You give love a bad name...
The massive black jaguar sat back on its haunches, angling its weight, ready to pounce. The man clenched his eyes shut and raised his arms in a futile attempt to guard against the inevitable attack, but where he expected to feel sharp teeth tearing through the delicate flesh of his neck and claws the size baseball mitts with steak knives slicing at his chest, he instead felt...
ice cold air.
He opened his eyes to find a woman now standing on the staircase, blocking his exit from the basement. A woman with jet black hair, dressed in black from head to toe, who still had the glowing emerald green eyes of a hungry jungle cat.
"You still don't get it, do you?" The woman asked.
"Get what? Did you just... jump through me?"
The woman nodded, the look in her eyes quickly shifting from ready-to-attack to thoroughly annoyed.
He took a step forward, as if he still intended to
escape. It was, after all, what she wanted. For him to leave. Whoever... whatever... this was, it needed to get out of his way. He had to go get help.
"You are the help."
The woman stepped to block him as she read his thought.
He looked at his feet, then at his hands. He patted his chest.
"Am I a... ghost?" he asked.
The cat-eyed lady laughed out loud. "No, honey. You're way worse than a ghost."
What's worse than a ghost?
"A memory," she said, reading his mind again.
She reached her hand out, as if she were trying to help him up the last few steps. He scowled but instinctively knew he had to take it...
In an instant, light grew from the place where their hands connected and he was no longer home. He was sitting in the passenger seat of his wife's Volvo.
"Sara?" He looked at her. She was sobbing loudly, her cheeks wet with tears, snot dripping from her nose. He went to open the console where they kept the tissues and realized he had no substance; he was seeing her as if he were there but made of thin air. Like a ghost. Unnerved by his new existence, he turned his attention outward.
She was driving fast. Too fast.
And he knew this road. It was dangerous. It should have been a four lane road, but it was still two, for miles and miles. She never liked to drive it, always asked him to. She hated trying to pass semis because she wasn't good at judging how far away the oncoming cars were, or how fast they were going. Especially in the dark, like this...
He blinked and felt a hand in his again, and he re-opened his eyes on the basement stairs with the cat-lady again.
"Do you get it now?" She asked pointedly.
"Oh, my God. What the hell is she doing?"
"It's simple. You're a memory she can't live with. She's making a choice."
"No," was his simple reply and he knew in that moment what he had to do. He rushed down the stairs, back to the corner of the basement where she was. Still there, still with a gun. Still surrounded by monsters that materialized with her pain.
He understood now, he was in her mind. He walked confidently toward her, knowing that she could aim that thing at him and fire it, or she could tell those monsters to attack, and maybe it would kill him and maybe it wouldn't. Every step towards her brought the beasts more to life, the reality of their viciousness growing as he closed the distance. She stood to her feet, aiming directly at him, and in the distance behind her in the dark, he could see the headlights of a Mack truck that were getting too close. He didn't stop.
He was close enough now to touch her, and she was squeezing the trigger. There was rage in her eyes, disbelief at his reappearance.
"Why won't you just go away?" she screamed at him.
He put his hand around the barrel of the gun, half expecting his ethereal flesh to slip right through the metal. Relieved to feel the substance of it, he yanked the gun from her hand just as the weight of her world engaged the hammer with the bullet.