Blood on Roses

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Bloodied Fate - Kaydence Samuels

What motivated Kaydence to hunt down her best friend? When did she begin to grow suspicious? What convinced her of such a betrayal?

I didn’t attempt to mask my shock. “You killed your comrade because he got turned?”

“Yes, it was the right thing to do,” Henri replied as if addressing a crushed insect.

The right thing to do? Perhaps it was. Once a human changed to a vampire, their base instincts would morph, and they’d soon act and think just like vampires. They wouldn’t hesitate to kill innocents.

That was the only thought that kept me sane while I hunted down my best friend.

It all started a month ago when I saw her with blood red eyes….

I was hallucinating, right? I had to be. There was no way that Hazel would play such a childish prank on me, especially when she didn’t think vampires existed. So then, if those crimson eyes weren’t colored contacts, what were they? She’d tell me if she got turned into a vampire, right?

I wrapped my thin jacket closer to myself. I sat at the bus stop, shivering in the March winds. The bus was twenty minutes late again.

This was my dreaded Friday night routine. I took a bus from school to my vocal class, sang for two hours, then waited for another bus to get home. I loved to sing, so this wouldn’t be a problem if the last bus ever came on time.

Yesterday morning, the one after the night I slept on Hazel’s couch, Hazel seemed weird to me. She was nervous. Shaken up, even. Most importantly, I caught a glimpse of her eyes; they were red. Fire-engine red. I acted like I always did today, but I couldn’t get it off my mind.

I groaned out loud and shot up from my seat. I was five seconds away from snapping and calling a taxi, no matter how expensive it was. I stomped onto the sidewalk and fished my phone from my pocket. Just as my thumb moved to unlock the screen, something rammed into me from behind. My phone flew out of my hand, and I hit the ground with a bang.

“Oh, heavens me, I deeply apologize.”

Rubbing my arm, I raised my head to glare at whoever knocked me down. A young gentleman came into view. He casually wore a blazer over an untucked dress shirt, and he held a suitcase in his hand. Smiling, he extended his free hand to me.

I took it, and he pulled me to my feet. He nodded down, saying, “I apologize again. I will definitely watch my path more carefully from now on. Are you hurt?”

“No. And it’s okay.”

He smiled again. “Good, good. I’ll be on my way now. Have a great evening, Miss.”

My gaze followed his retreating figure. He continued down the road, probably hurrying to a meeting or something. A strange feeling lingered in my stomach. I hadn’t had this feeling since I witnessed a feeding vampire two years ago. Even as I closed my eyes, I could sense the direction in which the young man walked. When I focused harder, I could calculate his walking speed and distance from me.

Something was odd. It was like he didn’t have a heartbeat.

My eyes snapped open, and I whipped my head in his direction. Extremely handsome face? No heartbeat? What if he was a vampire?!

I quickly glanced around me for my phone. The only way to make sure was to flash my camera at him, but I couldn’t see my phone anywhere. As the man sped further from me, my heartbeat slowed.

No! I wouldn’t lose sight of a vampire again. I cast one last scan around; still no phone. Thinking I’d come back for it, I dashed in the direction of the possible vampire.

My heart rate increased again. He turned left, then he stopped moving. Perhaps he sensed me and was waiting to ambush me. I stopped in my tracks, several meters away from the corner. What should I do? I charged ahead by impulse. Should I call the police or animal control or something?

I almost screamed when a hand landed on my shoulder. Another hand clapped over my mouth. This was it. I was going to die. I was so focused on the potential vampire that I didn’t notice one sneaking up behind me! I’m so sorry, mom. Sorry I have to leave you at such a young age. Sorry that I was the reason that you and dad separated. Sorry that you haven’t seen Kleff since the divorce. Sorry that raising me forces you to––

“Shh! It’s me.”

I ceased all panicking when I heard that familiar voice. I slowly turned my head back. Mr. Carrington! He retracted his hand and whispered, “What are you doing here so late? You should be home by now.”

I quickly explained my suspicions of the young man. As I spoke, I sensed that the potential vampire started to race down the street at an inhuman speed. My head whipped in his direction. “He’s getting away!”

“Wait here!” Mr. Carrington said right as he sprinted down the same direction. For a second, I forgot to breathe. He moved at an inhuman pace, too.

I briskly shook myself out of it and sprinted around the corner, only to find two figures wrestling each other on the far end of the street. By the time I ran down, Mr. Carrington had seized the vampire. He bound it down by the arms and pushed its head into the pavement.

“A-Amazing,” I stuttered. “I mean, I’ll call the police!” Forgetting about my phone situation, I frantically dug through my pockets.

