Just Breathe

“Just breathe,” the dark-eyed woman said, leaning close, looking her over for bullet holes and broken bones. “Just breathe. You fell through a convergence tear into the middle of a gang war. I’m pretty sure you–”

“Shut up shut up shut up just fucking shut up, where IS he?” the younger woman asked. “Where — where’d he go?”

“Where’d who go?” The older woman’s voice was kind, gentle — an older sister, or even a motherly voice. Maybe a kindly aunt. Didn’t matter.

Cat looked like she might throw up at any second, batting the woman’s hands away, looking around with wide eyes. She panted heavily, out of breath from running, and now from another shot of adrenaline. “W–“. Her voice failed her. She looked around, struggling to make sense of the world around her.

Cityscape. Alleyway. Bins and boxes. Garbage.

And a scrap heap sort of woman leaning over her, with a kind face.

“H–” she began again, and then shook his head. “I can’t— his name,” she said, twirling her hands in the gesture meant to convey ‘what’s that word again?’ while looking desperately frustrated. “Why I can’t I remember his name?”

“Can you remember yours?”

The woman offered a hand out, but Cat shook her head and moved to get herself up and dust herself off. Just when she stood up, a bullet ricocheted off the side of the building next to her, sending brick chips flying. “–the fuck?” She ducked back down immediately, and glared at the woman who was still kneeling low.

“Gang war,” the woman repeated, then shrugged.

“How long will it last?”

“Another few… Days? Maybe a week,” the woman answered, smiling faintly.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Cat shook her head, sighing, looking around. She could count two dozen people or more with guns scattered around the area — those were only the ones she could see. Doubtless there were others, people with much better hiding spots.

“Nah,” the woman said, shrugging. “They’re usually pretty quick.”

Quick?” sputtered Cat. “What fucking universe did I fall into?”

“What one did you fall out of?” The woman looked delighted at the change in topics of conversation, clasping her hands together in joy.

“Well I don’t fucking know,” Cat snarked, looking incredulous.

“Oh,” sighed the woman, looking disappointed.

Cat’s sigh of exasperation could’ve chipped more brick, it was so damned sharp; she stood again, and moved to head out of cover, lifting her hands up. Her head buzzed, ached from the way she pulled the field of her power in, close, a shield to keep herself protected.

She could hear guns being loaded, cocked, shifted. She could hear bullets racked into chambers. She could hear cylinders being spun. She could hear safeties clicking off.

“You can’t go out there!” The woman looked shocked as Cat walked out into the middle of the war zone.

“Yeah I can,” Cat said, lifting her hands higher, in a gesture her own universe recognized as ‘I am unarmed.’

Litter danced at her feet in a silent wind; bits of trash and dust kicked up. She looked around, squinting in the dark smog of trash fires and street dust.

The first bullets simply missed, bent out of the way.

When they came from every direction in a hail of hate, they simply began to collect around her in a cloud of rounds. Slowly, they spun as she walked further and further into the open area of the street, until a vortex of hundreds of bullets whirled around her as though she were in the midst of a snow globe.

“Hey!” Cat shouted to the woman in the alley. “What’s your name?”

“Anna?”

“Well, Anna,” Cat said, a red line of blood beginning to run from her nose. “I’d fucking duck.”

And with that, the bullets exploded outward, driven in an ever-expanding globe, punching through glass and steel and stone, picking off those in the war, leaving nothing behind save for Cat, in the middle of the circles, bloody nose and all.

About Catastrophe Jones

Wretched word-goblin with enough interests that they're not particularly awesome at any of them. Terrible self-esteem and yet prone to hilarious bouts of hubris. Full of the worst flavors of self-awareness. Owns far too many craft supplies. Will sing to you at the slightest provocation.
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