I stopped beside a bush to change. As I was busy pulling off my clothes—and folding them, quick and neat—my coworker/friend/something more, Alex Baltazar, ran past me, chasing our delightful militant.
Before you start giving me shit about taking time to fold my clothes, you should know there are few things that suck worse in the FBI than getting ribbed back at the office for having dirt-stained knees.
“Take your sweet time there, Reece, I’ve got this.” Al was panting and I was a little amused.
We weren’t going to lose our quarry now. No way would I let that happen. I pulled my melanistic jaguar—some prefer the term black panther—self forward and shifted. Alex, and the asshole who made us run, were out of sight. I took one quick whiff to confirm the scent trail I wanted to follow and sped off to capture my prize.
Within moments I was passing Alex.
“Show off!” He yelled after me.
Seconds later I was tackling Jonathan McNamara, AKA the Vice President of the Birmingham Militia of Free Will Baptists, AKA a board member of the hate group AWFA (Americans for a Were-Free America). It so happened that this good (false) Christian was busy killing supers, instead of spreading the message of love and peace.
I am getting awful tired of these AWFA assholes coming in and calling all supernatural beings evil simply because we have another side to us. It’s not evil; it’s like having a spirit animal you can become. Basically, I have a tiny Jiminy Cricket style jaguar that lives inside my head. No, I’m not insane. Well, not completely.
As a Federal Agent I have had to wrassle more than my fair share of dirtbags that decided to run or fight. My jaguar enjoyed the hunt and I gave her the freedom to make some decisions. Sometimes she makes great ones that help me feel a little freer and better as a whole, and then sometimes I wake up with my tongue—and face—coated in bunny gore.
“Don’t bite me! I don’t want to be a freak like you!” Genuine horror was etched on his portly features as he gaped up at me and it made my cat growl in delight. She loved scaring these assholes as much as I did.
“I wouldn’t waste the beauty of theriomorphy on a lowlife like you. However, you do win the lovely parting gift of handcuffs and possibly life in prison.” I stood on him with all four of my beautiful claw-extended paws and said, “Oh, by the way, you run like a duck.” I leaned down and whispered by his ear, “A tasty, tasty duck.” I licked my maw.
The smell of urine hit the air and I chuckled as I stepped off McNamara. Sometimes, the capture was the best part of my job. Alex made his way to me where he cuffed and dragged the pee-scented miscreant over to a waiting car.
“I hate it when they run.” I was grumpy.
“We all do. I’m going to check out this guy’s house with the local PD. I’ll meet you and Quinn back at the office.” Al put a hand on my furry shoulder and smiled at me.
I nodded my agreement and he moved off to a couple of uniformed cops that didn’t look old enough to drive. I grabbed my neatly folded clothes in my mouth and moved to the nearest bush to change and then dress; easier said than done, considering I was still panting from my run.
It sure as fuck wasn’t my druthers to have to get dressed behind a too-small bush in front of a bunch of Law Enforcement Officers. I scowled. I hate changing in front of LEOs in public almost as much as I hate runners.
After shifting, dressing, and double-checking buttons, I reappeared from the bush. Luckily, my clothes had stayed pretty clean. There was a slight grass stain where the ground had kissed one cuff of my gray pants, but it was nothing too noticeable. Not like that one time when I wound up with a muddy handprint smack-bang over the right boob of my milk white blouse.
“You ready to question him?” Quinn asked, pulling up alongside me in the Crown Vic.
“Very much so. He ran.”
“Yeesh, poor guy.”
“Poor guy, nothing. Let’s go make him run … his mouth.” I crossed in front of the car, opened the passenger door, and slid in next to him.
“You’ve been waiting to use that, haven’t you?” He rolled his eyes.
“From the moment he ran.” I grinned.
“No more cop shows for you.”
“Fair enough, I hate those things. They never get it right. Good one-liners occasionally, though.”
“I suppose that depends on your definition of good. Now, let’s go find out what Mr. Vice President here has to do with the murder of those shifters.”
“I hope like hell there is a money trail between him and Grisly.”
Grisly Adams was the name of a serial killer we’d just taken down. He’d been bent on taking out shifters like himself. He had been tearing hookers of the super variety into shreds all under the belief that he was doing God’s work. The worst part was that someone had taught Grisly to do what he had. They had trained him and filled him full of religious bullshit about shifters being demons from Hell. I was damn sure going to find out who and put a fucking stop to them. Nobody should be made to fear an entire race of beings.
“You’re not the only badge hoping to find a connection, Sam.”
“What do we do if there isn’t one?”
“Oh, I’m fairly sure there will be. I have no doubt we’ll be able to connect him to someone big and rotten. McNamara is well known for holding onto evidence against his co-conspirators to cut deals. He’s done it three times now.”
“Well, then, it looks like it’s about time for his luck to run out.”
It wasn’t much longer before we pulled into the parking garage back at the office. Quinn killed the car and sighed.
“What’s wrong, Q?”
“I just don’t like you being involved with this. It’s dangerous. They know all about you, and if you keep digging, will probably target you again.”
“Let ’em. I’ll take them out one by one, if I have to. They can’t do this to people and get away with it, it’s not right.”
“Sam, be smart about this. You know damn well you can’t take them all on. What if they hire another sniper?”
“Quinn, don’t go all Bourne Identity on me. Nobody’s going to give that much of a crap about me. The sniper they hired before was to take out Grisly, not me.”
“Just be careful, please. Hate is rarely logical. End of lecture.” The man I considered my brother massaged his temples with a wince.
“Only since the day I met you.”
“Aw, you’re so sweet.”
“Ready to interrogate this festering puss-bucket?”
“Nice turn of phrase, Q, and nope; I’m going to get a cup of coffee first. You want some?”
“Yes, please. I’ll meet you in observation; we can watch him sweat a bit while we caffeinate.”
I nodded and made my way to the staff kitchen where one of our fellow agents brought in the finest of beans to make us the most un-government-office-like coffee ever. I grabbed my ceramic mug featuring a little orange kitten wearing devil horns that says, Work is Hell, and Quinn’s stainless steel FBI travel mug as I headed right to the pot of delicious black gold.
Jaime Johnesee lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. She spent fourteen years as a zookeeper before shifting her focus to writing full time. Known best for her horror comedy series, Bob the Zombie, she is also currently authoring the paranormal-horror series Samantha Reece Mysteries for Devil Dog Press.