Thunder and Cats

The rain fell in great buckets, drenching the street into glistening blackness. It tapped on the roof and the windows, begging to be let in. Raindrops raced down the glass. The heavy odor of ozone permeated the apartment. Lightning flashed outside followed by the rolling thunder. The wind whipped the tree branches against the siding.

Hermes the cat cowered in the corner. He hated thunderstorms. He wanted nothing to do with the bright lights or the loud noises. Nothing good came from bright lights and loud noises. The table he was under did not offer enough protection and he was still nervous.

His owner came home and scooped him up. He was fluffy and scared, but his owner made him feel safe. He purred to comfort himself and her soothing words calmed him down. She climbed into bed and he hid under the covers at her feet. The rain slowed and the wind stopped. Every lightning flash had a softer thunder clap. His owners feet were warm.

Hermes was safe again, he played with her feet until she kicked him out of bed so she could sleep. He came back purring for forgiveness and she let him sleep on her pillow.

Sunshine

It was bright, beautiful, and blazing hot. There was no where else I would rather be than laying out in the sunshine, and feeling the breeze. Cool clear waters of the lake lapped at the rocky beach that lay before us. Scratchy grass tickled our legs and arms. It was dying from the lack of rain. We lay there for hours the sun baking us brown and sweaty. Scratchy grass stuck to our legs as we got up. We sprinted down to the water splashing into the shallows. The cool water soothed our scorched our skin. Smiles plastered across our faces as we dove beneath the glassy surface. My hair was plastered to my neck when I surfaced with a gasp.

I memorized his face, every water covered inch. The way the bring sunshine glinted off of the water on his eyelashes. The way the water sent ripply reflections across his skin. The way his hair stuck up all over the place from running his hands through it. I wanted to remember it all forever. I wanted to remember the coolness of his skin and the heat of the sun, the chill of the water and the pebbles under our feet. I wanted to remember the strength of his arms as they pulled me though the water, the laughter that rang through the empty lake.

We raced through the water, swimming, splashing, and laughing. We dragged our tired bodies out of the water and collapsed onto the scratchy grass. The sun dried us with its now slanting rays. Cool breezes raising goosebumps across our backs. We trudged across the baked asphalt to the car. Suffocating heat emanated when we opened the doors.

Gravel crunched under the tires as we drove through the tree lined streets. Wind whipped through the windows. Deafening music pounded through the speakers. We could hardly hear ourselves think let alone talk. I reached over and took his tanned hand, warm and strong in my own. He smiled just for me. Warmth spread through me, not from the heat outside.

Plans

“I have a plan”

“Is it a good plan?”

“Its a plan?”

We inched away from the toilet papered house. She got the eggs out of her pocket and pointed at the house across the street. He looked at her with disbelief.

“That’s the cops house!”

“Isn’t it brilliant?” She snickered. Launching eggs at the front door.

An angry middle aged man opened the door and she beaned him in the face. Laughing wildly she sprinted away.

“You’re crazy!” He shouted from behind her.

She laughed ripping silly string from her hoodie pouch aiming them at a passing car getting a direct hit. He was struggling to keep up.

“What if they catch us?”

“Just keep running.” She laughed as the man got out of the car and chased her down. She hit the ground had when he tackled her. She sprayed him in the face with the silly string and got back up.

She was panting when she reached the corner and waited for him to catch up.  She held a handful of whip-its.

“You ready.”

He looked around and then realized where they were. “Messing with an off duty cop is one thing, this is downright stupid.”

She tossed a few out trying to get their attention. One came sauntering over.

“What are you kids doing?” The police officer asked.

She snickered pulling out a string of firecrackers, and threw the cop.

“This is not a good plan!” He shouted  starting to run.

She followed after him tossing more whip-its behind her as the firecrackers exploded.

The wail of the police following them made them run faster.

“Through here!” She shouted dragging him across the drainage gap and into a yard. They hopped fences and splashed though damp puddles in strangers yards.

“Why do you have that?” He asked when she pulled out a brown paper bag. She laughed and lit it on fire tossing it on the nearest back porch.

They continued to run from the police, she could not wipe the smile from her face. They ended up back on the street the cop car rolled around the corner before they were able to dart away. Electricity surged through her and she hit the ground.

“We’re just a couple of kids messing around…” She laughed once she could move again.

She was hauled into the back of the cop car. It had been a wild night. He was loaded in next to her.

“Great plan…”

“I know right!” She said gleefully.

Warning Labels

I looked down at my shirt, today I got my first warning label. The words felt like a prison sentience, forever this is how they would all see me. The words blurred before my eyes. Its not like I hadn’t seen them before, a lot of people had them. It changed the way you saw people, it changed the way people saw you. Mine said, “outspoken, violent, foul language.”

I would never be able to change the label they gave me, I could add more labels if I wasn’t careful. I had seen people who’s labels shouted diseases, disabilities, crimes, mine seemed mild compared to what it could have been.

My mother came in looking at my new shirt too. She seemed disappointed in me. She didn’t have any labels yet. “Breakfast is ready.”

I nodded and followed her to the kitchen. “I’m sorry mom.”

