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Paws and Claws, The Beginning
At night, when the clouds cover the sky, and the only light is that of the buildings and streetlamps reflecting off the inky black puddles of the day before, a lone beetle walks over stones and around puddles, slowly making his way to who-knows-where. As he walks, slowly, he notices something, not a touch or a sight or a smell, but it frightens him, and his slow lumbering gait changes rapidly to a swift, scared scuttling.
SNAP! CrrrUNCH!! The beetle is gone; the slow rustling of his legs giving way to a quiet pat, clik… pat, clik… pat, clik… the sound of paws and claws.
Jahni let out a great big sigh; school was boring. Not only that, it was stupid, Jahni didn’t think it helped anyone. She looked out the window,
“Hhhunnmmm,” another sigh; rain, hard, gray, rain. Rain made Jahni melancholy, and she was already apathetic and bored.
She sat there absentmindedly looking out the window as the teacher droned on about some long forgotten… thing that didn’t interest Jahni in the slightest. But just because it didn’t interest her didn’t mean she didn’t know it. She just didn’t care. She was easily the smartest one in the class.
You would think, her being the smartest, she would get all A’s at the very least, but no, she insisted on getting only very low B’s even a C here or there.
The thing about her grades was that she did it on purpose; not so she didn’t get teased; honestly she didn’t care what people thought about her (she didn’t care about much anyway), she just didn’t want all the teachers clambering all over her telling her how smart she was. Jahni knew she was smart; she didn’t need to be told.
Jahni jerked out of her reverie reluctantly.
School was over, and the teacher was writing the assignment on the board. Great, another period of wasted time at home, writing something pointless; deliberately getting just the right amount of things wrong. Homework is stupid, Jahni thought, just as stupid as school.
“Class dismissed… Jahni you stay here I need to have a word with you.”
Jahni met the teacher’s eyes defiantly, but stayed put. She didn’t want to get into trouble, but she had a bus to catch, and homework to do afterwards (and the homework was going to be a good deal longer to do than it would have otherwise, because she had to make her “mistakes” convincing. Which was no easy feat.).
Jahni tried to make her voice as far from a growl as possible, but it was very difficult.
“â€˜Yes Sir’ Jahni”
Oh don’t you push me! Jahni thought, but she didn’t say that, instead she said, “Yes…Sir” she said it with difficulty, trying to keep the obvious distain out of her voice.
“Much better,” the teacher said.
Jahni looked angrily away.
“What was that?!”
Jahni looked back into the teachers eyes, and with as much defiance as she could muster… said nothing.
“Don’t look at me like that Jahni!”
Jahni narrowed her eyes, remembering she didn’t want to get into trouble, and once again she looked away.
“Jahni look at me!”
This got Jahni so aggravated she looked back into the teachers eyes and quite aggressively spat,
“What do you want me to do?! Look at you and not look at you at the same time?! Because I’m certainly not going to stand here with my eyes pointing in both directions! Sir! ”
“I will speak with you and your parents tomorrow! Now leave so I can call them!”
Jahni stormed out mumbling hotly, gathered her things, and rushed out of the school door. She just barely made bus and spent the long ride to her house fuming.
She wasn’t worried about her teacher calling her parents; they wouldn’t come they wouldn’t care, doubly so because tomorrow was Saturday. She was mad at the teacher, and for the first time in her life she decided to give him a great big shock… and get an A . She knew he’d grade it fairly for what it was worth, no matter how mad at her he was.
When she got home she started and finished her homework in two minutes. When she was done with her homework she went to her room and looked out the window until the rain stopped and it was dark. There were puddles everywhere and the way the light reflected off them made it look like you could dip a quill into them and start writing with coal black handwriting.
She saw a little black speck moving slowly in some undetermined direction; a beetle. Jahni felt she could almost hear the soft rustling of the beetle’s legs brushing slowly over the ground, and as if she were right there next to the beetle, she sensed an odd presence. The beetle sped up quickly, scared of something. Not a touch or a sight or a smell, thought Jahni, not to me and not to the beetle, but still totally and undoubtedly there.
And there it was. In a split second it appeared; the sight that made the feeling all the more real. The beetle didn’t see it but Jahni did; a pair of big, glowing golden, slitted eyes peering out of the blue-black night. Then just as suddenly as the eyes appeared, the creature they belonged to did too; large black and sleek, with great scaly wings sprouting from its back, glowing with a beautiful blue luminescence that shimmered and danced. On its head sprouted two long tendrils that were constantly moving in graceful sweeping, swirling, whirling motions.
It appeared in a bound and, SNAP! CrrrUNCH!! The beetle was gone, the rustling; gone. Jahni felt it, almost heard it, the slow pat, clik… pat, clik… pat, clik… as the creature walked slowly away. A single thought resonated inside Jahni’s head the sound of paws and claws, over, and over again.
