Blink

Sarah had always wanted to be a super heroine. The obsession had begun from an early age, ever since she had first laid eyes upon the original Wonder Woman TV show. Her parents were both avid comic book fans and felt it was hugely important to educate their daughter by exposing her to as much different superhero related content as possible. Sarah wasn’t entirely keen at first. She tried classics such as Batman, Superman, The Hulk but found the lack of super women a bit disheartening. Lois Lane wasn’t a complete damsel in distress but Sarah found there wasn’t much else to her character. It was only when she got a hold of X-Men that she started to gain interest. Characters such as Storm, Mystique and Jean Grey immediately grabbed her attention and she spent a good few hours in the garden one afternoon, trying to change the weather. At one point she willed it with all her might to rain and five minutes later it started to drizzle. Sarah was so ecstatic but when she tried to make it stop, she was in no such luck and realized that it was just a fluke. Disheartened, she spent the next few days shut up in her room, sulking. Sarah’s mum had remedied the situation by showing her Wonder Woman and the determination to become a super heroine had returned once more. The strong, self independence of Wonder Woman amazed Sarah and she made an oath that day that she would never let any man tell her what to do.

As Sarah grew older however, the dream of becoming a super heroine began to slowly fade away and by the time she got to college, the urge to become the next Wonder Woman had nearly vanished entirely. As a child she had been able to devout pretty much all of her time to such tasks as discovering and honing her abilities, drawing and designing potential costumes and practising her fighting. After her first week at college she soon learnt that most of her time would be spent revising, working and partying. Her parents had given her the comic book collecting bug but unfortunately they didn’t come cheap and Sarah had to work part time in a book store in order to fund her addiction. Ironically due to her college workload and job hours she hardly got any time to actually read them. A rare free evening was seized upon hungrily and she took great delight in retreating inside her bedroom and gorging herself on issues of Catwoman and She-Hulk. Unfortunately this left no time for socializing and she soon began to suffer from loneliness. The only semblance of a friend she had was Nicole, who was a bit of a wild card. Nicole liked to get drunk, party and chase after boys. Sarah was the exact opposite and this was probably the reason they were friends. Sarah knew the only way to get to know Nicole better would be to force herself along to a few of the parties. As the weeks went by the parties increased and the collection of comics on Sarah’s shelf became dustier and more unused.

Her mother and father tried their best to keep her interest in comics and superheroes but by the time Sarah got to university, her parents had split and she found most of her time was spent away from home in her halls of residence. During term holidays she made as much effort to visit both her parents as possible but found travel and cost an issue. There was a brief period where she started to hang out with a girl who enjoyed comics as well and she found it refreshing to be able to return to her childhood past time. The two formed a strong friendship and even spent a considerable majority of their free time, illustrating and writing their own graphic novel. Sarah’s friend Ginny was a very talented artist and Sarah had a knack for inventing interesting stories. This carried on for a year and half until disaster struck when Ginny returned home after failing her first year for the second time. Sarah tried to keep the project going but soon realized that she couldn’t draw for shit. She tried making friends with several of the art students but came to the conclusion that they were either too pretentious for their own good or young men trying to impress her in order to get in her pants. Feeling at an all time low and sharing a flat with people she didn’t even like, Sarah began to feel disillusioned. And not just with the project. Her grades began to suffer and she became a hermit, locking herself away in her room. The few friends she had, tried to coax her out on a few occasions but Sarah refused each time, realizing that she had only become friends with them out of loneliness. Her only true friend had been Ginny, who had ditched her and run back to Birmingham. Sarah decided to skip a week and go and see her dad. She felt slightly guilty missing lectures but was so distracted in her lessons that she didn’t think it would make much difference any way.

Her plan was to spend a few days at her dad’s and the remaining days at her mum’s. She was looking forward to spending some time away from the university side of her life and being able to enjoy some family time. Unfortunately neither her dad or her mum would let her. All her dad was interested in was showing her the latest superhero film or buying her a new comic. He spent the rest of the time asking what comics and games Sarah’s mum had bought her. When Sarah got to her mum’s it wasn’t much better and after two days, was also drilled about what her father had given her. Sarah spent the coach journey back to uni in a foul mood, feeling that her holiday away had been more stressful then her shit at university. How dare her parents attempt to outdo one other and compete for her love? It made her sick. Her interest for comics and superheroes waned and soon after this, when she finally graduated from university, her interest in this area was all but gone. Although she still enjoyed the occasional comic before bedtime, it had slowly began to dawn on her that she had spent the whole of her childhood and teenage years engrossing herself in the comic book culture to please her parents. This resulted in her feeling like an empty vessel, without an identity or a purpose.

