This story is by Hana Wu and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
I sigh inwardly. Going to work on a wet cloudy day is not fun. It was hard to get up. The temptation to call in sick and sleep in was stronger. Too bad, I have to work. Adjusting my shawl and beanie, I drag my feet across the wet pavement in the parking lot.
Only a few cars have parked around the bookstore where I work part-time. Jenny, my cousin, already arrived. Her car is parked next to Ruben and Lisa’s car. I could have car pooled with her but I refused. Sometimes, she carpools with Ruben and Lisa and I don’t like them. When they are together, they talk in the language they’d invented since they were in junior high.
“Hi, morning, Beth. Covering Sidney’s shift today?” A melodic voice comes from behind me. Sue and Mike are approaching. I wave to them.
“Good morning. Yes, I am. Her mom is still in the hospital, but her condition is getting better”
“That’s good news,” says Mike, tightening his jacket. “Hey, it’s cold in here. Let’s go inside the store”
I nod and we walk together.
After few steps, I stop and point to the bookstore.
“Hey guys, do you see something glowing in front of the store?” I say. Mike and Sue stops. Squinting his eyes, Mike shakes his head.
“Ditto,” says Sue. “Is it glowing like a candle?”
“Umm… yeah… about this tall,” I lift my right arm above my head. “It has a wolf head, with a horn projecting from its forehead, like a unicorn!”
“Wait… it has a big giant bird’s body…” my voice trails off.
“In front of the bookstore?”
Sue and Mike exchange glance. I rub my eyebrows, knowing that they won’t believe me!
“Well” Sue says, clearing her throat, “I see nothing. Is it … still there?”
I look up and shake my head. “It disappeared right after you asked”
“Maybe… some reflection from the light tricked your eyes,” Mike says. “I know you are not the girl who talks nonsense”
We continue walking.
Back in the store, I feel someone is watching me and that makes the hairs on my neck stand up. Shuddering, I decide to go outside to arrange the outdoor tables for the store’s café.
The fog is floating lightly above the wet grass and the sun is hiding behind a thick gray cloud.
Standing on the chair, I try to open the umbrella’s canopy. I look up, as something is moving in front of me. I almost fall from my chair because the glowing shadow suddenly appears ten feet away from me. The wolf’s head is vivid in such a close distance.
Screaming, I steady myself by holding the umbrella’s pole and cause the canopy to fold down on me. Dismounting the chair, I am mesmerized by the sight in front of me. The feathers fan out like an eagle’s wings as its arms unfurling. The colors are magnificent: silver bright with white streaks, glinting faintly bluish in the sunlight that is just suddenly appearing. So beautiful, so unusual. Like an angel!
“Please don’t fear,” says the shadow, folding its wings tightly to its body. Its voice is gentle and calm. “My name is Miron. I come to give you a warning”
“What warning?” my voice trembling.
“Get out from the store quickly”
“The owner is in deep debt. He needs money and has planned to blow up his store by letting the gas leak. If someone turns on the oven, the building will be blown up and later he can collect insurance money. Warn your friends”
“They won’t believe me and why should I trust you?” I ask, walking backward slowly toward the café’s door.
I lock the door and run toward the adjoining room on the cafe that is used as a kitchen. I almost knock Jenny down who just comes out from the kitchen, carrying a baking pan full of cookie dough.
“Hey, watch out!”
Without saying anything, I drag her back to the kitchen.
“Something strange happens,” I say, trying to be calm. “The shadow, with the wolf’s head …”
“… in a shape of a giant bird” she adds. A smile appears on her lips. “Mike said you were babbling about that earlier”
“But it is real” my voice rising. “It spoke to me and it has a name, Miron”
Jenny’s eyebrows squish together. Quickly, I repeated what Miron had told me.
“And the shadow told you that?” she asks. I nod.
“Hmm, interesting. Because a collector company just called a few minutes before you arrived,” Jenny says. “Where is he now?”
I am jerking my head to the outside.
“He is outside when I…. arrrh!” A high-pitched sound hit my ears. Miron’s voice. Wincing, I cover my ears with my hands.
“What happen?” Jenny asks, grabbing my arm.
“Miron talked to me. He said we have get out NOW!”
Without hesitation, Jenny turns and walks faster to the intercom.
“Sue, Lisa, everybody come to the kitchen now! NOW” her voice is echoing in the whole store.
The sound of feet trampling on the concrete become louder as Sue and my coworkers are approaching.
“What happen?” someone asks. Jenny fills them in quickly.
“I trust her,” Jenny turns to Sue. “We should leave now before it is too late”
Sue nods, beckoning her hand to the door.
We sprint to the parking lot. Outside, I see Miron is pointing his right wing to the East parking lot. I relay the message. Once we arrive on the parking lot…
The ground beneath us shudders and the flames come out from the café, shattering the windows. Immediately, the cars’ alarms nearby are going off. Trembling, I drop to my knees on the pavement. Jenny puts her arm around my shoulders.
Everything is blurry and chaotic with people’s voice and a loud hiss from water sprinklers. Scanning around, I don’t see Miron. He disappeared.