"Didn't you hear me? I said, don't feed the cats!"
Bill turned and looked at his mother. He scratched his nose and extended his arm out the back door, ready to drop the scraps. "I don't see what's the harm. The poor things will starve if we don't feed them."
"They can go to their owners if they want food. We're not some blasted cat charity service. And put your lip in while you're at it. Hanging there like a wet flannel over a broken towel rail, I dunno. Face tripping you all the time these days–" She shuffled away, shaking her head.
"Oh alright then," Bill shouted at her retreating back. He closed the back door and stomped over to the bin to get rid of the scraps.
"And you can cut out the sulking while you're at it. A great lump like you? You're not a child anymore."
Bill decided not to retaliate. He knew better than to cross her when she was in one of her moods. Though these days, one of her moods seemed to be every second. Menopause was her excuse. His parents' words met his ear clearly through the banister as he climbed the stairs, making his upper lip twitch.
"...The trouble is, the neighbors have been complaining to the council about rats. They say it's cos of all the food thrown out for the cats. If you ask me, Bill's the worst culprit behind it all. Feed the blasted cats, feed the birds, feed the fucking hedgehogs."
"...Aw lay off the lad, he's only trying to do some good. Better than being one of those little thugs who tear up cars and steal bikes."
"...Well, I suppose that's true, still–"
He tiptoed on up to his bedroom. Lying in the cool of his dark room, he felt relaxed. The walls were adorned with posters showing the signs of the Zodiac and in particular the new age of Aquarius soon to come, the Babylonian map of the world, a timeline showing human history up until the year 2012, charts depicting the seven chakras of the human body among others, namely old high school stuff. The room was where he went to meditate. His life needed an occasional rebalancing and the posters helped him to focus. Though according to the weather forecast, a thunderstorm was on its way. Nothing better than bad weather for calming the mind.
As the dark clouds rolled in, Bill grabbed his umbrella. Thankfully, nobody was downstairs when he entered the living room. The TV was on loud enough to wake the dead and he caught a glimpse of an audience clapping as a host cracked a joke. Useless shit. What good was it for anyway? Nothing more than another means of keeping the population subdued. If they were all hypnotized, they were easy to manipulate. His Zeitgeist DVD warned of such brainwashing. Individuality was a key component of transcending to a higher spiritual dimension in the age of Aquarius soon to come.
Bill needed his mind clear. His psychic guide Cindy told him that he needed to be more grounded in reality. His thoughts were all too often in transcendental ethers, which wasn't good for him since his chakras were already blocked by strong interference from past lives. He was trying his best. The fifth dimension was the last place where evil could reside, she told him, and he was working hard to purge his life of all previous residue. It didn't help that he had been high up in the Freemasons once before and had laundered money for the secret world bank in Switzerland, and a dark prince another time who had sold his own people as slaves to the enemy after consulting an obsidian mirror. In another past life, he had tried to rectify the damage as a Colonel in the SS, who had tried to help Jews escape from Warsaw, but had been captured and didn't finish the good deed. In all his past lives, people had suffered as a result of his power. And now he was working to channel that knowledge for good, not evil. It really was tough living as such a high spiritual being with a raised level of consciousness when he had parents who did their best to demean him and no real money to call his own. Still. He slid a hand into his pocket and felt for the small polythene bag. Rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger to feel the coarseness of the plant fibers inside, he smiled. The Shamans of Stonehenge and Atlantis knew the secrets of the herbs for millennia and had passed them down to only a privileged few. Cindy was in the direct bloodline of the original shamans, and had set him up with a secret supplier, her astral twin Mahgogh.
As he passed into the kitchen, Bill saw fat droplets smash against the window pane outside. He opened the door to the back garden, glad that night had fallen early due to the storm. The rain plopped onto his umbrella. One or two rebellious raindrops splattered his cheeks. He fumbled in his pocket, his fingers catching a few strands of dried plant. Onto his tongue. Bitter. He closed his eyes against the onslaught from the heavens and savored the taste for a brief moment. Then he planted himself on a sawn off tree-stump, the metal rod of the umbrella wedged in his armpit. He crossed his legs into a half-lotus and relaxed. Lightning flashed above. The sky shone pink in the glare. Bill let his eyes glaze over as he stared at a point several cubits straight ahead. The rain drummed a rhythm on the plastic of the umbrella. He felt as hypnotized as the people on TV had been. What was life anyway, if not one big game show?
Nothing ahead. Darkness and beyond it, the fence at the bottom of the garden. A few shrubs. Bill's eyes gazed upwards at the purplish clouds. The rain drops were silvery in the light from a nearby lamp-post.
It came at first as a fragmented image. An outline of a cheek. A temple. Chiseled. Indeterminable if it was male or female. An eye. Almond shaped, high and sloping downwards towards a tear duct closely set to a well sculpted nose. The bridge of the nose tapered, finishing in a pinched stub. Then he saw hair, long and curling. It was reflected golden in the flashes from the storm. The long locks framed a heart-shaped face that was set by two pointed ears like triangles on top of the head. A cat-like being. More beautiful and graceful than man. An Arcturian.
Bill gasped and the vision was gone.
It had been floating like a dream, suspended in the air in front of him. In its absence, the darkness seemed more intense as if he had been robbed of a precious possession and left with an empty space. But no, there was more. There was movement.
He squinted into the gloom. Yes, somebody was there. The snapping of a twig announced the presence of another being in the vicinity. Bill felt his body tense.
"Who's out there?"
No reply. Silence.
And then a breath. Heavy on the moist air.
"Shit!" said a woman in a voice close to a hiss.
"Mum?" said Bill.
Then he saw her, stumbling between bushes a few feet away. Even behind the foliage, he could see that she was semi-dressed. Her short denim skirt was riding high on her thighs and she was wearing only her bra, carrying her shirt in one hand. Behind her—
Bill fell off his tree stump. He couldn't believe what his eyes were showing him.
His mother was having an affair with an Arcturian being.
"Get the hell back into that house!" his mother yelled. "This is none of your damn business!"
And her fists rained down on him, fiercer than a thunderclap, heavier than a fell smiting from Mjölnir.