I call this type of story " ghetto science fiction". it is a fusion of urban literature and speculative fiction.
Shaun, also known by the thugs and prostitutes in her project building as 'Shorty Ma', gets the 411 on everything happening in and around her hood before any of the other shorties.
For this, she is rewarded and bribed by many to stay quiet and to report.
One morning while on her grind she discovers a strange looking dog in a smoky pit near her building.
She decides to sneak it upstairs to her unit, but after approaching becomes entranced and "changed". After wreaking havoc upon friends and family, she becomes part of the creature and goes into hiding, only to emerge years later as a leader of a clan of inhuman predators who prey on those out to misuse, exploit or murder the innocent.
She is later hunted down by a rebel of her clan, her cousin, Born Understanding. A wise brother who, even as an inhuman, has a sense of right and wrong beyond his insatiable appetite for blood.
Here are the first 3 chapters. To view entire manuscript pls contact me.
by Pucali Raw
2002 East Fort Lowell Road
PROLOGUE:NIGGAS NEED TO WATCH THE NEWS-1996
“…Lot of strange things going on in Chicago this morning. In my opinion, the weather today…which is much different than expected earlier this week, is a directly linked to the strange storm in the cosmos last night. According to NASA satellites, a few small comets hit the earth in various spots and various cities this evening… and well, we were one of them. As you can see, on my chart here, very erratic weather, very extreme temperature and moisture differences in each part of the city.
Near the lake, it’s like summertime here—68 degrees on the south side and warmer the further north we go…76 around downtown and 81 closer to Evanston…it’s just amazing.
…One of the small comets that made it to our city landed somewhere near Northwestern University. It dropped pieces of itself elsewhere before landing. Scientists found no harmful residuals in the air or soil where it landed…”
“You see that shit last night dawg?”, Lonnie asked Travis tiredly, leaning against the wall nearest to the lobby of building 712. He reached deep into the left front pocket of his blue Dickies and fisted a huge roll of bills.
His serious dark brown eyes were aimed in the direction of the vacant lot beyond tenant parking.
‘Damn,…I wish those Vivarins I popped would hurry up and kick the fuck in’, he thought to himself at the same time.
His eyes were getting lower and lower by the minute.
“Un-unh…what?”, his boy responded distantly, rocking in place not too far away from him , clutching a pint of some cheap gin wrapped in a small, beat-up brown paper bag.
Travis took a quick swig then squenched his face up from the bitter bite of the liquor as he swallowed.
“Woooo-“, he sang, face shaking, looking like a nigga at church about to catch the holy ghost.
Lonnie looked at his homie slowly, taking a pull from his Newport. He shook his head. Travis’ ability to consume massive quantities of the strongest and nastiest shit never
ceased to amaze him. The nigga had been drinking all night. Started off with a 40 of King Cobra, took a rest on some Pepsi, picked back up with some Mad Dog 20/20…steady worked his way up, still standing and shit.
“I said-you alcoholic ass nigga-did you see that shit last night?”
He pointed in the direction of the vacant lot. Travis’ eyes followed his finger lazily.
In the distance he could see a transparent film of white, hovering above the lot, close to the pit.
“Oh snaps!”, he said aloud, almost in a whisper though, squinting a little to adjust his drunken vision, he could see Shaun’s hella bright red shorts and barrettes. Her skinny little legs dancing like she had to use the bathroom.
He shook his head pitifully. Just as he was about to say something about it…
“Some shit blew up over there last night. Straight up.”
His hands tried to animate an explosion.
“Like KAH-BLOW nigga. Sounded like that one time on New Years Eve when I gave my sawed off to some lame on tha roof of this bitch…or that time when niggas made one of them Anarchist’s Cookbook bomb shits and let it off in the staircase…Remember that night nigga?”
By this time Travis was laughing his ass off, holding his stomach. Almost dropped his pint of ghetto gasoline-but he wasn’t gonna let that happen.
