Hunger kept the rat moving forward. Constant hunger. The smell of anything that could keep it going for just one more day kept it going. It was blind with the promise of food. The snap came in the same instant its spine cracked. Life faded quickly, yet it still reach feebly and bit down.
The man before me only has one arm. It’s the most striking thing about him, for other than that, he is nothing of note. He wears a worn in fleece and blue jeans, a belt wrapped tightly around them. He must have been around thirty, but despite that his hair was already greying. His brown eyes stare into my own, looking for something. I don’t know what it is but I want to help him find it.
The man looks around to the nurse speaking behind her and I do as well, stepping away from the mirror.
“Sorry, I thought I might at least remember my own face.”
Dan collapsed back into his chair and closed his heavy eyes. Two muggings, a bank robbery and three attempts at destroying the city. He sighed, maybe it was time to move house. Smudge jumped on his lap and curled up into a tight ball.
“Alert! Alert! The city is danger!”
He looked down at Smudge who glared up at him and kneed at his leg. He sighed, he definitely needed to move.
“You know I prefer them when they were God-Fearing.”
“No, you don’t,” Simeon said snatching the popcorn away from Michael. Gabriel was going to be joining them soon for the conclave’s decision. However, until then Michael and Simeon were entertaining themselves other ways.
“Oh, sure please continue your sinful talk you…heathen.”
“Perhaps this is good for you, I’ve never heard you call any human a heathen before, maybe we’ll get you saying nitwit soon.”
“Is this all you do, watch the humans?”
“Not all the humans, mostly this one.”
“Are you his guardian angel?”
“I prefer to think of myself as his biggest fan.”
Michael absentmindedly took the popcorn back; the saint was unable to stop the angel phasing the popcorn bowl through his arms.
“Why do the other humans follow him?”
“Umm, he is their leader…I think. Either that or he’s the town fool.”
“I don’t think humans have them anymore. Good riddance I say, such people should never have been tolerated. The indigent and devil possessed…nitwits.”
“My ears are burning Michael.”
The angel grunted and took a piece of popcorn. Simeon amused himself for a minute longer, watching Michael groan and mutter under his breath until he became bored. He leaned across grabbing a handful of popcorn.
“Well Town Fools now get paid quite a lot to be watch by millions on the public stage.”
Michael sighed, “How tragic.
“Do you want to watch?”
“…Go on then.”
My hands are red. Everything is now. I stumble to the water side.
He heard another gunshot but the bullet imploded before it reached him. Like everything else. The ground shakes as my sore feet limp across it, even the air vibrates around me. I look back. I do not care for the army of men and machinery that have followed me to the waters edge but beyond, my road of desecration. Tall skyscrapers have become nothing but crumble dust howling the grey air. Nothing but red remains of the people…or my family.
“Stand down!” a solider repeats. There all shaking.
“For what it worth,” I say slowly, still they flinch and shoot at my words. When the gunfire stops and the wind takes the metal shells away with it I continue, “For what it’s worth…I’m sorry.”
I fall backwards into the water. As I hit it, it explodes upwards boiling me. As I sink further the water burns through my metal and bone leaving nothing but red.
James watched, he’d been watching it for a while. He’d couldn’t do much else. The government officials that had bought him in had left him in a straightjacket and left him in his cell. The cell had three white padded walls. The other wall was made of reinforced glass so the officials could ‘talk’ with them at a safe distance. The glass shook as one of his cellmates punched it. He was a brutal looking man greying greasy hair. The other sat opposite James, watching him intently with his one eye.
“Ben,” the greying man hissed, “tell me he’s safe.”
The grey man was pointing at him now.
‘Ah shit’, he shuffled in the suit, feeling it tighten around him.
“Oh, I’m safe,” James said, “completely safe.”
He jumped, his arms tighter around his chest and twitched in pain, the grey man now stood over him.
“I’m not talking to you.”
“He’s safe Henry. He’s one of us.”
Slowly, much slower than James would have liked, Henry backed away.
“What…what’s going on?” James asked.
“Oh, you don’t know!” Henry screamed, bashing his fist against the glass, “Fucking sheep.”
“You’re like us,” Ben said, still staring at him. James didn’t know if the one-eyed man had blinked yet. “You know.”
James shifted back. Could he trust them? The government wanted to know what he knew. About the secrets he’d uncovered. It wouldn’t be the first they had tried to do so. He jumped, nearly falling over as Henry hit his head against the glass as he screamed. Yes, he could trust them.
He swallowed, “about the drugs?”
“Hah!” Henry turned back to him, his oily hair sticking to his cheek, his eyes bulging, “the pills? That’s only the start! The chemicals in the air, the signs they put around our kids! You know nothing!”
James finally fell to the floor, his heart pounding against the jacket. He couldn’t escape, the raging man now striding closer to him. Henry pulled him up and slammed him against the wall.
“Please don’t, please.”
Henry paid him no mind, instead he seethed through his gritted teeth and his stale breath wafted over James’ face. He tried not to grimace.
“Soon you’ll see.”
He released James and returned to his glass beating. James, on the other hand felt a cold sweat drip over his skin. The walls were too bright. The room was blinding. Was this the chemicals Henry was talking about?