She shook her head, there was no fixing what I had done. Even if my reasons were good. I had explained to the authorities what had happened but there was no avoiding the labels. I would be under house arrest until my condition stabilized, meaning no more fights, or yelling, or cursing.

I would be allowed back out eventually. I looked out the window at the people outside, many of them had warning shirts on too. My dad came down his shirt read, “Alcoholic.”  He grabbed some food and headed to work. I knew there would be normalcy eventually, he lived his life with his label I could too.

I didn’t know if I would ever feel normal again with everyone being able to see my demons. They were things I had been fighting to control for years, and just couldn’t get a handle on it this time.

Weeks passed and I got my letter of release. I walked back to my own apartment. I was nice to be home and not under my mothers watchful eye. I felt people without the label shirts on looking at me like I was a direct risk to their safety. The others didn’t even seem to notice me, I was one of them now. I could go back to work in another week, they were working on finishing up my re-employment paperwork. Luckily my manager understood and fought for me to keep my job.

I showed up for work the next week. My coworkers greeted me like I had never left. Most of them already had their labels. Maybe I fit in better now that I had mine. A friend of mine patted me on the back.

“Hey, glad you’re back.” He said.

I settled back into the routine at work. I didn’t feel bad about my label any more, I stopped noticing the weird looks people gave me. Things were back to normal.

Grand Canyon

“Our world is delicate, fragile, linked to all people’s feelings and love.” Grandpa said. “When we love things grow, trees, flowers even mountains. When our love breaks so does our world.”

The group of kids were mystified by their grandfathers story. There was one skeptic. “Really grandpa? How does the world break?”

“The cracks in the sidewalk, the valleys, the holes in our world.” He said.

“What about the Grand Canyon?” The little skeptic said.

Grandpa got lost in thought, looking off into space above all the little kids heads. “That is a very sad story are you sure you want to hear it.”

The little kids all nodded their heads excitedly.

He took a deep breath.

“There once was a man who had never caused a crack. He hadn’t felt any heart break. He loved only on the surface. He had not allowed anything to grow either. He kept himself guarded. He had friends and family who loved him with all their hearts. Their love made the flowers bloom for him.

He saw the cracks in the sidewalks and didn’t think anything of them. He didn’t understand, he didn’t know how someone could get hurt from love. Then he met a girl.

Everything he had thought before was wrong. He made flowers bloom and trees grow. Their love made grass grow in the cracks and holes of the world. Just looking at how deeply in love they were gave other people hope that they would recover and love again. He loved her so fiercely, with every bit of his heart. She loved him back. Every look they exchanged showed their love.

He believed they were meant to be together forever. She did not feel the same way. He found out in the most heart breaking way that she had fallen in love with another. He came home to find them, she looked at this man the way he looked at her. His heart felt like it shattered into a million pieces. She was his true love.

He could hear the ground tearing itself apart. He had given her all his love. Outside the greenery was dying. A huge canyon had opened up delving into the earth thousands of feet. He walked to the edge of it looking into the rift. He could hear her laughter caused by the other man. The canyon grew and stretched. He lost sight of it. Every thought he had made the canyon grow.

He was never seen again after that.”

The little kids looked at him in awe.

“Now its not all bad. Slowly other people’s love made the greenery slowly grow back. The river down the middle is also from love, a turbulent but strong love. People who were inspired by their love, hopeful people who had caused cracks and holes. They were not afraid to love just because they might get hurt, but because there would be more people to love.”

The little kids smiled. One little girl sat in the corner crying for the poor man. Grandpa smiled as several little kids went over to her and hugged her till she felt better. Her smile made him smile.

 

Midnight

She ransacked his belongings while he slept. She hadn’t expected to be caught up this way. Her mission was to find the key and get out not sleep with him. Searching frantically she started to panic, her mind racing.

He had been so charismatic so charming, she had the hardest time pulling herself out of the fantasy. She knew she might get terminated for falling in to bed with a target, her only chance was to get the key. She searched his whole house pulling dishes out of cupboards, clothes out of closets, and junk out of drawers. She even looked through every pair of pants he had to find it. It was nowhere.

She could hear him moving around in the bedroom. She was making too much noise. Taking deep breaths to calm herself, it wasn’t helping. She rushed around trying to find the stupid key.

“Wendy, what are you doing?” He said sleepily coming into the kitchen where she had every pot and pan out on the counter.

She stood there awkwardly in her underwear. She had no idea what to say.

“Its too early for breakfast.” He muttered looking at the clock on the wall. “Come back to bed.”

She nodded and followed him back to his room curling up next to him. He pulled her close wrapping his arms around her. She lay there stiffly trying to relax. She really did like him, but she had a mission to complete. Once he was snoring away again she extracted herself from his embrace and started looking around again.

It was nearly morning before she found it, pressed between two pages in a book. She tucked the key into her bra for safe keeping. She got back into bed and pretended to wake up next to him.

“Don’t you have to go to work today?” She asked him rubbing fake sleep from her eyes.

“Yeah…” He muttered rolling over.

She rummaged around his destroyed room and found her clothes from last night. She dressed and headed to the kitchen.

“I’ve got to get going.” She said.

