“Neverland. A land made of dreams and pixie dust, where the young may find hope again, and where magic can live forever untouched. Above the chaos of a society where blood is shed and money is more valuable than life, the island provides a haven for the young at heart, where they can be protected from the perils of growing up and given a life where companionship does not mean a wedding, and where family does not mean childbirth. In Neverland, the adventure of childhood never ends.” ♕
Strangers come in all shapes and sizes, in all forms. Every kid has a parent or guardian that has told them at some point in their lives, “Don’t talk to strangers.” However, no one really follows this rule. These “strangers” can become something more; a friend, a lover, a colleague, or some other important figure in life. To be social, it’s absolutely imperative that at some point we talk to some form of stranger. On the flip side, strangers can also be that reason parents even say that warning. That stranger could be a rapist, a killer, a thief, or just some creepy pervert. That being said, sometimes people we’ve known all our lives can be truly be strangers, sometimes the people we think we know, we don’t really know.
Elune knew all too well strangers. She realized that she was a stranger to friends she held closest to her heart, and she also knew all about the bad kind of stranger. Elune didn’t know what to think about these strangers though; Tom and Josie.
“Look I don’t like what you’re trying to imply. I’m going to ask for the last time for you to leave us be, and then I’ll call the cops,” Robert said once more. Robert positioned himself in front of his daughter protectively. Elune peeked around her father to see Tom’s demeanor change once again. He was getting angry, impatient. She couldn’t read Josie’s expression.
“You must know what she is Robert. She’s a werewolf like us. A lycanthrope; a shape shifter. Now stand aside and let her answer for herself,” Tom commanded. Robert’s figure visibly trembled, but the man stood his ground. Elune had enough sense to listen, and she stepped up beside Robert.
“You…you said you’re like me?” Elune she said, her voice shaky. She cleared her throat and clenched her fists together. Tom looked at his wife Josie, and Josie just quickly nodded in response. It was hard to describe what happened next, Elune had never seen anything like it. The air shifted around Josie, it was like being in the desert when it’s so hot the haze in the air is visible. It seemed just like a mirage too, because at one moment Josie was human, and a blink later she was a wolf. A beautiful, medium sized snow white wolf sat back on its hunches and casually licked its paw. It gazed at Elune, and Elune saw Josie’s eyes staring back at her. Elune gasped, surprised. That had never happened with her before. Her transformation was slow, long, and extremely painful and most of all she couldn’t imagine doing it in front of anyone. Josie’s transformation…it was like magic.
Elune’s father stumbled back and tripped over his own feet. He fell backwards on his butt. Tom looked puzzled over Elune and Robert’s reactions, like it hadn’t of been what he expected.
“How…how did she do that? Can you do that to?” Elune softly asked, still in shock. Tom sniffed the air.
“Of course I can…I don’t understand. You smell like one of us, how do you not know this happens?” he said, confusion in his voice. Elune just shook her head. Robert sat up and held his head in his hands.
“Elune doesn’t do that,” Robert replied for Elune. Elune shifted uneasily on her feet. What did all of it mean?
“Can I…can you do what she did?” Elune asked politely, her head slightly bowed. Tom scratched his chin for a moment and stared at Elune and her father.
“I suppose…” his deep voice rumbled. The same process that happened when Josie transformed happened to Tom. The air shifted, and in the blink of an eye in place of Tom was one of the biggest wolves Elune had ever seen. A flood of memories came crashing to the forefront of her mind. Elune sucked in a deep breath, her eyes widening to panic. Tom’s huge black wolf form was all too familiar; a recurring nightmare.
“It’s you!” Elune was barely able to say, before a scream ripped itself from her throat. Some primal instinct took over, and Elune quickly ran toward the back door. Thoughts of guilt of leaving her father behind barely crossed her mind, the wolf inside was thinking of nothing but self-preservation and Elune couldn’t help but internally agree with it. Elune slammed the door behind her, and jumped off the back deck, landing in a crouch on both feet. She glanced behind her for only a moment to see the door began to open once more; she didn’t stick around to see what came through. The sun had set, the sky had darkened slightly, and Elune took off into the unknown forest, running faster on her two human legs than she had ever run before. One foot barely touched the ground, before the other was in its place. She didn’t know where she was running to, and she didn’t really care; she just had to get away. Elune leaped over fallen logs, branches, and bushes, dodging tress all along the way. She kept her breathing steady and quiet, resisting the temptation to take it huge gulps of forest air to relieve her hot lungs. Elune took a moment to hide behind a huge oak. She pressed her back against the hard bark and held her breath, listening. It was silent, too silent.
Let me out the wolf shouted from within Elune. It wanted the chance to protect itself, and Elune knew it would be better at doing that than her, but she was afraid. During the moments of her transformation she was completely vulnerable and exposed. If it caught her during this time, she would be defenseless and would be killed without being able to put up a fight. Elune took a deep breath and swallowed, turning her thoughts once more to the sounds of the forest. A bird chirped and flew up into the air some distance away. The wind picked up and blew through the leaves of the trees above her but Elune couldn’t hear the wolf chasing her. It was probably waiting, silently stalking her until an opportune moment came up. She knew how the wolf hunted. She couldn’t go through the nightmare again; she couldn’t experience it in real life again. Elune shakily stripped out of her clothes and jumped behind a clump of tree stumps a few feet away. She crouched on the floor, and grudgingly let the wolf out.
