Fangs in your Heart

In a future where vampires have lost the war with humanity, Bloodhounds and Slayers fight to eradicate the remnants of the fangs, in their different ways. Their differences get them into trouble when Fang-Ripper and his team encounter two Bloodhound siblings outside a fang nest. Blood will be spilt, and blood will be sucked. Who will survive this game of fangs and stakes?

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1. The Hunt

Jared punched the corrugated iron that served as walls for the Sherriff’s office in frustration.

“What’s taking him so long?”

His companion, a young woman whose blood red cloak fluttered around her in the breeze, put her hand on his arm.

“Patience, Jared. He’ll be out soon. Don’t jeopardise this mission before we’ve even begun.”

He pulled away, out of her reach. “You don’t have to lecture me on the dangers of that, Cinder.”

Cinder rolled her eyes, but remained silent. She leant against the wall, staring left, into the wasteland. Jared looked right, into the town. If it could be called a town. The Sherriff’s office was the sturdiest building in the shanty town. Jared surveyed the tents and ramshackle huts, all lined up in neat rows, a somewhat scary resemblance of normality. He caught a glimpse of a small, dirty face peering out from behind a cloth flap. It stared at him with mortal fascination. Strangers were met with suspicion and contempt from all but the youngest children. Jared smiled at the child, the sharp, dangerous smile of a Slayer. Its eyes widened, and the face disappeared.

He laughed and nudged Cinder. “I – “

She shushed him as the door next to them opened. A man walked out, continuing a conversation with a woman who stayed standing in the doorway.

“ – and we’ll be sure to return with proof of their demise.”

The woman nodded. Her eyes met his, both battle-hardened, and something passed between them.

“I’ll be waiting, Fang-Ripper.” She wasn’t smiling.

He gave a short nod. He also wasn’t smiling.

“Marcus! I was beginning to get worried.” Jared clapped his friend on the shoulder.

Cinder stooped to grab her backpack from the dust, turning away from the two men.

Marcus shrugged Jared off, glaring at the younger man. “This isn’t a game. The Sherriff has a pretty good idea where the fangs are holed up. It’s up to us to eradicate them.”

Jared held his hands up, walking backwards and laughing. “Calm down, fearless Fang-Ripper.”

“I – “

“Come on, boys. We’d better hurry if we want to reach them before sundown.” Cinder wasn’t looking at them, but both Marcus and Jared could feel the heat in her words.

“Right. Let’s go.”

Marcus strode ahead, jacket billowing behind him. Jared glanced at Cinder. She gave him a small smile and they set of after their leader.

Silence settled in after a few minutes of walking. Cinder kept her head down, unable or unwilling to look at the carnage and destruction they passed. Marcus stared ahead, focused on following the Sherriff’s directions.

So it was left to Jared to attempt to make small talk.

“So, after this hunt, what say we go on holiday somewhere? Hawaii, maybe. Or Los Angeles?”

Neither of the other two deigned to mention the fact that Hawaii lay in ruins, and LA was one of the last surviving vampire-controlled city in the world.

Jared shrugged and turned back to surveying the landscape they passed. The shanty town they had left was about half a mile from the nearest Desertion – the ruins of the city that was once called Newcastle. He soon started noticing the burned out buildings, the shells of houses, and the burnt, broken cityscape that had become the norm for the remnants of humanity left. The bodies were gone; burnt or buried by one of the D.V.E (Department of Vampire Eradication, or Dove for short) clean-up teams. But they couldn’t get rid of the stench. Fire, gas, burnt flesh, decomposing corpses – any smell associated with the apocalypse got at least ten times worse in Desertions. Jared wrinkled his noise but didn’t complain.

The three of them had passed through enough Desertions to be able to deal with it. Deal with the death and destruction enough for them to do their jobs. It became normal. But it never went away.

It was quiet. Dust blew through the empty streets.

“No animals,” Marcus murmured. “Indicates vamp activity near here.”

He stopped abruptly. The road they were walking down cut straight through the desolate hull of the city. Jared was aware of how open it was. The empty windows of any buildings left standing now seemed full of hidden faces, shadows that disappeared when you tried to focus on them.

