The next thing James saw was the ceiling as he opened his eyes and groaned. He sat up in his bed and fought to keep himself from falling back asleep. It was a challenge to keep from falling back asleep and the bed seemed to be calling to him. Just as his head hit the pillow he sprung up in a panic as the events of the night came rushing back.
He looked all around the room for signs someone may have been in it but nothing looked out of the ordinary. Not that anything could stand out amid the piles of clothes and drawer tops full of useless junk.
“Hello?” He called out into the room, “Kazav?”
There was no answer. After a few minutes of waiting, he decided that the entire thing must have been a bad dream brought about by all the stress and anxiety he has been feeling. "Maybe I'm finally going insane," he joked to himself though it wouldn't surprise him.
In any case, he had to get going for work. There was no time to eat or shower, he had to go now or he would be late again. He threw on some clothes he picked up from the floor and headed out the door. Work was a 5-minute walk from his place, and he had to make sure he didn’t get stopped by all the crosswalks. Sometimes he felt like they were scheduled in a way to purposefully make him tardy.
As he was walking down the street a man walking his dog was approaching James from the opposite side. Animals usually loved James, perhaps picking up on his sadness but this time the dog started growling the closer he got. As they passed by the man had to pick the dog up in his arms to keep it from lunging out at him.
“I’m so sorry!” The man shouted out as he walked by. “He never acts like this, bad Mr. Woofers!”
“Great, now dogs don’t like me either,” James groaned.
It wasn’t just dogs. While walking by one of his neighbor's homes all the stray cats that sat on the porch began hissing at him. He nervously hurried past them before they got any ideas.
Eventually, he got to the final intersection he always crossed when heading to work. He held this job for over a year which was longer than he stayed at most. It was a factory that made kitchen appliances and hardware. He hated it, to say the least.
Normally his job wore him out and by the end of the day, he usually couldn't feel his legs from all the standing, crouching, and lifting he had to do. Oddly enough today was different. When his shift ended he still felt like he had the energy to keep working. He almost, dare he say it, enjoyed himself.
The clock struck 4 pm and like every day he hurried out of the factory along with all the other clinically depressed people who called that place their job. Not only did he make the most units he had ever done in one day, breaking the factory record, but he didn't even break a sweat. Where normally a frown adorns his face a smile popped up instead.
As he began walking home something caught his attention. There was a crowd of people all standing in a circle and shouting over one another, clamoring and yelling while trying to get to the inside of the circle. Only after getting closer could he see what the noise was about.
A superhero had defeated a small monster that had been lurking around the neighborhood lately. People were trying to get autographs and pictures with the hero before he left. James stopped and looked on for a moment, staring at the sad, tiny monster lying under the hero's boot. It was a scrawny little thing with big ugly black eyes and a mangled-looking body. Its arms were almost like hooves and it was pale and bloated. The hero on the other hand was the figure of perfection. Handsome, tall, ripped body, they even had a smile that gleamed white as pearls.
He was small-time though. The small-time heroes trying to earn a place in the world still had to do something before they could be accepted in the big leagues. But besides petty crimes, or defeating tiny runts most heroes didn't do anything worthwhile. They put on a show to be sure but that's about it.
A loud crack and boom echoed out through the streets as the Hero blasted off into the sky and disappeared.
"I suppose he was done getting everyone's admiration" James mumbled sullenly.
After arriving home he dropped his keys and phone on the counter and started microwaving his dinner. Tonight it was frozen mashed potatoes and meatloaf. He flipped on the TV and watched the news for a bit. More of the same old stories. Crime this and death that, someone is missing or someone is on the run.
He finished eating and tried to throw the container away but the trash was full and he couldn't step it down any further than he already has. With no choice left he bagged it up and headed outside to toss it.
He headed out to the dumpster and was about to throw out the bag when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. It scurried behind him and dove into the bushes before he could get a good look. He figured it was a cat or maybe the raccoons that sometimes get into the trash but this thing was grunting and panting like nothing he had ever heard before.
Slowly, he moved toward the bushes, anxious to see what it was. "Don't worry," James spoke calmly, "I'm not gonna hurt you. You can come on out."
He peeled back the leaves and screamed when out jumped the ugliest thing he had ever seen. It was a monster, not a big one but a monster nonetheless.
"Woah, Woah!" James shouted, his heart pounding in his chest, "take it easy little guy I'm not gonna hurt you."
He tried moving back as calmly as he could to keep from spooking it. The monster wasn't big but it still had fangs, claws, and one nasty attitude. Once he hit the back wall where the door to the building was he tried feeling for the handle without taking his eyes off the creature. It started walking forwards, growling and getting nastier by the second.
"Easy," James said in a frightened tone.
His attempts to calm it failed and the beast lunged out, throwing its entire body against him. He struggled to pull it off him as the monster grabbed hold and bared its wretched teeth. He started punching it in the face and eyes trying to get it to back away but it dug its claws into his side and latched on. James screamed in pain as the sharp talons pierced into his ribs.
They spun around in the ally as James tried flinging it off him. After giving it a few hard punches in the back of the head it jumped off, hissing at him all the while. James winced in pain and gripped his side with one hand. Blood began to turn his shirt a crimson red.
The creature jolted toward him again only this time James was prepared. Just as it got close enough he drew his leg back and kicked the creature with everything he had. A loud crack rang out into the ally as the force of the kick caused the creature to go flying out into the sky. It fell back down before long and disappeared behind another building as it landed.
James took a moment to catch his breath and then ran inside to call for help. He clambered up the stairs until he got to his apartment door and immediately called the authorities.
They asked him all the standard questions. What happened, where are you, are you injured?
He answered all their questions but just as he was going to inform him he had been stabbed he paused.
"Sir," The operator asked again, "Are you injured?"
He began to stutter because he wasn't sure what to say. His wound no longer existed. "Um, Um, I suppose, I mean I guess," after being unable to find his wound he stopped rambling and just said, "no, I'm not injured."
"Excellent, we will inform the local police as well as the local hero's guild and they will take care of things from here. Stay safe citizen, goodbye and thank you for your call."
The line clicked as the call ended. James sat there confused. There was still blood on him but no open wound whatsoever. The supposed wound site didn't even give off pain when he touched it.
That's when a mischievous voice teased, "Impressive isn't it?"
James jerked from the surprise and looked around but could see anyone else here with him.
The voice let out a little chuckle before saying, "I think you and I need to have a little talk, James."
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