The Fourth Kitten
Sam Turnbow deftly manuevers through the streets of his little London suburb, not knowing the fate that will befall him. He waves to Miss Everstream, even though the batty old lady has a tendency to ‘visit’ him at inopportune moments.
He gives Lan Carmichaels, an old mate the third finger from the left, and curses gently as his car sverve on the light January-snow. “Maybe I shouldn’t have changed the tires that early”, he mutters to nobody in particular. He mentally tallies the things he has to do before lunch; check the Rojas Account, make sure Regina isn’t putting the moves on the intern yet again and review the security codes.
He parks his car, an old Honda, at the usual spot. He check the lock twice, because, really in these days, you never know. A quick look in the mirror he keeps in his vest tells him that his black hair is slicked back as it should be, and that the tan he got in the Alps over Christmas hasn’t completely vanished.
He walks around the corner, and stops.
A large crowd has gathered infront of his firm. He groans and starts to make his way through the crowd. Probably some damn brats celebrating New Year by egging his front. He starts to create a mental broadsheet in his head, wondering if he could maybe make the intern clean it up.
He carefully advances through the crowd, and on reaching the front, he halts. Turnbow & Associates, his child, his firm, is burning!
He drops his suitcase, and tries to cross the tape, only to have two burly firemen stop him. “This is my firm!” “It was your firm, and now it is a burning wreckage”, one of the firemen temporizes. Turnbow spits on the snow and trudges back under the tape. He grabs his suitcase and takes out his phone. Someone is getting fired for this.
He dials a number and puts the phone to his ear. The screech that follows makes him drop it. “What….?” It is only now that he notices that the people of the crowd have formed a loose circle around him. Beyond the edges of the circle objects are indistinct, sounds muffled.
He wheels around, ready to castigate whoever this pranker is. But the moment he sees the speaker, all words die. The man in front of him could be any hobo out there. Old and worn coat. Scruffy beard that has seen better days. No shoes, naked feet standing on the cold pavement. Pale brown eyes, that have seen the world and more. But there are certain things that stand out. His ears are a bit more pointed than any human’s. His skin is freckled, despite the lack of sun. And most telling-there is a large, red handprint covering his left cheek.
Turnbow gulps. Tam Linn. The mad dog of the Seven Swordsmen.
“I killed them. Then I burned them”, Tam Linn continues to say. Even knowing that Linn operates under the aegis of the Council, Sam have to ask.
“But why? What did they do?”
“Because”, and now a spark of fury colors his voice,” that woman, Regina, that associate of yours was funneling money to traffickers.Not just human ones, supernatural ones”, Linn reiterates in a harsh and condemning voice.
Turnbow raises his voice as if to object through the numbness he feels, before realizing that he didn’t actually knew Regina that well. “But”, he mumbles, ” the intern, Mara, our secretary?”
Linn shrugs. “Wait, the only reason I am not dead, is because I was late to my job?”
Linn smiles. The last thing Sam Turnbow hears is the sound of a blade being drawn. The last thing he sees are Linn’s eyes. They’re no longer brown, but prismatic and pulsing, like broken glass thrown in a sunny spot.
Tam Linn weaves an illusion around body and quickly rejoins the other homeless people in the area. He puts his hands against the fire- the fire they’ve cultivated in the trunk of an old car- and for a moment he feels peace.
It doesn’t last long. Several tormented yowls erupt from around the corner. Linn grunts in the direction of Stains, one of the other homeless people. “Grubbylow has found a pair of kittens”, Stains mumbles.
Tam Linn nods and ventures around the corner. He raises a hand, and the other homeless folk stare in amazement as a hangman’s axe appear. Without pause he bashes Grubbylow’s skull in. The first strike cause people to scream. The second strike makes them run. At the seventh strike, he stands alone, and Grubbylow’s head is a red pulpy mess. He crouches to examine the old cardboard box.
Three kittens are burned beyond recognition, gasping for air. The axe reforms in a burst of light into small needles, and with each pinprick he ends a life. He feels something scratch his right arm, and the mother of the kittens stare at him as only a mother can do. He inspects the board further, realizing that there is a fourth kitten, a small white one. The mother scratches him again, harder. Pale brown eyes meet icy blue ones. “Yes”, he says to the unasked question. And with that the mother dies.
He picks the kitten up, and the kitten, a ‘she’ he realizes, licks his thumbs. His pale brown eyes turn prismatic. “Will you weep, little one?” Will you-”
A phone buzzes. His first reaction is to grind the phone to dust. But while the Council cannot kill him, they can certainly hurt him. He snaps it open, running his commentary out loud.
“What was the name of that city now again?”
He ends the call and picks the little kitten up.
“Come, little one. I have miles to go, and you need milk…”