“Breathe,” Ben said, “In here, it’s not a good idea to lose your sanity.
He sighed. He couldn’t, he needed to tell everyone.
“Why are you in here?” James asked the older man across from him, “Do you know the truth as well?”
“I am the truth,” he replied and said nothing else.
“Why…why am I still alive? I killed one of their uncover agents, they were pretending to be my friend, but I knew who they were. I thought they’d kill me.”
“No,” Ben shook his head, “they need us alive.”
“So, they can experiment on us,” Henry answered, “they pretend this is a hospital but it’s all a lie. They want test their new drugs of us to use on everyone else.”
To use on his family.
“I can’t let that happen.” He tried to stand but fell to the floor once more.
“Finally, you understand,” Ben said.
“Here,” Henry pulled him up, “I’ll help you get out of this.” He started tugging at the straps of James’ jacket.
“Thanks. We’ll show them all.”
The door behind the glass opened and Henry flung himself at the glass so hard it shook.
“Get me out of here you fucker!”
The man dressed in white didn’t flinch from Henry.
“Hey!” James shouted, and the man now looked to him, “you can’t keep us in here, we’ll escape and tell the world the truth.”
The man didn’t even blinked and spoke into the Dictaphone in his hand.
“Patient 301 appears to have successful integrated with the group, however our hopes that their collective disillusions communicated to each other would help improve their dissociation have…not come true.”
“No, you asshole, you can’t hide the truth!” The man turned away, “we will tell the world what you are doing! We will reveal your plans to everyone!” James continue to shout even when the door locked shut behind the man dressed in white.
“Meow.” I tap her cheek, “meow,” I repeat, louder this time.
She doesn’t move. She hasn’t moved in a while. I hop onto her chest and wobbled as I sit upon it. It isn’t moving, even as I pad my paws down on her, she doesn’t move.
I groan; this is bad. I lean closer to her face expecting her breath. Very, very bad. I groan again louder this time as I jump down from her.
She collapsed in the Bad Kitchen, there had to be something in here that could help. The Good Kitchen is where I take nibbles from her hands and steal from the bin. In the Bad Kitchen
I am not allowed to touch anything, none of the coloured bottles nor steaming pots. The food in here did strange and miraculous things. I need a miracle right now.
Mistress likes to look in her books to know what to cook. The only problem is I have never been a good reader. Still, l jump onto the side and look at the already open book. I don’t recognise any of the words as I only know few. I begin to flick through the pages with my tail, looking for anything helpful.
‘Power-Hex…Thunder-Elixir of…-Hex of…-Spell…love-Hex-Hex-Hex’
I hiss at the book for not being helpful and wipe it across the table and onto the floor. It sends to empty bottles to the floor with it and they clatter and shattered on the floor. In the echoing din afterwards, I watch Mistress.
She doesn’t move. I sniff and lick my nose, before hopping back down to the floor. The book has torn at the spine and fallen on a new page.
Desire…yes I know what that means. I desire to be with Mistress, to have her alive again. I stand on the page, looking closer. I’m lucky, most of the instructions come in the form of pictures, dotted around the edges of the page. Two lily leaves, a teaspoon of toad dandruff, four cod eggs and a cup of kangaroo milk. All reasonable to ingredients found around the Bad Kitchen. I gather them into an empty caldron, nudging the stirrer around with my tail when it looks to be necessary. Mistress always says that the stirring doesn’t matter as must as many witches wish to make out.
When it looks like the pond green in the book and once again look over the text. There are some words in bold…that usually meant they were important.
I can focus on mice but on desire…I desire to not be alone, to have mistress with me. To make sure it’s in the front of my mind, I knock her broom from the wall and push it into her hand, as if we are about to go flying. I groan again at the cold feel of her fingers and lick my nose. With a bit of luck, her hands won’t be so cold in a moment.
I prance back up the side table and look into the pot. Still green and bubbling. I lean into the pot and take a gulp. It’s disgusting and slimy and takes a while to get down my throat.
But as soon as it does, I feel sleepy. I shake my head, but my eyes feel heavy. I wonder if it’s gone wrong but no, I followed the instructions as best I could, I know it’s working. I stumble down and make my way over to her. I’m so sleepy that I decide to curl up on her chest. Perhaps she’ll be awake when I do.
Everything I touch turns to…
“I’m just saying that…” the Fool grasped at the air for words to take form, “maybe we should see others.”
“And why is that?” Princess Elani had her chin held high as the slouching Fool tried his best to not fall into the hole he was digging himself.
“I just don’t-” the boy stopped and tried to phrase it a different way.
Good luck, Mr H thought. He watched the Princess Elani who remained emotionless as the Fool tried to separate himself from her. The Princess Elani was a famed beauty that another man, a brighter one perhaps, would have waged war for. She had paper white skin, high cheekbones and dazzling blue eyes. But she was so much more than that. She was a Lady, prim and proper with elegance. She was a great singer, dancer and –
Damn. He pressed his lips together. He was doing it again, waxing to himself like a poet.
Always do your research. You are not an expert, you are a writer.