Pepper? Why would I smell pepper in the middle of a mountain forest?
I kept creeping between the trees trying to locate the source of the smell. It must be someone's deodorant or something because it was totally out of place. I let my nose guide me until I finally saw him.
A boy of about 18 years, my age, crouching down by some plants. His back was to me. What was he doing?
My ears pricked up as I heard a subtle click. The boy stood and I saw in his hand was a fancy looking camera. He turned and before I could hide, spotted me. He froze. Not moving a muscle.
Hasn't he ever heard that animals can smell fear? Because I could. The sweat that seeped from his pores. Gross. But understandable.
I'm pretty sure any sane person who was being stared down by a 115 pound Mountain Lion would be.
I was larger than a normal Mountain Lion. And almost three times as deadly. But you would never know. I'm not one for senseless violence.
You're probably wondering 'What the hell are we doing hearing a story from an overgrown cat?', well I'm not really a Mountain Lion. I just can look like one when I want. The rest of the time I look pretty human. Goldish blonde hair. Light blue eyes. Kinda tan. Average Cali girl. But I don't live in California, I live in Oregon.
My name is Jenna Dunes. I'm an Amorphia, or Amo for short. Other names you may be more familiar with are 'shapeshifter' or even 'skinstealer'. You know werewolves? Of course you do. Well Amorphia are kind of like that but we don't all change into wolves and we can change whenever we want to.
It usually runs in a family, a certain species. Now don't think we're some barbaric hillbilly family living out in the woods. No. I actually live in a nice suburban neighborhood with my dad and older brother. Our mother passed away a few years ago in a hunting accident.
You're also probably wondering why I'm prowling around in the forest. Well this may sound stupid but I just broke up with my boyfriend and I was upset and trying to blow off some steam. Then I run into this pepper smelling cutie.
I probably sound really creepy but honestly this kid was hot. He had messy, wavy black hair and a strong jawline. His eyes were a piercing green, almost emerald, and they looked out from beneath two well defined eyebrows. Looking at his nose I could see it was almost perfectly straight, making it difficult to keep his over-sized glasses on. My gazed moved over his well defined cheekbones and finally rested on his not-too-full lips.
I know, I know, I just broke up with my boyfriend, why am I looking at this guy like that? Because he's adorable and happens to be here.
I'm not looking for a rebound, besides this kid is probably just another tourist coming to hike through the mountains. He'll be gone by the end of the week.
I flicked my gaze up to his eyes again. They were still set in fear but it seemed to be fading seeing as how I haven't moved. I, not wanting to scare him, lowered myself down and laid on the leaf covered floor. He took this as his opportunity to raise his camera.
I bared my teeth and growled at him. I couldn't be caught in camera. As I mentioned before I have blue eyes. They stay the same when I morph. It's not natural for a mountain lion to have blue eyes. If he caught them on camera it would raise suspicion.
Secrecy is the most important thing for Amos. If normal humans knew about us we would probably be slaughtered.
That's the one problem with them. They're scared of the unknown. Always wanting to destroy what they don't understand. Their fear is real though.
Long ago there was a peace treaty between us. Back from when humans did know of our existence. We vowed to never harm humans and they in turn would not hunt us. Amos never forgot. The knowledge was passed down through generations. But humans did.
We became ledgends, stories. They broke the treaty, but seeing as how they knew nothing about it, most of us Amos forgave them and adapted to being more cautious when in animal form. We didn't want to re-inform them of our existence though, they were advancing and becoming too much of a threat.
Some however did not forgive them. In the late 1700s a wolf Amo named Bane began transforming once a month and terrorizing innocent people. That's where the whole werewolf story came in. He was eventually killed with a silver bullet, although any normal bullet would have had the same effect.
Very few Amos have ever been as bold as him again. Those who did also became myths (Dracula and Vlad, both bat Amos).
I wouldn't become like them, I had respect for humans. My father stressed that I always stay on a human's good side. If they ever did find out then that was my best defense. I was always careful though.