“They’re near. The Sherriff said that her scouts had encountered evidence of a vamp nest on the southern edge of the ruins.” Marcus stepped off the relative safety of the road and led them further into the city.

Only now did Cinder look up. Not many of the buildings that were left had any structure above ground floor level but the ones that did were an eerie, imposing presence of dirty brick and rusted metal. Cinder liked the Desertions. She was pretty sure she was the only one who did in the entire world. Most humans tended to avoid them, which meant they were the favourite haunts of vampires. But Cinder wasn’t afraid of vampires. She hated and feared the open spaces of the wastelands. Desertions surrounded her with ruins, places to hide, to make camp. To her, they were places to survive.

“It’s getting darker,” she commented.

“Yes, thanks, captain of the obvious.”

Marcus whirled on Jared, flashing his staff around until the sharp end was poised an inch from Jared’s throat.

“Stop messing around. It’s our lives on the line. Us or them, remember? This is no time for stupid taunts.”

Jared gulped, a thin red line appearing on his throat where the stake, for it was a stake, grazed his skin.

Cinder put her hand on the staff, gently lowering it. “We’d better be even more careful now. The fangs will have caught the scent of his blood.”

Marcus grunted and turned back to face the city. “Let’s keep going then.”

They walked in silence, keeping away from the shadows; the dark places were suicide for humans. Jared’s heart beat loud in his chest. This was by far not the first time they had done this as a team, but the adrenalin rush still felt new and exciting and totally terrifying.

They passed a burnt out car, and the stench got worse. Jared put his sleeve over his nose, grimacing. Carcasses started appearing on the side of the path they were walking down. Birds, pigeons mostly, but a few smaller sparrows and such like, a mutilated dog or two, the skeleton of what looked like a fox, nothing left but some cartilage and bones. The stark whiteness of the stripped clean bones stood out amongst the grey dust and ash. The number of animal remains steadily got larger as they continued. Unconsciously, Jared and Cinder moved closer to Marcus.

Suddenly, Marcus shot out a hand to stop them. He motioned for them to stay quiet, then crept forward.

“They’re very near. Stay close. And stay down.”

They spread out, Marcus in the centre, Jared to his right, Cinder to his left. They could hear them now, the ripping of flesh, the slurping of feeding. Cinder wrinkled her nose in the only gesture of disgust she could make.

Before they could get close enough to see the fangs, Cinder stopped. Marcus narrowed his eyes.

What are you doing? He mouthed. She waved her hand at him.

Shhh. I’m listening.

Marcus nodded in understanding. Silence again descended, apart from the ominous sounds coming from the vamps. A few moments passed.

“Duck!” cried Cinder, leaping to push Marcus to the floor. Something sharp and metallic whizzed over their heads.

Jared didn’t have such quick reflexes, an “Ouch!” escaping as his jacket was pinned to the metal post behind him.

Marcus quickly got to his feet, pulling Cinder up with him. He swivelled in a circle, staff held in a defensive position.

“I told you we’d run into trouble.” The voice was female, sly and dangerous.

“I was hoping it would be the kind with fangs, not slayers,” a different voice answered.

A moment later, the owners of the voices stepped out from the shadows. A man and woman, both decked out in black, both wearing matching sneers.

Jared snarled. “Bloodhounds.” The derision dripping from his voice was tangible in the still air.

Marcus didn’t move from his warrior stance. He held out his free hand. “There’s no need for violence. Just let us kill these vermin.”

The woman laughed coldly. “You hear that, Atlas? If we leave them alone, we can just walk away.”

“Now that’s a bargain.” The man took a step forward. “What about it, sis?”

“Let me think about it.” She tilted her head to the side. “How about no.” A knife appeared in her hand and she stalked towards Marcus.

Jared had been attempting to prise the spear keeping him from wiping the smug grin of Atlas’ face, but now he gave up. He shrugged the jacket off, wincing as a bit of flesh tore with it.

“Hey, asshole.”

Atlas glanced at him. “Keep your puppy on a leash,” he spat at Marcus.

