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Blind Man's Bluff

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Nicolas had absolutely no idea what to think. For a man more than used to scheming his way out of bad spots, freezing up was definitely a new sensation.

What. The. Fuck.

He could hear the strange, animalistic growls and snarls just a few inches away, so loud and close even the wet undertone of gnashing teeth could be picked out. He'd seen the woman's face before diving behind the car he was currently plastered against, and the image was burned into the backs of his eyelids.

It wasn't so much the blood that soaked the lower half of her face, crusted on her lips and dribbling down toward her neck, that disturbed him. It was the glowing and beadlike yellow eyes stuck wide open in wild rage. She hadn't seen him, somehow, but she was sniffing wetly at the air as if she could smell him.

It was a nightmare come to life, and Nick was almost panicked as he tried to come to terms with what was going on. He'd heard something on his car's radio about some flu or illness, sure - some hyperactive reporter rambling on under a headache-inducing static. He'd turned it off too soon, uninterested, and now very much regretted not paying attention.

What the fuck is this - rabies?

Darting his gaze to the side, he glanced down the row of parking spaces in the convenience store lot, a few other cars scattered here and there. Poking out from behind a particularly dusty truck was the tail end of his dark silver Fiat Barchetta, pristine and silent where he'd left it.

This store had been the first thing he'd seen for miles. The highway was supremely quiet, something Nick had found incredibly relaxing. He'd rolled the top down, wind snapping at the few strands of hair that escaped his hair gel. Steering (not that the forest-entrenched road curved much) with his left hand while his right arm was tossed over the empty seat beside him, thumb rolling the singular ring on his middle finger… It had been perfect.

He groaned faintly under his breath, so quiet he thought it was imperceptible. Why the hell did I stop…?

Nick started to shift his hands to get himself into a running pose, intent on bolting for his car, when the sickly woman screamed a gargling howl at him from the other side of the car. Smell wasn't the only thing to give him away, and the scuff of his shoeheels alerted her.

With a grunt of slight surprise, he heard something crash into the car he was hidden behind - it even rocked a bit under the collision, jolting him forward before he'd planned. His dress shoes dug into the asphalt as he tried to catch his balance and steady his gait, twisting his head and glancing over his shoulder at the same time.

The woman was crawling over the car, head snapped up at a strange angle to stare directly at him with unnaturally lit eyes, teeth bared hungrily. She jerked her body up to try and get on top of the vehicle, legs kicking madly, and her knee crashed through the passenger window, spilling blood in immediate rivulets down her bare and dirty shin.

As far as Nick could tell, it didn't seem to be the pain that got her to react - it was the fact her leg got stuck, trapped there with glass impaled deep in her knee. She'd have to back off to pull her leg out, and her desperate, mad intent to get to Nick didn't allow her to do anything but try to go forward.

The woman slammed herself against the car, glass crunching loudly as it dug deep into her thigh. She was stuck, but wouldn't be for very long.

"Gun.. gun.. gun.. gun.." immediately became Nick's mantra, looking away from the gruesome sight, feeling a little rise of fear in his gut and forcing it into a blank sense of anger instead. He sprinted toward his Barchetta; a Magnum was just under his seat, hidden in an unassuming box with very blatant claims of containing condoms.

Magnum branded, to be precise.

It was much funnier to himself at less frantic moments.

He felt the uncomfortable screeching of his heels as he skidded to a stop, catching onto the side of his sports car with a slight grunt. He vaulted the back, wincing as he was forced to climb over the trunk, shoes definitely scuffing the metal.

(He couldn't help the thought from crossing his mind, even if he didn't let it slow him.)

Nick crammed himself between the leather seats, the shift pressing into his gut awkwardly, and shoved his head under the steering wheel. He swatted the box out into the floorboard and ripped the top open.

His Magnum came easily to the fingers of his right hand from where it lay inside, palm molding to the cool grip and thumb rolling to flick the safety off with a click. The gambler twisted around to sit up, aiming back over himself with a perfectly straight arm just as the woman came running at him.

She'd broken her knee, it seemed. Her gait was one-sided, blood covering her whole left leg, mixing in with the crusted dirt already caked onto oddly grey skin. She should have been crippled by the wound, but there was this feral determination in her attack that made her seem completely numb to any pain...

BANG.

His bullet hit her right in the neck, piercing through her spine with a bloody spray. The force of it on her unbalanced body sent her torso toppling backwards and her feet flinging up in front of her. He heard her land with a thud on the asphalt, and waited out the desperate gurgling and scratching, flopping smacks as she struggled.

Then, she fell silent. An acrid smell rose up, catching on the wind, harshly.

Nick realized he was panting then, chest heaving a little. His mouth was dry with cold adrenaline, pulse spiked to an uneasy pace. His anxiety irked him, and he swiped his gun-holding wrist over his mouth in a short motion to calm himself, other hand moving to open the car door beside him.

The gambler crawled out of the sports car, letting the Magnum drop to the seat as he did, getting up on his feet and smoothing palms over his crisp white suit and the blue shirt underneath. The act relaxed him a bit, although the fact that woman - thing was dead certainly helped on its own.

"Alright, bitch... if you so much as speckled blood on my Barchetta, I'll run you over so many times you'll be rabies paste." He grumbled, lowly - but despite the words, his car's sleek, silver haunch wasn't the first thing he looked at.

It was that damn corpse and those still-open, ravenous, almost glowing yellow eyes. His nostrils flared a bit, forced to take in the nauseating scent in the air radiating from her. It was almost like decomposition... (not that he'd explain how he knew that) but not quite. More like sour meat.

Slipping his ringed hands into the pockets of his suit, he walked over to stand just beside the sprawled, bloody corpse, staring hard down at it with a severe crinkle between his eyebrows. He'd never seen anything like it, and he didn't even want to think about the possibilities. There were a lot and he didn't like any of them.

Something was seriously wrong, and Nick was pretty sure it wasn't a case of rabies.

He'd dealt with his fair share of crazy women, sure. In fact, plenty of them had leapt at him with that level of hostility, if not even more. Though, I usually solved the problem a little differently. He tried to smirk at his own weak attempt at humor and failed, stepping back from the dead ... creature. He hesitated to call it a 'woman,' although what it was besides that was beyond Nick.

Suddenly, figuring out what the shit was going on seemed a little more important than his initial plans for his trip into Savannah. Gambling the pants off inept tourists could wait... if there was some kind of disease going around, he sure as Hell wanted to know what it was.

Maybe his road trip hadn't been such a brilliant idea after all.