Sharp Kisses

His mum tutted loudly at him as he passed by her, on his way to the toaster. As much as he tried to conceal the bruises on his neck with his shirt collar, her vision was too keen and her intuition too well-trained to hide anything for long.

As he retrieved a couple of slices of toast for breakfast, his mum was still staring with disapproval at the love bite. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t need too. The silence spoke volumes and it saved her an embarrassing talk with his younger brother and sister.

He could at least eat his breakfast in peace, downing several glasses of orange juice, his slices of toast, sausages, baked beans and two eggs. He even had two cups of tea to wash it down with. Toast was usually all he had before a day at college, and the change in his most important meal of the day was picked up by his mother.

“Someone’s hungry.” She stated quietly as he washed up, joining him by the draining board to dry the dishes.

“Busy day at college yesterday, going to be even busier today.” He shrugged.

She glanced back to make sure the siblings were out of the room, then whispered. “You should bring her around to meet us, James. You’re obviously on good terms.”

“Mum!” There was a strangled quality to James’s voice, his cheeks bright red. Leaving his cup in the soapy water, he dried his hands and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before leaving. It took a lot of effort to avoid blushing more at the amused expression on her face.

 

“You’re a twat.” James huffed as he fell into step alongside one of the boys at his college, a blond who favoured dark glasses, an elaborately patterned white shirt, and a black leather longcoat. “Why’d you have to leave that bruise, Ray?”

“I told you not to tense up so much, Jim.” Ray sighed theatrically. “Thank you, though. With all the stress of transferring here, I was getting light-headed from thirst. You look well this morning.”

James shrugged a little. “I had a good breakfast, and raided the local corner shop for protein- and iron-rich foods last night. It wasn’t so bad. Not like you read online.”

Ray chuckled at that. “Trust me, Jim, not a lot of what you read online is right.” As they strolled under the trees towards one of the campus buildings, the blond looked thoughtful. “I’ve yet to find a suppy around here. Would you be interested?”

“Maybe. Just… one condition?”

“No more bruises?”

“Good point.” James said. “Two conditions.”

“What’s the other one?” Ray asked, amused.

“I need help bringing a girl home who doesn’t mind pretending she did this.” James said, pointing at the side of his neck. “Mum noticed it.”

“Ah.” Ray mused. “I’ll see what I can do. Too afraid to tell her the truth of the matter?”

He pondered on that for a moment as they entered the building. “She’d only worry I’ll wind up a chomp job.”

The blond sniffed derisively. “I don’t chomp.” Ray declared with his usual dramatic flair. “I give sharp kisses.”

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Stowaway

Another ship at Newquay Docks meant the Human Occupancy Detector team had to do a sweep of the ship. Clad in high-visibility jackets, overalls, steel-toed boots and hard hats with goggles, they wandered through the hold with flashlights in one hand and CO2 monitors in the other. Each probe slid into openings on the massive shipping containers to detect the atmosphere inside. Under the watchful eye of a pair of security guards and some of the crew the four HOD members worked their way along each line of crates.

“All clear.”

“Yeah, nothing here.”

“No suspect emissions.”

“Just finished up my lot. All clear, as well.”

The paperwork was quickly signed and the team departed for their office to finish up for the day. Unloading the vessel wasn’t their responsibility, and with the light fading it would have to wait for the next day.

 

It was one of the crew who heard the creaking hinge of metal. Grabbing a torch from the rack, he followed his ears down one of the rows, only to find one with the door slightly ajar. Muttering under his breath about the ineptitude for HOD teams, he took a walk closer to check that nothing had been removed.

That’s when he saw the pinpricks of red staring at him. Before he could call out a wave of pressure slammed from the front of his skull to the back. His heart pounded, his limbs felt heavy yet so weak… From the shadows a figure stepped out, pale skin with platinum blonde hair, ruby red lips and eyes aglow with a sanguine hue.

“You’re not going to mention this to anyone.” She almost purred, the words flowing into his ears like honey. “You’re just going to turn around, hang your torch up, and clock off.”

More glowing eyes could be seen in the crate behind her, his breathing hoarse as he tried to fight off the fog descending on his senses.

“You didn’t see me.” She said with a smile, then pointed canines playfully bit into her bottom lip as she pouted at him. “You didn’t see them either.”

In spite of himself, he nodded in agreement.

“Good man.” She smiled brightly. “And you’ll be a dear and forget to lock the hold doors?”

It took every ounce of will to shake his head, then she pouted once more and the wave of force assaulting his mind took on a warm, tingling sesnation. “Oh, be nice. You wouldn’t want me to be all trapped in here with no way to get out, would you?”

He shook his head again. It felt like sweat was pouring down his body to gather in his boots.

“So you’ll keep the door unlocked for us?” She asked sweetly.

With a rapid bob, his head nodded.

“Good. Run along then.” The woman waved with just her fingertips, and he was turning and walking back the way he came.

 

“What a nice young man.” The vampire remarked to herself as the crewman departed with a slightly uneven gait. Looking back into the crate, her gaze turned hard. “I told you to wait before opening the crate. Disobey me again and I’ll end you.”

The clan had crossed the Atlantic as stowaways. They could wait a little longer for the coast to clear before disembarking for their new life.

