“Dude, I don’t know about this…” Rick shuffled his feet, his hand unconsciously rising to wipe the snot away from his abused nose.
“What’s there to know?” Ice turned to glare at him, his light blue eyes seeming to glow with the reflected illumination of the park lights.
Rick hunched down a little, putting more of the tree they were hiding by between them. “Still… Old people?”
“Easy pickings, fool.” Ice’s stare turned cold. “You want a hit, and that takes money. You got none. So you’ve got to help entertain me if you want your fix.”
Rick looked away, only too aware of the type of things Ice considered entertainment. Assaulting old people though, that’d be a new low, even for him. It was one thing to let Ice pick on him in exchange for what he needed, but this… He ran his tongue over dry lips; his hands were shaking at his sides, bottomless need trilling through him. “But they’re old, Ice. They’re not hurting anyone.”
His companion snorted. “That’s half the fun right there, idiot. Do you want the smack or not? I got others needing what I got as much or more than you. And they can pay.”
Rick swayed where he stood, the gnawing craving causing panic to shoot up his throat at the thought of not getting what he needed. He’d hate himself later, but right now the person he had to take care of was himself. “No, no, man, I’m in.”
“That’s more like it.” Ice’s smile was predatory. “Now come on. Those two old farts will never know what hit them.” He hefted the bat at his side.
They stuck to the shadows as they made their way around the park toward the concrete game tables in the center. Several of the lights had been busted out by vandals or burned out and never replaced by the city, but the two old men had brought their own with them.
Rick and Ice separated.
Though it was close to summer, both old men were bent over the table wearing heavy coats, caps, and mufflers. They both had on round John Lennon glasses with dark lenses. Really dark lenses. They stared at the board for minutes at a time and then a slow, shuddering hand would clamber up and move one of the pieces.
Taking a deep breath to fortify his courage, Rick stepped out from the bushes and walked their way. “It’s pretty late, isn’t it?”
Both men turned ever so slowly in his direction as if having to calculate every movement. “Look, we have company, Mr. C.”
“I see that, Mr. L.”
Rick hesitated, the voices sending creepy shivers up his arms. It was like hearing old papers rustling out words. The faces turned toward him were wrinkled and dry, as ancient as dirt.
One of them made a beckoning gesture. “Come on closer, boy.”
Something inside Rick screamed at the suggestion. Only his ever increasing need was able to clamp over the urge to run and allowed him to walk a little nearer. “You, you shouldn’t be out here, you know? It’s not safe.”
“Why aren’t you the sweetest thing? Worried about us like that.” The smile that cracked over the face of Mr. L seemed to be laughing at him. Rick didn’t want to be here anymore.
Keep them distracted, fool. No smack for you if you don’t.
Ice’s parting words slapped him again. Need, his whole body shook with it. He’d been without for so long. He knew he would die if he didn’t get more. So he stood his ground. “Can you spare some change?”
He spotted Ice leaving his place of concealment the bat up and ready. Ice rushed forward, aiming for the head of the closest of the two men.
Rick opened his mouth to shout out a warning despite what might later happen to him — in that one moment forgetting about the hunger inside him. Before he could say anything though, the bat was already moving toward Mr. L’s head.
Without turning around, the old man lifted his arm and caught the wood in his palm with a loud whack. The force of the blow half unsettled the old man’s glasses exposing his eyes. They were green orbs with an up and down black line. It took Rick a second before his brain started shouting the fact they weren’t human.
“I don’t know how you did that, old codger, but it’s not gonna cut it!” Ice pulled out a switchblade and stabbed at Mr. L while still holding on to the bat. In a blink, Mr. L was no longer sitting, but standing, easily avoiding the blade.
Off balance, Ice let go of the bat to take another swing with the knife. Rick tried to warn Ice this time as the end of the bat moved in a blur to poke him hard in the stomach. Before Ice could fall gagging to the concrete, Mr. C was up and grabbing him by the collar. With a flick of a wrist, Ice’s body flew up and thumped with a bone-breaking crunch onto the chess table.
Ice screamed, and blood gurgled from his mouth. Mr. L tossed the bat aside to the grass then reached inside Ice’s jacket. Mr. C smiled as small tentacles played with his teeth. They reached out as if tasting the air.
“Young man, do you want this?” Mr. L held up a packet of white powder.
Rick shook his head so hard it looked like it might come off. His eyes were wide, soundless screams issuing from his mouth, a dark stain growing on his pants.
“Off you go then.”
He was gone before Mr. C finished speaking.
The two men leaned over Ice as life left him. “You should know better than to mess with old people, boy.” The tentacles from their mouths reached down to lap the blood on his face. “You won’t ever do it again.”