Softly Zephyr, Oh Come Softly
He moved towards the sobbing he had heard and it sounded as if the person doing it was wrenching out her guts.
“Hey.” He announced himself without getting too close and noted that she was naked. “What happened, are you hurt?”
“No.” The girl answered faintly. “Not hurt, not physically.”
“You need help?”
“NO!” She seemed to recoil at his offer, moving deeper into the alley and waving him away. “Stay away from me!”
“I'm no threat, girl.” Zack shrugged and spread his arms with hands wide open to show that he meant no harm. “Only trying to help here.”
“No one can help.” She moaned softly. “It's too late for that.”
“Never too late.” Zack countered. “A really good friend I hardly knew taught me that a while back. You live with what you did wrong and move on, try to do right or the best you can.”
“I don't know what I did that was wrong!” She shot back, then shook as she seemed to force herself to stand up. “But look at me! I'm a monster!”
“Depends on what you call a monster.” He answered while taking her in with all her pale skinned glory with the tangle of white hair and eyes so white they had to be blind even if they did track every motion he made. “I've seen real monsters, girl. And every one of them looked pretty normal on the outside, and not one of them admitted to being what they were.”
“Look at me!” She demanded.
“Not hard to do, I'll admit.” Zack grinned then shook his head. “Girl, in this neighborhood, you wouldn't even attract that much attention. You'd blend in if you were careful.”
“I've killed people!” She shot back.
“Lady, just about anyone in this neighborhood could say that, or that they tried at least once. Hell, I know people who would kill you for your pocket change and not even worry about it. Or they did it to protect themselves or someone they cared for. It's a nasty world, and a person does what they have to do to survive.”
“C'mon.” Zack took off his ragged coat and draped it around her shoulders. “I've never seen a monster naked and shivering all balled up on itself in some nasty alley. Let's get you inside where it's dry and warm, get you some clothes, and we'll go from there. Okay?”
She didn't argue and let him lead her out of the alley.
I don't understand. I'm a monster, a freak that anyone could see just by looking at me. But this man shrugged that off, put his coat around me when I know it's cold, and was taking me home with him, or at least to somewhere he frequented.
He was determined to help me even if I felt as if I didn't deserve that. I could have killed him in the space between seconds, if I wanted to. He wasn't unaware of the danger, but chose to ignore it. For my sake.
For my sake.
Not to make himself feel better for helping someone, just to help.
“You don't know what I am.” I told him as he guided me through alleys and streets that seemed uncomfortably familiar even if I didn't recall them.
“I know you're in trouble, and you need some help.” He shrugged, shivering from the cold I didn't feel because he'd given me his coat. The coat wasn't the reason, I just didn't feel the cold. At all. But the giving had been important to him, so I let it go.
Let it go? What is with me? I know I'm dangerous, I know someone is hunting me, and that I have killed. I have no right to 'let' anything go right now.
“I don't know what I did.” I told him honestly. “I don't know what was done to me.
“But hiding me could be dangerous for you.” I went on.
“Wouldn't be the first time.” He shrugged and grinned at me. He had a nice smile, too. “I'm Zack.”
“I don't even know my own name.” I told him. “They called me Zephyr, but that wasn't my name.”
“Then we'll figure out a name you like.” He answered. “After all, we can't keep calling 'Hey you! White girl!' every time we want your attention can we?”
“No.” I actually chuckled at that one and couldn't recall the last time I'd seen humor in anything. “I guess not.”
“C'mon White Girl.” He grinned at me again as we stopped in front of a dilapidated door. “Let's get inside.”
Hines sat in chair in his own office, facing his superior who was seated at the desk he was used to being behind with people in this office. The man was still going through files, looking at graphs and projections that speculated about and tried to predict the future.
“Just what the Hell are you doing here, Hines?” His boss questioned after another ten minutes of scanning files.
“Long story, sir.” He answered, afraid that his project would be shut down out of hand. “I can give you some perspective to go with what you've been reading and looking at there.”
“Justifying illegal experiments, and then letting one of those experiments slip your leash?” The man asked with deceptive mildness.
“Yes sir, on the 'experiments' anyway.” Hines grimaced. “Zephyr getting loose wasn't anticipated and we had all security measures the protocols demand in place when that happened.”
“Cut the shit, Hines.” His boss answered flatly. “You let something very dangerous get out of this facility, and I want to know why you even thought it would be safe to create something like that in the first place.”
“We didn't create her.” Hines answered slowly. “We woke her up, and she would have been out there, loose, without anyone being the wiser within a few years if my people hadn't found her host and awakened her.”
“That has something to do with this 'new type of energy' all these reports are talking about?”
“Yes sir.” Hines answered carefully. “This new energy was detected about five years ago, but it had been around and growing for years before that. We can measure it, to a point, so we know it's growing in strength all the time. Not much yet, but soon the increase will become exponential, and that could be disastrous for all of us.”
