The world post world war had left massive fallout zones and had created unexpected jobs for the needy, brave and or stupid. Depending on what zone the dangers inside vary with radiation being the least of a trespassers worry. Radiation had caused the humans in the zone to wonder and attack mindlessly. For whatever reasons the lycans within the zones had died off.
The worst was the vampires that had gotten stuck within the zones. Multiple different mutations of fall out vampires had been noted seeming to differ in each zone that housed them. Majority had been like humans mindless and starving but with more strength. Recently my fellow Dealers have been whispering rumors about the most notorious of fall out zones.
Blood Keep. Rumors that suggested the vampires within that zone had shown signs of even above average intelligence. Many dealers had taken heed and left their current posts seeking fame and wealth at Hell’s Gate. Hell’s Gate was a remote kingdom deep in Russia that was the only civilization that bordered Blood Keep.
Only a few of my comrades that I had actually befriended left. I was grateful the majority of my makeshift family remained intact. After all with everyone else fucking off to there deaths work in every other zones would be booming. We are currently maning the front lines in India one in a zone called Purgatory.
This place was a humid waste land completely infested with dead heads (fall out humans). The populations had been huge before the war which apparently meant a never ending sea of these fuckers. They are easy kills but are deadly in hordes.
I sat perched atop an RV we staked as camp for the night. Eyeballing my scope continuously until early morning hours when Lilith had come to relieve me to take her own shift.
“ Dad is talking about taking a job back home. You gonna be cool with that D? I mean going back there? The jobs good and lord know we all want the fuck out of this hell whole.” Lilith looked so out of place in the dealers world she was feminine down to her toe nails. Appearance wise At Least. If I hadn’t grown up with her and trained then fought beside her I would never be able to take her seriously.
Ice queen is what we called her. She had flawless platinum blonde hair and eyes the color of ocean ice. Her build was lean taller than myself with just the smallest of curves. She hadn’t gotten her name from appearances though no she got it from the icy purposeful demeanor she adopted whenever shit got real.
I regarded her momentarily. I missed the zone back home that place was like my backyard. But I did not miss the people I shared blood with. I wouldn't have to see them. I could lay low while in town and pray my presence goes unnoticed. “Marcus is the boss I roll out with you guys thick or thin you know that. Plus I don’t have to be anywhere outside the zone until the job is done so I’m not worried.”
Lilith looked relieved. I couldn’t blame her because we hadn’t taken a job back home since we departed from there two years ago. With the way I left I wouldn’t have expected me to go back either. Marcus was a father to me always had been more so than my own father the last four years. He taught me everything I know like I was his own. Treated me as an equal to his daughter too . Yeah these people I would go to war for.
I hand off my lookout rifle to Lilith just before jumping down from utop the RV. Inside Marcus immediately looks at me wanting an answer if we are going home or not. I knew if I said no we wouldn’t. They would no more desert me then I them. “You two shouldn’t half to even question it if the assignment is good of course I’m down. Plus I miss our home turf the same as y’all.”
Marcus smiles and nods “Aye child I suppose we shouldn’t have doubted The Dauntless one. Huh?” He chuckles showcasing the laugh and worry lines his age has earned him. “Nah, old man you shouldn’t have” I snark back. Marcus runs his calloused hands threw his thinning orange hair and draws his grey bushing eyebrows together in worry.
“No way to keep our presence a secret though I’m afraid. Local dealers will be privy to our arrival before we even do. Your dad owns the sex trade bound to be Dealers looking to exchange info for favors I’m sure. Unfortunately the brotherhood doesn't mean shit to everyone like it does us.”
I nod “I figured, I’ll worry about that bridge when it’s time to cross it I suppose. I’m good for down time yeah?” He nods towards the bedroom. Finally it’s my turn to sleep. This zone was like the energizer bunny. It just keeps going and going. Resulting in me having been up well past 48hrs I had to go to the bathroom first. Of course we had no running water but I needed to look at myself and collect my thoughts to keep my shit in check.
I didn’t look as much like road kill as I would have expected. I had my waist length hair in a high ponytail. My green eyes reminded me of evergreens completely framed in thick long lashes. My eyes gave me a very deceiving innocent look. I suppose not entirely deceiving. I had been tempted to part with my virginity many times but my father's life long lecture about a women’s honor always killed my vibe. My sister had carelessly given hers up before my father had been able to marry her off and that resulted in the events that caused her death.