Vertex

The vertex of the Rossabel Corporation building provided the perfect loitering spot for her from the torrent of rain lashing across the city. Tucked into an alcove near the helicopter pad, she peered out across the cityscape. Lights from windows and advertising pierced the smoky veil that had settled across the city, her keen eyes able to make out landmarks further than most could through the smog.

There was little to do up there other than watch the city. Her MP3 player was out of charge, her phone for official business only, and her e-book reader left in her other bag at home. Dressed in loose-fitting trousers and a tight black top that showed off plenty of arm, it was more the rain she was sheltering from than the murky humidity that had come with it.

Idly, her tongue probed against one of her long fangs, tip flicking around the tiny indentations hiding the venom canals that delivered a potent anti-coagulant and analgesic to her prey. The iron-tang from her last meal nary an hour ago was still present, causing her to pop a stick of gum in her mouth.

Her sharp ears picked up the helicopter in the distance, well attuned to the distinctive sound of her employers mode of transport. She idled away from the rain for a few minutes more before the wind started to buffet against the area. With impressive acrobatics she flipped and twisted herself up onto the pad to meet Mister Rossabel.

As the doors slid back, she took the umbrella offered to shelter him from the rain. He stood besides her, tall and muscular with a sharp taste in suits and cologne. He offered her his usual friendly smile, taking one of her hands to lay a kiss on.

“Maddy, you look as alive as ever.” He quipped, musing for a moment before adjusting the short crop of blonde hair she had. “We’ll be heading down to the car, I have a business meeting to attend to at a restaurant. Have you eaten, yet?”

“Before I started, Mister Rossabel.” Maddy smiled to him. “I’d not make the mistake of the one who slipped away to bite someone in the bathroom, leaving you unguarded.”

“Of course you wouldn’t. You have a good head on your shoulders.” He replied, starting his walk to the elevator lobby, her at his side with the umbrella held aloft.

“Are you expecting any trouble tonight, Mister Rossabel?” She asked as a matter of interest as they reached the doors, letting him step inside before closing the umbrella and joining him. Her boss was a man of superstition, and to bring his umbrella, open, into a building? That was unthinkable.

“After that excellent bit of work you did at the docks, Maddy? I think the Clan may be looking for some payback. But, that’s what happens when you’re at the top.”

Sanguinary

It was a sanguinary sight, the alleyway. As the old man prowled about the scene of the crime with nostrils flaring and eyes seeking, the scents, splatters and disturbances rapidly assembled into a scene in his mind.

First victim, female. College student, smelling of alcoholic cocktails. Puncture marks on neck, colour and blood patterns indicate blood drained by a vampire. Dead, no chance of rising.

With due care and attention, his leather glove-clad fingers drew her eyelids down. Turning, he followed a trail of dark blood leading over to the next individual.

Second victim, female. Attacker of first victim judging by scent of blood, blood patterns on face, complexion and visible characteristics. Throat cut from ear to ear, numerous stab wounds in blouse. Looks like she was getting victims in local bars. Odd burn marks on hands and wrists. Blood residue on fingernails.

The last trail of blood was much fresher than the dark ichor that flowed in a vampire’s veins. Following it in the shadows, he found the last person involved in the skirmish, still alive. She looked like someone from a comic book or television show, with a heavy black leather jacket on that concealed an array of weapons and items used in the hunting of vampires. Around her neck was a peculiar pendant, a drop of blood vaguely reminiscent of the shape of the human heart, on a silver pentagon. She was bleeding from two powerful strikes to the stomach from a vampire’s claws.

Her head stirred weakly, blood and sweat matting her hair to her face as bleary eyes tried to focus on the man, before they widened in recognition.

“As if it isn’t enough to have new courts of vampires in my city, I now have members of the Sanguine Legion. Tell me, Vampire Hunter, were I to save your life, would you provide some insight into the madness that has befallen my domain?” The old man asked politely, crouching down to get level with her head.

“Spare me…. aaah…” She trailed off with a groan, pressing her hands tightly against the oozing wounds in her midsection. “Spare me… your petty tricks, vampire. The Sanguine Legion will deal with this infestation, and then they will come for you. Fake benevolence or not, your kind are abhorrent, and your presence anywhere on this Earth is verboten!” In fervor, colour returned to her face and indignation lit up her eyes, drawing herself up to stare defiantly at him before with a pained cry she slumped back down, shock starting to take hold of her.

“The irrationality of human kind and the arrogance of these fledglings will bring chaos to my territory. My offer was a genuine one, but wasted. A shame. You could have lived.” The old man shrugged, rising to his feet as his hand dipped into his jacket. Several small incendiary devices were plucked out of a pocket, one each hurled towards the two corpses, and the last held above the hunter’s body. “You may wish to die now, before the flames take you. It would be easier on you just to slip away.” He suggested off-handedly to her.

Her attempt to spit at his offer landed on herself, the devout fire within her flickering away as shock smothered any attempt of defiance.

“As you wish.” His voice echoed as the ancient vampire leaped skywards, dropping the device below him. A quick flick of the trigger and all three erupted in a ball of fire, scorching and purging the scene of the crime.