Drawing: A body, with long red hair, lying face down, half-hidden by long grass. Caption reads: "She was face-down in the grass."

Fake 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.

The body was lying face down, half covered in overgrown grass.

“Council workers clearing the overgrown creek area found the body. When they realised what it was they stopped work and called triple zero.” Inspector David Webber said.

“What makes you think it’s one of ours?” HDU Senior Agent Jo Burns asked.

With a gloved hand, David moved some of the long red hair, to show a huge gash across the woman’s throat.

“There should have been a lot of blood, but there isn’t any.”

“So you think it’s a fang.”

A young woman who had accompanied Jo inhaled deeply.  “Not a vampire,” she said.  “I only smell humans.”

David looked at her. “Haven’t I seen you around the station? Weren’t you a uniform constable?”

“I, ah, transferred, sir.”

“Sorry, I should have introduced you.  Inspector David Webber, meet my new Trainee Agent, Kate Murdoch, and yes, I did poach her from your uniform branch.”

“What happened to your old trainee, the gawky kid?”

“Harry’s been promoted. He’s a full agent now, he’s full time night shift.”

“Full time night shift? At his age nights should be for fun.”

“I don’t want him having too much fun.  I’d have to arrest him if he did.”

“Am I missing something?”

“He’s had a bit of a transformation.”

“And your new trainee being able to smell humans or vampires?”

“A special skill.”

“So what do you smell?” David asked Kate.

“The victim was already dead when she was brought here.  Her scent is mixed with the scent of early decay, and blood, no lingering scent of her alive.  There is blood, you’ll find a trace on her clothes, I can smell it, not a lot but it’s definitely there.  There have been lots of people here some very sweaty men, who were probably the council workers, lots of more recent scents, probably police, and older scents that came here when she came here.  Those were teenaged girls.”

“Teenaged girls? Are you sure?” 

“Pheromones in the sweat, and cheap supermarket body spray, overly sweet.”

“Can you track where they came from or where they went?”

“Like a tracker dog?”

“I didn’t want to put it that way, but yes, like that.”

“I think so.”

Kate led the way, through the uncut long shoulder-height grass.

“We’ll struggle to find evidence in this,” David said.  More quietly, he asked Jo, “Werewolf?”

Jo nodded.  

“Her nose is always this good?”

“Close to the full moon it is.  If this case had come up near the new moon, she wouldn’t do anywhere near as well.”

“My hearing is remarkably good near the full moon as well,” Kate said.

“Sorry,” Jo said.  

“And your old trainee?” David asked, no longer bothering to whisper.


“Since when?”

“Since he had a bit too much to drink on a night out. Luckily the Countess rescued him.  

“Do you trust the Countess?”

“I trust her to act in her own interests.”  To Kate, Jo said: “Is this the way they came or the way they went after dumping the body?”

“Both.  They took almost the same path both ways I’m following the blood, so the path they took to get there.  They returned walking parallel to us, but about a meter to our right.  I’m not walking exactly on top of the path they took to avoid interfering with forensics, or scents if, you know, you decide to get a dog to officially do this.”

They walked in silence a bit further, struggling against the long, tangled, half-dry grass.

“Just up ahead, lots of blood, probably the murder scene,” Kate said.

They approached carefully, aware of the risk of trampling evidence.  Grass had been trampled, and there was a significant amount of blood on the ground and grass.

“That certainly seems to be the missing blood,” Jo said.  “So definitely one for the regular police.  All yours, David.”

“That’s not all the blood.  I can smell some further on and I can hear girl’s voices.” Kate pointed on further ahead.

“Maybe we could continue the interagency cooperation a little longer?” David asked.  

“Sure,” Jo answered.  “Please lead the way, Kate.”

Another ten metres through the grass, and then they were at the back fence of a yard which backed on to the creek area.  

“The cubby house, between the fence and the house,” Kate said.  “One said, ‘We have to drink it if we want to be real vampires.’ The other said, ‘I’m not so sure of this now.’ The first said, ‘You were sure when we killed her.’  The second said, ‘It didn’t seem real then, but this is real, and it’s blood. It’s her blood.”

Jo said to David.  “Well, that gives you everything you need for an arrest.  You don’t need us to apprehend two little girls playing vampire. If we’re not involved you can go through proper channels, courts, and suchlike.”

David agreed it was definitely a matter for the police.  He phoned for officers to come to make the arrest. Jo and Kate turned to walk back the way they’d come.  

“Oh Kate,” he said, “if you ever want to come back to the police force, I can make sure your old job is open.”

“No thanks, sir,” she said. “Now I know what’s really out there, I don’t want to spend my time chasing delusional teens.”

“Fair enough.” David answered.  

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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