“ Ni…nigga , you crazy”, He managed to get out between guffaws, fumbling with his bottle. He caught his balance again, took a another swig.
“You know what that shit was?”,he asked, heavy slurring taking over his voice. Nigga was lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Hell naw. Don’t wanna know either. Long as it ain’t messin’ with my fetti.”
“Chuuuuch”, Travis responded, putting his fist out for a pound. Lonnie hit his fist in agreement.
They had been on their grind all night. Slinging them rocks and blows.
“Think I saw Ma Shorty standing out there in the lot”, Travis said suddenly, motioning back towards the lot with the hand his bottle was in.
Lonnie shot him a confused look, taking the last drag from his Newport 100. As he blew out a gush of smoke he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders.
“Who Ma Shorty?”
He knew her as Shaun.
Travis burped, smelled like car fuel and White Castle hamburgers. Lonnie waved in front of his nose, letting his butt fall to the ground and stomping it with his right foot.
“Damn nigga. Smell like you died inside nigga. Shit, you straight up need to do some shit ‘bout that maggot breath dawg. Keep fuckin’ with that 20/20 and 151 yo ass liable to blow up from the booty up.”
“Fuck you dawg,” Travis laughed out, clinching his bottle even tighter. He squinted back in the direction of the lot.
“Naw, for real tho’,…Ma Shorty…Wendy and Maurice’s daughter. That smart lil’ girl that be knowin’ the 4-1-1 on shit. The one who found yo steel nigga!”, he concluded, pushing Lonnie’s shoulder playfullyfor emphasis.
A picture of the little girl who found his steel flashed into his mind. He smiled. He liked her. Little girl had hustle, smart too, unlike her Ma and Pops.
Ma Shorty’s parents were Lonnie’s strangest customers. They were the only crack fiends he knew that had the patience and resistance enough to only smoke twice a day-once real early in the morning and then again late in the evening…budgeting and shit. They could both keep a job too. Keep that fetti coming in the door for them rocks…on special occasions a few toots of ‘girl’.
“Aw yeah,Shaun…Lil’ Ma Shorty.”
He felt kind of sorry for the little cutie. But he knew she was going to be something to deal with when she matured. She had already seen and heard too much at her age. Didn’t have a filthy mouth yet though, that seemed to him quite a miracle being where they were at.
ON HER HUSTLE
‘…Unnnn, that thang nasty lookin’…’, Shaun thought quickly, dancing from skinny leg to skinny leg, shooing away a big ass fly with her free hand.
‘Po’ ugly thang.’
It was oily and black with a tint of purple and had long
pointy ears. Its shape was like a kangaroo’s. Bugged out hair…long here, short there-like a bad weave, crispy in some places too, burned the fuck up black like the last ball park frank off the grill on the Fourth of July.
The ugly dog was st-st-stankin’ too.
Shaun’s nose wrinkled deeply as it moved suddenly, but smoothly. It stopped just as quickly, it seemed, and began whimpering in pain. It’s left paw vibrated , raised a bit slowly, then dropped helplessly back into the blackened dirt beneath it.
‘…you still stank tho’.’
The ugly dog’s mangled coat was covered in ashes of various shades and thick, moist patches of rocky, brown dirt.
A thin, sour smoke hovered in the air, stray paper that had been thrown about was still burning.
She had never seen the vacant lot near her project building looking so jacked up. I mean, it was always torn down looking 24-7, no doubt, but that day it had some extra fucked up special sauce on it.
The air coming from the pit where the dog lay was tarter than a grilled sour pickle. All the soil in and around the pit where the ugly dog lay was overturned, vomiting out forgotten liquor bottles, paper bag pieces, candy wrappers, disturbed insects, popsicle sticks, empty dime bags, crack vials.
Shaun shook her head pitifully as her eyes travelled the small area. Her tiny, but plump and over glossed brown lips
blew out some frustration.
