I can feel spring inching nearer with each passing day. Hasn't been much of a winter at all anyway. Grey days pass into sunny ones; temperatures fester at freezing only to leap-frog suddenly to the near 60's. Such is life in the Midwest. Such is life in hell. Hell was not designed to be anticipated, not promoted for its consistency and seasonably appropriate style and flair.
Tell me again how this is all about global warming. I kill you. This is the Midwest. Global warming is a phenomenon of continuous increase in surface temperature which has and will continue to warm the seas, melt glaciers and ice caps, and cause erratic changes in precipitation, and the on-going effect of your excesses will result in your intimate knowledge of the chaos that is hell, not a punch-line for every winter day that plunges below the freezing point. So say something more about global warning. I kill you. This is the Midwest, and hell has only begun to visit you.
I feel spring reaching, sending out its feelers and feeding on the abundance of sun, a strange winter to be sure, with tulips and crocus blooming far sooner than their due...I feel it. My cat twines about my itchy ankles, he feels it. He wants out. But I can't allow that as yet. My cat, my Shadow, black as night and twice as ornery, claws like talons and eyes the dragon-green of his ancestors (an ancestry, oddly, consisting of the rogue dragon or two...not that the average cat could survive such a union...Shadow's parentage is, odd, at the least, but he seems to enjoy the shape he has assumed these many years, so long as I add the correct amount of raw virgin flesh to his kibble) longs to stalk the wooded ambrosia of the tangled wood beyond the hood, where deer dance fearless for lack of hunters in the city limits and kids in gang colors pretend to the thrown of their older brothers, raping abandoned and soon to be demolished old houses on the Queen City side, dealing a little weed and nailing stray dogs to hidden trees along Sunset.
The Astral Plane has been indulgently silent. Ah, adverbs, how I loathe thee. However, the Astral Plane has been silent, in an indulgent way, and to hell with manuals and how-to's, when adverbs serve. I was tempted to unleash my Shadow on the wooded lots of the unusually silent hood, but for the sudden presence of...
Shadow Clones. Not the many duplications of a Naruto but the silent choir of neighborhood cats - black cats, fat black cats lazily (there go those blasted adverbs!) lounging about my porch and yard, in quietly occult imitation of my shadow. But not my Shadow. As my Shadow seems to have intimated...thus his itchy urging to be outside.
I cannot allow this without a better understanding of what these Shadow Clones represent.
It may seem as nothing to you, casual blog reader...passerby on the great express that is our shared train ride to hell. But to one such as I, a yard full of Shadow Clones is enough to offer prudent pause. After all, I only just returned from a subtle trap buried in the majestic monotone of a common summoning...only barely survived the fallout of your average virgin haunting. I know when the universe is trying to tell me to watch my step.
So I watch.
And Shadow watches, from a convenient window sill, the edge of the slightly cracked door or from my shoulder as I mumble a tithe or two to my patron God of Chaos, hidden among the frail but visible pattern of odd winter branches in strong spring-like sunshine. The bastard whispers and disappears back to somewhere in the multiverse, and to hell with the asshole anyway, if Elric is so much more important. I watch and Shadow's claws remove another layer of flesh from my shoulder, aching to take on the crowd of Clones growing along the edge of death's winter grass that make up the front hill on my lawn.
They have stationed themselves along the walkway, along the side of my house, where the weeds grow a wild chaos and the neighbors scowl and wince. They have appointed a forward guard along the fallen tree in the back yard and scouts at either side, taking reconnaissance from the abandoned tires to the left and the neighbor's fence to the right. There are captains stationed before the warped garage door guarding civilian shadow females and litters hidden in the old and unused garage. I attempt a request to parlay from my kitchen window but it is answered by angry meows, claws, and at least one attempt to take the back door by force (until the rogue unit was called back angrily -- fucking adverbs!-- by its captain). At last, a delegation of Clones approached, with great caution, the back door to my kitchen.
I answered their call to negotiations in kind. I allowed my claws and my teeth full reign and invited my Shadow to assume a more...traditional...shape.
I can feel the subtle approach of Spring. Something about the early bloom of tulip and crocus in the yard, the way the trees - once skeletal and gleaming in a bony way now filling out in the boomtide of sun--fills the yard with shadow. I step out upon the porch and I hear the silence of the hood: distant police, an ambulance, someone honking their horn to get someone on the third floor of some some-place to come on and get going. My Shadow, fatter now, more complacent, purring to the hesitant noise of deer skimming the yard, chomping heartily on someone's crop of fern or hostas, meowing to me of cabin fever and the on-coming adventure of new life and new...
But I cannot forget the way he grew. The way his mahogany fur tensed, allowing layers of chitinous ebony scales to grow out from beneath its layers, fangs like great canines elongating to desperate scythes of a vast demon crop-master taking out the comparatively tiny stray kittens by two's and five's until a field of flesh blanketed the dead grass, slowly but decisively (adverb?) feeding the spring-thirsty crab grass into true life. Into the warmth of an odd February night, I looked upon green green grass and trees shocked into leaf production a month or two early.
And Shadow hastens no longer for the fields, but licks complacently at his own ass, as I know we all wish we could, because hey, I know I'd never leave the house if I could reach...with my own tongue.