The Shift: Book 1- The Anomaly Ch 1
Chapter 1: Karma
Looking in the mirror, I have never really considered myself an attractive woman. Although, Grace says that I have a seductive look about me. She is always bombarding me with gifts of make-up and clothing, telling me that I could have any man I desired. I don't use any of the gifts, and I definitely don't want any man. I had one and that didn't work out, plus I have too many secrets to keep that would destroy any relationship, let alone scare the living shit out of anyone. Staring at the plain face that is staring back at me, twisting a black tendril of my hair around my pale finger, I try to drown out what she's saying.
"So, you'll call me, right?... Arielle! Hello!" Grace demands my full attention.
"So... sorry.... uh, yeah. Of course, I'll call you." I try to hide the fact that I was already bored with this conversation.
"Keep me updated on everything. Just because I'll be gone a week doesn't mean that you can just leave me out of all the interesting cases."
Grace and I work at Somers' Detective Agency, it is not very well known but highly affective. She is the office manager, and I am a detective. Basically, I go out into the field and put my life in danger, she shuffles paper safely behind the desk. I don't mind it though, the secrets I have come in very useful when hunting down targets. Sometimes I have back up from the FBI and sometimes I partner with the CIA, but most of the time I am alone...which is the way I prefer it. Because of my rare talent, I have the ability to take out the bad guys by myself and I enjoy it. I don't always understand the details of the cases; I just do what my boss tells me to do... and I am rewarded handsomely for it.
A few months ago, children started disappearing from their back yards all across the country. My company had received an anonymous call from someone who witnessed a rather large man stuff a child, tied up and gagged, into the back of a large cargo van. The case had taken me all the way across the country to find out that some really powerful men were kidnapping children to sell them to the highest bidder internationally. I had to capture the enormous man (muscles and all) along with his side kicks, steal the children back and return them to their families. It wasn't easy, since time wasn't on my side. Some of the children died, and so did the anonymous caller...our only lead in the case.
"So, Cody will drop me off at the airport... how does this look?" She steps out from behind the curtain wearing a backless floral skull print knee length vintage dress. Her athletic body fits into that dress as if it was painted on. I have always thought that Grace's beauty would attract any man she wanted, however, I rarely ever see her with a man. I have known Grace for eight long years, and she is my very best friend, aside from Karma of course. Grace's long blonde hair curls in cascades down her back. Her tan skin is perfect, blemish free and her beautiful green eyes remind me of emeralds. She is stunning, and always steals the attention in any room.
"That dress is definitely NOT Hawaii. Try on that other one I gave you."
"But Ari, I love this dress!"
"Well, you asked! I gave my opinion. If you don't want it, don't ask for my opinion, just buy it!" We bicker like this all the time. I hate shopping with Grace, but she drags me along anyway. "Why did you ask Cody to drop you off, why didn't you ask me?" She hates Cody, and he hates her. This doesn't make much sense to me, plus I'm trying to change the subject.
"Well, because you have to finish the report on the child abduction case, and Brandon is busy, so that leaves... Cody... or I could call an Uber, and you know how I hate doing that." She says as she pushes me off to the side so she could hog the mirror and admires herself as she smooths out the dress. "Make sure that James remembers to have Brandon apply the vacation pay to my check, otherwise I won't be able to put that down payment onto my car. I'll be so mad if he forgets." Grace has wanted her cherry red viper for as long as I could remember. She's been saving up money since she started working for Somers.
"Well, I don't have to do the report, and I'll make sure Brandon does it."
Grace looks at me with her green eyes, a hint of mischievousness in them. "I'm buying this dress. AND the other dress...I'm buying them ALL!" She laughs! She lowers her head onto my shoulder and says, "I so wished you could come with me. I know Emma would love to see you." She puts her arms around my waist and hugs me. The smell of her shampoo reminds me of summer, and her warmth reminds me of my childhood; the way my mother would hold me whenever I needed comfort, or the way my father would hug me whenever I did something to make him proud.
