Drake woke up on a hospital bed. Alone. A nurse walked in to check on his health. Drake was still dazed from last night. The memories were hazy.
"Why am I here?" he asked the nurse. "How did I get here?, What happened?" questions circled around his head like vultures around a dead carcass. The nurse looked at Drake, "You're a lucky guy. You're here thanks to your neighbor. I'm Brittney, and I'm your nurse for today."
"Who?" Drake asked, still a little confused.
"You were found unconscious on the floor with a fire extinguisher sitting next to you. You must have passed out from drinking too much or something."
"I wasn't drunk!" Drake said moaning in pain.
"That's what they all say", said Brittney, rolling her eyes.
"I can prove it. I don't own any alcoholic beverages or drugs. I'm sober."
"So, why are you here?"
Drake made an effort to recall the memory of last night. The fire extinguisher. The… Drake was still in a hangover. The pain was killing him. He was taking painkillers, but that wasn't helping at all. Drake struggled to get out of the bed. He stood up, feet wobbling, arms shaking, but still managed to get to the nearest bathroom. He looked in the mirror, and his reflection reminded him of the night before. He remembered now. Drake brushed his fingers through his hair, relieved, yet petrified. His memory was clear now. There was no doubt of what happened. Drake stood up straight, looking down at his hands. He saw a small spark. A tiny flame was ignited. He looked at the flame dancing between his two palms. Drake realized he was the cause of the fire. He clenched his hands and the flames were extinguished.
Drake called Brittney over to watch.
"Brittney, check this out!"
Brittney watched as he concocted a dazzling flame in front of her. "Now that is amazing. You might want to put that away before the fire alarms start beeping."
"Do you believe me now?"
"I guess I can believe your hair was on fire. By the way, I like your hair dye, it suits you."
Drake laughed, "My hair color is natural."
"Nonsense! You're still drunk," Brittney teased him.
"I'm serious though, it's natural."
"Your hair reminds me of my daughters' hair. They came out of the womb with their hair dyed or something."
"Why don't you come over to my place after you're discharged? You can show them some of your fire tricks."
Brittney looked down at her watch and frowned.
"I'm already late to pick up my kids. And my kids don't have another ride. Please excuse me as I finish up here, I have to hurry to pick up my kids."
"It was a pleasure meeting you," Drake said as she opened the door. Brittney put on a sincere smile, "Thank you. It was nice to meet you, too."
Before she left, Drake asked, "Why don't I take you? I'm getting discharged soon."
The school bell rang, and the students were dismissed. Katrina rushed to the front of the school, looking for her mom. The street was flooded with cars, but there was no sign of her mom's car. She watched as other students walked to their parents' cars with their happy faces. She sat on a school bench and set down her backpack.
"She's not coming," Katrina heard her sister's voice behind her. "She's working late again."
"Oh, hi Serena. How was your day?"
"It was good," she replied. "I took a dip in the pool."
"Our school doesn't have a pool." Katrina says.
"Of course we don't," Serena sighs.
"Why do you want a pool?" Katrina asked her.
"It's hard to explain."
"You don't want to talk about it?"
Serena sighs, "Okay. You know how I've always wanted to go to the pool, right?"
Serena slides herself closer to Katrina and whispered in her ear.
Katrina excited, "OMG! That really happened? You weren't daydreaming were you?"
"I know I wasn't dreaming. I have the glass right here," Serena holds up the glass that was on her desk earlier, "It's full now just like when I first saw it in class. But when I saw the pool, it was suddenly empty."
"You didn't drink the water, did you?"
"No I didn't drink the water, or spill it. The water was there, then it was gone."
"Amazing." Katrina stood up and put her backpack on. "Let's go. I don't want to wait here forever for her to come. And I have homework to do. At home."
Serena nodded "You're right, we should leave. We still have a curfew to follow."
