This story is by Cecilia Baker and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
It wasn’t just the long, grueling hours on the road or the constant battering of vampires that seemed to follow her every move that made Jeanette Tanner hate her job. It was the fact that it took away her father.
A police chief by day and a vampire hunter by night, she had no memory of her father ever being scared. As a child, he was the solid iron wall that protected her from the dangerous world of hunting. She thought he was invincible, until the incident. The last time she had heard his voice was in a fuzzy phone call telling her that he had been bitten by a vampire and she needed to take on his horrendous job. Ever since then, she had dedicated her life to finding him and getting a cure to turn him back human.
Her hunt had landed her in the small town of Janesville, a close-knit community that did not speak kindly of strangers. Finding information on the recent deaths of six of its citizens, all completely drained of blood, had been proven difficult.
Entering a diner just outside the town for a midnight meal, she grabbed a menu from the counter and sat down. Surveying the surroundings, her interest landed on a couple arguing by the jukebox in the corner of the restaurant. Her hunter instincts kicked in and she strained to hear their conversation.
“—up, I’ll be fine, Molly! Why can’t you realize what power we have?” The man dropped his voice low. “All I have to do is give this guy six pints of my blood and he’ll take care of Ned Johnson. I’ll finally be CEO and we’ll have more than enough money to support this family.” The man held out his hands and placed them on the woman’s stomach.
Molly took a step backward and frantically ran her fingers through her brown hair. “Charlie Boswell, you listen to me right now. My loving husband is not a murderer.”
“I’m not murdering him, someone else is! This man is running a good business here and we need to take advantage of it. He used to be a police chief so he knows all the ins and outs of murders. If anyone were to get away with it, I can guarantee it would be him.”
Police chief? Her heart leapt at his words and she swallowed hard. This was the first promising lead to her father in ten years. Jeanette watched as Charlie stormed out of the diner, leaving Molly cowering by the jukebox, cradling her face in her hands. Once he had driven off Jeanette stood from her seat and made her way over to the woman.
Molly didn’t notice as she bent over and whispered in her ear, “I can save your husband.”
She jumped backward and slammed her head into the window beside her. Her bright blue eyes were wide and glossy. “Who are you? How do you know about my husband?”
“We really don’t have time for formalities right now. Can you tell me where your husband went? You have to trust me.” Grabbing her wrist, Jeanette yanked Molly through the diner and into the sticky air of the countryside. Molly did as she was told and climbed into Jeanette’s car, giving her precise directions to where Charlie was going.
The car hadn’t always been hers. Her father had taken her on a road trip to buy the 1970 Plymouth Superbird at a car show in Mississippi. It was the perfect car for hunting and he had pimped it out to the max with nooks and crannies to hide vampire weapons. She had many memories of them racing down the open road at breaking speeds, their blonde hair flying in the wind without a care in the world. Since his incident, the car hadn’t gone over 70 miles per hour.
The pair rolled up to a crummy log cabin and Jeanette reached in the center consul to grab a knife. She turned to Molly. “Stay here. Even if you hear screaming you have to promise to not leave this car.” She wasn’t going to lose anyone else to a vampire. Molly nodded feebly and Jeanette rose from the car, quietly shutting the door.
Inching her way up the steps she crept onto the porch and crouched below an open window, listening.
“I’ve come to make a deal.” Charlie’s voice was airy and desperate.
“A deal?” A familiar voice emerged and she held her breath. Could it be?
Charlie cleared his throat. “My wife is pregnant and we are running low on money. There is this man named Ned Johnson who is the CEO of this company I work for. If he is…disposed of I get his job which will give me a considerable raise.”
The familiar voice laughed. “You humans are so obsessed with money! I remember when I was human and had a child of my own.” Jeanette peeked over the window sill. Charlie was standing in the center of the living room, blocking her view of the vampire’s face.
“Do you think you can help us?” Charlie asked.
“Of course! I’m sure you know the cost. Six pints of blood straight from the source.” The vampire tapped Charlie’s neck and he winced. “Don’t be shy! You’ll only feel a pinch.”
Dropping back down, she crawled over to the door and stood up. Balling her fists, she held up her leg and slammed the bottom of her boot above the doorknob. The door burst open, sending splinters of wood in every direction.
A million emotions flooded her body, yet she felt absolutely numb. She could barely recognize her own father. His paper-thin skin was cracked and peeling and the evident hook in his nose, the one that she inherited, had sunk into his face. His New York police badge hung loosely on his black shirt.