Okay, I’m on a slow-ass public WiFi network and ready to put this puppy to bed.

But please don’t take my brevity here to mean anything negative about this installment, though. I like it. A lot. I like how it flows, and while there’s little in it that’s ‘essential’ to the plot, I think it contributes greatly to a better picture of Harkins and the overall cadence of the story.

Yeah, I’m bragging on myself. Sometimes I write cool shit.

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.


He thinks about Twinkies.

In the time before, he had a fried Twinkie once. It was batter-dipped, crispy on the outside and oozy-warm on the inside. He didn’t think he’d like it–Twinkies had never really been a snack food of choice–but he found it to be a completely different experience from eating one straight out of the wrapper. Both the texture and taste changed when kissed by canola. He liked it so much, he actually recommended the fried variation to friends.

But, cliché as it sounds, that was a simpler time. Deep-fried pastry was conversation-worthy. That kind of innocence is gone, and while he knows better than to admit it to his current peers, he misses it enough to bring tears to his eyes. If he thinks about it, that is. With effort, but brings his mind back to the present moment.

He’s sitting in the back of a windowless van with the AC off. It isn’t a particularly hot morning, but it’s warm enough to make the small space feel stuffy, especially with four bodies crammed in there, all generating heat.

They’re outside the vamp’s house. They arrived about an hour earlier under the cover of darkness. The surveillance team had lost the target (for the fourth night in a row), but he’s most likely still on the prowl. If he sticks to his previous MO, he will arrive home just before the first rays of dawn break across the horizon. He has 20 minutes at most.

Harkins has to piss, and it annoys him. It annoys him because there’s no privacy in the back of the van. He can turn toward a corner, but that’s as secluded as he can make things. Carter and the trainee and Masters, their driver, will all be right fucking there. He gets pee shy, so it will take him a few minutes to relax his bladder and let the liquid flow. The whole time he knows they’ll be watching, if not with their eyes then with their ears. Even if they don’t care, it will feel embarrassing for reasons he can’t quite articulate.

He should be able to piss, anytime, anywhere. It’s like an assault to his manhood that it takes effort.

Carter probably knows it’s coming. He always has to piss before a raid. Even if he hits the john on the way out the door, even if there’s not a stake-out before they go in, even then his bladder will pitch a shit-fit in the minutes leading up to the all clear. He’s never told anyone, but he’s legitimately afraid that if he doesn’t void his bladder one last time, he’ll wet his pants in the middle of the operation. No amount of heroism will spare Carter’s mockery then. He simply can’t bear the thought.

He clears his throat and asks for an empty water bottle. Carter always has one on her. He thinks it’s because the ritual entertains her.

“Told you,” she says to Masters as she hands it over. “Never fails.”

The trainee watches the bottle change hands, the plastic picking up the blues, reds and greens of the mobile display panel. Harkins wants her to look away, to grant him this small mercy, but like a kid she just stares. Of course, that’s what she is. A kid. Why wouldn’t she stare? She doesn’t know any better.

He takes the bottle and turns toward the corner of the van, squatting and unzipping his fly. His dick feels cool in his hand, and he’s painfully aware of shrinkage. He thanks God no one can see.

Now comes the hard part. He has to divorce his mind from the situation. If he thinks about his audience, he’ll be kneeling in the corner of the van, his dick in his hand, until his legs cramp. He has to forget anyone’s watching, forget that he’s even trying to piss. Then and only then the muscles will release their titan hold and he’ll find some relief from the dull ache spreading out over his lower abdomen.

He stares at a spot on the van’s interior wall. There’s a long scratch in the flat white paint. He imagines he can still see flecks of blood in it. He remembers the night, not quite two months ago, when he and Carter and a different trainee scrambled into the back of the very same van, a werewolf hot on their tails. The trainee was all kinds of ambitious. Ignoring their instructions, he turned just before hopping in, thinking he could get off a quick shot and take the lycan down before it reach him.

Dumb kid. He didn’t know how fast those fucking wolves are.

The werewolf was on top of him before he’d even brought his rifle level. Claws flew in a frenzy, and the trainee’s body unraveled before their eyes. Just before Carter told Masters to gun it and get the fuck out of there, half the kid’s skull popped off and skid across the van’s wall. Blood and gray matter sprayed Harkin’s face, and the bone left a deep gouge in the paint.

He can still remember the taste.

He feels the warmth as the piss begins to flow. He can smell it, and he hopes the scent doesn’t carry, but he’s sure it does. Behind him, someone mutters something, but he can’t make out the words.

Fuck ’em, he thinks. Any one of us could be dead in the next hour, and I have to piss.