but okay.
I filled up Mr. Rusty, hearing the engine roar when I mounted it yet again. The handles were pushed forward, putting the bike into full speed.
There was something wrong here. It felt funny.
I paused for a moment to gather my bearings, looking at the wide map. Tracing the red lines with my fingertips, I gathered that I had made my way very far in the past twelve hours. However, I wasted four hours in the 7-11.
I know I wasn't there for four hours.
I turned around to head back into the store to check the time. Obviously, my phone was wrong. However, when I turned on my heel to head back, there was nothing. No store. No gas. No car.
It was as if it had never existed in the first place.
My senses reacted immediately, sending a slight burn through my veins as the protective changes came over me. I turned quickly around, baring my teeth and nails to the assailant.
There was no assailant. Instead, there was a rolling green wave of trees sprouting from nothing in the far ridges of the desert. Thousands of tall jungle trees sprouted from nowhere as I turned around to run. I was cornered in a tsunami of green, all overcoming the sandy desert. I shrunk down into a ball and held my hands over my head, as to not be harmed.
However, the trees stopped about five feet from me, leaving me in a small hole inside my own oasis of sand.
What the fuck is going on?
I recollected anything strange. I should have known better than to visit a 7-11 in the middle of the desert, with an English speaking non-religious clerk who looked exactly the person on the forged I.D. There was something stranger though, about this place. I opened my eyes to look around, and then it hit me.
This place was smothered in aura.
Come to think of it, the human didn't have an aura either. The whole side of the road was engulfed in a thick brown smokescreen of aura. The entire forest was covered in the same stuff. It was one giant illusion.
I shut my eyes, shaking my head and trying to distinguish reality from the smoke and mirrors. Inside my head, however, I heard a voice.
They told me much about you, child, but I never imagined you to be such an…animal.
I screamed back. "Who the fuck are you?"
I am Zafrina. The voice said in a bored tone. Even though it should be my employer who interests you more.
"Well? Care to explain?" I said. In the meanwhile, I was looking for a source of aura, a concentration of energy.
No. I'm just here to delay you, after all, we have a mortal who knows of us on the loose. You might know her. Short, brown curls, beautiful face. I might play with her before we exterminate.
Son of a bitch. She wants Rebecca.
"Come out and play, bitch, I'm ready for it," I growled. Out of the thick green leaves of the forest illusion, I caught a glimpse of brown, darker than the surrounding shades. I closed my eyes, shielding my eyes from the green but continuing to see the brown.
I'd rather not. We have a guest approaching. Far away, but moving quickly. Loud, heavy footsteps. And the scent… Hmm. It seems our mortal has come to visit.
God damnit. A werewolf and Rebecca…
I sunk down into the sand, the leaves of the forest rustling in surprise. When they sensed me beneath the surface, the trees roots grew rapidly, trying to catch me. However, they couldn't move as quickly in the sand as I could. I easily dodged them, the thick roots grabbing at empty space as I made my way under the brown blob. When I looked up, there was no one, but the illusionists silhouette could be seen against the tower of brown. I reached up and grabbed its ankle, sending it sinking neck deep into the sand. The smell of roses and dried blood filled my nostrils. It was a vampire.
Even the vampire struggled against the sand, being unable to move anything. I kicked its head, but immediately regretted it when it sent a throbbing pain through my foot.
"Ouch, damnit," I muttered under my breath. The vampire chuckled quietly.
"What, you think this is funny?" I growled, wrapping my fingers around its thin neck. "Tell me who you work for!"
"Relax, you can open your eyes, my shield is down." It said.
When I opened my eyes, all I could see was blood red, and a disgusting, bat like face, framed by five horns, so hideous I could only close my eyes again.
The vampire laughed. "Okay, now for real, open your eyes…" it said.
"How do I know you're not fucking with my head again?"
"Can't you feel the heat of the desert? The warm breeze against your tired skin? The heat of the sun settling into your growing fur? Can't you tell? You're tired, aren't you, animal… You need rest, you need sleep…"
I took a peek. Instead of a rainforest or a monster, there was the calming glow of the moon, and the soft, rolling hills of the country. I didn't even bother anymore, I just held its neck, crushing it until I heard small cracks sounding across the granite surface.
"Who do you work for?" My voice sounded extremely drowsy.
Once again, the vampire chuckled. "Does it matter, dear one? Look at the world around you, beckoning you to sleep… Look at everything created so you could sleep. Rest your eyes, I will remain… Worry about everything later," It soothed, with a hoarse whisper.
I couldn't help but open my eyes. The world around me was indeed everything she described it to be. Biofleurescent leaves on trees lit up the dark, making the grass look a soft, sleepy purple. The moon showed brightly overhead, lighting up the forest in a soft glow. Everything seemed to be begging me to set my head down and sleep. In fact, my eyelids began to flutter shut, my body almost collapsing.