By the time she was in her early thirties Sarah had forgotten all about comic books and had spent the last six years focusing on her career. Not that she was exactly any happier. She worked as a location manager, a job which involved scouting out locations and places for production companies. It sounded glamorous but the reality was long hours, unpredictable weather and dealing with obnoxious members of the public. The money paid well but the stress was unbearable and her dedication to her job resulted in her social life suffering. She had been single now for the last three years and even the occasional date she had managed to go on had ended disastrously.

In an effort to change her lifestyle Sarah made some drastic decisions. She quit her job and returned to her passion of writing that she discovered at university. But this was not enough. The lack of life in the house had been gradually getting to her, growing in intensity over the years. Her Japanese Peace Lily was on the verge of dying and just sat in the corner, looking wilted and dead. To remedy the situation Sarah had come up with the ingenious plan of getting a cat. So for the first time in years Sarah had slept in late, not rising out of bed till gone twelve. She had wandered around the house aimlessly, unsure what to do with herself. The sensation was odd. She felt an immense sense of freedom but at the same time her brain couldn’t really comprehend the new found liberation. The compulsion to check her Blackberry for messages was too much and eventually she had to turn it off and force herself to relax. Instead of grabbing a piece of half burnt toast on her way out the door, Sarah made herself a proper English breakfast and sat on the balcony in the mid morning sun. The fresh air and the plentiful food helped her relax and soon she began to unwind in the warm heat of the sun, like a lazy cat. It was highly satisfying to have a decent cup of tea. Sarah had become all too accustomed to the mud, brown substitute for tea in the flimsy polystyrene cups issued to her on the production sets. For the first time in a long while Sarah was able to sit down on the sofa with her cup of tea and leaf through a newspaper. After five minutes of reading however she got fed up with the consistently bleak articles and threw it down on the table with a sigh. Heaving herself out of the much too comfortable settee she moved into the bedroom and dived into the back of one of the wardrobes. A series of tuts and groans followed as she flung clothes and bags into the bedroom behind her. Eventually she cleared enough space to reveal a large box sitting at the bottom of the wardrobe. She heaved it out and carried it to the living room coffee table. The box was extremely heavy and she had to lie down for a short while in order to recover her strength. When she felt recuperated enough she sat up, opened the box and peered gingerly inside. It was full of comics, ranging from thin paperback issues to large volume bound graphic novels. Sarah ran her finger over their spines, a sense of deep nostalgia rising within her. Closing her eyes, she picked one at random and was delighted to see that it was an issue of She-Hulk. Cradling her cup of tea in her hands, she curled up into a ball on the sofa and began reading.

After having spent a lovely morning relaxing and reading, Sarah decided to go down to the animal shelter in search for her cat. Her parents had never allowed her pets when she was younger as they were too paranoid that they would damage one of their precious comics or comic con costumes. But now Sarah had her own house and her own set of rules and allowing pets was one of them. She ended up spending a good couple of hours at the animal rescue centre and wanted nothing more then to take them all home with her. It was a difficult task choosing which cat, as they were all so cute but eventually she found the one for her. It was a young, lean looking thing with jet black fur and emerald eyes. The guy showing her around had warned her that the cat was a bit scatty or prone to mood swings as he put it. This was due to its previous owner being a nasty piece of work who use to mistreat her in a number of sadistic ways. The guy also explained that because the cat was in its teenage years she might be a bit of a handful. However Sarah was adamant and explained that now that she was working freelance she would be able to spend a good amount of time training the cat. There was something strange about the animal. As if they were an energy that drew Sarah over to her cage. The other cats were nice enough and she paid them a fair bit of attention as she passed by but when she reached the black cat’s cage it was as if someone had thrown a lasso around Sarah and reeled her in. All the other cats had mewed and jumped up against their cages as Sarah wandered past. All of them that is, apart from the black cat. In fact, at first glance she had thought the cage was completely empty. On closer inspection she had noticed a movement in the shadows at the back and had seen two large, green eyes staring back at her.

