Shift by Pili Yarusi: The Prologue


“You want to see something that I can do?”

I stare. He looks like a completely normal fourth grade boy: brown hair, brown eyes and boogers. He seriously has one hanging from his left nose hole.

“Look, Rainbow… I don’t have all day. If you’re going to come we got to go before the office lady gets back.”

“Rainbow?” I give my best eyebrow arch. My mom does that.

“Your eyes have rainbows in them. So, you are Rainbow.” And just then a boy with cornflake colored hair shoots out of the Office.

“Dude… come on.” Cornflake hair zips by and out the front doors of the school.

“Coming?” The booger boy holds his hand out impatiently. I grab his hand and we fly though the front doors.

So, now I’m in the side alley of my new school. With Boogers and Cornflake.

I look at my reflection in the mud puddle below. My hair is poofing out in all directions framing my weird eyes. Instead of hiding my face it just makes me look crazy. I probably should have kept my long, curly brown hair in those pigtails that Mom braided for me this morning. I probably shouldn’t be cutting class on my first day at my new school. Mom is going to be so mad at me… As the excitement of our flight from school dwindles, my eyes change from violet to green to grey. Every time my my eyes change there is a second where the world becomes that color.

“RAINBOW!” Booger interrupts my thoughts. You’re not even paying attention! Look what I can do!”

“This is my first day of school and I don’t really want to look at boogers.” Eww. Just the thought of boogers make my eyes change to a yellowish-green. Ha! Now the world is booger-colored.

“Like you were doing anything better in the library.” Booger sneezes.

“Bless you. At least I wasn’t cutting.” My eyes switch back to gray.

“You were, though.” Cornflake said.

“I was not!” Flaring back to a brilliant violet, I turn my eyes, giving them my best mean stare. They’re not paying attention to me and… Whoa. I’m used to strange things but this was super unreal. As I watch, Boogers hands blur… like it’s out of focus and covered by mist at the same time. He stretches his fingers out. Except now they’re not fingers. His hands have changed into dark brown paws with sharp gray claws. His hand blurs again, Booger slumps and his hands are back to normal. I move forward to catch him but Cornflake gets there first.

“Dude, you okay?”

“Yeah… It just makes me tired to do that…” He shakes it off.

“Can you do it again?” I’m still staring at his hands.

“Nah… I’m tired now. Nic made me do it a couple of times already.” He wipes his nose with the back of his sleeve. At least the boogers are not on his face now. “I want to see you change your eyes!”

“You can do that?” Cornflake asks.

“Yeah. My eyes usually just change on their own but sometimes if I concentrate on something I can do it.” I look into Cornflakes clear blue eyes. He stares back, unflinching. The world blurs a little, kind of like Booger’s hands. Never noticed that before.

“Woooaaah!! Wow!” Cornflake and Booger jump up and down like crazy monkeys.

“Stop! Someone will hear you!” I look back towards the entrance of the alley. Was there someone there?

“Your eyes did this crazy rainbow kaleidoscope thing then changed to blue, just like Nic’s eyes!” Booger whispers excitingly.

“It’s not as cool as your hand though. I wish I had claws.” Cornflake whimpers. “I can’t do anything cool. I’ve tried. See!” He screws his face up like he’s on the toilet. “Nothing!”

“Try again!” Booger laughs with me and Cornflake gives him a small shove. His face is just too much.

Booger suddenly stops laughing. Cornflake looks as if he’s going to shove him again but is frozen in mid-action. I poke him. Nothing. I look at Booger. “Come on guys this isn’t funny.” I poke Booger. They’re both frozen. “What’s going on?” Boogers eyes move side to side, looking frightened. They look beyond me towards the light at the front of the alley. This feels like one of those scary movie moments where you hope the girl doesn’t turn around.

I turn around.

The sun is blinding. The tall man is just a dark shadow in the middle of it. Maybe a teacher? “Hello? I’m sorry. I know were not supposed to be down here but could you help me? My friends… Something’s wrong with them. Could you help me, please.” I hear a barking noise and some laughter. The guy has something furry with him. A dog, maybe? Teachers don’t have dogs. The dog growls. That is my only warning as it barrels down the alley towards me. I barely have time to lift my arms to protect myself when creature hits me. I fly backwards into my friends.

A sharp pain blooms as my head slams against the hard ground. Cornflake and Booger groan, unfrozen. The dog that hit us isn’t a dog at all. It’s a bear. With a roar, it charges after us again, kicking both boys.

“Stop!” I scream. The bear doesn’t stop. It steps towards me and smiles, it’s sharp teeth just inches from my face.

The bear growls, “You said if we scared them enough they would Change.”

“I didn’t say for you to hurt them.” The man replies.

“Why not? You said they were freaks. Shouldn’t be allowed to live. I was just playing with our food before we…” The bear snaps his teeth.

“Just stop.”

“Why are you doing this?” I ask though my tears. He called us freaks. I don’t even know this guy. The man and bear look at me. The man was much older than I thought. He looks like one of those movie star guys in the films my Mom and I like to watch. The bear looks exactly like the pictures of the bear cubs that play in the wild. Except this bear is foaming at the mouth, looking really scary. Big bad baby bear. It is so much taller than me. Baby bears are not supposed to be this tall. Now that I think about it, bears are not supposed to talk, either.

I hear a small whimper. Booger is groaning and Cornflake blinks up at me. There is a line of blood dripping into his pain-filled blue eyes. “Why are you doing this to us.” I whisper.

“You want more?” The bear steps forward and leers at me.

“No,” I try not to clam up. If I run now, I’m pretty sure the bear will catch me. My head hurts but I push myself up.

