CW: Gun usage, but no blood / graphic content
Chapter 12: Don’t Bring a Shapeshifter to a Gun Fight
The agents were a little taken aback, and one let go of Flax’s net for a second; he quickly corrected himself.
Keith charged forward—part of that force was Molly. She slashed the net. Initially, her blade had scraped Flax, but Keith held her back so that wouldn’t happen.
Flax jumped up when he realized he was free. He didn’t land on his feet perfectly, though; his hind legs got tangled together, but he eventually got it right.
Molly transformed back into herself, doing a backflip mid-air and landing on Keith’s shoulder. “Boom, baby!” She said, obviously just repeating something she heard on TV. How had she learned to do that? He hoped she wasn’t practicing this at home.
Keith grabbed Flax’s arm and began to pull him away from the agents. He looked back for a moment, and the two made eye contact. Flax gave him a look like he couldn’t believe he had just been saved.
But the agents did not give up. Not yet.
In the corner of his eye, a lady tried to come up from behind and snatch Molly. Keith’s reflexes acted before his brain, and he punched her in the nose with all of his strength.
She stumbled backward, and he was immediately filled with regret. He just punched another person! How could he even do such a thing?! Molly was disappointed that she hadn't gotten to punch anyone.
Another agent—a tall man with a big nose—positioned a Glock and shot at Keith.
There was little time to react. He quickly pushed Flax out of the way. He took Molly off of his head and tossed her into Flax’s arms. Keith heard him trot away.
Automatically, his body stretched to the right; he found himself on his tip-toes, and his back was arched forward in a way that shouldn’t have been possible.
Just like a cartoon character
He avoided the bullet by a hair. It flew past him, and shattered the window of a closed shop. He did not keep his balance for long; he stumbled back as he got back into his regular shape.
Big-Nose—which is what Keith mentally called him—stopped, lowering his gun. In fact, everyone stopped.
Keith momentarily forgot where he was and who he was up against. He looked down at his hands, knowing immediately what had caused it—the factory. With every new power that was revealed to him, he questioned more and more how it was even possible.
Big-Nose took another shot at him, this time aiming for his head. Keith squashed down in seconds, until he was as flat as a pancake. He popped back up when the bullet flew over him.
Having your entire body stretch and bend against your will wasn’t as painful as you might think. It just felt…weird. It was unlike anything he had ever felt before, and there was nothing he could compare it to.
Big-Nose became frustrated, and he took a couple more shots at Keith. Without fail, Keith avoided every one. He twisted and turned, and when the bullets fired faster, he had an idea: he cartwheeled to the left and landed in a crouching position. He had felt so much lighter as he miraculously spun out of harm’s way.
He did finger guns and winked at the agent. He could see Flax and Molly hiding in an alleyway. They both looked impressed.
Who said you couldn’t have fun in a life-or-death situation?
Just as he was hopping off the ground, he fell back to his knees as something hit him from behind.
He didn’t feel any major pain—it was more like a dull sting—but he did feel a sort of emptiness in his chest. It was completely numb; he couldn’t even feel the rapid heartbeat that was there a moment ago.
Hesitantly, he looked down, only to see a giant hole in his chest.
Keith immediately recoiled in horror, but after a few moments of shock, he realized something:
He was still alive.
He took a closer look at the empty space in his chest. No blood or organs was coming out. In fact, his skin didn’t even look like it had been pierced with a bullet; the hole was a perfect circle, cutting through his clothing, and it looked as if someone had simply erased a hole in his chest.
He was thankful to be alive, but that feeling of nothingness in his chest was awful, and he wanted it gone as soon as possible.
As soon as the thought crossed his mind, the hole began to fill up. Within seconds, he was back to normal; it was like he had never been shot in the first place.
Everyone around him was too confused to do anything.
He heard the clicking of hooves, and he saw Flax rush into the scene. He pressed his hands together and created another spell. He uttered another untranslated phrase under his breath, which took a little longer than the last. With each word, he got louder and louder, until he was practically screaming.
When he separated his hands, he sent out another burst of blinding light. Before Keith had gone completely blind, he thought he saw Flax tuck his necklace into his shirt.
It had been a good 30 seconds before Keith could see again. He opened his eyes, and gasped at what he saw.
Covering the entire street were copies of himself, Flax, and Molly. He assumed they were illusions, given the previous spell Flax had done, but there was really no telling.
All of the copies stood around idly. Keith looked around frantically, trying to figure out who was real and who was fake, and saw that the Flax right next to him was wiggling his fingers. He noticed the necklace string around his neck, and he realized that no other Flax had this.
Flax mouthed something (which Keith could only assume was “three, two, one,”) and everything delved into chaos. All of the copies started doing their own thing; a Flax was prancing around a fire hydrant and a Molly was spinning on her head; there was a Keith that made silly and distracting faces, and a whole group of copies that yelled as they rushed towards the agents.
While all of the agents were utterly lost, the real Flax picked up Molly and Keith and galloped off.
“You said you lived around here, right?” Flax whispered to Keith once they were out of earshot. “Could you point me in the direction of your house?”
Keith looked around; they weren’t too far from his apartment. “Sure, but we might need to take a different route; wouldn’t want them finding out where I live.”
Keith gave directions to Flax. He made sure to go down plenty of side roads and make unnecessary turns; the trip took ten minutes longer than it should have, but that was for the best.
The entire time, Keith couldn’t help but think about how Flax must feel. This was probably his first time on Earth, after all, and this was the first impression he got. Yikes.
