Leaning on top of a bike, the cat pouts looking inside the small backpack that was supposedly intended to carry, among many other things, food.
"I have nothing. Not even emergency vinegary reserves. There is nothing. I have completely run out of supplies. Let me see, let me see..."
A pair of slender hands, covered in black thin motorcycle gloves revolve the stuff inside the bag, but they seem to find nothing of particular interest.
"Nothing... just half a bottle of water and... and tools and... and clothes... what am I going to do...?"
The cat looks up at the sign of the gas station which the parking lot the bike is in belongs to. Those red, white and yellow lights illuminate all around the place. The gas station, the parking lot, and all of the trees and bushes here and there. A hand reaches for the jacket and pulls from it while the other hand dives inside. A heavy, irony grip meets those fingers and the cat sighs again.
"I don't want to rob again, but... but I don't want to die either, and I'm hungry. Oh God, I'm seriously hungry... I-It shouldn't be so bad if I just s-stole food, right? Maybe... maybe I could even just pick something from the shelves and no one inside would notice, but... but if it comes to it..."
That soft voice contrasts with the seemingly weak figure that holds that revolver. A .44 magnum one, but rather small. Only five chambers in the cylinder, and it's rusty all over. The cat cracks the cylinder to a side and looks inside, quite displeased with the decisions made long before. One might even stop to wonder if by the other sides of any of the 4 streets, there's someone staring at the cat, but, despite all the lights being on, there's no one to withness what's about to happen.
"Only three rounds left. If there is no security, that should be more than enough. I don't even plan on hurting anybody, I just... want either money or food. But what if... what if someone fights back..."
The golden eyes just slightly hidden behind those gray strands of hair gaze in the direction of the shop the cat is planning to jump on.
"Then I'd have to shoot."
The wind blows, and the thoughtful cat holds the hat laying between the sky and those gray hairs.
"Lynneth, would it be alright to hurt an innocent if it's for the sake of not starving...?"
The time passes. And as the stomach of the cat growls, the night gets darker and colder, but the cat does not dare to look up. Instead, the golden gems keep fixated on the window of the store. Two clerks can be seen: a young woman and a grown man. There's just a few clients too. And the cat thinks: if the gun was pointed at the girl, she would probably panic and start crying, that would give the cat an excuse to get rougher and demand for the money to be handed quickly. The clients wouldn't probably move from their seats, and the grown man would be too busy putting the bills in the bag. Apparently, there's also no security. Not surprising, taken this is quite the tranquil town. That makes things easier.
There's no more room to keep doubting. It's just yet another theft. Not the first one, probably not the last one. No one will get hurt, not a round will be fired.
The cat gulps, and those pointy ears hidden under the hat begin itching. A step forward is done, and a frown is shown.
There's nothing stopping the crime the cat is about to commit.
A sudden broken, cracked voice that calls from behind.
That cat carrying the revolver freezes for just a single second.
Those ears are always so perceptibe, how could they have failed just now? They didn't hear anyone coming nearby. Not even a footstep, nothing. But there's no time to think about that, not now. There's a much more urgent matter to attend.
There's still a revolver being hold by those gloves, it's quite evident what the cat was about to do. And so, upon being found out, there's only one thing left to do.
Quickly and gracefully, just like a cat, the robber spins on its place and points the gun in the direction of whoever that is the owner of such startling voice. A finger is weakly pressing on the trigger, and just some mere inches per square foot more are needed for the hammer to be released, yet the man standing by the end of the canon does not even flinch. Instead, he's just standing there with a partially dumbfounded smile. He has gray hair too, but it's way shorter than that of the cat. He also shows quite the manly yet young look; probably a guy on his late teens, whose face radiates some blinding innocence. And those bright red eyes... in whose a certain maybe-too-beautiful cat is being reflected.
"I'll shoot! I-I-I-I will seriously open fire if you move!"
Such a threat doesn't sound so convincent, much less when the androgynous voice of the cat trembles so much. Not only the voice shakes, but the hand holding the gun too.
"You'll shoot? You'll shoot me, why?"
He doesn't even look alerted by the fact that he's being aimed at his forehead from less than a meter away. The man leans a bit to a side, and then looks back down at the cat. He's quite tall, too. If the cat is of around 160cm, this man must be around 185cm.
"You... you were going to assault the gas station? Quite brave for a girl so young!"
The cat looks behind for a second and then back at the man, still threatening him with the revolver.
"You are not going to stop me?"
"I don't think I will. It's not really my problem, and I don't think I'd be able to stop a bullet, so I'd probably just end up dead."
"Hm? Yeah, dead. That's why you carry a gun, right? I suppose it's loaded, and if it is you will surely break in and kill somebody while you steal, I've heard that's how it usually happens."
Hestitantly, the cat takes the gun closer to the chest.
"I do not want to kill anyone."
"Is that so...?"
