Friday, June 10, 2016

Zoe Bleak #4

Felix sat in a booth in a rundown diner with a girl in a dirty trenchcoat. The girl had at least four courses of food in front of her and was scarfing down one of the burgers. A fairly large tuxedo cat sat next to her in the booth. A bright yellow bag was next to Felix and really stood out against the darkness of the diner. “Cleo, slow down. You’re gonna choke or get a stomach ache.”

“Sorry, habit. You have to eat what you have right away or risk losing it,” Cleo answered.

“So why am I here?” Felix asked.

“To save lives. There’s something feeding on people but no one can see it,” Cleo said as she chewed.

“But you can?” Felix was skeptical.

“You can too if you just focus. Really pay attention to what is going on around you,” Cleo waved her hand around signaling to the diner. “The sorrow, that’s what I call it, took my mother and then it took my father. It takes so many people here and no one can do anything about it. It sucks anyone who has come here to help in and hurts them just as much.”

“What makes you think I can help?”

“You came highly recommended, you seem strong, and you care. You give a damn,” Cleo said and began feeding her cat pieces of the meat from her hamburger. Cleo leaned out of the booth and shouted “Can I get a to-go bag? I have friends I can give the rest of this to,” she said to Felix.

“So what does...the sorrow look like? What am I looking for?”

“Purple haze. It surrounds the body, like an aura. It starts out faint but then becomes darker until it almost turns black. You don’t want it to turn black. My Dad’s turned black right before he…” she stopped and turned to look out the window. Her cat raised up on her leg and head-butted her chin. A waitress dropped a bag on the table and walked away. “Let’s go,” Cleo began shoving the leftover food in the bed.

They walked through the neighborhood, yellow back hanging off of Felix’s shoulder. “I just need to focus?” he half questioned to Cleo. “A purple aura.”

“You have to be able to see it,” Cleo begged. “Come on, my friend is down this alley.”

They walked down the alley and turned a corner behind another building. Behind a couple of trash cans, a man in ratty clothes sat on the ground. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” he beamed when Cleo stood in front of him.

“Hey, Will. Brought you some food,” she handed the man the sack of food.

“Oh, Cleo, girl. The Lord certainly blessed us when He gave us you,” Will teared up and opened the sack.

“Don’t thank me too much. My friend here bought it,” Cleo motioned to Felix. “Felix, this is Will. Will, Felix.”

“But he bought it because of you,” Will said. “I swear, you’re the only good thing in this place.”

She hung her head and blushed. “I try.”

“His is lighter purple,” Felix said. “It dimmed when he was talking about you.”

“You can see it?” Cleo asked, hopefully.

“Yeah, I can see it on them too,” he pointed to a group of gang members past the alley on the other side of the street. “It’s darker on them though. One’s nearly black.”

“Oh, thank God. Now maybe we can figure out a way to help these people. I wasn’t paying attention to Will’s aura but you said it dimmed when he was talking about me?”

“Yeah, but what’s the point?” Felix suddenly said. “We can’t help these people.”

“What are you talking about? You were…” Cleo finally turned toward Felix who had started to walk away. His aura was deep purple, the sorrow working twice as hard to overcome. “Oh, damn…” Cleo sighed.

Karylee couldn’t remember how she had ended up here. Her mother and sister had died, father remarried and had a new family. She ran away and that’s all she remembers. How she ended up in this part of the city was a mystery to her. Two years she has been here and as far as she knew, no one had come looking for her.

Karylee had holed up in the alley across the street from a burned out house. It reminded her of home. The buildings weren’t as tall so it got some sun and the house was the only thing located on that square block of land. Occasionally she would sit on the porch but most of the time the house was used for drug deals or prostitute hook-ups.

“Hello, beautiful. Has anyone ever told you that? That you’re beautiful?” a man came up to her. She had watched him come from the burned out house across the street. “Would you like a friend? What’s your name?”

“K...Karylee,” she croaked as she took his hand.

“Beautiful name,” the man helped her up, she nearly fell over. “Oh, my. Let’s get some food in you. What do you say I buy you some dinner and you can pay me back by taking some pictures. If you play your cards right, you could be a star.”

Karylee nodded. “Y...Yes.”

“Come on, let’s get you some food and clean you up,” the man wrapped his arm around her waist and they walked down the street into the shadows of the buildings.

Back at the man’s apartment, Karylee was taking a shower after eating some pizza. A group of men stood outside the door, listening to the water run. “Ah, come on, just a peek,” one of them said.

“No, I promised no one would see her until she was ready. Just keep your pants on until her pants are off.”

The water stopped and they heard the curtain be pulled back. They scattered away from the door and waited. Karylee came out, her hair wet and stringy, her body wrapped in a towel. “I’m done. How do we want to do this?”

“Well, Karylee, it depends. What you do for us should be equal to what we did for you. You can get started on the couch over there. Maybe tell us a little about yourself.”

Karylee walked over to the couch and sat down in her towel, she tried to cover what she could up. “I’m Karylee, I’m from...the midwest,” she said, she couldn’t remember where she was from and then, for some reason, did not want to give a state. “I am sixteen and I like to read. Or at least I liked to,” she continued.

“Have you ever been kissed?” the man asked, his associates were filming and holding microphones. “Ever had a boyfriend?”

“Yes,” Karylee blushed. “It didn’t last very long.”

“What happened? Did you two ever make love?”