After a while, they finally came into his neighborhood. The sky was dark—Keith could see stars as well as some unidentifiable colored orbs.
He guided Flax into the apartment parking lot. He seemed a little fascinated by the concept of apartments, but Keith dragged him inside before anyone could notice him. Flax had to crouch to get inside.
Everyone let out a breath as they shut the door. Keith leaned a chair against it and made sure all the window curtains were shut tight.
There was not much space for a human-deer hybrid to move around, so he just knelt down in the middle of the living room. Molly was jumping around him, trying to coax him into doing another illusion. He chuckled, holding out his hand and producing some low-effort sparkles.
Keith realized that they hadn’t been properly introduced. “This is Molly,” he said, patting her on the head. Molly objected to his patting, and pushed his hand away. “She’s a shapeshifter. We don’t usually have them on Earth, but… it’s a long story.”
Flax smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Molly. I’m Flax.”
Molly continued to jump around. “Do the sparkly thing again!” Flax obliged, making some sparkles in the shape of a smiley face.
Keith could see him shuddering, and saw the shiftiness in his eyes; he was worn out, and probably still scared.
“Hey Flax,” he said, “are you hungry? I can make you something if you’d like.”
Flax smiled. “Why yes, that would be so kind of you!”
Keith opened his fridge, and he realized that he left all his groceries outside of the store. He groaned.
Closing the fridge for a moment, he looked back at Flax. He was probably a vegetarian—or an herbivore, perhaps. He picked from the few options in the fridge and whipped something up quickly.
Flax was still playing with Molly when he finished making the food. “Here we go,” said Keith, handing Flax the plate. On it was a lettuce-and-tomato sandwich with whole wheat bread. “Bon appétit.”
Flax looked delighted to have it—way more delighted than anyone should ever feel about a sandwich. He took a bite. “Oh, this is wonderful!” He said with his mouth still full. “You’ve got to show me how you make this!”
“Haha, yeah,” Keith replied, not looking at Flax. There was something else on his mind, but he wasn’t really sure how to say it. “So, Flax, I know this is your first day on Earth, and I realize that there may have been some…misconceptions about this place. I thought that, as an Earthling, I should clear them up for you.”
Flax’s ears pricked up.
Keith sighed. “First of all, not all Earthlings are like those people in black suits we saw. They’re…” he paused. How should he say it? “Well, I should probably start it off with this: the idea of other creatures and worlds being out there somewhere… isn’t something that’s commonly believed. People don’t know what to do when they see something that isn’t from Earth. But those people, they weren’t just regular people—they were part of the government. Regular people probably wouldn’t have reacted so violently.”
He was really just rambling, feeling like he had to apologize on behalf of all Earthlings. He didn’t want Flax to hate him. It was clear from his earlier reaction that Earthlings were feared. Was it for good reason?
Flax nodded, but there was a small falter in his face.
Like he didn’t fully believe Keith.
A little meow broke through their silence. Lucy came trotting in from somewhere in the hall.
Keith smiled and approached her. “Why hello there Lu—“
“Keith, stay back!” Flax interrupted. He had jumped to his feet and was pressed against a wall. “Don’t get near it or make any sudden movements,” he said through gritted teeth.
He looked from Lucy to Flax, then back to Lucy. “Uh, what are you talking about? She’s my pet, and her name is Lucy.”
“P-pet?” Flax muttered. “You keep this creature as a… pet? But why? They’ve got predatory instincts and sharp claws and an innate desire for mayhem! And plus, they’re not even from Earth; it shouldn’t even be here!”
Cats are…aliens? Why was he not surprised?
Keith picked up Lucy and brought her over to Flax. “Yeah, but they’re also really soft and cute. Lucy loves new people. Wanna pet her?”
Flax hesitantly reached his arm out. Lucy’s yellow eyes grew larger as he slowly stroked her between the ears. She began to purr and lean into his touch.
He seemed a little confused. “Umm, what is she doing?” He asked, not taking his hand away.
Keith laughed. “It’s called purring—it means she likes you.”
Flax seemed a little more at ease now. He continued to pet her as he held her in his arms. Molly wanted to pet her too, and Lucy seemed a little less vicious towards her.
Keith smiled. “Just don't pet her on the stomach, and you'll be good. Also, I’m going to bed."
After brushing his teeth and getting into his pajamas, he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. There were still so many things he wanted to ask. Where was Flax from? How had he gotten here? Was this Armageddon? Was the world ending? Were the agents going to raid his house while he slept?
And what about all the saving he had done today? What about all the new powers he got? He wasn’t becoming a… no, he couldn’t be…he wouldn’t be...
He yawned, and walked back to the kitchen to get a melatonin gummy; he would be needing it. Molly was curling up on the couch, and Flax was still petting Lucy.
Keith smirked, holding back a laugh. “You know you can… put her down, right?” He said.
Flax’s head shot up, and he looked like he genuinely didn’t know this. Keith gently took Lucy out of his hands and gently set her on the floor.
“So,” Keith said, “where are you going to sleep?” He wanted Flax to be comfortable, but he probably wouldn’t fit on the couch.
Flax thought about it. “Well, I usually just sleep on the floor, in a big pile of pillows and blankets.”
“Okay, that’s doable.” He walked over to the hall closet and piled every single pillow and blanket into his arms. Flax looked delighted as Keith handed them to him.
“Good night,” he said, heading back to his bedroom. His eyelids were already heavy by the time he was in bed.
Keith closed his eyes, not sure if he’d ever open them again.
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Next: Chapter 13