Flash Fiction: Aisle Nine
Courtesy Samm Bennet
For this week’s Terribleminds flash fiction, I thought I’d tease you all with a bit of Cold Iron prequel action.
I know I shouldn’t.
Morgan frowned as she contemplated the bottle of pop in her hand. She had enough bad habits between the coffee, the take-out, and the relatively nocturnal sleeping schedule. On the other hand, a cool glass of Coke reminded her of summer days with her father. She wanted to hold on to pleasant memories like that while she could. It kept some of the darker things in the night at bay.
Maybe a bottle of the Mexican stuff on my way out.
She replaced the large bottle on the shelf and pushed her cart towards the pet section. While she tried to feed Nike decent and fresh food often, the cat was less picky about her litter. Morgan grabbed a container of what was on sale. She was wrestling it into the cart when she caught a particular movement out of the corner of her eye.
It wasn’t anything major. Just a guy walking down the dairy aisle towards the milk products, but his movements were a little too deliberate, a touch too fast. It set off alarms in Morgan’s head. She pushed her cart to the end of the pet care aisle, turned, and moved towards the milk, where the man was speaking to a young woman.
“I’m almost certain we’ve met,” he was saying to her.
“Oh, I don’t think so. I’d probably remember.”
“Maybe I could refresh your memory?”
It was on the corny side, but she seemed to be falling for it. Even as she approached, Morgan could feel a change in the air. It was something warmer and sharper than she should be feeling this close to so many cold products. She had to test her hunch. She gave her cart a hard shove and it banged into the man’s backside, causing him to spin on her.
“Oh, I’m sorry! It got away from me.”
For a moment, the man’s eyes flashed red. Morgan didn’t smile. She didn’t want to give away the fact the man’d just been made.
“That’s all right. Happens all the time.” He stepped away from them. “I was just inviting my friend to a party. Maybe you’d like to join us?”
Morgan shook her head. “No, thank you. I really don’t think I’d be into your scene.”
His eyes narrowed slightly. “And what scene would that be?”
Morgan said nothing, simply holding his gaze. It was like staring down a panther, or a velociraptor. The woman backed away, grabbed her cart, and moved on. The man sighed a bit without looking.
“Humans can be such fickle creatures. They tend to spook easily.”
“Yeah. Major bummer. Speaking as someone who’s still human, as opposed to simply being a former one, I’d appreciate it if you moved along.”
“I don’t know who you think you are…”
“Morgan Everson, Special Homicide.” She even showed him her badge.
“Ah. That explains it. In that case, excuse me.”
He brushed past her as he walked towards the exit. Morgan took a deep breath, then fished out her phone and called her partner. Allan Bowman wasn’t too far away, and while neither of them were technically on duty yet, Morgan considered it good policy to keep him informed of whenever she saw one of those things.
“I guess he got bored of the stereotypical nightclubs,” Allan said after Morgan described the perp.
“Could be. I didn’t think to ask. Anyway, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for him.”
“Do you want me to swing by, boss? Just in case?”
She thought about it for a moment. “You know what? Yeah. Just in case. You can even help haul my groceries into my place if you want.”
“Oh, no. I know how that works. First it’s hauling groceries, next thing I know you’re asking me if you’re trying to seduce me.”
Morgan chuckled. “You know me better than that, Bowman. Just get down here.”
She finished up her shopping, grabbing a wooden mixing spoon along with the rest of her items. She paid for everything and headed out towards her car. She got the first round of bags into her trunk before he attacked her.
He grabbed her by the shoulders and yanked her away from the car. The bags that had been in her hand came open, spilling their contents on the pavement. She went for her sidearm but he was fast, incredibly fast, grabbing her wrist and pulling it out of her jacket in spite of her struggles. In the shadows of the early evening parking lot, she could clearly see the red in his eyes.
“I think we’ll be partying after all, Detective.”
“Shall we dance, then?” Her teeth were grinding together against the pain in her wrist. “I know a few steps.”
She brought her knees up and drove both of her heels into the attacker’s groin. The sensation was sudden for him, and either on instinct or due to the actual pain, he released her and backed off. One of the bags she’d been holding had contained the spoon, which she grabbed as she scrambled to her feet. As he recovered, she broke it over her knee.
For a moment, they stood staring at each other, crouched, tensed, each ready to strike the other. He moved first, hands extended, fangs bared. The inhuman hiss made Morgan’s skin crawl, but she stood her ground. At the last possible second, she dipped under him, grabbing one of his arms in her free hand. He slammed into her car and, as he turned, she plunged the splintered end of the broken spoon into his chest with a sickening crunch.
His eyes went wide in shock. He opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a gush of blood. His nostrils, ears and eyes soon bled as well, and he slumped to the pavement, unmoving. Morgan felt her legs go rubbery and she sat, facing him.
When Allan arrived, she was still sitting there, drinking a bottle of Coke.