Mr. Carrington looked up at me. “Kaydence. Kaydence, stop. You don’t need to do that.”

“What do you mean?! That’s a vampire, Mr. Carrington! I saw you fighting it. Are you hurt anywhere? I’ll ask for an ambulance while I’m at it, too!”

“Wait!” He let out a short sigh. “They can’t do anything about this. Only we can.”


“Vampire hunters. I’m a vampire hunter, Kaydence. I can handle this. My backup’s arriving any minute now, so consider this monster captured.”

I stood in place, frozen. My rapid heartbeat finally began to slow. I glanced down and just then noticed that the vampire hadn’t struggled because a dagger plunged in its nape and lower abdomen. I calmed down and sensed that its life force was much weaker than before, but it wasn’t dead yet. I guessed that those parts were a vampire’s vitals that could paralyze them but not immediately kill them.

To know this kind of information and to have these tools, Mr. Carrington must be…

I lifted my head when a van pulled up beside us. A man stepped out of the driver’s seat and jogged over to Mr. Carrington. The man bent down and hurled the vampire into the trunk. He then nodded downward to Mr. Carrington, saying, “I’m sorry that you wasted your time with such a low-rank vampire, Chief. I’ll speak to the patrols as soon as I get back to HQ.”

Mr. Carrington stood up and stretched. “Not at all, I was nearby. Something like this once in a while isn’t bad.”

Low-rank? That was a weak one, and I felt so much fear and anxiety from it? What kind of pressure would I feel in the face of an Elite? A Pureblood?

“Oh, and who’s this?” the man asked, having just noticed me. “A would’ve-been victim?”

“Possibly, if she were any ordinary person,” Mr. Carrington said, suddenly smiling. “I think she has the gift.”

The other man’s eyes instantly flew wide. “Chief Dawson’s gift?”

Mr. Carrington nodded, leaving me confused. Gift? Who gave me a gift?

The man turned to me. “Excuse me, what’s your name?”

“Uh… Kaydence Samuels.”

“Come with us. We’ll see if you really do have the gift.”

A week after that, lots of things happened. Hazel accepted the fact that vampires existed. She seemed genuinely shocked, so my suspicions were temporarily pushed down. I also didn’t sense that she was a vampire, not even a fledgling, those past weeks. I thought I probably just hallucinated the crimson eyes due to sleep deprivation.

I sat in Henri’s office, studying vampirism. I hadn’t gone to my last vocal lesson because it overlapped with vampire hunter training, and I hadn’t touched my violin in days. My mother said that my life was my choice, so she didn’t force me to do anything, but was this really what I wanted? Reading this thick textbook instead of immersing in my music?

“Understanding everything?”

I jolted a little, then smiled at Henri. “Yeah, I already knew most of this, anyway.”

She returned my smile. “Good, it seems that you’re a natural.”

I was iffy about the vampire hunter situation, but one thing was for sure: I admired Henri a lot. After everything she went through, she remained strong and vowed to protect humanity. She obviously didn’t want any other families to experience the pain that she did. She had such a noble cause. I wished I had her mental resilience.

“Are you adjusting well?” she asked again.

I shuddered at the memory and let my smile drop. “Kind of. It’s still hard for me to watch vampires die.”

“Is it the blood? Or the guts?”

“Probably both.”

“Remember, if the vampires don’t die, our comrades will die in their place.”

I nodded. “I know.” It was easier said than done. Luckily, no comrade of ours had fallen yet. Even though I knew vampires were evil, it was a little difficult not to sympathize with them. In the underground dungeon, every single day, some attempted suicide. One succeeded yesterday; it smashed its head to bits and pieces on the cell wall.

According to Henri, though, it was “a waste” since it was an Elite. It could’ve been used for training before it killed itself.

Oh, how naive I was to sympathize with vampires for even a fraction of a second.

I hadn’t seen Hazel in a while. I didn’t want to see her, and I didn’t want to talk to her. I might break down and spill everything if I did. Lots of suspicious signs pointed to the fact that she might’ve gotten turned. Without warning, she suddenly “dyed” her hair. With zero extra practice, her balance and physical strength improved. Most importantly, my shy and timid bestie inserted herself into a fight that involved a knife, calmly diverted the attacker’s attention, and seized the attacker like a martial artist.

I sat down in the café across from Grant. A few days ago, he asked me to collaborate on a plan to prove that Hazel got turned. I pulled strings behind the scene. Without giving him a reason, I told Alecx to bring Hazel to this café. Fortunately, he was a trusting boy. Ten minutes after I sat down, he brought her in.

