I usually have several projects that I’m working on simultaneously. That way when I get stuck on one I can switch to the next.
Dhampyre the Hunter (tentative title) is one I’m trying to write to a schedule. It’s a very modest schedule which should be easy to meet and maybe later as I gain confidence, I’ll increase the pace on this story.
Here’s a little bit from it, basically the first chapter. This is a first draft, so I haven’t cleaned it up as fully as I might, and it’s subject to change as the story evolves, but this is how it starts now.
The chill night air burned in my throat as I ran. Sweat rolled between my breasts. One vampire I could handle. Two, were a challenge, but an acceptable one. Four, however? That was a different story.
I sprinted toward the edge of the roof. Alley. Twenty feet wide. Next building one story lower. I could do it. I had to do it. My left foot hit the low retaining wall at the edge of the roof. I leaped. The sound of traffic from the streets below became louder, unimpeded, as I passed the edge of the wall. I sailed over the alley sixty feet below and cleared the far side by a good six feet.
As I continued to run, I stripped off my jacket leaving me clad only in a sleeveless leotard and jeans. The jacket represented too much weight, too much heat, for my level of exertion. Bye, bye, six hundred dollar leather jacket. I dropped it behind me.
A soft thump to my right indicated one of the vampires landing on the rooftop. A second thump marked another landing nearby.
Where were the other two? That was the problem with vampires. They ran almost soundlessly. Not only did their tread fall lightly even in a sprint, but they made no sound of breathing to alert you.
I shifted to the left. I was being herded. I knew it. But either they had split up or there were more of them. In the latter case I wad dead. But if the four of them had split up, two to herd and two to wait, I had a chance.
Next roof edge coming up. Abutting buildings. This one a two story drop. I kick my feet out in front of me, dropping to the roof into a sliding stop that would have made a major league baseball player proud. I twisted, parallel to the edge of the roof. I rolled off, one hand and one foot hooked over the edge of the roof. I released the foot, hanging down at full extension from one hand, then let go, letting the slight kiss of friction against the wall slow my fall.
I hit, letting my legs flex to drop to a low crouch. Ahead a shadow loomed, silhouetted against the backdrop of the next building.
I reached over my shoulder and pulled a stake from is sheath. I charged. The other charged in return. I drove the stake forward, a specially built stake with a honed steel point backed by a rowan shaft.
The vampire caught my arm and pulled it to the side and up. My left hand fell to my waistband with practiced ease. The vampire pulled my captive arm closer, fangs piercing the inside of my arm, seeking the brachial artery. Pain shot up my arm into my shoulder and side. My left hand wrapped around the hilt of the Kahr K9 in its holster tucked inside my waistband. Silver does little to vampires, but lead and copper do nothing. A little silver solder melted into the cavity of Jacketed Hollow Point bullets made a round that would at least sting. The trade off was that accuracy went to hell.
I fired three rounds at contact range, up and through the torso of the vampire. He jerked away a moment before releasing his grip on me. The movement pulled me off balance. I continued the motion, dropping to one knee. My right arm still burned from the bite. Blood poured from the wounds. I ignored the pain, ignored the blood, and drove forward and up with the stake. It pierced the vampire’s flesh just below the breastbone. I drove in and up, seeking the heart. I felt the point hit the lump of muscle. I twisted, putting all the weight of my body behind the shove. I had to drive the steel through, get wood into the heart.
The vampire shrieked once, a sound abruptly cut off as the stake penetrated. I stood. The entire fight had taken mere seconds but the others would be here soon. I just needed to take the head before…
A heavy weight hit me in the side as another vampire tackled me. My gun went flying. The impact drove me toward the edge of the roof. Toward, and over.
As my head passed the edge of the roof I saw the glaring neon of signs, cars on the street, pedestrians moving purposefully along the sidewalks. Desperation drove my actions. First, I hooked my instep, catching the retaining wall with my foot. This stopped my outward momentum, but did nothing about the pull of gravity. Four stories to the ground. The second vampire, my attacker, released his grip on me and began to fall separately. Freed of that burden, again in desperation I reached back with my right hand to grab a cornice. My fingers closed on it, then pulled free almost immediately. I felt the bone in my little finger pop. The brief grip nevertheless diverted the direction of my fall. I slammed into the side of the building and hit a windowsill which killed a bit more of my speed before I bounced away from the wall again. A glance below showed that I had diverted my path enough.
