His feet hurt so badly he couldn’t hardly stand up. He had been in meetings all damn day and his shoes, although impractical, were the latest word in power shoes for young, urban professional businessmen on “the rise” as it were.
Nevertheless—He had to wrap this crap up and get home. The dog had probably made a damn mess already and also needed feeding and he had a whole night of proofing and re-proofing of the ad campaign he had been trying to finish for formal presentation to the CEO of a major Coffee manufacturer in two days. Everything was riding on it. He couldn’t let up now; shoes or no shoes.
He slid his anchor-like feet from under his desk and, rubbing his ankles, said to himself “725.00 for torture…that’s awesome….next time let’s go for the even thousand and just die…”
He got up, slowly and deliberately, and put his hands in the small of his back to stretch it out before he started his long walk to the train station. He hoped it wouldn’t be a lot of waiting this time either and that he could at least get a seat, dammit. He would strongly have to consider paying some homeless guy off for a seat if it came to that so he could rest; his feet were on fire.
He took a couple of steps and it felt like he was walking on spikes. “This is insane” he said, “There’s no way this is happening…” and he took off the damn things and threw them into his office, opting to walk to the train station in his socks if he had to; image be damned.
That was better. Much better. He strode with much more ease towards the front door and showed his badge to the night guard who politely if not snarkily asked him “Didja forget somethin’ Mr. Bailey?” before being told to “Mind his own damn business and good fucking night”…but not necessarily in that order.
Bailey made his way down 45th Avenue to the train station. The crisp, yet sour night air wrapped around him and he tired a little due to the strange mixture but kept on walking; thinking about the presentation and going over and over in his head each individual piece of the sketch itself and the wording and how he would go about giving the pitch. He was just about there when he saw her.
Just about half a mile to the train station, there lay a woman in a flowered dress;. She was face-down on the side of the street, laying within the entryway of a closed jewelry shop. Her legs were sprawled apart, almost like a broken doll and her head was turned so that he could see that she had been bleeding from the nose and mouth. Something bad had happened but no one else was around and there seemed to be no one coming for help either. He looked at this watch, “Jesus! 2:17am? How long was I working?”. He ran over to the woman, dug for his phone and called 911. “911 What is your emergency?” said a voice on tbe end of the line almost immediately. “I need help I’m at 45th and Armstrong” his breathing was heavy…’I found this lady, she-she’s hurt really badly in front of, uh, let me see, Krager’s Fine Jewelers…send some help; Please!, She’s bleeding”
“Calm down, sir”, the voice said..”We have a car nearby and will send help, can you tell if she is breathing? Get close and see if you can tell if the lady is breathing…” He bent down and turned his cheek to face her mouth…he felt no air. He panicked a little, then tried again….still nothing. “No! She’s not breathing..she’s lost a lot of blood too! You gotta get someone here right now!” he yelled.
“It’s ok sir, just be calm, we have a car on the way and they are five minutes out; you should hear their sirens right now…”the voice said, and it was true—he did hear sirens but they sounded..odd; almost blurry or like the sound of a merry go round winding down….but he didn’t think about that; he knew she needed help and he knew they were coming so he tried to relax and just wait.
True to what he had been told, a car did drive up. It was not a police car. It was long, and black with white sides all the way down each side and it had no lights on top’ Only the headlights themselves were red…and they did not blink. The “siren” did sound weird like he thought; it sounded wet and sloshy, like something was caught in it…some kind of liquid or something thick and sluggish.
The doors opened and two figures climbed out of the car. “Did you call this in?” asked the first figure. Bailey could not see much except that the man wore a badge of what looked like brass and had no hat, just a dark overcoat; the second figure did as well.
“Y-Yes..” he stammered. “My name is Peter Bailey and I w-was on my way h-home from the office and I found this girl…I don’t think she’s breathing! We need help!”. The figures neither said anything nor made a move towards the girl or Bailey. They just simply stood in place and then slowly looked at teach other.
“He called it in, Gorchik”, the one figure said to the other; “Guess we have to take a look”…and stepped forward. “The other figure, “Gorchik” Bailey thought also stepped forward. He remained silent except to say “Ja, Berhhardt, we have to take a look”.
