To celebrate the release of the first book in the Sorcerers Reborn series, we’re sharing a preview of EARTH. Take a look!
He stepped under the overhang and leaning his canes against the wall, shook the snow from his jacket and backpack. Gathering his canes, he opened the door and entered. The games room was busy as it always was, people spending their rent money hoping to double it and losing everything trying. Kristen was cleaning a table and saw him coming. Kristen was the bar manager and usually worked the dayshift.
“You’re out late DeWayne! Do you want a beer? The snow’s coming down pretty hard out there. I can’t believe it is only the fifth of September.”
“I do, but not just one can, an old man can have a lapse in his memory now and then. A dozen beer, and it is going to be another blizzard I’m afraid. You are working late again I see.”
“Linda’s youngest has the flu so I am filling in for her tonight.”
DeWayne paid for his purchase and Kristen helped him with his backpack.
“Are you going to be all right? Getting home I mean? The snow’s coming down hard out there. I can call you a cab if you’d like.” Kristen looked at the frail old man, a concerned look on her face.
DeWayne laughed. “It will take a cab an hour to get here, and I can be home in half that time. I will be fine; after all I have made this journey hundreds of times, but thanks for your concern.”
Kristen watched DeWayne make his way toward the door, as she had in the past. It was like watching a tortoise making its way across a furrowed field, slow and not so steady. She liked DeWayne; he was interesting, he talked about his past, the books he had written, and the books he would probably never get around to writing. For his age, and discounting his obvious disabilities, he was mentally sound; however, he did have a stubborn air about him. She knew that he was not going to be around much longer, according to him, but he was still going strong in her mind.
DeWayne stepped outside and stopped. Maybe Kristen was right. It was snowing heavily now, and the streetlights were dim as a result. He would have to be careful. DeWayne walked slowly, not because of the snow, but because of his disabilities. He stopped for the fifth time, by the vacant lot. Only one more block to go. He thought he heard a sound—other than his own heavy breathing— and looked around. He listened and heard the sound again.
A weak and pitiful meow came from the direction of the vacant lot. DeWayne spotted a dark shape in the six-foot strip of real estate between the sidewalk and the fence struggling to rise in the snow. He looked at the cat, evaluated the situation, and made his decision. He walked the few steps into the deeper snow and, planting his canes in the snow on either side, lowered himself to his knees. Pain shot through his body, but as he had done many times before, he blocked it, and pushed it out of his mind.
“I could have looked the other way.” He spoke his thought aloud. “But you have a right to live just as I do.” DeWayne unzipped his old winter jacket enough to put the bundle of wet fur inside. It was a good thing he had lost so much weight. He struggled to his feet and stood for a minute to let the pain subside.
Riding up in the elevator, DeWayne wondered if this was such a good idea. He had canned food, and milk, so the cat wouldn’t starve. DeWayne closed his door, took the cat out of his jacket and put it on the rug at the end of the hallway. He removed the backpack and shook the snow off his jacket before hanging it up.
He put all the beer into the fridge except one, which he opened and took to the table beside his favorite chair in the living room before scrutinizing the cat. As the snow clinging to its fur melted it resembled a drowned rat. DeWayne took a large towel and moved the chair he used while putting on boots closer to the cat. He leaned over, and putting the towel over the cat, lifted it into his lap.
He was surprised when the cat purred as he dried its fur, trying not to hurt the fragile-looking creature. The cat was big, with pointed ears that looked unusually large for a cat, with eyes the color of gold—a midnight-black oval slit down the center of each one—and a long tail. Its paws looked more like the paws of a jungle cat, wide and with large claws. DeWayne could not help shuddering at the thought of the damage those claws could do. But he couldn’t figure out if it was male or female.
DeWayne prepared two bowls, one with salmon and milk in the other. He put one of his throw rugs close to the cat and placed the two bowls on it. The cat sniffed the contents of both bowls before digging in.
DeWayne watched TV; the cat had finished eating and appeared to be sleeping when he glanced over to check on it. He had never had time for a pet with his work schedule. He had worked long hours with few days off right up until he got sick. Finding this stray right now wasn’t what either of them needed. He was on his last legs, so to speak, and didn’t have the right to get involved with an animal that needed a real home. The cat deserved a better place to live than DeWayne could offer. He would call the animal rescue folks in the morning and have them come and get it.
DeWayne put his empty beer can in the kitchen and went to bed. His mind was not willing to quit working though. Frustrated he got up and grabbed another beer. There was enough light coming from outside, even with the blowing snow obscuring most of it, so he didn’t turn a light on. He glanced in the cat’s direction every couple of minutes as he sipped, then he went back to bed once more.
The cat felt his frustration. She knew that she should wait, let him get used to her being around. But if he tried to get rid of her as he was thinking of doing, she would have to do something. She had to prepare him for what was to come, and for that he needed sleep. She could help him with that, and she could give him what would seem like a dream.
She closed her eyes and concentrated, shutting down DeWayne’s thoughts one by one until he was calm and relaxed. With a thought she put DeWayne into a deep sleep. She jumped onto the bed and pressed her wet nose against his hand for a second, then she turned and jumped back down to the floor. She sat by the bedroom door and narrated the picture show with her vivid memory of those events.