Shattered FearsBy: Anna Edwards
Have you ever wondered if there’s something different to you out there? Aliens, shifters, vampires? What would it be like to meet one? Would they be kind, or would they live up to the tales of old that we read aloud to scare our children? Would you run screaming for the hills if you saw one, or would you hold your hand out and shake the creature’s hand before inviting it home for a cup of tea? Tolerance tells us to do the latter, but fear often overrules the common sense that we’re taught as children, and it can lead to chaos.
It isn’t just in relation to a creature that our narrow-mindedness becomes evident. No, humans, through the ages, have always been unable to show acceptance of what’s different. It is reminiscent of the stories of rivalry and hatred between families of star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine, Vronsky and Anna to name but a few. Couples torn apart because of misunderstandings and conflicting opinions. Differences in race, culture, finances, and background are all catalysts, which often lead to tragedy, death and mourning.
Zain and Isobel are about to experience what can happen when their world falls apart, and all they want to do is shout from the top of the highest mountain about the love they share. Being different isn’t an issue. You can be diverged from the expected norm and still be typical. The problem is the chaos of uncertainty and the fear it brings. Humans are weak when it comes to worrying about themselves. It will always be our greatest downfall.
“There are people living in this world who aren’t what you perceive them to be. Underneath their human skins, they are animals. Wild beasts from stories of long ago and modern animals: wolves, dragons, lions, tigers, and bears. Savages seeking to destroy the human race as we know it. They walk amongst us. Some may even be here today, but we have no way of telling. They keep themselves hidden, waiting, ready to pounce and rip us to pieces. Are you one of these creatures? I dare you to show your true nature?”
The crowd went quiet, and everyone looked at their neighbor, watching to see if they’d change. Isobel knew better though. The people here wouldn’t alter their appearance. None of them were shifters: the people her father, up on the stage, was talking about. He had tried to whip the crowd, of about a thousand people, into a frenzy again, but it wouldn’t work. It never did. Nobody had ever shifted into animal form at one of these meetings. Sometimes, she wished they would, just to avoid the inevitable laughter that was about to come, leaving her father in a sullen mood for the rest of the evening. The irony of the whole situation was she knew for a fact that what her father said was true. There were people on the Earth who could change their shape and transform into a wild animal. She’d seen it with her own eyes. The man that she’d loved, from the time she knew what love was, had changed. He’d shifted into a beautiful black bear. He’d been mighty in stature, but she hadn’t been scared of him. Mind you, he wasn’t aware that she’d seen. Zain Thornton, her childhood sweetheart, disappeared shortly afterward, and she had never seen him again. There hadn’t been a day since then that she didn’t miss him; he was her first and only love.
“Come on, show yourselves.” Her father’s command broke into her memories. This is where she knew the laughter would start and, within minutes, it did. It was always the same. Her father was thought of as a joke, the insane senator who believed people could turn into wild animals. A part of her wanted to scream at them and tell them ‘it’s true’, but the other part was aware that now wasn’t the time to remonstrate with everyone about what she already knew.
“What have you been smoking?” a heckler called out.
“Don’t know, but if he’s seeing people change into lions, then I want some,” another chuckled.
“Why don’t you just focus on lowering the taxes that we have to pay?” A third raised his fist in the air and shook it at her father. Isobel looked toward him, his shoulders slumped, defeat etched in the lines of worry, marring his once youthful face. She loved her father; he was a good man. He was just misguided on this point, and it was aging him. He stepped down from the stage and came over to her.
“Let’s go.” His voice sounded downtrodden.
“Daddy.” She took his hand and squeezed it.
“I really thought one would show themselves, this time.”
“I know. Maybe you’ve got it wrong, and they won’t hurt us. What you say about them could make them too scared to reveal themselves.” It was an argument she’d put forward many times, now. She wanted her father to believe that shifters wouldn’t hurt humans.