“I left home. We had sex before I left.”

“Did you like it?”

“I liked being wanted. I liked being that close to someone,” Karylee lowered her head. “Can I my clothes?”

The man grumbled. “Yeah. Bring her some clothes. We’ll keep getting chummy,” he faked a smile. “So just the one time? Have you ever wanted to do it again?”

“I just want the intimacy,” Karylee said. She was handed her clothes and she turned around and dropped her towel to get dressed.

“We can give you that intimacy,” the man tried to convince her. “Show us a little something.”

“I don’t want to do this,” Karylee whispered, sadly.

“After we’ve been so nice to you? One show, that’s all we’re asking, and you can leave. You shouldn’t hide your beauty from the world.”

“One?” Karylee looked down at her body. “You really think I’m beautiful?”

“The world needs to know how beautiful you are,” the man smiled and licked his lips.

“No, I don’t want to be here. I have to go,” Karylee got up and began running toward the window on the other side of the room.

“Stop her! We’ll all have a taste on camera.”

“What are you doing?” Cleo shouted to Felix as he walked away. “You are supposed to help.”

“How can I help? No one here wants to help themselves so why should I help them?”

“The sorrow keeps them from helping themselves. You’re being affected by it too, you have to fight it. You have to stronger than this. You’ve been a hero for more than a century. Felix, quit walking away from me,” Cleo demanded.

“How am I supposed to help anyway? You don’t even have an idea on what to do.”

“You said Will’s aura dimmed when he was talking about me. We can start with that. Maybe it…” Cleo began tearing up. The sound of shattering glass came from above them. Karylee seemed to hang in midair for a split second before falling.

The shards fell to the alley on top of Felix and Cleo. “Here, grab a side and pull,” Felix tossed his yellow bag off his shoulder and held a side to Cleo. She pulled and backed up, the bag began stretching covering a decent area of the ground. Karylee fell into the bag safely. Her body was badly cut by the glass but she was alive and breathing. “Are you okay? What are you doing?”

“You saved me,” she was stunned. “Why would you save me?” Karylee began crying.

“Why wouldn’t I? Why would anyone just let someone die?”

“Your aura’s dimming,” Cleo pointed out to Felix. “Her’s is getting lighter too.”

“Who’s this? Your brother? Father?”

Felix had returned his bag to its normal size and turned to the men. “Leave us alone.”

“Two of them. Sir, if you go about your day and leave these two ladies with us, then we will let you live.”

Felix reached into his bag and pulled out a baseball bat. “They’re girls. Underage. You need to leave.”

“Don’t worry,” guns were pulled out and cocked “we’ll leave you breathing so that you can watch.”

“Leave us alone,” Cleo stepped in front of Felix and Karylee.

“Cleo, what are you…” Felix began but was interrupted by gunfire.

The bullets hit Cleo but bounced off of her. She ran over, within a split second, and grabbed the man, crushing his gun with her hand. “I’m going to smash your head into this wall,” she screamed pressing him into the wall.

“You do anything and my men will slice your friends to ribbons,” he cackled.

Cleo punched her fist through the wall. The two henchmen ran away. Cleo smiled. “Looks like your men aren’t going to do anything. Now, you’re going to leave too. Got that?” The man nodded and Cleo let him go. The man nervously ran away, following his henchmen.

“What was that?” Felix asked, putting his bat back into his bag.

“What is that?” she pointed to his bag. “How can a baseball bat fit in there? How did it stretch like that?”

“It’s, I guess, a magic bag,” he shrugged. “Why didn’t you tell me about your powers?”

“I’m a freak. I haven’t told anybody,” Cleo said. “This kind of stuff doesn’t usually go over well in this type of place.”

“I have an idea, Cleo come with me. What’s your name?”


“Karylee. Come with us and then I’ll get you to a hospital.”

The three of them gathered in the middle of a busy intersection. Few cars but a lot of foot traffic. People began gathering, wondering what these three were doing there. “Cleo brought me here. She brought me here to help you. To save you from your sorrow.”

“Save us? What are you going to do? Give me a million dollars?” shouted one man.

“I wanted to but I couldn’t do it alone. I needed Cleo and Karylee to help me through it and now we’re going to help all of you. Remember the good times, the happy times, the magic times, anytime that you gave love and were loved,” Felix said.

“You just said that you were no better than us so how are we supposed to remember the good times?” another man snarled.

“Let us help you. Cleo?”

Cleo began levitating, everyone went aghast. “You are not alone anymore. We will help this neighborhood because we have to. We need to help our friends and our loved ones. What I do may not be enough but together we can do anything.”

“Come on, Karylee. Let’s get you to a hospital,” Felix took Karylee’s hand and they walked away from the crowd.

Felix left the hospital, a slight smile on his face. “Good work today,” a voice said beside him.

“Hey, Rhona, how’s it going?” Felix asked. “What do you got for me?”

“You always know.”

“Over 300 years, over 50 assignments, they’re the only reason you talk to me,” Felix smiled big at her.

“Well, it’s a good one and hopefully a simple one,” Rhona began. “There’s a girl in Chicago that needs protection. We have her well covered at home but she needs someone at school. We can get you set up to be a teacher at her high school. You can keep an eye on her and make sure no one can get near her.”

“This girl seems important. What’s her deal?”

“She is what we call the Christchild,” Rhona said.

“Christchild? What’s that?”

“Basically she is the next Jesus Christ.”