"I know," I say as I hug her back. "But what would I do with Karma, you know I can't take him on the plane. Not to mention, Cody would flip. What would he do without the both of us there to boss him around?" I smile at the thought of Cody Fairchild, one of my colleagues. He is a good-looking guy, a little older than I am. He has straight sandy brown hair that is cut short but always styled well. He has light hazel eyes, and a slight tan. He kind of reminds me of a Ken doll...only not so stiff. He's very much in love with me and has asked me out a few times, but I always turn him down. For the fear of romance in the workplace, I have heard that it never works out. Or at least that was my excuse for turning him down. Plus, Karma wouldn't really like me dating Cody. I don't want him to know the truth about me. Only a few people know my secret and Cody isn't one of them.
It's Tuesday morning, still dark outside...earlier than normal. Any normal person would declare that early is by the crack of dawn, however, for me normal is before the crack of dawn. I look at the clock blinking 3:22am. My alarm is set for 5:00am, but, for some reason I am restless. I have no idea what wakes me from my slumber, no matter how hard I try, I just can't go back to sleep. I might as well get some exercise in before I go into the office. Grace had already left for Hawaii, which means that today is going to be long and appalling.
My little one bedroom rather cluttered apartment, with rusty pipes, holes in the walls, peeling paint, scattered clothing and useless junk littered all over the place is located just uptown. It is big enough for just the two of us and used to sleep in, not much for anything else. My bedroom contains a king-sized bed that takes up the entire bedroom and fits just under a window that leads to the fire escape which is old and rickety and looks like it would crumble under the weight of a newborn infant, let alone my 115 pounds of flesh. That doesn't stop me from using it though. I rather enjoy that kind of challenge.
My day starts in a few hours, so Karma and I can go for a nice, relaxing, jog. Anything that would be described as insane or absurd is a usual day for my world, but today is going to be an abnormal, boring day. "Uck...a zit..." I murmur to the reflection in the mirror, after I brush my teeth, pull my hair back into a pony tail, and wash my face. The zit means THAT dreaded day is drawing nearer. THAT particular day that only I know about, the day where I would have to go into hiding for fear of what I would become. This day happens once every six months and causes me to act in ways that I fear would scare away anyone closest to me. So, I hide until the day is over. I am not a normal woman. In fact, I don't even know if I am a human at all. All I know is that I LOOK human...most of the time.
"You want to go for a run, Karma?" I hook the leash onto my best friend. He is a beautiful blue brindled pit bull rescued from a fighting ring. I took down the man who bred him specifically to fight, and of course the other men involved in the fighting ring.
There was an anonymous caller who told my boss that he thought he heard a lot of growling and yelping and he thought it might be a dog fighting ring. The anonymous caller was correct. When I arrived there, lying in the midst of the ring was this poor dog covered in blood and torn, left to die. The cops that arrived thought the dog was as good as dead and the culprits were going to run free; of course, the sight of the dog ripped my heart out, there was no way I was going to allow this to happen. With my secret ability, I was able to see and hear the people responsible which lead to their capture, and the rescue of all of the other dogs involved. And of course, I took the poor injured dog home and nursed him back to health.
Karma is big and burly, with a white stripe that extends from the middle of his forehead down around his muzzle, and down his neck, widening on his chest and down his belly. His two front legs are white, and his left back leg has white on his toes. He has a huge grin that makes everyone at the office laugh, and one of his ears is shorter than the other. Because the dog was lucky to not have died, I decided to call him Karma. Although his past was brutal, you couldn't tell from the way he is now. He loves everyone he meets, including other dogs. I always take Karma where ever I go, and most definitely on runs. He is the smartest dog I have ever known, and he is always eager to please. People are always gawking at me, as if to think...a tiny little woman running with this enormous pit bull...SERIOUSLY? Karma wiggles his entire body, eyes wide and panting with excitement. He jumps up a bit and barking, seeming to say, "I'm ready mom! I'm ready mom! LET'S GO....Oh boy...Oh BOY... OH BOY!!!!"
