Chanda dashed around the corner of the school just as the vrykolakas swiped at her shoulder. Hissing, she picked up speed, running into the backfield past the open fence, not daring to stop and look back to see if her pursuer was hot on her heels. It probably was. She was thankful vrykolakas weren’t of the winged variety.
The moment she saw a long pale arm stretch out to her right, she fell forward and tucked herself into a ball, tripping the vampire who went flying over her and onto its back. She got up immediately, and cocked her pistol, firing at the creature’s knees. It cracked out a vicious growl but limped back up onto its feet with ease. She took aim at its shoulders this time, nailing it on either side, which had it curling back in on itself. It may not kill, but bullets sure stung.
With a wild animal cry, the vrykolakas threw itself at Chanda, claws out first, but she reacted to its movements, slowed down by the wounds she’d already inflicted, grabbing at its wrist and twisting it, elbowing it in the chest with sharply. But the vampire’s mental response hadn’t become sluggish and it whipped out to dig its needle-like nails into Chanda’s arm, keeping her elbow sunk into its brittle chest. She gritted her teeth and tried to loosen itself from the grip but the vrykolakas only spat a loud growl into her face before flipping her onto her back. Immediately, Chanda raised an arm to cage the creature’s free hand and keep it’s fangs from coming any closer to her. In response, it dug its nails even further into her other arm.
Just as she felt her defenses weakening against the stronger force of the supernatural monster, the glint of a setting sun off a cleaver knife blinded her before it was brought down, slicing right through the vrykolakas’ neck cleanly. The monster’s head dropped onto Chanda’s face and bounced off to the side as the rest of the body sagged onto her.
Chanda heaved the body off her with a disgusted grunt, wiping the blood that had spluttered over her.
“I’m going to throw up,” she finally said, gagging for dramatic emphasis.
“That’s 24 to 22, Bullet. Better pick up the pace or I’ll be leaving you in the dust...again!”
Chanda’s partner Yahui Bai said with a wide grin stretched across her face.
“If you’d given me a few more minutes, that would have been my kill,” Chanda huffed, accepting Yahui’s hand for help up onto her feet.
“Oh yeah, you looked like you were really managing to get your face torn off,” Yahui shook her head. “Would be a shame since it’s all you’ve got going for you.”
Chanda bumped her friend’s hip with her own. All of Yahui’s flatteries were as double-edged as her swords.
Yahui raked her eyes over her victim. “Let’s burn this bitch and go home already.”
Chanda couldn’t agree more. As her partner watched the body, Chanda limped her way back to their van, parked across the street from the front of the school they’d been called to, and pulled out a flamethrower from the back along with two goggles and a pair of flame-resistant gloves. She limped back to where the two parts of the vampire were still where she left them, separated by a couple feet.
“Should we really do the scorching here without a pyre?” Yahui asked, raising a perfectly accentuated eyebrow, her cleaver tucked back into its sheath at her waist. Parts of her clothing were ripped where the vrykolakas had nicked her before Chanda had gotten its attention.
“They can replace the grass; they’re already paying for the damage inside the school. But I don’t want to risk waiting to build a pyre here or packing and moving the body. We’ve had enough surprises for today, thank you very much. Sheesh, whatever happened to vrykolakas’ being asleep on Saturdays?”
“Guess this one’s one of those hipster vampires that never sleep and only get their blood from whole grain-fed, organic sources and wear ugly cosby sweaters made out of the entrails of their victims.”
“Thanks for that visual,” Chanda rolled her eyes and handed over the flamethrower set up. “My arm’s busted. You’ll have to do the scorching.”
Yahui accepted the goggles and set up from Chanda who stepped back behind her partner. The two slid the goggles over their faces and Chanda wiped some more blood from her cheek as Yahui slipped on the gloves and pulling the trigger. Flames erupted from the handle and doused the grisly corpse with a bright yellow and orange blaze. After a few more seconds, Yahui let go of the trigger, being careful not to get close to the nozzle as it cooled off. Where the vampire’s body and head had been was a pile of black and grey ash over a blistered ground.
