Creature of Unknown Origin


“Any means necessary?” I added, already planning on ways I could out maneuver her. So

long as she didn’t shift, I might actually stand a chance, I mused.

“So long as we both start at the same time, I don’t see why not.” A mischievous glint

flashed across her eyes.

I’d already lost. “Deal.”

I didn’t wait for her to come back out. As soon as the rickety screen door slapped shut

behind her, I abandoned my drained mug on the top stair and sprinted off toward th e trees. I’d

barely made it across the yard when she called after me, angrily accusing me of cheating.

By the time I’d made it to the lush tree line, I’d convinced myself I could win. A wide grin

stretched across my face, practically from ear to ear. There was nothing Ava could do unless she

shifted and for some reason, I doubted she would. Ava was trying to win over Dr. Richards, even

though I told her it was useless, and I knew part of that plan meant not shifting. Maybe at another

time, I would’ve stoppe d and actually congratulated myself, but all visions of victory died just as

quickly as I started to believe them. A flash of fur — more of a hulking shadow, really — out of the

corner of my peripheral vision shot past me in a blur.


My heart sank. I shou ld’ve never said ‘any means necessary’, let alone agree to a race with

someone who could shape-shift into what was probably one of the most efficient and powerful

land animals on this Earth.

I didn’t even see her melt into the trees before me. She was alre ady part of the forest, and

there was no way I could even hope of catching up to her. Not a chance.

Whatever energy I had left, I harnessed it. Kicking on the afterburner, I flew as fast as I

could without killing myself. Even my best wouldn’t be enough. Ava was certainly having a picnic,

and I was left to eat her dust as my surroundings became a hazy cloud my brain ignored, too

engrossed with the effort of at least finishing the race in a timely manner.

I stumbled over myself, slapping branches out of my way as I neared the ridge. It was too

late. Ava was already there, peacefully sitting with her legs dangling over the rocky edge of the

ridge. She had a towel wrapped around her waist , presumably because she’d ditched her clothes

back at the cabin when she decided to shift.

“’Bout time you showed up!” She glanced over her shoulder at me, beaming brightly, “If I

didn’t know any better, I’d say you tried to keep up with me.”

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