As Olivia’s flying improved over the next three nights, she was able to move far more quickly between points. This also meant that she could intervene in ongoing muggings more often. It’s not as though I’m looking for a fight, I just don’t like stumbling over corpses. That had happened the day after she rescued the woman and encountered the masked man. She smelled the blood and death long before she saw the body, but that did nothing to make it better.
At that point she told herself that she wouldn’t be a bystander if she could help it, and help others if she could. So far no one had tried to kill her, but she didn’t know how long the scare tactic would last. With her wings, she always had an escape route to fall back on, unless she was dumb enough to go indoors with murderous thugs.
She spent most of the night flying, having been cooped up by a thunderstorm the night before. I never realized how poorly my feet were made for lots of walking until now. She found she could probably reach the roofs of the highest buildings in the city. Currently she flew lower, seeing if there was anything interesting going on. She’d noticed a van moving around quite a bit in the area, but filed it away as unimportant. Occasionally she saw someone who seemed to be watching her, but they weren’t the masked man, nor did they bother her. Who would care about her anyway? No one, it seemed.
She had stopped two other murders, though the rescued seemed just as afraid of her as they were the murderers, which kind of stung. Olivia never stuck around afterwards for that reason. She sighed. At least food and water wasn’t too big an issue anymore. She had a decent stockpile now. She’d scavenged enough clothing as well, though some of it needed a good wash. It wasn’t as if she could just walk into a Laundromat. Could I? I’m going to have to talk to other people at some point. Then again, I have no money.
She started collecting coins she found on the streets a week ago, but pennies composed the majority of them. Very few things escaped her when she put her mind to searching, even something as small as a coin from her average cruising altitude, high enough to clear a ten story building. Like the ten dollar bill that was sitting down there on the curb.
Wait, really? Awesome! She landed, scooped up the ten, and took off again. Cool! Now what can I do with this? Olivia would rather not walk around in broad daylight, which limited her shopping options. She noticed the sun rising above where her building was. Donuts! There wouldn’t be many people around, it was still far too early in the morning for most sane people to be awake, but the donut place would just be opening about now. She flew to it, landing out of view of the windows in the front. True to her prediction, no one else was around.
She was anxious, having to mentally talk herself into walking through the front door in the first place, all the possibilities of how what she was about to do could go wrong rushing through her head. But it smells so good. Eventually the thought of fresh sugar bread not from a dumpster, or stolen for that matter, won out. Just walk in, order your stuff. Don’t act weird. She opened the door, which let out a chime to let the employees know a customer just entered. Donuts and other sundry pastries half filled the displays up front, and a stack of free newspapers lay next to the door.
“Be with you in just a sec.” called out a voice from the back as Olivia approached the counter.
The guy came out backwards, pulling a cartload of donuts. He stopped and turned to Olivia with a smile. She caught a look at his name tag, which read Samuel.
“What can I getcha’…” he began as he turned, trailing off at the sight of Olivia. He wasn’t a big guy, but his smile wavered only for a moment, even as his eyes widened and he muttered, “Ah shit,” under his breath. Something smelled off to Olivia, but she wasn’t walking away from this empty handed.
“Hi. Um, could I have a dozen donuts please?” she asked.
“Oh, sure. Anythin’ in particular?” he replied, speaking as fast as possible while still being understood.
“I don’t know. They all look good. Surprise me. Oh, any with cinnamon.”
“Alright,” he said with a chuckle.
As Samuel started grabbing assorted donuts, the whole conversation struck Olivia as terribly awkward. It was also the longest conversation with another person she could remember, which was kind of depressing when she considered it. At least he didn’t stare at her. That faint, familiar scent was starting to bug her, but she ignored it.
“You know you’re in the news, right?” Samuel asked, grabbing two random donuts without looking up.
“Really?” Is… is that good?
“Yep, can go look at a newspaper by the door. They’re free.” He replied, gesturing towards the door, still speaking quickly. “Front page. Course that news is two days old, but that’s newspapers for you.”
She walked over and picked up a newspaper, then read as she walked back. The front page had the title Feral Sighted in Westward City, along with a picture of her in that stupid bed sheet she’d worn that second night. Feral? The article said that she was to be avoided by average citizens, and that animal control and the meta-human units were working on her capture. Her shoulders and wings slumped as she returned to the counter. She couldn’t bring herself to read further.
