The Gift

Submitted into Contest #51 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

3 comments

Fantasy Thriller

Twin Creeks Park 7:30 pm

“Happy Birthday Dear Kit! Happy Birthday To You!” Standing eye level with the birthday cake Kit’s mother, Cathy was holding in front of him, Kit shut his eyes. The thirty guests, consisting of family members, neighbors and classmate friends took this opportunity to form a close circle around Kit. Clinching his tiny fists, tensing his chest muscles, stretching his shoulders up towards the fading evening sun, Kit drew the biggest breath of air he could muster into his lungs. Silently Kit recited his one and only wish. Then without delay his eyes sprang back open with vigor and intent as he blew harder than he ever had before. The eight stubborn candles stood their ground atop the Cookie Monster Blue frosted layered round cake. Each of them juggling their sacred flickering flames, feverishly blinking, stumbling off their wicks like drunken sailors navigating an earthquake. Faltering- struggling yet determined to stay alive one by one each flame regained their balance and resumed the birthday dance everyone under the gazebo was now watching with anticipation. Kit’s eyes grew as big as saucers as his lungs quickly began to empty. The candle flames grew taller… stronger. Kit sensed at this rate his wish would soon be extinguished. Kit’s face grew pale as a strained wheeze now invaded his breath, signaling an inescapable defeat. Kit’s head started spinning in a dizzy cloud as nausea swept through his body. His muscles becoming limp as they deserted the fight. “I’ve failed-” he thought, "I have nothing left to giv-”.

Suddenly without notice a gale force breath blew over Kit’s left shoulder, past his ear, combining with Kit’s breath, and raced towards the cake. Exhausted Kit stopped blowing, closed his eyes and momentarily staggered backwards, falling into the arms of the mysterious person how helped claim victory over the flames.

“It’s yours now-” came the creamy dreamlike whisper that only Kit could hear. Kit shook the dizziness out of his head and opened his eyes to see his smiling seventy-two-year-old Grandpa Oliver holding him.

Oliver gave Kit a loving birthday hug, “Well done my boy!”

Slightly confused, Kit stood back up, rubbed his eyes, and regained his composure before turning his attention in the direction of his grandfather’s now outstretched arm as it pointed towards the cake. The eight once proud statuesque candles had all somehow morphed into hideous grotesquely twisted melted globs of wax. Smoldering gray plumes of smoke ascended into the nothingness above, like angels retreating back towards heaven. A blast of triumphant cheers erupted throughout the party goers. Confetti flew, party horns blew. An assortment of colorfully wrapped boxes, gift bags, and birthday cards laid waiting on a long festively draped banquet table twenty feet away from the gazebo. While under the gazebo’s roof, the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies, piping hot pizzas, bacon-cheese burgers, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, hot buttered popcorn, sweet pastries, sugary drinks and coffee filled the evening air. Congratulatory hugs came from every direction as Kit was grabbed, pulled, pinched and kissed by everyone in attendance. Even Grandpa Oliver’s five-year-old golden retriever, Einstein, managed to get a few face licks in on Kit.  

Cathy set the cake down on the table next to the hot dogs. She then left the gazebo and walked over to the gift table. Waving both hands high above her head, with a raised voice she shouted over the joyous crowd noise, “Can I have everyone’s attention please?” Pausing less than a minute to let her words resonate throughout the crowd. “It’s time to open presents!” 

Kit ran over to the gift table. "This is the best birthday EVER!" he thought- smiling from ear to ear. 

Grandpa Oliver and two neighborhood moms chose to stay behind under the gazebo’s roof to enjoy a quiet moment. Everyone else rushed over to the gift table and gathered around Kit. Oliver sat down at one of the banquet tables. Einstein crawled underneath the table and sprawled out at Oliver’s feet. Oliver dipped a chocolate chip cookie into his cup of black coffee and inhaled it in two bites. Kit wasted no time choosing the first gift he wanted to unwrap and reached out to grab it. The evening air buzzed with boisterous sounds of laughter and happiness. Somewhere behind the group of guests, back towards the gazebo, came a muffled sound of multiple dogs barking and angry growls. 

“AROO…WOOF…WOOF…WOOF…AROO”

"What is that damn dog up to now? I knew dad shouldn’t have brought Einstein here to Kit’s party," Cathy thought. She turned her head in the direction of Einstein’s howls. 

