Sitting in a shadowed corner of a deserted coffee shop, I look into the full moon through the clear glass windowpane, watching the outline of dark shapes bound from rooftop to rooftop, howling and reveling at being alive. I look away and scan the shop. A single attendant—engrossed in literature about test tube babies and breeding super geniuses—leans against the counter. Outside, one streetlamp lights the night as clouds sweep in to cover la Luna’s beaming face. Fog slips along the pavement as if called by a greater master to pass on an urgent message, like Mercury does each day. I take the last sip of my lukewarm mocha, swirling the coagulated chocolate and dregs from the bottom of the cup into my mouth. It awaits the muddy sensation, like soaked earth squishing through the toes of a child after the first warm break of summer. I lose track of time. The clock ticks in the recesses of my memory, but keeps close its hiding place. It is warm and bright and cozy in the shop; light music chimes in the background. The radio announcer speaks of odd weather and warns listeners to stay off the roads. Another far off howl sings, full of glee, joy, happiness, madness. I can no longer see the shapes for the mist conceals their movements, like so many times in the past. I have seen them before; I know of their existence, their plights, plots and purpose. If only they would stop for a moment, step into my world, my coffee shop, into the safe enclosure of a manufactured building, neat tile floor, sturdy wooden chairs that seat the caffeine dependent. Enter my domain and come in through the glass door that keeps our lives from intermixing. They know of me, too; I am no threat. An awareness envelopes us. Stopping in the streets on murky nights, I glance at a shadow and the shadow nods back. Swift acknowledgments are all that are ever exchanged. I finish the coffee and toss the paper cup into a can overfilling with identical cups with identical coffee stains. My cup settles in with its brethren and awaits the next step in its existence. I grab my coat and struggle into its bulky warmth—the safe surrounding warmth. I nod to the attendant, but she doesn’t notice me through her rose-tinted glasses for a bright, new engineered future. I go to push the glass door open, to emerge into their kingdom, and pause. I smell the air near the door; the crisp cold has seeped in through the cracks. It smells so clean, so fresh and new. I push through. A bell rattles against the thick glass giving away my escape, startling the attendant out of her daydream trance. Coldness, sharpness, I am hyper-aware of the world, the night, the smells and sounds and feels of the tangible nothingness in front of me. I feel alive, yet restrained by my jacket and thoughts of coffee shops and genetic engineering. The night is alive; the night is free and welcoming. I turn towards it, away from the streetlamp into the impenetrable dark. I hear a sound, a slight whimper, and another farther away, guttural, no human throat could imitate. They call me. I face the blackness, face the unknown, doff my coat and am welcomed by the natives of the night.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
An environmental engineer in Washington state, Vanessa MacLellan has been writing for years as a way to add color to her life. A champion of NaNoWriMo and an avid reader of anything with pizazz, words have been her companions since she was ten, forcing atrocious adverbs upon her mother. Her novel, Three Great Lies, has recently been accepted by Hadley Rille Books and is scheduled for release in the fall of 2014. When not in the office or writing, she bird watches and hikes in her scant free time. Vanessa can be found at http://vanmaclellan.wordpress.com.