"Want to go buy us some lotto tickets?"
Jericho looked over at her partner in the passenger seat, a big black motherfucker looked like he could fold even the toughest PCP addict in half.
"Man, don't packets of heroin ever pay off."
"Doesn't mean these street niggas know that."
"Shut up Williams, acting like you ain't street."
"Girl, you know you as street as me with an ass like you got."
Jericho snorted, laughing. Williams had a way of cheering her up even when the beat sucked worse than usual.
"You couldn't handle this ass anyway, motherfucker." Jericho said with nothing but love. "You might be built like a brick shithouse but I'd still climb you like a tree."
Williams grinned at her but he caught sight of their location and that cut him off.
"This is the place. Damned if I know what's going on. I said lotto tickets but the shit I've been hearing about this area doesn't sound like a bunch of heroin addicts."
Jericho parked the unmarked car near some overflowing dumpsters. There wasn't hardly shit around here, just closed store fronts tagged and wrecked. The city block, riddled with alleyways, looked like it had rotted from the inside out.
Like the city has leprosy, Jericho thought as she ad Williams waited for shit to go down, always pieces falling off.
"They gonna spot our rotation," Williams said, "this shit is hinky."
"They ain't gonna see the car," Jericho said, though she felt it too, that sense that something could go bad way too easy, "slow your roll. You sound like you the one on drugs."
Jericho could wait for a long time. When she was a kid she'd done a lot of waiting, when Mamma had to work at the strip club and couldn't find someone to look after her and her sisters. Williams never had gotten used to it, though, and he fidgeted in his seat.
"There," he said after what had to have been a solid hour, "you see that?"
She leaned forward and peered out the windshield. A dark shape, turning to go down an alley. Something just wasn't right about the way the guy moved.
"Yeah. What the fuck?"
"That's what I'm saying."
"It's where we're supposed to be. Not going to ruin all that fucking vice work because the nigga looks like an extra for Frankenstein."
She got out before Williams could argue with her. He hadn't seen the shit she had, working this lead. She'd never seen addicts feen so bad for their poison. Not even crackheads, and that was saying some real shit right there. She couldn't shake the feeling, then or now, that there was something wrong with their eyes. The way they stared right through her, the way they were the wrong color, somehow. And the fucking crazy talk.
But it didn't sound all crazy, she thought before she could stop it, sounded like a language.
She shook her head. She didn't have time for that right now. She heard the click of the car door as Williams got out to cover her, and she made sure her piece was loose in its holster. She didn't like drawing it. Too easy for a cop around here to get an itchy trigger finger, and nothing good ever came of that, but this time that deformed figure made it so not having it in her hand felt way too vulnerable.
The alleyway stunk like piss, but she couldn't say that smell didn't crawl up her nose at least once a day. Hardly bothered her now. The oily, greenish sheen on the concrete did, though. Dread and instinct played her spine like a cheap xylophone. One of the shadows broke away from the others obscuring the back of the alley, came towards her.
She pulled her gun and for a moment her and the shape faced off. Where the fuck was Williams, she wondered, though the rapidly eroding rational part of her brain told her about his heavy footfalls at the mouth of the alleyway.
"What the fuck are you?"
"You want my gift, human?"
The thing hissed. A hammering headache started right between her eyes and the world swam out of focus. Fuck, it's voice. She couldn't stand it. She tried to make her hand work, tried to pull the trigger, because all her worries about shooting someone who didn't deserve it had evaporated like the piss under her feet would when the sun hit it in the morning.
"Stay away. Stay away!"
It lunged. Not human at all. It's eyes. Holy shit, it's eyes. It all happened in seconds but in her mind it slowed down like the fucking Matrix, except she wasn't no chosen one and there was no way in hell she was getting away from the thing barreling towards her. It leapt, changed shape, it fucking changed shape, and when it hit she felt its claws like a set of red hot kitchen knives, ripping her open.
She stumbled back, disbelief shielding her from the soul burning pain she knew she was in, fell in to William's arms. The thing shot past her, big like a mastiff. She could hear Williams shouting, cursing, and it turned in to something else, a language that crawled in to her and squeezed her brain in a red hand.
Then, thank god, nothing.