“I’ll call you again some time. Last night was fun.” He said mostly into his pillow.

She grabbed her purse and slipped out the door leaving his place in ruins. She whipped out her cellphone. “I got it.”

“Your methods are unusual…” The voice on the other line said. “We will be watching you. You will be at the rendezvous point in twenty minutes. No excuses.”

She nodded and started running, she flagged down the first taxi she could find. She hopped out before it had finished moving and made a mad dash for the cafe.

Her trainer was seated in the back corner, looking at his watch impatiently. She sat down across from him.

“Cutting it close aren’t you.” He said.

She sat there panting for a few moments before handing the key over. He took it without saying a word, examined it, then placed it in his pocket.

“You are excused.” He said waving his hand dismissively.

“Aren’t you going to give me my next mission?” She should have been given a packet with her next target.

“Your actions are under review.” He said, “You are a civilian until further notice.”

She hung her head, at least she hadn’t been terminated. The secrets she had now were a threat to the organization, if they let her go it would be a death warrant. Since she walked away alive it meant she had done something right.

Halfway down the street she noticed her tail. A man in a coat was following her. Maybe she hadn’t been so lucky. She tried to shake him, but he was good at his job. She stopped and turned around suddenly turning to chase him. She managed to get a look at his face, it was the guy from last night.

“Wait,” She yelled people were turning to look at her as she chased after him. He took a sharp turn and disappeared down an alley. She followed him but couldn’t see him anymore, she didn’t know what way he had gone out the other side.

“Maybe they should terminate me, if I couldn’t catch one tail.” She muttered to herself walking dejectedly down the street. She looked through her phone for the number he had given her last night, she gave it a ring. Her purse started ringing.

“What…” She dug though it to find his phone with her number displayed. She looked between the two phones. Another call was coming in on his phone. She didn’t know if she should answer it or not.

She decided not to and dropped the phone on the ground. Her new mission was to be a civilian, and she would do that perfectly. She blended back in with the crowd leaving the ringing cellphone behind. She didn’t want to have any more black marks on her record. She went back to her normal home life with her cat, becoming inconspicuous. She hoped she wouldn’t have to wait too long for them to reinstate her.

The sniper on the roof of the building looked at the petite girl holding two cellphones. His orders were clear, shoot if she answered. She looked like she was going to, she nearly hit the button then surprisingly she dropped it on the ground. He had expected her to at least put it back in her bag. She was quite unorthodox, she had been good in bed too. He smirked as he followed her with his scope making sure she didn’t turn back to get it.

“All clear,” He said into his microphone. He put the gun back in the case and left it on the roof for later retrieval by the team  he sprinted down the fire escape and blended back in with the crowd.

Blood

“I knew what you were from the beginning. I could smell the blood on you. You were born to spill blood, boy.” The words echoed in my head over and over. The dream had shaken me to my very core. The owl who had spoken them also lingered in my thoughts.

I headed to the kitchen for breakfast. I was just an ordinary kid doing ordinary things, not a man standing on a literal field of blood. I ate my cereal and headed to school I told my friends about the dream and they had looked at me like I was crazy.

Mom had me talk to my therapist about the dream, he told me not to worry, it was just a dream. This reassured my mom at least, to me it felt more like a premonition.

The next week something happened that blew my mind. I had a sword. It happened while I was reading one of my favorite books the main character pulled a sword out of a hat. Boom, sword in hand. It was beyond weird. It was real and sharp, the gash on my hand proved that.

I hid it under my bed. I had forgotten about until I moved out. Yeah, I know how do you forget about a fucking sword, but I did. I was packing up for college when I found it dusty but still sharp. I packed it up with my stuff and took it to my new place. That is not something you want your parents to find.

It’s also not something you want the cops to find I learned. It was confiscated when my roommate got caught with dope. I got it back eventually, but not before I needed it.

Needless to say that damn bird was right, I was born to spill blood. Even without my sword I was more deadly than I thought, which any level would have been more deadly. I could hardly kill a spider before the guy attacked me, but he was dead. It happened so fast I don’t really know how, but the damage was done.

I called the police to turn myself in but it was in self defense, and I didn’t have a weapon. They told me he had a gun and I was lucky to be alive. They don’t let you have your sword back after something like that. I went back home and it was back under my bed.

I felt like I was going crazy. I half expected some wise old guy to come out of the woodwork and tell me he was going to teach me all the secrets of the sword. I did not expect some old dude to try to straight up murder me in my bed. I was really glad I had my sword then. This guy had some moves for looking like he was a million.

So there was another dead guy in my apartment. I took this as a sign to move on, I didn’t even bother to cancel the lease. Once out of town I thought it was safe. I was wrong, seems like that happens a lot. Within a week there were more people trying to come after me. Not just at home either, just on the street they would attack me.

The body count kept rising. Once it went over twenty people I freaked out.

I couldn’t explain any of it. It was like all instinct. The farther from home I got the more people attacked me. I had managed to move half way around the world trying to get away from this, and it just got worse. I stood on a field of blood. Bodies of my enemies behind me my sword was soaked with blood and gore. I had beaten them, an owl hooted in the distance.