The little girl looked at the dark figure, but she couldn’t bring herself too. Her focus rested on the piece’s of the sheriff that were within view. Years of medical school screamed in her mind that she was going into shock, that she needed to get moving. It was the little girl that brought her back to reality, when she ran up to the dark figure happily screaming, “Daddy!”
She took a step forward only to be propelled backwards by a black tendril slicing through her upper left arm. She finally looked up into it’s face… and screamed.
It was a few moments of unbreathing terror while the dark hotel room came into focus. The walls around her were torn up and a burning pain suffused her whole left arm and right hand. Feelings of sliding skin and something hard crawled down her arm and through her hands, before the pain finally subsided.
She worked in silence packing up her few belongings, trying not to look at the destruction she caused in her sleep. For fifteen minutes she worked in silence, feeling stifled and claustrophobic, before finally opening the window and taking a deep breathe of the outside air.
First was the cold tang of the fall air, the sweetness of maple sap carried in it. Then something subtle caught her, something warm and sticky. A second later fire spread through her brain and body, all her muscles screamed to move towards it and the terrible sliding of her skin transforming returned extending to almost her entire body. She leapt out the window, propelled both physically and mentally.
Through the winding streets of the city she ran and jumped. Easily gliding over obstacles and racing over the narrow streets. As she got closer to the smell, the burning grew more and more intense, and more concentrated. The shops and apartment buildings gave way to warehouses, to empty spaces, to dilapidation. Through a broken window, into a near barren warehouse where some tarps and blankets were gathered into a rumpled pile.
A black figure shifted on top of the cloth, the pale, feminine, perfectly human, face starred at her unblinking for a few seconds. Another dark figure broke from the shadows at an entrance across the warehouse. Spines formed on her back and raised up into the air, the rival across the way returned the gesture. The two closed on each other, somewhere deep within her mind she wondered what this woman had been like before. They stopped to circle each other and size each other up, their spines were near the same size, their physiques similar, neither presenting a clear advantage.
Finally the rival moved in for the attack, swiping at her with whip like claws. She dodged most of them, but felt one scrape across her left side. Claws of her own formed and she struck with greater accuracy, ripping open a thigh. The rival charged in, trying to grapple her, but she hung back chipping away at their shoulders. When finally their momentum had curbed, she charged in shoulder first throwing her across the room and puncturing her chest with one of the spines.
A guttural roar welled up inside her, the spines on her back seeming to extend even further than they had before. The one time rival growled back, but retreated none the less, the superior candidate having already been proven. It wasn’t until she was sure they were alone that she approached the pitch black female who had drawn her there in the first place.
* * *
Jen stood over the body of the creature they had taken down at the hospital. It’s dead tissue would be useless to her studies, but the anatomy of the creature was more than enough to keep her busy for now. Extracting a few segments of what appeared to be black cartilage from the claws had already given them a clue as to their weapons.
The wounds on the creature were numerous, but that hadn’t seemed to stop it in life. Bullet wounds had healed on the spot and even lost limbs were replaced almost instantly. One shot had to have killed it, but with all the extraneous damage, it was hard to tell which one.
With a sigh, she picked up a stack of red rods and began mapping the bullet holes.