Not a response is given. Those golden eyes glance down at the revolver, and after sighing, the cat puts the weapon back inside the jacket. It's frowning now.
"I-I-I just cannot do this now. Not if I have been discovered so easily. I must... look for another store, or something else..."
"And why are you robbing, lady?"
"W-why does that matter to you? Who even are you, to begin with?!"
The smile vanishes from the face of the man, and he scratches his chin with two fingers. Just then, the cat notices the pendants hanging from both his ears. It's a human. Not to be surprised, this is human territory after all.
"I... was told people usually give out their own name before asking someone else to tell theirs. But maybe that's just a cultural thing. Anyway! I'm sorry if I startled you, I'm Kerne, a magician."
Suddendly, the eyes of the cat grew slightly wider. From the place the cat came from, such a thing is not common, at all. In fact, maybe just two or three of those so called magicians were seen by those yellow pearls before.
"Haha, well, not quite. I'm still learning... actually I have just started learning, and I can't do too much. Who are you? You look... too young to be stealing. From the looks of it, this motorcyle seems to be yours, but I've never seen a girl riding one so I don't know how feasible that is."
The backpack is closed and hang onto the cat's back with a gentle thud.
"Yes, it is mine. My name is Zayd. I'm a... gunsmith, of sorts."
"I-It has just been long since I actually worked for the last time. I just do not get any clients."
"Hm... can't blame them. I wouldn't trust a wanderer with my weapons either. Much less if it's just a young lady. Why don't you put up a shop?"
"It is not as easy as you make it s- dah, why am I still talking to you? I have to get going."
"Oh, leaving so soon?"
"That is what I said."
The gray haired cat jumps on top of the bike, but before the vehicle can even be started, Kerne walks in front of it and steps onto the forward wheel.
"W-what is it? What do you want?"
"I just got one more question, Zayd."
"Why are you commiting crimes?"
"Well, that is because..."
The contents of the backpack dance inside the mind of Zayd while the man stares with a curious smirk.
"I am hungry."
"... yes, I am hungry. I haven't eaten for the last two days, and I thought I still had my emergency ration, but I was wrong."
"Two days? That sounds... painful."
"I can withstand pain."
None of them knows if they had been there since the beginning, but just then they hear the sounds of the crickets.
"And you don't have money to buy a meal."
"Precisely why I was just about to steal."
"So... hey little missy, I have an idea."
"Would you drop it with those remarks already? I have already told you my name."
"I'll invite you to a meal! How does that sound?"
The cat is not really a fan of accepting help from anyone. But the truth is the stomach pain is becoming quite the bother by now. And so, after thinking for a couple of seconds, the cat nods.
"I'll accept your offer. Only because you frustrated my plan and so you have to repay me, somehow."
"It doesn't sound half bad."
The man stretches his hand to Zayd, waiting for the feline to shake it, but this one ignores such gesture and hops off of the bike. Staring at the man's hand, Zayd looked up into his eyes.
"I... I have only one question, Kerne."
Not putting down his carefree smile, the supposed magician realized his hand was not going to be shaken and took it back into the pocket of his pants.
"Why didn't you stop me?"
"Huh...? I'm not sure I get what you mean."
"It is clear. Why didn't you stop me? You knew I was going to rob that store. And you knew I could have ended up killing someone inside there. So, why...? You said it wasn't your problem, but... did you really not care at all if I ended up killing an innocent when you could have stopped me?"
"Ah, that's your question..."
He giggled for a bit, and then looked away. His eyes seemed to be gazing not too far, maybe towards the following street. He squinted those red eyes, and the wind made his pendants wave for a second. Just then Zayd notices the traces on the neck of the man. He's muscular. Thin, and not too bulked up, but just by looking at the way his back gets wider just above his shoulders tells the cat that this magician is not a weakling, at all.
"Zayd, did you end up robbing that store?"
"No, but that was-"
"Because I barged in and talked to you."
The cat frowns. The magician's logic is just stupid for him. He has no way to know if Zayd could have decided to kill him and rob the store nevertheless. It was all just a fortunate coincidence... wasn't it?
"Your next question, Zayd, would be..."
The man begins walking off, and the cat grabs the handlebars on the bike and follows behind, staring at the man's nape.
"Would I have done something to stop you, if you had already broke into the store by the moment I found you? Or... Was my intention to actually stop you from commiting a crime, or that's just the way things ended up happening? Or maybe..."
"This is... just dumb."
The magician turned his face to the cat without slowing down, and he smiled at the cat's frown.
"I just rolled a dice, Zayd."
The man kept walking, but Zayd stopped moving.
Those words felt familiar. Where did Zayd hear such a sentence before?
No point in dwelling on it.
. . .
"So this one is for you. Make sure to keep the bag closed right until the very moment you're about to dig in, it's the best when it's still warm, but it's terrible once it gets cold."
