I stood only a few feet away from the police station. To a passer-by the building looked empty, deserted maybe, but for a single eerie light flickering inside. It was raining, it always seemed to be raining when I discovered Karl. The water washed down the road and the drains swirled miniature whirlpools, spitting and bubbling, drowning in the gutter.
I was beginning to feel the cold, beginning to feel the weather as I stood looking at the building, my fingers still tightly grasping my mobile. I did not want to go in, scared of what I might find under that eerie light, and as I stood there a thought presented itself. Run away, it said, this is not your problem. But it was my problem, Karl was my problem.
A black ford pulled up beside me and David and Sergeant Brooks got out, pulling their trench coats tight to shield their faces from the downpour.
“is he in there?” David shouted
“Yes.” I could feel Karl’s presence resting heavy on my mind and without another word I crossed the road to the entrance.
The doors were locked originally but now the lock was the only thing keeping them shut. The glass had fallen out of the frames and the metal crossbar had bent severely in the middle making the pair fold inwards, ripped away from the hinges.
There was a body lying inside, the impact with the door had bent it too, and it lay awkwardly in the shadow. I reached down and broke the lock easily with a flick of my wrist. The frames tumbled with a clatter and I walked into the reception, stepping over the body.
I heard Brooks swear, heard the squeak of his shoes as he bent down to feel for a pulse.
“He’s still alive. I’m going to call an ambulance.”
“Wait.” I said, not turning around
“Listen, this man could be dying! This is your brother’s fault, if he had fucking kept to the plan he would never have landed himself here. These are good men and they don’t deserve to die at the hands of that psycho!”
“If you don’t wait there may be more casualties. For those you would be responsible, let me find Karl and then you can call your ambulance.”
As I said it I regretted it, these men, these cops, were not expecting Karl. How must it have seemed to them, when he Changed? how much fear did they feel as they shot at him? Brooks was right, this was Karl’s fault but if the ambulance arrived too soon and the place became flooded with humans I could not protect them all.
The reception was strewn with paper, one of the filing cabinets was bent and the top draw clung to the remains of its contents. A single sheet escaped and floated down to the floor, skidding slightly on the marble. There was a noise, a soft click coming from a room on the left.
The eerie light spilled blue onto the tiles and onto my shoes as I walked inside, heels clicking, echoing in the still room. The light came from an emergency lamp in the middle of the ceiling, flickering it seemed to panic in its glass case, trapped as it surveyed the scene below.
The cubicles had toppled, one into the other, a wheelie chair, its back broken and feet in the air ,teetered and the casters rolled gently. A computer had been thrown into the fuse box in the corner and a small fire had erupted within it, the flame chaotically dancing within the screen. There was another click and I turned to see the second body.
The man lay on his back and I could see the white of his vest through the shredded mess of his uniform. His leg was at an odd angle and he had lost a shoe. As I moved closer I realised he was still conscious, his eyes were just open staring at the floor beside him. His nose had been broken badly and was just bloodied mess in the centre of his face, his breath rasping blood, thick and dark over the light floor, black in the blue.
I bent down to see where he was gazing. His eyes twitched madly and for a second I thought he might scramble away from me. I touched his face and felt the panic of his body, the pain of his face, of his stomach…I could feel the sharp pain of broken ribs under my fingertips. Soon he would be in shock. I calmed him, clouded his confused thoughts, like extinguishing lights in the darkness. He lost consiousness easily but I saw myself reflected, a dark figure looming over him and blocking the light. He had been looking towards his left hand, in which he clutched a revolver, his finger twitched and caught the safety catch…click…click.
I saw what he saw. In the chaos the desks had formed a small alcove, a shadowy place away from the light and in there a figure moved.
I rose slowly, wary and as if to affirm my caution there was a low growl from the darkness.
I heard David come behind me, sensed him reach for his holder. I held up my hand and he stopped moving immediately. He was not stupid.
I went closer and the growl got deeper until I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the cell door, a mangled set of bars broken on the floor. I bent down and reached out to push away a table. There was a sudden snarl and Karl struck my arm with enough force to break it if I were human. I bit my tongue and watched three crimson rivers erupt and bloom through the material of my shirt. The claw rested in sight as a warning, fingers extended, nails pointed and curved into wicked spikes, a fine black hair coating the knuckles.
I continued to push at the desk, slowly rolling it away until I could see my brother. His face glared at me in the dim light, a steady growl pushing its way between his extended canines and curled upper lip. He was not fully Changed and to my relief I could see the beginnings of a paler colour on his head.
His eyes were still black though and the muscle of his arms and torso tensed and large, ready for battle.
“ Karl.” I said again and the growl faltered, I could feel him sensing my strengths…my weaknesses. I prayed that David stayed where he was, if I had to fight Karl I could not guarantee that I would win or whether Karl would just immobilise me to get to weaker prey. To my relief I heard the bone begin to crack, his knuckles at first and then his chest and the rest of his body. The hair began to recede.
It was then I heard the ambulance…maybe two blocks away…but Karl heard it too, I swore at Brooks under my breath. The beast let out a howl but it came down to a cry of pain as Karl battled for control of his own body. Soon there was only Karl sitting under the desks, staring out at me.
I took David’s trench coat but Karl wasn’t looking at me, he was staring past me at the body of the officer on the floor, a pool of blood forming underneath his back. Both he and I could smell it
at the same time, the man had died and Karl had killed him.
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