It wasn’t the obscene graffiti or the stagnant water filled potholes that I hated most about the city. It wasn’t the constant honking of car horns or the irritating voices of street vendors either. It was the smell. The putrid mildew smell combined with the musk of thousands of bodies along with the thick smoke from the factories filled the air in a dense cloud. I tried plugging in my nose while walking through the city, but it was not as efficient as I hoped it would be. So I gave up.
I took quick, long steps on the city sidewalk. I was not really in the mood to get mugged, the city could get dangerous in shady parts like these. My long black coat came down to my knees and I shoved my hands in the deep pockets. It was getting windy, there was supposed to be a thunderstorm coming soon.
Among the other things I hated about this godforsaken city were the dank alleyways. I still hated the smell more, though. The alleyways were repulsive; they were dark and gloomy, filled with scraps of food and unwanted clutter. I would avoid the alleyways if I could, but they were the fastest way home. After all, time is money.
As I was about to turn into the alleyway that led to my ramshackle apartment, I felt someone grab my arm. I turned around to face an old woman about a head shorter than me. She was wearing a shabby dress in a disgusting shade of orange. It had stains from god-knows-where and I could smell the odor of cigarettes coming off of it.
“There is a monster in the alley, girl,” the old woman said in a hoarse voice, “if I were you, I would not go in there.”
I had heard lore about the monster in the alleys of this city, but chalked it up to what it was: lore. Monsters were not real.
I shrugged off the woman and walked into the alley, maintaining my rapid pace. If there was a monster, if, I did not want to get eaten, or whatever monsters do to people.
I let out a sigh of relief as I took a step out of the alley onto the cracked sidewalk. See, I told myself, there is no monster.
I entered the apartment and headed up the dismal flight of stairs that led to my room. I was on the top floor. But in this case, the top floor was not a good thing. The damn elevator was busted, had been busted for years now actually. So, I had to climb six flights of stairs. Everyday. Sometimes more than once.
I walked down the dimly lit hallway to room nine, my home sweet home. The plaster on the door was slowly peeling off and the doorknob was sort of loose. It surely was a sight for sore eyes.
I occasionally wondered what this apartment looked like when it was first built. I like to imagine it as a glamorous building which was inhabited by the wealthy. But that probably did not happen given the state of it now. But one can only imagine.
Although the outside of the apartment building was, well, gross, I kept my home clean. I liked to think of myself as a minimalist, since I did not have too many personal possessions.
I did not have a bedroom, there was just one big room, with a tiny kitchen and a small bathroom off to the side. I kept my bed in the corner of the room, it took up less space that way, giving me more room for my hobbies. Not really, I did not have any hobbies and I did not care to take any up. I lived a pretty busy life. I mean, I didn’t have any friends, but I had work. A lot of work. Someone had to pay the bills. Especially since I was alone, I had no family.
My room had one window, it felt nice to let the sunlight in some days, but there wasn’t much of a view. Just worn out buildings and some pedestrians. Either way, I kept the curtains over the windows most of the time. The least I could have was privacy.
I took my coat off and threw it on my bed. I made my way to the kitchen looking for some food, hoping that I had leftovers in the fridge. I was not in the mood to walk all the way down those stairs again. I also did not want to get caught in the rain. I did not like rain.
To my disappointment, my fridge was empty. I put my coat back on with an annoyed grunt and made my way down the stairs. Halfway down the stairs, I heard thunder, I started running down the stairs, wishing to make it to the nearest diner before the rain started.
I turned into the alleyway when out of nowhere it started pouring. Not even a drizzle, just full on rain showers. I felt the rain fall on my hair, into my eyes, all over my neck, and down my coat, seeping through the cloth. In a matter of seconds I was drenched.
The sky was dark and there was no moon, just rain clouds. I stretched out my arms to my side and arched my back, embracing the rain.
I felt my fingernails growing into sharp claws, my skin was coated in black scales. As the rain fell down my back, I felt a pair of wings creeping out of my back, taking full form in moments. I looked over in the dark alley at a broken shard of a mirror. My face was covered in scales, my teeth were sharp and pointed, and my eyes had turned a bright shade of green.
In this state I could smell scents at a level no human could comprehend, and lemme tell you, it was awful. I sometimes considered moving to the country, where the smells of fresh agriculture and warm baking filled the air. But the problem with that was it was harder to find food, it created suspicion when people went missing in the country, and a girl’s gotta eat.
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