Shifting Times

Ellis dabbed at his nose with his sleeve. It came away with small blotches of blood. He pulled his tattered back pack from his shoulder and chucked it against the metal fence just a few yards off to his left. The bag rebounded off the fence and slid in the dirt. Ellis spared a hateful glance behind him. Unconsciously his hands made a fist. He threw a punch at the face of an imaginary individual and screamed in anger.

“Next time Reese you will be the one bleeding.” Ellis’ anger was subsiding and the pain of the fight was coming to the fore front of his mind. He leaned against the fence and slid to the ground.

“Was this yours?” The voice of a girl asked. Ellis’ head shot up. His eyes wide with fear. He nodded. Had she heard what he said? She handed him his back pack and then sat against the fence a few feet away.

“You are taller and stronger than Reese. Why didn’t you fight back?” She asked. Her voice was sweet. Ellis could almost hear concern in it.

“I am afraid.” Ellis said.

“Afraid of losing and being laughed at?” The girl asked. Ellis remembered her name. She went by Harper and had been relocated a few years ago to the Mundane colony.

“Afraid I will enjoy hurting people.” Ellis said. The confession seemed loud in the waning house of the day. Harper didn’t respond. He heard the shuffling of dirt beside him and looked over at her. She was gone. A pair of ripped light blue jeans stood in her place.

Ellis’ heart sank as his focus rose higher. Reese slammed a fist down at Ellis’ upturned face. Ellis closed his eyes in anticipation but it never landed. A second later he heard a crack like a tree branch breaking then a howl of agony. Ellis opened his eyes.

Above him was Harper and Reese. Reese clung to his arm where the bone was tasting fresh air for the first time. Its edge was jagged and blood flowed from the wound like a leaky faucet. Harper’s hand flashed and Reese’s scream was cut short. In the blink of an eye she landed a quick punch to his throat. Reese collapsed to the ground.

Screams and yells erupted just around the corner.

“Quick, take my hand!” Ellis took her hand but knew the shouts were too close. They would round the corner and find a boy close to death and him with a bloody face. He would be the one charged with assault.

As Harper’s fingers intertwined with his the world stopped. He looked up at her. A slight grin across her face.

“You told me your secret. It’s only fair I show you mine. Just don’t let go.” Hand in hand, Ellis picked up his bag and the contents which spilled. When it was resting on his shoulder again, they strolled away. They had walked North five blocks in the span of just a few seconds.

They walked a few more blocks and found a bench to sit on. When they stopped Harper asked, “Whats it like to be Mundane, to not have an ability? Does time pass at the same rate all the time?”

Ellis looked at her confused. “It’s boring. Mundane’s can’t do anything special. We don’t have any inherent talents and can’t participate in the anything really. We barely exist to the outside world. Were just boring and useless. Don’t you control time or speed or something?” Harper nodded.

“Time, but it’s not that simple. I can make time go slower or faster but oftentimes I can’t control for how long.” Harper looked over at Ellis. Behind his eyes she could seem him trying to work through the meaning of what she said. “For the last few days, this has been how fast time has been going for me.”

A few moments passed and then Ellis finally answered. “So when you were sitting next to me by the fence earlier?”

“It was hours of trying to sit perfectly still.”

“And the fight?”

“Like playing with a life sized doll.”

“And what happens now?”

Harper smiled, “Now we have fun till time starts to speed up again.” She kissed him on the cheek and then bolted off the bench, pulling Ellis to his feet.

 

Raphael

The rubble beneath me vibrated as another explosion went off a few streets over. Glass from hundreds of windows shattered and fell like glittering rain drops. My breaths came in short gasps as I hunched doubled over on hands and knees in the middle of the remnants of a downtown street. At least two or three broken ribs I thought.

I lifted my gaze just enough to see dozens of mangled and bloody bodies littering the street before me. This was not like the fairy tales written in books. This was the reality of magic and monsters, of hero’s and villain’s.

Sharp pain blossomed like fire from my arm as the head of a barbed arrow erupted from my left bicep. Crimson blood splattered the ground as the arrowhead severed tissue, muscle and veins. I screamed in pain as my arm went limp and dangled uselessly.

Gathering the remains of my energy, slightly refreshed from new found rage, I beat my wings and rose into the smoke filled sky. A dark streak passed in a blur no more than a foot away. My wings beat harder fanning the small fires below me into a single inferno. Carried along the wind I heard a voice.

“We condemn you Raphael.” My eyes searched for the source and found it. Far below stood a group of five men and two women poised for battle but not all armed. My eyes bored into the soul of the angel standing in the middle of his small honor guard.

