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The Neighbor
by Thomas R. Mazanec
Thomas R. Mazanec -- all rights reserved
 

Tom's car gave a grinding rasp and stopped. Of course, this was in the worst part of town. The job interview had gone as bad as the others before, and his lemon of an auto decides to die here. Now what was he going to do?

There was a group of kids lounging on the sidewalk, maybe they could be of assistance. "Hello, I seem to have some trouble with my car..."

"That's too bad, fella. Why don't you just get out?" The kid was holding what looked like a small gun. Naturally, Tom, not having bullet proof glass, complied.

"OK, come on, hand it over." There was only one thing that made sense for him to hand over...his wallet, which was immediately taken out of his pocket and given over to the thief. In reply, the thief pressed his gun into Tom's chest and pulled the trigger.

It felt like being punched in the chest. Tom went down, and the other members of the gang crowded around him and began kicking him in the head. The next things he remembered were hazy recollections of lying with a throbbing head and having trouble breathing. Curiously, his head hurt worse than his chest.

After an eternal instant, a lady came around the corner.


Oh God, now what? That guy's just lying there, groaning on the ground and looking at me like that. It's gotta be a setup... if I go there they'll jump me and mug me...


She just crossed the street to get away from me, Tom thought. Why!? He tried to get up, but nearly passed out from the effort. When he was able to look around again, he was alone. A couple other times he tried to get up, but each attempt only seemed to make him weaker. Then he heard footsteps coming up to him. A man was standing over him.


This neighborhood is just going to hell. Thank God I'm not like that drunk or druggie lying there. I have to hurry up to the Revival. I'll give a prayer there for this bum to sober up.


He walked away! The cars don't stop, even the pedestrians ignore me. Why doesn't someone at least call the police? What does it take? He lived alone, and nobody was likely to notice him missing for at least several days. Was he going to have to die here? What would become of him?

Then a vehicle did stop...a pickup truck. And out of the truck came someone. Or rather something. The driver was a SCAB. Even worse, he was a bipedal hyena, a walking monster. Now what was going to happen to him?

The creature picked him up and carefully loaded him unto the truck. It was enormously strong, and Tom was sure he was being kidnapped for some unspeakable purpose. Hyenas ate dead bodies, didn't they? Was he going to be killed and eaten?

The pickup started up and drove quickly for what must have been only a couple minutes before it stopped. Moment by moment he waited for something to happen, almost beyond caring. Then the hyena reappeared with a couple men dressed in white. "I found him lying on the sidewalk by Main and 25th. Thought I better get him help. I'll pay if necessary...I was quite wealthy as a norm and still have a bit of it left." The voice was ridiculously high pitched for such a formidable looking entity. The men in white loaded him unto a gurney. Tom saw that he was at a hospital. Who would have imagined that a SCAB could be such a good neighbor?

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