As they got ready to walk home, a car pulled up next to them. The window rolled down and the two sisters saw their mom in the passenger seat. "Hi Serena and Katrina! Am I too late?"
Serena and Katrina are both confused. Katrina spoke up, "Mom this isn't your car. And who's the guy driving?" The driver turned his head towards both of them. "Hello Katrina. Hello Serena. My name is Drake. Your mom has told me plenty about you," He looked at the mother, "You were right, Brittney, you have some unique daughters here."
Brittney tries to ease her daughters' minds, "This is one of the patients that I met at the hospital. He recovered quickly. He seemed very interested in meeting you two. So, I brought him here."
Serena jumped in the car, "You said you were going to be late today."
"I got off early."
"I guess it's because of this guy here. He's a firefighter. He managed to pull a few strings and I was off the hook."
"Are you saying this guy is a firefighter?" Katrina asks.
"Yes, why does that matter to you?"
"Is he the guy who was stupid enough to shoot himself in the face with a fire extinguisher? It's all over the news."
"Hey! I can hear you, and that's offensive!" Drake yells from the driver's seat.
Brittney retorts,"Katrina, don't be rude. Please be respectful to our driver. He just got out of the hospital. Now get in the car. This nice, young man is going to drive us home."
"Okay, mom," Katrina reluctantly got in the car and Drake put the car in motion. "You're not dating your patients again, are you?"
"No, of course not! What gave you that idea?"
"Hmm, let me see… you met a stranger at the hospital, he's driving you home in his own car and he even wants to see your kids. Is that enough for you?"
Serena nods in agreement, "You make a good point." Serena looked at Drake's hair. It didn't seem natural. Very odd, like Katrina's hair and her own. She stared at it the whole ride home. Meanwhile, Katrina and Drake argued over the fire extinguisher incident.
When they arrived at the house everyone settled down. Brittney gathered everyone around to sit at the dining table.
"Your hair looks like dancing flames," Serena says to Drake
Brittney directs everyone's attention toward Drake, "Okay, you can show them now. Serena and Katrina, don't do anything. Just watch."
Drake held his hands out with his palms up in the middle of the table. Serena and Katrina saw a spark, which quickly grew into a small flame in each hand. His hands became absorbed in flames and Drake didn't even flinch. Everyone's eyes were focused on the inferno in the dining table. Serena just watched, while Katrina was tempted to leave her chair and run. But before she could the flames were gone. The fire was extinguished. There were no signs of any burns on Drake's hands. Drake looked at all of the people around the table. He chuckles and turns to Katrina. "I guess this can explain why I shot myself in the face."
Katrina was paralyzed with fear. This guy was immune to fire. He lit a flame out of thin air. He looked dangerous. She stood up and slowly backed away from the table. "I'll finish my homework in my room." Her eyes were focused on Drake. She stared intensely at him for a minute then walked away.
Luke and his father returned to their house in New Orleans with Teddy.
"Thanks for helping us get home. Is there anything that we can do to repay you?" Luke's father asked Teddy, who was lying on Luke's lap in the form of a black cat on the couch.
"How about some cat food?" Teddy replies. He purrs while Luke brushed his hand between his two cat ears.
"Very funny," Luke's father said with sarcasm.
"Excuse me, but I don't like your tone. I was only trying to ease the tension between the two of us. You obviously have something against me."
"You're right." He looked at Teddy with suspicion.
Teddy jumped off of Luke's lap and returned to his human form. He brought Luke's father to the kitchen to talk. "Seriously, though, I have one request if you want to repay me."
"What may that request be?"
"I ask that I stay here with you as your pet."
"That's it? Nothing else? You don't want any money? We have an extra car in the garage, you can take it."
"If I wanted any of that, I would already have it. All I want is a family. I never had a home. I was always alone. Now I just want to be included in a family that can love me."
"Oh. Now that you say that, I guess you can stay. But try to limit the whole transforming thing. It creeps me out."
