Drawing: A pendant with a red stone. Caption reads: “A gold chain with a pendant that appeared to be a ruby.”

Bloodstone 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 sat at the table of the coffee shop, facing the door, slowly sipping her coffee as she waited for him to arrive.

When Alexander entered, she barely recognised him.  He was a grey-haired old man, when he’d appeared to be in his mid-twenties the last time she’d seen him.

“Agent Burns, thank you for meeting me,” he said as he sat opposite her.

“I didn’t expect to see you back in Brisbane,” she answered. “But I know your quest was successful.”

He gave a waitress his order.  Then turned back to Jo.  “How is friend Harry?”

“He’s finding the transition challenging.”

“I am not surprised. I see the way you look at me.  Yes, this is the age I am naturally.  Being human again has come with the difficulties of age.  I would have come here sooner, if my health had allowed it.”

“Why are you here now?”

With slightly shaking hands, he took a gold chain from his neck.  Attached to it, having been tucked inside his shirt, was a pendant with what appeared to be a massive ruby.

“Do you know about bloodstones?” he asked.


“When you kill a vampire, their body ages to the point they would have naturally aged, just as returning to being a human has aged me.  You have seen this, I’m sure.”

Jo nodded.

He continued: “When you kill an old vampire, hundreds or more years old, they turn to dust, because that is the condition they would have been naturally.”

Jo nodded again.  She hadn’t seen it, but she could understand the concept.

Alexander continued his story: “When you kill an ancient vampire, a thousand or more years old, among the dust will be a red stone.  It is known as a bloodstone. In the right hands, or perhaps I should say the wrong hands, a bloodstone can be used to resurrect the vampire. This is the Countess’ bloodstone.  I had it made into a pendant so I could carry it.  Among the people she turned are some who are not happy to be human again. There are also some other ancient vampires who want their Countess back.  I am too old and feeble to protect this stone. That is why I am giving it to you.”

He put the necklace on the table, got up and walked away. 

Jo sat staring at the pendant, as the waitress came with Alexander’s coffee.  

Jo swept the pendant into her handbag, and asked for the bill.

Two days later the Human Defence Unit was called to a crime scene.  Jo was accompanied by Trainee Agent Kate Murdoch. The HDU’s police contact Inspector David Webber told Jo, “It’s an old man, with no ID, looks like his throat was torn out.  He had your business card in his pocket.”

A quick look told Jo it was Alexander, and he had been killed by a vampire.

Kate said: “He smells like Harry, human, but with a slight hint of vampire.  I smell vampires, as well, at least three of them were here.”

“Who was he?” David asked.

“He was the vampire who killed the Countess, and freed Harry, as well as himself and many others.”

“This old man? He doesn’t look like someone who would have been a threat to vampires.”

“He’s only old because he’s human again.  As a vampire, he was young.”

“So why would other vampires come after him? He wasn’t dangerous to them any more.”

“They were after something. They didn’t get it.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he gave it to me.”

“So they’ll come after you?”

“Possibly.  If they work out who he gave it to.”

“Like if they found your card on him, the same as I did?”

“Like that, yes.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to investigate the crime. Track down the vampires, before they track me down. I have an entire secret organisation for that purpose, after all.”

“I want to help.”

“It’s not a police matter.”

“It’s a personal matter.”

“We’re not married any more, remember?”

“I remember.  I’m still helping.”

It was a simple plan, a trap.  Jo was the bait.

Jo wore the pendant around her neck, in full view. She went out to dinner, accompanied by David. They ate, left the restaurant and went for a walk, choosing quiet streets, talking, acting unaware of the shadows following them.  

Some of the following shadows were HDU members, all armed with mini crossbows which had wooden bolts. This had been found the most effective way of staking vampires from a distance.  They also carried ultraviolet laser pointer type lights.  Jo and David were similarly armed, Jo’s weapons in her handbag which she kept unfastened, and David’s in pockets and tucked inside his jacket.

Other following shadows, were not friendly.

Jo looked at David and raised an eyebrow.  He gave a slight not. They were both aware they were being stalked, and had a fair idea of which shadows were which.

They turned from the dimly lit road down into a less well lit alley. It looked like a casual turn.  It was anything but.

As they entered the alley, two of the following shadows sped past them to the darkest part of the alley.  Another behind them began to chase them, trying to force them into a trap. 

Jo clicked a device in her jacket pocket.  Suddenly floodlights lit up the alley.

The surrounding vampires found themselves surrounded.

“We’re not taking prisoners,” Jo announced.

Crossbow bolts were fired. All of the fangs had been old. They were dust in moments. Jo checked the piles of dust and found two had left  bloodstones.

“What will you do with them? You can’t risk them being found by someone who knows what they are,” David said.

“There’s nowhere safer than a place that doesn’t exist,” Jo replied.  “They’ll be fine secured in the HDU office.”

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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