Hope –

Hope –

April got up and stretched. She was tired of resting. She had followed her boss’s orders. ‘Take a mini vacation’ he said. It would take an Earth week before her new assignment was revealed. Time ran so differently in the realm she was in. An Earth week ended up being three weeks for her. There had also been times an Earth week was a day for her. No one understood why time between the realms changed constantly.
She slowly stretched her wings to show their impressive span. She loved her wings. She always wondered why the Earth people did not have them. They really were missing the beauty of flying. That was the one reason she hated working on Earth, because she could not use her wings. At least not when she could be seen. Unfortunately the inhabitants of Earth needed some slight course changes at times to get them ready for the big reveal.
Smiling she heard the pop; that small almost inaudible sound that let her know her next mission was ready. Walking over to the small disc that she had been given, she watched as it grew in size. There would be an video of who and what needed to be done. There would also be a hologram of her charge, so she would recognize the next target.
April walked closer to get a good look. There before her was the picture of a light skinned black female. She moved to read the stats. She stood five feet eight inches with hazel eyes. She weighed one hundred sixty pounds and had short brown hair. All in all she was an average Earth female. She looked to see what was so special about her and read the word “CLASSIFIED”.
She pulled her wings in tight to her body and tried to control her rage. How dare they classify this information when they wanted her to help the silly Earth chick? It was times like these when she wondered if Earth was really worth the time and effort to save. No time to pop into headquarters and her boss would not tell her anyway. Grabbing the hologram she disappeared, aiming for the woman’s position. What was her name? Scanning over the image she found it. Taraja. She hovered for a minute to locate her exact position and materialized.
She found her and wished she hadn’t. She was on the dusty floor of some long forgotten warehouse. The place was overrun with rats and other four legged creatures. Insects had made a home here long ago. There was even what looked like a drunk in the corner.
Taraja lay on the floor as if she had already succumb to death. April moved a little closer, wrinkling her nose at the stench that rose from her body. It was not the stench of death, but rather an unwashed body and a soul that had given up. Taraja was not dead, but she might as well be.
Looking around, April found herself debating what she should do next. She could pick her up and get her food, but would that make a difference? No. She would end up back here or someplace worse. This case looked lost before it began. Letting all logical thought leave, she did what she had always wanted to do. Taking her foot, she kicked Taraja hard. Her body never even moved. April reared back and kicked her again. She jerked just a little, but ignored April as if it had not happened. Moving a little, April lifted her leg and aimed at her midsection. Rearing back one more time, April kicked her in her stomach, watching her body dance as if a jolt of electricity had just entered. Smiling she dissolved and waited to see what course Taraja would take.

Taraja, had been laying on the floor for days. She had not moved, not even to do her business. She was ready for it to be over. It almost was. She was drifting on a cloud. Every day she was getting further and further away from her body. Each day she asked no one in particular to let this be the day it all ended. She couldn’t kill herself. Not that she didn’t want to kill herself, but she physically could not do it. She knew because she had tried. That was not normal and she knew it, but others seemed to think it was a joke when she asked them about it. It was ok. This time she was sure she would die. She closed her eyes and waited for the end.
She could feel something in the room with her. Something other than the rats that had tried to eat her. They had learned quickly that her body couldn’t be touched. If she was a believer, she would say that God was protecting her. But she gave up on him ages ago. This was something else. Maybe it was death coming to collect her. She could feel it coming closer. She relaxed even more, waiting for the end.
At first she didn’t even feel it. That small kick. Is this how your soul leaves your body? Was this the angel of death punishing her? Then the second kick came. It was harder this time. No she thought. Please don’t do this to me. If she could have, she would have ran away. As it was, she was too weak to even crawl away. She was at the mercy of the evil being standing by her side. Then there was a third fatal kick. She could feel it as it coursed through her body. She mentally screamed, no! But nothing helped. It felt like jolts of electricity going through her body, waking her up. Yet it wasn’t electricity. Electricity would have been welcomed. It was something much deadlier than that. She had been filled with hope. That dreadful, insidious feeling that all would somehow be well.
She had worked tirelessly to kill that in herself, in order to just give up. Now it was back. Her body had finally stopped shaking, so she slowly made her way to her hands and knees and started crawling towards the exit. All had been lost. She could lay here for months, but she would not die. Hope had a price. It was not free, but no one, except her seemed to realize it. She cried, but no tears fell. She had no more liquid left in her body. She made it out the door just before she passed out.
Taraja opened her eyes to see a blonde nurse looking at her.
“Welcome back, Tiger.” The nurse greeted her with a smile. “I know that’s not your name, but we had to call you something. So we voted. It was between Miracle and Tiger. Tiger won.”
Staring back at the nurse, she just waited. The questions would come, she was sure. How had she gotten to a hospital, she wondered? Why was she so weak? This had never happened to her before.
“You know we thought we were going to lose you. You were so dehydrated. In fact, the doctors were sure you were dead when you came in. I heard them say it was impossible for you to be alive.”
She just looked at the nurse and tried to convey her disinterest with her eyes. The nurse was right, but there was no way she would tell her. She had laid on that rat infested floor for three weeks. She should be dead. They would call her a medical miracle and want to study her. She would have to get out of here quickly. Why was she so tired? She had always recovered quickly. Had she almost succeeded this time? Now that was worth thinking about.
“So what is your name? I guess I can’t keep calling you Tiger now.” The perky blonde nurse smiled at her again.
She opened her parched lips to speak, but nothing came out.
“Oh I bet your throat is dry and sore. Let me get you some water. She quickly left the room and came back with some room temperature water. Using a straw she put it to Taraja’s lips.
“Personally, I was hoping your name was Toni with an I. That way I could keep calling you Toni the Tiger.”
Taraja closed her eyes and shut the nurse out.
“I guess it’s too soon for jokes. Just rest. The doctors will be in shortly to see you.”

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