“A new source of energy?” His boss asked. “A disaster for everyone? I would think it would be a godsend.”
“It might be.” Hines nodded. “But it refuses to be manipulated in the usual ways, and is having some side effects throughout the world even now.”
“Side effects?” The man behind the desk sighed, and asked. “How so?”
“You've read the reports.” Hines shook his head. “We have documented proof, from more than one source and the ones we use aren't cranks or mental cases. We have information from a lot of people who have been trusted for their honesty and accurate observations about these things.”
“People crack, you know that.”
“But people from all over the world?” Hines persisted. “All within a few years and all their observations coming from after that new energy was discovered?”
“That would be a big series of coincidences.” The other nodded without looking down at the files. “But you still have a hard sell going here Hines. I'm waiting to be convinced.”
Hines stood then moved to the other side of the desk to pull up a file on his computer. “Documented evidence from the Middle East of creatures who call themselves Djinn and seem to be able to alter just about anything they please. One of these things totally wiped out a fairly powerful circle of men who did use what they called magic. I know our organization is aware of them and the things they could do. Well they're gone now, thanks to this new being.
“Sightings of things the locals describe as Fae, Legendary Elves or Sidhe, if you prefer, Pixies and other things in North America, Northwest Europe, England, Ireland and Scotland.” Hines brought up another file for his boss to examine.
“A firebird, or close to it in New Mexico, a feathered serpent in Mexico City, Something in Japan people are calling a Kami and actually worship, rumors from Russia and Eastern Europe about people encountering things from their mythology.
“Sir,” Hines softly said as his boss went through the files, “I believe this new energy IS magic and that its resurgence is awakening these things and they are even now running loose in the world.”
“These sources are verifiable?” The other asked.
“Of course they are.” Hines snorted. “These are incidents that can't possibly be explained by any known means and we have weeded out the cranks and obviously mistaken reports. These are genuine, sir.”
“And that's your justification for this project.”
“Yes!” Hines let his passion show in that one word then calmed himself. “Sir, the magic, or whatever you choose to call it is growing and with it the number of these incidents. If the increase in both the magic and these beings keeps going the world is going to full of creatures – beings that are capable of doing a lot of harm to humanity.
“If we can learn about them now, before things get too bad, we can find what they are, what they are able to do, how to counter them, deal with them, or even kill them if it comes to that.” Hines continued. “If we don't have that information I don't believe there's much hope for human civilization as we know it to continue, and humanity could well become extinct.”
“A compelling argument.” The other nodded. “I want copies of all this stuff and I'll boot it upstairs, along with your own personal assessments and those of your staff. Have them ready for me in twenty-four hours.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Neutralize this monster that got away from you.” The man ordered. “If you don't some powerful people won't be happy with me and I'll be sure to send them to you.”
“I understand, sir.” Hines nodded while wishing he dared pull out his handkerchief to mop his forehead. “She won't be that difficult to find once she starts feeding.”
“You'd better hope your people find it before that starts.” The other said with quiet finality. “If this gets into the public eye, the blame for the general panic in the population is going to land right on your back.”
And put an end to his project, Hines knew. All he could do was nod in acknowledgment while wishing this self important ass would get out of his office so he could actually start getting things done.
I let him lead into the place.
It wasn't all that wonderful, but it was warm, and fires in trashcans I saw told me why that was.
“I'm dangerous to be around.” I told him, trying to get away from all the Humanity, the things that I'd lost, I got flogged with once I'd entered the place.
“Aren't we all?” He answered quietly.
“Not like me.” I countered, shivering again at the fragmented memories that wouldn't leave me alone.
“Listen to me.” Zack put his hands on my shoulders, gently but with enough firmness to get my attention. I had to quell the almost automatic urge to remove them. “And look at me when I say this, please.”
Pulling in a long, deep breath, I looked up into his face and nodded.
“Good.” He smiled and nodded in his turn. “You're scared, running from something – someone, naked and alone in the dead of winter. Have I got things right so far?”
I nodded slowly.
“You say you're a monster, and true enough, you do look a little freaky, but you've done not one thing since I first saw you that shows me that might be true. You were curled up a ball crying so hard I thought you were going to hiccup your stomach out in that alley. You didn't automatically try to kill me, or anyone we walked by while I was getting you here, now did you?”
“N-no.” I agreed then clarified that. “But I've had to hold myself back. The impulses I get are to do just what you said I haven't.”
“But you haven't, you control those impulses, don't you?”
“Right now, yes.” I had to nod. “But I can't promise that will keep being the case when I really start to get hungry.”
“We can make sure you don't go hungry.” He assured me.
“You don't understand.” I answered as my fangs descended. “It isn't normal food I need. It's blood.”
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.