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A Balcony With A View

The balcony was barely large enough for two lawn chairs and the small table between them, one of those selling points tacked onto the side of cheap apartments. Still, Butch and his best friend Chuck had managed to occupy the seats and were sipping scotch and smoking cigars, illuminated only by a little light coming through the sliding glass door behind them, and the flickering street lamp in the middle of the almost empty parking lot two stories below.

Chuck attempted to blow a smoke ring then asked, “This is really how we’re spending the evening?

” Sure! I saw it on a TV show. Lounge on the balcony, smoke, drink and watch the city go by ” Butch replied. “Besides, it has to be more fun than watching a chick flick while the wives work through a box of wine.”

Chuck shrugged and poured another shot.

It was quiet for awhile, only broken by the loud parts of the movie and the occasional giggle from their tipsy wives. Then a distant clicking sound caught their attention. The source soon revealed itself as a nicely dressed women in high heels, apparently hurrying to her car after working late. She had her purse slung tactical like from shoulder to oppose side, where she clutched it with one hand, using the other to cling to what was probably her car keys. She looked very determined.

There were only three cars in the lot, and the watchers whispered bets on which was hers. It was the last one. Her progress was interrupted when a man in dark clothes rose from hiding in the shadow of the second car and lunged for her.

This startled Butch into spilling part of his drink, but the lady, now apparently in distress remained calm. Before the reaching hands could close on her, she stepped forward in a fencing move and stabbed her attacker in the groin with what the watchers thought was car keys. Except it was actually a stun gun, and its 50,000 volt bite stopped the man in his tracks. The woman obviously had training as she kept the stun gun pressed into the man’s extra sensitive area while he collapsed to the ground, and for several seconds longer. Chuck jumped up like he was going to cheer but Butch managed to pull him back onto the chair by his shirt.

They regained their composure in time to see the intended victim move the stunner to the, now convulsing, man’s neck for several more seconds before resuming her journey. By the time she got close to her vehicle the key was retrieved from a pocket on her skirt and used to remotely start it up. Moving quickly and deliberately she climbed in and sped away, stopping briefly in the street to buckle up.

Butch and Chuck were beside themselves, both trying to talk at once and slapping each other on the shoulder. They had just settled down when motion from the parking lot caught their attention. They sat back down and just had time to both take a pull from the bottle before the source of the movement because clear.

It was rats. Several large rats were creeping from the shadows at the back of the lot towards the still twitching man. Chuck made a phone call gesture but Butch shook his head no. It was definitely not a night to deal with police. The bottle exchanged hands again as they watched the rats advance.

The varmints fanned out and took up positions around the parking lot like they were lookouts or guards. The watchers exchanged puzzled looks over the unusual behavior while lighting more cigars. The mystery was resolved when someone, or something, emerged from the darkness.

It was too short to be a man, but the head was too large for a child. Plus it walked funny, hunched over with the legs too far apart, like skating. As it got further into the light, they could tell the head was bald, the eyes were very big, and the chin and mouth bulged out together in a short snout. Everything else was covered by a cutoff raincoat, except for oversized hands with long thin fingers. One of these was clutching a rope that trailed back into the dark.

The thing stopped close to the incapacitated man for a long moment, checking him out, before tying his ankles together. The creature gave a shout that was more of a hiss, and turned to retrace its steps. The rope pulled tight and swung the man’s legs around, then started dragging him towards the waiting shadows. The rats scampered back and joined the procession, jockeying to be closest to the captive’s head. The man started regaining his senses and managed a feeble scream as he vanished into the dark. There was only silence after that.

Butch and Chuck sat stunded for several minutes, trying to make sense of what they had witnessed, managing only to pass the bottle a few times. Finally Butch managed a soft “damn!”

Chuck replied , “yeah. Same time next week ?”

” Yeah. And we need binoculars. ”

“With night vision,” Chuck added . “And a camera?”

” And a gun. ”

They retreated inside and Butch made sure to bar the door behind them.

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