She just knew some grown folk had been out there, the night before probably, doing what her momma Shirley called, ‘some crazy wild ass shit’.
‘Pro’bly tried cook tha dang thang. Crazy people out here, shoot…’
Her momma would beat the shit out of her if she heard that she was ‘cussin’’, so she learned how to replace actual cuss words with PG versions…’shoot’ was her version of shit.
She sucked hard on her Cherry Charm’s Blow Pop, putting her hand across her shiny cocoa forehead like a visor to block out the hot summer sun, squinting.
She noticed that some rocks and patches of wild weeds around the pit were scorched black and brown. A melted Tanquerey bottle lay close to the top of the pit on the opposite side, next to a charred up Cabbage Patch Kid head.
She coughed, trying to fan away some of the foulness with one of her hands.
The ugly dog wasn’t panting like Shaun knew dog’s to pant either. Usually their tongues would be hanging all out, slob dripping everywhere and stuff, not this dog. It’s breaths were slow and raggedy, like it didn’t have too many more left, no tongue dragging though.
It raised its muscular eyebrows slowly and looked directly into Shaun’s eyes.
“Awwww,…look at da pretty eyes tho’”, she sang softly.
They were silvery blue with a soft tint of green in them. She could tell they were low on light though, and getting dimmer by the second.
A tear formed in one of them.
It didn’t fall though. It just hung tough. The dog dropped its head again.
“Dang!”, Shaun slobbered , Blow Pop loose in her mouth.
Sadly, she looked the ugly dog over again. She tilted her head to the left.
‘Ulll…, but you monked up and stankin’ tho’’, she reminded herself.
There were some ugly dogs in her building too: pits that had been mauled in fights with other pits, funky lil’ pugs,
rottwielers that had developed a taste for raw flesh, or been fed hot peppers, and other kinds of brutes that had either been born with deformities, or acquired them.
None were as tore up as this one.
Shaun had never had a dog.
She had asked her momma and her daddy for a dog plenty of times though-only to be cussed out, smacked up, or waved away. She had asked for the last three Christmases, her last two birthdays, the times she got good report cards…
still nothing. Her momma wasn’t trying to hear that shit at all.
She still wanted one though, a doggie she could feed, hug, walk, sleep with…play with when her friends weren’t around…talk to when no one else was around.
‘Shoot,…that would be tiiiiiight’, she thought, grinning.
Her mouth turned back into a pout just as quick though when she thought about her momma. She just knew what she would say…and how she would say it:
“Lil’ Girl is yo ass gon’ crazy, you betta get dat funky, ugly lil’ mothafucka outta my house!”
…Just like that.
Her daddy wouldn’t help her either. He left her momma alone when her voice got loud and she left him alone when he started as well. Neither one of them liked getting the other started.Once either flame was lit it would be very slow to die.
‘Shoot…’, she thought again, this time more painfully because she was remembering in intensity how much it had hurt each time she had been denied her wish.
‘They cheap as heck….I don’ ever be askin ma fuh nuthin’…no new bike, new toys …nuthin’!’
She looked down at her way too tight summer clothes-third generation as hell, old Guess from the eighties passed down from her second cousin…, or someone’s cousin’s cousin, whoever. Didn’t matter, they were itchy, faded in some spots and just plain played out…the red wasn’t even red anymore…somewhere between red and pink, but closer to red.
Shaun’s little ash frosted chocolate toes wiggled uncomfortably in her galactic green, over worn flip-flops.
Her head started hurting.
Her Aunt Faye had over did her hair the night before, loading it up with heavy balls and barrettes that matched her outfit. She had used spoons and spoons of styling gel.
Shaun felt like her scalp was starting to bake while at the same time being yanked from all directions.
She hated getting her hair done by her heavy handed ass auntie. Shit always hurt, for days. It would be hard to sleep sometimes much less close her eyes comfortably.
The ugly dog made a pitiful sound.
The sound reminded her of how a baby sounds only moments before it begins to cry loudly.