“Hey,” the bear turns his black snout to look back at the man. “She has weird eyes like this little blond rat on the ground … except hers change. She has rainbow eyes.”

“My eyes are… not… rainbows!” This stupid bear didn’t know anything about me! “My eyes don’t turn red or orange!” I get up.

“Hey, stay back, you … you … you freak,” The bear shies away from my approach. “You might be one of them!”

“What are you talking about?” I barely get the sentence out as the man grabs me, and before I can breathe out a scream, he throws me back down. I fall into Cornflake. We both roll into a puddle of mud. He must really be hurt. I sit him up out of the mud and hold him as well as I can. Blood is flowing from the cut on his head. I press my hand to it. Booger rolls to the side. He looks at me briefly then back down. I follow his gaze. He changes his hands into paws again. His claws look extra sharp this time.

The man gets into my face, he was definitely older, my Mom’s age. His bloodshot brown eyes are filled with hate. He might look like a movie star but his eyes reminded me of the dead fish in the grocery store. The ones wrapped in plastic. I like to poke at those plastic-wrapped fisheyes.

My vision goes blurry for a moment. I blink. Maybe I need glasses. Good idea. I could hide my eyes in glasses. My eyes were getting me into trouble. I close my eyes tight. Maybe if I wish hard enough he would go away.

“You’re her daughter, aren’t you?” he spits into my face.

The baby bear yells, “Weirdo! You’re a freak!” The rabid talking baby bear was calling me a “weirdo”? I opened my eyes and saw two blue ones staring right back into mine. I smile. Cornflake smiles back tightly. I feel the fish-eyed man’s boot dig into my ribs. I wince but I won’t move.

“Bring me the girl.” The fish-eyed man licks his dry, cracked lips with a lizard-like tongue.

“No… please!” Cornflake holds onto me as the baby bear tries to pry me away. I didn’t know what this had to do with my Mom but she always told me to keep my eyes to myself. She said not to look too long at anyone if I was angry. She said I could only do it if they were hurting me. So I looked up at my attackers and I did what I always did when I got angry. I let my weirdo eyes go into little slits and I stare at the baby bear. It can’t look away. It screams. They always scream. The baby bear wasn’t so big and bad after all.

Just then, Booger pounces and slashes at the rabid screaming baby bear with his claws. Booger leaps to the side, evading the grasp of the man and runs out of the alley. I push at Cornflake, “RUN!” I scream at him. But it’s too late. The baby bear barrels into Cornflake and slams him against the ground. I hear a sickening thud as Cornflake slams into a nearby wall and crumbles to the ground. He doesn’t move.

“Go after the other one!” The man yells. At least one of us got away.

I am about to turn my gaze onto fish-eyed man when I feel his clammy hands go around my neck.

“What the hell did you do? You’re HER, aren’t you?” The fish-eyed man’s hands were cutting off my air. I couldn’t breathe. It hurt. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”

The funny thing was, he sounded like he really wanted to make me feel better. He sounded like he wanted to take my pain away. I can’t breathe. I feel the world slipping away and I see Cornflake lying there on the ground. Not moving. I see my mom’s smile as she holds me, warm in her arms. It is the best place to be. I look up at my mom. She looks terrified. “FIGHT!” she screams! “Julia, FIGHT!” Anger floods me as the image of my mom is replaced by the fish-eyed man. The world blurs. My hands burn and I screech as I reach up. Yellow talons tear at Fish-eyes eyes. He drops me, screaming.

“Julia!” A familiar voice roars. She’s really here!

“Mom!!!” I yell with what little breath I had. She sounds so far away.

“You Animal!” Fish-eyes screams over me. There were three deep scratches blooming red, running down his forehead to chin. His body began to blur as he hisses. “I’ll take care of you then your mother!”

He disappears.

“Julia!” My mom sounds closer.

“Mom! Mommy!” I feel a tightening around my body as I am lifted into the air. A coil wraps around my chest, my neck. I am being crushed. A face appears in front of mine. He still has Fisheyes but now those eyes were attached to a very large snake.

Everything happens slowly after that. I see Mom running towards me in the distance. Fisheyes the Snake shakes me. Everything blurs again and I am suddenly released. I blink. I fly to the side grabbing Cornflake with me. I feel strangely light. My talons reach out toward my Mom but Fisheyes the Snake gets in my way. Everything really hurts. I hold onto Cornflake. The air ripples and goes black.


Red blood runs in ribbons from my talons. The gray sky blurs out of focus as my world shifts. My hands are in my face. I have blood on them. There are bits of flesh in my fingernails. I feel the gooey warmth travel down my forearms. Flesh is gooey. Blood is red. Dripping, I feel the warmth dripping from my elbows onto my bare feet.

I feel the throbbing pain come back. Searing pain. Everything hurts. I hear sobbing. Is that me?

Rivers run from my eyes. Is it blood too?

I look away from my blood-red, gooey hands. I am standing in a pool of blood. Mine? The world swims in a blur of red. I hear screaming. People are gathering.

“Oh my god. Is she dead?”

She? Me?

Where is my Mom?

I am pushed to the side and Cornflake is taken from me. I hold onto myself. Everything hurts. Someone is shouting. I hold my hands to my ears. I don’t hear. I don’t understand. I turn my head and my vision clears.

Mom is lying in a pool of blood.

Mom’s eyes look like deadfisheyes.


I feel hands carry me away. I need to escape.

I need to fly away.


Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment below! Let me know your thoughts. Thank you to Siya Oum for the beautiful cover art. Thank you to my valentine and husband, Jason Yarusi, for your tireless support.

Next Chapter to be published on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

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