At the thought of Elise I could feel her cold dead embrace around me like it was just yesterday. I wish I could remember her laughs or her smile instead of the coldness of her embrace and white filmed over eyes. I would be sure to visit the garden. I was ashamed that I didn’t go back all this time to visit their graves.
Two weeks later:
We have finally arrived “home”. Marcus still owns his house here so we would take a couple days to collect our bearings and make a mission plan. True to what Markus had said when we pulled to his driveway the entire local brotherhood was here to celebrate our return home. The first familiar face I saw was Reaper. Lilith's older brother and Marcus’s eldest child. God damn he had filled out to be one hell of an intimidating man. He was a solo Dealer which is why he hadn’t left with us two years ago. He must have been around and heard we not only came back to the continent but back home. Damn right he would make sure to be at our side. I couldn’t help but smile feeling my childhood crush come back to life.
Soon he was surrounded by joyful faces of other dealers that had come to party to our arrival. Soon after pleasantries the party was in full swing. Reap kept eyeballing me with concern. I had sat back just outside of the now full rager and was just mindlessly observing the men. Lilith has retired to her room already. Normally she and I would be the life of the party being the only two female death dealers brought a lot of male attention. But being on home turf had major disadvantages for both of us. Being afraid of my father they wouldn’t approach me and having too much respect for Marcus they wouldn’t go for Lilith either.
I was nursing my tenth beer by the time Reap decided to approach me.
“Your dad was tipped off about a week ago and has been up everyone’s ass. Needs to talk to you says it’s urgent. I got him to back off for the night but tomorrow I’m sure he’ll be showing up.” I sighed “damn nothing kills an I might fuck you vibe like bringing up my dad” I laugh letting him think I’m entirely joking. “You good enough to give me a lift to my dad’s? I’d rather get this shit over with on my terms. Ketch him off guard you know? Plus toasted is my only bet at keeping my cool in that house.”
While he seemed extremely surprised he nodded “yeah I’m good enough to give you a lift” .
It took all of ten minutes to arrive at my childhood home. Instantly lights in the house came on. So much for surprise I guess. Not giving myself time to reconsider my choice I get out and stalk over to the house. Just as I’m about to knock the door flies open and my mother is embracing my like and octopus. “Oh baby!!!! Is it really you!!?! Oh my god my baby!!!!” She pushes me back double taking my face as if reassuring herself it’s me. “Yeah Ma, it’s me I’m here. Dad needed to speak to me? Heard he has been raising hell.” I try to keep the conversation light. My mom has always favored my sister but that didn’t mean she didn’t love me or wasn’t the best mom she could be to me.
“Oh what for!? He knew you was coming home and he didn’t tell me… I baby why? Why did you stay gone for so long promise you won’t again? Whatever he did please don’t push me away for it to your all I got left. All I got left baby!” My mother was an absolute blubbering mess. I could feel my own tears streaming down my face never in my wildest dreams did I think I was this important to her. But what else had me crying was the state of my mother. She was only about ninety pounds just skin and bones. Her eyes are sunken in. She use to be the human version of sunshine and now she looked like she had both feet in the grave. Her teeth had gone to shit probably from malnourishment. I knew deep down after Elise that she would waste away. It was a big reason I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t bear to watch her go.
“Your father is out in his garage. He lives there now. Only see him when he needs something. Whatever happens please promise to come back and visit your old Ma!?” I embrace her. “Yeah Ma I promise.” I kiss her temple and walk to the barn banging on the door.
“What the fuck is so important Elizabeth! You..” he stops mid bitching when he realizes I’m not mom. “Dollia?, I wasn’t expecting you to come see me tonight sorry come, come in.” He turns to the side letting me past him. “Heard you been raising hell with the dealers over talking to me. What’s up?”
My father looks the same. His black hair is just more pepper than black. He gestures to me to sit and reluctantly I do. Grabbing a bottle of his fine bourbon he pours us both a healthy amount. “It’s been two years Dollia most of that time nobody could get me any information not even if you were alive or not. We’ve always been close and then you just up and leave and I learn about this second life you had. Your mom has just been wasting away and can't get her to eat anything. She just has a liquid diet these days blamed me for Elise and you leaving. You go see her yet? I don’t know what to do about her hun. She ain’t gonna be around much longer living like she is.” He seems genuine in his concern.
This was the first time since everything that I had been face to face with my father. Taking out my wallet I grab the two year old note from the pocket it’s been in since and slap it on the table in front of my dad. He eyes me curious but grabs it and begins to read.
