Monday, October 5, 2015
At first Ginny Goslin didn’t think anything of it. People hung out in the town square all the time, at all hours of the day and night. However, as a goose-shifter, she was especially sensitive to the signs of flocking behavior. When the same faces kept drifting past Java Joe’s front window, she started to notice.
She noticed also how others appeared, so that what had been pairs quickly grew to small groups. That the groups consisted primarily of carnivore shifters didn’t do any good for her already-jittery nerves.
She continued to watch, growing more nervous by the minute. No doubt about it. There were predators in the town square, and they were congregating.
Naturally, once she reached this conclusion she immediately ran to Marissa. The coffee shop’s owner took the news with remarkable calm. But then, she could afford to be calm. Besides being a witch, Marissa was married to a wolf-shifter. Both kept her off the prey roster.
Marissa and Ginny kept an eye on the gathering by pretending to wipe down the tables near the front window. “You see what I mean?” Ginny hissed. “That bunch by the fountain. There were only three of them twenty minutes ago. Now there’s eight. At least five of them are wolves.”
“And all of them are teenagers,” Marissa said. “Maybe it’s a school thing. Does the football team have a home game this Friday?”
“That group by City Hall isn’t high schoolers. They’ve been circling the square for half an hour.”
“That is odd,” Marissa agreed. She squinted through the window. “Two of them are cats for sure, and … a porcupine? Now it’s getting weird.”
“And maybe dangerous,” Ginny put in. She nodded toward several older Peakites headed for the coffee shop at a brisk clip. Other folks were quietly getting off the streets. Every one of those in flight were herbivores. Ginny swallowed a nervous honk.
Surveillance had to go on hold while she and Marissa saw to their customers. Ginny nonchalantly asked if anything was happening in the square. “We just came in for coffee,” was the standard response. “It’s getting chilly out.” But no one took any of the window seats.
Once everyone was served Marissa drifted back toward the window. Ginny followed closely. If scat was about to hit the fan, she figured the safest place would be next to Marissa. Even big cats left the witch alone.
And speaking of which …
“Omigod.” Ginny’s hand flew to her mouth. “Is that Guri Ghan?”
“And Sanjay,” Marissa confirmed. She visibly relaxed. “I think it’s safe to say we’re not under attack. Those two are the good brothers.”
“But some of the stuff they’ve come up with … ”
Marissa tensed up again. “True.”
“Should we call somebody?”
“Who? And why? They haven’t done anything. There’s no law against peaceful public gathering, even for predators. Anyway, I’ll bet Vern’s watching from the Grease ‘N’ Grill. He’s probably notified Gil already.”
“Uh-oh.” In spite of her worries, Ginny leaned toward the window. “That leopard’s got something.”
“I see it. It looks like … ” Marissa squinted. “A boom box?”
The leopard set the boom box beside the square’s central fountain. All over the square, pedestrians suddenly consulted their cell phones. As if at a prearranged signal, they converged on the street.
And started dancing.
Ginny honked in astonishment. “What the flock?”
Marissa caught on first. “It’s not an attack. It’s a flash mob.”
She cracked open the coffee shop door. Immediately the unmistakable strains of Michael Jackson’s Thriller blasted at them. At least three dozen “zombies,” with Sanjay in a red leather jacket at their head, lined up in the street to perform a surprisingly well-choreographed recreation of the famous video.
“It is a school thing,” Marissa guessed. “Has to be. I heard Sanjay volunteers with the theater group. I’ll bet this was his idea.”
“Why is Guri wearing a smoking jacket?”
“He’s probably Vincent Price.”
“Before your time.” Marissa shrugged. “Heck, before everyone’s time. I’ll bet nobody out there was even born when the album came out.”
“What’s an album?”
“Just watch the show.”
Now reassured that no harm was intended, the customers crowded up to the window to watch. The “zombies” danced through the streets while Guri perched on the fountain and lip-synched to Price’s rap. As the Master of Horror’s laughter rang out, the dancers dispersed at a run. Guri snatched up the boom box and hustled after them. The audience, both in the coffee shop and out on the square, burst into relieved applause.
“And that officially opens the Halloween season,” Marissa announced. “We’d better stock up on the pumpkin latte.”