“I know the risk Grandpa, you don’t have to remind me.” An exasperated sigh came from the walk in. “But, the bastards are taking everything! If we don’t stand up to them who will?” Sharie grumbled, as she emerged, carrying a tray of pastrami she’d cut earlier that morning.
“You know what happens when you become a blip on their radar. You are all I have left.” The portly old man perched on the stool behind the register, reasoned flatly.
He was right, they both knew it. His words echoed in her mind, as she slid the tray into the case. It wasn’t fair, but it was the truth. It had been five years since her parents packed her up and shipped her off in the middle of the night. With nothing more than a cryptic letter and tearful goodbyes, as they disappeared into the night.
The copper bell above the door jingled. Sharie looked up. The smile she pasted on sliding away, as two skeevy dudes she’d never seen before, strolled up to the counter. Harvey must have branched out.
“We’re closed.” She crossed her arms defiantly over her chest, eyeing the twitchy one. She could smell the chemicals seeping from his pores. It left a faintly metallic taste in her mouth. G-7 raises the magnesium levels in the body, eventually causing organ failure. Great for Bio-Corp, bad for everyone else. Judging from the trimmers, this guy has been using for a while. She watched him closely, looking for his tell.
“That’s funny doll, sign says open till 5. It’s only 3:30.” The big one leaned easily on the counter tapping his wrist, his easy grin doing nothing to mask the truth in his icy blue gaze. He liked hurting people.
Sharie glared back at him, but kept quiet. Her nails digging into her palms willing herself not to react.
“That pastrami smells good. Gimme some of that on the Dark Rye you got back there.” Twitchy Maggie had wandered over to the meat case, and was eyeing the deli tray like a starving animal.
Shari complied, using it as an excuse to see who she was dealing with. The air hasn’t stopped humming since they walked in. What was Harvey up too? These two were not his usual choice of goons. He hated G-7. You can’t control the results, leaving you with unstable assholes; like Mr. Pastrami here. G-7 affected everyone one differently. It worked with your genetics. Finding latent genes, and waking up sleeping beasts.
“You want everything on it?”
“Just mustard.” he growled anxiously. “Don’t be shy with the meat, an’ no need to wrap it up, the paper just gets in the way.”
His irises were a brown with vibrant streaks of gold cutting through. There was an almost animalistic quality to the way he eyed the meat. She handed him his meal, noticing his nails were Thick and yellowing. Angled to a point with a rim of red around the cuticle. An animorph.
The old man tossed a leather pouch on the counter. “Here, take what you came for and leave us alone.” He hobbled over to stand between them, steadying himself on his cane with quiet determination, refusing to be intimidated.
The big one pushed the bag aside, an amused glint in his eye.
Her eyes widened in sudden fear.
Before she could do more than scream her grandfather was lifted off the floor and shot into the wall opposite them, he exhaled audibly as the wind was knocked from his lungs. The disturbing sound was followed immediately by a loud crack, as his skull bounced off the red brick.
He floated there lifeless, held in place by an invisible force; blood dripping from his nose and ears as his head hung limply.
“Please, just take the money!”
“Nadia wants to see you. Tonight. Don’t make her ask again.” The old man dropped to the floor, as the bell above the door jingled again.
“Thanks for the sandwich.” he barked, cackling like a hyena as he followed his buddy out the door. “See ya later, Peri.”
She scrambled to her grandfather’s side, checking his neck for a pulse. It was faint but there. A relieved breath pushed its way out of her chest and she relaxed.
He was alive.
She closed her eyes to gather her composure a moment before looking down, placing her hands over her grandfather’s head. A soft yellow light warmed her palms as she watched color return to his ashen complexion. His breathing steady, and his eyes fluttered open. She smiled gently at him as the confusion in his eyes slowly faded.
They stared at each other, the fear in his eyes mirroring her own.
They knew where she was.