The creature turned, the great winged cat, its eyes now a soft, clear brown with large, round pupils; they were almost human eyes, except they were set into a furry satin-black face.
“Paws and claws.” Jahni jumped slightly; she hadn’t said that and no one else was there, but she had heard it, clear as water. “You hear me.” It wasn’t a question; it was a statement, pure and simple.
“You do hear me, don’t you?”
Demetria was standing outside in plain view. If anyone saw her, well, she would be in trouble, but someone had heard her, someone had seen her after she made sure no one would. Though now she was beginning to doubt that the little human standing motionless in the window might not have heard her; she might have seen her, but did not hear her.
Then when Demetria was just about to leave, the little human nodded; she hadn’t said anything but she had nodded, and her thoughts said quite clearly “yes”.
Demetria sighed; this was going to be trouble. She needed to talk with this human, but she doubted that the human would open the window for her to be able to talk more easily, let alone talk to her without getting hysterical. Well, she had to try no matter what she thought would happen.
“Would you mind opening the window?”
(Demetria decided to just ask; it was much better than just flying up to the window; the little human might get scared and run.)
The figure in the window shook its head and opened the window as far as it would go. After the window was open she stepped back, out of sight.
Demetria was slightly surprised; why, would a human, a HUMAN, just agree? It was just like saying, “no, I don’t have any problem with it, here let me step out of your way.” The human was obviously scared, as humans usually are, for really no good reason, but if that was so, why, WHY, get rid of the only barrier you had to “protect” you from what you were afraid of? Wasn’t it human reason to keep any form of protection between them and the threat? Or even fight it, not just give in, say yes, get rid of any barriers, and step back. Were humans really that silly? To go against reason, even if that reason doesn’t make sense to anyone else? Or was it just this human?
The cat with wings, great, scaly, luminescent-blue wings; the cat’s wings were the most extraordinary thing about the cat. Yes, there was the fact that its eyes seemed to change colors, and there were those odd tendrils sprouting out of its head, and it could talk, but the wings were the most imposing, the most impressive.
Jahni was standing next to the window, waiting; she was terrified, but when she had heard the cat talk, and the request to open the window something had told her to open it; something inside her head. She knew it went against any form of reason there was, but somehow she had to; she had to open the window. So there she stood waiting, waiting, why wasn’t the cat coming?
Jahni peeked out the window; the cat was there, and looking extremely confused. Why confused? It had asked for her to open the window; what had it expected?
The cat twitched and looked up. Its eyes were now blue, confused and puzzled; as if there was a question written in them, a query where neither the question nor the answer were quite clear.
“Ah! U-uh… y-you wanted the window open right?”
The cat was annoyed and confused, and that seemed to make it angry. Jahni wanted to pull her head back behind the window sill but she stayed put.
The cat’s tail twitched, its eyes changed to green, and it looked very uncomfortable.
“Yes… may I come in?”
The cat sounded more uncomfortable than it looked. Jahni hesitated, nodded. and ducked back behind the window sill, but not before the cat opened its great blue wings; about to lift off and glide up to the window. Then it was seated on the window sill right in front of Jahni, its eyes once again brown.
“Thank you for letting me into your house, I need to talk to you.”
“Well you’re not technically â€˜in’ yet.”
Jahni didn’t know why she’d said that, but she felt she could joke a bit; she wasn’t in danger. How she knew that because, well, that was a mystery, but she knew it was true and that wasn’t going to change.
The cat narrowed its eyes as they changed to blue, and stepped down from the sill and onto the floor in front of Jahni. The cat was easily as tall as her when it was sitting down but it wasn’t intimidating anymore; it had stopped being intimidating the moment it landed on the window sill.
Jahni grinned, “Was it that hard?”
The cat looked at her, its eyes wide, questioning again, astonished.
What is this?! Demetria thought, why!? Why is she calm, and unafraid? She is joking with me like she knows me! She smiled! Humans don’t smile at me, they scream! It’s not unwelcome… but… she is a human! Their fear doesn’t just disappear!
“What’s wrong? What is so confusing that you freeze and forget how to talk?!”
The little human was standing there, arms crossed, eyes narrowed and frowning. Of course it wasn’t true. Demetria could talk if she wanted to; she had forgotten to talk, not how to talk, but then the human said something that made her forget everything; how to talk, everything, except shock:
“Your name is Demetria right?”
“Your name is Demetria right?”
The cat froze completely. Whoa, what… what was that? Demetria. and again! Jahni was thunderstruck; how had she done that? What now? The cat, Demetria, wouldn’t move!
Jahni looked into Demetria’s eyes; gone, Demetria was gone, off in Lala land. Jahni raised her hand, hesitated, and, fwik; flicked her, right on the nose.
Demetria lurched backwards.
“What was that for?!”