Then she saw the carnage. Her jaw dropped. All color immediately drained from her face.

“WOOF…WOOF…AROO!”

It was at that moment Kit heard a male voice shout, “SOMEBODY COME QUICK! I THINK HE’S…”

 “NOOOOOO!” Cathy screamed in horror.

The party guests grew as silent as church mice. Heads turned. Bodies spun around in the direction of Cathy’s gaze. The crowd of guests still packed around the gift table, blocked Kit’s line of sight. As Cathy plowed her way through the momentarily paralyzed wall of terrified guests Kit joined in behind her- matching her full-on sprint. Breaking through the crowd Cathy and Kit ran straight to the gazebo. When they arrived, they found the two neighborhood moms huddled together in each other's arms shaking, seemingly in shock. Both ladies were bleeding profusely from dog bites on their arms and legs. White and gray bird feathers, that had apparently been stuffed in their mouths, now littered the ground around them. Six feet away from the two women Grandpa Oliver laid sprawled out on the gazebo’s floor- dead. Eyes wide open. His neck ripped open exposing most of his neck’s vertebral bones. Bloody tangled strands of tendons, muscles and internal organs poured out of Oliver’s torso and flowed like molten lava to the ground beside his body. Kit and his mother knelt down on the bloody floor next to Oliver’s body. Tears flooded their eyes and sadness ravished their hearts. By now very few of the invited party guests remained. The majority of parents had grabbed their children and shielded their eyes from the savagery as they fled the park. Some retreated to their cars while others to made a fast retreat on foot into the suburban horizon. The crescendo of emergency vehicle sirens a few street blocks away signaled that medical aide and police would soon arrive.

Kit wiped his eyes. “Mom where’s Einstein?”

Cathy did not reply. Drowning in devastation, she could not take her eyes off of her dead father’s body.

Kit grabbed his mother’s right arm and pulled on it as hard ad he could.

“MOM!”

Again nothing. Cathy remained frozen in time. Deaf to the world around her. Helpless.

Kit felt sick to his stomach. He stood up, slipping twice on the pooled blood beneath his sneakers. Grandpa Oliver, Kit’s best friend in the world, laid dead at his feet. Murdered. Kit needed to remain strong. Grandpa would want Kit to locate- to save Einstein. Kit walked over to the banquet table his Grandpa had been seated . He squatted down to get a full view under the table. No sign of Einstein. Kit returned to Oliver’s body. "So much blood…" he thought. Kit started scanning the ground near where his grandfather’s head rested and worked his way down towards Oliver’s feet. That’s when Kit spied three sets of blood-stained paw prints leading away from the body. Kit scurried off in the direction of the bloody paw prints which led him some fifty yards away from the gazebo.  

Two police cruisers, an ambulance, and a firetruck arrived at the park’s entrance. As the fire truck slowed to a stop in the parking lot, both cruisers and ambulance proceed up onto the lush green lawn and drove straight up to the edge of the gazebo. Two female EMTs grabbed their med kits, jumped out of the ambulance and ran over to Grandpa Oliver’s lifeless body. The four police officers split up, one officer attending to the two shaken up neighborhood mothers, two attended to Cathy and grandpa Oliver, and the last officer proceeded to start taping off the crime scene.  

The dim light of dusk was proving to be Kit’s enemy as the encroaching darkness began to conceal the bloody tracks he was following. All around him orchestras of crickets began their moonlight serenade. Kit hesitated to call out to Einstein in fear that the police would insist on tearing him away from his mission to find Einstein. With no visible tracks left follow, Kit decided to continue straight ahead. Fifty feet ahead of Kit stood the tree line designating the entrance to Beasley’s Forest. Without a flashlight Kit knew that it would be impossible to continue his search into forest tonight. Suddenly a murder of black crows grazed Kit’s head as they sped towards the forest’s tree line blowing Kits dark brown, shoulder length, hair into is eyes, momentarily blinding him. Kit brushed his long bangs out of his eyes just in time to see the crows disappear into the forest. Kit continued walking until he reached the edge of the forest. 

In a soft voice, slightly louder than a whisper, Kit called out into the darkness surrounding him, “Einstein! Einstein! come on boy please…give me a sign…” 

Thirty Seconds, yet what seemed like decades, passed.  

