They Do Not Exist

ID for Senior Agent J. Burns of HDU. Caption reads: "They do not exist."

They Do Not Exist short story by Iris Carden

Five storeys below Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station, is the headquarters for the Human Defence Unit. Its members are drawn from among the highest performing members of military, intelligence, and police forces throughout Australia, along with select highly specialised members of the civilian population. The Human Defence Unit and its elite staff are neither police, military nor intelligence. They do not exist.

Senior Agent Jo Burns read the email alert, sent from the police station five storeys above her head. Three victims, all with neck wounds, all exsanguinated. She replied with instructions for the bodies to be moved to the HDU mortuary, and the police investigation to cease immediately.

She decided to take the new guy with her, and called Trainee Agent Harry Smythe.

“Vampires,” she said. “What weapons do you need?”

“UV laser pointer, gun with silver bullets.”

“No. Silver bullets are for werewolves. You want the mini-crossbow. Wooden stakes, but be sure to get the heart. A machete is useful as well, to remove the head, but that’s harder to carry. Gear up, and make sure you’ve checked the batteries in your laser pointer. We’re going upstairs in five minutes.”

While Harry was getting his gear organised, Jo called Helen Thompson, the unit’s pathologist. “Three suspected fang victims coming down for you. Don’t know their condition or if they’re likely to turn.”

“I’ll stay ready to hit the UV lights just in case,” Helen was matter-of-fact, despite having come close to being werewolf lunch only the previous week.

Jo and Harry went first to the office of Inspector David Webber, their Queensland Police contact. He gave them the details police had already gathered.

The three women had shared a flat in a multi-storey building adjacent Roma Street Parklands. A co-worker of one of the women had gone to check after she had been absent work. A member of the building security staff had attempted to get a response from the women, and then had used a master key to access the flat, where he’d found the three bodies in their beds.

Forensics had begun their inspection of the scene, but that had now been stopped. Jo ordered HDU forensics and clean-up unit to take over.

“What do you think we do now?” Jo asked Harry.

“We question the co-worker, and the building security guy?”

“No. We don’t draw attention to our investigation. Fangs hunt close to home. We’re looking for someone who lives close to the victims, probably in the same building, who never goes out during the day. A good indicator for vamps in the city is the extremes they go to in avoiding daylight. It will be someone who works from home, or works nights, and who had some extreme blockout curtains or metal rollerblinds. You’re driving.”

While Harry drove to the apartment building, Jo worked on her laptop computer from the passenger seat.

“Three people in the apartment building work from home, cross-referenced with satellite photos of the building, we have one candidate. Henrietta Dix, who has aluminium roller blinds on all exterior windows. She owns her own flat, so she can make those kind of changes. Her personal wealth is multiple millions, in shares and savings, not in line with her editing job. She’s been saving over several lifetimes.”

“How do you get all that information like that? Like you’ve just accessed satellite photos, tax records, what?”

“Yes and yes, and a number of other, not-quite-so-legal resources. We don’t exist and we’re not constrained by the law. You’ll learn how to access our sources as you go on. Just go straight to the parking garage.”

“It’s residents only.”

Jo passed him a card. “Open sesame,” she said.

Harry tapped the card to the card reader, and to his surprise, the gate opened.

On the tenth floor, Jo led the way to the suspect’s flat. She knocked on the door. There was no answer. “Henrietta Dix, open the door. Police,” Jo said.

“But we’re not police,” Harry whispered.

The door still did not open. Jo pulled a lock picking kit from her pocket and opened the door.

“She’s hiding. Stay by the door in case she tries to escape,” Jo instructed.

She began her systematic search of all possible hiding places. Eventually she opened a guest room wardrobe, to find a tall, middle-aged woman, hiding there.

“Henrietta,” Jo said, “been snacking on any neighbours lately?”

The woman snarled, drawing her lips back to reveal fangs.

Jo pressed the mini-crossbow’s wooden bolt into the woman’s chest as she pulled the trigger.

The vampire slumped, falling to the floor.

Jo was almost at the door, when Harry, still waiting there, aimed his laser pointer over her left shoulder.

Jo heard the yell, as the vampire had the pinpoint of artificial sunlight directly in his face. The fang pulled back, as Jo turned to face him. She shot a wooden bolt through his heart.

“Thanks,” she said.

“That was a real vampire,” Harry was shaken.

“We don’t bother hunting pretend ones,” Jo replied.

Human Defence Unit Stories


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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