"Where the hell is he?" Julianna checked her watch for the fortieth time, pacing back and forth in the empty gravel lot. It was night, and she was in an area where the only residents within a two-mile radius were a mechanic shop and a closed-down diner. She was supposed to have back-up, but there was no sight of him. She unzipped her black jacket, revealing a long, looping silver chain around her neck, a white tank top and a belt equipped with a holster. From the holster, she withdrew a revolver, checking the clip inside. Silver bullets. Julianna would have rather had wooden ones, but those really only worked if she had a direct kill-shot. A wooden bullet in the arm of a vampire was useless; a silver bullet would at least distract him and hopefully cause him a whole hell of a lot of pain.
The soldier took a few deep breaths. A half-hour previously, she had downed two tabs of V and it was hitting her system. Thankfully, she had been doing it long enough so that she no longer had the hallucinations. That would have gotten in the way of the main purpose.
Things were a lot easier before the Great Revelation.
Earl had been a vampire for just over 11 years, and up until three years ago, he had things pretty good. He'd stalk around at night, nab himself a nice meal or two, and nobody was ever the wiser. He could pretty much come and go as he pleased once the sun set, but now that the proverbial undead cat was out of the bag, he had to be responsible and careful.
Vampires weren't careful; they were deadly. Why else did they have fangs and preternatural strength? It sure as hell wasn't to do their best Solid Snake impressions. Earl, brushing a hand through his brown hair, growled and punched a nearby brick wall. Tonight was not going well; if his stomach could still growl, it would be louder than the nastiest creature Chicago could muster.
He tried drinking Tru Blood, but it just wasn't the same. There were few things in unlife quite like the breaking of skin, puncturing the vein and that first rush of warm vitae. Earl hadn't had that in three nights, and he was ready for a nice, long drink.
The next person he saw was going to be his dinner; all consequences be damned.
Crunch. There was the sound of feet on gravel, and it wasn't hers. She was standing still, feet shoulder-width apart, the gun still in her hand but held close to her thigh. It wouldn't be any good if a nosy security guard caught her there. Sure, she could explain what she was doing there, but then the whole city would find out and cry foul. God forbid some people actually got off their collective asses and tried to help keep people safe. Julianna could feel the anger bubble up all over again as she clicked off the safety. Anyone who tried jumping her now would be very sorry.
Hearing what sounded like the clicking of a nearby gun, Earl stopped in his tracks. He trained his ears on his surroundings, but couldn't hear anything outside of sirens and car engines off in the distance. The wind picked up and carried a new, unfamiliar scent the vampire's way, catching his attention. There was someone nearby ... female.
Carrying a piece. Great.
Question was ... was it a normal gun? If so, no big -- Earl could have himself a nice snack and not have to worry about much more than an annoying flesh wound. But if it carried silver -- or worse, wooden -- bullets, then that complicated matters. He snarled silently; there was that damn Revelation again. Not only did everyone know about vampires now, a good many of them knew how to kill them.
Fucking maggots. Every last one of them.
Making sure to keep his fangs hidden, Earl stuffed his hands in the pockets of his tattered jeans, emerging from the alley and turning to his left. The plan: nonchalantly walk on by. Plenty of people just wandered Chicago's sidewalks at night; if Earl didn't do anything suspicious, he could get by without this woman being any the wiser. If he was lucky, he could jump her just as he walked by, catch her by surprise and get that meal after all.
He flashed a small grin, his lips never parting. "Evening," he said in faux politeness.
Julianna's grip on the gun remained even, but her eyes narrowed as the man sauntered by. The guy was awfully pale. "Is it? I hardly even noticed the sun going down." She smiled. She could smell him, and he was different. The V helped her see, smell, taste, hear more clearly than she ever had in her life. And it made her feel like adrenaline was constantly pumping through her veins; she was ready to spring; hell, she was kinda hoping he was a threat.
"I bet you did, though."
The charade continued. "You kiddin' me?" he snickered. "Of course I noticed the sunset. Sunset means my ass gets to clock out. You spend the whole day stuck in the back of a filthy restaurant, slaving over a hot skillet and having no A/C.
"Sunrise to sunset making minimum wage feeding slop to truck drivers and hung-over college students. You'd be looking forward to the sun going down, too."
She took a step toward him. "Funny ... you don't smell like food," she told him. Julianna had the urge to bare her teeth. The newly imprinted instincts from the drug were telling her to jump, offense as defense. "Look, it's getting late, and I'm getting bored. Either show your fangs or get out of here." Julianna lifted the gun and trained it on his forehead. Her Fellowship ring glinted in the sparse light from the street lamps. They were about eight paces apart, but she knew a vamp could cross that distance in the time it took to blink.
