Mr Tibbins could never understand people. They all rush around stuck in their own little world, having no idea what that world really is. They don’t know because they don’t want to. It is easier that way. Some people, like him, can see. Is it a gift? Or is it a curse? He has never been able to decide. There are certainly times when blissful ignorance seems like a blessing.
He feels tired today. An old man, out of breath and lonely. Some days are like this now, his energy reserves seem to desert him at times. Maybe they are only finite and one day he won’t be able to call on them. But, until now, they have always been there when he has needed them. A feeling like electricity runs up the back of his neck and he knows that one of them is near. Looking around he can’t see anything untoward.
He starts walking down the street, now he is alert, now the energy is there. But all he can see is the usual herd, rushing this way and that. Sometimes they blend in well though. Business people, families, teens in hoodies, all doing their own thing. Then he sees it. Just a feeling, just a shadow. He crosses the road without care, there is no time. Car horns blare and tyres squeal, but somehow they avoid him. People are staring now, wondering what this crazy old man is doing. But one figure is still moving, it has seen him. It begins to run.
Mr Tibbins changes, it is subtle but as he moves he seems to shed his age and skim over the ground. The shadow is speeding down the pavement and darts into a side street. As Mr Tibbins rounds the corner he is confronted with a sight which strikes into his soul. No longer shadow, the thing has transformed. It is the largest, most powerful one he has seen. He never gets nervous. What is this feeling in his stomach? He knows this time he needs to be perfect.
The first time he saw one of these things he was only a teenager. He thought he was going crazy, or had been smoking something different to usual. He had been walking through the park, just hanging out and listening to music. Some kids were playing football when he saw it. A shape that seemed to just shift the air. When he took a second look there was nothing there. One of the boys was lying down on the ground, more like rolling around.
“Bloody footballers,” he mumbled to himself.
The other players were protesting that they hadn’t done anything, as usual. Then he saw it again, the shape. But this time, when he concentrated, he saw more than a shape. He saw a person, but something was different. Mainly that no one else seemed to be paying him any attention.
The game started again and this time John Tibbins didn’t take his eyes off the stranger. Whatever it was it seemed to be waiting. Then it got a grin on its face like it has just spotted its Christmas dinner. Suddenly, it set off at a sprint. It was fast and caught up with the player on the ball, and down he went. Penalty! More protests of innocence. But this time the player was hurt, there was blood. It just kept running, off into the distance, until it finally disappeared.
He has learnt to focus on them now, sometimes he wishes he couldn’t. But this has been his life for long enough. Once he knew he had the power to fight them, what choice did he have.
His enemy moves towards him with breathtaking speed and almost catches him unawares, almost. “Concentrate Tibbins,” he mutters to himself. They circle each other, mentally jabbing but not daring to make the first move. Normally he would strike first, use the element of surprise, but this time caution wins the day. Now he waits.
Then it comes, with startling speed again. But he is ready, tuned to its speed. He strikes and connects. The creature lets out a howl that should attract the whole city’s attention. But just as most people can’t see them, neither can they hear them. It is only him, alone to deal with this. When he made contact it was different, a feeling like never before. The power contained in this one must be huge, it was going to take something special to defeat it.
The creature is on him, he didn’t even see it move. Hands holding him by the shoulders and the mouth only a few centimetres from him. It was taking all his strength to hold it at that distance. How did it move so quickly?
Years of training now came into force, the concentration necessary would deplete his energy like never before but he had no choice. With an effort of will beyond that of mere mortals he forced the creature back, slowly, until with one final push he was free. He didn’t know how he would do that again, he had to make sure this was finished quickly. He made a decision, to attack.
He could move quickly too, when he wanted. He struck the creature again, with everything he had. It staggered and fell, but he couldn’t wait to recover his strength. He had to finish it off now. So he went in for the kill, he had it where he wanted it. “Got you now fella,” he whispered. Then he gasped. As he saw the light beginning to fade from the creatures eyes he felt something, an intrusion, a hole beginning to form within him. His last fight was over.
Words © Neil Hayes and neilhayeswrites