An eerie calm took over the restaurant. People sat still, stared, and tried not to stare. Maybe they thought it was fake. Most likely, they were scared. With what I knew of Ned, I could say right away that this was no joke. Ned wasn’t healthy, brave, or crazy enough to go flying over or through a railing. Ned wouldn’t have had a good chance of surviving that sort of fall.
And with the way that he landed, it looked as though he hadn’t. I dialed 911 with my cell under the table.
I hazarded a glance.
Still no reception.
The ginger girl, Evelyn I presumed, retrieved her backpack and pulled out what looked to be the skin of a large fox.
That was when things turned really bad.
Evelyn wore the fox fur like a cape, and put its head on top of her head.
And then she was the fox.
No painful American Werewolf transformation: the skin melted over her, and she was the fox. She was a big fucking fox, at least a hundred pounds, with long legs.
The Evelyn fox, started clawing at Ned’s shirt and continued to dig when she got through it.
Ned convulsed lightly, and Evelyn calmly started to eat him.
If I thought he was alive, I would’ve tried to save him. At least, that’s what I told myself. Instead I did what all heroes do in times of crisis: I ran to the bathroom. I didn’t look back to see if I was being followed. I didn’t look back to see Greg or Paul.
Dog-people or no dog-people, it’s hard to contain a restaurant full of hostages. If we all scattered, some of us should get away.
One would think.
I hoped everybody scattered.
They had re-done the bathroom like Greg had said. There was a door to get into the bathroom area. There was a sink there and two doors to ladies rooms, and one door to a men’s room. I went through the door to get to the men’s room, then a door to get to the stall inside of that.
Instinct told me that three doors between me and them was a good start.
I leaned against the wall with a foot against the stall door and tried to breathe quietly. It proved difficult. I heard murmurs and muffled screams and growls.
I needed to think.
I went over what I knew. I was in a bathroom stall. There were fucking were-wolves out there. No, wait.
Only one were-fox.
That was… manageable.
She was eating Ned. That was a bad thing.
I heard the first door open.
I scuttled up the stall, one foot on the drywall one on the stall wall. It was a lot easier when I was twelve.
“Little pig, little pig, let me come in!” I didn’t recognize the voice. It began to laugh. Goddamnit, I’m in The Shining.
I heard the second door open.
“Aw, did I come in all this way for nothing?” He laughed again and continued laughing until the sound was no longer human.
My breathing had never sounded so loud before.
A dog-like snout slid under the stall door, its wet black nose twitching. It retreated, but two giant paws followed, scratching the floor and then the door.
The scratching went on for thirty full seconds before stopping.
A brief moment of silence was interrupted by the noise of me releasing my breath.
Then, I could hear claws scraping the floor and louder footfalls.
He was charging the stall door.
The door buckled a bit, but held.
Scrape, scrape, scrape.
The hinge was starting to loosen.
Charge number three was coming.
I unbolted the door.
The creature crashed into several toilet paper rolls, neatly piled onto the floor. I had their chain wrapped around my fist. I dropped nearly all of my body weight down from the walls, fist first onto the creature’s head. Blood ran down my fingers. Most of it was my own.
I could see now that he was a spotted hyena. I straddled the creature’s body, just behind the shoulders, holding it with my legs as tightly as possible.
I began punching. My bare hand held down the Hyena’s squirming head, while my chain wrapped fist repeatedly struck it about the eyes and ears.
The beast started backing up, and thrashing its head more violently. I momentarily lost balance, and the creature managed to get a hold of my hand in its mouth.
Luckily, it was the one with the chain. Still, its jaws were strong and I heard a crack.
With my free hand I positioned the Hyena’s lips over its teeth and pulled its snout up with all my might. After what felt like an eternity, I managed to wriggle my hand loose. The beast snapped and almost had my hand a second time. I pushed my left thumbnail into its eye as hard as I could and gave the chain in my other hand some slack.
Then, using my head to press down the hyena’s, I grabbed the free end of the chain, and garroted the beast. I pulled back, lifting its front paws off the ground and using my elbows to keep its body from turning.
I wished I had something cleverer to say, but I screamed “Die, you and your batch of friend eating motherfuckers!”
The hyena was heavy and my hands ached. It tried like mad to shake me loose and managed to strike my head with its own hard enough to blur my vision. I held on as though my life depended on it.
I kind of figured it did.
After a few minutes, the hyena stopped thrashing.
I held it up for a few minutes more.
I let go of the chain, and the beast dropped to the floor. I wondered how much time I had.
My right hand didn’t want to move. It was stiff and bloody and bruised. The pointer finger was swollen and dark purple. Naturally, my solution was to put on my gloves. The zip ties fell out of my pocket once again.
I needed fucking options.
The bathroom was small. The sub-ceiling seemed like a possible escape route, but the only full sized tile had a vent on it. I wouldn’t be able to fit through any of the others.
I couldn’t stay here, though.
I looked over at the hyena. It didn’t look like it was breathing. Despite every fiber of my being telling me to stay away from it, I needed to be sure.
I inched closer to the creature, cocked my foot back, and kicked it square in the head with the steel toes of my boot.
The hyena head separated from the human.
I snatched the hyena pelt quickly, not wanting to linger near the monster. Sure enough, it was one of Maleva’s twins underneath. I dragged Faux-Hawk over the toilet, set him in front of it, and grabbed my zip ties from the floor. I tied his hands behind his back, took off his shoes and zip-tied his big toes together. Dead, alive, his ass wasn’t going anywhere.
I looked back down at the pelt.
I threw the pelt over my shoulders, and placed its head upon my own.
I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.
Damn, I thought that was a good plan.
I pushed up one of the thin ceiling tiles, tossed the pelt into the sub ceiling, and replaced the tile.
I grabbed the chain from the floor and wrapped it around my now gloved right hand. (Shit, I should’ve done that in the first place.) I slowly opened the men’s room door. No sign of movement. No sub-ceiling access from here either.
My stomach churned, telling me that I was an asshole for ditching my friends. My brain was telling me to run to the ladies room and check out the situation there.
I pushed open the ladies room door, slowly and just a little bit. I tried to make my body flat against the adjacent wall, listening for noise and cocking my hand back.
I pushed my way into the ladies room, and scanned the ceiling. There was a full sized tile just above one of the toilets. I stepped on the toilet seat, one of those horseshoe shaped ones, and balanced on the back of the tank. The tile put up a small fight before sliding up into the ceiling, dropping a little dust from the effort.
Instinctively, my eyes followed the dust down. I saw Maria and she saw me.