“Kit! Kit! Where are you?”, returned a voice from a distance.

Kit froze in his tracks and remained silent.

Again, the distant voice called out, “Officer please help me! My son Kit, he’s here somewhere. I can’t find him!”

Kit closed his eyes long enough to let out a heavy sigh. It was no use. It was too dark to continue to search for his beloved friend Einstein. He spun around towards the red and blue flashing police cruiser lights. Kit had only walked two steps back in the direction of the gazebo when a voice from behind him awoke and said, “We’ve found him!”. Within seconds a brief flash of light appeared off to Kit’s right side. Then another flash, and another, and another. Soon an entire chain of flashes began to twinkle on and off as if in unison.

“Huh? Lightning bugs?” Kit muttered.

 All the flashes seemed to be forming some sort of a path that circled back and went into the forest. "But how could that be?" he thought.

“What are you waiting for kid?”, the darkness called out. “He needs you!”

Kit turned in the direction of the lightning bugs’ bio-luminescent path and began to run into the ever-darkening forest. Upon entering the forest Kit slowed his pace down to a brisk walk. With every step Kit felt the dread of becoming more and more lost in the forest. But he couldn’t abandon Einstein now. He had to continue to search. Twenty minutes of walking passed. Then out of the corner of his eye Kit spotted something partially covered by leaves ahead of him. Kit stopped in his tracks. Squinting…straining to focus ...finally... he was sure. It was a paw. A partially exposed bloody rear paw framed by a clump of butterscotch colored fur.

“Einstein!”, Kit shouted. Kit’s heart soared as he raced towards to motionless paw. Indeed, it was Einstein. A motionless, severely injured Einstein. Bathed in blood, leaves and mud. Cold…semi-conscious…shallow breathing. One by one the trail of lightning bugs slowly dimmed into the black of night. But not before four Northern Hawk owls arrived and perched themselves on tree branches directly above Kit and Einstein. Each owl turning their backs to Kit; one owl facing north, one facing east, one facing south, one facing west. Each one there to stand guard over Kit and Einstein.

Sensing that soon he would be left helpless in the dark, a tired Kit fell to his knees beside Einstein’s body... took off his windbreaker and covered Einstein as best he could. Then laying down next to Einstein; Kit closed his eyes for the night as he wrapped his body around Einstein to keep him warm. A weakened Einstein wagged his tail acknowledging he knew Kit was there with him.

Einstein let out a weak whimper.

“I’m so sorry Kit. I tried to save him.” 

Exhausted, barely able to force one eye open Kit replied, "Wha?..Who said tha-…Einsti-?”. But it was no use. Emotionally bankrupt and physically fatigued, Kit closed his eye and succumbed quickly to the deep pull of sleep.

It was not until a little past ten o’clock the next morning that Kit began to wake up. The warm sunlit drenched forest around him was crackling with life. Noticing right away that Einstein was no longer lying next to him, Kit rolled one hundred eighty degrees over onto his other side. Kit spotted the battered and bruised Golden Retriever approximately forty feet in front of him. Einstein sat with his back to Kit. Sitting in a circle facing Einstein were two crows, several hares, a white tail buck, and a beagle dog. As Kit stood up one of the crows jerked its head up and down causing the circle of animals to turn in the direction of Kit.

Einstein stood up and started to limp over to Kit. “Good morning Kit.”

Kit's eyebrows raised in shock and disbelief. “You can talk? But how…? No… this isn’t real!”

One of the crows piped in, “Yo Einstein, maybe this is a mistake.”

“Maybe we should stop now while we are…”, the white tail buck added.

Einstein stopped walking and looked back over his shoulder at his circle of friends.

Kit couldn’t believe his ears, “You ALL can talk? Einstein, what did that crow mean- maybe this is a mistake? I don’t understand what’s going on here.”

Einstein’s head shot back around towards Kit. "Wait a minute. Everyone just shut-up, please!” Einstein blew out a heavy sigh. "Kit… are you telling me that you can understand what my friends are saying?”

“Yea, I can hear everything you all are saying.” Utterly confused, Kit sat back down on the ground. Speaking more to himself than to Einstein and his friends, “I’m must be going crazy. Grandpa’s dead… and now animals are speaking to me…In English.”

