By the Light of the Moon
Kathryn, Age 14, Japan

The steady roar of the train’s engine had faded into the background long ago, and it was all Mr. Green could do to stay awake. He tilted his head upwards and stared at the full moon, trying to concentrate on its bleached light. Mr. Green lifted the brim of his green top hat out of his eyes and massaged the bridge of his beaky nose.

He turned to the young girl who sat across from him in the open-air train. The wind ruffled her dark bronze hair across her heart shaped face. She sat in the shadows, keeping out of the light of the moon.

“How do you feel Selena?” Mr. Green asked, his voice as monotone as ever.

Selena wrapped her brown shawl tighter around her narrow shoulders and shrugged. Mr. Green sighed at her uncooperativeness and put one spidery hand on top of the oaken coffin that laid next to him. He tapped out a feathery pattern, going on for about a minute. A series of muffled taps sounded from inside the coffin.

“Arianna says she is fine.” Mr. Green informed Selena.

“How nice for Arianna.” Selena grunted, slouching back into her seat sullenly.

She stared out at the rolling black hills, knowing that they were the only thing that kept the moon’s light from falling on her. The hills stretched on for only so long. Selena darted her grey eyes to glance at the leash Mr. Green clutched in his left hand. It was spun from pure silver and had been used by Guardians for generations, or so Mr. Green, Selena’s Guardian, had said. It had never failed or been snapped. Selena was relying on that leash, and on Mr. Green.

Mr. Green snored loudly, causing Selena to narrow her eyes at him. She couldn’t risk trying to wake him, because he sat directly in the moon’s light. Selena scooted deeper into the shadows, praying that Mr. Green would wake soon.

The light was advancing. Selena shrank back as far as she could, lifting her feet from the ground and tucking her knees to her chest. The silver line crept closer and closer. Selena began shuddering and hyperventilating.

“MR. GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Selena shrieked, before the light fell on her.
The change was immediate. Selena’s clothing burst as her skin began to expand and sprout bright copper fur. She screamed as her bones began to rework themselves and her face began to stretch out.

Mr. Green jerked awake with a snort, and his eyes went wide when he saw what was before him. He cursed and jumped from his seat, extending the silver-spun leash before him. The thing snarled and snapped at him, displaying a set of wickedly glinting teeth. Mr. Green leapt backwards, his lower back collided with the side of the coffin and he cried out in pain.

The thing whined and laid its ears back against its head as its back legs began to grow. It foamed at the mouth and whipped its head back and forth. It caught sight of Mr. Green, who was still clutching his back with a grimace on his face. The thing growled and sprang forward, driving its claws into Mr. Green’s chest.

Mr. Green managed to close the thing’s muzzle right before its jaws encircled his throat. The thing roared and fought to get free, yanking its claws out of Mr. Green’s chest. There were several spurts of dark blood, and Mr. Green screamed.

The thing’s nostrils dilated as it took in the warm meaty smell of the blood. Its limbs extended once more, and it howled in pain. Mr. Green fumbled with the leash as he tried to slip it over the thing’s head and keep its jaws shut at the same time. Its muzzle tensed and it snarled in one long unbroken note, tossing its head from side to side. It was able to open its mouth slightly and its long red tongue lolled out from between its teeth. It inhaled deeply and licked its chops. The blood made it hungry.

Mr. Green shot his booted foot into the thing’s newly formed knee. It yelped and jerked itself backwards, dislodging Mr. Green’s grip. At the same moment Mr. Green ran forward and jumped on the thing’s back, grabbing fistfuls of its thick fur. He pulled the thing’s head through the loop of the leash. It yanked its head to the side and caught Mr. Green’s wrist in its jaws. Mr. Green fastened the leash around the thing’s necks just as the lid of the coffin went flying off into the night.

The thing whined softly and gently released Mr. Green’s wrist. He grunted, but bit back the scream he wanted to utter.

“What happened to you Selena? You look like the offspring of a kangaroo and a pit-bull.” A cool female voice chuckled.

A lithe girl raised herself up from the cloud of sawdust surrounding her coffin. Her chilled blue eyes swept over the scene and she grinned, revealing her fangs. Selena growled at her sister.

“Did he get the leash on a little too late?” Arianna teased, propping her elbow up on the rim of the coffin and resting her chin in her hand.

“It was negligence on my part.” Mr. Green said gravely. “I apologize Selena; I promised you I would deliver you to the Academy without incident.”

Selena padded forward and licked Mr. Green’s hand.

“You should try using that red python of yours to get this blood off the floor before the conductor comes.” Arianna chirped. “Actually, I’ll help you. I haven’t eaten in such a long time.”

Both Mr. Green and Selena rolled their eyes. Arianna narrowed hers.

“Fine, but if the conductor comes and sees this mess, he’ll send Selena and I home, and you Mr. Green, will be out of work as a Guardian of Beasts.”

Mr. Green whipped off his soiled dress coat and started to mop up the floor.

“Everything alright in here?” The pudgy conductor asked when he entered the compartment an hour later.

Selena barked, and the conductor seemed to take that as a “yes.” From within the coffin, there was a dark laugh.

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