This story is by Brian Palmer and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
The inescapable smell of urine fills the entire subway. The stench hangs in the air everywhere, so I just choose my seat towards the back of the last car. I’m not a huge fan of people and typically, people aren’t fond of the last car. I sit down across from a guy in a grey and blue business suit that advertises Wall Street. The man doesn’t seem to notice my arrival; maybe because his head is buried in the newspaper he holds up high. A few others pepper the car, but the businessman holds my attention. People watching is part of my job and my curiosity drives the success of my hunts. What drives this guy? What does he think that expensive watch says about him? Does he have a wife or family at home? He’s not wearing a wedding ring, but you can’t really trust that kind of symbol these days. The world is full of scumbags. The car’s lights blink in and out every time it creaks around a turn aggressively. I remember when riding these things felt like an adventure. Now, it’s just a way to get from my job in the city out to where my wife and I decided would be the best place to have kids. The American Dream I am told.
Eventually, I feel compelled to whip out my cellphone after the man’s entertainment value drops. I skim some news stories to pass the time. Stops come and go, and people filter in and out; more out than in at this point. That’s when it happens. The lights blink off around a big turn and blink back on. There stands a man towering over the man in the business suit in the middle of the aisle. He shows me his backside as if I don’t exist. From what I can see, he wears a heavy, black wool jacket which blends with his shoulder length jet black hair. An uncomfortable anxiety floods my system as I realize how much focus this new passenger has on the man in the business suit. He spins around before plopping down in the seat next to the target of his concentration. My attention on the scene goes unnoticed. I sit in disbelief that the man reading the newspaper remains so involved that he can’t sense the other clearly declaring war on his personal space. Oddly, the black-haired man opens his mouth as if he trying to breathe on the businessman. In a flash, razor sharp teeth spring up from his wide-open mouth. Without hesitation, his face darts into the side of the other’s neck. Adrenaline surges through my veins as my body reacts to that which is passing in front of my eyes. I can only hesitate so much before I jump up and bolt toward the front of the car.
I pause in confusion because the other passengers don’t seem to react to the attack, but I only concern myself with speeding forward. I’m heading to the front as quick as I can. I fly through about four cars before mustering up the courage to check behind me. Two cars back, I can see the now blood covered black-haired man striding through the cars still invisible to the passengers. His black eyes are focused on me. Out of breath, I push through the people in the remaining cars till I get to the front. Worriment overcomes my stomach knowing the next stop remains minutes away. My heart beat thumps in my chest so hard that my vision is blurred by the blood pumping through my eyeballs. He arrives at my car, pops open the doors with an easy thrust, and grins. This plan deviates dangerously off course. He continues towards me, but seconds before he reaches me, the train screeches to a halt at a station. I dive for the door. At this point, I don’t waste needed energy looking back. I sprint up the stairs to get to street level. My constant rush perplexes onlookers as I move by each.
Finally, a light rain kisses my face as I reach street level in the middle of New York. After scanning for a place to get away from the crowds, I decide on a nearby alley. I find a camouflaged spot behind some bags by a green dumpster. The smell of aged Chinese food drives a gag from my gut. After ten minutes, my heart rate recovers and I grow impatient. I stand up attempting to brush the odor of trash off myself. I finish one step back towards the street before a hand grips my shoulder and fingernails penetrate my skin. I fall on my knees in excruciating pain. I peer up knowing well enough who has me. The black-eyed man seethes down at me. He grins again at me with a mouth full of shark like teeth. In an instant, he tears at my throat with his mouth before tossing my body onto the ground. I topple over onto my stomach with a scarlet fountain gushing from my neck. Blood loss suddenly exhausts me and I can barely see the man strolling away from me down the alley. Blackness overtakes my vision and I fall away.
The sound of the man hacking and coughing brings me back to my senses. I lift my hand to feel my throat and find it now unscathed. The creature chokes on my poisonous blood. It isn’t by chance that we met. He detects with terror in his eyes. My clothes burst when my body transforms to its truest form. The force from my paws striking the ground rattles the metal lids from the dumpsters. He shrieks in fear in his last seconds. The monster has become the prey. I finish him by tearing him to pieces with my claws. Afterwards, my howl erupts from the alley to warn the others that I am coming.