Mark strolled along the sidewalk of the quiet street. He turned, and found himself in unfamiliar territory. This caused him to smile. His soft, gray eyes scanned the road ahead. He saw no one. Sighing contentedly, he continued on.
Or at least, that had been his plan.
“Hey there, happy man. Let’s see how happy that wallet of yours is, shall we?”
A voice that sang like a bird with clipped wings reached out to Mark’s ears. He did not tremble, and he did not feel the urge to shit himself. The speaker reached into Mark’s back pocket, which was a conclusively fruitless effort. Mark always kept his wallet in his front left pocket.
Without turning, Mark spoke. “I assume you have a gun. Otherwise, this would be quite silly of you.”
Like a small burst of concentrated thunder, the gunshot caused Mark’s eyes to widen significantly, and made his ears ring.
“I wouldn’t get smart with me, if I was you. I seen you around town, y’know. ‘Guy this happy,’ I says to myself, ‘must have cash like a kingpin.’” The flightless bird pushed Mark forward. Mark took three steps, and turned around. The motion was slow, smooth. Velvet against water.
The creature spoke. “Put your wallet on the ground, and I might let you leave here mostly alive, happy man.” He aimed the gun at Mark’s face. Mark’s form refused to tremble.
He smiled, and replied. “How was your weekend?”
The wingless man blinked. “What?”
“I asked how your weekend was,” Mark rephrased in a casual tone. “Mine was fine. Sure am sad I have to go back to work though!” Mark smiled. He took a single step forward. It was friendly. Welcoming. The kind of step that made you want to step closer in turn.
The bird looked confused. He shook the feeling away as best he could. The beak parted once more. It held less confidence. Still, a crazed menace clung to the belly of each word uttered. The song was bitter and cold.
“You think I won’t kill you? I’ve killed bigger guys than you, buddy.” The bird flapped its lesser wings proudly. “Smarter guys, too. Faster, better equipped.” A singular chuckle. The gun-wielding hand fell to his side. “None as happy, though. But you don’t look too happy now, do you?” The song was split along its seams.
Mark had taken another step forward while the bird spoke. It was not welcoming this time, but it was smooth all the same. He looked into the feral soul of the beast. “So, you really would then?” His eyes were still as silence. “You would take my life? You think that this action will make you happy?” The words were tinged with a deep sadness.
The bitter song flared in a crescendo of red ferocity as the beast threw up its arm. The gun pointed straight at Mark’s chest.
At least, where it had been. Mark’s foot lunged forward and to the left. He bent down with a swiftness unbound by the air that surrounded it. Now on the creature’s right, He lashed his arm out towards the hand that held indecent steel, the foot pushing and the torso extending as if it had exploded from a barrel of its own. The entire movement seemed to occur outside of time.
He grabbed the wrist. The beast’s eyes flashed from Mark’s face to his hand, blinking wildly, deranged in appearance. The redness of them did not frighten Mark.
His grip tightened, and the creature let out a wail of pain. Mark yanked the gun from the wild bird with his other hand. He then pulled the wrist forward, tripping the being in the process. It roared inefficiently as it fell awkwardly.
The attacker tried to stand, only to realize his ankle was no longer what it had been a few seconds before. He eyed Mark angrily, then fearfully.
“Look man, I didn’t mean it, I…just, gimme back my gun and we’ll be square, okay? No hard feelings!”
Mark’s eyes changed, then. The soft clouds of them, like sky above drizzle, hardened into a sharp shade of iron and anger.
The bird tweeted weakly. “What’s…now don’t go gettin’ mad now, you know probably better than most, guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to survive, right buddy?”
Mark did not smile.
“Flightless you are,” he spoke the words as thunder to lightning. His arm rose. The barrel of the gun rested between the eyes of the poor, poor creature. It blubbered without meaning.
“Flightless, you shall remain.”
The broken song could not be fixed.
Mark’s arm did not tremble.