Sitting outside the coffee shop. Alexus sat and watched his surroundings. Listening to the hustle and bustle of the everyday crowd of the city life in downtown Chicago. The sweet smell of bread wafted through his nose, tickling his senses. His stomach growled from hunger, but instead, he ignored it.
It was only mid-afternoon, the hot sun beating down on his leg, making him feel warm. He didn’t mind. He needed the extra vitamin D because he didn’t get out in the sun enough. Looking out into the busy street, from left to right, many stores and towering buildings stood looming overhead, keeping the majority of the sunlight to a minimum.
People continually walked by as the streets were usually busy with cars. Luckily at this time, it wasn’t rush hour, when the number of people was exponentially a lot higher. A hot breeze blew past him, and the loud chatter of people continually spoke with enthusiasm in the Cafe.
This store was one of Alexus’s favorite places to relax and enjoy the day. He always liked to sit down, read a book, or drink. Today he bought himself a cup of cappuccino and a croissant, but that was not enough. This was all he could afford at the moment. His money ran thin, and he could barely spend on such luxurious food. This was his treat for this difficult week. No, he should correct himself. A hell-like week.
Just thinking about what had happened made his head hurt, giving him a painful throb. He cringed. Closing his eyes, he tried his best to move the pain out of his mind.
“Calm down. Alexus. It’s going to be okay.” Alexus talked to himself to steady his chaotic thoughts. “Breathe.” He let out a long sigh that seemed to wallow in despair. Finally, the pain started to thin out and disappear, leaving him relieved.
Opening his eyes, He noticed the couple sitting near him looking at him strangely. He glared at them. They hurriedly looked away as if it was nothing and returned to their conversation.
Leaning backward, he let out a pained breath of relief. He picked up the cappuccino in hand and looked down. What stared back at him in the small cup of coffee was a man in his late twenties with sharp eyes, baby face, a small scar on his chin, and brownish to black hair that turned different shades under the sun.
He took a sip. Ah~ The taste of sweet coffee. This was the only coffee that he would ever drink. Straight black was bitter and made his tongue feel dry. But, he was happy with what he had. It was the simple things in life that made him appreciate it.
Still, six years of his life were gone in a blink. He was finally twenty-seven years old and yesterday was his birthday. Spending it alone without anyone to share it with. He didn’t have many friends up north; maybe it’s because he disliked the effort of making new friends; it was just too tiring. They were just a hassle at times, though he did miss them. He was originally from down south, where they all congregated.
He had moved north away from his blood family and lived with his cousin until he was twenty-five. It hasn’t been two years now since he left to find his place away from the noisy atmosphere of his relatives.
They were good people, but he felt it was time to move on. Try something new without wasting away at doing nothing but repetitive, boring work at the gas station: drowning away at the repetition of ringing up the money, stocking the shelf, and even cleaning the bathroom when no one was there. The night shift was the worst and the best time to work, excluding cleaning the nasty bathroom that people seem to leave behind. Especially the women’s side, let’s not go any further than that; all he could say is it’s a nightmare.
He could still remember it freshly in his mind as he reminisced.
“Alexus!” His boss shouted. He was a short bald man with a lopsided beard that grew oddly as he stood with his hand on his hips.
“Yes?” Alexus was stocking up the shelves for the past hours, trying to finish all he could before clocking out.
“What the hell have you been doing? This should have been up a few hours ago.” A growl escaped his boss’s lips, glaring at him with contempt. “I thought better of you than this. Every time I see you slacking off. At this rate, the turtles will outpace you.”
Alexus grimaced. That’s all he has been hearing from his boss for the past months. That damnable boss that didn’t know when to shut up. Ordering him around as if he was some kind of dog, at first, was tolerable during the first four years. Then something changed.
“If you don’t get this shit done, I won’t be able to go home and have to stay here with you the rest of the night!” He screeched.
Alexus rolled his eyes. He reached in his pocket and stuffed in an earbud, blocking out this man’s shrill voice.
