Note from the author:
This is highly irregular, but I felt you deserved an apology of sorts. If not an apology, an explanation at least. The previous installment of “The Nine Lives of Xen” was meant to be the last. When I first conceived the idea for a story, I only knew one thing for certain: how it was going to end. I had no idea how I was going to reach that ending, but I knew Xen’s fate was sealed before I wrote my first word.
Then something strange happened. I agreed to do this story in the serialized form it has appeared in throughout 2015. Over that time, I started to really love the little bastard.
Stories really do have a way of grabbing the author and dragging him along for the ride. I thought it would be fun to make slight allusions to my first book, “Novel.” But those small allusions became pretty important to Xen’s story. Not only that, but it opened the door for a sequel. This little cat has done so much for me and I felt bad he ended up where I sent him.
So, dear reader, for you I present this unintended epilogue. I’m not certain if I’ll ever use it once I’ve collected Xen into one book, but I felt since you have been along for the whole ride, you deserved a little peek into what might have been and what may still be.
Thank you for trusting me on this journey; it’s all a writer can really ask for.
Here it is. A small town. Quiet in the hour between late night and early morning. The air is a bit warmer than usual for this time of year, but few are around to take notice. This is a time when most people are still in their beds. Some have been there all night; some have just recently passed out, having spent the night fighting demons with spirits. There are a few however that are awake with a purpose.
Here is a rest home The residents are asleep. An orderly is asleep. Two women, looking older than they are under the florescent lighting, sit at the desk and talk about their recent exploits. Laughs are shared and memories of male revues are whispered back and forth.
One resident is still awake and is hovering over a cat’s litter box.
* * * * *
In an alleyway a body lies undiscovered. The ruined flesh that used to be his eye clings to his cheek. No one has discovered that he is no longer alive; though many have walked past him. So many people still have their lives, but are just as blind.
* * * * *
A man lying in bed looks at his wife and knows the time ahead of them is going to be tough. He should check on his daughter; she began to cry earlier. He couldn’t bring himself to get up. She stopped and he is more worried over silence than noise. He wants to wake his wife and assure her everything will be okay. But he hasn’t assured himself yet. The man loves his sister. He just wants to believe the worst is behind him. He has a hard time believing.
* * * * *
In the same house a girl looks over her chair in disbelief. She has a hard time believing. She shouldn’t be where she is, but she’s there, nonetheless. Standing over her chair instead of in it, she walks around and looks down at the wheels. They have been her legs, and now her legs are working on their own. She is scared and confused. She wants to be happy, but she’s afraid she’s dreaming.
She raises her hands again and presses them together, confirming reality. She doesn’t know what to do. She calls her brother’s name. And he hears her. More importantly, he understands her.
* * * * *
The woods are quiet. Not terribly far from the house where the man stares on in disbelief at his sister, a small patch of leaves has been disturbed. There is a small furry body lying on the ground. The shallowest of breath escapes the creature. It doesn’t have long; it doesn’t feel pain. If one were inclined to believe such things, one would say there was a smile on its face. It has the appearance of one who is satisfied with its place in life—like a great undertaking has been achieved. Peace is bound to follow. But there is one more lurking around in this quiet hour.
The leaves crumble under the man’s shoes as he ventures further into the woods. He knows there is something for him out here. He has faith he’ll know it when he sees it. The air is a bit too warm for his brown suede jacket. But he wears it everywhere he goes.
He comes to the creature’s small patch of ground.
“What have you gone and done little buddy?” He asks as he crouches down and scoops up the frail body.
He can see the slight movement of its chest.
“Not quite gone, huh? Let’s see.”
He pries open the creature’s lids with his thumbs and stares deeply into its eyes.
“Oh, yeah. There it is. There’s still a little in you. I can see it.”
He tucks the animal into his arm as if cradling a little baby. He covers the body with his jacket.
“Don’t worry buddy. I’m not going to hurt you. We just need to get you a little something to eat.”
Anthony David Lawson is the author of “Novel,” as well as a local playwright, director and actor. He will write a piece of prose presented in parts every other week in encore throughout 2015, entitled “The Nine Lives of Xen.”