A thick tear finally fell from its left eye. The slow breathing was getting even slower…its eyelids were getting lower and lower as well.
Shaun’s body stiffened.
‘Dang, that ugly dog gon’ die out here.
She looked around the area. Again, this time more seriously, cramming her Blow Pop back into her mouth so sloppily that it clicked against her two front teeth.
She looked back behind her, towards her building.
All the kids were starting to make their way outside, gathering at the beat up playground in front of her building and the one next to it. There was only a few of them out though, Lakeesha and Tonya, jumping rope. They both lived beneath her with their momma, Ms. Price.
Ms. Price was a ho.
Shaun knew it for a fact too, not just from hearing people talk. She had seen her dirt with her own eyes. Ms. Price ain’t have no shame about it either. She could be seen by anyone who was up and out, doing her thing most nights. She’d be seen getting out of whatever car, usually not one of the folks in her building, readjusting her clothes and then later redoing her cheap make-up in the stairways while going to pick up her babies from whoever was sitting them that day, smelling like Henny and booty.
One night Shaun, her friend Shalise, and some older girl from the 5th floor had to help her up the stairwells to her apartment. They found her in front of their building one day with her ass all up in the air on some ice. Her head was busted, bleeding all in her eyes. She told them not to tell nobody, or call any ‘amboolansis’, but to just take her to her spot.
After dealing with her drunken ramblings for about 15 minutes they finally got her into her trashy looking living room. She fell out cold on the couch, farting…
‘…smellin’ like sour coochie and sewer water…unnnn’, Shaun remembered, waving at her nose.
Maybe it was meant for her to meet the ugly dog, she began to speculate.
Shaun had always been the first shorty up and out the door to play in her building. She made sure of it. In fact, it was something she took pride in because none of the other shorties in her building, or the one across from it , could ever beat her outside in the morning
It wasn’t because she was up out of bed the earliest either. It was just that their parents were stricter than hers…they worried about their kids more… ‘My Momma and Daddy don’t be caring ‘bout nothing in the morning ‘cept what rocks Lonnie an’ dem got.’
They would make her and her little brother, Maurice, clear out of the crib with a quickness every morning come 5:30 a.m.-which was fine with her. She hated the way they rocks smelled when they smoked them anyway. She didn’t like the way her parents looked and acted afterwards either…
‘…droolin’ and stuff…lookin’ all special ed.’
Maurice was lazy, so he would usually go to their Aunt Pat’s spot on the first floor beneath them and crash back out her couch watching the early morning cartoons.
Shaun was bright-eyed and ready for action though. She wanted to see what was and what had been popping.
She knew everybody in the building and spoke to them often. Some people had come to the point of depending on her to be up early after a while. Some senior citizens sent her to the store for their breakfast everyday and would let her keep the change...change got her candy.
The thugs would break her off with a few dollars from time to time too, mostly for her keeping quiet about their
‘morning deliveries’, a beatdown, the robbery of an outsider in the stairway, whatever. Sometimes they would give her a whole twenty dollar bill out of nowhere. That’s a lot of candy and other stuff too.
She saw a lot.
She saw used condoms on the elevator, found a fat joint on the floor of her hallway, found a hundred dollar bill on the pavement near the parking lot. She was real popular with the other shorties for that for a few weeks.
Her biggest discovery was much more gangsta though…a .44.
She found it on the sixth floor platform one morning, recognized it immediately, then promptly returned it to its rightful owner, Lonnie. Lonnie was the gangsta who sold ‘rocks and blows’ to her Momma and Daddy.
He was also, from that point on, her personal body guard.
No one would mess with her after that was announced through
the gossip line. She lost a lot of her little friends behind it too.
They would act straight spooked whenever she came around…wouldn’t even look her in the eyes.
Shalonda, a girl she thought was her best friend because they had known each other since they were three, told her that her parents said she couldn’t play with her anymore.
