She drew her cloak tighter around the ragged edges of her breath, trying to disguise the rapid rise-and-fall of her chest. She pulled her face-mask closed, to hide her lolling tongue and to cover the sound of her panting. To conceal the spatters of blood and the tracing lines of intestines on her skin-suit.
Voices rose up behind her, shrill and panicked, reaching a crescendo as she turned the corner.
She had to convince herself to slow down, to control her footsteps. The wet cobblestones shone, and seemed to guide her along her path. She caught her breath, crouching down against a rough-scaled wall – she left a patch of crimson on the stone as she moved. Her tongue arrowed out from between razor-sharp teeth, picking loose scraps of gristle and fat, tasting the flavour of him on her lips. She smiled, a withering smile, and was disappointed that she had no-one to direct it toward. No matter. She let her mind replay the gory scene from which she had so recently fled, and the smile returned.
She saw the signal, the twin spirals in the sky, clouds-where-there-should-be-no-clouds.
Claws red, fangs snapping.
The memory was not quite as delicious as the act.
The spirals, the disguise, the soon-to-be-dead.
She often wondered if the spiral sky inspired the same fear in the minds of the criminal classes as was painted on their faces when they saw her. She thought not. When one lives with a threat, no matter how violent a threat it is, for too long the threat becomes mundane, becomes something that will only ever happen to someone else. He was tonight’s someone else.
She lept from the rooftop, down onto the goon who was ‘guarding’ the alleyway. He was an amatuer, and as his shoulder first popped and then
loose from its socket.
He went limp, whether from shock or from agony, and the cold steel of his pistol skittered across the grimy, litter-strewn floor. He opened his mouth, to scream out for help or to cry out a warning or to beg mercy. Her talons raked across his throat, a red necklace, and she jammed her other fist into his mouth, before spreading her fingers wide. He chocked on the scales of her fingers, covering them with bubbling phlegm and pus and blood. She licked it clean, and then burst through the door.
In a business such as hers, it was better to see patience as a sin, not as a virtue.
The door shattered, into a mosaic of splinters, and the guard behind it was no more prepared than the fool outside. Shards exploded toward his face, and she was there in an instant, as he raised his hands – too slowly – to protect his eyes. She disemboweled him with a kick, and left him whimpering on the floor, trying to shovel his guts back in.
Her claws click-clacked against the tiles. She left a trail of blood behind her as she ran.
The bannister cracked as she pushed off its aged wood, flying through the air, an angel of death. She plunged her hands into his chest. She felt his ribs creak beneath the force of her, as he fell backward onto the stones. Her hands were bloodied, black and red. Another sing-song, follow-along villain dead, but her city was no safer.
And his heart was delicious.
Written for the wonderful Terry Whidborne sketch above,
for this week’s BeKindRewrite prompts
and for Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds Challenge.