Peace. That was what he wanted. Picking up the box of cans, he ripped it apart. Then, one by one, he quickly but efficiently stacked the cans neatly on the shelf. His head bounced with the music, moving with the grove. It wasn’t bad to move through the motions as he droned out his life and sound; something about hip hop sang with his soul, making me move much faster and efficiently.
Until he reached over and placed the can when he felt his earbud ripped out of his ears.
“Are you listening to me?!” His boss screeched like a banshee.
Alexus cringed, despising how this man spoke.
“I told you that we need to get all this done in thirty minutes and get out of here.” His boss droned on and on, stepping towards Alexus’s space, making him uncomfortable. “If we don’t get this done, I’m cutting your paycheck again!”
For a split moment, Alexus heard something snap. He didn’t realize that was his own mind, and he was getting tired of dealing with his boss’s bullshit.
“No,” Alexus spoke, having enough. He didn’t want to be the punching bag anymore.
In shock, his boss asked, “What did you say?” Slowly but surely.
“I said, No,” Lexus spoke. The whole thing wasn’t worth it. The stress, the anger, and the emotional drain of being put down as if Alexus was some kind of piece of shit, hell no. Alexus made quite a spectacle to the point where everyone was watching.
“You can’t say No to me?!” His boss snapped and shouted in pure anger and stress, nose-to-nose, to the point where his spit covered half of his face
“Well, I just did.” Alexus pushed his boss out of his face and moved to pass him, heading straight towards the door.
“I’m going to take it all off your pay!”
Alexus didn’t listen to him, tuning him out. His heart palpated, his ears buzzed, and all he could see was fury as he wanted to punch the man, but he didn’t. His boss was lucky because Alexus had a bit of sanity left, or he would have decked the man into the ground. It felt good when he walked out the door, hearing his ex-boss screaming at the top of his lungs.
Low pay and accumulated stress made him start having migraines; nope, definitely not worth his time. Still, even though he was searching for a new job this past month, nothing came up for him to take. This was a whole nother stress, mainly because of the monthly rent, the utilities, and the car payment. In addition, he was still knocking down the student loans he had accumulated for college. He had to pay for so many things, but he made so little money.
His goals in life have changed in the middle of college. He thought the path of a lawyer wasn’t the path for him anymore. It just wasn’t his thing, the numerous laws, the clients, dealing with the headaches and stress. He knew that this wasn’t his passion in life anymore, and refinding it was already difficult.
He sighed as he took another sip. He felt as if he had accumulated more stress than the whole year combined this past month. He has been having minor discomfort in his chest and obnoxious migraines. Yet, Ge didn’t think much of it and kept pushing through. Finally, placing the cup of coffee down, he leaned back, allowing himself to just enjoy the moment.
“Did you hear about what’s been happening on the news?” An elderly woman’s voice spoke out loudly, catching my attention.
“Are you talking about the Ouroboros?” A man with a deep husky voice spoke to the lady. I got the feeling that he was her son.
“Yea, another one has just found three days ago. I seriously swear it’s the beginning of the apocalypse. I tell you, each one of them is a monster.”
“Mom, what are you saying? You know that sounds like a complete lie. Just because they found a new type of person doesn’t mean they are monsters.”
She snorted at what her son said, “You don’t understand. The evolution of mankind doesn’t just happen with a snap of a finger in under three years. Their abnormality, I tell you.”
Her son sighed. “Mom, you’re too old school here. Who knows, maybe in ten years, half the population of humanity would evolve into an Ouroboros.”
“Highly unlikely, to be able to have some kind of genetic mutation is a sign of a genetic deficit. There have been reports that state that they are not stable in mind. What was it,” she thought it over, “a handful of them have already committed murder. What was the reason again? They were killing demons and saving humanity? These crackpot fools need to be sent to the insane asylum or jail where they belong.”
“True, there have been increasing cases of them killing someone. That is a problem, but they are far superior to the older generation of humans on their genetic level. If a scientist can break through their genome, the older generation can benefit from this. No more do we need to worry about diseases possibly even turning old. How would you like that, mom? Never aging and staying young forever?”
