”I told you, don’t call me Miss Kitty.” Harry Goldman, young genius, DNA researcher and still a nerd, is back, and this time he’s working for the law. At the end of Catnip, his girlfriend, Anastasia, devolved into a cat. He manages to bring her back to her half-human form, but no sooner does he do so than a new problem surfaces. Two other transgenics emerge, and they are out for blood. Harry and Anastasia have to face off against Lyudmila, another cat-girl, and Piotr, a half-rhino, half-boar monstrosity that lives to kill. And if that isn’t bad enough, the police, lynch mobs, and underground dwellers are after Harry and his girlfriend as well. With time running out, they embark on a treacherous journey to the Ukraine in order to solve the riddle of Anastasia’s DNA, a journey that could also cost both of them their lives.
January sixteenth, night, an alleyway in Manhattan
Nick Winter shook the snow off his tattered overcoat and zipped his jeans up after taking a leak in the corner of the alley. He shivered as he breathed in the cold January night air. Checking out his environment, the narrow place filled with trash, boxes, discarded bottles and more that served as his home, he saw no one and no shadows. Nothing indicated that any trouble was coming his way.
However, this was New York City—a back alley in downtown Manhattan—so anything could happen, and he needed to stay alert.
Another shiver ran through him, and he cursed the New Year’s weather.
He also cursed the fact that his coat was not nearly thick enough to keep out the icy fingers that threatened to freeze him on the spot. Good thing in a way that it was cold, as it kept him alert, although he figured drinking some wine wouldn’t be a bad idea. It would ward off the night chill.
He looked up at the moon. It had to be around two in the morning, but he had no spare money. Since no one was going to drop in and deposit a bottle of Thunderbird in his lap, he decided to curl up in his box shelter and wait it out until he could forage for something later in the morning. It would be a little warmer then.
Wintertime was a bane to the homeless. He had nowhere to go, as the shelters were often filled to the brim. On top of that, even if you did get a place to flop, they were dangerous places. He figured he was better off staying just where he was. If danger didn’t factor into the equation, there simply weren’t enough places to go around, so what was a homeless person expected to do, ask for a reservation?
Nick knew he stood a good six-two and weighed in the neighborhood of a muscular two-twenty, not bad for being forty-two. However, a person never knew what kind of nutballs would be there. No one except the truly brave or foolhardy would mess with junkies, crack-heads, and all-around losers. They could be carrying knives or brass knuckles. He’d even heard of one guy who carried around a bottle of acid and liked tossing it at his victims. A snort of disgust erupted from his nostrils at that last point. No thanks, he’d take his chances in the open.
Unconsciously, his right hand strayed to his ripped jeans pocket. The heft of his switchblade gave him a measure of comfort. Taking it from his pocket, he depressed the trigger and the blade sprang out. Ka-ching. He’d found it during his trash-bin travels, probably tossed away by someone on the run, and made it his own. Examining the blade in the moonlight, he marveled at its cleanliness, heft, sharpness, and the fact that it could slice through anything.
While he could handle himself well enough hand-to-hand, this was his insurance. It was five inches of lethal steel, all at the touch of his fingertips. If anyone tried something, something bad, they’d get it. A guy had to protect himself these days. It wasn’t a question of being able to fight. He knew how and had fought off anyone and everyone in the past. His turf was his turf and he was prepared to go to war in order to defend it. He had defended it on numerous occasions and always won, too, but these days it paid to be prepared.
Confident in his abilities, he said to himself, “You’re the man. You’ve taken on the best and beat everyone.”
A second later, though, a thought intruded to dash his false sense of invincibility and he muttered, “No, not everyone.”
With another slight shiver at the memory, he folded the knife up and stowed it in his pocket. Hunkered down inside his triple-layered box home, he thought about the night—that night—the night when his perspective on what reality really meant had changed forever. There were tough men and women out there, but this person hadn’t been a person.
She was a cat-girl. Six months back, he’d been in the same alley during the summer, sharing the space with his friend, George. She’d dropped in—literally. That was impossible, as no one could move so silently and quickly. Yet she had, and she’d whacked him around but good. She did the same with his alley mate, and he stood around six-six and weighed two-eighty, so it wasn’t as if it had been an unfair fight.
It had been an unfair fight, though. This girl—cat-girl—moved faster than anything he’d ever seen. She was also very strong, easily twice as strong as he was. While she could have easily sliced both of them up—she did George’s arms, sliced them up like deli meat—in the end, she just knocked the large man out. “I just want to find something to eat,” she’d told him.
Then off she’d gone to forage in a nearby dumpster like any cat would...but she was no cat, and he knew it.