I only ask that you treat me kindly, then I will do the same for you.
The words of the invitation whisper gently into your ear, speaking of rare and exotic animals unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. To detective Alex Sampson, however, that invitation speaks of something else. Death. Attendees at a prestigious animal auction are turning up dead, each murder more brutal than the last. The only clue to each crime points to a different animal, but when did birds and butterflies go from being aphrodisiacs for fairy tales to deadly mass murderers?
No one says anything to Alex, letting him watch as the wings start to slip into Zahra’s back. Her skin literally tears apart, ripping itself like sharp knives cutting into flesh. There’s no blood when Alex really thinks there needs to be. The woman isn’t screaming when she should be crying out in pain. Zahra simply stands perfectly still, her arms crossed over her breasts as her wings fold in on themselves, trying to become comfortable between shoulder blades and backbones. The open inside of her back is a mess from the blue of her wings and hints of bone, as if she has been dissected and left on the table.
He says it again. “What the—” but in seconds, Zahra’s body shifts again. Her broken skin stitches itself together, filling in the gaps until her back is whole again. It sticks out a little, not quite able to contain the wings, but it doesn’t bother Zahra at all.
“It’s like a cocoon,” Sandi whispers, sounding completely fascinated with the entire event. She walks over, gently touching the woman’s back. Bumpy, and she can feel the wings constantly moving and shifting underneath Zahra’s skin. “This is amazing.”
“This is weird as fuck,” Alex screams. “What was that just now?”
It’s the reaction Nicholas had expected, but Myles is the first to respond. “It’s not weird. It’s just how we are.”
Nicholas sighs. He really needs to teach him to stop saying ‘we.’
“We? So wait, you’re saying—”
Nicholas speaks before Alex stammers his way into a disaster. “The animals at the auction are a bit special. They can turn, um, human.”
“That is—” Alex stops because he actually has no words. There’s no reason to deny it, not after what he just saw. That must be why Nicholas wanted him to come see it. There’s no way he’d believe it if he didn’t see it first-hand. Honestly, he still can’t believe it after seeing it. “There’s no way—”