I hated winter, and it hated me; if I stayed here much longer, it would kill me; it was good at killing things.
I watched the crook’s muscle man choke the life out of his victim, while the crook crouched beside him, looking into his eyes as they rolled about in their sockets.
“I’m going to keep asking you, when will I get my money? LaRue here is gonna allow you to breathe a little so you can answer me, and every time you tell me you don’t know, he’s gonna squeeze a little harder, to help you decide on a payment date.”
“You mean like a boa constrictor?” I said.
They both looked up, hiding the surprise too late.
“What?” the crook said.
“You said, ‘he’s gonna squeeze a little harder.’ That’s what constrictors do; they increase the pressure until the air passages close, and then…”
The crook stood. “Who the hell are you?”
I shrugged. “A witness.”
“Like hell you are,” said LaRue.
I couldn’t help it. “A hit man named ‘LaRue.’ Sounds like a title for a musical."
“You talk too much,” said LaRue.
“At least my name’s not ‘LaRue.’
Forgetting he was supposed to be strangling his master’s customer, he let the man’s neck go and stood facing me.
“You making fun of me?”
I looked at the crook, arched my eyebrow. “Where has he been the last two minutes?”
The crook started fumbling for a gun while LaRue came running at me.
He was faster than he looked, and took me across the gut; I felt wind rush out, felt the passing cold breeze on me; he was going to throw me in the water, but the crook hadn’t expected him to move, and shot him in the back.
I fell hard against the wooden pier, and LaRue managed a passing kick to my thigh as he tripped over my rolling body and flipped over, spinning like a vertical discus as he splashed into the cold black river.
The crook was running as I gained my feet.
“Are you seriously gonna make me run?” I said, running after him.
It didn’t take long to catch him.
I looked back for the assault victim, but he was long gone.
I stuck the crook in the throat with a knife to get things going, then tore into it with my fangs.
They’d told me my teeth would get stronger in time, then I wouldn’t need the knife anymore.
I was doing what I could to hasten the day; a knife was something extra, something I had to concentrate on that was other than my Hunger.
It got in the way, and made me angry, so I wasn’t always quick or efficient with it.
When I made a sloppy kill, the screaming made me even more savage, and I cut and fed wherever I felt like as I bled them.
They told me all Fledglings did it, at first, but I liked the struggle, followed by the submission, followed by the stillness.
I knew from the first time I did it, that I was never gonna stop.
I chuckled at the thought of that, since it turned out it was now literally true.
© Alfred W. Smith Jr.