A SHORT STORY

 

The storm had arrived two hours ago and the rain was relentless. It had soaked him to the bone. The clothes he was wearing had made it hard to move. At this point, he had to move, his life depended on it. He hadn’t expected the encounter with the man at the convenience store. He had walked in totally inconspicuously. The owner was arguing prices and taxes with an older man. Ignoring the argument, he made his way to the freezer section.  He needed a shot of cold air, that would give him the necessary energy to last out the storm.  Being outdoors during storm with all this rain was not an option. It drained him quickly.  This was supposed to be a quick rejuvenation, open the freezer door and then leave with the hope that no one even saw him.  It wasn’t going to work out that way.

 

He bolted out the back door of the store, into the rain.  His body was coursing with the new energy.  It was a lot more then he had planned. He ran down the alleyway and didn’t look back. He pulled the suit coat tighter around himself and looked down the next street that he came to. He started out with a quick jog but it turned quickly into a gasping walk. To his misfortune the owner had observed his changing in the security mirror above the freezer section. Upon the owners yell he had darted out of the store leaving a young man near death.

The man who was left by the freezer went into shock.  Seeing a human being, so he thought, change into himself rattled him, and to watch this person literally run out of the store just made it even more unbelievable. The owner immediately called for the police while he watched this thing disappear into the back of the store.

“I need the police at my store, a man-thing changed into another man and ran out.”  As he said the words, he knew he sounded crazy.  That’s what happened though and he had no other words to describe it.

“Yes, I said a man changed into another man.” Said the owner.

The 911 operator was asking for clarification.

“Look, this guy comes in, looked decent enough and then goes to the back of the store into my freezer section.  He opens the fridge door and some other guy was there and then they both looked the same.  Like twins. They weren’t twins before.” The operator replied with the standard comment,

“We’ll send someone right over.”  The operator hung up the line glaring over at his partner sitting at the desk beside him.  “This is a new one.”

 

When the police had arrived, they surveyed the area and sized up the people. The store was intact but the people seemed to be in utter disbelief. The officer would later regret asking,

“What happened here tonight?”

The owner began with the story of this man that could change into people, other people. He was wearing a jogging suit an then as he reached into the freezer another man made physical contact and their arms touched. The story went on for what seemed an hour but it was only twenty minutes. When you’re a cop on the graveyard shift twenty minutes of verbal chattering is like getting whacked upside the head with a two by four. It didn’t help that it was raining cats and dogs. The officer kept writing until he had enough, but to be sensitive to the owner he had to ask, “Did this man or thing as you call it take anything?” The officer tried to look as professional as possible but knew his partner and others would have a tremendous laugh afterwards. The store owner nodded no and the officer assured him, falsely but assured him, that the matter would be looked into. He and his partner left. The two individuals seemed alright except maybe the one man who was in shock most likely from all the confusion and on top of it all, there was the store owner with an imagination to suit Hollywood.

 

He found shelter in an alley underneath some stairs and huddled into the corner to preserve his energy. The clothes were taking up too much energy, they had to go. He didn’t need them. He preferred being nude, the current body was temporary anyway. He knew one hazard of his nature wasn’t just spontaneous changing but also the clothes the supplier had. That’s all they were after all, suppliers. Beings like him, couldn’t touch the soul but the shell was a free for all, anything could take it.

There were only a handful of them left some had been caught and slaughtered long ago and the others just didn’t change often enough. His nature was unique for the energy he required to live was four times that of normal human being. After all he was still human but a little different. He sat there; the clothes bundled up into a pile, and surveyed the body, nothing to be proud of. This body needed to work out and sexually it wouldn’t perform as needed. He was unraveling into his natural form and that would be disastrous. He would be dead in a few hours and when you unravel, there was hardly any chance of connecting to a supplier.

 

“Come on Seth pull yourself together.”

Great! He was talking to himself. On top of that making really bad jokes.

 

He looked for a power source and in the alley, he found the perfect one, there was a cat. It was perfect as the rain was letting up a little. He waited for the right time and began to crawl up to the alley and reached out to the unsuspecting feline. His shell absorbed it and he felt the energy revitalize him. The supplier was never harmed.  It was instantaneous cloning.  Every cell, molecule and atom of the supplier was duplicated.  The Changing happened within seconds. The cat only felt a slight uneasiness, as if something had walked through it.  It quivered, and let out a meow as if saying,

“That felt weird.”

