Writing in your diary may not be what most people do when playing bait in a trap for a homicidal maniac, but then most people wouldn’t have volunteered to be the bait in the first place. I’m supposed to be pretending to be a UT student. I could have brought my laptop and surfed the net or something, but I was afraid it would get damaged if the proverbial feces hit the spinning blades. When Jack had to be bait in a trap, he just skipped bathing for a while and we ran over his worst clothes with my Jeep a few times. I went to a used book store, got a textbook on Organic Chemistry, and brought my diary to write in, so it looked like I was taking notes.
I took Chemistry in college, but that was nearly half a century ago. It looks like things have progressed a lot, or maybe I’ve just forgotten a lot. I may have to go back to school. It’s not like I’m going to go get a job as a lab assistant or anything, but it sure would be nice to be able to analyze my own venom. I still have no clue what the venom from my claws does exactly. I can’t very well randomly start scratching people to find out. Those claws saved my bacon from Domina Death when she nearly killed me, so, if bad comes to worst, maybe I’ll see how the big bad Bobcat likes being the claw-ee for a change.
All the girls Bobcat attacked over the last few weeks were outdoors when he found them. His last victim was on her way to her dorm from the Communications buildings across the street. I staked out a comfy grassy spot, and settled in to “study” in the dorm courtyard about five in the evening of the day after the police tape was removed. The students had all been encouraged to spend the evening on the other side of campus via text message.
It seemed a bit obvious to me, but Liberty had done the homework. She said Bobcat wasn’t real high on the IQ scale. Liberty believed he was likely to bite on what to me seemed like a particularly obvious trap. Apparently, Bob, was a product of a cat-human gene splicing experiment by Doctor White, the same guy who made the spider device that stole nearly a century of my life. Liberty said Bobcat thought more like a predator than a man in some ways. He was likely to come back to a place if he’d found easy prey there before.
I bowed to superior experience. Liberty’s only in her mid thirties, but she’s been superheroing since she was in a training bra. I’m the novice in this world.
Liberty’s voice whispered in my ear bud, “Any sign?”
“Nada,” I whispered back, holding the Chemistry book up and squinting, so it looked like I was puzzling out a particularly complex concept.
“Are you certain, Dee?”
The way she said it made me tense between my shoulder blades. I’d been here for hours. The sun was setting. I’d just taken off my protective sunglasses now that the light was more bearable to my overly sensitive dragon eyes. And this was the first time Liberty had broken radio silence since we tested out the comm gear. “Why?” I whispered. You have to be quiet if you’re going to catch a bad guy with ears as big as my hands.
I did, but there was nothing unusual even with my own super-duper dragon hearing, just cars, people chatting a block over on the drag, and the wind in the trees. “I don’t hear anything,” I barely whispered.
“The grackles stopped.”
I was so used to the standard evening racket of flocks of roosting black birds, like every Austinite, that I had completely ignored the hundreds of birds in the trees around me, except to make sure none were sitting over me, ready to add their own personal touch to my hair or books.
The racket I’d been ignoring wasn’t there anymore. Hundreds of birds sat in the trees around me and did not make a chorus of sounds like rusty metal hinges. They were completely silent.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
Something heavy hit me on the back of the head, slamming my face down into the open Chemistry book. My nose left a splash of blood on the page.
The birds took off all at once in a flurry of black wings.
I blinked tears and tried to get up.
A huge hairy arm hooked around my waist, yanked me backward, and slammed me to the ground.
“Son of a …” I kicked up, but only hit air. The hairy cat-man dodged sideways and slapped me in the face, an open-handed, no claws casual slap that still rattled my teeth.
I tried to punch him, but my hand swished through empty air where his face had been a moment before. He hit me harder this time, a closed fist punch that crunched into my temple.
When I came to, I was upside down, in a fireman’s carry, a bony shoulder digging into my armored belly, looking at a plumber’s crack covered in blond fur. Beyond that less than inspiring sight was a whole lot of air, about five stories worth. The ground was far enough away that I figured puking right now wouldn’t really affect much.
So, I did.
It made my mouth taste sour, did nothing for the pounding in my head, but my stomach settled a little.
Voices were yelling in my head. “He’s got her. He’s on the move!” “Where the hell did he go?” “Have you ever seen anything move that fast?” “I see him!” “Oh, my god, he’s climbing the building with her like King Kong.”
“Cordon off the block,” came Liberty’s voice. “Don’t bother with warnings. If you get a clean shot at him with a trank gun, just fire. Confirm your target, though. Don’t hit Dee. Team 2 cover the elevator and front door. He might try to come down through the building.”
That was Liberty. She looked like a Hollywood starlet, sounded like a public service announcement when the cameras were on, and in casual situations, she chatted with me about life like any BFF, but in situations like this, she sounded like a front line general commanding troops.
The world spun and shifted under me while Bobcat punched his claws into the dark rust-colored metal of the communication building where Austin City Limits gets filmed. He pulled himself and me both onto the roof. I got an upside down view of a gigantic radar dish and several smaller ones on an elaborate metal framework.
