I wondered if it would be tough to slip back into these characters. It’s been a few weeks since I wrote about them, and you may recall me telling you that they’re in a rare category for me. I’m enjoying writing about them in spite of the fact that I neither love nor hate them. Those extremes are easier to tap into. Generally, when I develop a character who I simply don’t like, I leave ’em in the dust. These guys are different, I think because I understand their significance.
You don’t. You couldn’t. This is basically backstory, and you don’t know the fuller tale this serves as prequel to.
Regardless, I do hope you’re enjoying the series. It’s a little on the dour side compared to most of my stuff, but there are moments of darkness and light. Enough, I’d like to think, that it’s got the potential to pull the reader in. If only there were some way for you guys to let me know if you’re reading it. Some way to deliver…notes? Feedback? Observations? I’d love to hear your comments, so to speak.
Yeah, I went there, passive aggressive guilt trip and all. If you’re reading my stuff, even if you hate it, speak up every now and then. I see the stats. I know folks are at least landing on the page. Throw me a bone from time to time. Think of it as the price of admission.
Or, you know, don’t. I won’t ban you from the site or anything. I’ll just subject you to increasingly desperate pleas for affirmation. Fun for all ages.
Speaking of fun, we have a story to get to. But first, the usual series-related spiel. This story is a part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning. The posts will display in order, starting with the first, so you can enjoy them in order.
gun, fun and sun
Carter feels a twinge of sympathy. Barely anything, but there it is, a pale green blimp on her emotional radar. It’s not enough to keep her from making catty comments or laughing with Masters. That would take a lot. Still, there’s something desperately sad about watching Harkins squat in the corner, in full view of herself, Masters and the goddamn trainee, pissing into a water bottle.
He doesn’t spill a drop, and Carter considers that for a moment. The lip of the bottle isn’t wide. Most guys would experience at least a little splash, if not a brief moment of complete failure, urine spraying all over the place. Not Harkins. Everything goes into that bottle.
Jesus, how many times has he done this? she thinks.
His training partner had warned her about the ritual, more to save Harkins embarrassment than anything else. His entire cadet class seemed okay with the idea of a guy who very nearly pisses himself immediately before charging into a hostile situation. Bunch of pussies. In one of her crasser moments, she’d asked Harkins if he missed it.
“Do I miss what?” he asked.
“Those nights with your training class,” she said with a straight face. “You know, when you guys took turn giving each other blow jobs.”
Don’t be misled. She’s not the battle-worn equivalent of the hooker with a heart of gold. If Harkins goes down this very day, she’s not going to shed a single tear. She might take a shot in his honor, assuming it’s Bombay Sapphire, but that’s as far as her mourning ritual would go. She truly doesn’t care about his well-being. Her sympathy has more to do with the statement men like Harkins represent about the world.
There are monsters. They’re everywhere. Most of the world’s population turns a blind eye even though there’s evidence all over the fucking place. But there are a few people, people like her and Harkins, who fight. Not because they’re noble, and not for the sake of mankind, but because the monsters pissed them off. Or hurt them, in Harkins’ case.
This is the world. Bloodsuckers and beasts lurk in the shadows, the average civvy ignores them, and the men who take up the mantle of war don’t even have enough internal fortitude to hold their bladders. Harkins is the posterboy of the new world order, and he’s holding a bottle of his own warm piss.
What a world.
Masters clears his throat, point down the road. Carter forgets all about her evaluation of humanity and follows the line of his finger. There, slinking across the road no more than 50 meters away, is their target. The vampire, Hugh Delany. He moves with grace, light on his feet, no doubt energized from a recent feeding.
Looking at him, Carter doesn’t feel any sense of hatred. She’s beyond the pale. It no longer matters that one of his kind permanently altered the trajectory of her life. She’s not here for vengeance or closure. She’s not even here because of the paycheck. She’s here because this is what she does. It’s mindless for her, the way some people drive home from work every day by the same route and pull into their driveways one evening only to realize they remember nothing about the entire commute.
She’ll do what she’s done dozens of times before. She’ll slit his throat first, more a psychological attack than anything else. She’s yet to meet the blood sucker who doesn’t instinctively react as though the wound were mortal. Then she’ll hit him with the stake. In the movies, that’s all it takes, but she knows better. Next, she’ll take the head. That’s the hard part. They’re usually still kicking, and if you don’t have a fucking executioner’s axe you have to work the blade a fair bit to slip it between the vertebrae and severe the spinal cord. She’ll stuff his mouth with the host (not holy water) and hand the head off the the trainee. Then she and Harkins will lug the body out into the backyard with the trainee following behind. They’ll set it all in the sun and watch it smolder until it turns black and crispy. Then they’ll bag it, call Masters, and bring the charred remains back to HQ for full disposal.
Gun, fun and sun. That’s what she calls it, even though it’s something of a misnomer. If things go smoothly, there won’t be any gun fire, and she can’t even remember the last time she regarded any activity as ‘fun’ and actually meant it. There will be sun, though. At least that part is true.
They wait until the mark is in his house, and then they wait a bit longer. The tension builds, yada, yada, yada. Carter has her hand on the sliding door, ready to get down to business, when the trainee speaks.
The fucking trainee. Her words serve a twin purpose. They piss Carter off. That’s the first. The second is this. They make all three of the van’s other occupants pause and consider the very nature of their mission.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.