"Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides."
“You ready?” Dom asked, entering our room. He’d dropped the luggage in the car and came to do a sweep of the room with me, ensuring we left no trace of our presence behind.
“I think so. I’ve used about three full cans of Lysol and Febreze on this place to hide our scents.” I covered my nose with the crook of my arm. “Hopefully, the stench doesn’t knock poor Mrs. Nicols out like it’s about to do to me.”
Dom chuckled. “All right. Let’s get you away from your Kryptonite, Supergirl.”
We turned around to exit the room only to find four figures in our doorway, dressed in black fighting gear with silver claws glinting on their fingers.
“Shadows,” I breathed, tensing for the impending fight. Although terror gripped me, fury overwhelmed it when I remembered exactly who these people were. “Where the hell is my sister?!”
“My name is Niamh,” a woman said in a thick Irish accent. “Come with us, and we won’t hurt you. Resist us, and we will add more gashes to your legs.”
“Touch her and die,” Dom growled, stepping protectively in front of me.
“Looks like they want the hard way.” Niamh lifted a grenade from her belt and threw it onto the ground. Instinctively, I threw my hands in front of my face, but not before a bright white light blinded me, and I instinctively ducked to the ground and rolled, shifting in the process and slinking into the bedroom. I cursed my fantastic Lysol and Febreze spraying skills because there was no trace of mine or Dom’s scent to maneuver my way around.
“Anna?!” Dom shouted frantically from my right. I yipped in response, alerting him to my location. Barely two seconds later, a bundle of fur crashed into me.
Sorry! Still blinded. Dom apologized hastily. If we can wait until the flash grenade clears, we have a shot at taking them down.
You saw what they did to Spencer. I warned. We can’t underestimate them.
They can’t underestimate us.
I don’t think they are if they’re using a stun grenade!
We either stay and fight or risk jumping through the window.
Window. We need to get out of here.
I ag- Dom howled in agony as a set of claws slashed his side. I lunged out at the attacker, sinking my teeth into their arm and refusing to let go. While the Shadow attempted to remove me, I shifted, taking them by surprise. I used the opportunity to punch them in the throat. It knocked the breath right out of them. I returned to wolf form, launching myself at them with the intent to kill, but someone grabbed my torso and slammed me into the ground.
“Get off of her!” Dom snarled. The force suddenly disappeared off of me, and I heard a fight to my left. With my vision slowly coming back, I could make out three blurry figures tussling near the bathroom and another Shadow attacking me from my peripheral. I ducked and feinted to the right, ending up behind them. I kicked them in the ass with all my strength, which sent them flying headfirst into the wall and knocking them out.
I didn’t have time to celebrate my victory as the fourth Shadow zeroed in on me. I tensed to fight when a hand erupted from their chest. I stumbled backward, simultaneously stunned and terrified because I only knew of one family with such powers.
“Enough!” Karina roared, effectively stopping the fight. Dom took the chance to grab the Shadows by their chests and slam them into the ground. I stared in horror at the blood trickling down his face and chest from the claw marks.
“Anna, Dominic, get out of here,” Justin ordered, rolling up his sleeves. “We’ll deal with the rest of these monsters.”
“You can fuck off! You killed Frank!” I hissed. “I’ll kill you and the Shadows because you’re the reason Elsa had to leave.”
“She had a choice: her pack or Spencer. She chose Spencer.”
“She wouldn’t have had to make a choice if it weren’t for you!”
“Anna, Dom, we will say this once more, and once more only. Leave. Get as far away from here as possible. Go find your sister and brother.”
“Why should we trust you?” Dom grunted, standing up with a concentrated effort. “You killed people in our packs. You wanted to kill us. Probably still do.”
“No, that’s our parents. We don’t agree with their lifestyle or tactics. We want them out of power as much as you do, if not more. We don’t want immortality because this world is going to hell, and we don’t want to watch it burn. Now-” Karina made a shooing motion at us- “would you please, go.”
Dom made his way over to me, grabbing my hand and dragging me out of the room, much to my protest. We raced down the stairs, and Dom only stopped when I ceased my struggling. Following my line of sight, he noticed the limp body of Mrs. Nichols draped over the check-in counter. I unconsciously covered my mouth with my hand, shocked, numb by the sight of the potentially dead, sweet, elderly woman.
“Anna,” Dom urged, wrapping his arm around my waist. “Come on.”
Practically carrying me out of there, Dom got me into the car and then slid into the driver’s seat. He tore out of the driveway onto the main road like a bat out of hell. Occasionally, he glanced in the rearview mirror to see if we were being followed, but we never were. All I could see in front of me, other than the mountains and deserted roads, was Mrs. Nichols slumped over the front desk. I hadn’t been able to hear a heartbeat over the wild thudding of my own, so I had no idea if she was alive or dead, but I prayed it was the former. She didn’t deserve to die from simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She didn’t deserve to die from getting caught in the middle of our pissing match with the Shadows and the Controllers.
I’m not sure how long we’d been driving when Dom pulled off into the construction zone of a new neighborhood.
“Not exactly the Ritz,” Dom remarked, staring at the barely built house, “but I need to stop and rest. I think the Shadows had wolfsbane on their claws because my wounds aren’t healing like they should, and my vision is getting spotty.”
All I could do was nod. I wanted to yell at him for trusting the Controllers, but one glance at him told me Dom barely had enough energy to get himself into the house.
Grabbing our duffel bags, the two of us lifted the garage door. I swiftly pulled the car in before helping Dom lower the door back down. Upon entering, I realized the house must’ve just been painted because its stench permeated throughout its entirety.
I followed Dom up to the master bedroom, setting down my duffel bag and moving to the window when I heard movement outside. It turned out to be a tarp blowing in the breeze.
“We have water,” Dom called from the bathroom. “Thank God they’ve already turned it on.”
I didn’t respond after being unable to come up with a response that didn’t sound snippy or bitchy. Instead, I dug through my bag for antibiotic creams, ibuprofen, and, in case of wolfsbane poisoning, Flecainide to speed up our healing process. Something about our blood made all medication work faster. We hadn’t been able to figure it out, but I’ll be damned if I said our magical blood hadn’t saved our lives before.
“Hey, Anna?” Dom asked slowly.
I leaped up and sprinted to the bathroom, where I found Dom passed out on the floor, black blood seeping out of his wounds. The stench of wolfsbane violently assaulted my nose, giving me a dreadful epiphany. I darted back to my bag and searched desperately for the antibiotics and ibuprofen, and most importantly, the Flecainide.
My hand hit the white bottle, and I scurried back to Dom. With trembling hands, I broke open the capsule and poured the powder into his mouth.
“Come on, Dom, come on!” I begged, placing my ear to his chest and listening to his erratically fast heartbeat. “Come on, don’t die on me!”