Maelstrom Extra: Feline Ways

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 reviews (Comments): 10
Kalila drifted under the door in a plume of blue smoke. She sensed the apartment was empty, but drifted from room to room, just to be sure. Where the hell was Ricky? She stretched her consciousness in search of him but found only a static of aggravation. Was he stuck in traffic? Negotiating a contract? Perhaps someone had done something to offend him.

No matter. She would wait.

She pulled herself together, swirled, and became lighter, with golden fur and white whiskers. In a single lithe movement, she leaped onto Ricky’s bed and stood for a moment, looking about with an air of feline superiority. Then she sat on her haunches and began washing herself, licking her paws and swiping them over her face and ears.

When she was groomed to her satisfaction, she stalked to the head of the bed and curled up on Ricky’s pillow. She dozed for a bit, dreaming of guitars and tuna, until her sensitive cat’s ears and powerful djinn consciousness told her he was home. She lifted her head off her paws when he entered the room, and she followed his movements with grave attention.

“You wouldn’t believe the day I had,” he told her.

She resisted the temptation to tell him she’d seen worse.

“People suck, you know that?”

Yes, she did know. But what could one expect from humans?

“Sometimes I wish…” He had been emptying his pockets, putting wallet, coins, and BlackBerry on the dresser, but now he turned and looked at her. “You really have it made.”

He sat on the bed and she climbed into his lap, purring at his touch as he buried his fingers in her thick yellow fur.

“You’re lucky to be just a cat.”

She was hardly just a cat, but this didn’t seem the time to point that out.

“No troubles, no real worries.”

Silly mortal. Of course she had worries. But right now, they didn’t seem very important.

“How about I get us something to eat and we’ll watch a little TV together?”

Kalila watched him leave the room and flicked her tail in annoyance. She didn’t think much of the kibble he put in a bowl on the floor for her each night, and she thought even less of human television shows. But Ricky’s lap was warm, his touch electric, and at least as a cat, she could enjoy him without any fear that he would misunderstand and think she actually…well, of course she didn’t love him. Djinns didn’t have such feelings.

She heard the kibble in the bowl. She would go out there and vanish it when he wasn’t looking, so he would be reassured that he was doing right by her. Poor human. It really was tough to get through the day when you were merely mortal.

She leaped to the floor, and with tail held high, sauntered from the room.

Maelstrom Extra: Civilized

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 reviews (Comments): 10
The band members looked around in silence while Ricky tipped the bellboy. But as soon as Ricky closed the door, they fanned out to investigate. Bo went into one of the rooms and threw himself onto the bed. Vic and Lazaro hurried to close the drapes against the afternoon sun. Nevin wandered from room to room, gazing in raptures at the art on the walls and the freshly cut flowers in crystal vases.

With a skeptical expression, Kalila crouched to examine a Persian rug and smiled to discover it was the real deal. She stood up and began searching for the perfect spot for her travel lamp. “I like this place, Ricky.” She set her bronze oil lamp on the fireplace mantle, took a step back and considered. “It’s much more sumptuous that the dives you usually book for us.”

From one of the other rooms, Vic called, “I could do without all the windows, though. And has anyone seen my shroud? I know I didn’t forget to pack it.”

“Well, I think the windows are lovely,” Nevin said. “Or they would be if we could have the curtains open.” He stuck his nose into a vase of roses and inhaled deeply. “This is so nice.”

“I thought since there’ll be a lot of publicity for this festival, we’d make a good impression on fans and reporters by staying at the same hotel as the headliners,” Ricky explained. “Behave yourselves, and I’ll continue putting you into places like this.”

Shirtless now, Bo left one bedroom, sauntered into the other, and once again threw himself onto the bed, this time bouncing a little and tossing a pillow in the air. “They went all out on the furnishings. These are good posture-pedics. I’ll get a kick out of putting them to use.”

“Stop that,” Ricky said. “No more than two groupies, no wives or girlfriends from other bands, and don’t even think about fondling the maids and other hotel staff.”

“You’re no fun.”

“Use the tour bus,” Vic advised.

“If he uses the tour bus, where will I hide the bodies?” Lazaro asked.

“Uh, guys?” Ricky held up a hand for their attention. “None of that, okay? You’re in a civilized place, so would you please try to act the part? Fake it. Just for a couple nights.”

Vic leaned against a door frame. “We’re a rock band. Just how civilized are we supposed to be?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Kalila gave Vic a subtle wink, then put a hand on Ricky’s arm. “Don’t try too hard to make them understand,” she said, her voice like a cat’s purr. “How about we go to your room, and you can explain it to me there.”

“I don’t know if…I mean, I thought you were going to rehearse.”

“Later.” She tugged on his sleeve. “Come on. Let’s see if your room is as nice as ours.”

After they left and the door clicked shut behind them, Vic and Bo exchanged a look.

“Party time?” Lazaro asked.

Vic shook his head. “I just want to find my shroud so I can take a nap.”

“None of you will mind if I watch one of the porn channels, will you?” Bo asked.

“Just keep the volume down,” Lazaro said. He found one of his bags and pulled out a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. “I want to get caught up on my reading, and this has a lot of big words. Your movies distract me.”

While everyone went their separate ways, Nevin conjured a small stringed instrument and found a seat near a window. He pulled the drapes aside just enough that he could see outside and enjoy the view, then he began playing. Ricky really did worry too much. Demons could be as civilized as anyone when they wanted to be.