Valdez drove cautiously back to the station, trying not to jostle Penn and her stomach any more than he had to. He wanted to hit the siren and lights, but he thought the motion of speed would make matters worse. Even 45 miles per hour was too much.
“Stop the car, Roy,” she said weakly.
“Can’t you hold it in?” Roy made a sour face at the smell that erupted from her mouth as she belched.
“Just stop the Goddamned car, Roy,” she said with more urgency.
Roy pulled into a back alley next to an empty lot. He stepped out and looked around, wanting to make sure no one saw an LA cop spew her guts let alone a demon.
“Make it quick. I don’t want to hang around her too long.” He came around to the passenger and stood impatiently, arms akimbo.
Penn wanted to tell him to shut it, but her stomach lurched and she gagged at a dry heave.
That’s when the dog appeared. The dog had been rooting around in the alley, perhaps looking for something to eat or looking to defecate. He approached her hopefully and sniffed at Penn. It quickly let loose a mix of a whine and a growl and moved around to Roy.
“Piss off, Lassie.”
Roy gave a kick at the canine. The dog jumped away. It paced back and forth, whining hungrily as it smelled the remains of Valdez’s bratwurst.
“Go aw-,“ was all Penn could say before the black green eruption flowed from her mouth. The dog danced away almost avoiding the mess. It landed on it’s back end and it scampered a few feet before collapsing.
Even with its flesh melting off it tried to crawl away from the two officers. The dog’s cries and whines were growing louder.
Penn didn’t care about the dog’s misery. She had her own to deal with and even her heightened hearing was oblivious to it.
“Magog screamed,” cursed Roy, moving toward the dog. He snapped out his Asp as another stream of vomit erupted from Penn. He jumped away, but not before getting a small splatter on his shoes. The leather steamed and sizzled.
Without thinking he rubbed the shoe on the back of his pants. The small ate away at the pants’ fabric and into his flesh.
“What in Hell,” he muttered still walking to the dog. “That fucking burns. Fuck, Penn. What did you eat?”
He stood over the dog and felt a moments pity for it. “Sorry, dude. Helluva way to die.” He brought the baton down on the dog’s head, crushing it.
He rejoined Penn, choosing to stay next to the car’s rear bumper. He looked at the mass of sick as it evaporated away, leaving a crater of bubbling concrete that slowly cooled.
Instinctively he rested his foot on the cruiser’s bumper and pulled his pants leg. The smear had put a small hole in his pants and sock, leaving a scar on his skin.
“Feel better?” he said, putting his foot back on the ground. “I sure hope so because you’re going to see the Doc.”
“I’m good,” Penn said, leaning back into the seat. “I’m feeling better.”
“Yeah, I bet. You know our spew isn’t supposed to hurt us. I’m saved if I’ve ever seen anything like that. I mean, your mess burned me, Penn. That’s not normal.” He pulled his pants leg up and pulled the sock down. “Look at it.”
“Scars give character.” Penn licked her lips and sucked in breath.
“Get your leg in,” said Valdez, slamming the door shut.
“What about that?” Penn pointed to the dog’s body. Its rear and back legs were gone. The front half lay in the alley, advanced decomposition was already setting in to the exposed back.
“Not my problem. I should make you deal with it.” He started the car and drove down the alley and back to the street.
Stork met them at the gas pumps. She didn’t look pleased at all and she let Valdez and Penn know it before Valdez even put the car in park.
“One less unit on the streets thanks to you two,” Stork said, moving to Penn’s side of the car. “Why’d you report in if you were sick? Shit, we don’t even get sick.”
“I gave her the speech, Sarge,” said Valdez. “She’s sick alright, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. She melted concrete and a dog.”
“I don’t want to know.” Stork paused. “You know what? I think I do. What in God’s name happened?”
“You kiss your master’s hooves with that mouth?” Penn looked up at Stork and grinned limply. She took a sip of water and tried grinning wider.
“Really? Keep quiet, Typhoid Mary. The adults are talking.”
Roy gave her the run down on what had happened. Stork’s demeanor remained stern even during the overly descriptive remarks on the dog’s post mortem appearance.
“You guys are a mess.” She looked at Penn. “Are your keys in your locker? The plan is, Roy’s gonna drive you home. While he’s doing that, I’m going to put a call in to the Doc, and he’ll ascertain what’s gone wrong with you. Copy?
“Copy, Sergeant Stork.”
Stork glanced at Roy, Roy shrugged.
“Useless, the both of you. Get her home.”
The drive home was uneventful, much to Penn’s relief. She didn’t sick up any more and she was grateful not to chance ruining her car. Thank Satan for small favors, she mused as they pulled into her driveway.
“You gonna make it to the door okay?” asked Roy, putting the car into park and rolling up the windows.
“I don’t see you getting out to help me.”
“Geez no. You’re on your own. I just wanted to give the impression of helpfulness and caring. You know, doing the serve portion of our motto.” He opened the car door and stood, waiting for her to exit so he could lock it. He tossed Penn her keys. She caught them, only fumbling once
“You’re a peach, Roy.”
She opened the door, took the keys and walked slowly to her door.
“Get some sleep, Penn,” called Roy as she unlocked her door and entered. She could hear the true sincerity in her voice even as the remembered image of him shooting her flooded her conscious mind.
Penn closed her front door as a police siren chirped and she heard Stork’s impatient voice calling for Valdez.
“C’mon, Valdez. You have to catch baddies and not whatever she has.”
Penn leaned against the door, weakly removing her duty belt. She threw it onto the couch in her living room, took a step, and collapsed. Sleep overtook her once more.