Hunter’s Base, Manhattan.
Me and my new friend, John, arrive back at the church at midnight, both of us are slightly drunk.
“Where have you two been?” Father Broan demands, looking us up and down in disgust, “Are you drunk?”
“Only a little,” John laughs, “We went for a little drink at a bar.”
“I can smell the sex and alcohol from here,” Father Broan says, taking a step back, “You were at the brothel.”
“Give the man a prize!” John laughs, clapping his hands together.
“Good work detective,” I smile, joining in on the Australian’s sass fest as we walk into the church, “We were scoping out the place, coming up with a plan to get the information we need. While you were here, praying.”
“Well, if you were here you would have known that the two children that the vampires took have been killed,” Father Broan says as we walk down to the hunter base, “And they have killed another woman, a mother of one of the missing children.”
“Then I suggest we make a move,” I say, my face darkening as I begin to sober.
“No,” James growls, “We need a tactic, I am the head hunter here, and what I say goes. You two will do as you are told. Go back to your rooms, if I hear either of you pulling a stunt like this again, I will send you back from where you came from, do you understand me?!”
“Yes, sir,” John says, mock saluting the priest, James looks to me expectantly.
“Go fuck yourself,” I say, turning around and walking back to my room. I slam the door and Max looks up to me.
"You shut up," I say to the dog who looks at me with a cocked head of judgement.
In the morning, I awaken with a slight headache and a foul taste in my mouth. I shower and brush my teeth, as I get dressed Rose barges into the room.
“Don’t you knock?” I glower at her as I pull on my shirt.
“I do,” she smiles, shrugging her shoulders, “But if I did then I would not get to see the view. You look amazing.”
“You are perverted,” I say.
“I’m also your new partner,” she smiles, bouncing on the balls of her feet. I curse in Romanian.
“No offence, but I do not want you, or anyone else for that matter, as a partner,” I say, glaring at Max who huffs as if he is offended.
“Why?” she scoffs, ceasing her bouncing, “Because I am a woman?”
“No,” I argue, trying to keep my eyes from rolling back in my head, “Because I don’t need a partner, you won’t be able to keep up with me.”
“Wow, way to toot your ego horn,” she scoffs, “For your information, I can keep up with you. I have killed four vampires in the past three months alone.”
“You haven’t killed a damn thing,” I growl, “You are too cheery to have even seen death.”
“Wrong,” she laughs, “I am cheery because I don’t give a damn about the ones that I have killed or the ones that they have killed. I like killing vampires, it’s my job and they deserve to die. They aren’t who they were, they are monsters and I don’t pity them. Now if you don’t mind, we are late for a meeting.”
Rose escorts me to the meeting room and as we enter, James pins him me a glare.
“Keep looking at me like that and your eyes will fall out,” I say, taking a seat and putting my feet up on the table. Max lays beside my chair, even though I insult him, he still remains faithful.
John takes a seat next to me and Father Broan begins.
“We are all aware of the murders that occurred last night,” Father Broan says, “The body of the two children taken were found in the middle of the street, next to the body of one Emilia Black, the mother of Rowaelin Black, a whore in the mistress’s brothel. We need to get eyes into the building, find a weakness and take it down. Any ideas?”
“It is going to be hard Father,” one of the hunters admits, “No one can set a foot in there without being killed. It will take a while to even come up with a plan.”
“We got in pretty fine last night,” John says, looking to me, “The bloody fangs didn’t even find us, neither did the victims.”
“A lucky break,” Rose scoffs, “Try it again and you’ll find yourselves dead.”
I roll my eyes and suppress the urge to curse. The hunters continue to chatter and the conversation steers off of the rescue mission and somehow ends up on the topic of a ‘Sweet Sixteenth’. I stand to my feet and leave the room without a word. James try to call me back but I ignore him as I go to his room, I slam the door behind him.
My opinion still hasn’t changed, I believe that the hunter society is foolish to continue funding this base. I call Stella.
“I cannot work for them anymore,” I say when Stella answers, “They are a waste of potential.”
I explain what has happened.
“Adrian,” Stella says with a hard tone in her voice, “You are there on my orders, you are my responsibility and you answer to me, so do what you must. You are there to help, if they don’t appreciate your help then you do what you can to rescue the innocents. I will deal with the repercussions.”
