In Memoriam

There’s a coyote pack waiting for Petra next to the dumpster. “Get, you mooches,” she tells them, and they disperse, slowly, with dignity, eyeing her sideways. There have been more of them, lately. Lock up your pets, the news warns her, too late; she has taken to carrying an airgun with her when she leaves the apartment. No people have been attacked, but you see them in alleyways, perched atop moldering pallets, or hear their cries echoing through the empty shell of the financial district at night.

They’re waiting for her again outside the bodega. She bites into the meatstick, growls at them, low in her throat, lets the bag loop around her elbow as she reaches up for the airgun. They watch, perfectly still, tapetum lucidum throwing the light back at her.

Long moment.

Hiss of door behind. “Holy shit,” murmurs a male voice. “I’ve never seen so many.”

Traffic noise fades away in the distance. They are gathered here, in an empty corner of the city, her hand upon her gun, frozen.