Valentine Marlar -- Calling it a Night
After a couple blocks, Val slowed his pace from frantic to merely irritated, and shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked. His eyes refused to stop darting from person to person as he passed them by, and he couldn't help flinching a little every time he met a stranger's eyes. As he walked, he mentally recited prime numbers in alphabetical order -- a little trick he'd picked up to counter his initial anxiety when he'd first moved to the city.
'Damn freaks. Can't decide which one was worse...aw, who the hell am I kidding, it was definitely her; it's always a tragedy when a piece of ass that hot goes cuckoo-gitchoo. Wait, what am I on? Dammit. 11, 5, 9, 19, 1, let's see, 7, 17, uh, 13, 31, 3, 29...'
Val kept counting as he moved, brushing alongside a young yuppie prick. He was tempted to fleece the guy just to snatch back a little normalcy in his evening; the asshole was so engrossed in his damn Crackberry, Val could have turned him upside down and shaken him for his wallet without getting pinched. But he just wasn't in the mood anymore. His fingers didn't have their usual itch, and his hands still felt a little sluggish. Better not to risk anymore tonight.
Unfortunately, Val's meditation was a little too effective; it kept him from re-hashing the night's events, but it also stopped him from noticing he was being followed. Val was almost out of downtown when he ducked down an alley off 38th; a few more blocks would bring him back to his apartment. His stomach rumbled again and he gave it a downward glance; all the crap that had gone on and he still hadn't grabbed a bite, dammit.
'Forget this. I'm going home, and I'll heat up some damn noodles. This night is not on my side, and I just wanna get behind closed doors and sleep till noon. Whole goddamn city's gone crazy...'
About midway down the alley, Val stepped in a puddle of...something oozing from the corner of a rusted dumpster, and his foot slid out from beneath him at about a thousand miles an hour. As he'd realize in a few moments, the accident probably saved his life. He went down hard and smashed one knee against the concrete, and his ears rang like churchbells.
"Ah, dammit, what the-!" Val tried to exclaim, but as he clutched at his injured leg he heard a muttered curse behind him, and turned just in time to see a tall man in dark clothes attempting to jerk a baseball bat out of the hole it had just punched in the side of the dumpster. Val fell backward and tried to scuttle away from the attacker as he freed his weapon.
"Whoa! What the fuck, man?! What the hell is it with guys trying to blindside me tonight? Was there a meeting I missed or something?!" Val said, snarling with pain and fear -- and rising, burning anger. This was the second time tonight he'd been knocked on his ass. There would not be a third.
He staggered back to his feet and dodged a downward strike from A-Rod, but wasn't fast enough to avoid his next attack. A-Rod turned the downswing into a side swing and caught Val in the gut with a solid hit, knocking the wind out of his lungs. Valentine stumbled backward and leaned against the bricks, but his opponent wasn't interested in giving him time to catch his breath. He charged forward, the bat over his shoulder, obviously ready to swing for the bleachers. No time to think, Val lowered his head and slammed himself against the attacker's chest, throwing them both to the ground.
The pair wrestled for several minutes, until Val finally managed to jerk the bat away from A-Rod and tossed it aside. He straddled his enemy and grabbed his wrists in each hand, and lowered his face almost nose to nose with the silent man. "You know, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sensing some real hostility directed my way. Have we met?...I don't owe you money, do I?" Val asked, as his breathing finally slowed back to somewhere in normal's neighborhood. The man remained silent, and simply continued to look up at Val with cold, dark eyes filled with murderous hatred.
"Look, if this is about that chick I met last week, she said she was single, I swear--" Unfortunately, Val's protest was interrupted as the man finally got one of his hands loose and pulled a small cylinder from his outside jacket pocket. As he aimed it at Val's face, he had just enough time for a single thought before the stream of Mace hit him square in the eyes.
'Aw, dammit, not again...'
Val screamed in pain and rolled off the man's waist, clawing at his eyes and thrashing about wildly. Through burning, tearful eyes, Val saw his attacker calmly walk down the alley and retrieve his bat and return, slapping the heavy wood against his open palm with each step. 'Alright...that is it!'
As A-Rod approached, Val let the tension in his muscles shift. His body felt warm all over, as if burning coals had been shoved under his skin. The pain in his eyes started to dull, and his face grew itchy as short, dark fur began to bristle up everywhere. The cartilage in his nose stretched and deformed, and his ears grew lengthier and pointier. The sleeves on his jacket began to bulge as his arms thickened, and sharp spikes of bone with webs of strong, veinous cartilage burst through the cheap leather. His chest started to swell, his shoulders widened, and within seconds the thin fabric of his shirt and jacket were overwhelmed and split apart; the shredded garments fell to the concrete in tatters.
Val dragged himself back to his feet as his transformation continued, and he was more than a little gratified to see the look of utter terror and despair on A-Rod's face as he dropped his timber. A thick, heavy ruffle of fur sprouted around Val's bare neck, and wicked boney claws extended from his inhuman hands. His tongue thinned and elongated inside his mouth as his teeth sharpened into a carnivore's nightmare, and his deep-sunken eyes glowed a vicious, golden red hue. The sound of his jeans ripping at the calves, and the rubber of his shoes popping open as his huge, clawed feet burst free of their vulcanized prison, signified the end of his transformation, and he spread his arms wide to flare out his leathery wings.
"Alright, Chuckles. How do you feel about a double-header?" Val asked, his voice even more monstrous than his appearance, like the sound of falling shards of glass mixed with the guttaral growls of a ravenous beast and the screams of a dying child. He bared his fangs in a feral grin, and his tongue darted out almost four inches from his lips and coiled around itself before snaking back into his mouth.
"Play ball," he snarled, allowing a thin string of spittle to drool from one side of his slavering jaws. A-Rod turned and ran out of the mouth of the alley, screaming in stark terror. 'Hehe. Never fails,' Val thought as he drew himself back up to a more civilized posture. The fur and the wings were already retreating back under his skin, and he growled softly as the bones of his ankles snapped back into place from their previous inversion. As always, the nose and ears were the last to revert, until finally he was just a scrawny, bare-chested, barefoot young man in ragged jeans.
'Fuck me, that was close, though. Guess maybe Ray Charles and the Funny Bunny were onto something, after all,' he thought as he clutched his left ribs with one hand and trudged further down the alley. So much for a peaceful night in. He headed home to refresh his wardrobe, and wondered how he was gonna find two nuts in a city positively teeming with them.