Full Moon

Drawing: Full moon with a tree in front. Caption reads: "The moon seemed bigger, closer."

Full Moon 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.

Jo Burns looked up at the full moon.  It looked closer, bigger than it ever had before.

There’d been a time when she’d thought the moon beautiful, romantic, even.  That seemed like  a lifetime ago, before her daughter’s death, before she’d discovered a world hidden from humans, before she joined the Human Defence Unit.

For three months, three full moons, there’d been deaths in the Southbank area.  They’d been horrible deaths, bodies shredded by teeth and claws.  There was a wolf on the prowl, and this full moon, she and her team planned to capture or kill the beast.

Some werewolves were fine. They knew what they became and they took steps to prevent themselves from endangering the people around them.  Some were spending the full moon voluntarily locked up in the HDU cells. 

Others didn’t care what horror and chaos they caused. The HDU hunted those down, and usually killed them because options for dealing with a lycanthrope in wolf form were limited.  They couldn’t be reasoned with, and they were practically impossible to capture.

Tonight, amid the theatre goers around the Performing Arts Centre area and restaurant crowds in the Parklands area, Jo and her agents patrolled the entire Southbank precinct.  

Jo stood on the pedestrian bridge and looked at the moon’s reflection on the river.  Passing boats broke up the reflection and sent bits of the reflected light rippling in all directions.  

A bat flew past her.  Trainee Agent Harry Smythe was trying out new skills, which he insisted would help with surveillance.  He’d told Jo he couldn’t see very well in bat form, but his hearing was incredible, and he would definitely hear an attack before human agents saw signs of it. Harry flew off into dark shadows under Parklands trees.  

Somewhere out in the night was Andrew Harrison, who was officially dead and was working in the HDU pathology department.  Because he was mute as a result of the efforts of a witchcraft practitioner to turn him to a zombie, one of the agents had given him a whistle to use to call for backup.

“Vampire, zombie, if the yowie from the cleaning crew starts coming out on cases, we’ll just need a wolf and a ghost for the full set,” she said to herself.  Then she remembered her dead daughter had helped her on some recent cases.  They had a ghost.

Agent Marissa Tyler’s voice came over the radio: “Andrew’s blowing his whistle over in the shadows behind the Piazza.  I’m headed there now. Jo started running.  

When she arrived, she saw what she would later look back on as the strangest sight of her career.  In police parlance the wolf was being “detained”.  In actuality it was lying flat on its stomach, with a zombie and a naked vampire lying across it pinning it down. 

Marissa was attempting to wrap a cable tie-type handcuff around the wolf’s muzzle while it struggled.  Jo came up beside her and held the creature’s mouth closed, so Marissa could tie the mouth shut.  Then they went for the paws.  Cuffing first both front paws together, then both back paws.  For good measure they cuffed the back paws to the front. 

Jo looked Harry in the eye, careful not to look anywhere else, and said, “The bat thing might be useful, but in future, you need a plan for clothes.”

Harry turned red, then seemed to twist and shrink and changed back into a bat.

Marissa went for a car, pulling up and double-parking in Stanley Street. Andrew threw the wolf in the back seat.

They drove back to the Roma Street Police Station, pulled into the police parking area, then went through a normally-hidden door into the HDU carpark.  

The wolf was hauled out and dumped in a cell for the night.  

Next morning, Jo checked the cell and found a distressed, crying young woman.

Her story was that she was a police constable.  A couple of months earlier she’d been called out to a dog attack. The dog had bitten her before getting away.

Since then, she’d had a couple of nights when she lost time, and had strange, horrible dreams.

She was horrified when Jo explained what she now was, and what she had done.

“What do I do now?” she asked.

Jo told her about the wolves who volunteered to spend the night of the full moon in the cells, and she readily agreed to do that.

“So, how do I just go back to normal police work on the streets, now that I know this other world exists?” she asked.

Jo remembered her own horrible introduction to the world of monstrous creatures, how going back to regular policing just hadn’t been an option for her.

Jo made her an offer. 

That was how Trainee Agent Kate Murdoch joined the HDU. 

Human Defence Unit Stories

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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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