“Thank you,” I smile, we say goodbye and then hang up the phone, and I look to Max, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”
I grab Max’s leash and clip it to his collar, I then walk out of the church with Max and walk to the closest park.
I sit down on a bench and recall the events of last night. I remember all of the faces that I saw, the girls and the boys, the victims and the vampires.
I remember the girl with the black hair who served us the drinks, her voice was soft and her skin was softer. But I could see beneath the makeup and the false smile. Her eyes were haunted and scared, she tried not to show it, but she couldn’t hide her fear from me. I cannot place her face with any of the missing children, which I find odd, all of the others I recognised instantly. The brunette who danced on stage was the girl who went missing in two thousand and nine, her name is Kelly.
Max barks and breaks me out of my thoughts, I look to where the Max is looking and finds a man standing in the shadows; dressed in long, heavy clothes. The man stares right at me and smiles and even from this distance, I can see the blood-red glow of his eyes.
“Vampire,” I breathe, grabbing Max’s collar, ready to unleash the dog who is waiting eagerly for my command. Vampires cannot stand in the sun for too long, if they stand directly in sunlight they will begin to burn, in the shade they are protected, but as the day progresses they lose power, they are not as strong during the day as they are at night. I have the ball in my court.
The vampire raises his head and smiles, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end, then in the blink of an eye, the vampire vanishes. Max’s ears perk and he looks around in confusion. I stand and walk over to where the vampire stood. Max places his nose to the ground, he whines and huffs and then whines some more, he cannot find a trail.
I stand confused, the vampire shouldn’t have been able to move as fast as he did, it is physically impossible. Max continues to whine and look around for a trail.
“It’s okay,” I say, petting the dogs back, “Let’s go back.”
That night, ten minutes after lights out, I get out of bed and get dressed. I pull out a small black bag and inside is a kit. I take a deep breath before glueing false fangs to my canine teeth, I pale my face with powder and then dress in a black dress shirt and black pants. Lastly, I put red contacts into my eyes before leaving the room.
Max whines and tries to follow me.
“You have to stay,” I say, Max whines softly but walks back to his bed and then lays down as I shut the door.
I sneak out and then go to the club, this time entering from the back where a line of other vampires are waiting to enter.
“ID?” the vampire at the door asks, I pull my lips back and show my ‘fangs’.
The vampire smiles and lets me enter, I walk into the darkroom and my eyes adjust to the strobe lights that flash around.
“Welcome,” a vampire says, appearing in front of me, “I have never seen your fangs around before.”
“I’ve come from Rome,” I say, thinking on his feet, “My name is Andre Brunt.”
I use the name of the vampire I have recently killed, hoping that no one has noticed him missing.
“Misère Burnt,” the vampire says, bowing his head, “My name is Zakai, I welcome you; I’ve heard good things.”
“I’m sure you have,” I say, looking bored, “I need a room for the day.”
“Of course,” Zakai smiles, bowing low to him, “Anything else?”
“A girl,” I say, looking around the club, “Her.”
I point to the girl with black hair that served me last night.
“As you wish,” Zakai says, he snaps his fingers and one of the male victims walks up to me, “Mr Brunt, this is Tasty, he will show you to your room.”
‘Tasty’ leads me down the long halls and then down to a basement level that hides fifteen rooms.
“Mystic Blood will be with you in a moment,” Tasty says, keeping his eyes on the ground, “Zakai will get her cleaned up and ready for you.”
“Pray that he does not keep me waiting,” I threaten, pinning my eyes on the boy who fidgets under my gaze.
“Yes, sir,” the boy stutters, leaving the room and closing the door behind him.
I look around the room and find a camera attached to the ceiling, it points directly to the bed and has a very small blind spot.
I frown as I subtly walk around the room, surveying his surroundings. The room is a generous size with a queen-sized bed and a small coffee table and couch opposite it. On the coffee table is two glasses and a cheap whisky bottle, the room is light-tight, which means no windows, just how vampires like it. It also means that there is no convenient escape.
The door opens again and I turn as the black-haired girl is escorted in by Zakai.