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Deep inside a secret government lab, scientists attempted to infuse animal DNA into humans. For some unknown reason, the lab exploded, scattering the 100 DNA samples all over the globe. As a result, 100 people became part human, and part animal. The slang term “shifter” was then invented, since these people could transform into their human or animal form. A small few were able to control their newfound powers, but most could not. Some went mad with the transformations, and others ended up with the animal side taking over. The shifters became shunned and feared, sent to asylums, zoos, and hospitals. But some managed to evade the authorities…
Five years later
I put a hand over my forehead as a visor, averting my eyes from the relentless sun. It was a typical afternoon in the Center, with the crowded walkways and bustling shops scattered all over the expanse. However, one thing caught my eye; a girl sitting on a bench. Not just any girl, but one with long brown hair, eyes that were a brilliant blue, and flawless skin to match. She was also wearing an exotic orange and black striped shirt, which I thought seemed to fit her quite nicely. Now, I normally don’t get girl-crazy, but before I knew it, I was there, right in front of her.
“Hi,” she said, eyes sparkling with a mischievous glint.
“Uh, Hello,” I stammered, glancing around.
“So, are you going to tell me why you’re here, or do you just enjoy standing around looking like a complete idiot?”
I finally regained control of my body, and answered smoothly, “Are you busy?”
The girl rolled her eyes. “Yes, of course. That’s why I’m lounging around on a bench,” she replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
I liked this girl’s spirit. “Fine then; why don’t you take some time out of that busy schedule, and I’ll get us both some smoothies.”
“All right,” she replied, and we walked together, dodging the sunburned tourists along the way.
After some smoothies, I asked the girl about her name.
“It’s Emma,” she replied. Suddenly, her face drained of color, and she looked around, like something bad had happened. “I’ve got to go,” she said quickly, then dashed off, leaving me alone and in shock.
Five days later, I saw Emma again, this time at the beach. It was a beautiful day, with the deep blue water shimmering in the sunlight. When I waved, Emma saw me and came over, splashing through the shallow water. I figured this was the best time to ask her about leaving me so sudden.
When I did, she replied, “Sorry, I had to go home with my mom,” then flashed me her smile. I pretended to go along with the excuse, but it still bothered me. The excuse was too lame to believe, and that didn’t explain why she looked so spooked.
We were chatting on a beach blanket when Emma turned pale again. Just like last time, she fled. Unlike last time, I followed her. “Emma, wait!” I called out, but it was no use. She continued to run, dodging some people and jumping over others. Just as she turned behind the restrooms, I heard screaming. When I rounded the corner, I could see why. A growling black and orange beast was pacing around, glancing at the fleeing crowds. Then, its eyes turned to me.
Black and orange, I thought; how could I have been so naïve? Not black and orange; tiger stripes.
At this point, I could see the tiger was getting ready to attack, so I did the natural thing; I ran screaming down to the ocean. I just need to get to the water, I just need to get to the water, I continued to think as the tiger followed suit. Right at the water’s edge, I made the mistake of looking behind me. The tiger saw this, and jumped straight up. I knew that nothing could save me from the vicious pounce, but the tiger stopped, and fell down. Suddenly, the tiger transformed into someone I knew. Even though her eyes were wide open with fear. Even though her brown, flowing hair still had streaks of orange in it. Her shirt, I immediately recognized.
It was Emma, the girl in the tiger stripes.
“Emma,” I reached out to help her, but she crawled out of my range. “Get away from me!” Emma shrieked vehemently. Then she started to cry. “I … I can’t control the tiger,” she sobbed, tears flowing down her pale cheeks.
“Emma,” I started again, “I can help you. Trust me.” I held out my hand, but she just looked at me with an angry glare in her eyes.
“Why should I trust you?” she cried out angrily.
I stepped into the water. As soon as my feet made contact, the shark tooth necklace I wore began to glow.
“Because I’m a Shifter, too.”