This story is by Trey Reed and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Jeanette grunted as the police car crossed another speed bump. It was dark and cramped inside the trunk of her father’s vehicle but she didn’t mind. The strap she attached to the trunk-side of the seat almost slipped from her grasp. She readjusted. Keeping it taut with one hand, the other steadied the trunk rig to keep her presence hidden. Her father would explode if he had found out she stowed away for one of his night shifts.
Her father had been a part of the NYPD fifteen years; it was easy to remember as it matched Jeanette’s age. His classmates at the academy had used their seniority to get better shifts, but he seemed to be content where he was. She missed spending time with him and the moonlit boat rides on his nights off. It was almost seven years since their last one.
Jeanette could distinguish only a few words from the police radio. “…Officer Tanner… 415…” Her amateur knowledge of police codes told her it was a disturbance of some sort, but that was all. Janette felt the car accelerate and lurch to the right. She saw red and blue flashes through the trunk’s crevasse and the sirens blared. After what seemed like only a minute, the police car rolled to a stop, lights and siren turned off. She heard one of the doors open, and the sound of footsteps growing quieter. Jeanette released the strap holding the back seat closed. She gently let it down like a drawbridge and squeezed part-way out so that her head and torso were out of the trunk. Her eyes struggled to adjust through the darkness and the grate that separated the sections of the patrol car. She heard a man yell. Abrupt and unexpected, she could not tell from whom it came.
A gunshot sounded, then two more.
The sharp pops rang in her ears and she, still kneeling, froze; eyes wide with fear. Jeanette scrambled in reverse. Again inside the trunk, she undid the rig made from a strip of cloth and a rubber stopper that kept the trunk closed but unlocked. She slowly inched the trunk open, listening to the events on the opposite side of the car. Once outside she felt a breeze. She assessed her location as she saw water. They were at a bay; one she had never been to. Boats lay tied to simple docks.
Still crouching, she rounded the left rear corner of the police vehicle. There, in the alley that was made up between two industrial warehouses, was a crumpled silhouette. Jeanette, more tense than ever, explored every direction. Metal trash cans and a dumpster lined the right warehouse. Steel rebar, small wooden crates and pallets leaned against the left, but there was no one else.
Jeanette slowly approached the body. With the moon’s help, she could see the reflection of something wet, pooled around the unmoving man. She drew nearer. The man laid face down, his limbs lay limp in uncomfortable positions. His face positioned outward, facing the dark alley. She knelt around him and learned what gleamed off the light.
Jeanette, hands trembling, grabbed hold of the man who laid on the edge of the warehouse’s shadow and heaved him over into the night’s light. The face she saw was not her father’s. In a gasp of relief she began to cry. Her father was not dead. She looked eagerly again for him. The moon lit up the docks and the path lining the coast.
He must be in the alley somewhere. She lowered her sight to release the lifeless corpse she still held. She paused. What is that? She saw two marks a few millimeters in diameter on the left side of the man’s neck, like a snake bite, she imagined. Out of the corner of her eye, Jeanette saw something move. She looked up. She failed to notice its presence before. Merged with the shadow of the dumpster, the silhouette stood from its hunched position. The shadow turned and Jeanette looked into its beady red eyes. She fell backwards. Backing up, her hand knocked against something metal. She hesitated to turn and look but she did.
She got to her feet. “Daddy?” she asked, hesitantly stepping forward, knowing her father’s eyes were green. Her body encircled in the shadow between the warehouses. A scream left her throat. Without the moon’s interference, she saw the creature. It was her father. His ears and nose, now pointed and two sharp fangs protruded from his mouth with a hanging overbite, blood dripping from them.
“Jeanette,” he said struggling with himself, “why?”
“I missed spending our nights together.”
“Jeanette,” he pleaded, fighting harder to resist, “I can’t… please run!”
“No…” the words came weakly, “I can’t. When did…?”
“There’s no time, honey! Run!”
The loving memory of her father shattered in her mind. He snapped. Losing control, focused on his urge for blood, her father ran after her. His blood red eyes locked on her throat. Jeanette turned to run, but as she did so, her foot caught one of the fragile wooden pallets. She fell and the pallet caught harder on her foot, her father only feet away. As she hit the ground, her father lunged. The still twisting wood pallet teetered once and splintered. The full weight of Jeanette’s father hit the corner of the pallet; the other corner caught the ground firmly, not budging. The vampire’s body continued with great momentum toward his daughter. The splintered wooden pallet pierced his chest and threw him, pole-vaulting over Jeanette’s head. Upon hitting the ground the body of her father moved no more.
She rose and hobbled toward him. The fangs had already begun to shrink and her father’s face began to regain its color, only momentarily, and then became pale again. Her father’s chest heaved once, and then fell flat. There sat Jeanette holding her father, clutching his uniform and crying as she heard more sirens approaching.