The Monster Hunter's Daughter: Scene I

Scene I



The waxing moon was bright and nearly full over the fog-laden streets of New Tamsbridge.  It was the middle of October, and the wet chill hanging in the air like the freezing breath of winter kept the streets eerily quiet. When the metal door opened, the din of the industrial club inside seemed hugely loud and alien, and when it clanged shut the sound echoed down the streets like rolling thunder. At the corner of the alley, a black-clad woman smiled to herself.  She had been waiting.  She strained her ears, and she heard it, barely: the quietest gasp of feigned passion. Her smile grew, and slowly drew her dagger out from its sheath hidden at the small of her back, hidden underneath her designer leather jacket. I’d prefer a gun for a serpent in a back alley, but bloody things haven’t arrived yet. The knife will do for now.   Besides, if I’m lucky, it will be otherwise engaged. She slipped out of her stilettos, pushing them into the shadows under a fire escape, and turned the corner to quietly creep into the alley.

She was right.  There it was, pressing a woman against the grey brick and mortar wall of an ancient warehouse.  The woman’s hands were laced around the back of his head, red painted fingernails playing with the thing’s spiky black hair, and it was putting its mouth on her neck.

“Not today, fanger,” she muttered, stepped clear to the middle of the alley, and threw the dagger. The blade struck her target between the shoulder blades. It screamed, its strangely human cry piercing and poignant in the foggy alley.

Blood spouted, a crimson fountain in a world of grey.  The woman, typical goth-pale, looked terrified and seemed about to shout for help.  Rebekah held a finger to her lips to silence her, and knelt down beside her fallen target.  It was still bleeding.  A confused look crossed Rebekah’s face as she studied its shallow breathing.  Her blood went cold as she realized her mistake, and she threw herself sideways just in time to escape the woman’s lunge.

The woman lunged for her again, its fangs bared, and Rebekah fell backward, kicking her legs up as she did, throwing the charging vampire against the warehouse wall.  It crashed into the wall with a heavy thud.  Rebekah scrambled to her side and leapt to her feet, pulling the dagger out of the man’s back, and as the vampire leapt a third time she turned, side-stepped, and thrust.

Vampires were fast, but they all moved the same way, especially if they thought they had easy prey.  The vampire charged onto the blessed blade, shuddered, and the counterfeit of life fled from its face, replaced by nothing but the pallor of the grave.

Rebekah knelt by the bloody human, examining his injuries, and nodded in satisfaction. Her knife had missed his spine. He was still breathing, just in shock.  Se could see now where the vampire had taken the first bite.  It had been savoring its prey.  She shook her head.  Stupid man.  He was lucky he was still breathing.  If she hadn’t been hunting tonight, he would have been lost. 

She sighed and took a syringe out of her belt pouch, double checked its contents, and injected the amber fluid into his bicep.  It was one of her grandfather’s concoctions; it slowed the flow of blood enough to keep someone from dying rapidly; useful if one was about to get into a fight with a vampire. Her own experimentation had discovered that when used as an injectable, it could actually be used after a wound was sustained.  It could keep you alive in time for you to make it to safety.

She dug around in his pocket, found his cell phone, and switched it to emergency mode.  She dialed 999.  Nothing happened.  She frowned.  Then remembered, cursed, dialed 911.  When the operator picked up, she said “Come quickly.  Someone has been stabbed.”

Rebekah Van Helsing stood up, dropped the phone onto his body, retrieved her shoes, and walked away into the night.

*

Hours later, Rebekah stood in the hot shower, letting the scalding water flow over her body.  She smelled of blood and violence and worse yet airplanes, and she was a more little shaken by missing her guess earlier, but the scalding water helped wash it all away.  She turned the heat up and took her time washing her hair.  The serpent had gotten close.  It almost got the drop on me.  I just assumed she had been so convinced that he was the predator and she the prey.  “Rookie mistake, Beks,” she said to herself.

Ah well, she thought. Can’t fight a crusade without some sacrifice.  The world will better when they were all gone.

When she stepped out of the shower into the steamed-up penthouse bathroom, she padded across the black marble floor, passed where her jet-black club wear lay discarded, and wrapped herself in a delightfully plush white towel. Her next stop was the mini-bar to make herself a drink, and then, gin and tonic in hand, she plopped down on the Italian leather lounge and opened up her tablet.  She slowly scanned down the list of profiles gathered by her father and found what she was looking for.

“New Tamsbridge. Vampires,” she murmured.  “Lorenzo family.  Medico family. Two different families here in one city.  How odd.”  She tapped another link, checking out the city’s profile.
It had taken nearly year of long nights, and a not-insubstantial sum to a handsome developer with hazel eyes and good hands, but she had finally gotten all of her father’s and grandfather’s notebooks digitized and hyperlinked and on a secure server. It made casual research so much easier. Decades of notes on the supernatural and occult monsters lay at her fingertips, hyperlinked for her convenience.

“New Tamsbridge Community College hasan Arcane Studies department… why are the vampires allowed to roam free?  Lazy mages.”  Another tap.  “Dead Court.  Curious.  Werewolves.  Not a lot, but some.  This town is a mess.”  She finished her drink.  “At least my visit won’t be boring.”  She closed the file, set her empty glass aside, and finished drying her long dark hair before going at it with a brush.  “Not boring at all.”

Once she was finished brushing her hair out, she returned to the bathroom.  For a moment, she let the towel down.  She looked at the scar on her collar-bone, at the burn-mark on her rib cage and the dark circles under her eyes. “They haven’t gotten you yet,” she muttered.  “Their mistake.”

She put her hair up in a loose ponytail, and, absent-mindedly rubbing her collar bone, went to bed.

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