“Mankind has poisoned these gardens for too long Michael. Let their bodies fertilize the land.”

 

The Lighthouse

“The light can never go out,” explained the old lighthouse operator. “Ships don’t need us. Haven’t in quite some time. It’s the people here on land who’ll suffer if that light ever goes out.”

Jakar watched with pinched eyes as the old man wet his lips with another beer.

“Those lights were built to never go out. I don’t think anyone has ever seem them dark.” Jakar said. The old man wiped his mouth the back of his forearm.

“When I was I lad I saw it. Pitch black it was.” He shook his head and brought the beer up to his lips once more. Jakar knew he wasn’t going to get much more out of him. All the man wanted to do now was wash away his day with alcohol. Jakar slipped into his jacket and left.

The sun had disappeared while he had been inside the bar. The chilled night air cut through his jacket and was heavy with the scent of sea salt. In the distance Jakar could see the lighthouse. It was one of the oldest still standing in the region the old man had said. He began to walk down the wide open streets to keep himself warm. Only a few people were out but the ones he passed nodded to him and bid him a nice evening. Jakar clenched his fist each time someone passed.

Unconsciously he was drawing nearer to the lighthouse and now approached the outskirts of the small town. He continued. He couldn’t stop himself from being drawn to white tower with its light revolving around its peak. Yet with each step closer to the lighthouse Jakar felt his emotions rise like a storm.

“Can I help you?” said a deep voice, shattering the silence of the night and calming Jakar down some.

“I was speaking to an older man at the pub. I believe he used to work at one of the light houses around here. He mentioned one of them may be looking for a helping hand come the winter.”

“Aye, you speak of Mr.Taylor do you?”

“Yes. I believe that was his name.”

“What did you say your name was boy?” the man in the darkness asked from a distance. He was standing behind a waist high fence about twenty yards off. His voice sounded like the rumblings of a storm itself.

“Jake.” Jakar said walking closer.

“Well Jake, if you take another step, that leg’s going to be gone.” Jakar stopped. In an instant the man had raised and leveled a gun at him. He couldn’t make out what kind of weapon it was but something about the mans hands told Jakar he knew how to shoot.

Jakar raised his eyes up to the white tower residing a hundred yards off. Waves crashed in the distance but they did nothing to drowned out the man’s voice.

“There has never been a Mr. Taylor in this town. Now turn around and leave Jake.”

“I wish I could.” Jakar said flatly. His eyes fixated on the light. He started to walk forward.

The crack of a gunshot split the night. Jakar collapsed. Tendrils of smoke rose from the shotgun.

“Honey?” A woman screamed with concern from the lighthouse. A moment later a blade of light flashed erratically in the night.

“Stay back darling. Let me see the light though.” Jakar had been silhouetted by the lights of the town and the moon but no more. He shone the light on Jakar. A velvet red pool was quickly growing around the boys mangled leg. As the light hit the boy’s face, the man saw teal blue blood seeping from the boys pores and eyes. The blood sizzled like oil in a frying pan as the light revealed it.

“Inside. Call the police darling. Quick.” said the man giving the light back to his wife. She took off sprinting through the thigh high grass. A screen door slammed. Two sets of teal blue eyes sparked to life in the darkness like shooting stars.

“You have made a grave mistake land walker.” A voice whispered and then the eyes were gone.

 

What a Lovely Way to Burn

Summer, fall, winter, spring, it does not matter the season, the weather or the the location, we all will burn. Some of us will burn brighter, some lighter. Some of us burn at night, alone in a room with the door closed and headphones on. Some of us burn during the day in a room filled with eyes taking in our every movement. The ways in which some of us burn is not whats in question. Do you burn? That is the question.

The streets and alleys and roads and paths and trails are becoming crowded with people searching. Searching for something they were told to find, were told they needed. Leave the house, get a degree, get a job, turn the job into a career and eventually one day you will be happy. One day.

One day, it will come to you and by then hopefully you will have enough experience in your career to get that dream job, and enough financial stability to leave your current one. Its not that hard. You just have to make money to support yourself and your significant other, and raise your children and pay for their college, and car, and insurance and food and housing too. Least you forget the family vacations every year and the holiday’s and the emergencies and eventually one day you will be happy.

Today can be the day when you begin to burn. When you start to be more than just a person who drifts through life. When you start to make a change in the world around you. When you start to set fire to the passion lying dormant and unused inside you.

There is a road inside you, one not taken by any other. One which traverses out of your comfort zone and through your dreams and around the people you love. This path requires a sacrifice for it requires a great amount of fuel to travel such a hard and dangerous road. That fuel is you. So, instead of lying around decaying. Discover how lovely it is to finally burn for something.

