Over the last century, mortals developed incredible technology to study and record meteorological events. They did their best to understand and to predict the weather. They were getting better, but they didn’t have it just yet. I started following the sciences, taking courses in schools, studying their books and technology. I never stayed in one place too long, keeping myself moving to avoid crossing paths with those I knew.
With the invention of the Internet, I had signed up and taken courses online, staying hidden in my remote mountains. I became a licensed meteorologist, known by my professors as being “uncannily accurate.” What they did not know was that the Anemoi were my family, and I knew their patterns. The Anemoi had tried to train me to be like them, moving the soft air fluidly, and seamlessly transitioning the seasons. I am either calm and stable or abrupt and wild. There is no in-between.
My professors pushed me to continue my studies and become a climatologist. Instead, I started a consulting business from my hidden cottage. My clients grew from small local news stations to some of the most influential national and international associations. With the profits, I began buying equipment to set up around the world so I could gather information and data to complete my research. I had published a few papers and became a well-known name in those circles, but I’ve never had a job. And I’ve never had a job interview.
I kept fidgeting with my hands as I walked into the café to meet with Wendell. He had been a client of mine for about three years and had previously offered me jobs at the station he ran. We had an agreement where he paid me exceptionally well for exclusive forecasts, leaving his competing stations struggling to be as accurate.
Inside the café, I asked the barista for a hot apple cider. There was a couple drinking coffee on a couch, a teenager sat at a table with a laptop, and two gentlemen were outside chatting. Cup in hand, I let the smell of apples and cinnamon mixed with the subtle aromas of the coffee shop fill my nose. I was reminded of a long winter evening, sitting with Pittusiak purring by the dimming fire. With that bit of comfort surrounding me, I found Wendell sitting alone at a table outside, a coffee cup in one hand, a cellphone in the other.
Wendell was a short man, a little heavyset, balding with grey hairs. He was waiting for my arrival, checking his phone constantly. He furrowed his eyebrows at whatever he was reading, and his chubby fingers moved swiftly across the keys.
I cautiously walked up and asked him, “Mr. Thompson?”
“That’s me.” He looked up, surprise and curiosity forming in his brown eyes.
“N-Nice to meet you, I’m—I’m Kia,” I stammered out. I brought my cup close to my chest, my fingers lacing around each other, searching for comfort from the warmth.
“Wait—You—You’re Kia?” His voice raised an octave as he asked, the incredulity leaking from his eyes and mouth. He shook his head and stood quickly, nearly knocking his chair over. “Nice to meet you too,” he said and reached out his hand.
I offered my trembling hand in response. He shook it firmly, enthusiastically, even though my hands were barely above freezing, and then gestured for me to sit down.
“Now, forgive me for what I’m about to say, but there is no way that you are the Kia Moroz, Meteorologist and Climatologist.” He paused and blinked at me twice, tilting his head to the left before a hint of a smile formed and continued. “You are far too young and pretty to be so accomplished! And far too intelligent to be nervous. Also, I get no hint of a Russian accent.” He smiled warmly through the barrage of compliments, and I noticed his sharp eyes watching me. His journalist instincts were honing in one any story flaws he could find to pick at.
A genuine laugh escaped from my lips as I relaxed more into the conversation.
“I am Kia Moroz, Meteorologist. Yes, my last name is Russian. I am not Russian, and I am not yet considered a climatologist, despite my papers on the subject.” He nodded along, and I wanted to tell him more, to keep him smiling at me. It had been so long since I had heard someone say something nice about me.
“So, what the heck are you doing here, asking about a job? I thought you were working remotely doing research in the mountains?”
“I am researching climate change, but it seems I’ve been called down from the mountains to deal with some…family issues. I can continue to do my consulting work, but my research will have to wait. You’ve been asking for years for me to come and train your meteorological team. Is the offer still on the table?”
“Kia, you’ve already made us the best weather network. The job was always yours. I think Andy will be thrilled to pick your brain.” He thought for a moment, as if to phrase it as delicately as possible, “Are these—ahem—family issues you mentioned, will they interfere with the work you’re proposing?”
“Trust me when I say that they won’t interfere with the work I do.” My forced smile faltered as the temperature dropped around me, goosebumps forming on his skin. I need to control my emotions, I thought.
“So what are you proposing to do for us then, Miss Moroz?” Wendell took a sip of his coffee and looked over the rim of the cup at me. I tried to calm my fast beating heart and remember the plan I had formulated to keep me in sight of the mortals, but without revealing who I was.
“Please, call me Kia. What I’d like to propose is to first meet your team, and get to know how your station works to present the weather—”
“You want to learn the ropes of being a weather girl?” he interrupted, and his nose bunched up as he rolled the thought through his head.
“No, but yes, sort of?” I floundered for words, trying to realign my thoughts. My fingers interlaced, and I rolled them around each other as I worked on forming a coherent thought. “I want to learn how you present and what can be done to improve upon that, to get more people interested in learning about the way weather works.”
“Oh, I see.” Wendell was nodding again as if he understood my intentions, but I’m not sure he did. “So you will want to come into our station and get a feel for how it runs, then you can tailor what you teach to how it would be best presented to encourage more viewership?” He summarized for himself and nodded. “I like that idea. Yes, I think that would work out great.” He paused and narrowed his eyes before asking, “Are you interested in doing the presentation yourself?” I gripped my cup tighter in front of me as a chill ran down my spine.
“No, thank you. I don’t think I want to be on camera. Ever.” I shuddered at that horrible thought; the lights on me, camera pointed at my face, as I tried to spit the words out in front of an audience. I shook my head to clear it and released the cup from my iron grip, the cider now frozen solid.
“Did it get colder out here?” he asked, rubbing his hands together. His cell phone vibrated on the table, and he sighed as he picked it up and silenced it. I felt a warm breeze blow by, a soft caress against my arm, and the napkins on the tables fluttered. My heart jumped into my throat, and I looked around, alarmed, trying to find the source of this unfamiliar warming sensation against my cold flesh. My arm defrosted, and I reached for it, trying to brush away something that wasn’t there. I thought I heard a soft giggle as the warmth faded and the napkins settled. Wendell looked unperturbed at the change of wind and sighed into the warm breeze as the surrounding temperature settled.
“Alright Kia, I’ve got to get back to the station. I’d love for you to meet Andy and the rest of the meteorology team. Can you come in early next week? We can have you observe, meet the team, ask questions, and then set a schedule to teach them what you know best?” I nodded, swallowing hard past the lump in the throat. My heart was beating wildly. His phone vibrated again. “Sorry again, Kia, I’ve got to take this.” He put his phone to ear and walked away, waving goodbye. I sat there a few moments, holding my now frozen cider, trying to get my heart to slow back down. Just breathe, I thought. Was that a normal interview? He barely let me speak. I let my skin frost over, helping to ground me, watching the fractals form along my arms. My eyes widened when I felt a sharp sting on my forearm. It felt hot, and I held out my arm to examine it.
On the inside of my forearm, there was a pink mark where my arm had thawed. My eyes widened with shock. There, perfectly formed in my reddened skin, was a child-size handprint. I glanced around, doing a full sweep, listening for what I then knew was a giggle. I wondered if I could follow the breeze, and set off in the direction she took. My arm still stung, and the warm handprint was fading as I thought about who it could have been. The laughter was clear in my mind as I followed her. I stumbled as I hit a wall of energy and lost the trail. Instead, I found myself staring up at an enormous, towering building, radiating power. The God Complex.
I had arrived at my new home.