The God's Child
As red hot flames consumed my body, eating at my flesh and splitting my muscles in every direction, I couldn’t help but ponder just how I wound up here. Why was I doing all this rowing? Throwing my life away for this small child? Well, if you asked what I wanted to do with my life, I honestly couldn’t tell you. Really, can anyone know how to answer that without even experiencing life outside of school and home? I do know one person and that’s my twin sister, Yuki.
Unlike me, Yuki’s always known what she’s wanted to do with her life. Make good grades, get into a good college away from our small town and then make movies out of her stories. Even though we’re twins, it was pretty clear since the very beginning we were quite different. As Yuki studied and practiced drawing, I was…
“Rika stop chasing the cat!”
“Rika get down from that bookcase this instant!”
Rika! Why are there EGGS all over the floor?”
I was doing other things. Watching Yuki made it clear to me the difference between us. Or the difference other people saw between us. Yuki became the smart twin, the good twin, the one who would make the family proud. I was the other twin. It was okay though. Even if I didn’t quite have Yuki’s talent, I always felt I could do other things to make my family happy. Like trying to give the cat a bath, or dusting the top of the bookcase, or even trying to bake a cake for my parents' anniversary. I wanted to make them proud of just like they were of Yuki. My family just had a hard time seeing this. Except for one person.
It was always the first thing Yuki would say as she sat down next to me in time out, pulling out her sketchbook and pencils. She would then proceed to draw all my favorite cartoon characters as she narrated her own story with them. I would sit memorized, watching her draw. These moments, the time just between the two of us, was a cherished part of my childhood. Though Yuki was my rival, she was also my precious sister and I was always going to be her number one fan. No matter how down I was, she always knew how to bring me back up with her creations.
Her work would inspire me to keep doing my best too. Because more than anything, I know my family is the thing I love the most in this world. So even if I didn’t quite know what I wanted in my future like Yuki did, I know I would be fine as long as I had them.
At least that’s what I thought until our father passed away. After that, well, things became a little different. My mother, a strong willed housewife, who had always run the household like a well oiled machine, suddenly lost the will to get out of bed. She was like a ghost, wandering through the house with not much purpose. Both Yuki and I hoped she would get better, but as our second year of middle school came and went, she showed no signs of getting better.
Even worse, Yuki became more withdrawn, locking herself in her room and focusing all her time on her artwork. Even at school, I noticed she wouldn’t talk to our classmates, merely sketching away in her book. The moments of us spending time together dwindled as Yuki obsessed more and more on leaving our home, especially our mother. I felt like she was lost in a world where I couldn’t quite reach her.
Between her and our mother, I felt like both lights in my life were slowly fading and if I didn’t do something, both would go out forever. So I did what I felt like I had to. I stepped up. After school I took on all the housework and cooking. I worked a part time job waitressing. When Yuki soon worried about money to pay for college, I got another job at the daycare.
I know I’m not bright. I don’t have any future plans for my life. All I can do is live in the present and protect my family the only way I know how. I’ll work hard for their sake. So my mother can get better. So Yuki can achieve her dream. To protect them is my job.
So when this little girl came to me when danger approached, I didn’t think twice before doing what I always do.
I stepped up, and to my surprise, I became a wolf.
Rika’s head burst from the flames, giving a howl that splintered through the night. With one shake of her pure white fur, the rest of the embers dissipated into thin air, fully illuminating her giant, new form. Power of immense proportions seemed to ripple through her body, a body that was no longer human. She opened her snout and squirts of unsuppressed flames leaked out as large fangs shone in the moonlight.
"What...what is this?" Rika felt herself trembling at the new mass of senses flooded her. But before she had time to question this new development, a vicious hissing reminded her of the threat that was still present.
Before her stood the deadly white serpent, who was now recovered from the shock of a new enemy. It opened its mouth wide, its black tongue wiggling over rows of needle-like fangs as it readied itself for another attack.
Rika swiveled her head around and saw Emi standing up and pointing at her. Her blue eyes sparkled with wonder at the white wolf that stood before her, completely forgetting of the immediate danger she was in. Rika opened her snout and to her surprise, her voice came out. “Emi! Run!”
