“I need to…I can’t go back,” I told Thea as we walked through the night. “You saw her. She can’t…”
“She’s not quite as badly off as you think, but I’m glad you’re concerned about protecting her.” Thea considered that. She was, for a long moment, silent.
I stayed alert, glancing around. The giant bird thing was still around somewhere, I could feel it, but it was a faint, muted presence. Perhaps, being a bird, it slept at night and, thus, its presence was weakened. I wished I could see it. I almost felt as if I should be able to.
I didn’t want to break the silence, though. I almost hoped the cultists would show up, I felt like beating on them some. At the same time I hoped we could get to the bottom of them.
How do you convince people you’re not the anti-Christ? And how did I help Kanesha without dragging her into all of this? Barry would be fine, eventually, but things could have been so much worse.
With no answer from Thea, I moved slightly ahead of her, watching the streets. There were a handful of people out and about, but no more than that. The summer night was warm, though. Pleasantly so, without the heat that beat against us.
Then I saw it. The fight. It was in an alleyway, on the other side of the street, and all I could see were silhouettes. I didn’t know who was fighting about what, and I figured it wasn’t my concern. Nonetheless, I glanced at Thea and then crossed the street for a closer look. I didn’t move my hand towards the gun.
Two guys fighting. A woman in the alleyway behind them. She wasn’t wearing very much – possibly a hooker, possibly a clubber, it was often hard to tell. Maybe that was what the dispute was over. My inclination was to go act like a human shield, but I couldn’t get past them to do it. She wasn’t running, anyway.
In fact, I saw a look in her eyes and realized she was entirely happy with the situation. Some women like it when men fight over them, I guess. I let out a breath. No, it really wasn’t my concern, and as I thought that, one of the guys backed down. He ran past me, calling me something unpleasant on his way past, and didn’t stop running.
I moved before the “couple” could notice me, shaking my head as Thea joined me.
“Not worth beating on them?”
“She egged them into the fight. The three of them deserve each other.” I firmly, in that moment, believed it.