“If you keep one on yours,” he retorted, gesturing at the woman.

She bared her teeth at him. “I’m not – “

“What, Sabre? She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Sabre turned to glare at him and Jared chose that moment to attack. He moved fast and quietly, his crossbow in his hand.

“Jared, stop.”

Marcus grabbed his arm, stopping him in his tracks.

“But – “

“We don’t need to fight.” He wasn’t looking at Jared. His eyes met Atlas’s, almost black in the gathering darkness. “Who’s paid you for this contract then?”

It was Sabre who answered. “A private company. None of your business, Slayer.”

“It is our business when these fangs are dangerous, less than a mile away from a populated area. We must eradicate them, on the orders of the D.V.E.”

“Bloodhounds. You’re all the same. Endangering the lives of the last of Britain for money.” Jared spat on the dust at Atlas’ feet.

Atlas grinned. “Down, puppy. We all do what we must to survive. These fangs could help us understand how to take them down once and for all. But they’ve kind of got to be alive to do that.”

“Well, as alive as a vampire can be,” Sabre cut in.

“Alive, they are a threat. Dust, they are not.” Marcus, always the voice of reason.

“Enough. We don’t have time for this.” Jared swung at Sabre, who was nearest to him.

She shrugged and glanced at Atlas. “He attacked me. It’s self-defence.” Then she leapt, side-stepping Jared’s attack.

Marcus sighed, but swung his staff up to block Atlas’ blow. They exchanged blows, anger and frustration clear in their moves. Sabre was ruthless, Jared fast. Atlas was savage, Marcus hard. None of them could gain the upper hand.

“Guys!”

Nobody heard.

“Guys!”

Nobody was listening.

“Argh!”

Marcus stopped at Cinder’s cry of pain, allowing Atlas to knock him over with a well-timed kick to the back of the knees.

“Wait!” he cried, putting up a hand to stop Atlas’ next attack. He looked across at where Cinder had fallen, her hands over her ears.

Jared also paused in his fighting. Surprisingly, so did Sabre. He rushed over to the young woman’s side.

“Cinder? Can you hear me?”

“Your resident fang-mystic, I presume,” Atlas questioned, walking over and dropping to one knee beside Jared. “She’s young. Barely old enough to access her powers.”

“Stop…it,” Cinder murmured, tossing from side to side.

“She’s Sensing something.” Marcus, with a glance at Sabre, still stood warily watching her brother, went over to where Cinder had dropped her bag.

Atlas moved a stray hair out of her face. Jared slapped his hand away. “Get away from her, moron. She needs space.”

Atlas whistled. “Touchy, puppy. You care about her. Risky, in your line of business.

Jared scowled. “She’s like a little sister to me. Surely you can understand that.”

“Danger…behind you…work together…”

“Shh, Jared. Listen.” Marcus stayed still. In the ensuing silence…wait, silence?

“Shit,” Sabre whispered.

Marcus nodded. “I suggest we put aside our differences and work together so we don’t all die.” His voice had gone all quiet and still. His Slayer voice.

Jared helped Cinder sit up. “You ok?”

She nodded. “The fangs will attack fast and hard. There’s a lot of them.”

“You’d better not dust them all, Fang-Ripper.”

Marcus stared at Atlas.

“If the Sherriff of that little hovel was going to get any Slayers to wipe out these fangs, it would have to be the fabled Fang-Ripper. It wasn’t a difficult conclusion to come to.”

“We will do what we have to, Atlas. If that means leaving them all as dust underfoot, then that’s what will happen.”

They eyed each other for a few more moments.

“I hate to break up the gazing-into-each-others-eyes thing you have going on, but we have bigger problems.” For once, Jared was right.

Cinder had regained enough strength to stand up, and was facing the alley to their left. Jared joined her, crossbow at the ready. Marcus gave Atlas one more dangerous look then went to back up his team. Sabre glanced at her brother.

“We’re really going to help them?”

Atlas smirked. “For now.”

Sabre raised an eyebrow, but the siblings still walked over to stand by the others.

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