With superhuman reflexes, Rika pounced out of the way as the snake went down for an attack. As she dodged, she turned, using her mouth to clamp on to the back of Emi’s dress. Lifting her up, she quickly ran to the slide and deposited Emi on the top platform. “Stay!” She growled, glad she was still able to speak in this form.
“Ruffruff! Ruffruff!!” Emi squealed, clapping her hands excitedly. Rika’s pointed ears fell back as she realized it was only a matter of moments before the toddler would make her way back to the ground to pet the “Ruff Ruff”.
“I have to hurry!” Rika growled, turning back to face her adversary. However, once again its body had moved away from her phone’s light and had disappeared. “Damn it!” She snarled, fangs baring in frustration. “Focus Rika! You're not a weak girl anymore. Use this new strength you have!”
Closing her now golden eyes, she took a deep breath, inhaling all the air she could though her new canine nose. The amount of scents that bombarded her hit like a bullet. She clenched her teeth, instead trying to focus on listening. Her ears swiveled, waiting.
“There!” Rika turned to the right, just as the serpent bit into her shoulder.
“RUFF! RUFF!” Rika heard Emi scream, just as she howled in pain. Gritting her teeth, she jerked her head back, biting into the reptile’s still invisible flesh. What she was biting, she had no clue. It didn’t matter as long as she could get it to release her. She could already feel invisible pressure tightening around her middle and she had the sickening feeling it was trying to constrict her.
She bit harder and only felt the pressure increase. Not only that, but the burst of energy she felt earlier seemed to be draining as the snake's venom pulsed through her. The two beasts rolled on the ground, kicking up mulch and turning over playground equipment. Squirts of blood splattered on Rika’s face, burning her eyes as she tried to get an upper hand on her invisible foe.
“I can’t do this.” The doubt struck Rika like a sword to the gut. “Even with this new power, I still can’t beat it.”
“RIKA!” Emi yelled, her little legs running towards the ladder that led back to the ground. Rika’s eyes widened as she realized Emi was going to try to get down and help her.
“No! No! No! I can’t let that happen! Think! Rika think! I need light! I NEED LIGHT!” Almost instantaneously, Rika felt her body burn with an intense heat as if lava was erupting in her stomach. The heat pulsed through her, eating away at any venom in her veins and allowing a new surge of strength to emerge. With fangs still clenched onto the serpent’s flesh, a burst of flames erupted from her mouth, quickly spreading through the snake’s entire body.
The hold on Rika vanished and she fell on all fours, fangs bared as the now visible serpent writhed in pain on the ground. It’s hissing filled the air as it tried to extinguish the flames that covered his body. It was a gruesome sight, one Rika rather Emi did not witness.
“Let’s finish this!” Rika growled, going into a crouch as she prepared herself to deal a finishing blow. But before she could move, a shot rang through the air. She stared in shock as the serpent froze, his head raised in the air in mid hiss. A smoking bullet hole carved into its forehead.
A few moments passed before gravity took hold and the head fell with a booming thud to the ground. As it breathed its final breath, its body melted into a dark ooze that seeped into the earth. Rika could only watch in disbelief as the serpent’s dead body completely vanished from sight in a just a few seconds.
“Rika! Ruff Ruff!” Rika’s head swiveled towards Emi, who was in tears trying to figure out how to get down. Her little legs and arms were useless against the playset’s ladders.
“Hold on!” With one mighty bound she was up against the playset, her head level with the platform. A feeling of warmth coursed through Rika as Emi pounced on top of her furry head without any hesitation. She snuggled down deep into Rika’s white fur. Rika closed her eyes, so happy that she was safe.
A twig snapped behind them. With a feral snarl, Rika twisted around, lips pulled back as she faced the intruder. A young man, maybe early twenties with dark eyes and wavy brunette hair, stood before them. In his hand, he held a still smoking gun. Rika gave a low growl.
“So he’s the one who shot the serpent.”
