Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 2, Part 2.6

Posted by harmony0stars on October 18, 2008

Glory felt awkward after speaking. Did she sound as pretentious to him as she did to her own ears? She started walking again without bothering to see if he was following.

He laughed though as he crunched something else from the bag. “Forget being a poet! You’re like a knight!”

She was beginning to think he was a little off his rocker, but who was she to judge? He continued to work his way through the bag of food as they returned to the park. Glory would have asked him his name, but that might segue them into a conversation, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to start a discussion with a binge-eating werewolf looking for help in the middle of a busy city. She already got enough dirty looks from people who styled themselves the fashion police. As if a homeless person could afford to be picky about their wardrobe. She glared at a passing couple making disgusted faces at her as they neared, the woman in one of the newest retro fashions adopted from the 20s with a long strand of pearls wrapped around her throat so tightly it was a wonder she could breathe. They quickly crossed to the other side of the street, making an effort not to look in Glory’s direction.

She almost breathed a sigh of relief as her feet touched the crisp, dying grass of the park. She felt safer surrounded by the trees, not to mention her protective sigils. Every time she set foot outside the park, she felt like there was target stuck to her back. It hardly mattered that her sister had yet to make a move against her since Aaron’s, even though it should have been a fairly easy task to track her down. There were plenty of spells in her book to accomplish that. Her sigils would stop anyone from pinpointing her exact location, but beyond that, there was no hiding the fact that she was somewhere in the park. And still her sister had done nothing. It was more than she could hope for that her sister had managed to kill herself in some kind of ill advised magical experiment.

Glory caressed the bark of birch and sycamore trees as she made her way deeper into the perpetual twilight under the trees. She’d always found comfort in nature. She might not have a roof over her head, but these trees were better walls and neighbors than she’d ever had in her mother’s home. She breathed in through her mouth, savoring the sweetish taste of the rotting leaves and wood underfoot. Funny how she had no hunger, no thirst, no desire for anything, but the smell of the woods still had the power to give her comfort, if only in contrast to the stink of the city, the car exhaust and the backed up canals, and the snooty officious people who had nothing better to do than turn their noses up at a homeless girl. If it wasn’t for people like the Moukoulises, she’d probably throw her hands up in the air and leave the city. Let her sister do whatever she liked. The people ruddy well deserved it.

But they didn’t, not really, and she couldn’t bring herself to hate them all indiscriminately. She didn’t know everyone and couldn’t find it in her heart to just hate people for being people. There was no justice in hate. If she let herself, there was every reason to believe that she could degenerate into some kind of misanthropic old hermit bag lady living in the trees and scaring the norms on a daily basis with her shoddy wardrobe and scowls.

Glory snorted, dropping into the pile of leaves over her meager possessions. The leaves were wet and cold, but beyond her awareness of these facts, they didn’t bother her in the least. Her wardrobe probably didn’t need any more stains, but she didn’t care. Hmmm, natural camouflage. That actually made her smile.

“So, what kind of help do you need? And start with your name please, unless you want me to keep calling you puppy.”

He seemed to consider a moment, before answering with a big smile. “Toby. I’m Toby.” Of course, he seemed uncertain how to continue after that.

“Just start at the beginning.”

He’d settled into a pile of leaves opposite her. Now he rocked with his knees drawn up to his chin and his arms wrapped around his ankles. “We… don’t bother people. Honest we don’t. It’s not like in the movies. It hasn’t got anything to do with the moon, and a full moon doesn’t make us go all crazy and bite people. It’s not even… you know, contagious. They used to say is was a curse, but most of us just figure it’s genetics now. Since it runs in families.”

He took a big breath before continuing. “We mostly live together or close enough to visit, but last fall people started… disappearing. Then a couple weeks ago, I went off to school like normal and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a cell with this guy taking my blood every day and feeding me just enough goop to keep me alive. I’m pretty sure it was drugged too. I could smell other shapeshifters in there with me, but we were all locked up. Every so often, I’d see them take someone away and they never came back with him. I figured, you know… I’m hungry now but if I keep eating what they’re giving me, I’m probably dead anyway, so I starved myself for a week. Then when I saw my chance, I took it. But now… I don’t know what to do. I don’t know anyone in this city, and it’s not like I can go to the cops, right? Even if there are shifters here, and one of them was a cop, it’s not like they can get the place shut down without letting the world know we’re real. It’s why we stick to small towns… not these huge cities.”

No wonder he was messed up. “And the guys with the guns were from the place where they were keeping you?”

“Yeah, but I have no idea how they tracked me. I mean, they’re not shifters at all. I’d be able to tell. And I know how to get around without leaving spore,” he announced as if any five year old would know how to do that.

“They probably implanted a tracking device in you while you were unconscious. GPS or something.”

“Great! Just great!” He moaned, burrying his face in his knees. “Now I can’t even go home without putting my family in danger.”

to Book 2, part 2, page 7

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