“She sees you,” Grant said. “Are you sure you don’t want to say hi?”

“I’m sure,” I replied instantly. “I have nothing to say to a vampire.”

My stare fixed on my phone screen, which displayed the picture of Alecx, alone, at his table, smiling at nothing in front of him. Food for two was set on the table. Just as I suspected, Hazel didn’t show up on camera. This was definitive proof that she was no longer human.

Instantly, I stood up and sped to the exit. Grant followed. I must report this to Henri. If Henri supported me, I could access anti-vampire chains and cages. Jeremy’s goofy grin flashed in my head again. He was killed by a human-turned vampire. I wouldn’t let anyone else suffer the same fate.

Remember, turned humans were no longer the people you knew. Their former selves were as good as dead. They turned into bloodthirsty monsters who preyed on innocent human beings. I was not hunting down my best friend; I was hunting down a vampire. My best friend was dead. All I could do for her was mourn and take revenge. All I saw in front of me was a vampire.

I repeated that phrase in my head as I organized personnel and equipment for the capture.

A guard clicked his tongue in annoyance. “This vampire really passed out against those bars.”

I watched as the trained personnel removed Hazel’s cage from the back of the truck. She leaned against the anti-vampire bars of the cage, unconscious, blood streaming down her arm. Even as the guards tossed her into a cell in the dungeon and the door clanked closed, she didn’t stir in the least.

“I don’t get why we don’t just kill them on the spot,” the guards muttered to each other as they left.

I stood for a second, expecting to feel some sense of pride in my first capture. I planned and executed it all myself. But, I felt nothing. If anything, I felt ghastly hollow inside.

After a short minute, I couldn’t stand it. I dashed out of the suffocating dungeon floor and headed up to the business floor. There, daylight welcomed me.

Just then, I received transmission in my earpiece. Henri spoke, “Kaydence, I’ll be in the fourth conference room for a bit. Arthur called an emergency meeting for that vampire you just caught.”

Ah, I saw this coming. No way Mr. Carrington would go down without a fight when it came to Hazel. I guess he could prevent her execution, but other than that, there was no possible outcome.

Imagine my surprise when everyone was convinced that adding another vampire to our ranks was a good idea.

Not knowing how to act, I remained quiet around the girl to whom I used to tell everything. I only spoke to Alecx as I ate my cereal milk. But Alecx, not sensing the tension, soon included Hazel in the conversation.

“By the way, that looks good,” she suddenly said, pointing at Alecx’s pancakes.

I briefly flashbacked about our time in freshman year of high school. We skipped school and took an hour-long bus ride down to a walking street to a restaurant that offered free sushi burritos for that day. The burrito tasted pretty mediocre, but we had so much fun that day. We only stayed out till eight, but Mr. Carrington got so upset, he grounded Hazel for a week.

Those good times will forever remain in the past now.

“Really? They’re only pancakes and syrup,” Alecx replied. His eyebrows then drooped down. “But I guess something simple like this would taste like paper and glue to you, wouldn’t it?”

Like to any vampire, it would.

“It makes me hungry.”

My head snapped up at Hazel’s offhand comment. Images of monstrous vampires sucking humans dry instantly flashed through my mind. My stomach churned as Alecx suggested for her to request a bag from the blood bank.

“No, I don’t want that. I’ve never had blood before, and I want to keep it that way.”

I immediately asked, “Then, how do you survive the hunger?”

I watched Hazel as she somehow summoned her bag and snatched a packet out of it. It looked like one of those small packs of sugars that a local café provided. My jaw dropped as Hazel poured the condiment into a glass of water, turning it rosy pink and apparently drinkable for her.

I stared at her face as she took a sip of the water. I could tell right away that she didn’t enjoy the taste nor was it equivalent to blood for her. I’d known Hazel almost my entire life. Her face didn’t show many signs of upset, but it always showed signs of glee. And I saw no signs of satisfaction just now.

I’d seen vampires feed. They were hungry for blood. They’d chug an entire bag down within seconds and demand more. She stopped at one or two sips.

“Wow,” I whispered. This simple action of hers just shattered my mental image of a savage vampire that I tried so hard to uphold, especially on the person who had the face of my best friend.

Hazel had a bag full of these packets. She was trying. Was I a bitch for passing judgment too fast?

I still didn’t completely change my mind, but I took some action before I decided against it. I fished out Hazel’s phone from my purse and slid it toward her. At the very least, the authorities have now recognized her as an official vampire hunter. We were of the same rank, and I had no right to confiscate her belongings.

For now, at least, I’d treat her like I always did.

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