(This is the continuing story of Bryan Boyd, a rabbit and college student who tends to bite off more than he can chew. Told in epistolary format, in the form of a writing journal. He has dreams of being a creative non-fiction writer, you see.
Part 1 can be found here.)
Where do I begin with the last few days? I’m sitting in a hospital bed with my left arm in a cast; the doctor says it’ll be a few weeks before it’s able to come off, but it feels just fine. No pain, even when I tense and flex it. It’s itchy as hell though, and it makes writing a pain. But I’ve got to get this down. Just raw notes for now, I’ll figure out how to dress it up as a story later. It’s good to know I have something on the backburner for my Creative Non-Fiction class.
Getting from the campus to the tapas place through public transportation was an exercise in frustration, but there was no other way to do it. I don’t have a car, and Marissa was leaving right from work to go to the restaurant, so she couldn’t pick me up. Besides, I’d feel just a little lame having my girlfriend pick me up for our anniversary dinner.
Anyway, I took the bus from campus to the the old Industrial Terminal, and from there I took the subway down to Powell Market. Fun fact about downtown Port City: back when the subway was created, Powell Market was all shiny and new, the big destination for everybody. In the decades since then, everything’s shifted closer to the harbor. So now Powell Market shutters down at 5 PM and is virtually abandoned. The streets are literally lit by the glow of the new Harbor Complex because most of the street lights are broken.
You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? After dark you don’t want to be on Powell St., but that’s the only subway stop downtown. The harbor is serviced by the new light rail, which goes to all the places that the city has gentrified. It’s basically the subway for yuppies.
There were already shady looking people waiting outside the entrance to the subway; it’s one of those that spills out into the street with a long, steep climb of stairs so you have no idea what’s waiting for you up top. I imagine they just wait there for stragglers or easy pickings, ready to strike as soon as you appear.
I saw the alligator in the leather jacket when I walked out, and I thought it was really odd for him to be out in the cold and dark. But I didn’t think anything else of it; I was all excited to get to Marissa and talk to her about the douche’s sunglasses. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some other guy — maybe a wolf, or a panther — coming out of an alley across the street. Again, didn’t think much of it. I was in a small pack of people making their way down to the intersection. I was taller than most of them, but I blended in. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t giving off any vibes that said “Please rob me.”
“Hey!” I heard a voice towards my left. I looked and stopped, just long enough that the small crowd of people moved on without me. There was someone short and squat in the alley, smoking a cigarette. Might have been a badger, I wasn’t sure. Someone slammed into me from behind and hurtled me into the alley. The squat guy grabbed my coat and pulled me in. They were laughing; I could hear a scream from behind me, but I didn’t know what that was about.
Squat said “Empty your pockets.”
I said, “What?” Just like that, there was this flash and two impacts — a fist slammed into my face, my face slammed into the wall. It rung my bell pretty good. It took me a few seconds for the world to straighten out.
“I said empty your pockets, you prick.” Squat didn’t wait for me to comply before he started pawing at my jacket. Whoever was behind me pulled my jacket down to tie up my arms, then started rifling through my pants pockets.
At this point, I knew I was being robbed. I held my hands up, palms flat. “Just take what you want.”
This time I was cuffed from behind. “Shut up!” From the lingering growl (and the scent), I knew I was dealing with the panther I saw across the street. How’d he get here so fast?
“Sorry.” I heard myself say. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was fucking terrified at this point. I’m in a dark alley, surrounded by at least two predators who aren’t afraid of a little violence. Looking back on it, it wasn’t that they were hitting me — it was that they were doing so as their first response to everything. Most of the time — and I’m guessing because I’ve never been robbed before — muggers use the threat of violence to get what they want. If there’s resistance, they escalate. These guys just started laying in; if they escalated from there, it really wasn’t going to be pretty.
They took my wallet, my phone, my keys and candy. They took the case for the sunglasses. Squat opened it up and his face took on this weird green glow. Yup, badger. Black stripes covering his eyes, right down to the pointed muzzle. I’ll remember that smell for the rest of my life.
There weren’t sunglasses in the case; there was some sort of vial. It glowed green in the dark, like it was bioluminescent. It was some straight-up sci-fi shit. The badger looked surprised, then he looked angry for Frith knows what reason.
“What the fuck is this?” He said it, I thought it. I just shook my head. He slapped me.
“I don’t know!” I could hear my voice; it was high and hoarse. Just thinking about it makes my heart race.
He hit me again, then took out the vial. “You mean you have some little glowing vial and you have no idea what it is?” He shoved it in front of my nose. It felt warm.
“Let’s just go, man.” Another voice, not the panther’s this time. There were three people in the alley with me, then. “We got his shit.”
“Shut up!” Squat hissed at the guy behind me. He looked up at me, grabbed the vial in one of those mitts and smashed it against my face. “I don’t like–”
I didn’t hear anything after that. The vial broke, and whatever was inside soaked into my fur. It burned my skin. I could feel broken glass cutting into me dangerously close to my eye, and whatever was inside was burning my blood. I squeezed my eyes shut. Something took over.
It felt like I was trying to jump, or fly, and something was holding me down. I couldn’t get my arms free. There was a roar in my ears. My feet were off the ground, flailing. I kept smacking against something solid, but I have no idea if it was the walls or the badger in front of me or what. I just kept jumping and kicking. I remembered thinking, If I don’t get out of here, I am going to die.
Then a brick hit my stomach. I doubled over, and remembered how much I liked breathing. I kept trying to suck in air, but it felt like my body had been dented, like a soda can, and I couldn’t pop it out again. Another blow on my back, and I fell to my knees. I had just enough time to think about Marissa, all dressed up and waiting for me. Then there was a kick to the head, and that’s all I remember.
I woke up in the hospital with no idea how I got there. That was the 26th; I called Mom and Dad, called Marissa, and I was told that all of my professors had been notified. The doctors tell me I had a broken arm, three bruised ribs and a broken muzzle when I came in. I should be in a world of pain right now, but I feel fine. Either the pain meds are doing more than their job or….I’m better. But you can’t just heal from shit like that in three days, right?
I guess I’d better wrap this up now. The cops are coming to take my statement in a little bit, and then Mom and Dad are coming down from Oakley. It’ll be Marissa’s first time meeting them. That’ll be fun.