This story is by Lauren England and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Jeanette Tanner jogged up the building’s steps. She hadn’t seen her father for several months, and was looking forward to dinner with him. The doorman waved a greeting to her as she hurried past to catch an elevator, throwing her hand in between the doors just as they were about to close. She muttered an apology to the couple inside, but they continued making out as if they hadn’t heard a word she’d said. Rolling her eyes, Jeanette pushed the button for the 26th floor.
She opened the door to her father’s apartment without knocking, yelling a greeting as she sat her keys and handbag down on the table next to the door. “Dad? I’m here!” She peered into the decidedly gloomy apartment as she shut the front door, flicking the living room lights on to see better. A loud hiss from behind startled her, and she whirled around to see her dad shielding his eyes from the sudden glare. He slammed his hand down on the switches, plunging them back into shadow, and blinked a couple of times before giving her a hug. “Hi Jeanie, sorry. I forgot to tell you I went to the optometrist this afternoon. Bright lights have been giving me migraines ever since.”
“Oh, Dad, I’m so sorry.” She muffled the apology into the arm of his shirt, then patted his arm in surprise. “Wow, that’s quite a hug you’ve got there. You’ve been hitting the weights since I last saw you?”
He grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, the new Captain’s a stickler for health. He’s got our whole department spending most of our downtime in the gym lately. Says a healthy force promotes a healthy community or whatever.”
Jeanette peered closer at her father. While he seemed fitter than she remembered, there was an unhealthy pallor that his tan couldn’t quite hide. “You sure you’re ok? You seem a little pale. Stress getting to you?”
He waved her off. “I’m fine. Just hungry. Go sit on the couch and let me get started on dinner. It’s not every day my daughter decides to grace me with her presence.” He grinned and kissed her temple.
“Whatcha makin?” Jeanette couldn’t resist trying to peer over her dad’s shoulder at the ingredients on the counter. He pushed her towards the living room, laughing.
“A surprise, now scoot.” She pushed him back, but he was as solid as a rock.
Instead of heading straight to the sofa, Jeanette grabbed the refrigerator door and swung it open. “Hey Dad, got any -” She was about to say “beer”, but the sentence died on her lips when she looked at the contents of the fridge. Before she could say anything else her father grabbed her shoulder and forcefully pulled her away, slamming the door shut so hard that the seal around the door popped out of place. The refrigerator door creaked back open, revealing rows upon rows of stainless steel flasks inside and not much else. A couple were streaked with dark red liquid on their sides, marring the polished reflective surfaces.
“Damn, Dad, they’re really taking this health kick to the extremes, aren’t they? Are those smoothies regulation or something? They pumping you full of steroids? If so, keep me outta it. I like my doughnuts, even if they are cliché.” Jeanette grinned at her father’s startled expression, her ability to survive on a diet consisting little more than burnt coffee and day-old Chinese takeout a long-standing joke between them.
Her grin faltered when her father wiped his hand down his face and sighed. “Really, Jeanette? Five years on the police force and you’re this clueless?” He closed the refrigerator door again, this time much more gently. It stayed closed, but barely, the broken seal hanging askew. He stared at the damage, unwilling meet his daughter’s gaze. When he finally turned to face her, the click of a hammer being pulled back made him freeze in place.
“Nope.” Jeanette’s sheepish grin turned predatory. “I got smarter a long time ago. You were just too busy with your career to notice. Good thing Captain Martinez did though. He said I was one of the brightest on the force, that I was one of the few who had figured out what was really going on in the precinct, and if I wanted to get promoted there was only one thing I had to do.” Time slowed as he watched her finger begin to draw the trigger back, unable to move as he watched his own daughter try to kill him for a promotion.
The bullet tore through his shoulder and he groaned in pain. Before she could fire again he knocked the gun out of her hand and spun her around, grabbing her by the throat with one hand as he bent her other arm up in between them, locking her joints and holding her in place. He pulled her head to the side and bit deep into the space where her neck and shoulder met, purposely missing the jugular vein to make it more painful than it needed to be to make her pay for her betrayal.
Jeanette seized in agony, unable to move as her father drained her blood. “Hah, Dad, he said…he said you’d fall…for it.”
He’d almost missed what she said, losing himself quickly to the euphoria that feeding on the living always brought on. He sounded almost drunk when he answered her. “What? What are you talking about?”
He released her neck and Jeanette slid to the floor in relief, dizzy and a little nauseous from the blood loss. “Captain Martinez said that if you turned me, he’d promote me to Detective on the spot.” She gasped and winced as another wave of pain coursed through her. “Whaddya say, Dad? Wanna be partners?”
He sliced his wrist with his thumbnail and she grabbed it, greedily sucking at the offering. “Sure,” he responded. His fangs descended as he smiled. “Partners.”