Gun stopped at a little bar at around quarter to ten. He was in a hurry, but he was exhausted. Besides, he told himself as he parked his Harley Davidson, he had a hell of a head start. There was no way the lunatics that were chasing him would catch up to him even if he took a quick break. He looked all around him, out of habit, and checked the contents of his leather jacket’s inner pocket. Satisfied, he entered the bar. Loud, drunken cheers greeted Gun as he stepped through the open front door. A trio of large, inebriated men hailed him with their glasses of beer raised above their heads. He didn’t recognize any of them, but smiled anyway. He went straight for the bar.
“What’s your poison?” the bartender asked. She was an attractive woman, but she looked tired and spent. What little hair she had hugged her skull, and the brown skin on her face was stretched into a permanent state of weariness.
“Coke,” Gun said.
Gun put his arms up on the bar and drummed out a tune in his head with his fingers. A TV at the end of the bar stole his attention with a news report about an escaped felon. He knew who they were talking about even before they mentioned his name.
“Whoa!” the bartender exclaimed. “Mister, are you all right?”
Gun looked at the bartender and saw that she was gaping in horror down at his hands. Blood was leaking out of two big wounds in both of his palms.
Oh, hell, he thought. Bates hadn’t been lying about the stigmata.
“Sorry,” Gun muttered, getting to his feet. “Where’s your bathroom?”
“In the back,” the bartender said. She never took her eyes off of the two bloody puddles on her counter.
Gun hurried to the bathroom, leaving a trail of blood behind him. A small fire in the center of his chest ignited and quickly began to spread, kicking up his heart rate. He wrapped his numb fingers around the doorknob, but it refused to turn.
“Occupied!” came through the door.
“It’s an emergency,” Gun struggled to say. Each breath was a mountain to climb.
“Then call an ambulance!”
Gun slammed his palm against the door, marking it with a red handprint.
“Open the door!”
“Hold your horses!”
Gun felt the fire in his chest explode. He slammed his fist against the door, cracking it. The sharp split of wood startled those in the bar that were not already following the escalating situation. Gun’s heart was thumping against the inside of his chest like a jackhammer.
The transformation was beginning.