Einstein replied, “This is incredible! Even as gifted as your Grandfather was, he could only hear me.”

Suddenly the beagle interrupted. “Incredible … yes. And potentially extremely dangerous if Orbadiah finds out the gift was been passed on.”

Replying to the beagle, “You’re right Glenda,” Einstein continued. “I need to bring Kit up to speed on everything- for his safety for our safety and for the safety of our missions… if we hope to continue them. Let’s everyone take a break and go our separate ways for now. I’ll be in contact with each of you next week to arrange our meeting place and time.” The other animals all agreed and one by one disappeared back into the forest. All of them except Glenda. 

Before departing Glenda added, “Einstein, I caught the scent of the Ruckus brothers after they retreated from their attack on you, Oliver and the two others. I am on my way to find their hideout. I’ll send you my report soon.”

Einstein nodded his head in agreement, “Be careful Glenda. We'll talk again soon”.

Kit and Einstein turned towards each other. 

“Let’s take a walk down to Wrinkle Creek.” 

Kit knew the creek Einstein mentioned very well. Situated on the outskirts of the forest, Kit, Grandpa Oliver, and Einstein spent a great deal of summer afternoons there together. 

“Okay.” Kit replied.

Along the way to the creek Einstein filled Kit in on Grandpa Oliver’s ability to verbally communicate with Einstein.

As they arrived at the creek’s rocky shoulder, they both stopped walking. 

Kit was first to resume speaking. “OK- so I get it. Somewhere during his childhood my grandfather inherited this special ability that allowed him to carry on conversations with his pet dog. But why all the sudden do I have it now? How did I inherit this from him on the day he died?”

“I can answer those questions.” Einstein replied, “Your grandfather knew Orbadiah had finally tracked him down. Orbadiah sent his two prized ruthless attack dogs, the Ruckus brothers, out to hunt Oliver down and kill him. Oliver couldn’t let his special ability, his gift, die with him. So, last night when you blew out your birthday cake candles the birthday wish was fulfilled.”

“Hold on a minute. That wasn’t what I wished for. When I blew out the candles, I wished for an i-phone.”

Einstein corrected Kit, “You weren’t the only one blowing those candles out last night. Remember? Your grandfather leaned over your shoulder and helped blow the candles out. It was the wish he made last night as the last flame died that was fulfilled. His wish, to pass on his ability to communicate with animals.”

Suddenly it all made sense to Kit.

"Your grandfather was an intricate member of a task force consisting of humans and animals sworn to hunt down, infiltrate, and destroy any organizations involved in the abuse or exploitation of animals. Our current mission centers around a sadistic animal abuser named Orbadiah and his global dog fighting empire.” Einstein paused momentarily, “Your grandfather always knew that you would be the heir to his special ability. This SUPERPOWER ability is yours now. Over the course of your life you will have the opportunity to save countless animals from torture and death. Along the way you will form many partnerships like ours. I hope you will treat these relationships with the love and respect they deserve." 

Kit stood silent. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes in memory of Grandpa Oliver. He looked up to the heavens, “Thank you grandpa! I love you.”

Einstein added, “Our mission resumes first thing tomorrow morning. But right now, we need to get you home.”

July 20, 2020 00:44

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3 comments

Jeannine Graden
01:22 Aug 22, 2020

Your ability to be given a "Prompt" for a story line & always come up with a Winner boggles the mind! Each story has such different themes...we believe this is a challenge you enjoy...you are able to flex your creative muscles in such fun, interesting ways...your choice of words are so colorful & descriptive...you have the reader right there with you...being dog lovers, your story spoke to us...how many times have you thought that your pet understood you & had his own way of communicating with you...your excellent writing acknowledged the a...

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J. Ernst
03:30 Aug 23, 2020

WOW! Thank you again!! I've always said if and when I ever sell a novel/story part of any earnings are going to help animals in need...so lets hope I am blessed enough to sell many books =) ! The biggest enjoyment I receive when I sit down and write a story is watching the ending unfold right before my eyes, which usually doesn't happen until the characters show me the way.

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Batool Hussain
14:11 Jul 20, 2020

Wow! This is a great story. My favorite part has to be be the ending. Wonderful! Mind checking out my new story and sharing your views on it? Thanks;)

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