Just as my head met the soft grass, the moon turned to the sun, blinding me to the light. The grass receded into the earth, leaving the blazing sand. The trees disappeared instantly, and instead of the soft hum of crickets I was greeted with a bellowing roar coming from the giant mass of fur about a hundred feet from me.
I only had enough time to crash into the sand before a brown mass of fur crashed into the vampire. It let out a deafening scream, but the werewolf plucked it out of the sand as if there was no struggle. It let out garbled words that I couldn't hear through the sand, but regardless, the werewolf tore the vampire's head off effortlessly, watching the carcass being reduced to ashes. The brown auras instantly receded into the ashes, the werewolf's light grey aura spreading like smoke onto the floor. Only Elizabeth's aura matched the rainy sky of Forks, so I knew it was her.
I peeked my head over the sand, looking at the werewolf playing with the ashes. You could tell that the figure was feminine, mostly because the fur was so well taken care of. She lazily turned her head to me, barely acknowledging my existence before gesturing with her muzzle to the road on the horizon. A big blue pickup truck with my bike in the trunk was making its way toward us, slowly, I might add. You could see Elizabeth's tail wagging slightly, her eyes becoming more interested.
When the truck finally got to us, I saw that it was Rebecca behind the wheel. She waved to me, and parked the car next to the road and got off.
"Hey!" She yelled, watching as Elizabeth immediately approached her without hesitation. The werewolf bent her neck down and rubbed her furry head on Rebecca, nearly knocking her over. The other girl responded by petting the large wolf's head, burrowing her face in the fur. "Hey to you, too," she spoke.
I let them have their moment, but heat was uncomfortably spreading throughout my body. I looked down to see I was almost half shifted, and couldn't hold it in any longer. Instead of hurting too much, there was only a white flash of heat, and then a searing burn instead of piercing pain. I couldn't help but be grateful. It felt good to be in this skin again. I found that the sand helped null the pain, but I couldn't help but let out a groan at the pain.
The two stopped their moment to look at me, face changing from less than human to completely alien. Elizabeth was already starting to shift back, her bones audibly cracking, receding back into human shape slowly. After a moment, I was in my new skin, wearing the fur like it was a rank. I rose up out of the sand, supporting myself on my arms when the front half of my body escaped the sand. I shook the dust off my fur, and then looked at the two. There was a visible difference.
Even though I couldn't see, say, the color of Rebecca's shirt, I could see her bright, sky blue aura melting into Elizabeth's smoky aura. If the colors weren't so different, you probably couldn't have been able to tell the difference between the two. I turned my head to face the horizon we were going to drive to, seeing the faint glint of the roofs of houses far away. I knew for a fact Rebecca wouldn't have remotely seen them, and that Elizabeth was too far away to see as well. I was the only one who could see the sand gently receding into real, not fake grass. The faint smell of food reached my nostrils from almost a kilometer away. The sun hung low in the sky, illuminating the sky in a palate of greys, probably all of the colors of a sunset.
By the time I finished reflecting on the grayscale colors of the environment, Elizabeth had almost entirely turned human. Instead of the towering fifteen feet tall she was a few minutes ago, she was a manageable eight feet. She was certainly not human, with her bright eyes and long nails, but she regained some of her normal human features.
She was completely naked. But I'm sure Rebecca didn't mind.
I didn't let my mindset revert into the natural problem-solution thinking that plagued me as I shifted, but I nevertheless had to let the change overtake my vocal cords, feeling my throat constrict at the change. This rendered me unable to speak, but I could still move my fingers in basic gestures.
Rebecca approached me, her size dauntingly…short. "I'm guessing you won't need a ride anymore?"
I shook my head no, a reverberating chuckle resonating through my chest. Instincts compelled me to assert my authority, so I felt a pressure being released as I let strands of fur rise up to increase my size. Instincts also compelled Elizabeth to stand protectively behind Rebecca, holding her to her chest.
"Is this another werewolf thing?" Rebecca asked, obviously not as afraid of me as she was supposed to be.
Elizabeth spoke in broken words, her vocal cords not fully back to original form. "Yes, authority thing…"
Rebecca's brow furrowed, obviously not understanding the need for some sort of dominance. "Well, when you pass out, we'll come get you and put you in the trunk. We have a bunch of padding back there, because this isn't our first time doing this sort of thing."
I grunted in response. My muscles were aching for some sort of release, for me to run free. I took off down the road, not waiting for a response. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them getting in the truck before sharing a chaste kiss.
My arms pounded on the sand as I propelled myself forward. I had to have been going much faster than the bike had ever gone, because the ground was flying by like it was thin air. Honestly, it felt like flying. The ease of movement the new muscles granted me must have been hundreds of times more efficient than my human bodies, enabling me to run freely. The wind swept by my fur, comfortably cooling down my overheated body. You could see the edges of the sky slowly turning to night black, contrasting with my memory of the bright blue sky caused by the illusionist vampire.
How long was I in her world?
