This story is by Veronika Jordan and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
It’s not every day you stumble across a dead body. Actually, for me, it’s about once a week, but then it’s my job. I’m a vampire hunter.
In this case, I literally stumbled across her. Fell flat on my face in the park where he’d left her. So pale, with no visible injury apart from two tell-tale red marks on her neck. I knew what I had to do next. Find the killer.
In legend, the Carpathian Mountains tend to be stuffed with vampires, bygones of another century, hiding by day and hunting by night. You know the scenario. Crosses, garlic, daylight and a stake through the heart. Wrong. Modern vampires live in cities just like New York and are far too clever to be caught out so easily. Nowadays they need to be ‘bugged’ in their coffins, tracked and brought down with a laser-stake from 50 metres. So much easier and no blood on my hands.
It’s fairly easy to know where to find them. They leave a trail of blood-drained victims lying about. Usually fairly ugly ones as they prefer to ‘turn’ the pretty ones to keep them company throughout the long nights, if you get my drift. The victims are unceremoniously dumped, sheet-white and half-clothed with teeth marks in their necks.
I wasn’t always a vampire hunter. I got my degree in Business and Economics but working at Goldman-Sachs soon became boring. That’s when I started trekking in my spare time. My first ‘kill’ was actually not a vampire, but a werewolf in Staten Island. Silver bullet? Nah! Much easier to chop his head off with a chainsaw. But that’s another story. I was very primitive then in my dispatch methods.
My dad is a police officer. Police Sergeant Tanner of the NYPD, but he doesn’t believe all this undead stuff. Never got much support when I told him I was leaving my well-paid job at Goldman-Sachs to be New York’s answer to Buffy. In fact, he was downright furious but I don’t blame him. He said if I wanted to be a ghost-buster (vampire-hunter dad, not ghost-buster) I should go work at Universal Studios where I can stand on the steps of the Town Hall and welcome visitors with a plastic ghost trap and a proton gun.
So while dad is out working all night busting drug dealers or whatever he does and sleeping all day, I’m also out. But it’s not druggies I’m after. For me the stakes are higher if you’ll excuse the pun.
‘Jeanette, you could get yourself into real trouble you know. It’s a crazy world out there. You had such a good job.’ Dad says this to me at least three times a week.
‘It was boring Dad. I need some excitement in my life.’
‘I get the picture. I need some rest. I’ll be in the basement but don’t ring the bell unless it’s an emergency.’ We have a system in case something happens while he’s down there but it never does.
The ‘basement’ is dad’s secret hideaway. Because he works the graveyard shift (his choice) he says he needs somewhere he can sleep in peace after a stressful night’s work. No-one else has ever been allowed down there. Not even mum, before she died. She had some kind of rare blood disease and became severely anaemic. It’s been seven years now and I still miss her. That’s another reason he started sleeping in the basement. So as not to disturb mum when he came in at sunrise.
But back to the latest dead body. I thought for once I’d try dad. See what he knew or could find out.
‘Maybe you should leave this one be, Jeanette. It’s classified.’
Later that night I went back to the place where I found the body. That’s when I saw him. They say criminals often return to the scene of the crime and there he was, hunched over, looking for something in the earth where the body had lain last night. I approached carefully, trying not to make a sound so he wouldn’t see me. Too late. He turned around.
‘Jeanette, what are you doing here?’ I’d never noticed dad’s teeth before. Maybe because he didn’t smile much after mum died. He wasn’t smiling now but his top lip was curled back and I could clearly see them.
‘It’s not what you think darling. I was bitten years ago but I didn’t die. I was on the trail of a vampire who had killed a string of girls back in the eighties. We caught him but I paid the ultimate price.’
‘Did you kill Mum?’ Please say no.
‘I didn’t mean to. I lost control. I didn’t take enough blood to kill her outright…’
‘…you didn’t take enough blood to kill her outright the first time is what you mean. Then I guess you just kept using her as dinner.’ I motioned him with my laser not to move.
‘Dad, I only have two choices, you know that. I can stake you now or I can lock you in the basement but you will never be able to go out at night. I’ll fit you with a tracking device and call you in after curfew. The choice is yours.’
That’s when he ran. He gave me no choice.
‘I’m sorry Dad. This one’s for mum.’
I fired the laser-stake straight through his heart. Years of practice have made me a prefect shot. He fizzled and fell to the ground. All that was left was a pile of ash.
I walked away not looking back.