“-Military has stated that the unprecedented operation was in response to a major terror threat by the known cult, the Church of the Survivor, to detonate a low-yield nuclear device in Central Park. They attribute their victory to the quick actions of Dane Larson in tracking down the cultists, and the device has been safely dismantled-”
My body was aching, wracked with feverish chills. The knife had hurt badly. And it kept hurting. Being in the warmth of Horace’s home wasn’t helping. I was becoming disconnected. I could feel the world flowing like wax around me. It was becoming difficult to concentrate on what was happening. Memories were echoing in my head. I heard a crack, and shook free of a vision of people who had been dead for millenia.
I was always the black sheep. My brother was kind-hearted, smarter than me, more athletic. All I had was my anger, and my ambition. But he didn’t mind that. In fact, I think that was part of what he liked about me. I had the passion to get things done when he would have let bygones be bygones. He never said it, but when we wound up in a fight, there was glee in his expression. I gave him an excuse to not be a good person. He needed that. And in exchange… He cared about me. He believed in me. He told me that I would do great things.
I can’t say that I am prone to self-examination. I have lived a very long time, which is itself proof of my skill. I am First, and I am Cat, and these things are sufficient to overcome almost any obstacle in my way. The handful of times when I have found myself defeated, I returned to my human, settled down to receive affection and grow stronger, and then proceeded to murder whatever had embarrassed me. It was very difficult to kill me, so long as I had a human. But Horace had a rather frustrating lack of confidence in me. “You know what your job is, Horace. Why are you going through this? How can you even trust this man?”
I smoked a cigarette to try to regain some sense of normalcy. I smelled of rosewater and lavender, which made for a disconcerting change. The strange spirit had come through with disease-repelling essential oils. I’d taken a long bath in it, and while it had been enjoyable, it had made me feel like I should be eating chocolate ice-cream and doing my nails. It helped that Hector, John, and Marco were no more pleased with the situation than I was. We had met briefly on the sidewalk outside of the park, before moving to our predetermined locations to prepare for the battle ahead. It was Sunday. Horace had gone with the camera to go get what he was needed. Randall had arrived as the last of the cult’s setup was being completed. Betty and Li were… Well, I didn’t know. I didn’t need to know exactly where they hid, and with any luck, they’d remain hidden until the moment when they could do the greatest damage.
The human capacity to live with the apocalypse is unrivaled. On the first night after the meeting, I had horrific nightmares of plague, of Betty dead, of Randall and my new friends torn limb from limb, of the world falling apart around me. It was excruciating, knowing that there was nothing I could do besides what I was already doing, taking care of Betty. But I got used to it surprisingly quickly. By Wednesday morning, the dream had faded entirely. I asked Betty about that.
I sat down heavily on the subway, my head spinning from the encounter. My hand still ached faintly. I’d performed actual magic, three times. There was a small thrill in that, and a lot of disappointment.