I thought about struggling, but didn’t really want to get free seven stories up over concrete sidewalks with my wings folded under a jacket. I waited until we were fully on something flat and solid. When I tried to make my move, I moved more sluggishly than I expected. I elbowed him in the back, but it wasn’t a solid blow.
Bobcat threw me down onto the gravel, which actually didn’t hurt much now that I’m mostly armored, aside from the swimminess that it increased in my head. He pounced on my chest. He extended shiny black hooked claws four inches long from the back of his hand. He laid them over my face, one claw right over my eye. “I hear them, bitch, but they won’t get here in time to save you.”
He could hear the voices in my ear mike.
“It doesn’t matter if you can hear them,” I said. “You won’t be able to get away this time.”
Liberty snapped, “Switch channels to 224.” She sounded a little breathy, like she was running or doing something strenuous. The chatter in my ear all went silent.
I no longer knew what Liberty or the SWAT team were doing, but now, neither did the bad guy with the big claws sitting on my chest.
Bobcat leaned in close to my face and licked my cheek. Gross. His claw tips just drawing blood in the skin of my face made moving seem like a really bad idea. “Pretty, pretty coed looking down on me. I bet you wish you’d never made fun of freaks, now, popular girl. Say you’re sorry, and maybe I won’t mess up your pretty face.”
I laughed. I know, not the normal thing to do when someone’s about to rip your face off, but the idea of me as the pretty, popular girl, making fun of a freaky kid, was about as bass ackward as you could get. “You’re picking on a fellow freak, Bob. Take a look at my left hand.”
“Whuh?” Bobcat said. He pulled the claws away from my face as I held up my left hand, covered in the usual black leather glove.
I popped my claws through the leather. They’re only a couple inches long and silver, not black, but the similarity between the two of us was crystal clear.
While his less than brilliant mind pondered that, I took a swipe at his face with my shiny new claws. No telling what they’d do to him, but considering what he’d been about to do to me, I wasn’t real concerned.
He moved faster than a freakin rattlesnake. He caught my arm in mid-swing, but not with quite enough force to stop it. He twisted, snarling, with my arm in his grip to keep my claws away from his furry flesh.
I used the momentum to roll over, get on top of him instead of the other way round. We rolled over in the gravel, a couple times, but I seemed to be a little stronger than him. I kept the top position. I punched at him, but couldn’t get in a solid hit the way he kept twisting and moving. He slashed at me, but all he did was put slashes in my jacket and t-shirt. The needle sharp tips of his claws screeched across my scales making us both wince.
He tried to bite me on the shoulder. Fortunately, it was my left shoulder.
His teeth made a sound on my scales like someone scraping their teeth on their fork. I hate that.
“OWRRR!!” he griped.
“Heh heh. This morsel’s got a hard crunchy shell, furr boy.” I’m not sure why I thought making fun of the psychotic serial killer was a good idea. It just slipped out.
His face turned ugly, even uglier than before, I mean. His flat nose wrinkled, and his yellow eyes narrowed to slits. His legs curled up into me and he raked my belly with his claws as he shoved, hard.
Another chalkboard screech, and he’d hurled me off of him. I’ve got very well-armored abs, so no harm there.
I tumbled in the air, crashed through a small radar dish, (ow) and saw the low safety wall around the seven story building as it flew by. YIKES!
I scrambled for the edge and managed to scrape the metal with one hand, then hook on with two claws on the other. I’m not one to worry much about heights normally, but hanging eight stories above a parking lot by two fingernails almost made me wet myself.
“Who’s laughing now, bitch?” Bobcat started prying my fingers loose of the metal wall.
Liberty yelled from up on the roof, “Leave her alone!” Not sure when she got there, or from where.
“Make me,” he growled at her and lifted one of my two fingers. It took his whole hand to do it, but I only had one finger left. I’d gotten my brain together enough to realize if I lost my grip, I could just pop my wings out and glide.
I stopped being scared and got pissed off. This guy was making me look bad in front of Liberty. “I’ll make you,” I growled.
I swung up my other hand, trying to grab his wrist where he was prying at my finger.
He dodged back, and laughed at me. “Pretty, but dumb,” he said. “You can’t catch me. You’re too slow.”
“I’m not,” Liberty said, and did a diving tackle.
I got a good look at the last part of that dive as Bobcat sidestepped and shoved like a matador with a bull.
Liberty went sailing over me, head first down into the parking lot.
“NO!” I yelled and tried to grab for her. I let go of my grip on the roof, pushed off, but physics wasn’t on my side. Liberty was going down first, and I didn’t have time to catch her.
I popped my wings out as the parking lot tried to hit me in the face. My shirt and jacket were both shredded, but I back-winged hard and kept the landing from doing more than slamming me to my armored knees. Before I hit pavement, Liberty hit car.
Liberty shifted to a skydiver’s flat pose in the air, so she hit on her whole front, rather than on her head, on the roof of a parked car. Glass shattered and the car roof smashed in like it had been hit with a wrecking ball.
I’ll write more in my diary later. Right now, I want to sleep for like, a week.