A loud bang echoes into the forest coming from behind us. The sound of a bullet cartridge falling to the ground nearby confirms my worst fears. A high shriek pierces the air and ahead of me, I see my brother’s body drop to the ground with a thump.
My walk turns into a sprint as I run to his limp body. He can’t be dead. I press two fingers to his neck and can see blood blossoming on his shirt over his heart. I try looking away but my eyes are frozen on his pale face. Blood oozes from the wound. So much blood. Too much. There is nothing I can do to stop the flow. A faint heartbeat pulses against my fingers, growing weaker by the second. I brush a tear away with the back of my hand and squeeze my eyes closed to keep from crying.
“Please... don’t cry, Sheena. You must stay strong.” The hoarse voice breaks me from my trance and my eyes flutter open.
“Marco! Stay with me, please!”
He smiles softly. “I’ll be waiting for you, up there with the Moon Goddess . . . we will watch over you always, and so will the rest of our ancestors. You must be strong. Remember everything that happens is for a reason. It’s all part of the bigger picture... Goodbye, my Sheena, my beautiful little sister.”
Marco smiles for the last time, and his pulse under my fingers fades away to nothing. I cover my eyes with my hands as if to hide the tears from him.
My brother, my pack, and my other half are all gone. Nothing will ever fill my brother’s empty space in my heart. I don’t know how I can move on, maybe I never will. Just the thought makes bile rise up in my throat. Will finding the killer help me move on? But is that really what Marco would have wanted? For me to become a murderer?
Marco is dead. Nothing matters now except finding the killer. Vengeance is the only thing that will let me sleep at night. As long as the killer still breathes, I will never rest.
“You must stay strong.” Marco’s voice pounds through my head. I nod up at the black sky, knowing he can see me, along with the goddess Selene.
Before standing up, I lean down and close Marco’s eyelids. It almost looks like he’s sleeping, if you ignore the blood.
I stand up and walk to a small clearing, tall pine trees surround it. Adrenaline rushes through my body as I get ready to make the change. I look up at the beautiful full moon, and the light shines down on me as she embraces me with welcoming arms.
My mind slowly clears and my breath softens. I begin to shake violently, causing me to drop to my knees. The sharp scent of a musky fur coat hits my nose, and my vision sharpens as if a wall is being lifted away. I’m forced to hunch over as my bones shorten and my hands change to large paws with long sharp claws. Now that I change almost every night it’s not as gut-wrenching as the first time. Tonight I welcome the pain, for it is far better than the overwhelming grief that fills me from claws to the tips of my ears.
As quickly as it started, the change is done. My black fur shines in the moonlight, causing it to have an eerie glow. I shape my snout into a toothy grin and tilting my head to the moon I let out a low and long howl.
Whoever killed Marco, I’m coming for you.
With a leap, I dash over a low thicket of bushes clustered around the twin trees that stand across from me. I run into the darkness, away from my light. Away from Marco. Away from the life I once knew. Today, I am reborn. And whoever stands in my way is going to pay with their life.
Arianna is 13 years old; she lives in Poland, Maine. Arianna loves soccer and has been playing since she was 3. She enjoys reading, writing, and drawing and her favorite music band is BTS.
image: Hans Benn from Pixabay