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Ichthus Case Files – by Laura
I walked cautiously down the dark, busy city sidewalk trying in vain to hide my limp. My service dog, Kirk, trotted beside me. His eyes darted everywhere, trying to watch me, the road, and the shops all at once.
I winced a little as a stinging pain throbbed in my knee and sent electrifying waves through my leg. I knew I had walked on it too much that day and the long flight from home had only served to make it stiff. Kirk saw the look. He nosed my leg, telling me to sit down.
Spotting a bus bench, I dropped my baggage and purse on it, sitting with a heavy sigh. Kirk hopped up beside me, panting. In time, my leg stopped throbbing. As I waited for my taxi, I began to study my surroundings for the first time. I didn’t like what I saw of Memphis, Tennessee.
Cars with LED headlights zoomed past me, large buildings blocked out the moon; bright lights obliterated the stars from the sky. Ruckus laughter rang from bars; hard-rock music reverberated through the concrete. A group of young men whistled at me; I pulled my pepper spray out of my purse and they quickly turned away. The air stunk of something I didn’t want to think about and tried not to breathe as I waited, now impatiently, for my taxi.
The towering buildings and loud busses made me yearn for home. Clearing my throat of something that stuck it like a pin, I stroked Kirk’s gray head, knowing it would calm me. He looked up at me trustingly.
“I guess I should tell you where we’re going,” I told him. “We’re going to my brother, David. I think you’ll like him. He has big black eyes and black hair like me. He’s tall and kind. The best big brother a girl could ask for. When I was in a wheelchair he was always trying to keep my spirits up.” I felt my smile fading.
“But, that was five years ago, before he went to college. He kept in touch at first, I guess. Then, I don’t know, he just started fading away.
That scared me. I texted and called and emailed like mad, but he never answered. Not until a year ago when we got a letter telling us he’d settled down in Marshal, Mississippi. So, I guess I don’t know what he’s like now.” I shook my head, trying to clear the sweet memories of a family that was no more. I couldn’t cry. Not here.
I focused instead on giving Kirk’s head a good ruffling. He groaned with pleasure and leaned into my hand, though his eyes continued to scan the busy street suspiciously.
Shivering suddenly in the fall air, I pulled my jacket closer, but it wasn’t the cold that made me shiver. My eyes were drawn to a tall man in a trench coat and fedora. The large brimmed hat threw most of his face into shadow. All I could see were two sparkling blue eyes. His stare made a shiver run down my spine. I quickly bent my head down, but I kept my eye on him. He looked both ways across the street, then started to walk towards me.
My heart beat in my chest and I clenched Kirk’s leash in my hand. Kirk sensed my tension and growled. The man walked straight towards me and I slowly stood. Kirk snarled.
“Need a lift, mam?” The man asked in a deep voice that sent another wave of chills down my spine.
I quickly shook my head and managed, “N–no thank you, sir.”
He pushed his coat aside showing a pistol concealed in a holster. My eyes bulged and blood rushed to my head. I tensed for a run as my heart started turning summersaults.
“It’s really more of an order, than a suggestion,” he said slowly. The voice dripped with danger.
I didn’t waste time. I snatched up Kirk and ran, but my bad leg was determined to keep me grounded. A shot blasted behind me. It smacked into a brick wall a few feet ahead where I spotted an abandoned building.
A second shot popped my ears and caught my bad leg. It ricocheted into a window. I know because I could hear the glass shatter and one of the pieces grazed my arm. When I touched it my hand drew back with a dark liquid.
My leg throbbed with pain as I ducked behind a moldy counter, breathing heavily. I needed to call the police, that much I knew. As I reached into my pocket, my stomach heaved. I had left my phone on the bus bench! The footsteps thudded towards us. I squeezed myself against the wall. Kirk growled and I clamped a hand over his muzzle.
The man stalked causally near us, pushed some boxes over with his shoe absently, and bent towards the ground. He must have been looking for a blood trail from shooting my leg. I thanked God there was none to be had. He ran back out without searching too carefully.
I breathed a sigh of relief and slightly relaxed, pulling my pant leg up to see where the bullet had hit. A metal rod emerged from my sneaker and ended halfway up my shin. A strap mechanism attached it to was what was left of my leg. The metal of the prosthetic was cold and lifeless under my fingers. I covered it quickly, not liking what I saw.
Standing painfully, I braced myself against the counter, trying to pull myself together. Kirk whined and pawed at my jeans.
“I know, I know,” I whispered. “but I can’t help it.” Sighing, I limped to the door and peeked around it. The man swaggered down the street with a phone to his ear. I caught snips of his conversation.
“Yeah, I found the little runt…she’ll surface soon…Krait will be pleased.” I looked down at Kirk.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
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