The journey home was a tad stressful and Sarah was keen to get back as soon as possible and let the cat out of her claustrophobic carrier. She tried to drown out the small creature’s whines and grumbles by brainstorming possible cat names. Selina was the obvious first choice. The mysterious nature and black fur complementing the character of Catwoman well but Sarah felt it was a bit too cliché. Black Widow was another possibility but she didn’t like the fact the name had more in common with arachnids. Plus it was a bit of a mouthful. Diana, Rogue and Storm were also possibilities as she definitely had the personality to fit them. As Sarah pulled into her driveway she faced the problem of having too many names as opposed to too few.

The first few weeks were a challenge but not in the way that Sarah had predicted. She was under the impression that the cat (due to its poor first owner) would run amok around her house, scratching at things and generally being a destructive nuisance. But this wasn’t the case. Instead she hardly saw the cat and would spend ages searching every nook and cranny for the aloof beast. She hadn’t got to the stage of letting her out yet for fear that the beast would disappear entirely. Every time she was convinced the cat had somehow escaped and was about to leave the house with a handful of missing posters the cat would suddenly appear out of nowhere, demanding to be fed. This is where Sarah finally got inspiration for the cat’s name: Blink. One of the less well known characters from the X-Men series who possesses the power to open portals, allowing her to teleport from one location to another. She thought it was a fitting name for the ever vanishing creature.

On one occasion she had managed to sneak up behind Blink, before she had time to disappear but unfortunately received several vicious scratches for her troubles. Wounded, Sarah had given up and left Blink to her business, nursing her stinging hand on the sofa. A few hours later Blink appeared on the armrest. Sarah had jumped at the cat’s sudden arrival and flinched when it sprung onto her lap. To her surprise Blink did not attack her but instead curled up in her lap and licked at Sarah’s scratches. She was over the moon at Blink’s sudden change in behaviour and seized the opportunity to stroke and caress the cat’s smooth fur. The two had fallen asleep and a few hours later Sarah woke with a sore neck. Blink had vanished and Sarah was astounded to see that the scars on her hand were nearly healed. Sarah thought back to when Blink had licked her and wondered if it had had anything to do with it. Surely Blink couldn’t possess some sort of magical healing abilities?

A couple of days went by and Sarah was still struggling to come up with any ideas for her graphic novel. Sitting behind her typewriter at the kitchen table, she was almost tempted to jump on Facebook and look up her old friend Ginny. But try as she might, Sarah couldn’t work up the courage to do so. As she sat there staring at the blank page in front of her, a black blur zoomed past in the corner of her eye and she looked up surprised. The room around her was empty and untouched. She lowered her eyes to the page once. There was another black blur and an open letter on the coffee table flew up into the air suddenly. Sarah got up and retrieved the fallen letter, glancing around her with a puzzled expression.

On an evening out with some of her media friends, Sarah had drunk a little too much and had let slip about her cat’s strange behaviour. Her friends had laughed at the fact that she thought her cat had some sort of mystical powers and explained that the cat was obviously just sneaky and able to hide easily. No one could explain the matter of the healing scars and Sarah suspected that none of them believed her, assuming she had made it up.

As the weeks went by Sarah struggled on with her story and even though she had begun to make progress, she felt it was slow going. Money was becoming a serious issue and Sarah had underestimated the cost of keeping a cat. Regrettably she made a few calls and managed to get a few days work location scouting for a TV advert. On the last night of the shoot she had returned home in the early hours of the morning, drained and in dire need of a generous glass of wine. As usual Blink was nowhere to be seen and so she went to the kitchen cupboard to fetch the cat’s food. To her astonishment she discovered Blink hidden inside the cupboard, gorging on the cat treats. Sarah had flipped her lid and locked Blink in the bathroom as punishment. It was only when she sat down that she begun to wonder how on earth Blink had gotten in there in the first place. Sarah had picked that Cupboard as it was very high up. Even if the cat had managed to get up onto the counter, the jump up to the cupboard was near impossible and there was nothing for her to use as purchase.

Sarah finally got to a stage where she had no idea what to believe anymore and in a desperate attempt asked the cat if she had superpowers. Blink had given her a curious look and Sarah had laughed, feeling stupid at herself for even believing it.  To her astonishment the cat sat down on her hind legs, opened her mouth and spoke the words. ‘Yes, I do indeed have superpowers.’

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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