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

Harry 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 had had a rough couple of months.  

First he’s been turned to a vampire. It was a painful and horrible process.

While he struggled to adjust to that reality, he’s grown to depend on the Countess Anastasia Arafami, an ancient fang who had saved him from the one who had attacked and turned him. She’d taught him how to adapt to life as a vampire in the modern world, drinking blood from the blood bank rather than hunting his own food.

Then he’d discovered the Countess herself had been the one who turned him, not only that, she’d turned many other people into vampires as well.  A secret society of vampires she had created were hunting her, but only one of those survived. The Countess had fled the city to escape that one vampire.

When he was suddenly returned to his human, amid more horrible pain, he knew the Countess had been killed.

Although Senior Agent Jo Burns had offered Harry as much leave as he needed to adapt, he’d insisted he keep on working.  That was how he’d come to know the Countess’ bloodstone was kept locked in Jo’s office. A bloodstone was left when an ancient vampire was killed and the rest of the vampire turned to dust.

Harry was working the night shift.  It was quiet and he was in the office alone.

A couple of storeys below him, some of the beings who lived in at the office were asleep in the staff units.  In the cells, three werewolves, including Trainee Agent Kate Murdoch were spending the night safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t harm anyone this full moon.

Jo’s office was electronically locked, but Harry had pocketed the “open sesame” card instead of returning it to stores after his last case.  The “open sesame” card opened any electronic lock.  It was the kind of thing that organisations that didn’t actually exist kept.

He swiped the card, hearing the gentle “click” of the door unlocking.

. . .

In a nearby suburb, Jo turned over in her sleep.  She was dreaming.  Her daughter, in a red cape was running down the hall between the cells at the HDU.  “Doggies, Mummy!” she squealed.  “He’s going to hurt the doggies.  He’s not who he was and he’s going to hurt the doggies.”

Jo jolted awake.  Dreams about Katie usually meant something, and this one was at the HDU office. Tonight there were wolves in the cells.  Could those in a little ghost girl’s mind be doggies?

Jo rang the office, and got no answer.  There’d been so little happening in the city since the Countess’ departure, there was only one person on duty for the night.  She tried Harry’s mobile phone and still had no answer.  Going to her gun safe she chose what weapon to take.  Not silver bullets, these “doggies” didn’t deserve to be put down, they were being responsible.  She loaded the tranquilliser gun with darts.  What else might be trying to hurt the wolves?  She should grab everything she could.  While driving into the office she called her second in command Agent Marissa Tyler.

.  .  .

Harry used a lock pick to force open Jo’s locked file cabinet.  He searched through each drawer until he found the locked metal box he was looking for. He used the lock picks again, and opened the box.  

Inside were three large red jewels, like highly polished rubies.  He knew which one was the Countess’ bloodstone. It was set in a gold pendant on a chain. 

He took that stone, laid it gently on Jo’s desk. From his pocket he took a knife, cut his hand, and dripped his own blood on the stone.  

“Countess, return to life,” he said.

Smoke curled where the blood touched the stone.  Then there was a huge flash of light, and the Countess stood in front of him.  Harry opened a bag he’d brought with him, and took clothes from it to give her. She dressed quickly, then picked up the other two bloodstones and put them in her pocket.

“You want to come with me?” she asked Harry.  

He nodded.  

She bit his throat.

.  .  .

Jo pulled into the car park.  She considered waiting for Marissa, but decided against it.  The wolves in the cells were under her protection, and if they were in danger, or a danger to someone else, she had to act.

.  .  .

“Jo is a very efficient hunter of things like us.  We must create a distraction to slow her down before we leave,” the Countess said.

Harry told her about the wolves in the cells, and that in the quarters below them both the Yowie and Andrew Harrison were sleeping.

“They will do.”

The vampires went to the cells and unlocked the doors, leaving them open.  Inside the wolves were backed up against the wall, hair raised, snarling at the vampires.  Even in their lupine state, the wolves knew vampires meant danger.

Harry called Andrew and said there was a problem in the cells, his strength and that of the Yowie were needed to try to get things under control.

.  .  .

Based on Katie’s warning, Jo ran straight for the cells.  There she found Andrew and the Yowie both physically struggling with the freed werewolves.  

In three quick shots, Jo tranquillised the wolves. She checked her non-verbal staff members for bites, and then had them help her return the sleeping wolves to the cells.

.  .  .

The Countess and Harry had hidden as Jo ran past.  Now they ran toward the exit.  

They were almost at the door as Marissa entered.

Like Jo, Marissa had come with weapons for practically anything.  From one of multiple holsters, she grabbed a miniature crossbow, designed to fire wooden bolts into vampire hearts, as a means of delivering a wooden stake without getting too close.  She fired at the Countess but in haste hadn’t aimed properly. The Countess was hit, harmlessly, in the shoulder. Marissa was reloading as Harry leapt at her.  She managed to fire the crossbow into heart just as his teeth tore into her throat.

The Countess fled.

.  .  .

Harry was dead, and Marissa barely alive when Jo, Andrew and the Yowie found her.  Andrew, immediately administered first aid to Marissa, tearing a piece off his pyjama shirt to use as a bandage and applying pressure to stop the bleeding.

Marissa managed to gasp, “Countess,” and then lost consciousness.

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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