"Karma, sit." My dog trainer instructed me that every time I take Karma out at all, I am supposed to ask him to sit. Karma sits rather impatiently, and then looks up at me with his steely gray eyes, unblinking. "Good boy, Karma!" I praise, then open the door and stepping out into the hallway. "Let's go, Karma." Again, something I learned from my dog trainer, to instruct the dog to wait for me to lead him out of the apartment. We start down the smoke-filled hall past two other rotting apartment doors. We find the decrepit staircase on the right and start jogging down the eight flights of stairs. We live on the top floor of my eight-story, run-down apartment building. Although I'm not too fond of heights, I love living so far up, it gives me security, along with having Karma to scare away any intruders, I feel protected.
Our two figures emerge from the front door of the apartment building, and immediately Karma puts his nose to the ground. He starts sniffing around in the dark for a place to pee. The chill in the air doesn't seem to bother Karma; I hug myself and start rubbing my arms, even though I am covered by my black and hot pink jogging suit. Apparently it's not enough to block out the chills. "Hurry up and find a place to pee Karma, I'm getting c-c-cold..." Karma soon finds a tree to sniff and then he turns his belly to it and lifts his leg, grinning relief back at me. He then drops his leg and prances back to my left side smiling up at me. I look down at him and reach down to pat him on the side. "Good boy, Karma...let's go!" I then take off, jogging towards town with a happy Karma trotting next to my side. We jog down the dimly lit street and then turned the corner of another dimly lit street. There are no sounds, except for the thudding of our feet as they hit the concrete of the sidewalk. We turn again down another dimly lit street. I feel sweat starting to bead up on my face and hear the sounds of my own breath and my best friend panting calmly by my feet. I turn and continue jogging. After jogging a few blocks, I start to feel the hair on the back of my neck tingling, it's as if I were being followed. I stop and pull Karma closer to me, noticing the alert expression on his face accompanied by a low rumbling growl.
A familiar feeling, I experienced when I was with a certain someone sneaks up on me. He haunts my dreams even though I haven't seen him in ages, and I really don't want to think about him. Is he following me? Is he spying on me? Does he think about me at all? Does he remember how he hurt me? Shaking the thoughts of him out of my head, I toss the idea aside. Looking around I direct my attention to the presence beside me that would never betray my trust, "What is it? What do you see, boy?" I ask, under heavy breathing. Although I was talking in a calm voice to the dog, despair lurks inside of me. Standing firm, I look up the street, and then down it for a sign of movement, a flicker of light, or a figure. Seeing nothing, Karma and I break out into a run. Karma is bounding with every step I take. Feeling that if someone were following me, they'd have a hard time keeping up with us. I am a pretty fast runner; I am in perfect physical shape, considering all the bad guys I chase down on a regular basis, I always manage to catch the bad guys fairly easily. And if my running failed me, then I know I could always count on Karma to tackle whomever is following us. I don't want to use my secret if I don't have to. It is always a hassle, and if I can avoid changing in front of Karma, I'd prefer it. I know that he would still recognize me; it is always so confusing for him. A few more blocks and I feel the tingling again. I stop and look while Karma stands stiffly, and alert, growling a little louder this time. I turn around, this time my eyes magnifying my surroundings. Looking around, I see the trash dumpsters in the alleyways between buildings. A cat jumps off of the dumpster and bounces out of sight. I spot nothing out of the ordinary. It's time to head back to the apartment.
The clock now reads 4:35, and we are back at my apartment door, unlocking it, with Karma now content and panting by my side. The door flies open, I lead my friend into the apartment and drop the leash, so he can go to his water bucket to get a drink. As the door slams shut, I replenish my fluids by drinking a red Power Aide from my fridge. While peering through the peep hole to see if I were still being followed, I lock the deadbolt, and then the door knob and flop down onto my black leather sofa; my eyes feel heavy, so I close them.