Samuel’s smile widened at the sight of her face. “Bah, I wouldn’t read too much into that. They also say you can’t talk. Unless I took some crazy drugs earlier, you totally can! Anyways, total’s $8.16.”
Mutely, Olivia put down the paper and gave him the ten she found earlier. He passed her the donuts and her change. She picked them up, then finally realized the scent came from Samuel. She recognized it. Blood, chemicals, metal, and the nearly, but not quite, overwhelming scent of donuts. Suddenly his now familiar wide smile seemed less jovial and more sinister. Her tail swished in agitation, and her sensed jumped into overdrive.
There was a fryer, oil bubbling and hissing as dough was lowered into it. She heard Samuel’s heart, beating much faster than her own despite her adrenaline rush. Footsteps signified another worker in the back. She faintly heard an airplane in the distance, west by north west of her current location. She smelled and tasted yeast, sugar, and dough in the air. The residual scent of the past rain permeated everywhere outside, some of the scent getting in the shop from the door she opened. The bathroom needed a good clean. There was bleach in a cabinet in the back. The trashcan hidden behind the counter had some old fruit beginning to rot. Someone had mopped recently. A ruined cobweb was in the upper right corner near the roof. She took this all in in about a second. Stop it. Stop it.
When she realized she had been standing there motionless for a couple seconds, she mumbled a thank you and left as quickly as possible. Down the street a van was heading towards the shop and her. She took off, gripping the donut box with claws that punctured the cardboard. It was getting brighter outside, and she would stick out if she stayed out much longer. She made a beeline for home, re-suppressing all the different things her senses were telling her.
She stormed into her apartment and collapsed on the couch. Animal control. Animal control is hunting me. People think I’m just some feral thing, to be hunted down. She sniffed a little bit. They said I can’t even talk. I’m a dumb animal. Am I just supposed to be some animal? And feral? Who came up with that? Am I dangerous? What are they going to do to me if I’m caught? Put me down? Throw me in a zoo? Dissect me?
She hated not knowing what was going on or why. She thought she knew the answer to her questions, but what she thought and what was truth could be two entirely separate things. She was getting angry, resisting an urge to sink her claws into something, someone. She belatedly remembered the donuts. Enough, I am going to enjoy those God damn donuts.
And she did. Despite the brand new host of worries that had been added to her already long list of concerns, fresh donuts still tasted good, especially since Olivia had been eating stolen or thrown out food for almost two weeks. After inhaling three, she put the box aside, and threw some blinds over the windows so she could sleep. Sleep, unfortunately, did not come easy. She spent a couple minutes going over everything in her head. Who was that guy at the shop? He straight up killed another guy that night, and he just goes right back to making donuts. What am I going to do now?
Suddenly, she heard the sound of the metal side door downstairs opening. There were always noises, even in the abandoned building, but that sound was distinct. That thing squeaked whenever Olivia went through it, though she usually used the roof nowadays, and she recognized it now. She got up and walked to the front door of the apartment, sticking her head out into the hallway and focusing. She could hear two sets of footsteps from the stairwell, sounding like they were moving upwards with some haste. Escape. Now.
She sprinted for the stairwell on the other end of the building, making for the roof. Her cover was blown but she didn’t want to know what would happen if they caught her. There was no way those people on foot could follow her if she flew off. She ran into the early morning light on the roof and stopped in horror. There was Samuel, the guy from the donut shop, wearing the same outfit as he had a couple days ago. The grinning mask leered at her, various weapons thankfully remained out of his hands, though for how long that would last Olivia couldn’t say.
“Whoa, back up. Hi there!” he said, voice oddly cheerful.
With him blocking the way, there was no way to get a running start to take off, unless she sprinted right at the grinning armed killer. Going to either side would just expose her to him as well. She hadn’t quite gotten the straight up leaping takeoff down. The so far unmet people were coming up the stairs she had just left, the footsteps behind her getting very close. She wished she had thrown herself out of a window, the only thing that kept her before was the threat of being lacerated by many broken glass shards. That sounded more appealing by the second though.
Before she could try to rush him, Samuel pulled out a switchblade, keeping the blade retracted, “No, don’t even think about it. Not here for a fight.”
Yeah right. Olivia was terrified, and realized that she had unconsciously started hissing threateningly again. She stopped, it wasn’t doing her any favors.
“Please just let me go.”
“You’re not listenin’. We just wanna talk,” he said as the two others came up the stairs behind her.