From a work in progress. Dani Herzeg is a Dhampyre, and also secretly a vampire hunter. Badly injured in a fight with two vampires that was caught on video, she is recovering while secretly working with police detective sergeant James Ware to find and eliminate the vampires. Unfortunately, the prosecutor is holding her gun as “evidence” despite the fact that her actions in the fight were ruled self-defense and since she is outside of her State of residence she can neither buy a new gun or have one of her others shipped to her, not legally. Her boss, Matei, had been remarkably unhelpful in providing support.
The alarm on my phone woke me at six the next morning. When I closed the alarm I saw that I had two texts. The first was from Matei. A simple, “I have considered your problem.” The next was from Ware.
“Something has come up. I’ll meet you at ten thirty.”
I frowned at the phone. I supposed that he had other cases to work.
Since I had no particular hurry I took a long, leisurely shower. Freshly scrubbed, I luxuriated in delighted in kicking the scrubs aside. First clean underwear. A heavenly treat since I’d first woken in the hospital bed. I quickly dressed in a blue-gray skirt and a sky-blue tank top before seating myself in my wheelchair and heading down to breakfast. Same restaurant as the previous night. Coffee and pastries, the other option without leaving the hotel, would be no more satisfying at breakfast than they would have at dinner.
After eating I lingered over coffee while scanning through the news on my phone. The hospital massacre had made national news. The media were calling it a terrorist attack although nobody had claimed responsibility for it.
Terrorism, though, meant Homeland Security would be all over it, making it even harder to do my job.
I switched to local news. Buried deep in one article was that Detective Sergeant James Ware, Indianapolis Police Department, was heading the investigation. Ware? Not Homeland?
I shook my head. Matei had been busy. If he’d been using his power, his influence, to keep the Feds out of my way then maybe prying my gun loose from the prosecutor was a lesser issue after all.
Dammit, I hated it when he was right.
The light on the room phone was blinking when I returned, indicating I had a message. I read the little menu next to the phone before picking it up and dialing the indicated number.
“This is Dani Herzeg.” I gave him my room number. “You have a message?”
“A package was just delivered for you by FedEx, Ms. Herzeg.”
“A package? Does it say from whom?”
“The return address says McIntire Investigations.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose and shook my head. Matei, I thought. What have you done? If you’ve sent me a gun, quite illegally, what exactly am I supposed to do with it?
“Okay, give me a minute and I’ll be…”
“No need to come down, Ms. Herzeg. I’ll have somebody bring it to you.”
“Thank you,” I said.
I hung up. I sat wondering how I was supposed to ensure that Ware never learned I had an illegal gun.
Someone knocked at my door.
“Just a minute,” I shouted.
I hobbled over to the door on crutches and peered through the peephole. A young man stood outside the door wearing a maintenance uniform. I engaged the swing arm security lock and cracked open the door
He held a package in his arms, a cubical box about twelve inches on a side. The label was on the upper surface and I could not read it from that angle.
I chided myself for being paranoid. The truth was, despite my injuries, no lone human was a threat. I closed the door to disengage the lock then opened it.
He started to hand me the box then saw my crutches and stepped inside.
“Where should I put it, ma’am?”
I pointed. “The table is fine.”
He set the package down then backed away.
“Do you have a knife?” I asked.
“A knife,” I said. “The box is taped shut. I don’t have one.”
“Oh, yes ma’am.” He unclipped a small folding knife from his belt and flicked it open. With three deft swipes he cut the tape holding the top of the box closed.
“Thank you,” I said. “I don’t have any cash until I get to an ATM, but maybe I’ll catch you next time.”
“That’s all right, ma’am.”
He backed out the door, closing it before I could hobble over.
I looked at the box. It was too big for a gun. I opened the top flaps. Styrofoam liner inside.
A folded piece of paper sat on top of the styrofoam. I opened it and read.
“Dani, I cannot get your gun for you. You will simply have to resolve that problem on your own. But I need you at one hundred percent. Matei.”
I swore. “Matei, you bastard.”
I opened the foam inner box. Fog spilled out of it. An object wrapped in bubble-wrap filled the upper portion of the inner box. I removed it, exposing the dry ice that filled the bottom portion of the box.
I set the box aside. I had to do something with it soon but it could wait. I picked up the wrapped parcel and looked at it. Taped closed. That figured, I thought. And the young man with the knife was already gone.
Tearing at the package with teeth and fingers eventually got it open. Inside, I saw dark, maroon red. A plastic pint bag of blood. Vampire blood.
Vampires could heal their physical injuries by drinking blood. That’s one thing the stories got right. Most blood does nothing for a Dhampyre except taste nasty. There was, however, one exception. Vampire blood. Matei had sent me a pint of his own blood to speed the healing of my injuries.
I looked at the clock. Nine. I had enough time before Ware arrived. I hated this. I really hated this. But Matei was right. I needed to be fit if I was going to find and kill these vampires.
I stood on my crutches, holding the bag pinched by one corner between my left hand and the handle of the crutch. I went to the bathroom. I did not want to have to explain any spilled blood on the carpet. I could clean the tile in the bathroom if I had to.
The tub, I thought. The handicapped seat. I disrobed. I climbed into the tub and set the crutches aside. I held the bag in front of me for a moment, steeling myself. I gripped the fitting to which a transfusion tube would normally be attached with my teeth. I pulled.
The plastic tore just behind the fitting. A few spoonfulls of blood squirted out of the bottle, hitting me in the cheek, falling on my thigh, and spilling onto the bottom of the tub. I wrapped my lips around the torn opening and sucked, squeezing the bag to flood my mouth with blood. I swallowed. Again.
Pain flared through my body. My ankle flamed. My right hand and side felt like iron spikes were being driven into them. Then I convulsed as the rest of the pain hit. I clamped my jaw on the scream that tried to force its way out of my throat turning it into a strangled grunt.
As my body writhed, I fell off the seat and into the floor of the tub, where I lay twisting, convulsing, as vampire blood burned its way through my body.
I came to myself an eternity of agony later. I had slid down into the bottom of the tub. I sat up and pulled myself up onto the seat. Aside from the hollow in my belly, I was pain free for the first time since the vampire’s charge had shoved me off the roof.
I picked up the plastic bottle and dropped it into the bathroom trash can. I’d have to dispose of it properly later. Spatters of blood dotted my body. more spatters marked the interior of the tub. I’d managed to get about half the pint in me and not spilled.
I stood and gingerly put weight on my left foot. No pain. I tensed my hand inside the cast on the right. Again, no pain. The blood treatment had worked.
I turned on the shower spray. Before stepping out of the tub and maybe tracking blood elsewhere, I needed to wash off. A quick shower later, blood washed off my body out of the tub, I stepped out and checked my phone. Just after ten. Ware would be here soon.
I punched in his number. He answered on the second ring.
“Detective Sergeant Ware.”
“It’s Herzeg.” I held up my left hand in its cast to look at it. “When you come to get me, could you bring a set of tin snips or other heavy shears?”
It would be good to walk without the cast any more.