David Crenshaw stood at the top of the suspension bridge, staring down at the water. It was a very long way away. He was not yet a doctor, and would not be for another fifteen years. He did not have the distinguished silver hair and fine, vulpine bone structure that would make him both charming and well-trusted. He did not have the boundless inner confidence that would buoy him through his everyday life. What he had at the moment were a million regrets, the memories of lingering laughter mocking and fluting as it crashed back and forth in his head. Cars rushed past as he stood at the edge, a simple fence between him and the end.
I slowly trailed my fingers across the desk. I wanted a drink.
I was the first to arrive at the conference room. I had something of an unfair advantage, being the Sister of wind. Someone had even left a window open, which made it easy to slip inside.
Mickey’s day had started out half-decently. He didn’t have school today, though it was a Wednesday. It was still the summer, which meant he didn’t have to deal with school for at least a little bit longer. August was disgustingly hot, but it was better than sitting in class, being mocked, failing exams, making his parents angry. Summer school had ended a few days ago, and he had only a few precious days. So, he and his family were going to Madison Square Garden. His father had brought up the idea, and Mickey had gone along with it. They’d gotten into a cab, which was a rare treat. Usually they had to pile onto the subway.
I never got the chance to see my father’s corpse. My mother told me she didn’t want me to remember him that way. I’d imagined it, had nightmares about it even, but they remained distant and blurry, more feelings than actual images. I’d always felt I had a terrible visual imagination, and it was a blessing where my father’s body was concerned. I’d imagined claw marks, gore, blood, things that would haunt me forever. Sitting here, now, in my desk, I realized that there were worse fates than being splattered with red food coloring and modeling clay like a horror movie extra. My father’s body probably looked like the tonfa he’d given to me. A simple, broken thing.
I watched as Dane sped off, and tried to stand up straight. I took a breath, and the world spun around me, my stomach coiling. I have not needed to eat food in the better part of a century, but there is still a phenomena I’m familiar. When you grow hungry enough, your stomach will hurt. In some cases, this can reach a point where it is difficult to tell whether you’re hungry, or ill. The body links the two experiences together, making you nauseous when you consider eating, despite the fact that eating is the only way to fix what is wrong with you.
Humans are difficult to deal with, because they’re always trying to learn from their mistakes. They are heuristic, which means they apply past experiences to future actions. When a human touches a red-hot stove, they associate all red things with heat, and pain. When a foolish young human boy has once been lied to by a supernatural creature, he may come to mistrust all things he doesn’t understand. He may turn away from those who offer him a second chance, believing it is simply a repetition of the mistakes that brought him where he is today. Without perfect knowledge of what your previous mistakes were, it gives you exciting opportunities to make wholly new errors in judgment.
Johnny sat in the subway car, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, his long hoodie drawn over his head. A phone sat in one hand, though it was still showing the lock screen. He’d stolen it when he’d been leaving the crime scene. A spasm of paranoia struck him. Could they track the phone with its GPS coordinates? He considered, for the third time that hour, throwing the thing under the rails the next time he got off the train. But his reasoning had been sound. The phone made him look normal. People didn’t question who you were when you were staring at a phone on the subway. They just assumed you were another self-absorbed prick.