I had time for two thoughts as I rushed toward the awning that marked the main entrance to the building. How cliché to have an awning break my fall. And this was going to hurt.
Awnings are not trampolines. They are not nets to provide safety for circus acts. They are meant purely to provide a decorative means of keeping rain and snow away from a doorway or window. Punching through it killed some of my speed, as did my collision with the poor sucker who didn’t get out of the way in time. I felt a rib go as I hit the concrete.
All in all, I got off lightly. Even my enhanced constitution might well have not survived the fall.
I staggered to my feet. Too many people around. Where was the vampire?
I saw him. He had grabbed a man by the throat and was holding him aloft in one hand. The vampire gave the man a shake and the man went limp, his neck broken.
Someone screamed. As if that sound was a signal others began screaming and stampeding away from the vampire. He grabbed a young woman before she could flee. Blonde. Bottle according to the dark roots.
“Shit,” I said. I wasn’t supposed to fight vampires in public.
I didn’t have any choice.
I reached over my shoulder, feeling, and found that my second stake was still in its sheath on my back. I pulled it free and took a step forward. Fire in my left ankle. Something else I’d hurt in the fall.
The vampire pulled the woman in front of him. His hand over her mouth stifled her screaming. I took another step forward. The vampire opened his mouth wide, exposing his fangs. I heard shouts behind me.
Great. At least a dozen people were seeing this. I could hope that the reports would be dismissed but too many incidents like this and people would notice.
I took another step. My vision blurred. I glanced down. Blood still pulsed from my arm. A lot of blood. I had to wrap this up quick.
With my next step I sprinted. Okay, it was more of a lumbering run. The vampire clearly saw that I would not be deterred. He bit and tore with his fangs, ripping the woman’s throat out. He hurled the corpse in my direction.
I lunged to the right, ducking the grisly missile. The vampire turned to run. Mistake. I leaped. I wrapped my right arm around its neck. My injured arm had little strength, but it only had to remain in place for a moment. I drove in with the stake, piercing the creature’s heart.
With a short, strangled cry the vampire collapsed to the street and I collapsed on top of him.
I lay on the body for a moment. I let my eyes close, just for a moment. I opened them to an unholy keening and a strange pulsing of blue light. I shook my head and started to struggle to my feet.
I only half understood the word. I turned in the direction of the voice.
“I said ‘Freeze!'”
Oh. My muddled brain finally parsed what ears and eyes were telling me. Sirens, the flashing lights of police cars. An officer stood, pointing a gun at me. Young, barely out of the academy I guessed. I could see terror in his eyes.
I froze. I’ve hunted vampires for years but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more dangerous than a terrified rookie cop.
“Hands on your head,” he said.
“On your knees.”
Again, I complied and used the movement to cast a quick glance at my right arm. Blood still surged from it in time with my pulse.
“Officer,” I said forcing my voice calm.
“Shut up. Just shut up.”
“I’m bleeding out over here, officer,” I said. My vision started to tunnel. “And I think I’m about to pass out.”
I didn’t quite get the word “again” out before blackness swallowed me.
I woke to a high keening sound. This time I had no trouble recognizing the siren of an ambulance. I was strapped to a hard surface. Backboard. A thick cervical collar immobilized my neck. Something squeezed my legs and lower abdomen, an even pressure that ran from my ankles to just above my hips. A mask covered my mouth and nose, with air, no…oxygen, blowing against my lips. An IV fed into my left arm and another into my neck under the cervical collar. I’d lost a lot of blood.
The bouncing of the ambulance told me that we were moving fast.
“Well. You’re back with us.”
A young man leaned over me. The nametag on his blue shirt said “Grant”. A patch on the shoulder carried the logo of what I presumed was an ambulance company.
“We got to you in good time,” the man continued. “You’re going to be all right.”
His words were meant as comfort but I did not need them. Since I was not already dead, I would recover. The word for what I am is Dhampyre, the child of a vampire and a human. Or in my case of two vampires. My kind is rare. The male in a pairing has to be fresh from a heavy feeding in order to be fertile. And when a male vampire impregnates a human female the woman rarely quickens, and even more rarely carries to term. A vampire female can only carry to term if infused daily with enough blood to kill three strong men for the entire gestation. Fail even once and the uterus goes dormant causing a miscarriage.
I am stronger than a normal human, faster, more durable, and I heal better.
“Can you tell me where you’re hurt?” Grant asked.
I drew a deep breath, or started to. The pain in my side reminded me of the rib. So I started there.
