The twelve year old girl, barefoot, walked through the streets that evening alone. Her friend was supposed to meet her at Deflune Way but Jules ended up getting sick at the last minute. This is the first time she ever had to break the two-by-two rule that was put in place for their neighborhood. Always, always travel in twos. The sun set quickly on this side of town, as the layer of dust and smog that filled the skies welcomed darkness and invited it to descend earlier than intended. The buildings were all 5 stories at least, with 12 being the norm, towering over to create even longer shadows of gloom.
She walked briskly, clutching the small cylindrical object in her right pocket tightly between her small fingers. She kept her eyes open, and her ears sharp. The walk home wasn’t more than a mile, but she knew how long each step felt when you were alone. There was no moon overhead to light her way, no stars to gaze at underneath the haze, she relied solely on the sensation of memory to pace and guide her. In her left pocket, she felt around for the 3 small boxes of jerky and raisins, the treasure that would make this journey worthwhile, and her mother would be so surprised at the surplus in their pantry closet, that her toddler brother wouldn’t have to cry every night, interrupting their sleep with his hunger.
She could feel something. Watching her. She walked faster, but couldn’t shake the feeling. Her palm around the cylindrical object now holding on for dear life, began to sweat, ironically enough making it even harder to hold onto in the process.
She could hear them, next. Their howls sending shivers up her spine. Now that their presence was confirmed as more than just her own paranoia, she wasted no time with walking. Walking quietly was generally the better option if you were already undetected, but if they already saw her, and smelled her, the only hope she had was to make it home in time before they caught up to her. No longer worried about stealth, but immediate survival, she raced as fast as her legs would go, and breathed heavily pushing her lungs and tendons to carry her to safety. But they were bigger, and faster. Closing in. Surrounding her.
Two pairs of gold eyes shone through the darkness in front of her. Another pair of green eyes came from her left side, with one more eye deep brown in nature behind her—she wasn’t sure why the other eye of that one was closed, possibly from scarring or permanent deformation but she couldn’t worry about that now. She cut into an alleyway on her right side, the only side that appeared to be clear from the menacing glare of their stares, and found herself, quickly, backed against a brick wall. Cornered. She had walked right into their trap.
Trembling, she squeezed the object in her pocket, and waited. She knew how to use the object, she had just always hoped she would never have to. They came in two by two, side by side, snarling and foaming at the mouth. The first one lunged at her, as she whipped the small handheld cylinder in front of her, and pressed release on the trigger. A bolt of blue light surged forward, ripping straight into the coyote’s heart as it yelped in surprise, then gurgled blood as it fell down with a sickening thud and lay still. The remaining three howled for the loss of their comrade, and all closed in at the same time. She could only shoot one shot at a time, and aimed for the one on her right, clipping only its leg and not its midsection. It ran away limping in pain and confusion; while the one on her left, had time to clamp its jaws around her arm, the force of which threw her background onto the ground. The object, her only means of defense, flew out of her hands. The other remaining coyote gnashed its teeth into her other arm, and together, she was pinned. She kicked and thrashed and screamed wildly while they took whole pieces of her bite by ravenous bite, until all sensation of sight and sound and pain faded into oblivion.
*beep, beep, beep*
The wires connected to the little girls’ head projected the scene onto the wall in front of them, while smaller screens with her vitals and neurological pattern markers were recorded on a second by second basis and printed in real-time.
Mrs. Nathaniels wailed uncontrollably.
“For Christ’s sake, someone get that woman a box of tissues already!” Lieutenat Tyrell roared.
“It’s protocol that the mother of the victim is present for the screening, Lieutenant” a brunette orderly reminded him, “she may know some of the offenders in the area and be able to help with the case, we can fix a lot of things in this lab, but tissues aren’t going to fix a mother’s broken heart.”
“What does the doctor say?” the mother screamed.
A nurse in all white, took the podium, “Mrs. Nathaniels, Doctor Abademi is sure that your daughter is going to make a full recovery after a month in the recryation chamber. Physically her wounds will all heal, what we wanted to discuss however, was the alteration of both her memories and her dream-sequences for future reference. After this screening, if you sign the waiver, we can remove all recollection of the event.”
“Yes! Yes, do that! Do whatever you have to! And I want you to catch these ‘coyotes’ if it’s the last thing you do!”
“We always do, ma’am” the Lieutenant assured her while taking the podium, scribbling notes furiously while continuing to talk, “we have a ‘coyote’ database across the current sector, so we should be able to narrow down by eye color alone which your daughter has already provided for us, there is also one that we know is wounded which is key evidence to note when screening suspects that appear at any of the local health-chambers with an injury to the leg. We did find the body of the one she killed using the electromancer, on the scene, just as the sequence depicted. He was Caucasian but we do suspect that only one of his other comrades was, the other two we suspect were of different ethnicities. Not that it matters, but it will help narrow down our investigation. I assure you ma’am that after the Sexual Abuse & Assault Statute passed in the year 2034, no case like this ever goes unsolved. We don’t let these coyotes run free anymore. We are deeply sorry that it happened at all to your daughter, but we are indebted to her pain, for helping us clear up the remaining offenders off the streets.”
“I just feel like such a terrible mother; I had no idea she was going to the market on her own, I should have done something to prevent this”
“These are dark times, Mrs. Nathaniels, for sure, but we cannot say for sure whether any course of action could have prevented the attack, we can only rest assured that case by case, we are working harder than ever to ensure we will see the day, where there will never be another victim; and we can celebrate the extinction of all free-ranging coyotes.”
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Strange story but I did like it. But what was the object in her pocket? It never was revealed.