That's why when the boy dropped his camera in fright I quickly turned and ran off. I couldn't risk staying around any longer.
Once I was out of the boys sight I clambered up into a tall tree, well out of reach. I scanned the area for a few minutes before finally relaxing a little.
Too soon. I heard a shout from the direction I had just come. Less than a second later there was a deep roar.
My dad had always trained us to protect those in trouble so without hesitation I leapt from my perch thirty feet up, bounded off another tree and landed on the ground. I whipped around and bolted the way I had come.
It took less than a minute to find the source of the noise. A large brown bear had pinned the boy from earlier into a crevace in the side of the rocky mountain face. The bear was trying to reach its huge paw into the crack but it wouldn't fit. The bear pulled its paw out again to try from a different angle (they're pretty smart) and I got a glimpse of the boys face.
He looked absolutely terrified. I had to get the bears attention so the boy could run. I took a deep breath before letting out a powerful roar, successfully startling the bear.
The boys eyes locked on me as well and a flash of recognition ran through them, seeing my eyes. That was bad but I couldn't worry about it now.
The bear had turned to face the new threat: me.
It got up on its hind legs trying to make itself bigger and it roared. I took this as my opportunity because the bear had left its vulnerable underside wide open. I sprang forward and slashed at the bears belly. I was able to scratch some skin but it's fur was so thick.
I snarled at the bear, exposing my fangs, trying to get it to back down. Usually bears won't fight for very long. They know when something isn't worth it. But this bear wasn't giving up.
It had brought its paw around and slapped me away from its stomach. It landed on all fours trying to protect its weak spot. I lowered myself to the ground hissing and growling. The bear let out another roar trying to claim dominance but seeing as I'm not a real mountain lion, I'm not going to simply bow down.
I pounced to the right of the bear towards a tree and then propelled myself off of it onto the bear's back before it could react. I lunged down and sank my teeth into its neck causing it to howl in pain.
The bear began thrashing, trying to shake me off but I simply dug my claws in, refusing to let go. The tang of blood had filled my mouth but I held on.
When the bear finally seemed to be growing weak I let go and jumped from it's back. I was now in between the bear and the boy. The bear turned to look at me and I almost felt a pang in my gut from the look in its eyes. It was only hungry. But I couldn't let it hurt the boy.
It let out a huff and sauntered off in search of shelter and another meal. I turned my attention back to the boy who was wiggling out of the rock.
He seemed to loose all his fear of me, which was also a bad thing. I was obviously a very distinctive mountain lion but if he ever came across another and it wasn't me then he'd be dead.
He escaped the stone and turned to me. I didn't want to but I couldn't let him believe he could trust wild animals. I bared my fangs as I did to the bear and let out a deep throaty snarl.
He backed up immediately but didn't run. If he wouldn't then I would. I dashed away from the boy for the second time and once again climbed into the trees.
This time though, I leapt from branch to branch, almost silently, as I followed the boy to the edge of the parking lot at the base of the mountain trail he had wandered from. I made sure to stay well out of sight.
I watched as he walked over to a nice red SUV, got in, and waited until he drove well out of sight. I was about to head back into mountains but a car in the parking lot caught my eye. It was my brother, Nate's.
He must have come looking for me since I didn't come home after school. I realized it was in my best interest to find him before he told my dad, who wouldn't notice my absence for a while.
I went back the way I came moving deeper into the forest. Once I was a good distance in I heard a shout from a half mile away. Nate was calling for me.
I responded with a roar, even though he was human at the moment he would recognize my voice and understand the message 'I'm ok'. He went silent and I knew he had heard me.
I made my way back to where I had left my clothes when I first got here. I morphed and got changed. Leaving the trees behind I found the road and started walking down it towards my house.
I made it home before Nate but not before my dad.
As soon as I stepped in the door a hand swung out and caught me across the face. The strength sent me sprawling back to the floor.
"Where the fuck have you been?" My dad demanded. I could smell a hint of alcohol on his breath.
You know how I said I live in a nice suburban neighborhood?