The mother thought it over for a moment. “It’s not too bad…I guess, but to use them as guinea pigs, isn’t something I like to hear about. It goes against my morals.”
“You just called them monsters. So now they are human in your eyes?” He chuckled at what his mother had said.
“Well….they were once human.”
“Mom, you need to choose. Either send them to jail or possibly get their genetic code cracked, in which case they’re saving many lives. Possibly even getting you younger till you die.”
“I’m not so sure about this.”
“Well, just think about it for a moment before you decide. There’s never a rush on something this important.”
“I guess you’re right. But, still, why did these Ouroboros give it that name? Ouroboros. I never could figure it out.”
“That’s simple, really. The reason why is really simple. These people just called themselves that. He said that supposedly there is some kind of primal energy or a sleeping snake ‘coiled’ at the base of the spine, waiting to be ‘awakened’ to reach spiritual enlightenment. From his resurrection, he reached that first stage of enlightenment and eventually changed to what he is today.”
“That sounds a bit fantastical, don’t you think?” The mother scoffed at the idea.
“Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not sure, but more Ouroboros appeared with similar features after that, though one has to wonder what he says might have possibilities. On the other hand, I have to wonder why they have a high level of aggression. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“To me, it sounds like humanity took a step backward instead of forward.”
“Mentally, maybe. Physically, no.”
“Well, if you say so, honey.”
Alexus couldn’t help but chuckle at them. For some reason, the thought of his mother was brought back into his mind. She was also a problematic person, denying things that didn’t fit into her ordeals, but at the same time accepting if clear reasoning was given.
Though the whole concept of using the Ouroboros as a science experiment didn’t sit right with him, they were still human in his understanding; nothing much had changed, but their high-level immunity and self-repairing cells were three times faster than an average human.
The man said that the number of aggressive Ouroboros has exponentially increased over time to where they were labeled as dangerous. Still, hearing about them being inhumanely treated wasn’t any of his problems. His problem was he needed to find the cash fast, so far, all his savings had dropped down to a couple hundred dollars, and that wasn’t enough to pay for everything. Even food was eventually going to run out in the next week.
This past month, He relearned the value of food. He had completely forgotten what it was like to starve without having much to eat. So, scrounging around, trying to make the most of a meal of simple ramen by adding a couple of strips of chicken or beef, he took off such a simple meal for weeks.
Alexus’s eyebrows furrowed, and the swarm of stress again swamped him, pulling him back to the repetition mindset of ‘what does he need to do next to survive?’ So many ifs, buts, and what could’ve happened if he stayed at the job. He shouldn’t worry too much about such thoughts and instead move forward with what he could do next.
Once again, Alexus felt a strange tingle on his right shoulder. It persists over time, growing and even spreading downwards on his arm and body. Finally, a sharp pain erupted near his heart, making him clench his chest. He leaned forward, trying to lessen the pain as best as possible, but it just wasn’t enough even then. The thoughts of the past quickly dissipated and instead were replaced by pain until finally, he couldn’t breathe.
Alexus’ eyes quickly became blurry, making it difficult to see. Finally, he collapsed onto the table, his body slowly losing the ability to hold himself until he fell to the side with a clatter.
Shit. Was this the end of my life? Was this all he was paid to? Dying here in the middle of the city accomplishing nothing? I haven’t even found a girlfriend in a long time, he scrunched his hands tighter on his chest, hoping to stop the pain, but it intensified.
People got up and looked over, wondering if Alexus was okay. Then, the young man who was talking to his mother ran over.
“Are you okay?!” The young man shook him, trying to help him get on his back and see if he would respond.
Alexus’ mouth opened and closed. He honestly tried, he did, but the pain was too intense. It is mind-numbing, making it difficult to even respond. All he could do was stare at his face, trying to tell him that he was not okay.
“Someone call 911! Quickly!” The young man shouted, searching for anyone to do what he asked. His mother quickly responded, picking up her phone and dialing the number.
Alexus couldn’t hold on any longer, and a sharp stab trickled down his heart to his lung, and his muscles contracted as he blackout. Then, he saw the man mouthing a couple of words he didn’t catch.
<Previous | Next>