Chapter 1 Lace
The freak has the nerve to cower amidst the slimy alleyway wall, hands up before him. Blood, fresh and drying, smear his mouth and oddly some is flecked above busy brows. Bleary, brown, eyes fix on the gun in my hand. The remaining effects of the drug wear off as his system is forced to sober, leaving him sweating and shaking. And judging by the whimpers leaving him, quickly.
“Please, I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
My eyes flick without permission to the woman’s half-eaten form. Her stomach is a mass of red ruin; ragged torn flesh, hangs at ghastly angles with the torn remnants of her blouse. Thankfully her shorts are still in place and the addict had only fed one hunger it seems.
“You ingested Treferon, knowing full well of your condition?” I ask, pistol stable in my hand. My gun never waivers.
His head cocks and the first flicker of intelligence flares across his face. “Condition? I am a shifter. It is not an illness.”
My lips squirm and I lean closer. Old pennies and raw meat waft to my nose and bile rises in my throat. “You are an abomination. All of your kind deserve to kneel in an execution line and be picked off one at a time.”
He blinks in shock. “You’re a cop, you can’t say that.”
I look down at the badge on my chest. “This thing?” I ask. “I don’t work for the department anymore. I lost my job the same week one of you assholes, killed my brother. Now it’s my turn to kill you.”
The gun’s retort echoes off the narrow walls and he is slung sideways by the force of the shot. His skull explodes out the back, raining blood and bone fragments over the wall behind him. A thick substance I refuse to acknowledge, trickles over the brick, sliding down slowly in an oozing trail.
My lungs heave as I stare down at the shifter’s crumpled form. No peace fills me. No happiness or relief. Another one is dead. One more damn Rogue eradicated from the face of the Earth. And yet, it doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t bring Thomas back. My boots are silent over the stone as I turn and walkaway, pulling my cell phone from my pocket as I go.
The inside of my apartment is frigid, as I kick my muck stained boots off at the door. Leaving the lights off, I pace deeper into the dark depths of my two bedroom flat. There is little for me to bump into, and yet, I know where everything is regardless.
Two months here.
Two months in this new town. If I stay for another week, it will be a miracle.
My head hangs. Ever since I left the department, nowhere feels like home. Everyone I had, is now dead. Gone. I am the last in my family.
Short of a few distant third cousins and my estranged aunt, I am the last of the Cathal’s.
No shame in it, of course. I spent years in the line of fire and I survived. Survived everyone around me, everyone I loved.
Is it a gift or a curse?
The silence in my bedroom is deafening, adding to the roaring in my ears. The same endless hum of my desolation. Shimmying out of my clothes, I pad into the bathroom, darkness complete, and climb in the cracked stall.
Hot water pelts over me, hitting every scrape and bruise from chasing the drug addled shifter through the city. My hands burn as the scalding liquid works into the ripped skin of my hands. The days of me being able to use a fire escape like parallel bars, may be over.
I wash thoroughly, rinsing every ounce of fragrance from my skin with the special soap, before using my own. Reaching for the knobs, I adjust the temperature, making it as cold as I can stand and sit down in the clean, brighter, space that is the stall floor.
All my muscles cease as the now frigid fluid pelts me, but I close my eyes and will it away.
My body rocks as I wrap my arms around my knees. Clinging to my own wet skin as the man’s eyes resurface. The light that fills us all, gone in a blink.
Like the others.
I will it all away. Please make it go away.