Flash Fiction No. 79


New Tricks

It took a while for my eyes to open. Like a damaged hard drive, my brain only gradually reacted, rebooting with a slow consciousness. Lashes shuttered jerkily and my gaze moved in and out of focus.

Salt had crystallised on my lips from the hot, adrenaline sweat that had evaporated somewhere in my black out. I breathed normally, blinking into the darkness and gathering my wits.

I’d been running, new trainers on patterned steel. Steam issued somewhere off to my left. It had been like something out of a film.

I rushed my hand through short brown hair, finding the sticky sinew of drying blood and tasting it just to make sure. Maybe they’d thought I was human. Maybe they thought she’d been the one who’d coerced me. Just because she took charge now didn’t mean she was the one that always had.

I’d been the one to turn her.

Legs unfolded beneath me, deceptively spindly. I didn’t look much like the usual mutt, muscles, brawn and sharp features, but it was better than being picked easily out of a crowd by hunters. Their scent still hung in the air. I pushed myself to my feet and sniffed.

Their trail sped away down the steps, following her. They’d passed right by me without so much as a collar or a chip. Was it only her they were after? Unlikely. Maybe the lack of light had camouflaged my prone body.

I teetered near the edge of the rails, watching the lights slip serenely from blue to red and back again. Should I go find her or should I just turn away?

Clouds of steam billowed in my path. She’d left me there without even a turn of her head. It was callous and cold, totally her. Why had I ever turned her?

Twenty years and she’d slowly turned them all into hell.

It was her fault that we were running again. I’d warned her. I’d warned her hundreds of times, but all she did was laugh in my face and make things worse. Keeping a low profile seemed like some kind of alien concept.

I didn’t even know why I was with her any more. The love we had once had had disintegrated into nothing. Less than nothing.

I made my decision.

Flexing my shoulders, my muscles and bones began to stretch. Skin and cartilage remoulded in painful glory. I was used to this, the change, the ecstatic insanity of ripping flesh and reformation.

Eventually, I laid on the floor. Panting and gasping, my breath fell heavy and hot. It would be easier to run if they found me now. I just needed to breathe a little. Oxygen filled my veins, pumping the feral muscles that clung to my bones.

Stretching to my paws, I shook out my mane. It felt good to be an animal again. A free beast-

“Hello handsome…” Her dark form slipped out from the shadows. The gun glinted red and then blue. I snarled. The bitch had tricked me. “Did you really think I’d let them take me? Now hold still. This won’t hurt a bit…”

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