“Are you on planet earth yet? You wanted to talk to me; freezing won’t do you any good.”
Demetria rubbed her nose with the back of her paw; muttering agitatedly. Demetria was mad at herself; why did she have to talk to this human? Why had she felt the stupid need to talk to her? Why couldn’t she have just left the stupid little titch alone?
“Well what’s your name?! You already know mine!”
Jahni was still unfazed by Demetria, and Demetria was stunned and became unable to be mad anymore; if this girl, Jahni wasn’t scared then Demetria had no right to be mad.
Jahni was looking straight into Demetria’s eyes, and Demetria was finally calm enough to look back straight into Jahni’s eyes, and notice four different colors: brown, blue, green and the tiniest hint of gold.
Oh no, now she’s freezing again, thought Jahni, should I flick her again I wonder?
“I’m beginning to think I’m the first human you’ve ever seen.”
Jahni was starting to get bored with Demetria; her eyes had started narrowing and her tone was aggravated. Demetria may look nice, but she is being very annoying, Jahni thought.
“Your eyes are-“
“I don’t care about my eyes! You wanted to talk to me, and I’m sure it wasn’t about my eyes! So either leave or start talking!”
Demetria flinched away from her; eyes wide, green, scared.
“Oh, and now you’re scared of me! What are you, giant and furry, to be scared of me?! Me! A human!”
Demetria didn’t understand why she was scared of Jahni, all she knew was that Jahni was getting aggravated and bored, which seemed to make her go off like a bomb; and that was frightening. Why it was frightening was unexplainable, but it was.
“Human or not, it is frightening when you explode like that. It’s like a bomb; sudden, loud, and painful.”
“Oh, painful! Really! Is that so!”
Jahni was still yelling; still exploding. Boom! Demetria flinched, hunched back a bit, and replied; “yes,” in a whispery voice. BOOM! Demetria felt the explosions going off in her head painfully; they were Jahni’s explosions, but Demetria was the one that felt them.
Demetria closed her eyes and groaned; her head was starting to pulse painfully.
“Well what’s wrong now!?”
“H-hurts.” Demetria whispered quietly.
All of a sudden the atmosphere changed; it wasn’t hostile anymore. It wasn’t gentle, more like curiosity, but it was better, and the only thing that was worrisome was the fact that Demetria’s head did not stop pounding.
Jahni was curious now; what could possibly hurt? Jahni hadn’t flicked her nose again.
“What does that mean?”
Demetria’s eyes were still shut tight, and every time Jahni asked her what hurt she just said boom. Jahni let out a small sigh.
“You’re hopeless. Come on, you don’t seem to be able to go anywhere else.”
Jahni wrapped one arm around Demetria’s neck and started to pull her slowly towards her closet.
“Come on you great lump! It would be nice if you moved your legs!”
Demetria started walking stiffly in the direction Jahni was pulling her; obviously oblivious to her surroundings. Jahni led her to her closet, (which was littered with clothes, pillows, and blankets) and managed to make her lie down.
“You’re prone to pointless shock, aren’t you?”
Demetria had woken on a soft nest of cloth in a very small room with an odd folding door; the door was open so she obviously wasn’t being kept prisoner for some reason.
Demetria was having trouble making words, and sense of the situation, because she was still a bit groggy and didn’t quite understand what was going on yet.
“Pointless shock, Demetria, wake up.”
Demetria looked up; there was a human sitting in front of her, and all she really saw was brown hair and multicolored eyes. Demetria squinted trying to make out a face, she found the nose and the mouth but she was still having trouble with the finer details.
“HallOOOooo! Demetria! Are you awake yet?!”
“You froze, again, and wouldn’t say anything but â€˜boom.’”
Demetria squeezed her eyes shut and tried to remember something.
“Do you remember anything?”
“That beetle was crunchy.”
“That beetle, is not important. Do you remember anything else?”
Demetria screwed up her face eyes still shut, and searched her brain. She tried as hard as she could to find at least one memory of Jahni last night. She couldn’t, nothing came back, just the beetle. Demetria looked back up at Jahni’s face, and saw her eyes again, her multicolored eyes; blue, green, brown, and gold. Yes! Remembered!
“What’s with â€˜boom’?”
“You, you exploded; yelling! Loud, painful, explosions in my head!”
“Is that what hurt? Huh.”
Demetria stared at Jahni in astonishment; why was she still so calm? When she wasn’t angry she was calm, or curious, it was like those were her three main settings.
“Aanyywayy… are you hungry?”
“Well are you?”
Jahni really didn’t understand Demetria; why was she just sitting there staring incredulously?
“Are you just going to sit there staring or are you going to answer my question?”
“I’ll take that as a â€˜yes, I am hungry’. What do you eat? Besides beetles," Jahni grinned, “beetles aren’t important.”