They scattered like frightened rats. Alix heard Vashe bash into the door; Nvara ran for the window. She heard Svelen clattering in the next room over, and his voice cry “what’s going on?”
She knew the plan: get to the laundry chute. But that had been the plan when everything was going well; before she’d fucked everything up. If she tried it now, she’d probably get stuck behind Vashe.
Doors. There were three along the hallway. She grabbed the knob of the first- locked. Second- locked. Last one on the right opened, smooth as silk.
It was dark as sin and dusty as a tomb. She coughed, waved the dust out of her eyes. The room was full of long, flickering shadows and looming forms that turned out to be-
No time for curiosity. There were two windows- one on each side of the crib. Her heart sank as she realized- both of them were barred.
Footsteps on the stairs. Three, four people, running. The static of radios, gabbled commands back and forth.
Vravesva. Security guards or police, it didn’t matter; she was doomed.
There was no closet. There was no window. There was nowhere to run.
Alix braced herself against the wall. If they didn’t have guns, maybe she could squirm between them. If they did- well, she was probably doomed anyway.
The door slammed open. Alix shoved forward. She heard a gunshot, distant, muffled as if through water.
Between one breath and the next, she slid towards the floor. Her arms spasmed forward, turning into massive paws. Claws spiked out and skewered the floor. Her teeth jagged out of her mouth and a snarl tore its way out of her throat.
She looked down at the Vravesva. There were three of them- the one with the gun, the one with the gas mask, and the one with the radio. But she wasn’t scared. Compared to her, they were the size of kittens.
The one with the gun kept it pointed at her. His hands were shaking. The other two took a step back, back. The doorway was almost clear; if she could get them out of the way….
“Run,” Alix growled.
The one with the gun ran. The one with the radio followed close behind him; the radio clattered to the ground, spitting static.
The third Vravesva stared at Alix through their gas-masked eyes. Alix took a step back. Her hackles raised.
They pulled a small dark thing from one of the belts across their chest, flicked their finger, and threw. It clicked and rattled as it fell.
She barely realised it was a grenade before it exploded.
The ground beneath her gave way. Wood and concrete smashed against the polished tiles of the dance floor below. She caught herself on all fours.
A lady screamed. Glasses shattered against the floor, and a table crashed into the wall as the crowd struggled to get away.
The electric chandelier creaked crazily from one chain, groaning ominously as it swayed above the fleeing crowd.
And in the midst of it all, Alix stood, watching everything move around her, but doing nothing. She felt like time had started to flow again, leaving her frozen.
Everyone was looking at her. Everyone was afraid, and everyone was afraid of *her*. No, not afraid of her, afraid of what she was.
Running With Rats updates biweekly on the second and fourth Friday of every month.
If you liked this post, and want to support my writing, consider donating to my Patreon? For the price of a cup of coffee, you can get bonus content, worldbuilding notes, and free books.
Sawbones, a wandering veterinarian, is forced into the service of the queen. They must use their knowledge of goat diseases to cure her sick unicorn- or it’s off with their head. Can they discover what’s wrong- and can they save the Queen’s pet from Her Majesty?
Thanks for reading!