Gunther Frederickson pushed open the front door of his flat and sat heavily on the lounge. Another day had ended, but all too soon, he would have to return to the window factory. The boss tried to over enthusiastically sell the idea that he would earn extra money. Overtime every day, plus Saturdays only brought him up to an average wage. It made him feel used and contemptible.
Other men in the factory didn’t seem to mind, but then their lives were compensated with someone to go home to. It led his thoughts to a single girl in his church. It was unrealistic to hope she would ever accept him.
The tendril reeds in the fish tank overpowered his attention. A few koi threaded among them above the white, gravel bed. Even they faded from his thoughts as he took in his reflection. Although only twenty-eight, the first lines of age creased the sides of his green eyes. The other day, he noticed a few strands of silver in his brown locks. For almost a year, he had kept his jaw clean shaven, removing ten years from his face each time he removed grey whisker. Age faded his already slender chances at love, putting any hopes well out of reach. He sighed heavily. So this was it?
“I just breathe in and out until you call me home, do I?” he said to the Lord. “There’s got to be more than that.”
A black cat with a white, lower jaw leapt onto the TV cabinet, jolting him from his musings. It leant over the top of the tank and dipped its paw within the bubbling pool.
“Blacky, get out of it!” he growled.
Gunther rose from the lounge and grabbed the huge tomcat. His purr rumbled loudly on contact and continued as he carried him back to his seat.
“I don’t know why I put up with you,” he softly chastised.
The cat ignored him and pushed his head up under Gunther’s chin. He looked into the cat’s eyes.
“You know how much I love you? Why, a whole elephant full of love,” he quipped.
Something red showed in the gravel, a ruby the size of his fist. That wasn’t there before. He got up again and dipped his hand in the tank, under Blacky’s watchful eye. His hand curled around the gem and lifted it free. It glimmered above the surface then flashed. A thousand scenes entered his mind at once, all involving the ruby. It sat on top of a candelabra in a European monastery. A Viking plucked it free. The next he saw, the Viking stood with grizzled, grey beard on the deck of his longship. In a violent storm, he lost the gem over the side.
Gunther witnessed the gem sink to the sand of the ocean floor.
A damaged U-boat sank to rest beside it. Decades passed before a historic salvage ship stopped and a diver found the gem. Images continued to flash in rapid succession. The gem changed hands a dozen more times, but nothing to explain its appearance in his fish tank. Whatever the reason, God had obviously placed it there. Did it do something special? Did it enable him to do something special?
Blacky rubbed against his leg. The hairs on his arms bristled and grew, covering them entirely in a black sheen. He kicked off his shoes. His feet were the same. The rear window and the tree beyond, beckoned to him. He leapt and balanced on top of the railing without the slightest waver. The tree ahead extended a stout branch to the side, four metres away. For no reason, he felt sure he could make the branch and leapt. He fell short and desperately reached. Claws sprang free from his fingers and hooked into the bark. He scrabbled onto the branch and sat. The fur on his arms receded, restoring him to normal. It seemed the affects were only temporary. A pigeon almost flew into him. He lifted his hand protectively, brushing with its wings.
How was he to get down now? Fly? Fly; why did it occur to him that he could? He dived out of the tree. Wings snapped free and swept him up gracefully alighting on the next roof. When he reached back, they receded from his touch and disappeared altogether.
He smiled at the orange sky. Whatever God had planned for him had to be big.
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