Since the feeling hit again I’d been moving fast, faster than I’d have thought I could. But the instant I hit that doorway, I was moving faster than I should have been able to. I knew it but it didn’t matter to me. I had work to do.
That’s kind of weird, too. I’m the oldest of nine and I grew up in a part of New York where you learn to fight if you like to keep living, but I am far from an expert. Sure, I’ve defended siblings and been in more than my fair share of my own fights but I also lost more than I’d like to admit. Honestly, I would normally talk my way out of most fights – fewer bruises the next day, as Poppa would say, and I’d never so much as taken beginner karate. Batman, I’m not. I knew I was being stupid – five to one does not bode well for my continued good health – yet I wasn’t running in to get myself killed – I had every intention of winning this thing.
It’s hard to describe what happened next. Everything should have been a blur but instead it was crystal clear, in perfect focus. I was moving inhumanely fast but it was like time had slowed to a crawl. I noticed everything I needed to and ignored everything unimportant. Each position, what each banger was doing, the way the dogs were drooling, I saw it like I was examining a photo, not running into a hopeless fight.
The angle iron was in my left hand and the little arrows in my right. It wasn’t accidental – I meant to do that but I couldn’t have told you why. The angle iron was obvious enough – to get those guys off Chester I was probably gonna have to get past a few of the others. The arrows? They were for the dogs and yes, it sounded stupid to a part of my brain then, too. But the part in charge at the moment knew exactly what it was doing and those arrows were going to be put to good use.
I expected someone or at least a dog or two to get in my way but none did. Suited me just fine as I slammed the angle iron into the side of the guy I reached first. Still moving, I whirled around and brought the angle iron crashing into the second guy’s jaw. That sent them both flying in opposite directions, exactly as I’d planned.
I glanced at the others who were finally getting into the act. Again, it was like time stood still even though we were in fact moving insanely fast. I tossed the angle iron skyward and grabbed some rusted rebar out of the dumpster – I’d noticed it when I first looked out the door. I threw the whole bundle out into the parking lot. It scattered like pick up sticks but that was what I wanted. I noted the position of each bar as I caught the angle iron and brought it down on the head of the first guy to reach me.
There was a bunch of scrap wood sticks further in the dumpster. I bashed the next guy as I reached for them. I grabbed the bottom one and used it to force the rest out of the dumpster and onto the ground. Without letting go of my arrows, I smashed the remaining stick into the dumpster wall to break it. The third guy slid to a stop and back pedaled fast, eyeing the broken stick in my hand.
The first dog made its move, It leapt high enough for me to be looking it in the eye. I rammed the stick and both arrows into its throat as the huge paws hit my chest. I knew instantly it was dead. The momentum pushed me back into the dumpster but I just rolled on in and came back out the top. I lost the stick but still had the arrows. Insanely, I grinned as I jumped out of the dumpster and onto the back of the next dog. The arrows found its throat and it crumpled into a lifeless heap.
I grabbed the collection of sticks and tossed them around just as I had the rebar. Now it was my turn. I charged after the nearest guy, dropping the angle iron and snatching up another stick instead. He literally jumped over me. I slid to a stop and threw the stick like a knife. It caught in his jacket but didn’t have enough heft to go through all the way. Nevertheless, the guy jerked the jacket off like it was on fire.
The next guy decided to team up with one of the dogs. Dog to the left and him on the right. I took off, diving between them. I snatched up a rebar and put it through the guy’s leg. Without thinking, I threw myself into a one handed cart wheel, and came around with the arrows. The dog dodged just barely. It stopped growling and started to whine as it dashed away from me. I ignored it, grabbing another stick and scanning for my next target.
The first guy I’d hit was back on his feet and had evidently had enough. He whistled and ran. The two guys still up and the remaining two dogs ran after him. I took a step to chase them when Chester groaned.
I watched one guy stumble as he hit the loose rebar and the other limping from his wound. It would have been so easy to catch them but I stopped. Chester needed help and whatever those guys were, they were no longer my top priority. A siren blared in the distance, reaffirming that decision. The cops shouldn’t have trouble finding a bunch of idiots that didn’t even get the gang colors right – presuming real bangers didn’t get them first. I waited for the last one to disappear from sight then finally knelt to check on Chester.
He was in a bad way. At least two ribs busted – don’t ask me how I knew because I don’t have the slightest idea – I just knew. I was examining his head when I noticed the worst smell. It was like someone had just opened a crypt. I looked around to see the guy who’s head I’d bashed up and walking away, none too quickly. The other guy was crawling off. Neither made a sound despite the obviously grave injuries.
I was deciding if I needed, or cared, to do anything about that when I realized the bodies of the dogs were bloating – they were rotting at an incredible rate.
Once again, everything came into sharp focus. The guy with the head wound was bleeding – but the blood was so dark that it looked black. The other guy had a rib sticking out but no blood came from the wound. He was beginning to bloat just like the dogs.
What the … What were these things?
I acted. There was no decision, just movement. I dropped the arrows and grabbed a piece of the wood. I snapped it in two like a tooth pick and flew after them. No rage, no anger – I had to finish my job. It was a simple as that. The head wound began to run. I slowed just long enough to ram one half of the stick into the other one’s heart. It was dead instantly, I knew, even if I wasn’t interested. A second later, I caught the other one. It turned toward me, screaming in terror like nothing I’d ever heard before. I drove the stick into its heart and turned back without even bothering to watch it crumple to the ground in death.
Trotting back to Chester, another thought occurred to me. What the heck did I just do?
I had fetched a blanket and pillow for Chester and had gotten him into a position better for his breathing by the time the cops finally got there. There was nothing left of the dogs or the two ‘bangers’ by then but dust. The official version would be that the bangers ran off when they realized the cops would be coming. The cops never would have believed the truth. I wasn’t sure I did.
As I knelt by Chester, wondering when the heck the cops would finally get here, another question hit me hard. What am I?