"Unless you're human and you're thinking about mugging me. That could be fun, too."
Earl raised his eyebrow when he saw the ring on the woman's finger. He nearly rolled his eyes and laughed, but figured that was probably a bad idea with a gun pointed at his head. If this girl was with that church, the barrel was probably stuffed with a silver or wooden bullet; either way, it would mean a world of pain for Earl. She wasn't wrong about him being a vampire, but Earl wasn't about to just wave the proverbial white flag.
He may be undead, but he wasn't a pussy.
"No mugging, no feeding," he said, holding his hands up on either side of him -- the universal sign of I-don't-want-any-trouble. "I was just content on heading home. But if you insist ..."
Grabbing the barrel of the gun, Earl pushed the woman's arm skyward before charging and pushing her to the ground. Hopefully, she would hit her head and be stunned enough to let Earl get away. In case she didn't, though, he followed her to the concrete, pinning her to the ground with his legs and ramming his fists into her nose repeatedly.
Fuck, that hurt. She lifted her leg, the sole of her boot hitting his stomach and pushing him back as she tore the silver necklace off, using both hands to wrap it around his neck and squeeze. His skin began to sizzle, and Julianna used the distraction to push him off. She scrambled to her feet, not bothering to waste time with wiping the blood off her face. She pulled out a stake from the inside pocket of her jacket and charged.
The pain in Earl's neck was blinding, and he almost didn't see the woman charging with her stake. He staggered to the side, sticking out his left leg to trip her as she went by, gathering his bearings just enough to follow her and grab a tuft of her dark hair. The impact of her fall forced the stake from her hand, and Earl picked it up, twirling it in his hands as his right foot pressed into her back.
"You're a smart little bitch, you know that?" he mocked. "Mosta' you maggots are too stupid to know a vampire when one walks by you. What's your secret, babe?"
He stared at the blood spots on the floor, squinting. Earl would be lying if he said he didn't wonder what she tasted like. "Ya know," he added, "come to think of it? I don't really care. You're in over your head, sweets. Pitiful fucking human trying to hunt down the big, bad vamp?"
Earl laughed, tossing the stake over his shoulder. It clanked loudly against the concrete. "Consider yourself lucky tonight. Go back, thank that fuckinghippy of a God you claim to worship and tell your church buddies that the more they keep trying to meddle in our affairs, the more likely their whole thing is to burn to the ground."
Earl lifted his foot before turning to walk away. "I can't wait for that day ..."
She crawled over to the gun, snatched it up and hopped back onto her feet. Without the V, she'd still be writhing on the ground. It was ironic, really. Become the enemy to beat it. Whoever was supplying the stuff to the Fellowship knew what he was doing. Julianna pulled the trigger, sending one of the silver bullets into the back of his head before aiming it at the base of his spine and firing again. Watching him fall to the ground, she shoved the gun back into the holster and picked up the stake.
"This is gonna be messy."
Though he could feel the silver splitting into the back of his head, and then somewhere in his back as he fell, Earl couldn't even scream. The pain was akin to being on fire, yet as horrible and intense as it was, he couldn't manage the air necessary to scream out in agony. It was probably just as well; it'd be really sissy, for one thing, and Earl guessed calling attention to this whole affair wasn't the best idea.
Then again, how logical could he be? He had a big hole in the back of his head.
Keeping her distance as much as she could, Julianna rammed the stake down into his chest, jumping back as fast as she could. Ropes of thick blood still splashed over her jacket and jeans, but she covered her face with her arm. She could hear the disgusting sound of blood spurting out of him like a sprinkler as he deflated. Popular culture told people that vampires turned into nice, relatively clean dust. Not true. They were fire hoses and then empty water balloons. It was beyond gross.
When it seemed the eruption was over, she pulled out a small black cell phone and dialed a number. "I had a kill. Craig never showed." Julianna gingerly touched her nose. "And I think the bloodsucker broke my nose."
The voice on the other end spoke. "We found Craig about a mile from the area you two were supposed to be surveying tonight. He was drained."
She closed her eyes and sighed. "Right. Okay. I'm gonna clean up here and get back for debriefing." She ended the call and looked down at the remains of the vamp. "I really hope it was you who killed my partner. I'm too tired to go out and destroy another one of you tonight."