This story is by Rachel Pliess and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Sand paper. That is the only way she could describe it. Her mouth felt like sand paper. Jeanette hated waking up thirsty. This was more than just thirst. She was hungry, famished. She felt like she hadn’t had anything satisfying in weeks. Rolling over she looked at the clock; early. Her alarm hadn’t even gone off yet. It was like her body just couldn’t stand to sleep knowing how it felt anymore. Her dad would be in the kitchen getting ready for work.
“Happy Birthday kiddo!” Marcus Tanner was an imposing man. Standing at 6’4” with his broad shoulders he was made for the police force. Her dad had been a part of the NYPD for as long as Jeanette could remember. He was the whole reason she had joined the force. Her whole family had been police officers going back to the civil war.
“Morning dad. Thanks.” Today was Jeanette’s twenty-first birthday. She wasn’t going to get a chance to celebrate; tonight was her first night on patrol. She would be going out with her dad. The station was making a pretty big deal about it.
Despite being both hungry and thirsty nothing seemed appealing this morning. Jeanette was sure it was just because she was nervous about tonight. Her father set down a cup of coffee in front of her. It smelled different. He must be trying out a new blend. He did this pretty often. The warm liquid was exactly what Jeanette needed. She had never tasted anything quite like it before. She could picture the remote farm that the beans had come from. It had a slight hazelnut flavor to it, and something she couldn’t quite put her finger on but it was perfect. All at once her thirst, hunger, and nerves all went away. She was ready for the night.
New York was the best city to live in if you hated owning your own car. Jeanette loved the subway. She couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to commute any other way in the city. Sure it smelled but it was the people watching that she loved. The couple consumed with each other, the little old lady doing a crossword, the aspiring street musician drumming on a bucket; she loved seeing all of them, the people she would give her life to protect. She always arrived early for work. Something her father always instilled in her. If you are early you are on time, if you are on time you are late. Words she took very seriously. She stopped by her father’s office before roll call. He told her they would be going out on a special assignment. Jeanette could barely contain her excitement. Her first night and she was already getting a special assignment.
Blackness consumed the tunnel. For the average person seeing anything would be impossible, yet Jeanette could see everything clear as day. It was more than just sight; she could sense the world around her. She had not expected to be taken out by her dad’s whole unit her first night on patrol but Marcus had told her they were giving her test for her first night. The team stalked slowly through tunnel. She was told to be ready for anything but what they were looking for wasn’t exactly clear. Her father had emphasis the word anything in a very strange way.
The movement was so quick Jeanette almost didn’t see it. A figure passed in front of the team. It was fast, but Marcus was faster. With one swift movement Marcus had the creature on the ground. It looked like an average man, with one difference; his eyes were glowing red. While Marcus had him pinned to the ground another member of the force shoved a spike through its chest. The man’s skin went grey and his eyes dimmed. Everything had happened so fast Jeanette barely had time to understand what she was seeing.
“What was that?!” she screeched. The members of the force gave out a little laugh. Clearly Marcus had not explained to his daughter what exactly this mission was tonight. Although, she probably would not have believed what he had to tell her unless she had seen it firsthand.
“I think that is enough for the night, let’s head back with this one and I will debrief Jeanette.” Her father said. Back at the station her father brought her into his office. Jeanette was still unsure of what had happened back in the tunnel.
“Jeanette, there are some things I need to tell you about. Our family descends from an ancient line; Vampire royalty. Our job is to protect the citizens of New York from other dark beings.” Marcus went on to explain the man they had caught in the tunnel was a Venta, a vampire that has broken their code and needed to be put down. There were other creatures they hunted too, dark beings that threatened human existence. He explained the Red Code, the laws all vampires follow to stay hidden in plain sight. He said that vampires turn on their twenty-first birthday and that was why she was feeling the way she was feeling this morning. He explained how they feed, donated blood in coffee. That explained why it had satisfied her so much.
As unbelievable as it sounded, it made the way she felt more understandable. If she had not been in that tunnel she wouldn’t have believed a word of what her father was saying. He was a vampire. She was a vampire. So much had happened tonight. All Jeanette could think was that she wasn’t ready. She had to be. She had a job to do. Tonight had been the first night of the rest of her life.