I watch helplessly on the side lines while my body is sheathed in the form of a big black cat ripping apart flesh from head to toe. Thick scarlet liquid is splattering everywhere. Red dripping from the ceiling and walls. The metallic taste of blood still inhabits my mouth. The grotesque smell lingers in my nose. Screams pierce my ears, as women and children flee, but I don't know what they are fleeing from. Is it from me? My own soul is reconnected with my human form again, only this time I can't breathe, speak, or cry out. Nothing but pure silence surrounds me. I'm trapped a glass case, held together by gold framing. Frantically, I try to escape finding no way out. I see Grace's beautiful blonde hair, and green eyes. Trying to get her attention, I pound on the glass wall screaming her name, but to no avail. In the distance, a dark figure emerges into the light. My heart races, I recognize his face...
All of a sudden, my cell phone starts to vibrate, glow green and sings:
Three Days Grace's
"So, what if you can see the darkest side of me. No one will ever change this animal I have become. Help me believe it's not the real me, Somebody, help me tame this animal! This animal, this animal!"
"Hello?" I mumble into the receiver. My eyes are still closed.
"Ariella? Where are you?" The voice on the other end sounds like Cody Fairchild,
"I'm at home, why, what time is it? I must've dozed off..." I ask yawning and raising my hand to my face, rubbing it.
"It's six—have you heard from Grace?" There was a slight hint of urgency in his husky voice.
"Uh, no, not since Sunday, she forced me to go shopping with her, why? Isn't she supposed to be on vacation?" Now feeling very worried. Grace Thompson is my very best human friend, like my sister, and Karma's second mommy. Whenever I am out on the fields and Karma can't go, Grace takes care of him. Grace is one of the few people that know about my talent. Grace is beautiful and I have always thought that she and Cody should date; that they belong together or are made for each other. But of course, I have never been great at matchmaking.
"Well, yeah, but Emma called Mr. Somers, and told him that Grace never showed up at the Airport. She's extremely upset." Emma Sullivan is Grace's twin sister. She is married to an extremely gorgeous tall and dark man named Griffon and with him has two small beautiful children. A two-year old son named Patrick, and a nine-month old baby girl named Lilly. Grace is supposed to be vacationing in Hawaii, with her twin sister and her family.
Mr. James Somers is the head of the company, Somers' Detective Agency. James is a short, balding man, is in his fifty's and is married with two older kids one of whom works with me at the office, and the other lives in a halfway across the country, working for his own detective agency. James is very intelligent, a complete hard ball, but seems to have a soft spot for me. And I tend to look up to him, and I sort of adopted him as a fatherly figure, since my own father has pretty much abandoned me. Not to mention, he almost became a father to me. James lets me get away with stuff that no one else can. Maybe it's because of my looks, or my talent, or he's afraid I might hurt him, or maybe it's because I am always in the line of fire. Who knows, but it is Mr. Somers who lets me bring Karma to the office, when no one else is allowed to bring their pets. Of course, there's always someone who complains...but Mr. Somers always chuckles and says..."I love that dog."
"Didn't you drop her off yesterday?" I ask, sitting up quick, now feeling in the pit of my stomach very angry and worried.
"No, she said she was just going to take an Uber to the airport, since you were supposed to complete the report for the abductions and she didn't want me driving her there." Cody complained.
"What did Somers say?" I am now feeling my guts churning...knowing the answer to this question already.
"What did you think Somers said? She hasn't been missing for twenty-four hours yet. We can't do anything till then." Cody is still a bitter since I turned him down the last time, there's a smidgen of attitude in his answer.
"Where are you?" I am trying to overlook the rude tone in Cody's voice.
"I'm heading to the office in a bit, so I'll meet you there." is his short reply.
Annoyed,I flip my phone shut. Stunned, my best friend is now missing, and I can't do anything about it.
Read Chapter 2 here.
- The Shift: Book 1- The Anomaly Ch 2
Ariella’s friend has gone missing. Now Ariella is has to rush to start investigating her friends disappearance. But she finds that her hands have been tied. What is she going to do?