"You picked a room in the second floor, right? Are you sure you don't want me sleeping in your same room? I'm not saying it's that dangerous around here, but it's better if we're together and-"
The cat received the bag the magician bought and denied his intentions of sleeping together.
"Ah... a-a shame, haha."
They were in the lobby of a cheap motel which also happened to have a very small restaurant. Kerne bought the meal he promised Zayd, but the cat choose to eat it in the room that Kerne also rented.
The magician seemed like a good person, but Zayd could clearly feel his... other intentions.
"... sigh. You seem to have the wrong idea. Not like I did anything to correct you. This is quite useful for when I try to get favors out of people I just see for a little while and then I can forget about them, but this is getting really tiring..."
That was probably the time the cat spoke the biggest amount of words to the magician, and so he tilted his head in a confused smile.
"I... what exactly do you mean?"
"I never said I was a girl, did I? That was your own assumption."
The magician's mouth acted before his brain, and so when he processed what the cat's words actually implied, he dropped his eyebrows in quite the disappointed frown. His whole attitud snapped. He crossed his arms on his chest and opened his mouth to say something, probably to insult the deceiving cat. But nothing came out. It was certainly frustraiting and infuriating, but it was also truth that the cat never expressed being a boy or a girl. The magician clicks his tongue and his previously kind and soft voice turned rough all of a sudden.
"You do this often, bastard?"
"Not really. Only when a man desperate enough to shamelessly flirt with a total stranger shows up."
And he, Zayd, doesn't seem to show any remorse.
"Tch, what a f... you know, just get out of my sight! You have a room already so go and sleep forever, for all I care."
"Hm. So you were really being all nice only because you thought I was a woman, right?"
But the magician didn't reply, he simply took a hand to his face and sighed in order not to keep arguing with the cat.
And Zayd left the place through the stairs, but as he walked up, he could faintly hear a mumble.
"Anyone would get angry if you lie to them like that."
. . .
Zayd closed the door behind himself and also sighed, gazing at his shelter for the night. A fairly basic room, which only covered the very essentials in order to have a comfortable sleep, as expected.
"Is it really a lie if it's people making assumptions? I should be the one getting angry... I don't think I look that much like a girl. Maybe... maybe it's actually my voice? That could be so..."
His bike was secured in the parking lot, and he walked to the bed tossing the keys on top of the night table after turning the lights off; he didn't need them. He sit down and undid his boots.
"Ah... I get really tired of wearing these all day. I think I'm going to take a shower before sleeping, maybe that way I'll feel less tired."
As he glances up, he finds a small mirror hanging from the wall, and upon seeing his own golden eyes, he looks around.
It's really such a humble room. The wooden walls and floor, the single window, the sole bed placed contrary to the entrance door, then the door to a similarly small bathroom.
He stares into his own pearls again, blinking quietly a couple of times.
He hears a drop falling somewhere, and then many more follow behind. He closes his eyes to the rain, and then grabs his hat and leaves it on the table too. He can hear it all so clearly now.
"Am I a bad person?"
His eyelids open when he asks that introspective question. His feline ears looked as tired as him, so he reached the left one with his hand and massaged it for a bit, not taking his eyes off of themselves.
As the rain drops, his consciousness does too. He takes his jacket off too, and those singular scars on his chest let themselves be seen thanks to the dim light coming through the window.
Not feeling like looking at himself at the moment, he drops his body on the bed and looks at the ceiling.
Kerne was right.
He has done that so many times before, he can't even remember the first time he robbed either a store or a random pedestrian. He never, ever killed anyone during a robbery, but it was a matter of time. Yes, he has killed people before, but always provoked.
"What if I..."
What if he had tried to assault the gas station and ended up getting cornered and shooting to escape? What if he killed an innocent? What would have changed for himself? His hands are not clean, they haven't been for some time now. So, even if he didn't commit yet another crime, nothing has changed.
"I am not a good person. I'm just as evil as any other murderer or thief out there. I try to excuse my wrongdoings to myself using my past or my current situation but... it is all the same, isn't it? Lynneth... I proved you wrong, Lynneth. I was not fated to do any better."
The rain grew louder, and he let out the last sigh of the night, closing his eyes.
"Enough. I need to rest. I still haven't decided where I'm going to head next."
Not even him is sure if that's just an excuse, a means to escape from his own guilty conscience or an actual need for a good rest. He makes sure his backpack, his jacket and his boots are in his line of view, and that his gun and knife are at hand distance before dozing off.
That night he had a single dream.
A single dream, of him polishing the frame of a handgun in the middle of a snow storm.
For some reason, he can't feel the cold.
But his body still suffers the harm the freezing temperatures deal onto his skin.
He does not seek shelter.
He keeps on working, polishing that weapon.
Not even looking up.
Not even coughing.
Not even complaining.
A lonely cat, fated to die without even knowing.
Merci pour la lecture!
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