They can shapeshift. (Flash Fiction)
Philip Dunbar stopped pacing when the Deputy District Attorney reached him. “What kept you?” he snapped.
“I had to make sure I wasn’t followed. As you instructed,” Karen shot back.
“Are you sure you weren’t? They can shapeshift. I’ve seen them. They’re trying to kill me.” Philip’s words tumbled off his tongue in a single breath. His eyes danced, as he searched the shadows beyond where he and Karen stood.
Karen frowned. “What?”
Philip narrowed his eyes at her. “Nothing. Let’s get this done.”
“Fine.” Karen stepped forward. “Why don’t you join me under my umbrella?”
“No!” Philip drew back. “The rain will protect me. It douses their fire.” He pace, again. “They almost had me, earlier tonight. Before I ran into the rain.”
Karen stood silent, for a moment, her eyes trailing Philip as he strode before her. “You’re losing your mind, Dunbar. Bad enough, you refused to meet anywhere but here. Now, you’re spouting off about some weird nonsense--” She paused. “I’ve jumped through too many hoops for you, already, over the past couple of days. Just give me the evidence so I can get it back to the office, safe and dry.”
Philip forced his feet to shuffle to his car, then his palm to grip the driver’s side door handle. Keeping his eyes focused on the better-lit end of the deserted street as he reached into his sedan made his movements appear awkward and robotic. “It’s like the devil is the firm’s biggest client, now,” he commented, his fingers closing around the evidence Karen sought.
His hand trembled as he offered her the small box of incriminating 3.5-inch floppy disks he’d retrieved from his car.
Karen reached for the treasure, tipping her umbrella forward to keep the box from getting wet. Philip didn’t notice the onyx gleam streaked across her corneas after the disks were in her possession.
“And you’ve decided to do the right thing, at last, by turning in your partners after all your years of helping them cover up water pollution by various chemical plants. Is that it?”
Philip nodded. “As long as I’ve got immunity from the District Attorney’s office, and you get me the kind of protection I need.”
Karen’s sarcasm was lost on him.
Her voice roughened into a growl. Thunder drummed across the sky. Lightning ripped in thin, crooked, hot white lines. She released her grasp on her umbrella, and gusting wind snatched it away.
Philip’s eyes grew wide with shock.
Karen’s skin contorted and melted before him.
He scrambled, trying to slip inside his car, as the beast inside of her burst from its cocoon, towering above him.
Rain bounced off the beast’s black, leathery skin. Fetid coils of white smoke rose from the steaming flesh. The beast’s thick, forked tongue lashed out from its gaping mouth, and snaked itself around Philip’s torso, crushing the life from him.
The thunder softened. The lightning dissipated. The wind calmed.
The floppy disks lay scattered in a nearby puddle, ruined.
“You were right about the rain, Dunbar. It protected you from my fire, earlier tonight,” Karen said, after shifting back into the flesh and bones of her human costume. “But I always have a Plan B.”
"Plan B" (2003) was featured in Flash Fiction Section on AlienSkin Magazine website who closed down in 2010.