“My beloved sister I’m sorry, I’m sorry you will wake up with my corpse snuggled up to you. It’s just in these final moment I don’t want to be alone and you’ve always been the strong one. I want to go feeling safe and loved. Next to you. I want you to know the truth. Please don’t let mom find out what this letter initials will destroy her.
Our father betrayed me tonight. He sold me to that war buddy of his to rape he even held me down so he could do it. They took everything Dollia. Everything. I lost my baby. She is in a shoe box under our sink please take her to that place you are always telling me about. The one where the beautiful things rule. I know it’s not fair to ask of you but I know you will.
Run Dollia. Run. Leave this place and don’t come back father isn’t who we thought he was. I think he plans to marry you off to that man. He kept saying I was the “sample product” please Dollia live for me and your niece. Live because we couldn’t. Live in spite of that monster that calls himself our father
Love always Elise.”
By the time my father is done reading his head is hung in shame and his frame is shaking with what I thought was sorrow but when he meets my eyes I see that it’s rage. “You’ve never been a fool. You’ve always known what I do. I run the brothels. I thought by letting him go at her she would sharpen up. Stop sleeping with any boy that would give her the time of day. It was a punishment. I had no idea she was pregnant. It wouldn’t have changed my decision though. A bastard would have brought shame. More so then she already brought. She was meant to marry him. I agreed on the arrangement of uniting our houses way back but it still is beneficial Dollia. More so now than ever. Your sister fucked you more then she did my name. If she had just kept her legs closed. None of this would have happened. She would have been set for life and you would have had your freedom.” He speaks with clenched teeth.
“So what do you actually need to speak to me about?” Thank god I had ingested as much alcohol as I had before coming here. Calm and collected was me everywhere but with my family. The alcohol numbed me to my father's words and demeanor.
“The arrangement still stands Dollia. Stephan still wants our houses to unite. He has been up my ass about your hand in marriage. It’s a blood oath I’m sorry but you know backing out would mean retaliation. I couldn’t if I wanted to because he has grown even more in status and power these last two years. He was even turned. I swear to you I gave you as much time to be free as I could.”
He is being sincere. That’s what kills me. My father and I used to be as thick as thieves. Elise was mom’s favorite and I had always been my father’s. I knew he had indeed postponed as long as he could. I wanted to hate him. I hated him for two years. That was a huge reason I never came home. Deep down I knew I couldn’t hate him while I was around him.
“ he waited for your sister to come of age for so long. I think he almost took her regardless of her being impure but he saw you sneaking home one night and there was no diverting his attention. He was completely enthralled with my illusive daughter. I sacrificed her hoping he would decide to keep her. I’m so sorry Dollia. He isn’t that bad. He is a man of honor too. I believe we could bargain with him so that you’d have some freedom. Be able to keep Dealing perhaps and you would have access to the most desired zone.”
“What?” I can’t make sense of his ramblings.
“ Stephan Drogo, is now vampire, Lord Stephan of Hell’s gate”
My mouth hangs agape. Vampires rarely ever turned anyone much less appointed them such status. To go from a human Sir to a vampire Lord was unheard of.
“What does he know of me?”
“Not much he knows you are a tomboy and love adventuring. Learning about weapons and history. He doesn't know that you’ve been MIA for two years or that you're a death dealer although he might have heard of Dauntless the female death dealer. I heard of you long before I knew it was you. I’m proud of you that might not mean much to you but I want you to know that I am. He also knows that you’re eighteen now and legal here although you had been legal in his region since you were sixteen. He was nice enough to give you two more years. I received a letter three weeks back informing me he would be personally coming to meet you finally.”
“I am equipped to handle basically everything I am not equipped to handle this! What if I had come back not a virgin and married or some shit!?”
My fathers face comically pales “are you trying to tell me your married and… not intact.. Sweety I don’t know what he will do if…” he is afraid I realize.
“Relax I haven’t had sex and I’m certainly not married. If he is such a good friend why are you afraid?”
“He is known for his wrath Dollia and he has not turned his sights from you. I never knew him to be an obsessive man but whatever he saw you doing that night changed that.”
“ I gotta go sad Reaper is still waiting in the car to take me back I’ll ah stop by tomorrow. I need to just absorb all this and go to bed let Ma know I’ll be back tomorrow and tell her about what’s going on so we don’t have some sort of fiasco. More so than we already do At Least”
I give my father a hug and leave quickly. I couldn’t talk or make eye contact with reaper the entire way home. He seemed to accept my silence and gave me my space never questioning me not even when we got back and I went straight to bed.
That night I relived everything in my dreams.