By Jonathan Susvilla

“Come here, Nora. Here kitty kitty.” Joshua scooped up the playful cat, brought it to the kitchen, put it on the island table, and stroked its belly, whilst taking out a knife, and murmured, “Take this, you little fucker—”

To the cat’s horror, Joshua stabbed it on the paw. He was quick to grab the now escaping and screaming cat. Upon contact, the pet convulsed, gave a final high-pitched screech that ceased all of a sudden.

Joshua put down Nora, which jumped off the island to settle on the couch. He followed her, sat beside her, and combed her soft fur with his fingers, sliding his hand to the paw that he had stabbed. “D’you see that, Nora? I have powers!” he told his repelling cat after seeing no trace of a cut. “Hah! How is that even possible?” He gasped. He began tracing back his whereabouts prior to that baffling incident and recollected nothing unusual transpiring that could result to him having been bestowed this superhero-like ability. He recalled getting lost in a movie that rather put his girlfriend to a snuffling sleep, and having a delectable dinner after. He pondered it could be he’d had this for a while and that only now did it have a chance to manifest.

He reached for his phone, thrilled to let his girlfriend know. Just as he was about to call her, his phone squealed so loudly, it startled him. He almost dropped it.

Speak of the devil. “My god! Joshua!” screamed his girlfriend. “I’m here at Dirk’s! I found him! I guess he’s dead! H-he’s in the bathroom . . . found him there! Oh my god! Come quick!”

“What happened?” Joshua inquired. “And why are you there?”

“He . . . We-we-we were g’na do something,” Laura said, hesitating. “Long story. God! Joshua, just come quick!”

Twenty minutes later, Joshua was knocking at the front door. His girlfriend, crying an ocean, opened the door, hugged him, and quickly wrenched him toward the bathroom upstairs.

“Wait,” Joshua said as he broke free from her clutch yet still following her. “So you came here and you just found him dead up there? How did you even get in? You’ve keys to his fuckin’ apartment?”

“I do,” she said, bowing down her head as if apologetic, but quickly snapped out of it. “Can we talk about this later, please?”

And there Dirk was—a little damp, exposing his log, lying down dead as a dodo. Joshua knelt down, noticed the slippery tiled flooring, surveyed Dirk’s body for any bruise or wound, and brought his ears close to Dirk’s nose to check for breathing—not breathing.

“Oh god,” his girlfriend screamed as Joshua shot her a blank stare, covered her mouth with both her hands, and turned around as she chuckled in remorse—reminiscent of a turkey gabbling.

Joshua was well aware of his ability by now but was uncertain if it would prove useful to somebody who’s already dead. He moved to touch Dirk but was stopped by the thought of just why his girlfriend was there—having even a key to the house.

“Is he dead then?” Laura asked.

“I think so. Did you already phone the police?”

“No! Should I call them? Is he really dead? D’you check the pulse?”

Joshua didn’t want to touch him in any way. Just the likelihood of them having an affair behind his back was just too much to bear. He’d rather that Dirk rest in peace. But what if it’s not true? They could be planning that surprise party for him. And quickly with no second thought, he gripped Dirk’s wrist, and just as he expected and to his dismay, the asshole came back to life—Dirk so suddenly awoke in a starving gasp for air as if surfacing after being submerged on water for a period beyond the endurable time.

Laura turned quickly at the sound of breathing and rushed to the disconcerted Dirk for a bone-breaking embrace. The scene just furthered Joshua’s gut feel. “We thought you were dead!” the ecstatic, teary-eyed Laura said.

“What happened?” Dirk, who’s rather calm, inquired.

“You must have tripped as you stepped out of the tub,” Joshua tried to shed light to it.

“I was conscious . . . but I could not move my body. I felt like I was in a dream I could not wake up from. I felt weightless and began to float. Then felt some force . . . some shock . . . that seemed to breathe a new life to me. It woke me up.”

Dirk narrowed his eyes, crossed his brows and slightly pouted his lips before darting uncomfortable stares at Joshua and Laura, back and forth. While Laura was side-eyeing Joshua. There was silence—awkward silence.

“Okay! Glad you’re okay, man.” Joshua filled the dead air.

“Your birthday! We were gonna plan your surprise part—that’s why I’m here!” Laura exclaimed in an attempt to explain her shady presence at the unlikely place.

Unconvinced, Joshua turned to Dirk, subtly dismissing Laura’s alibi.

“You might wanna get scanned for any internal injury. And as for me, Imma head home . . . finish my laundry, feed my cat, murder my neighbor . . . I dunno. Ciao!” Joshua directed Dirk, tapping his shoulder, gripping it, and shaking it firmly twice. He turned back to Laura whose head was down. “Your fuckin’ boyfriend needs a ride to a hospital!”

Now traversing the lengthy pathway across the rather scantily lighted park heading home, Joshua kept thinking about just how he never had an inkling there was something going on between the two. He lit a cigarette as he paused to sit on a bench. He started to regret he deferred Dirk’s entry to hell. He thought of Laura, whom he had been with for years. He completely understood it’s a possibility they’d fall out of love. In fact, he saw it coming. He just expected Laura to be honest to him had it occurred to her. And of all people, why my fuckin’ mate?

His thought quickly transitioned to the strange ability he obviously possessed. It was a complete puzzle how he got it, but instead of spending time trying to make sense of it all, his thoughts centered on the range of possibilities of what/where/who he could exploit it on. He could pop in to a hospital, touch every person there dying or in a critical condition—an excellent idea. An idea he disputed right away—Why the fuck would I do that? Nothing in it for me. Having just helped an unworthy bastard, he was resolved not to waste it on anyone but someone who truly deserved it.

He quickly thought of his adoptive mother, the only family he had, who passed away the year before. If he could play Jesus to “Lazarus” Dirk, maybe he could raise mommy from the dead too. He tossed the cigarette butt, and as he began to rise, he felt feebleness—his body seemed to want for him to just take the weight off his feet and slumber. And his body started to be intolerant of the cold.

He reached home and made for the bathroom right away. As he gazed at his reflection, his pale face and dry, cracked lips said hello. He felt his neck—rather cold. He began to feel thirsty. He surveyed his whole body and noticed his skin was dry. He reached for his back and found it scaly; so were his outer thighs. He spent minutes looking at the mirror—motionless, sunk in thought. This so-called gift definitely wasn’t going to be squandered on just anyone. Hell no.