“It smelt better alive,” Yahui’s nose crinkled as she pulled off her goggles.
“You go get a pouch for the ashes, and I’ll check up on our client,” Chanda said, sliding her own goggles off.
An expression Chanda was used to seeing set onto Yahui’s face and before the cleaver-wielding hunter could say anything, she interrupted her. “I did it last time, you big baby! I get to handle the living now.”
Yahui puffed out loud and looked like she was debating on whether to argue anyways but nodded in the end and the two started to make their way back down the field. Chanda took the short concrete stairs up to the front of the school and walked through the giant hole in the doors carefully to avoid splinters. The foyer of the school was wide with one hallway across from her and another to her right. The office’s doors to her left were now a pile of shattered glass.
Chanda walked all the way down the right hallway and pried open the last door with her good arm, wincing at her injuries. She descended the rusted iron stairs to the basement of the building which was lit by a few jaundiced lights pressed against the walls.
“It’s me. It’s all good; we got the thing!” Chanda whispered as she kept inched across the room. From within a darkened corner emerged the stocky secretary, shivering. She was still clutching her injured forearm, wrapped in a piece of linen Chanda had on her when she and Yahui had found the women huddled in the corner in an upstairs bathroom, hiding from the vrykolakas that had burst into the school and prowled the halls just about an hour ago.
“You’re hurt,” the woman--Jocelyne, Chanda had found out--said, biting her lips nervously. Strings of bright curly red hair slipping out of her tight bun stuck to her forehead and sideburns.
Chanda looked down at herself. She was a real mess, blood and sweat soaking the shirt clinging tightly to her body and open wounds crusted with dirt and debris. Plus her own injured arm was tightening painfully, and she kept applying pressure to it with an open palm. “Honestly, it looks worse than it really is,” she said with a shaky smile.
Jocelyne nodded. She still looked like she was in shock, the vacant look on her face unmoved since Chanda had found her. “Thank you.”
“S’our job,” Chanda said, shrugging and instantly regretting that movement as it sent another bolt of pain down her arm. “Ah, but let’s get out of here. I hate boiler rooms!”
As she began to turn for the stairway, Chanda felt a weight suddenly push her to the ground. She landed hard on her damaged arm and cried out, but lost the breath in her throat when knees pressed down on her abdomen. Looking up, she came face to face with Jocelyn’s empty stare, blue eyes piercing her to the ground. One of Jocelyn’s hands shot out and pressed into Chanda’s wound, and the hunter cried out again, tears springing up.
“Jo--” she tried to begin but Jocelyn pressed herself further down. Chanda was by no stretch of the imagination a lithe person; she was bulky and heavily muscled from years working in the field. Jocelyn looked like she weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, and yet she felt like a tremendous boulder that couldn’t be tilted off.
“Shame. The vrykolakas should have gotten you. I suppose you can’t trust a vampire.” The smallest of smiles finally emerged on the woman’s face but no other part of her face moved.
Chanda tried to wriggle her other arm free to reach her pistol but Jocelyn pinned that arm with her other hand, pressing again into Chanda’s wound. This time the hunter swallowed her cry and locked eyes with the woman hovering above her, her mouth a straight line.
“That’s fine,” Jocelyn said, her voice as monotone as her expression. Chanda then saw the knife hovering over Jocelyn’s shoulder and gliding towards her, blade end pointed down. Without another moment’s hesitation, the knife launched down, piercing the area just above Chanda’s right breast. The hunter cried out this time, wiggling with all her might underneath her attacker. “Now you look as worse as it is.”
But Chanda didn’t listen, opting to instead fling her upper body up as hard as she could and headbutt Jocelyn’s chin. The woman dodged the attack but it was enough to loosen her grip slightly, which Chanda used to free her good arm and swing it against the side of Jocelyn’s head. Once the woman was fully off her, Chanda scrambled up, adrenaline coursing through her veins and numbing the pain. She found Jocelyn already standing up straight, staring at her blankly.