Whispers travelled from unit to unit, mutating more and more the further they travelled like project gossip can. Sooner or later she was ‘lil’ killa’ , or ‘lil’ gangsta bitch’…a crack fiend like her parents, whatever.
Some bad ass little boys from 712 told her she had the cooties.
The memories were vivid and made her salty, burned in her throat for a brief moment.
‘Shoot…dat wuz foul.’
The ugly dog fought weakly to keep its eyes open.
Never, with my understanding of science had I thought something like what I have become could even exist, or be possible. But here I am, a monster: half-human, half-something else. ..,or like Nas said back in the day‘ half-man, half-amazing’.
It’s been Born (9) years now and I haven’t adjusted. Still bug out when I see my reflection in a mirror, on a pane of glass, across the surface of some body of water.
…Lucky for me, I zone out when I change. I’m in a whole other dimension of thought. It’ like getting a vacation from existing, deeper than sleep.
It gets stronger and longer every feeding too. The distance and time length, I mean.
I’m losing myself.
The feedings are getting closer and closer together, more unannounced.
I got to get this story out before it’s lost to me, before I’m lost to self.
My attribute is Born Understanding, given to me by my Father Akil Allah and my mother Wisdom Born. I rest in C-Medina, have since God Knowledge (1971). I am currently Understanding Power/Refinement (35).
I was Wisdom/Power Refinement when the star canines landed in Born Equality (‘96).
My first encounter with one shattered my Understanding of the Supreme Science…tested my physical eyes.
See, when something extraterrestrial is just a thought in your dome, a picture your mind manufactures-it’s kind of dope. You get to make up your interpretation on your mind’s canvas, from a distance, safely in your cipher…your reality, understand?
…You see something similar to a movie or graphic novel drawing most times, right?
Trust this… I ain’t like shit you’ve seen at the movie theatre, or on cable late at night. I’m sliding off cipher though, let me focus back into the current I started on…
Me, Moms, and Pops were living on the Knowledge Cipher (10th) floor of a high rise building on Belle Plaine, north side.
It was a nice, clean neighborhood, salt and pepper: an equal amount of blacks, whites and a few hispanics with “good jobs”, or their own businesses.
Before that, we stayed with various friends and family members who were Understanding,… and “down with the struggle”, as Moms would say... on a couch, or grouped up with cousins and such till we could get on our feet again.
My fam ran deep in the city, all sides.
At some time or another we would do the same for any of them too, whoever had the most space would volunteer usually Understanding that it would only be for a few months. We all had knowledge of self and hustling skills so we never stayed down for long.
Some of us had records too.
The men for trafficking, or weapons, some form of organized crime or counter-political activity and the women for fraud, conspiracy ,or theft of some form or another. Scheming on federal organizations and boosting was their speciality.
Most were, or had been, revolutionaries belonging to some pro-black political or religious organization at some point in their lives. Some were straight gangstas though, mostly my Moms side of the fam, in and near Cabrini Green.
Pops, had been a Black Panther for most the years of his youth. He came under some heat for some of his revolutionary activities and had to break to the east coast with some of his comrades for a few years.
He met Wise Allah, my godfather, at Central Park playing chess and they became real good friends. Not long after he joined The Nation of Gods and Earths. It slowed him down, made him calmer. He started focusing less on aggressive revolutionary activity and more on teaching lessons, saving and investing money, and acquiring property.
After copping a few apartment buildings he met my Moms. She was Earth, straight Wisdom Body. They met building in a cipher on the streets of Harlem one hot summer day in front of one of the buildings.
Pops said it was her clear, shiny dark brown skin, strong features and queenly way of questioning him that drew him to her. She said it was his eyes his cool, deep voice, intellect and strength that attracted her to him. Whatever it was they both liked, it worked. They had been through a hell of a lot together and remained very tight and respectful of one another through it all.
