Red, Black, White – Part 7

She released her hold, and, firmly holding his arm, marched him to the cruiser. True to his word, or to the fear she might follow through on her threat, he meekly allowed himself to be taken to the car, and placed in the back seat. A scream suddenly cut through the murmuring noise of the crowd, tearing Clio’s attention from the car. She turned, looking in the direction of the scream, and another scream slashed through the air. People started screaming and running. In one moment, the crowd went from a restive bunch of humans, to a herd of panicked cattle, scrambling madly to get away from something.

Clio could not stop the stampede of humanity past her, and a quick glance showed that her fellow trainees were also being overwhelmed as the panic spread like wildfire. She was jostled and pushed about like a log bumping rocks in a rapids. She fought back, leaning against the throng and puhsing her way back to the line. As she did, the all clear came over her radio. They found the shooter. A moment after that announcement, the radio was flooded with angry voices asking who let the crowd back into the area before they’d cleared it with the prisoner. As she listened, ears burning, there was a hissing laugh by her left leg. She looked down, seeing Kibalt. The now-green homonculus looked up with a snaky, snarky grin that showed plenty of sharp teeth.

“I think you’re in trooooouble.” Kibalt’s grin widened.

“How do you figure that, lizard?” Clio dropped the backpack next to her. Kibalt sprang to the top of the bag, loosened the drawstring, and scrambled inside.

“Because you’re the one they broke through first.”

“How do you…,”Clio started to ask, then something clicked. She grabbed the bag, and shook it, which got another hissing laugh from Kibalt. “You started it, didn’t you” Clio snarled. Her voice started to pitch higher. She closed her eyes, taking deep slow breaths to calm herself. It wouldn’t do to lose her human form now. The panic would just start up, or worse, the crowd choose her as the target of their collective ire.

“Couldn’t help it. Fat cow stepped on my tail. I hissed at her and she screamed.” He shifted in the bag. “What am I supposed to do, let her walk all over me?” Clio shouldered the bag by its single strap, then moved back to the police line. She saw other trainees doing much the same thing. How am I going to survive this?