Even so, Rika wasn’t going to take any chances. “Who are you?” She demanded, lifting her head up high so that Emi slid down to her neck fur and out of view.
The man held up his other hand in what she assumed was supposed to be a peaceful gesture. The effect was sort of ruined by the dark scowl on his face. “My name is Takuya Yamamoto and I need you to come with me for questioning.”
“Seriously?” Rika snorted, not sure whether to laugh or not. “What is with this guy? Coming up to a giant, talking wolf and instantly asks for us to come with him? Is this person even sane?”
“You do know you’re talking to a giant wolf, right?”
“Yeah, do I look blind to you?” Takuya replied irritatedly, clearly losing patience. Rika’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“And you're not….bothered by this?”
“Let’s just say, I’ve been expecting something weird like this to happen for a while now.” Takuya replied curtly. “Now are you coming with me or not? I don’t have all night.”
“This punk!” Rika’s fur bristled indignantly. “I’m not going anywhere with you until you at least tell me why you’re carrying around a gun.”
Takuya rolled his eyes, sighing as he reached into his jacket pocket. Rika tensed, expecting another weapon to be pulled out, but instead a wallet appeared. He flipped it open to reveal a shining police badge. “See, I’m a police officer. It’s my job to go around shooting at suspicious things.”
“That’s a very shrewd definition of a police officer.” Rika thought amusingly, tilting her head at him. “And a talking wolf isn’t suspicious?”
“No, you’re just annoying.” Takuya countered, plunging his gun into the holder attached to his belt. “Look if I wanted to kill you I would have shot you already.”
“True…” Rika agreed reluctantly. She hesitated, before slowly asking. “Do you know why that monster appeared?”
“Yes….well maybe…” He sighed, one hand ruffling his hair agitatedly. His narrow eyes squinted at the darkness of the woods that bordered the playground. “I’ll tell you what I know, but not here. It’s not safe.” He jerked his thumb towards the daycare center, where a police car was parked. “Come with me to the station. We’ll talk there.”
Before Rika could answer, Emi’s head popped up to top of Rika, pointing at the cop car excitedly. “Car! Car! Vroom! Vroom!”
Rika sighed, flames engulfing her once more. As the flames died, Rika stood back in human form, holding a wiggling Emi, in her arms. “This is Emi Saito.” She set the toddler down, allowing Emi to race ahead towards the vehicle. “Hey wait! Don’t go far!” Rika shook her head as the toddler froze, turning to run back towards them.
“And I’m Rika Kase.” Rika continued her introduction, as Emi ran up and attached herself to Rika’s leg. She noticed Takuya was watching both of them with a strange expression.
“You’re still a highschooler?” He questioned. Was it her imagination or was his tone softening just a bit?
“Yeah. I’m about to graduate in the spring though….hopefully.” Rika added as a silent afterthought, thinking of the work she still needed to catch up on back at home.
“I see.” He turned away, leaving Rika and Emi to follow.
“Who?Who?” Emi asked, looking up at Rika with questioning eyes.
Rika reached down and picked her up, squeezing her tightly. “He said his name was Takuya Yamamoto. Ya-ma-mo-to-kun.”
“Taya?” Emi repeated, clapping her hands. Rika shook her head, smiling.
“How about you just call him Police-kun for now?”
“Good job! Oh wait, that reminds me.” Rika clung Emi close as she caught up with Takuya. “Hey Police-kun!”
Takuya turned to her with a grimace. “Police-kun?”
“Yeah! Yamamoto is too much of a pain for Emi to say. You’re now Police-kun!” Rika explained, grinning. In her arms, Emi repeated the name with a giggle. Takuya sighed in defeat.
“Okay, whatever. Let’s just go.”
“Before we do that, Emi and I need to thank you.” Rika bowed, holding Emi’s head down too. “Thank you very much for helping us defeat that monster. Say thank you too, Emi!” The toddler smiled at Takuya, blowing a raspberry at him. “Geez, Emi! Say thanks like a good girl!”
“It’s fine.” Takuya replied, turning away abruptly. Rika blinked, sure for a second she saw a blush on his face.