My Moms was very wise, and perceptive. Her voice was pretty like soul music. She could make the harshest sounding word sound like a beautiful note even while analyzing and questioning. She appeared to be at peace most times and was very concerned about our family’s behaviors and habits. She made sure we all worked hard at keeping them royal, dignified and productive.
She was a walking Encyclopedia too, wisdoming well with knowledge from many sources. We got assignments from her every week, plus lessons, essay assignments. It had been that way since I could read, starting with the Supreme Mathematics when I was Equality (6) years old. On top of that, she insisted we all build on the day’s degree every morning, usually at the Power hour (5am), sometimes later.
She had us reading “The Willie Lynch Letters” that particular week. Felt the family needed to re-begin an analysis of our “slave-ish tendencies”…so we could build more “godly behaviors”.
We all sat down at Born hour (9pm) Knowledge day
(1 day) before and ate some baked salmon, mashed potatoes and salad together.
I had been on my feet all that day, trying to pay my portion of our rent. I took the A train back and forth from the God hour (7am) to negative hour of Build and Destroy (8pm), selling some incense, t-shirts, batteries…whatever I had left in my legal stash to hustle for some Gold at the time.
I made my portion by negative God hour (7pm) and a hundred over by the time I got off at the Sheridan stop, near our rest.
As we ate, Mom and Pops started building on “The Lynch Letters”.
I mostly listened, only speaking when one of them asked me a question. It was better for me that way when we were discussing things Moms was passionate about. She had the truth about everyone in the house in her hands. Sometimes our family discussions could get quite emotional. Though smooth and gentle with I, she pulled cards that stung.
There were no voices raised, accusations, or wounded looks that night though.
Pops agreed with most of her points. Working for ‘the system’-he was teaching at a public high school, making more than he had made in a while-was making him too complacent and dependent on his check. Also, he had to give too much time to seeds other than his own to make the money. He was away for too long for too little. His light at home wasn’t manifesting correctly, understand?
The sun was missing from his universe.
Moms felt like she was getting too involved in ‘popular culture’, watching too much cable and listening to too much bullshit. She wished they were back in New York sometimes, where she could hang with the Earths she knew well for support.
She also admitted to “over-shopping” sometimes and “longing to be ignorant again, in some situations”.
At negative Knowledge Cipher hour (10pm) Pops and Moms sat down to watch ROOTS.
I was tired. I went to bed.
The next day everything changed up currents.
It started with the sky.
I did the knowledge from my bedroom window at Equality Hour (6 am). There was a fine, glittery dust present in the atmosphere and the sun’s light was muted, pale and dead.
Out in the streets below, the few people who were up, mostly Caucasians, in jogging outfits, walking their dogs, were stopping one by one to look up into the sky. The tops of the buildings around us looked like impressionistic paintings or charcoal drawings …smudgy, grainy.
When I looked back down at the people in the street they were either rubbing at their faces or scratching at their exposed arms and legs. Their dogs were whining or walking in circles barking, or growling.
My heart started beating fast.
My imagination flew into overdrive, immediately too. All of the alien research and conspiracy theory books I had found laying around our apartment close to that time didn’t help me to slow it down either. I had read little pieces of all of them on nights that I couldn’t sleep.
I looked upward out of my window. There was a bright white streak across the sky arching downward towards the south. It was smoke, or something like smoke, vapor maybe. It was glittery too, sparkling…and very defined
I moved back away from the window …trying to get a hold
of myself. I needed a moment.
After controlling my soul and getting it together I walked quickly into our living room.
Moms and Pops were hugged up with each other on our couch in front of our new entertainment system. The surround sound system was looping the main theme to ROOTS. I shook my father by his shoulder and he popped up, looking at me like I was crazy. I jumped back away for him quick. See, my pops was a Knowledge Cipher (10th) degree black belt in Gong Fu and lesser degrees in a few other of the arts…and was also a little paranoid; a deadly mixture.
Like I expected, he woke up ready to box. Just missed his swing.