“Rib. Right side. Broken I think.” My voice sounded weak, even considering the mask. “Right arm. Stabbed. Twice.” I could not tell him that a vampire had bit me. “Right hand. Broken finger. Heard it…pop. Something…left ankle. Broken? And…lost a lot of blood.”
“Well.” Grant looked at the wiggly trace on a screen. Heart monitor. My heart. “We got most of that. Hang in there, we’ll be at the hospital soon.”
“Guy I…landed on?”
Grant’s expression sobered. “Other team got him. I can’t say more than that.”
I squeezed my eyes tight. People get hurt in my line of work. Innocents. But what should have been a simple takedown of one vampire became an ambush by four with two, maybe three depending on whether the one I hit in my fall survived, dead.
The ride was short but it provided plenty of time for me to imagine what I might have done differently what might have left those three people alive. The options started with letting the vampires have me and went downhill from there.
We arrived at the hospital and I gritted my teeth at the jostling, however slight it was, as the crew unloaded me from the ambulance. Once inside the ambulance crew handed me off to the emergency room staff and then went off to do whatever ambulance crews do between runs. Paperwork would be my guess. That’s the bane of everyone’s existence.
The paperwork on my mission was going to be a nightmare. A fight with a vampire in full view of multiple witnesses. A body with a stake in it and two inch fangs in its mouth. Two bodies if they check the roof and considering how I’d come through that awning, they would.
This was going to be a hard one to keep quiet.
There was a jump in time. It seemed I was still drifting in and out. I must have lost more blood than I thought.
While waiting for someone to take me for additional examination and treatment I ran a more detailed personal inventory. I could not move my head to look so the inventory had to be by feel. The EMTs had apparently cut my shirt off. Strapped to the backboard I should be able to feel my holster against my back. I didn’t. That meant the police probably had it which meant they were looking for my gun.
Yet another reason they would end up on the roof. They would have two vampire bodies to play with. And once somebody had the idea of pulling one of my stakes out? Wouldn’t that be fun.
Life just got better and better.
The doctors and staff in the emergency room were attentive and efficient, I’ll give them that. They had me in the examining room in minutes and connected to various monitors. A nurse drew blood that the fluid they drew was thin, watery liquid, more the stuff from their bags than my own blood was purely my imagination.
I overheard a doctor at the door telling someone I could not answer questions yet. Good. The longer I could put that off, the better. I did not know how Indiana would treat my killing the vampire. After all, the vampire had already killed two people before I staked it.
Some places that would be a clear cut case of defense of self and others. You’d get a “thank you” and be on your way. In others, any killing was prosecuted and you had to prove self-defense in court.
Considering what’s necessary to kill a vampire I really try to avoid having kills come to police attention at all. Look, despite what you see in the movies, a stake through the heart does not kill a vampire. It immobilizes it. Remove the stake and the vampire comes back. How fast depends on how powerful the vampire is. To kill it you have to either burn the body completely to ash. I’ve heard of cases of a few charred bone fragments regenerating. Or you have to remove the head and stuff the mouth with either garlic or communion wafers, then bury head and body separately.
The doctor was asking me something but my head was still not working quite right. I tried to shake my head but the cervical collar prevented my head from moving.
The doctor repeated himself. “You’ve lost a lot of blood. We need your consent for a transfusion.”
I wiggled my fingers. “Can’ sigh’ ‘nyth’ng.”
“Verbal consent will do for now.”
“Yeah. ‘kay. Do ‘t.”
The doctor gave rapid fire instructions. I felt another needle go into my arm and saw a bag of dark red liquid hung above me to the side of my bed. I suppressed a giggle. This time I got to be the vampire.
The doctor leaned over me again. “We want to take you down for an MRI of your head and neck and of your arm. Okay?”
The doctor grinned. “Once we get you out of that collar and off this backboard, we can get you to sign some papers.”
This time I let out the giggle.
“‘lways the pap’rw’rk, eh, doc.”
“Always.” He patted my shoulder. “You hang in there. We’ll get you through this.”
I managed to twist my left hand enough to make a thumbs up gesture.
The doctor gave additional instructions to the attending nurse then swept out of the room, presumably to go deal with other patients. Perhaps he’d have to deal with the poor sucker I’d landed on.
Yes, that bothered me. I really hate it when innocents get hurt. I hate it more when they get hurt because of me.
And on that thought I let unconsciousness take hold of me again.