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Vyra B. and the Mysterious Shapeshifter: Part 4

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Then one night, he was back. Tommie, in the flesh, a hesitant smile on his lips. "Vyra," he whispered, reaching to touch her cheek. She shrunk away. "You sure have grown, since the last time..."

As he trailed off, a surge of pure anger shook through her. "Yeah, well, that's what happens when you leave for six years. Little girls grow up." She wasn't sure what was happening. Hadn't she wanted to see him, every day since she noticed he'd gone?

"Vy, there's a lot I haven't told you, but I don't have the time right now. Listen--"

"I don't want to listen to you." She shouted, punching both fists against his chest. "Six years, Tommie! Six years you let me mope around thinking you'd come back. Six years you let me believe you weren't even real. Six years! I thought I was crazy."

"Vy, all I wanted was to help--"

"Well you didn't!" she screamed, not caring her parents could hear. "I'm better now, see! Not bed ridden, not even a little cough."

He was quiet, absorbing the words with a soft look of pain on his face. "No, you're not. You're not well, and you--"

Even though he was exactly as she remembered, sweet eyes and grubby cheeks, she frowned harder than she ever had before in her life. "I want you to leave. I don't want to listen to you lie to me, not anymore."

What was she saying?

For a moment, her resolve faltered; she saw hurt flash across his face, confusion, sadness, and then--fear. "Vy, I can't."

"Stop calling me Vy--" she started, and then she screamed.

Because at that moment, something dark and huge crashed through her front door. Except it didn't crash through it, it ripped the whole front end of her house off and stood where her front door used to be.

"Shapeshifter," it said, its voice sounding like it came from a thousand different directions. Vyra stumbled back, falling flat on her butt as the giant monster peered at Tommie--and then at her. "The girl."

"Vyra, run!" Tommie cried, throwing his arms wide at the giant thing, all smoke and shadow and glowing yellow eyes. "She's just a girl!"

"She is mine," it answered, each word wheezing out like a giant pair of bellows.

"I won't let you take her!" Tommie growled, and with that he shifted into a giant bull. He charged the creature, and before it could even howl in pain, Tommie was a boa constrictor around its neck, tightening himself into a great coil. As it tore him away, Tommie was a fly and then a huge wasp, stabbing it in the eye, then dropping to the ground as a great mastiff.

Tommie growled, low and vicious. "You will stay away from her." The monster swung then, knocking the gray dog across the room, into Vyra's couch. But Tommie, never missing a beat, changed into a yipping alligator, chomping the creature's hand before he even hit the floor. He rolled, fast and hard, and the monster roared in pain.

"She must be special to you, for you to fight so hard," the monster chuckled. "But you forget the strain of your magic." Tommie, shifting for a moment to a mouse and then to a great condor, swooped at the monster's face.

"I forget nothing!" Tommie answered, shifting finally back into himself. He dropped from the monster's face to the floor, where he quickly drew a pearly white dagger. "You will not have this girl!" He stabbed it hard into the creature's chest.

Vyra never heard a scream like it before in her whole life. From every direction she could hear it echoing, around and around in her head, a million miles an hour. It was high and it was low and she thought that if it never ended, she was going to be torn apart.

And then, in a whir of black and smoky tendrils, it was gone. "Tommie," she whispered, faint.

Tommie turned, and in that moment Vyra saw exactly how hard he'd fought for her. He was pale, paler, she thought, than she'd ever been while she was sick. She could see purple bruises on his arms, where she imagined the bones had shrunk and formed so fast it twisted his skin. He was bleeding, a rivulet streaking across his face and another dripping down his arm. "Are you alright?" He gasped, moving faster than she thought he could. He was lifting her in his arms before she could blink. "Are you hurt? You're so cold. Vy? Are you alright?" He was checking her pulse, her eyes, patting along her body for blood. "Vy? Vyra? Did it hurt you? Vy? Why won't you say something?"

"Tommie, stop, stop! What are you doing? You're the one who's hurt!" He froze, looked up, and Vyra saw into his beautiful hazel eyes. Really, they were brown with these fine gold and green flecks, but...

"Vyra, I'm fine." He smiled, crooked, as she began to understand so clearly why he'd always been so dirty before. "See, look," and he pulled at his sleeve, showing a hole where a wound was, once. But before her eyes the skin was knitting together, good as new.


"Come on, now, Vy. You've just seen me shape shift into ten different creatures in the span of two minutes, and you're caught up in how quickly I heal?"

At that, Vyra rolled her eyes. Same old Tommie. "What did it mean...about the strain of your magic?"

Tommie was hustling around the room, packing a small suitcase. "Now that, is something for me to worry about and you to forget completely. Come on, we don't have time."

"Come on? What do you mean, come on? A demon just ripped the front end of my house off and you want me to come on?"

"What are you getting at, Vyra? You want to just hang out here for another one to show up? We've got to get going."

"I am not going anywhere until you tell me what in the world is going on." She stamped her foot. "I am not going to be the moron anymore."

"What, and you want me to be, do you?" He'd packed a full back pack of clothes and was gathering another one full of food.

"No! I want you to stop pilfering my stuff." She hesitated. "I can't go with you, Tommie. What about my parents?"


"Don't call me that, for Chrissakes!"

He hefted a huge sigh. "We have got to get going, Vyra. Your parents...well, they won't know a thing."

"What on God's green earth does that even mean?" She cried, confused and getting frustrated. "At least tell me what it is they want!" She pleaded.

Tommie stopped everything he was doing. "That...that is something I cannot tell you."

"Cannot like you will not or cannot like you're not allowed to?"

"Cannot as in I will die before I tell you." He added, mysteriously, "Before I tell you too soon. Now, will you come with me, or not?"

"I don't suppose I have much choice in the matter?"

"Not really."

To continue...

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