Drawing: bat flying in front of the moon. Caption reads: Harry was on patrol, flying over the city.

Human 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.

Agent Harry Smythe was on patrol, flying high over the city.

It had initially been difficult coming to terms with becoming a vampire, but now he had learned to use his abilities to his benefit.  

As a bat, his vision wasn’t great, but inbuilt sonar allowed him to “see” everything below.  

Brisbane had changed since Countess Anastasia Arafami and her group of vampires had left.  It was much quieter.  As far as Harry could tell, he was the only vampire left in Brisbane.

As he flew, he recalled what Alexander had told him: that there was a belief that if the vampire who had turned him was killed, he could become human again.  He wondered if he would have killed the Countess if he had found her. 

Alexander was the last of a group called The Red, vampires turned by the Countess, who had sworn to kill her.  He was the last, because the Countess was strong and ancient, and her creations were no match for their creator.  Alexander had offered to take Harry with him. Harry had turned the offer down, feeling he would do more good in his HDU role.

So while the Countess was still on the run with her whole household of newly-minted loyal vampires, Harry was still patrolling the skies of Brisbane, looking out for any threats to the unknowing, sleeping city.

He was over the South Bank cultural precinct when he felt the pain.  He flapped wildly somersaulting in the sky as he felt an extreme stabbing pain in his chest.  For a moment, he thought he was having a heart attack, but vampires were immune to such things.

The pain spread through his whole body, as he failed to keep himself in flight, and plummeted to the ground.

He curled in excruciating pain, and began vomiting blood. Involuntarily, he resumed the human form.

In human form, he lay, naked, screaming in pain, and vomiting copious amounts of blood.

That was how he was found, by group of horrified people who were walking from the theatre to the railway station.

Somewhere in the pain, Harry registered the flashing lights of the ambulance, then he knew nothing more except pain, darkness and vomiting.

Senior Agent Jo Burns was woken by a call from Agent Marissa Tyler, who was supervising the night shift.

“Harry was supposed to be back from patrol hours ago, but there’s no sign of him. I don’t know what he found or what trouble he’s got into.”

“I’m coming in,” she said. 

Jo decided the first course of action would be to check police activity for the night, before checking hospitals, and then walking the planned route of Harry’s flight.

“What if something happened to him in bat form?” Marissa asked.  “How do we find a bat lost in the city?”

“Let’s hope we don’t have to do that,” Jo said.

They began with police reports for the night. There was nothing, but the police were not known for doing their reports in a timely manner, so even if something was amiss they might not hear about it until the next day.

Then they divided up the hospitals in the city and began phoning, posing as police officers looking for a missing person.

When Marissa called the Royal Brisbane Hospital, she was told an unknown man had been brought into the Emergency Department naked, vomiting blood and apparently in extreme pain.  He’d been in no condition to talk.

“I’ll go,” Jo said.  “You stay here, in case it’s not him and he calls.”

It was not long before Jo called to advise Marissa the mystery patient was Harry.

Jo presented police credentials, which were among many different forms of identity she carried, and was allowed to stay by Harry’s bedside, saying he was under arrest..

“We don’t know what’s wrong with him,” a doctor said.  “His heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, everything, is all over the place.”

Harry was a vampire.  He shouldn’t have had a heart rate, blood pressure.  His temperature should have been room temperature.  Now he had a raging fever.

“I need to call in a specialist,” Jo said.

“Only if they’ve got privileges here,” the doctor replied.

“In that case I’m taking him, transferring him to another facility,” Jo said.

“I’m not going to authorise that,” the doctor replied.

“You’re not getting a choice,” Jo responded.

She called Marissa and ordered her to get an ambulance and have the HDU pathologist Helen Thompson waiting.  She explained Harry’s situation as best she could while the doctor was listening: “He’s got a raging fever, blood pressure keeps going up and down, heart rate speeds up and slows down.  We’re going to need Helen ready with everything possible to deal with it.”

“But he doesn’t have blood circulating.  He’s a vampire, he…”

“Exactly.  Helen’s our expert. Let’s get him to her as fast as possible.”

In less than an hour, Harry was lying in the pathology lab of the HDU.  Helen briefly pointed out that she normally dealt with the dead rather than the living, before sedating Harry, placing a drip in his arm, and putting him into a MRI machine to check brain activity.

“I think your guess was right,” Helen eventually told Jo.  “He’s turning back into a human.  His whole body is changing.  I don’t think there’s anything we can do for him but keep him comfortable.  He’s brought up most of the blood he’s ingested in the last day or so, so now that’s clear, all we can do is keep him comfortable. I’m keeping him sedated until he stabilises. The hospital probably could have done the same, but they would probably have wasted time trying to work out what was wrong with him.”

It was two days before Harry was free of the pain, and Helen withdrew the pain control.  

A day later he was starting to eat regular food, and another fortnight before Helen cleared him to work.

Despite being cleared, Harry felt strange.  He’d taken ages to adapt to being a vampire, and now felt completely lost being human again.

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.


  1. Poor Harry sure is getting put through the wringer! Can’t wait to see how he manages back as a human…and if he retains any shadow of his vampire abilities! 💞

    Liked by 1 person

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