|The Transformation Story Archive||The Visionary Saga|
Al sat on the sofa, still feeling a little numb from the days events. He was watching the local newscasts, flipping from channel to channel. He never paused long on any one station. If they had the video that he feared they might, then it would shortly be on all of the channels anyway.
He glanced down at his white tennis shoes. The slightly grayed white leather was specked with dark red spots. Looking up his pant leg, he saw the spots, getting fewer and fewer, until they ended at his knees. He looked again at his hands, looking at the small rust stain engrained on palm. He's washed his hands a few times already, trying to get rid of it, but the faint impression remained.
After an hour of looking nervously at the TV, he was satisfied that no video existed. The chaos that had been on the street, plus the fact that he wasn't even from that part of the city, should ensure that no one would ever be able to find him.
He calmed himself down and stood from the chair. Walking into the bedroom, he took off his clothes and tossed them in the hamper. Then, thinking about the drops of blood on the tan fabric, he tore them out of the hamper and tossed them into a wastebasket. He changed his clothes and picked up the trash, throwing the shoes in as an afterthought. He walked into the backyard and started to throw them in his own trash, but stopped. Smiling, he had an idea.
Ten minutes later, he jumped out of his black Honda Accord and retrieved the bloodied clothes from a hiding space in his trunk. He walked to the dumpster behind the abandoned restaurant and threw them in. He sighed heavily once.
He was safe.
He turned and walked back to the trunk. He slammed it down and suddenly jumped back.
A man was standing next to his car.
"Who the hell are you?" yelled Al.
The man leaned against the car with a grim expression, pushing the black fedora back on he head. "Under better circumstances, I could have been your friend, Mr. Sands. Unfortunately, these are not the best of circumstances."
Al involuntarily glanced over at the dumpster, then cursed himself silently for giving away the location of the evidence of his crime. "I. . . I. . . don't know what you're talking about."
The man seemed to grow more grim. "You can't lie to me, Mr. Sands. I know everything."
Not sure what else to do, Al stayed silent.
"Why did you do it? Perhaps you were no saint, but you certainly were not a killer."
Al found himself thinking back to the morning. Caught up in a sea of savageness, finding the rusty length of reinforcing bar in his hand, slamming it down again and again. . .
"I don't know. I honestly don't know."
"Mr. Deveroux had never done anything to you, or anyone else on that street."
"You don't understand. . ."
"I understand better than you ever would. He was a target. He was a focal point. Tell me, Mr. Sands, did you feel better after you killed him?"
Al thought back to the morning again. He remembered someone pulling the terrified man out of his large sedan. Shouts of anger, shouts of panic, shouts of pain filled the air as the small mob started pushing the man around.
"He hit that kid. . ."
The man pulled off his hat and started rubbing the brim with his sleeve, "No he didn't. The person who hit that child was in the car in front of Mr. Deveroux. But that man got away, and confusion moved the anger to the next car. The fact that he wasn't the right man didn't factor into the equation."
"But I didn't do anything more wrong than anyone else." he replied lamely.
"You did. If not for your presence, for your temper, and your actions, he would still be alive. Perhaps not unhurt, but alive. It was you and you alone who took it upon himself to end his life. For what crime?"
"I thought that he'd hit that kid. . ."
"Mr. Sands, you did not. You knew nothing of that child until you got home this afternoon. You saw the crowd and waded in. It wasn't vengeance that you were seeking, it was fun. Wasn't it?"
Al felt himself grow cold from fear. This man knew way too much. He looked around quickly.
The man smiled a humorless smile. "Plotting my demise? Why not. You wouldn't be the first, and you won't be the last. I have enemies that would freeze your soul. But you, Mr. Sands, are hardly worth the effort to be worried about. You fell easily into an angry mob today, and if unchecked you will do it again. You've caused a great deal of damage today, and I can't let that happen again."
Suddenly scared, Al tried to run past the man and get into his car...
... and found himself in the outback.
He looked around, confused. It was flat, covered in rough, dry grass. He felt a breeze kick in, which rustled across the silent landscape. He watched the few trees that dotted the landscape move in the wind for a few minutes, trying to get his bearings. He didn't recognize anything, but it seemed familiar somehow. Like he'd seen it before. Maybe on TV? In a book?
That's when he spotted the thing laying nearby in the grass. It didn't take him long to identify it. He hurriedly looked around to see if any others were around, but got another shock when he looked at himself for the first time. He knew what the white and black stripes on his back meant, even if he didn't understand how this was happening.
With a sickening realization, he suddenly knew why he was the object of attention from that tan form laying in the grass.
Feeling a fear beyond anything that he had ever felt before, he started running across the vast plain as fast as his hoofed feet would carry him. He didn't know how long he ran, but fear seemed to numb sensation. For a brief moment, he felt that he had escaped.
Then he felt the weight on his back as one of the predators leapt onto his back, digging claws into his flesh. He screamed a high pitched scream and stumbled to the ground. Even as he struggled to regain his footing, to keep running, the lioness dug her mouth into his leg. As she did, another ran to his head and grabbed his throat, pressing hard.
His vision first went red, then started to dim. His last sight was of an old man in black grimly looking on as the lion pride began its feast.
Forces copyright 2001 by Brian Eirik Coe.
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