“We should have gotten rid of you two along with your parents. What a pain.” The small smile disappeared. “But I do hope to see what all your fighting will amount to...in the end.”
Chanda watched as a cloud of smoke enveloped the woman, dissipating a moment later.
Not wasting another moment, Chanda raced back up the stairs and out the front doors, terrified that Jocelyn would attack Yahui. Instead she found her friend, round pack in her hand, already making her way from the field to the van. When she spotted Chanda, she dropped the bag of ashes and ran towards her, eyes wide and terrified.
“What the hell happened?! Don’t tell me there’s another one of those things in there!”
Upon seeing her friend unharmed, Chanda felt the pain from her wounds wash over her and her vision blurred as the world tilted, but Yahui made it to her in time to stop her from falling onto the stone walkway.
She hears her partner’s shrieks grow most distant before blacking out.
When she opens her eyes, all she sees is white textured ceiling tiles, yellowed slightly with age, and hears a soft beeping sound from a distance. A sterilized scent wafts into her nose and she feels her stomach churn. She absolutely hated the smell of hospitals or any medical clinic, really.
Her chest felt heavier than usual and when she looked down as best as she could, she saw that porcelain white bandages were looped around the area where she’d been stabbed. She ached all over and the hum of pain still strung along her body, but whatever painkillers she was being given through the IV in her arms was doing its job.
Chanda looked to her right to see her twin sister Ila staring down at her with a soft expression. Her glasses were perched on the bridge of her nose which meant that she’d just been reading something and her thick brown hair was twisted back into a ponytail. Chanda turned her head slowly to the left and squinted at the window which was only letting in small streams of golden light from outside.
“Not much of a morning person. You know that.”
Fingers pressed lightly onto Chanda’s forehead and grazed her short cropped hair. She closed her eyes and sighed happily at the massage, pressing her cheek to the hand.
“How are you feeling?”
“Crappy. Like my body’s gained 200 extra pounds.”
“Well, that’s what happens when you let yourself get stabbed by a vampire.”
Chanda opened her eyes to look up and stuck her tongue out at her sister. Her grin faltered, though, as she remembered the events that led her to where she was.
“How long have I been out?”
“A couple of days. They just took off your oxygen mask about an hour ago.”
So that explained why breathing was a little difficult. “I sure do bounce back fast.”
Ila chuckled, a raspy sound so achingly familiar to Chanda. “I’m sure every target that’s gotten away from you understands how frustrating that is.”
A comfortable silence fell over the room as Chanda felt herself drifting to sleep by Ila’s strokes.
“It wasn’t the vampire that got me,” she finally said, meeting Ila’s eyes. Her sister didn’t stop what she was doing but she did look more intent now. “It was the person who called us to the school in the first place. Jocelyn-something.”
Ila nodded. “We figured as much. After Yahui bandaged you up as best as she could and called the ambulance, she went back into the building but couldn’t find the caller anywhere.”
Chanda closed her eyes. “Guess we’re not getting paid this time, huh?”
“Turns out the school never hired a Jocelyn, so we can’t even track her down,” Ila said, her tone hosting her deeply seated frustration. “Did she say anything to you, Chanda?”
Chanda opened her eyes again to watch her sister’s lips tighten into a thin line. “She said they should have killed us like they killed ammaa and baba.”
Ila’s hand stilled on Chanda’s forehead and her expression darkened. “Kin.”
Ila leaned down and kissed her sister’s forehead before gently hugging her. “Chanda...”
Chanda swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’m still not strong enough to take them on, sis.”
“That’s why you’re not taking them on alone,” Ila’s hot breath ghosted along Chanda’s neck. She straightened up but the dark look on her face hadn’t lessened. “Go to sleep, bahan. Let me handle this for now.”
Chanda hadn’t the strength to deny her sister, and instead rode the wave of painkillers into a deep slumber.
Author’s Note: Hello! Welcome to ‘The Grimm Guild’! Thank you for choosing to read my story. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Please leave any comments and critiques you may have for me. I’m very excited for you to share your thoughts!