His lungs burned and the world around him was gray and lifeless. There were people along the streets and cars on the road but there was something off. It was like they were moving in slow motion and tainted in an off color. It was like someone was trying to play a program on the DVR while it was paused. They were the only real color – though they looked like old film that was drained of all but the last of its color. It was like a whole Twilight Zone sensation, and he kept waiting for the smell of tobacco and the voice of Rod Serling.
He couldn’t stop and wait for a smell. The animal was after him. A great cat…a puma or a lioness…something.
He paused behind the liquor store – or at least where he thought the liquor store should be. He closed his eyes and waited. There was silence. He felt himself feel the fatigue in running. Yet this was something more. He felt drained…he wanted to sleep.
He heard the sounds of sniffing around the corner. It was right ar…
The machine beeped and the drawer sprang open and Jonathan pulled out the change, “Alight Marnee – seven o’ two is your change.” He smiled as he handed it to her. She was a regular. Marnee Williams was your attractive exchange student. Jonathan had always wondered where she was from. She always had a semi-sweet spice about her. Her skin was dark but warm in its own right. However, her eyes were a pale brown – almost like honey. Of course her most enduring feature was her smile. It wasn’t a full smile full of teeth; rather she had a way to smile with only half her mouth – a hint of mischief. Of course the rest of her was pleasant on the eyes. Marnee Williams was definitely his favorite customer.
Normally she was always smiling at him. A few times Jonathan had mustered up the courage to speak with her. She was from Europe – specifically England and had come to school in the states because she wanted to see the world. The conversation started odd and awkward – but at least it began. She was studying Anthropology and as she put it, “The youth of America was fascinating – a mixture of bones and technology waiting to be re-discovered.”
She was so out of his league. Jonathan Fisher had barely finished Community College and that was only because he wanted to avoid looking failure like a failure. His job at the book store was a means to survive and the mounting student loans allowed him to live.
Handing her the change, he expected to see that smile but was instead faced with an intense look. She was staring at him or right through him. Whichever it was – it was unsettling. He slowly cocked his head and was going to ask if she was ok when the world suddenly went dark.
He fell back and began to yell. His voice echoed strangely and felt a wave of vertigo overcome him. It was just after seven at night – but even if all the store lights and the street lights went out – it wouldn’t be as dark as it was. Then as if his wish was being granted – there area began to brighten with an indigo hue. He turned and saw it.
A giant cat…
It was holding the light in its hands. The ball of light grew from the size of a baseball to that of a basketball in a matter of seconds. It saw him and he looked into its black watery eyes. With a simple motion, it flexed its finger and the ball flew at Jonathan. He watched as the ball flew and saw that the giant cat had flexed its muscles from behind the demon and leapt. He was either going to get fried by the ball of light or eaten by the cat.
He was going to die horribly.
He threw up his arms around his face and braced for the impact. If movies or TV were any indication – his life was over and this was going to hurt.
The burning light hit him like a freight train – sending him flying for what seemed like yards. He landed on his back and he could smell the crackle of what could only be described as ozone. Down the way he could see the creature and worse – heard it roar. It was like hearing the T-Rex in Jurassic Park for the first time in the theater. His ears rattled and felt dizzy. He forced himself up and ran to what he thought was outside.
He was trapped. The ‘alley way’ behind the little Mexican butcher was blocked off with large amounts of bright blue moss. He didn’t know where he was and tromping through unknown plant life was always a sure fire way to get yourself killed. He looked down at his chest – the red polo shirt he was wearing could hardly be called red. He was the red shirt and was going to die. There was another roar from the demon-looking creature.
Then it came around the corner. The cat looked at him and sniffed the air. He had no weapon. He had nothing in his hands. He looked around frantically for something to throw at the cat. If he could distract it – he could risk running through the moss.
The cat bounded down the alley way staring at him. It seemed to glow with a vibrant energy – warmth and then something crossed his sense.
A scent – his eyes opened wide.
The cat raised the side of its mouth that came off more dangerous than friendly. She suddenly turned around – as if she heard something he couldn’t. Limping around the corner was the demonic looking creature. “He is MINE!” It raised an arm in the air. Where there was a clawed hand was a black stump oozing out what might have been blood.
The light formed into same indigo color but instead turned redder and with another deafening roar – he flung it at the two in the alley.
Something in Jonathan stirred. Forcing his already exhausted body forward, he threw himself on top of the great cat. The expectant searing pain was replaced by a crushing force. He felt ribs snap and then lifeless colorless world went black.
He opened his eyes. He had long black locks in his face. It was a mixture of semi-sweet spice and perspiration. Marnee was on top of him…naked. He was never going to wash these clothes again.
He blinked and felt the pain of the headache. Moving his head was an act of Congress, but he could tell he was on the floor behind the shop counter. Above him stood a sour faced looking man, “A new Other…just a baby and already in trouble.”
Jonathan’s world had just changed.