“(Searching for) Prophet”
a short story
Gary Baker, June 2013
(intended for use as comic idea)
Frankie dropped his hands to his knees and heaved, rustling leaves of the park shrubs scratching at his face in the midday heat. It was as though his entire day had become nothing but sheer terror laced with an eerie ecstatic sense of woe.
Nothing made sense anymore. His whole life had been turned upside down in a matter of hours starting with that fateful wave revealing a woman floating face down more than a land-based mile out to sea.
“You really should learn to cope with such things,” the woman, no longer dead and cold as a gutted fish but actively telling him what to do like an undead mother with a staff wielded like Excalibur, dusted his back absently. Her hands were rough and forceful, he noticed, with the heir of a Templar knight lost in the twenty-first century.
But coping was something he definitely could not do.
Not moments ago he’d been just an average joe living his well-to-do lifestyle like any other decently-endowed professional surfer. The other day, even, he’d won his second gold medal this
month for windsurfing with his usual style, taking on the wake of a cruise liner as a snowboarder takes on mountains of snow. For such a feat he took the winds at one-hundred and eighty degrees behind him, at full sail for an end result of nearly fifty miles per hour right as he reached the cusp of a white-capped breaker. His air time had set a record, and the flip he accomplished with his windsurfing board set off waves of applause and approval from his peers and fans alike.
Yet now, after having brought this woman back to life in the living room of his seaside loft, he was finding himself confronted by beings he never would have thought existed even if a lead scientist for the United Nations had shown him the data proving them so.
‘Learn to cope’ -- as if that could teach his to stop the pit of his stomach from touching his teeth. He was still trying to get over the fact that she had forced the greatest kiss of his life on him, let alone the fact that somehow, in some mystical magical way, that very kiss had placed upon him the ability to see what it was that she claimed existed all around him.
And it turned out that she did, indeed, see aliens.
She sighed loudly and caressed his back to appear as normal as she could while standing in the dead center of an ocean peninsula metropolis wearing his borrowed flannel button-up and jeans that fit her a bit too tightly. “I can see your doubt,” she chided. Because apparently she could also see thoughts, too, it seemed. “How do you not know to control your creations?”
He lifted slowly, his world still shaky as a top on it’s last moments, and placed his hands on his hips for reassurance. Eyes closed, Frankie mumbled “what creations?” while continuing to take slow, deep breaths.
“Have you looked at your feet, lately?”
His feet? Why would I …? He let his eyes slit the slightest amount of light onto his corneas. ...oh.
Of course there were small, translucent balls of spikes and fur rolling around his feet like tribal warriors beckoning power from the great spirit in the sky. Some even brandished spears above their heads in spindly little arms just as see-through as the rest of them.
If the public parkway wasn't overwrought with the same glass-like creatures, varying in size from as large as true-to-scale dinosaurs to cats and dogs, he’d definitely have fallen over himself in fear. As it stood, however, Frankie sighed and turned his head to look at this mysterious woman who knew far more than she let on. “Those... things...” he motioned with a tentative hand, “are mine?”
Her deep brown hair shifted in the breeze and landed on the hiking staff that she held backhanded to appear as some metal bar-like weapon from the dark ages, now resting on her shoulder while she let her free hand idly hold her other elbow. “Yes,” she grimaced at them and shrugged, “and only you can make them disappear without leaving traces for the others to sniff us out.”
The others. Now that was something he knew all too well about.
He hadn’t even had this sight bestowed upon him yet, and already he’d seen the damage such creatures could cause when provoked. That was why the two of them were out in a public park instead of hiding back in his loft, as most of it had been trashed shortly after she’d come to, turning a common broomstick into a short sword and a remote control into a dagger which had been thrown hand over hand at Frankie’s face. At the time, he had been demanding to know the meaning of her rampage, wishing to see what it was that had made her knock his plasma screen off the wall, and the cabinet of his awards thrown to the floor with a stuttering crash.
Then the remote had stopped in mid-air, not even a full arm span from his face, with the ricocheting energy of having hit a solid wall. And while he had stood there, stunned as he could ever be, he felt a massive body fall onto him as he toppled to the linoleum and tile.
Shortly after, she had dropped the blanket he’d given her, threw aside her ragged garments that had been torn even worse in the battle, and assimilated herself in a set of his clothes that had been freshly washed and pressed. She then took him by his forearm and drug him out of his house, down several alleys that the noontime sun seemed unable to penetrate into, and out across busy avenues until at last they reached Seminole Park at the heart of the financial district.
There she’d confronted him, turning on him like an angry beast of an ex demanding to know why he’d just let her go -- except in this case she wanted to know why he’d refused to help her against the beings that had attacked them back at his home.
Frankie smiled at the memory that he would forever cherish, of his having claimed true ignorance only to receive the greatest kiss of his life. She’d grabbed him by the lapels of his snap-up business shirt and shoved her lips to his, both becoming moist with the sudden force of her tongue reaching out for his. Seconds later she drew back, much to his dismay, and while the awe of this insanely attractive warrior-princess wore off... he saw his first glimpse of the beings to which she referred.
