by Amy Estes
Nobody understands Enigma. She's my sister, and she can do magic. She's got pointy doggish ears, and a bushy tail, and little claws, but most people can't see that. She says I can because I'm related to her. I can see the closet-monster; but Trisha, our foster-mom, tells us to act our age, that we're eleven, and that we're too old for that stuff.
Trisha really doesn't understand Enigma. She wanted to give her little pills to help her concentrate and tell the truth. But they made her sick, and Trisha wouldn't listen. So, I taught Enigma how to palm them; and how to concentrate more when we're around grownups. I'm five minutes older than her, and nobody's going to mess with my little sister. Except me. . . .
Everybody understands me. Except my brother, Riddle. I'm not a pooka, and I can turn into a coyote. He can, too, but I think sometimes he messes up and gets stuck in-between. I asked him about that, and he didn't say anything about were-ammnimals, and someplace like the Dreaming but more foggy. So, naturally I don't know anything about some organization called the Nuwisha, or werewolfes. And since I don't, I can't help Riddle pull April Fool's on the Groupies all year long (or whenever he lets me; he doesn't like protecting me at all).
Nope. _I_ have to stay around Trisha. Trisha's like a real mom, but I think she picked us out of a cardboard box that said 'puppies: free'. We don't have a real mom, and our dad stayed around so much, the hospital put us up for 'doption.
I'm glad Riddle got to stay with me, 'cause there's always someone who misunderstands me: him. He's no help at all. Especially when it comes to ticking Trisha off when I tell the truth but she gets it all backwars and upside down. Riddle helps me take my Ritalin, too. I hate him like nobody's business.
Riddle's completely normal: he can see chimera, and he can see me in my non-dog seeming. So, he was a real pain when I went through my Chrysalis last year. He didn't even help me find a freehold or anything. What a creep!
So I was under no obligation last November when he grew fur, and claws, and started wearing purple Barney slippers while howling . . .
Enigma helped me through my First Change. It's a good thing Trisha was working overtime; I found out later that she would have flipped. But Enigma was there to calm me down. That is, the first few hours, 'cause a nice old man showed up. He asked about Enigma, so I told him about us being twins and all. She gave him a card she made, so he'd understan' better. He read the card, took one look at Enigma, an' started laughing so much, I was scared he'd pass out or somethin'. I didn't really see what was so funny, until he explained that we were both coyotes (he called the shape I was in 'mana-bozo', it's closer to a person than an animal). Maybe I'm just more of a coyote than my sister, I guess; 'cause _I_ can change shape in front of her, but she needs privacy.
Anyway, he told us all these neat stories about a Coyote-god, and how he made the world and played practical jokes on people. He also told stories about an earth-goddess named Gaia, and some big monster called the Worm. The Worm's bad, all it does is mess up things, at least the Weaver spider-thing _makes_ stuff . . .
He also explained the importance of Having a Sense of Humor; and how it's okay to play jokes, as long as they might figure out what you're trying to tell them. But, most people (especially wolves and grownups) are too dumb to learn. So, you just have to try again, until they get it. Enigma shook her head, and told him she had no idea how that felt, and that everyone understands exactly what she tries to tell the bullies hitting little kids. Especially when she askes a troll to help . . .
The next day, when Trisha was working late again, he taught me about spirit-critters, and I found out I could talk to them, and b.s. to Trisha so she'd believe me, and sneak around without grownups noticing. And he told us some more stories, except this was about werewolves, and how they get mad and freak out; but we don't go berserk. That's because the Coyote-god tried to make the moon laugh, but she got mad instead, and took away the presents she gave us. That's ok, it would scare me if I ever got so mad I hurt somebody, like the wolves do . . .
I asked the nice old man if Enigma could help me teach, and he said it was okay, as long as I was careful: we're supposed to be a big secret, so she couldn't tell any of her friends about me changing. I asked how long he was going to stick around, but he said he had to explain the idea of honor to somebody with silver fangs.
He was a nice old guy, but it was weird how he left: he shedded like a snake. Enigma said nobody would believe this. I think she's right . . .
After the old man jumped out of his skin, Riddle and me stayed right where we were. We didn't turn into animals (he didn't get stuck this time), so there was a big tragedy when we missed the people picking up coyote puppies and patting them nicely so they'd take a nap in a pickup truck. That stuff makes me so very happy, seeing them all quiet and not playing.
I asked Riddle, "You're not thinking about teaching these guys something, aren't you? 'Cause it would be boring and a waste of time. Besides, there's more than a few puppies still running around."
He shook his head no, and told me this stupid plan that would never work in a bazillion hunnert years. What we didn't do was . . .
Enigma and me split up. She said 'The Raven' poem backwards, and the hunters thought her footsteps were thunder. I sneaked around behind them (Enigma said I looked ripple-ly), and changed halfway between normal and animal: kind of like one of those things in 'Werewolf in Paris', but not so big. I tapped one of the guys, and he turned around. I looked at the truck: it was half-full of dead animals, some of them had their guts hanging out. _Really_ gross. I shook my finger at him, and he dropped the gun and just _stood_ there.
The other man was looking at the sky, wondering why there weren't any clouds. I asked him what was up, and he tried to get away. So I had to knock him on his butt. Five times. (And he wouldn't listen to me trying to tell him about right and wrong. Jerk. He wouldn't answer my challenge to a battle of wits and insults, either. He probably didn't know what I was talking about.) He just wouldn't hold _still_.
Meanwhile, Enigma took Mr. Zombie's wallet, and told me he had a license to hunt cute, furry babies.
Then, Engima did some cantrips on those guys. She told them they were really tired, but that they wanted to drive back first and fall asleep parked in the middle of Main street. (Which happens to be in front of the police station, but she made them forget that by telling a silly limerick). And it worked; but she hates bunks that make her have to speak like a normal person. So there they were, conked out.
After that, the men were on a caffeine high (they were obviously smugglers for Juan Valdez), and they were wide awake when the plolice came out to inspect the car full of wild, rampaging chickens. They did a lousy job, didn't even find the wallet sitting on the driver's lap, hunting-license proudly displayed. And when they woke up, they were perfectly coherent. The police believed every word, especially about the monster. And my fingerprints were found, because the wallet was denim and prints are visible on smooth stuff.
So the good guys got in trouble, and they jump when they hear dogs barking, and people think they were drinking that day; so the whole thing was a disaster. And I hate tagging along with Riddle: we're not a good team.
Enigma and me are a good team. She can do stuff with magic (like jump over the house like Superman!), and I can scare the bejeezus out of creeps. It's alot funner when we trick the wolf-people: we love to watch the carnage. Especially when Enigma pulls out her steel shooter marble and peeks through it. It's better than the spy stuff they use on tv!
But, they don't learn too well, either. We have to go back for encores alot. But it's fun, and we're getting better at coming up with tricks all the time. Sometimes, we just spend hours brainstorming.
We've been thinking about stuff Trisha needs to know, lately. And I think we've got a great plan this time, but it'll take awhile to set up. Trisha needs to learn how to have more fun.
I _love_ this game!