This story is by Marg Nelson and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Two rival gangs met in Athens Park off Segundo Boulevard in South L.A. The park stood otherwise empty at midnight, its scruffy green patches and litter camouflaged by the dark. Legs splayed, Blacks honcho Ramon Felipė stood atop a scarred picnic table. When he gestured, his flat silver rings gleamed in the moonlight, spelling out B-L-O-O-D for those close enough to see. He spoke over the roar of the last arriving vehicles.
“Yo! Listen up, homies! Props on our good turnout here. Glad to see our local Lah-ti-no “friends” joinin’ the party.”
This drew chuckles from the Blacks. Ramon sliced up the dark with split-finger moves.
“We jus’ waitin’ on Tattoo. He comin’ now.”
The Latino leader swung himself off his Harley to join Ramon at the scarred-up picnic table. Yanking a ragged toothpick from his teeth, he threw it to the ground to show he would represent. Ramon gave him a curt nod, then turned back to the crowd.
“Now, what the fuck we gonna do?” he said. “Ten homies killed and gutted in three days. Jezz chewed all to rat shit! You-all see the mess outside Jefferson High School? And we ain’t even enrolled there!”
A few groans at the lame joke.
“Who da fuck these muthas, anyway?” shouted Ramon, banging his knee hard enough to shake the chains on his boots. “Ain’t no shape-shifters take us on before! Dis be our turf! We don’t know they beef, but we gotta smoke ’em out. Do a little tag-teamin’ here.” He smirked as he jabbed the air.
“We gon’ cut ’em up! Gonna kill dem fools,” Tattoo spat. “Whass wit’ dem, mang?” He clapped his arch enemy on the back and the two embraced chest-to-chest in a bent-arm show of solidarity. Both wore studded leather jackets over wife-beaters. Bald and brawny, Tattoo sported a jagged lightning bolt behind one ear. Ramon wore a large letter “B” on his red jacket sleeves.
A rustle swept the crowd. Latinos and Blacks united? Maybe pigs could fly.
Ramon continued. “Yo, dem muthas run up on some dealin’ asshats outside Jefferson and jus’ start hurtin’ ’em out. They change up ever’thing! This be our turf! And whass with dem eyes glowin’ in the dark and dem weird-ass unibrows?”
A slow, deep voice rose from the crowd.
“Yeah dude, gots to run some damage control fo’ sho! Kill it before it lays eggs, or else get da hell out of Dodge.” It was Bad Azz, a gang biker. His greasy hair hung over his face, the rest half hidden by his hoodie. He kept his eyes cast down but had status as a leader in Black revenge killings.
“Tell you one t’ing,” said Tattoo, ignoring Bad Azz for the moment. “Ever’body gotta round up dey cuzz. We gots to be on point! Start poppin’ and droppin’. We gots tuh recuit da Rollin 60’s, the Tongan Crips, the Venice Shoreline…all our homies bangin’ anyplace in L.A. County! We gonna smite dem weird-asses!”
“Effin’ A!” chimed in Ramon. “Turn dem smiters into smitees!”
“We gonna kill ’em wi’ FIRE!” The two leaders shouted in unison.
A cheer rose from most of the assembled.
But not all.
Slowly, Bad Azz lifted his head to the full moon, his morphing face bared, eyes glowing like mini-LED’s. Shucking his hoodie, he let out an eerie howl while growing fangs distended his jaw line. His eyebrows thickened and hair sprouted from his face. Others in both groups morphed too. Those who didn’t drew back, stunned. Then they acted. The sudden snapping of knives and chains filled the night air. Loaded magazines clacked into AK-47s.
Some didn’t get very far.
“Fuck!” yelled one brother, falling back onto his hands in an uncoordinated scramble. He grabbed for the lead pipe in his boot but stumbled again. A fully-morphed werewolf pinned him with hairy paws and chomped into his neck.
“Crapazoid!” yelled a Latino, jumping away from the mess and reaching for his assault rifle. He struggled with the safety but was all thumbs. A transformed Bad Azz vaulted over and pierced his heart with a dagger.
It was a one-sided battle. Out of the trees poured a phalanx of unearthly wolves to join with morphing gang members. Five Alphas leaped at the picnic table. Ramon slashed at one with his military knife before being engulfed by fangs. He bellowed twice and then died. Tattoo went down in a tangle of furry bodies, all ripping at his head and neck. His blood stained the picnic table.
Defeated, the remaining gang members ran for their vehicles but were mowed down by hundreds of claws and paws.
It was a complete rout.
The cops called to the scene scratched their heads at the carnage. Some even threw up. Few knew what had happened or why, and the press declined to publish the worst of the photographs. All agreed the Athens Park massacre made the Jefferson High attack look like a tea party.
Days later, the President shook hands with a regenerated Bad Azz in the Oval Office to extend his contract. The terms served both parties; the shape-shifters would eliminate criminal street gangs in all the major cities, but only one full moon at a time. Between times, they would fast.
For awhile, it was one sweet deal for America.