Sometimes We Have to Let go

The voice echoed in my mind “,but sometimes we have to let go.” Not me I thought. Everyone can let go but me.

I turned my face upward. Snow kissed my cheeks and forehead and for a moment I forgot where I was, what I was doing. The feelings inside me reduced from a boil to a simmer. I closed my eyes and let the cold embrace me. Icy tendrils snaked their way up my arms and between the buttons on my shirt. I shivered.

Urgency drew my eyes open and the cold kept them that way. All I could do was shift my gaze but the hole in front of me kept reeling it in. It drew my attention to it when all I wanted was to look away, to look into the sky or the darkness behind my eyelids. No matter how much I tried to avoid it though, the hole would always be there, waiting for me.

I let my eyes fall upon the rectangular hole and urged my hands to work. They filled the grave with another shovel full of dirt. Then another, and another. My hands had gone numb but I could still see the shovel gripped tight between frozen fingers. I had become so cold it was as if I was watching through the eyes of someone else.

I forged on but warmth did not blossom inside me till I was inside the cabin by the fire. It thawed every nerve and set a wave of pain washing over me. I bundled up under a blanket, pulling it tight around me with shaking hands. My body rocked back and forth like a child trying to calm himself from night terrors. The only difference, my nightmares were real and had killed my sister.

The First Tree Grove

Marxen Holt opened his eyes and focused on the last tendrils of his dream. His hands found the notepad next to his bed and he began to write down all he remembered. There had been boxes like those found in banks. Except on the front of each plate were a name and a photograph. Many faces had been grayed out while just a handful remained lit and vibrant. These were the ones he paid attention to. That was his job. To find people.

He gazed down at the names he had written; William Krietz, Andrew Davis, Samuel White, and Aleena Rigs. Four names were more than he usually found in a single dream. It was going to be a busy day.

He slid out from the confines of his warm crimson sheets. The bed retracted into its housing under the floor. He replaced the notebook on the single shelf protruding from the wall and proceeded with his daily routine.

“Good morning Marx. Would you prefer coffee or orange juice this morning?”

His living cell was simple and practical. It mimicked the way he preferred life. His cell was comprised of two rooms. One room held a shower and toilet and the other had everything else. Every inch of the floor and walls were multipurpose. He had designed the unit precisely to meet his every need.

“Coffee. As always Evie. Thank you.”

“It will be ready in three minutes.”

Marx was half-way through his cup of coffee when the com-band around his wrist flashed notifying him of an incoming call. He twisted his wrist and accepted the call. A moment later a section of the wall brightened, displaying a young woman in prime dress attire. Her hair was pulled back to give a clear view of the thin silver collar tattooed around her neck. In the center were four diagonal slashes, two silver and two black.

“Mr. Holt I apologize for disturbing you. If I may request a moment of your time.”

“Granted.” Marx took a sip of coffee. His muscles tightened. This wasn’t going to be good news.

“Thank you, sir. A violent act was reported just moments ago. Twenty dead so far with nearly a hundred injured. The suspect is unknown, but preliminary reports suggest the individual was assisted by at least one other. Dred Thomas Rigs is formally requesting your assistance.”

Musical Trance

Benji walked into his normal coffee shop and regretted it. Somewhere between studying and work he forgot the date. It was now apparent. It was the third of June. On the third of every month his little hole in the wall coffee shop hosted live bands. He hated it.

He hated it because a live band meant live people and live people was a good enough reason to  hate anything. He turned on his heel to walk out but before he took his first step he stopped.

Through the throng of people, standing on stage at the far end of the coffee shop, was a girl Benji recognized. She was wearing worn jeans, a faded black shirt and a silver necklace which sparkled in the light. She was counting; five, six, seven, eight. The music started slow and soft. Benji waited, not moving a muscle till he heard her voice again. He was convinced it was all just a figment of his imagination.

Then she began to sing and the music faded into the background. It was her. Forgetting about the people surrounding him, Benji smiled and started to move his body with the ebb and flow of the music. Benji felt his heart and soul rise when she sang of happiness and love and then shatter and break when she described heart ache and loneliness. He felt every word as if he lived them himself. He felt each pinprick and insult, every kiss and hug. He remembered morning breakfasts that never happened and walks on the beach even though he had never seen the ocean. Her voice flowed inside of him and tugged at the darkest corners of his soul and the brightest apexes of his mind.

The song finished and Benji felt emptier then he ever had before. He had glimpsed something. He didn’t know exactly what that something was, but he knew he wanted more of it.