For Seth, he was gaining a high level of energy within a few seconds and he always closed his eyes.  He had once kept his eyes open and the Changing had caused him confusion and he was frozen still for a few minutes, which almost cost him his life.

The cat had just eaten, scraps from a garbage can by the feel of it, Seth surveyed his new form and quickly took to the stairs that led up the building. He reached the fourth floor and through a window he found the perfect supplier. It was 5’8″ about 130 pounds and the skeleton of a goddess. Seth began his lure.

 

She knew there was a changeling really close by but this time there were 2 energy spikes within minutes of each other.  She was having coffee at a coffee shop and was reading the day’s news when she got the reading. How was she supposed to find it in the city? So many people and it could pass right by her. Pass right by her. The rain. it was weak. Where would it go? This meant that the Changeling was in trouble. The rain was letting up and this time she couldn’t lose track of it. To catch a Changeling in her eyes, was like winning all the lotteries all at once. While studying in East Europe she had come across a book about them and she thought it an interesting read but it had taken a live witnessing of a changing to make her chase them. She had devised a detector to measure the unique energy flux. When a change occurred the energy input by the changeling is enormous. The closer you are to a changing the higher your reading.

 

She raced down the street, she stopped at the corner. The rain was steady, she stood there watching the people on the street.  The man she saw walk by the coffee shop didn’t seem to be there now. She heard a man yelling,

“Hey!  Stop, I’m calling the police.”

That was it.  Every investigator always needs a lucky break.  She ran into the store and saw the owner on the phone, most likely with the police and he wasn’t angry, this was a look she was all to familiar with. Fear.  She heard just enough to get the confirmation she needed that her energy readings were accurate.

She ran down to the next street and turned left. She again ran passing an alley and she stopped from exhaustion. It was gone. She wouldn’t find him. She turned around to head back to the store. She walked down the alley when she was startled by a cat. It had meowed, annoyed at being wet. She proceeded watching for anyone. She got half way down when she spotted the staircase. There was a small drop. She had to look.

“Hello?” Stupid thing to say.

The changeling wasn’t about to announce its presence. Not in the rain anyway.

 

She stepped down and felt the clothes by her feet. The excitement coursed through her veins. It’s close, real close. She stepped up again to the alley and looked up and down. The only thing was the cat, wet and annoyed. She sympathized with it.

 

The cat!

 

She looked at the cat and picked it up.  Nothing.

She ran back to the stairs and looked up to see another cat, the same cat. She counted the floors.

The fourth floor!

She raced to the entrance and decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

 

Seth had meowed six times and the woman hadn’t heard so he decided to scratch on the window. It caught her attention. She got to the window and saw the cat.  The lack of verbal communication frustrated him, but his thoughts compensated for it. He was getting too wet again and he was yelling for her to open the window and all that came out were cat cries. She then did the unthinkable and walked away but within seconds she had returned with a towel in her hand. She began to open it. All Seth needed was a couple of inches. This wasn’t the first time he was a cat, just a little more, Seth heard a knock at her door. He could squeeze through but it would be a tight fit. She turned around and headed for the door, Seth stuck his head in, He had to reach her before the door opened.  He couldn’t have another witness,

 

The woman looked through the peep hole: “Who is it?”

“Please you must let me in, it’s an emergency.” she shouted.

Seth was half way in. He couldn’t escape now. The woman reached down and unlocked her door. The woman in the hallway rushed through the door.

“Please grab the cat!” she exclaimed, dripping rain water over the entrance rug.

The woman living in the apartment went over to her window. Seth knew he was in trouble. She opened the rest of the window and grabbed the cat.

 

Almost immediately Seth changed. Her devise couldn’t even register it. Don’t frighten it, she thought.

“My name is Rebecca. I just want to talk to you, ok?  Please I mean you no harm.”

Rebecca didn’t know what else to say. The woman who lived there fainted. Seth was enjoying the energy input to be alarmed,

Seth was shocked at this situation but went with it.

“My name is Seth. I’m a Changeling.” He announced.

 

“That’s why I’m here.” She had made verbal contact.

It was the first of its kind.  Unfortunately for Rebecca it would be the last.

 

THE END