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Friday, June 24, 2022

F³ At Least He Knows It

             I didn’t know if I was actually looking at Whirlwind Woman, whatever it—she—was. But the whorls in the air seemed . . . cohesive was the only word that came to mind, like there was an organized pattern to it I could only intuit.

            “Um, so how do I go about this?” I asked. “I am sorry if I stepped into her turf, but, you know, it’s kind of my job as a storm rider to keep the weather from ripping holes in reality and letting through the nasties.”

            The whorls shifted slightly, some elongating, others condensing, some shifting position just a touch.”

            “Are you interpreting for Whirlwind Woman?” I asked Melissa?

            She laughed. “No. Any movies where someone tries to interpret for the spirits is out of line. The spirits can speak for themselves. I’m just here to see if you’re sincere enough.”

            “Okay . . . I’m really really sorry.”

            “For what?”

            “Um, I don’t know.”

            Melissa rolled her eyes.

            “This is pretty vague,” Nat said.

            “You know, I could make those air patterns, too,” Jack said.

            I turned on Jack. “Can you ever not be a total fucking asshole? I don’t care what you do, but you’re not going to kill this for me. I want to get fixed. If the nice wind lady says I did something wrong, then I did something wrong. You say anything else, I’m going to punch you in the balls until you throw up.”

            Jack glared, then opened his mouth.

            “Joaquin!” Anna Maria cut him off. “Know when it is enough. Even you admit there are powers greater than us . . . and of worse temperament.”

            Jack folded his arms and harrumphed.

            I turned back to Melissa, but she held up a hand.

            “Okay, you’re good. Now I need him to be sorry,” she pointed at Jack.

            “Um, well, technically he didn’t do anything. He wasn’t even here. It was all me. He just caught it from me.”

            “That really doesn’t matter. He’s just an overprivileged, white douchebro.”

            We all nodded to that. Even Jack after a moment.

            At least he knows it.

Friday, June 17, 2022

F³ Wind Talking

             Melissa lifted her eyebrows at our buffet revelation, then shrugged. “Okay, no buffet for you guys. As to who you are apologizing to, that would be Whirlwind Woman. Apologizing is incomplete, too. You need to explain to her why you were messing with the weather in her lands.”

            “I will not—” Jack began.

            “Shut up, Jack!” we all yelled.

            “Sure thing,” I said. “Take us there, and we’re all good.”

            Melissa shook her head. “She’s all around us. Can’t you feel her in the breeze?”

            I opened my mouth, then closed it, concentrating on the breeze. I didn’t feel a presence, spirit, or anything like that. Despite mom hauling me to church in my early years, I never felt the warmth of the holy spirit like she said she did. But I could feel and see the breeze. I focused my vision on those air currents, and it wasn’t just an ordinary stirring of air. Like most breezes, it wasn’t just wind moving in a single direction. Instead, it whirled around in small convective currents, deflected and redirected each time it encountered an object or a stronger gust.

            This breeze didn’t behave that way, though. In addition to those deflections and redirections, the breeze had what looked like a complex pattern to it. It reminded me of looking at sheet music, in a way with whorls that had no explanation for their formation, all converging around the rock that Melissa stood on. They didn’t emanate from her, but did touch her in this complex, pattern.

            “Whoa,” I said.

“Your Keanu Reeves needs work,” Kate jabbed.

Friday, June 10, 2022

F³ Sorry He's Not Sorry


            At the mention of an apology, without even know to whom, Jack set off a storm of profanity. I moved into position, but he jumped to the side before I could smack him.

            “You fucking touch me, Reilly, and so help me I will kick you in the taint and zap everyone else here so we’re all equally fucked. Can’t believe you shanghaied me away from a night of carnal pleasure to come back to these God-forsaken chunks of rock. On top of it, I’m supposed to apologize to some chick I’ve never fucking met. No. Fuck off.” He pointed to each of us in turn. “Fuck you, and fuck you, and fuck you, and f—”

            He cut off as Kate’s fist of wind took him in the solar plexis, knowing him flat. On most people, that would know the wind out of them. Jack rubbed his chest and let out a slightly strained “You fucking c—”

            “Okay, I think we get it, Jack!” Nat yelled at him slamming a bar of wind in his mouth. She let it go after a moment, but Jack took the hint and settled into grumbles.

            Anna Maria squatted next to him, her tone equal parts understanding and scolding.

            “Sorry he’s not sorry,” I said to Melissa. “But, um, can you explain a little more. I’m fuzzy on who I need to apologize to.”

            Melissa looked to Jack, down to me, then over to Kate. “You sure they’re worth it?”

            “He’s definitely not, but since this thing can kind of spread to others, we need him fixed, too.”

            “Wait,” Nat stepped closer. “Kate, how much did you tell her about us?”

            “All of it,” she said, without missing a beat. “I tried holding back, at first, but wasn’t getting anywhere. Finally, I asked Matt for advice, and he told me to come clean, completely. He said something about First Nations’ people being treated poorly, and to just get it all out there. Oh, and I agreed that all of you would make a hefty donation to stop the exploitation of their land.”

            Nat looked back and forth between Melissa and Kate, not liking this news.

            “No problem,” I said. “You got a casino nearby, too? I can routinely drop some money in there, and I promise I won’t visit the all-you-can-eat buffet.”

            “Why would you avoid the buffet?” Melissa asked.

            “He eats a lot,” Kate answered. “We all do. We burn calories like you wouldn’t believe. We’ve actually driven restaurants out of business by going to the buffet.”

            A chorus of affirmatives came from everyone else.

Friday, June 3, 2022

F³ Good at His Job

            Jet lag has nothing on lightning lag. Storms over the Atlantic were pretty thick this time of year, so we rode lightning almost like Spider-man across the New York city skyline. In less than two hours, we had crossed about seven time zones. Our late dinner in Amsterdam rewound into afternoon in South Dakota, right back to the scene of the crime.

            I didn’t check where exactly in the Black Hills we were, just a remote spot between two hills, and far enough away from Rushmore to avoid the tourists. We landed at the edge of the clearing I had made with my explosion. I shuddered, and not from the cold. My skin crawled at the place. I saw Jack shudder, too.

            Glad it’s not just me.

            “About time you got here,” Kate’s voice dripped superiority.

            “If you fix them,” Nat said, “we will all gladly be your bitch for a while, especially them,” she pointed at me and Jack.

            “I didn’t—” Jack began.

            “Reilly,” Anna Maria cut in.

            I smacked Jack upside the head.

            “Fucker!” Jack yelled.

            As someone also afflicted with the anti-matter lightning, I was the safest person to do so.

            I’m going to miss that job. I’m getting really good at it. High job satisfaction, too. But I’d much rather be back to normal.

            “I’ll cut to it; follow me.”

            We walked into the trees and upslope a little bit to a rock where a woman sat cross-legged in blue jeans.

            “Melissa,” Kate said. “This is the gang. Natalie, Anna maria, Reilly, and Jack. Gang, this is Melissa Nahimana.”

            Melissa pushed herself to her feet, standing over us. Long black hair with a couple of braids at her temples fell to her waist. She looked over all of us with a penetrating, eagle stare.

            “Okay, are you ready to apologize?”


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