Bones crunched and popped. Flesh stretched and tendons snapped. It was a combination of sickening sounds. Elune fell forward on all fours and grasped at the dirt beneath her palms, trying not to cry out. All Elune could think was to not scream; don’t scream, she told herself. She clenched her jaw shut and shut her eyes, trying to think of happier thoughts than the pain that rocked her entire body. After a few moments of twisting and turning, Elune opened her eyes once more. She was lower to the ground, and felt that different feeling that being a wolf gave her. The wolf consciously pushed her back, and Elune let the monster inside of her take over.
Elune sniffed at the ground, and the air. A growl rumbled from deep within her throat. She smelled the enemy, her stalker nearby. She quietly and slowly made her away from the source of the smell, careful to not make any noise. Elune rubbed her fur against a tree she passed, and then silently but quickly took off in the opposite direction, hoping to throw her opponent off. Elune was faster on all fours, and for a few moments both Elune and the wolf thought they would survive, thought they would get away. The crunching sound of stepped on undergrowth behind Elune told a different story. A howl rang out into the night from behind her. Elune almost howled in reply but she smartly held it in, and somehow quickened her pace even more, lengthening her stride. She ran, and ran some more. Her reddish brown fur became moistened with sweat but she didn’t stop. Elune could still hear and feel the monster behind her, nipping at her heels.
In the eyes of the world, it was a brand new day. The morning signaled a fresh start, a clean slate. It was the chance to start over, to start anew, or to continue on from the previous day. Anything could happen, everything was possible. Most awoke with a brand new look to the future; Elune however, awoke that morning to thoughts and nightmares of the past. The dream from the night before was still fresh in Elune’s mind. It had begun like a reoccurring dream she had many times before, being hunted by the source of her curse…but the end was different, the end was brand new. Elune wasn’t sure what it meant, and had nowhere to start. Knowing there was no point in contemplating it anymore, she tried to push it from her mind as much as possible.
Birds chirped outside the bedroom window. Sunlight drifted through the room and right onto Elune’s tired eyes. Curtains would be at the top of the list when getting supplies from in town; she needed her cave back. Feeling her puffy eyes, Elune put a pillow of her face and sighed.
“It’s about time to go into town and breakfast is ready in the kitchen for you.” Elune’s father said from the door.
She took her arm out from under the blankets and gave him a thumbs-up and heard him walk out. Elune thought of a time when him showing up suddenly at the door like that would have scared her, but now her sensitive ears could pick up his movement all the way from the stairs. Every step on the floorboards, every creak from that slight pressure applied, Elune could hear. It was a blessing and a curse.
Elune tiredly slid the bedding off her body and got out of bed. She stretched, bending backwards, her muscles stiff. Tomorrow she would get back to her yoga routine once she sniffed out the outside boundaries of her new home. Elune slid open the window and felt the cool morning air. Dew rested on edge of the window sill and it moistened her fingertips slightly.
Closing her window, she turned to go through her small closet. She dressed warmly, and grabbed a rain jacket. Elune had smelt the moisture in the air and wanted to be more safe than sorry. After hoisting on her rain boots she grabbed her handbag and headed down the stairs. The smell of sausage, eggs, and muffins greeted her nose. It smelled delicious and Elune was happy her father was a good cook; Elune couldn’t cook if it saved her life. Her father wasn’t waiting in the kitchen when she arrived, but she went ahead and grabbed a full plate of food and sat at the table. A pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice sat in the middle of the table, and Elune poured herself a glass. The strong citrus flavor set her mouth abuzz and she began wolfing down her food. Elune liked to think it was like she was eating for two.
Not five minutes later, Elune finished. She put her dishes in the sink to wash and waited for her father to make his appearance. Just in time, her father walked into the adjacent living room towards the front door.
“Ready?” he asked. Elune nodded and started towards the door after him.
“It’s going to rain later,” she warned him on the way out. He smiled then grabbed a jacket from the coat rack next to the door.
“It always makes me smile when you say something like that. You’re like my personal weatherwoman.” He grinned at the pointed look she gave him in response, and threw her the keys to the truck.
If her dad wasn’t joining her, Elune would have walked the miles to town. The thought stirred the wolf inside her and Elune grimaced, gripping the steering wheel in concentration in an attempt to control the wolf.
Her dad stopped smiling when he saw her face, and put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
“Breathe,” he reminded her. Elune breathed out heavily, and sighed in relief. The urge had passed. She moved her hand off the steering wheel, feeling the slight indention she had made accidently.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, starting up the truck.
“No problem kiddo, it’s easily fixable.” That wasn’t the first time she had unintentionally let her strength get the best of her. They both thought back to the beginning, when numerous things had been broken or ruined because of it. Elune frowned at the thought, while her father looked back at it fondly. He’d always try to think about things positively.
Elune rolled down the windows and started driving back on the unpaved woodsy road towards town. She wanted to stick her head out of the window and let the outside air blow over her senses and through her hair. Half of her mouth turned upwards in a smile, thinking about how much she sounded like a dog.
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