Just when it seemed like the injured bird would never stop coming, it stopped coming. It looked at us through the blood running down its face like it was puzzled. It said, “Awk?” Then, it swayed and fell in the street, just a few yards from the sidewalk.
We weren’t safe, of course. Our hearts couldn’t even soar for a second, because the other two birds immediately rushed toward us. On their tiptoes, wings half extended, beaks open…they were pure hell on drumsticks.
Mike raised his gun again, but none of us knew how many bullets were even in it, anymore. Even if he had enough bullets, he didn’t have time to mow down two of those beasts before one of them reached us, based on how long it had taken to kill the first one. Kate clawed at her bike, trying to unstrap the other gun. We had no time and we had little hope. I wondered if we should scatter, so at least some of us would have a chance.
The birds were almost on us when they stopped. They stopped for a snack. They stopped to eat the fallen bird. They tore at it with their beaks and with their talons, and they raised their heads to the morning sky so the hot, bloody meat could better slide down their throats. They occasionally looked in our direction to hiss at us like we were going to try to horn in.
Horning in was the last thing on our minds. We spun as a unit to beat on the windows of Mike’s lobby. Little Old Lady Lesbian was inspired by our urgency, this time. She stumbled the last few steps to the door and hit the big rectangular auto “Open” button beside of it. The buzzer indicating that the door was unlocked sounded, and we were in. Thank good God almighty, we were in, bikes and pets and guns and witches and all.
We stood with the occupants of the lobby, watching in horrified fascination as the birds feasted on their brother. “Cannibals,” Mike breathed. “We might have a chance if they are cannibals.”
“Hell, it’ll just prolong their lives,” said Moira. “They won’t starve to death as fast when they have each other to eat in addition to people.”
The conversation triggered a memory in me. I tugged on Mike’s t-shirt sleeve and gave him a “come down here” crook of my finger. He stooped a little so I could put my mouth to his ear. “Mike, I think I ate people,” I whispered. He moved his face away from mine to give me an eyebrows-up impressed look. “Tell ya’ about it later,” I promised.
The birds were slowing down, either because they were full or because there wasn’t much meat left on the corpse. They really had made short work of the dead bird. “We should probably get out of this lobby,” Kate said. “They might come at the windows if we are still hanging around when they are done with…breakfast.”
Kate was right. Even if it had been safe to stay down there, we were all exhausted. I knew that I, personally, wanted nothing more than to find somewhere to pass out with my dog under my arm.
As people started splitting up to head for the two elevators, I realized there was a little bit of unfinished business on the floor. BJ. He was conscious, but battered. “What do we do with him?,” I asked anyone who cared to answer.
“Throw his ass outside,” hissed Little Old Lady Lesbian. Big Old Lady Lesbian nodded agreement. BJ had somehow talked his way back into the building when they thought he had murdered his lover, but dispatching and eating cats was another thing, altogether. It was serious business.
“We can’t throw him out when he doesn’t have a chance,” I said. “That’s way too right wing for me.” A couple of the old white men gave me dirty looks. “Isn’t there some place we can put him? Some place that isn’t pleasant, but a place where he won’t be a danger to anyone or any cats until we can get him out of here this evening?”
“Don’s apartment,” both the old girls said together.
We dragged the squirming BJ into the elevator and hit the button for Don’s floor. Jill and I took the opportunity to liberate the pets from the carriers. I put Bethel on the floor and she immediately tried to get her piece of BJ. She pudged to him and started tugging at the tail of his blood stained Izod shirt with her teeth until I retrieved her. I’d always found Bethel to be a wonderful judge of character, and now was no exception. She also had a nasty habit of trying to dominate anything weaker than herself, like babies, but I chose to consider her attack on BJ to be character judgment.