“Give me one good reason why I don’t blow your head off,” the man said.
I glared at him. I wasn’t intimidated, and I wanted him to know it. He didn’t know who I was, which was why he thought his toy would work on me.
He pumped the shotgun, maintaining his aim at my face. The mechanism kinked like air being shot through a narrow tube and popped loudly to signal the threat was real.
“What did this woman look like?” I asked.
“I’m not going to ask you again,” he warned.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied. “I know who you’re referring to, and trust me when I tell you that what she said was a lie. I’m not who or what you think I am, and neither is she. This doesn’t concern you, and I’m trying my best to keep you out of it. Your involvement is unnecessary, so I’m going to ignore this unpleasantness. Okay? So, a fill-up on pump two and a carton of reds, please.”
The clerk squinted down at me over the tip of the gun. His thick eyebrows pinched together, and his pupils dilated, covering the dark brown color. He was calm, even though his stare suggested different, his hands were still, and the shotgun didn’t move an inch. He had been in a similar altercation before.
“I know what to do with you,” he muttered. “I know how to deal with your kind.” The man reached under the counter, keeping the shotgun fixed at me, and retrieved his phone. “I’ll let the law handle you.”
I snorted in derision. Mortals are so stupid and can be extremely predictable. His hatred for me fueled my being as if he’d plugged me into an outlet for god power. I looked over at Hatred in the car. Her face was glued to me, and her nose almost touched the glass. She smiled, breathing heavily, and fogged the glass with every exhale.
Her excitement gave me excitement. I relished the familiar feeling. I allowed the clerk to feel safe as he dialed the desired number on his phone.
I knew I was close, and I was gaining on her. Her poor attempt to interrupt my pursuit told me she was desperate to create the necessary distance between us so she could lose herself amongst the chaos of this world. I wouldn’t let that happen. It has been long enough since I squabbled with a mortal. I wanted to see if I was rusty.
I yanked the gun from his grip. My movement was too quick for him, and it jarred him forward. He scrambled over the counter to attempt to retrieve the shotgun, but failed.
I smashed the butt end of the handle into the bridge of his nose. The strike sent him backward, sliding across the countertop, and he disappeared behind the counter. I popped the gun open and dumped the shells onto the tile floor. The hollow clanking signaled to him that the weapon was useless.
When I moved to the counter, the man swung a wooden bat wildly at me, trying to dislodge my head from my neck with every frantic swing.
Blood poured from his nostrils and ran down each side of his nose from the wound I’d inflicted on the flimsy cartilage. It trickled onto the counter as he climbed over it. I took a couple of steps back, laughing at his demeanor. It made him hate me more. That was the idea.
“The authorities are on their way,” he grumbled, spitting blood as he spoke.
I cocked the shotgun back into place before I broke it in half over my knee. I dropped the pieces onto the floor.
“Do I look concerned?”
His eyes widened in disbelief. He looked at the pieces and swung the bat at me once more. I evaded his strike and punched him in the jaw. His teeth rattled and broke from the impact.
I kicked the bat out of his hands. It tumbled through the air and crashed through the glass onto the pavement outside. I gripped his flannel shirt in both of my hands, hoisting him into the air.
I felt the emotional shift within him. His anger morphed to fear, his hatred changed to a plea of clemency, and his pupils reduced back to their normal size. His chin trembled as he tried to voice his request for me not to hurt him anymore.
My eyes didn’t move from his. I just stared into him, suggesting that I didn’t care what happened to him and that I could end his life with a simple flick of my wrist.
He didn’t know who or what I was. I had to continue to remind myself of that fact, and I wasn’t interested in killing a mortal, even though this one deserved more of my fury.
“I don’t plan on killing you today,” I said, smirking with self-satisfaction. “But I will leave you with this… Remember this the next time you assault, threaten, or treat a stranger with disrespect. You never know who may be on the other side of the counter, and there’s nothing stopping any of us from reaching over it to put our hands on you. Got it?”
The clerk nodded rapidly as his lips trembled. He fought back the tears, but failed as a couple made their way down his cheeks and dripped from the end of his jaw.
“All I wanted was a fill-up and a carton of reds,” I continued. “I could have been gone by now.”
I looked over at Hatred. She had fogged up the window and managed to write Hurry. I was impressed because she wrote it backward to her so it would be readable for me.
I heaved the man back into the glass shield above the counter. It shattered upon the impact of his large body. He smashed into the cigarette display and fell unconscious to the floor. The packs and cartons of cigarettes poured from their spouts onto him, covering him up with a make-shift tobacco blanket.
I strolled to the counter and pulled out three twenty dollar bills. I hopped onto the counter and ripped the cash register drawer open. I placed the three bills in their proper place and dropped down next to the clerk.
The carton of reds rested on top, tilted downward and off to the side. I reached down and picked them up. That carton covered the side of the man’s face. His eye blinked rapidly as he attempted not to look in my direction.
I chuckled, kneeling next to him. I didn’t want to say anything to ruin his lesson or kill the moment I had created for myself. I plucked the cigarette he had behind his ear and placed it between my lips. I flicked the edge of my match and ignited the tip, whipping the flame out from my match. I took a long drag and exhaled it at him.
“Keep the change and have a nice evening,” I said.
When I exited the store, Hatred and Jealousy motioned to me to get to the car. I climbed in, tossing the carton onto the center console.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We’ve got company,” Hatred answered.