Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Drax left the party early, as he often did, dragging two beautiful young things into his elevator and up to his sprawling office to ‘admire the view’, occupying as it did the entire top floor.

Heels came off outside the elevator, dresses somewhere between the roll up garage doors that opened onto the observation deck and the hottub where the rest of their clothes disappeared.

Drax smiled. His empire afforded him such luxuries, and as he watched the girls sink into the tub amidst the rainbow cycle of the spa lights and the thunder of high pressure water, he didn’t try to remember their names, or what drugs they’d been fed once he’d picked them out. Someone would clean them up in the morning and they’d no longer be his concern.

He poured himself a sambuca from the bar and wandered outside.

“Are you going to wear that suit in the tub sugar?” The blonde one spoke around the brunette’s head, nibbling an earlobe and eyeing him coyly.

“It’s Italian, and custom, so no, sugar, I’m not.” His tone was brusque, but her wide pupilled eyes didn’t waver.

From his jacket pocket, a rhythmic vibrating attracted his hand by reflex, and he barely had time to curse before the phone was at his ear.

“This had better be good,” his tone icy, “I’m busy.”

From the speaker there was only digital gibberish, broken by the occasional unintelligible syllable.

Drax walked away from the noise of the tub and out in the open air of the rooftop, hoping for a better signal, but the call went dead. He stood staring at the word ‘unknown’ on the display, half expecting it to ring again when motion in the sky caught his attention.

There were several blocks between his building and any others nearby, but something had just crossed between the two in front of him. A moment later a bird streaked past beside him, wings fully extended and climbing at an impressive rate as it circled behind him and out of sight.

“Baby, we’re thirsty,” the voice distracted him, and as he turned he lost his footing and stumbled, putting one hand on the ground to catch his fall as four feet of matte carbon fiber wings ripped through the air where his head had been, then gone so quickly he’d wondered if it hadn’t been a hallucination.

Staggering to his feet, he whirled in circles, trying to find the attacker in the night sky, the downcast deck lighting creating large blind spots that left him blinking.

There was a sudden rushing of air, and the bird attacked from behind again, one set of talons dug deep into his shoulder as the bird flapped madly trying to lift him off the ground, but as powerful as it was, he outweighed it two hundred pounds to twenty, and shrieking he swung his free arm at the creature until it let go and soared back into the darkness.

Bleeding, he staggered towards the open door.

There was a throaty rush and bright flare as the bird used powered thrust to gain altitude. The attack itself was silent. The bird swept back its wings, balled its talons into fists and thrust them out before its body as it dove, striking Drax in his mid back at nearly three hundred kilometers an hour, instantly crushing his spine.

His mouth opened in a silent scream, all the air having been driven from his body as he was forced to the ground, his legs useless.

Behind him the bird flapped its wings in slow, sweeping rhythm, hovering in an ungainly fashion, glass eyes irising in and out, watching. It then gripped him by his unfeeling ankles, dragged him sobbing and scrabbling across the rooftop to the nearest parapet and hauled his flailing body over the edge.

Man and bird fell together for a few moments in a macabre lovers’ embrace, before the bird disengaged, spread its wings and rode the thermals back into the night sky.

Drax was no longer a concern, someone would clean him up in the morning.

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