Harry Goldman, teenage DNA researcher, genius, and total nerd, is thrown into jail for illegal transgenic research. Freed by the FBI on the condition he works under their aegis, Harry is taken to New York where he meets Anastasia, a cat-girl and the product of transgenic engineering. No sooner do they get acquainted then they are attacked by another creature, a bear which is more than a bear, and are forced to flee for their lives. Along the way, they encounter furries, Doug the Dog, find out that they are more into each other emotionally than they’re willing to admit, and end up in the Catskill Mountains where Harry finds out the shocking truth about how Anastasia was created...and what she was created for.
Nick Winter crawled out of his cardboard box in his New York alleyway, scratched himself all over, and rubbed the sleep from his dirt-encrusted eyes. After scanning the area for any immediate danger and seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he settled back against the hard stone wall, wiped his grimy face with an equally grimy hand, and took a good look around at his home.
Yeah, this was the place. He thought of the alleyway, a narrow, hemmed-in, broken and filthy concrete case as his turf, as in no one could come around and settle without his permission. No walking or loitering. Follow those rules and you’d live. Disobey them and there’d be hell to pay. He had rules, same as any shop did, and he expected everyone to respect the place where he’d chosen to settle.
Sure, it was a narrow, rat-infested and filthy space populated by thrown away garbage, cockroaches and other denizens of the lesser forms of existence, and yes, it stank to high heaven when he or his alley mate relieved themselves in the corners, but still, a man’s home was his castle, and he defended it by any and all means when necessary.
He gazed up at the sky, noted that the stars were still out and shining their eternal light upon the Earth below, and felt at peace. Why shouldn’t he feel at peace right now? The streets were quiet, with only the occasional passerby, and anyone out on the street at this hour of the night had to either be heading home from the graveyard shift or searching for a place to flop down and sleep it off.
A quick glance at the moon’s position told him it had to be around one in the morning, although he couldn’t be sure, as he hadn’t owned a watch in years. He measured days only in terms of when it was time to sleep, eat, take a dump, and drink. Nothing else mattered. Red wine suited him best, but it wasn’t the season.
Then he laughed, a harsh, wet sound, the result of too many bottles of cheap hooch, bummed cigarettes from the passers-by, and leftovers from the trash cans he scoured during the hours of the day when he wasn’t sleeping off the aftereffects of the previous night’s drinking.
Whether going at it solo or mano a mano, when imbibing, he couldn’t be beat. Booze didn’t know the season and Nick was a drinking man. He hit the bottle whenever and wherever he could. His life had followed the path of alcohol for the longest time, and now, at the age of forty-three, when he reflected on his life during those all too few and rare moments of sobriety, he had nothing else to live for.
He breathed the heavy nighttime air in and out, felt conscious of the heat, and wiped more sweat from his face. It was hot out, unseasonably so. New York always got pretty toasty in June, but by now it had turned into the summer-from-Hell category, even at night. Global warming, he thought abstractedly as he picked at a scab from his right arm. Maybe there was some truth to that rumor. The reporters always said so. He inhaled deeply once more and savored the smells—both good and bad—of the city. A coughing fit suddenly hit him and a wad of phlegm involuntarily made its way out of his mouth and into the nearby sewer grate.
His chest, pale, white, and very hairy, itched fiercely, so he opened his shirt and scratched himself all over, shooed out a few bugs and checked through his worn clothes, which consisted of a pair of found slacks, found shoes, lumberjack shirt—he’d gotten that at a soup kitchen down the block—and leather belt which he’d made himself in his spare moments some years back, to make sure no one took his stash.
It wasn’t much, only about a hundred bucks, old bills along with some pocket change, and he always kept it rolled up in a plastic bag and secreted it in his worn trousers. He called it his emergency stash, either for taking a bus out of this place or buying a cheap bottle of Thunderbird when his other sources dried up.
“Hey man,” someone called out. “Did you see anyone around?”
Nick didn’t answer the other guy, although he knew who it was. Fat George, a lumbering six-foot-six two hundred and eighty-pound giant, hairless and bald like an egg, was the only other regular in this alley located in the Bowery. George called out again, “We got any visitors?”
Winter snorted with derision. George had to be crazy coming up with the idea of visitors coming there and invading his turf. Not likely, not now, and not ever! There had been shambling losers in the past who’d tried just that, the usual hopheads, the punks who carved others up for the sheer fun of it, and of course some of the more zealous men in blue who’d tried to roust them, but Nick wouldn’t have any of it. This was his place and his alone.