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A Night on the Town
        By Bobbi Todd

I'm walkin' down a dark, dirty street, past an abandoned buildin', when I catch a familiar scent. Blood. And fear. I start ta go on by. After all, its none o' my business. But I can't. I'm one o' the good guys. I gotta check it out.

I go down the alley beside the boarded up building, careful and quiet as a cat. I don't know what I'm gonna run into here. Lots of scents, overlappin', confusin'. Several of 'em meet at a door in the side of the buildin'. I look it over. It's been forced. I open it just wide enough ta slip inside. I stop and look around. Nothin' moves. The only fresh scent is the blood. I move away from the door, lookin' for the source.

Its pitch black inside, but I can see well enough. I'm in an old warehouse. There's a loft at the back. That's where the smell's the strongest. I creep up the stairs, ready for anything. Except what I find.

There's a woman lyin' on the floor. She's tied up, her arms and legs stretched as far as they'll go. I don't have ta look any further for the source of the blood scent. Her chest an' belly 're cut ta ribbons. There's so much blood, an' the woman is so still, that I know I'm too late ta help her. Then she surprises me by openin' her eyes.

She looks up at me, an' she ain't scared. She's too far gone for that. She's been used by animals, several of 'em by the scents. She's expectin' the same o' me. I extend a claw ta cut her loose, and she flinches at the sight of its razor edge.

"I ain't gonna hurt ya, darlin'," I say, tryin' ta reassure her. She just looks away. She don't believe me. I guess she's heard it before.

She's tied up with what looks like old telephone wire, and its cut deep into her wrists an' ankles. I'm gonna have ta be careful not ta hurt her gettin' her loose.

I slash through the first o' the wires holdin' her, and she looks at me again. I cut through the rest an' she turns onto her side, curlin' in on herself against the pain.

I take off my shirt an' drape it over her. It ain't enough, I know, but its the best I can do for now. If she's gonna have even a chance o' survivin', I gotta get her to a hospital.

I bend ta pick her up, but freeze when I hear somethin' from the alley outside. She hears it at the same time an' rolls to her knees, her bruised face twistin' into a silent snarl. She's stronger 'n I thought. I look around as the door downstairs opens. There ain't no other way out. I could slice through the back wall, but the warehouse backs up on the river. Ain't no problem for me, but I doubt the girl could survive it.

Five men come through the door. Nasty lookin' customers. I recognize at least three of 'em by their scents. They've been here before. I look back, an' the girl's managed ta get to her feet. By the looks of her, she ain't gonna stay there long. I slip an arm around her, an' help her move ta the back o' the loft. I lower her to the floor, and she leans against the wall, her legs drawn up under her. She should be safe back here while I take care o' business. She watches me as I move away.

They ain't tryin' ta be quiet as they cross the warehouse. But then, what d' they have ta be scared of? They're expectin' ta find one little gal up here. They sure as hell ain't expectin' me.

I wait for 'em at the top o' the stairs. I can take 'em, but it'll be easier here, where they'll be bunched up.

"I'm telling ya, Johnny, you're gonna enjoy this one," the first man says, as he starts up the stairs.

"That's what ya told me about the last one," his companion snarls. "She was so stoned, she didn't even notice when we took her."

"This one's clean, Johnny," he laughs. Then he looks up an' sees me.

"Hey, who the hell are you?!?" he demands, climbin' the last o' the stairs. I don't answer. Ya don't try ta talk to a mad dog. Ya just kill 'im.

"This is a private party, runt. You're tresspassin'." The punk jabs me in the chest with his finger. I return the favor, only I use my claws. He looks surprised as he goes over backwards. He takes two o' his pals with him as he falls down the stairs. I start down after 'em, and punk number four pulls a knife and decides ta rush me. Big mistake. Also his last. He lunges, shovin' the knife at me. I take the hand at the wrist. He starts ta scream, but I cut his throat before he can draw a breath. Number five falls over his own feet tryin' ta get away. I follow him fast. I gotta finish these creeps while there's still time ta do somethin' for the girl upstairs.

They scatter as I reach the bottom of the stairs, so I go after the one closest to the door. He turns ta face me, fumblin' in his coat for the gun I know he's carryin'. He manages ta get it out before I kill him, but he doesn't get a chance ta use it. I turn away from the body an' the other two are nowhere in sight. They're here someplace. This door is still the only way outta here.

I hear one of 'em at the back of the warehouse. He's tryin' ta shove the boards outta one o' the windows. He whirls as I step up behind him.

"No!" he shrieks. "I didn't do anything! They told me there was a party here! That's all!" I mighta believed him if I hadn't recognized his scent. I smelled him on the girl when I helped her to the back o' the loft. He's lyin'. Now he's dead.

I turn ta look for the last o' the scum when I hear a shout from above. The bastard's up there with the girl.

"You stinkin' bitch!" I hear 'im yell as I hit the top o' the stairs. He's standin' over the girl, one hand raised ta hit her.

"I wouldn't do that," I tell him. Its too far for me ta stop him, but he looks up an' glares at me. His face is bleedin'. He don't have ta worry about this one bein' too stoned ta notice. He grabs her as I move toward 'im.

"Get away from me, you crazy bastard! Or I swear I'll break her neck!" I stop, waitin' for my chance. The girl's limp against him, her head down, and her arms danglin'. I catch a glimpse of somethin' in her hand. She lifts her head an' looks at me. I can't read her expression. I don't know if she's askin' for help, or blamin' me for lettin' this one get past me.

The punk's still jumpy. He knows I'll rip his heart out if he gives me the chance.

"Get away from the stairs!"

"Ya don't have ta shout, bub. I c'n hear ya just fine." I start ta move away from the stairs when he tightens his hold on the girl's throat. She coughs weakly. He drags her toward the stairs, an' she's startin' ta get her feet under her. I'm a lot closer than before. If I time it just right, I can get him before he can hurt her again.

Suddenly the girl straightens an' drives her heel down on his foot. He squeals an' loses his grip. She twists toward him as I'm leapin' across the floor. She shoves somethin' against his belly an' he screams. I grab her as he falls backward down the stairs. She watches him. Then she looks up at me an' smiles.

"Thank you," she says, then she faints. I pick her up. She's still breathin', which is one point for our side. The punk at the bottom of the stairs ain't, which is another point. I take a second ta glance at the body. The girl's shoved what looks ta be a small piece of angle iron into him. From the direction it went in, I'd say she got his heart. Good for her.

I kick the door open, knockin' it off its hinges, an' step out inta the alley with the girl. We reach the street an' nobody looks at us. Its that kind o' neighborhood. There ain't a cab in sight. Good thing the hospital's only a few blocks from here.

She's still alive when I get her there. I figure she's got a better'n even chance o' makin' it. I can't stick around. Cops'll be askin' questions I don't wanna answer. I hope she don't mind. But I got a feelin' she'll understand.

I head back ta my digs, ta get another shirt. Then I go back out inta the city. I'd been feelin' pretty low, but I'm feelin' better now. Lots better.

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