Then he recognized me. Guess he did the knowledge on the terror that my face was manifesting because his ready-for-action-face turned worrisome sharply.
“What is it son?”, he asked me.
“The sky Pops. Something unnatural is in it. Something non-cipher. Come look.”
Pops jumped up almost before I was done and made his way to the window in the living room. It was wider than mine, much wider. The blinds were closed. He opened them and immediately squinted his eyes to deal with the strange tint of sunlight coming through.
Down below there were just a couple left in the streets, running and scratching themselves. Some looked like they were screaming. We couldn’t hear them though.
Up top, the streak was still there, not breaking up or fading in definition at all. There was less glitter but it was still there. Pops grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to his side
“We need to turn on the news, quick!”
I caught the remote control out the corner of my eye, laying on Moms lap. She was still sleep. I opened my mouth to alert her, but Pops stopped me with a cautious look. He lowered his voice.
“Not yet. Let’s find out what’s up first. Do the knowledge thoroughly.”
He took the remote from Mom’s lap, lowered the volume of the ROOTS theme, turned off the DVD. Found the nearest channel, CBS.
A pale, sleep deprived weatherman was talking, looking confused in the eyes as he spoke. His face remained smiley though.
It wasn’t your normal forecast:
“…Lot of strange things going on in Chicago this morning. In my opinion, the weather today…which is much different than expected earlier this week, is a directly linked to
the strange storm in the cosmos last night. According to NASA satellites, a few small comets hit the earth in various spots and various cities this evening… and well, we were one of them. As you can see on my chart here, very erratic weather: very extreme temperature and moisture differences in each part of the city.
Near the lake, it’s like summertime here—68 degrees on the south side and warmer the further north we go…76 around downtown and 81 closer to Evanston…it’s just amazing.”
He looked off screen cautiously before proceeding.
“…One of the small comets that made it to our city landed somewhere near Northwestern University. It dropped pieces of itself elsewhere before landing. Scientists found no harmful residuals in the air or soil where it landed…”
Pops looked at me carefully. There was a little relief in his face, but not much. The news lies a lot, does a lot of cover up.
“Those Caucasians were outside rubbing and scratching themselves Pops.”
We both went back to the window.
Down below there was only two people left in the street, a thin blonde woman in a light blue sweat suit and an older Caucasian male with peppery black hair. They were running in opposite directions at top speed, looking over their shoulders every now and then as they moved.
My heart started beating hard again.
Pops shook his head and rubbed at his goatee.
Moms stirred in her sleep as both of our adrenaline levels increased.
Pops cell phone started chirping.
It was in the kitchen, on the far end of our apartment. He nodded at me and started for it. I followed him, fighting to take control of a desire to panic. I was mad at myself for finding it so hard to do.
Pops was handling things well. He was active, but calm and pensive, as though he was on the verge of a discovery that wouldn’t be much of a surprise to him. That observation didn’t help me slow my soul down either though.
Like I told you earlier, there had been a lot of books about aliens around the rest. Some not even books, more like descriptions. Descriptions of beings who were not from earth, more than one type of them.
I was walking kind of hard on or wood floors, making them creak. Moms woke up. I looked back and saw her getting up just as Pops snatched up his phone.
It was my little cousin Maurice, calling from my Aunt Pat’s crib. They still lived in Cabrini Green. He was screaming at my Pops, crying, in pain. There was a strange noise in the background and more screaming, other people. Pops hopped his ear off the receiver, turned the volume down, then listened back in closely, closing his eyes.
The reception was bad.
Pops couldn’t make out any words yet.
Moms had made it into the kitchen doorway, with her hand on her hip looking at us, confused.
Maurice’s voice came through abruptly, making us all jump.
“HELP! AGGH! UNCLE AKIL-HEL…”
The signal cut off. Pops opened his eyes.
They were serious.
Mom’s got serious too.
He started for their bedroom.
“Everybody get dressed. We got to go.”