The lights from the Jewelers shop suddenly illuminated the two figures and Bailey recoiled. These were not human beings. Not at all. They each had the eyes of an insect, rolling and swollen, multi faceted and gleaming and instead of mouths they displayed Pincers and sharpened fangs that were dripping with gore. He saw their “badges” simply said “Disposal” not “Police” or “Officer” and he knew they were coming for Him now and not the lifeless girl who apparently they had already fed upon as they then both said almost in unison..”Shame, she tasted so good…”
It was at that moment he realized that he had to run; there was nothing more he could do for the girl. She was nothing but a husk now; he had to run, in his stocking feet, and get out of there before these creatures had him as well. He quickly realized though, that the car that had brought these creatures to the scene had now blocked, perhaps intentionally, the entrance to the train station. For what seemed an eternity he stood in slow motion trying to think of where to run before he was the next lifeless body in the street…then he remembered; the office was still close and there was security—there would be no way they would enter there as they would be seen and also that guy, what was his name…Andy or something…was in the door and armed.
He turned and headed back the way he came as fast has he could in nothing but socks thankful that he’d chosen to leave those damn shoes behind and now able to run faster and in comfort. Those shoes would have cost him his life and he was grateful for the choice he had made and more than a little proud of it. It was then he heard the wet, melted siren again and saw the red headlights bearing down on him off to the side; he ran faster and faster crossing over street after street thankful it was so early in the morning and no cars were around…and then ; he heard a voice say something off to the side from the car bearing down on him..”Shoot the glass! Shoot the glass!” …just like in that old damn movie.
The figure from the passenger side rose out of the side of the car and began shooting out the storefront glass windows directly in Bailey’s path, showering the pavement with shards of diamond like debris shining in the moonlight. It was too late too as he ran headlong into the piles of shards and felt his feet and legs scream as they were cut to ribbons….but he couldn’t stop. He had to keep going. His socks filled with fresh blood and his legs shrieked in fury as he moved forward as if he is whole body was ablaze in white hot pain towards the door of the office, now only feet away.
Streams of blood, thick and viscous poured from his legs and streamed up the sidewalk behind him. He reached the door, pounding and pounding and screaming to be let in. “What is it Bailey? Oh my God!! What happened!!?” Yelled the guard named Andrew as he opened the door. Bailey fell in to the floor; his wounds spurting blood like a fountain all over the marble tile floor.
“You know, Mr. B? said “Andrew” You really shouldn’t run from the law…it’s not good for you or the blood…”
Bailey looked up at him and saw the mask That “Andrew” had been wearing had shifted and one of the pincers he also wore as a mouth has come out from under it. “Andrew” opened the door and in came the two “officers”… “Mr Bailey, the creature called “Gorchik” said, you really should know not to be out after a certain time…the police leave us to the streets after that. “We clean up the mess and they get a rest…that’s our motto”; it works for everyone. We feed and the streets stay safe”. “Now”, he said , “let’s get you upstairs and back to your office so we can set this up right.”he said.
“Set what up right?” Said Bailey…”what are WE setting up??”
“Why your suicide of course!” , said Gorchik. “We can’t have you talking to everyone about the way things are…”
He was too weak to fight them; his eyes rolled up and the world fell away beneath him.
When he came to, he was at his desk; laid over on one side, his wrists hurting so very badly he couldn’t move them.
“Sorry for the inconvenience Mr. B., but we had to slash your wrists too…we decided it needed to look really crazy since your feet were so torn up….damn shame too. Those are really good shoes you had. Mind I f I ask how much they put you back?”
“Sev-seven twe-twenty five…”
He said it ….and then he spoke no more again.
The next day, panic reigned at the office, everyone, the Police included, who found the body just figured there had been too much pressure on Bailey due to the presentation since he had thrown his shoes (so nice by the way) across the office and cut up his feet apparently before cutting his wrists.
“Too bad.” Said the CEO of Frontiersman Coffee who had come to meet with Bailey for the presentation; “this one was a winner—after all who wouldn’t buy the tag line “Every Drop Counts”