Turned out the kiss was the best way she could transfer some of her ethereal magic into him, which made him suddenly able to see and sense what she could, too. The difference, it seemed, was that while he described the beings to her as the glassy, monochromatic see-through beasts that they were, she saw them as full on dinosaurs and sheep and mythological deities and creatures of habitual emotion like those that Frankie found himself summoning whenever his mood turned sour.
The woman pat his shoulder as he concentrated on good thoughts to send the tiny tribal dust bunnies away. “Good work,” a smile crossed her face, as though she were making fun of him in her head. Yet unlike the rest of humanity, it seemed this Wonder Woman wannabe could keep any trace of emotion from her thoughts, thus disabling the creation of other creatures imperceptible to the rest of the world. “Now we can regroup.”
She started off down the path again with the confident stride of a warrior well-versed in expecting the unexpected, when Frankie hit a wall of surreal curiosity. “Wait,” he called, “you mean there are more of you?”
“I do not know what you mean.”
He sighed, “as in: other people like you... others who can see,” he spun about while indicating the city-scape of dreamed-up monsters, “all of this?”
Her eyes went dark then, as she drew back into a place very similar to the way that he’d found her when she woke up for the first time, after he’d given her CPR on the beach. “No.”
He let the subsequent silence draw on as he trailed after her, then picked up his pace to a trot and reached her side. “So then who are you? Why can you see these things? What makes all this possible?” He grabbed her shoulder to stop her for a moment and she shook him off easily.
Finally he stopped in his tracks and glared.
“Then what the hell is going on?” He watched as she slowed, “at least tell me that much.”
People surged all around them now, the midday traffic of the financial district -- a place filled the brim with insurance companies, loan retailers, data networks, and business offices -- seeming to be out on lunch hour. They became solid rocks in a steady stream of bodies, the current occasionally pushing against them to push them off balance before others knocked them back. She stood a full five paces away from him, her back facing him and the staff that used to be his still resting idly on her shoulder.
Suddenly a two-story tall reptilian beast with armor stapled across it’s back and forearms and car-sized cleavers held in either hand stepped into the avenue intersection ahead. Frankie couldn’t tell much about the beast, as it merely appeared as a red-outlined bubble to his eyes, but he visibly watched as his companion’s grip on the staff tightened and her stance changed just so.
He fought to get to her before she charged the beast, watching as it stepped through cabs and city traffic as though not truly there. Which made him wonder, really.
“We have to get out of here,” she pushed through clenched teeth. “We have to make sure they don’t find us before we can get to the Prophet. There’s no time to stop them all.”
Frankie followed her gaze down the side street beside them and took in a full squad of other smaller versions, though each still stood over ten feet tall, and every last one phasing through shop fronts and pedestrians.
“I thought they could damage things in this world,” he asked quietly, remembering the smashed pottery look of his front room. “How is it that they are able to walk through a busy street unnoticed?”
She looked to him with an unamused glance. “They only become tangible to your world when they feel the need to.” She shrugged, “when in battle they must obviously be able to hit their target, which means becoming solid to your elements and energies. Until then, they roam free like the rest of their kind.” As an afterthought she added "just wait until you need to take on an archer of theirs... now that gets complicated."
“And why do only the armored ones have the ability to cause damage? What about the fluffy ones?”
The warrior tensed as though to move away, but found Frankie’s hand holding her in place, immobile in fear. “Because they are born, not created. The others that you see, the soft ones and the kindly looking ones, they are all dreamed-up creations of people from your world.” She nodded toward the large one making it’s way toward them with the slow pace that seemed to claim it had yet to see them. “They, however, are creatures born in my world with the ability to phase into yours.”
Frankie turned in circles to examine the world unseen by his fellow human beings, and came to the realization that he and the warrior were heavily surrounded. His pulse quickened as he dropped his hand to prepare for the worst. “So why haven’t they gone physical yet?” He whispered, while hoping she heard him through the dull roar of the crowded thoroughfare. “Can’t they see us?”
“It seems not,” she responded. Her voice hinted at a curious guesswork of ideas running through her mind.
“So it would be logical to just act normal and pretend we don’t see them?”
She was silent for a long time, the large one almost two of it’s own steps from their current position. “If we are to find the Prophet in time, I believe we will be forced to do as you claim, for now.”
Again with the Prophet, Frankie looked cross with a scowl forming. “Who is he anyways? Where can we find him?”
At that she turned to him and shook her head. “To be honest, when I first saw you I thought I had already found him. I thought you were he, and that he had come to find me.” A roll of her eyes indicated an almost unexpressed annoyance at this not being the case. “Since you are not he, I can only assume we must continue the search until we do find him. I am unsure of what he might be disguised as in this world, though.”
“And if they find him first?”
Once again her eyes went back to that darkness within that Frankie was ever coming to know as her insecurity personified. Any time she seemed to feel scared or worried her eyes took on the same look that she had now. “We can only hope that we find him before they do.”