It didn't matter. I felt free as I continued running. I could have grown wings just then. I certainly felt like it. My above average size, even as a werewolf, caused me to see things from a different perspective than others. I could see birds flying on the horizon, almost invisible because their feathers matched the night sky. Small, pale yellow lights from houses miles away. I looked behind me as my legs continued working. I could still see the truck, but it was very far away. Rebecca wouldn't have been able to see me, and even if Elizabeth could see me, my pelt matched the blackness of the dark ahead. More lights flickered on ahead of me, possibly traffic, maybe flashlights.
Suddenly, I felt a change in the sand below me. I skidded to a stop, turning around and padding back to where I hit the patch with my hand. It was grass.
I examined the blades with the tips of my fingers. The god-like speed, unnatural dexterity and inherent senses were off-set by a lack of human qualities, such as sensitivity in the hands, and advanced thinking process. I seemed to be having a good thought process so far, though, so I was probably doing something right.
I turned once again, speeding down the road, but slower this time. Before this, thinking as a werewolf came through deep-rooted instinct, a need for food, water, and shelter. However, now I was contemplating thinking itself. Something had gone wrong.
I examined my body. Everything was almost fully shifted, but not quite. There were small differences in the length of limbs, the length of nails, and instead of being able to make out the license plate on the truck and Rebecca and Elizabeth's interaction from my peripheral vision, I could only see the basics. I found my vision slightly duller, but infinitely sharper than my human vision. I would have been able to smell the exhaust and maybe even the ashes of Zafrina from here, but I wasn't able to. I had reached higher level thinking, enlightenment through the merging of the primitive but instinctual problem-solution thinking of a werewolf and the advanced thinking process of a human. It was enlightening. I was probably smarter than I was four hours ago. I probably added a couple dozen I.Q. points too.
I laughed internally. I could hear a little voice in the back of my head saying how impressive this was. It was, very, very impressive.
The weight of higher level thinking along with running several dozen miles faster than usual finally hit me. I noticed the fluidity of movement decreased, because of the strain put on my muscles. My eyelids were heavy, and I couldn't help but stop to set myself down on the grass and close my eyes.
I remembered that Rebecca and Elizabeth said they would put me in the back when they found me passed out. Even though I knew that they had, um, experience handling the female body, I knew it would be pretty awkward. It would be weird seeing two naked women and an almost midget woman walking around a rural area. I reluctantly lifted my heavy body off the grass and padded backwards along the road, nearing the truck. My bones slowly shrunk back to normal, a dull ache instead of a burn following the action. I shrunk slowly from twenty, to fifteen, to about twelve feet in size.
About a minute later I hit ten feet, the headlights appeared directly in front of me. Elizabeth was asleep against Rebecca's shoulder, a blanket around them both. You could see her teeth poking out from under her lip, her hair putting a curtain around her face. Rebecca greeted me with an amused smile, watching me from behind the wheel. She carefully and gently repositioned Elizabeth so she wouldn't wake up, kissing her forehead. She opened the door to the truck and jumped off, taking a bag of clothes with her.
"Seeing as you destroyed yet another outfit," she said, in a happy tone, "Here are some of Elizabeth's clothes so you won't wake up naked. If you pass out before you get dressed, you can get dressed under the bike. We'll be in Dubai in about another twelve hours, so that should be plenty of time. We got your bag up front. Night."
I took the bag, throwing it on the back. I awkwardly swung my leg over the truck, landing in the back with a thud. Rebecca threw a blanket over the back, hitting me on the side of the head and earning a bark. She giggled, before getting back in the truck. I saw her reposition Elizabeth so her head was resting in her lap.
I covered myself with the blanket, welcoming the coldness of the night desert. The bike was next to me, its engine still warm. The best I could do was huddle into the corner and bring the blanket over me, waiting for the darkness to overtake my eyes.
A/N: About the progress of the story… I've pretty much written the vast majority of it Saturday. I never have enough time to sit down and write, so I just type everything on the Notes app on my iPhone. Which means, at the most, about a paragraph every time I write. And there are a lot of paragraphs in this. Once again, all standard apologies for the lateness and grammar. From here on out, it's one chapter until Bella gets a puppy and she WILL get to Dubai next chap. I know, finalllllllyyy right? I think the winning breed so far is husky, but that doesn't make much sense for a husky to be in the desert, so I might pick the next best thing.
One very last thing: I really feel like a bitch for saying this, but… I saw it being pointed out on another fic and I couldn't help but agree. Anyone who's an author can probably say they love reviews, that it means a reader cared enough to put some input, good or bad, into your story. I have 70 of you on alerts (after I put this out it might be less) so that's 70 reviews that could have been added to help get attention to CTR. Because, tell me, would you rather read a fic with 20 or 200 reviews? Even if those 70 people don't care enough to review, there's 40 of you guys who put me on favorites ( ). Those people probably care. But last chap I only got 4 out of the 40 reviewers possible… Any author could say that would probably depress them. It just gets me kind of down, like maybe you guys are reading this like it's your job… I do that sometimes, and then I regret reading in the first place. Just something I wanted to get out there, please don't hate me
The Lazy Werewolf