"Yes sir! I will do my best!" Teddy was excited.
"And if I see you doing anything weird, I will see to it that you are kicked out of the house permanently."
"I can't wait to see Luke's face. He's been asking for a pet for a while."
"Yeah, me too." Teddy ponders for a moment, "Are you a cat or a dog person?"
Lenny rented a hotel near the coast. His bedroom window faced the shore. He kept it open so he could feel the ocean breeze. The cool wind of fall slipped through his fingers as he reached his hand outside his window. His eyes focused on the sky. There were flocks of migratory birds flying above. The clouds looked like giant pillows, floating in the air, without a head to lean on it.
"I want to sleep on those clouds," Lenny mutters to himself. "I wish I was up there."
"Who said you can't?" an unexpected response came from inside the hotel room.
"Who said that?" Lenny asks, but there was no response. He turned around away from the window, but didn't see anyone inside the room. "It must have been my imagination."
"It's not your imagination, Lenny." It was the same voice as before.
"Who are you? What are you doing in my room? Can't a guy have some privacy?"
"I apologize if I interrupted anything important. I guess I should leave then, and you can go back to staring out the window." The voice was teasing him.
"Fine, if you insist," a black cat came out from under the bed. "You can call me Teddy."
"Hi, Teddy. Um… " Lenny is in a state between confusion and terror. He knows nothing about cats, much less ones that can talk. Lenny walks toward the talking cat cautiously. "Your voice seems familiar to me, but I don't remember who you are."
The black cat leapt onto Lenny's bed. "Do you remember the airport?" he asked Lenny as he snuggles into one of Lenny's pillows.
Lenny's face suddenly showed an expression of fear. "Oh my gosh! You're that guy from the airport! And someone turned you into a cat! And you followed me home!"
"Well, I guess that is partially true—"
"Now you want my help to turn you back to normal!"
"No I am a cat because I want to be a cat." Teddy transformed into a human. His body portrays a handsome man, like those only seen in movies.
"Wow!" Lenny exclaims. "That is so cool!"
"I know, I get that a lot. So I came here to—"
"Your hair! How did you get it to look like that? Are you trying to pull off some gothic style?"
"No, it's just—"
"Amazing! And you are definitely rocking those clothes!" Lenny was too distracted by Teddy's appearance to hear what he has to say. Teddy ignores Lenny's constant comments and compliments. He tries to wait for Lenny to stop talking, but with no success. Teddy can no longer tolerate this guy. He turned back into the form of cat. "Shut up and listen!"
"Zip your lips! And throw away the key." Lenny sighed and "zipped his lips".
"Okay Lenny. I have something to share with you. This thing that I can do with my body is special as you can see. I know that there is something special in you, also. I have been watching you for a long time, and I have seen the signs."
"So you've been stalking me?"
"I guess you could call me a stalker. But you are not the only one I have seen with powers."
"Gifts, as some may call it. Supernatural abilities. Special talents. You are only one of the people that I have studied. And I have concluded that you are among those who have these powers."
Lenny wasn't convinced. "Are you seriously kidding me?"
"This is not a joke. You may not have realized it yourself, but I have. You are capable of things you have not even realized yet. Just like the kid Luke. During the flight, you asked him why he doesn't wear shoes, right?"
"Yes, he told me that he likes to know what is below him."
"Of course, because he wields the power of earth. He is afraid to leave the ground, as you should have noticed, because earth is where he feels most comfortable."
"Okay, I see where you're going with this. But what about me? What's my power?" Lenny was beginning to get frustrated.
"Don't act like you haven't noticed. Take a look around you. What do you see?" Lenny took a look around him. He wasn't in his room anymore. He was outside. Teddy was circling around Lenny in the form of a black raven. Lenny can see the sky above him and below him. He was suspended in midair above the hotel.
"Wow!" is all that Lenny can say.
"Wow is right Lenny," said Teddy still flying around him. "Your powers have been awakened."