Drawing of a city reflected in a river. Caption reads: “Jo looked across the river at the city centre.”

Fangs 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.

HDU Senior Agent Jo Burns sat on a bench at South Bank and looked across the river to the city centre. All of that life, she mused, all of those people who lived oblivious to the horrors that existed in their city.

Retired Senior Agent Kurt Davison approached and sat quietly beside her.

“I went to the hospital,” he said quietly.  “Marissa’s still unconscious.”

“Massive blood loss and shock,” Jo answered.  “She’s had ten bags of blood.  They say now it’s just wait and see.”

“She’s tough.  Always was.”

“Did I mess up, Kurt?  Should I have seen that Harry wasn’t coping?”

“How would you have seen it?  Did he say anything? Do anything? Tell you he was struggling?”

“No.  But still.  I mean I asked if he wanted time off, and he said he was fine.  Maybe we need a psychologist on staff for the extreme stuff that happens.”

“A psychologist? Great idea.  Where are you going to find one who doesn’t have every member of the team committed just for what they do in an ordinary day?”

Jo allowed herself a slight smile. She sighed.  “Now, I’ve got the Countess loose, probably with two other ancient fangs, and I’m down two team members. This city isn’t going to know what hit it.”

“Do you think the Countess will stick around? She’s not already half way across the world?”

“Well, of course, I can’t be sure. But I’ve made the mistake of thinking I knew how she would act before, and I’ve been wrong. I have to assume she’s here, because she might be. If I’m wrong, that’s great, but I can’t count on it.”

“That makes sense.  You’ve underestimated her before. You’re an idealist. I hear you have a wolf and a zombie on the team now, and you had the fang who turned and turned against you.”

“Just continuing on your tradition.  You are, after all, the one who hired a Yowie, instead of putting it down or relocating it to a less populated area.”

‘Oh but a Yowie’s just an animal.  It doesn’t have the brains of things that used to be human.  Those you can’t trust.”

Jo thought of Kate Murdoch, and Andrew Harrison, and even Harry when he’d learned to cope as a vampire and then couldn’t handle the sudden change back to humanity. “No, those I have been able to trust. What I couldn’t trust were outside forces, such as the Countess.”

“Sometimes, I wonder if the fight was ever worth it,” Kurt said quietly.

“Of course it was worth it. There’s a city full of human beings who are safe, who don’t even know the world we know.  Surely that’s worth something.  Where does this come from? Regretting your choices now you’ve retired?”

“No, just regretting getting old.  But then, that’s optional isn’t it?  We both know creatures who we could bargain with to stop aging.”

“Oh, but at what cost? What would be worth losing your humanity for?”

“No pain. No aging. No niggling annoyance from bones that broke years ago.  Yeah I think so.”

He was fast.  He turned towards her, grabbed both her arms, and went to bite her neck.

A child’s voice from nowhere yelled, “No!” 

Kurt was sent flying through the air, landing impaled through the heart on a tree branch.

“Katie!” Jo called. 

“More bad people.  Mummy run!” Katie’s voice came from the air.

Jo ran, while digging in her handbag for the miniature crossbow and wooden bolts she always carried with her now.

A group of people walking down the bougainvillea pathway turned and started to run after her. Another group of people got up from a table outside the central cafes and joined the chase. 

While still running, Jo tried to count, she thought there were about eight fangs after her.

She could turn to fire, but she couldn’t get off eight bolts before the fangs caught up.

Then she saw them, running towards her from the other direction; her ex-husband David Webber, Trainee Agent Kate Murdoch, Andrew Harrison and the Yowie.  They were all armed with miniature crossbows.  As soon as they were in range, they all began firing.  Jo turned and joined them.

It was over in moments. Vampires were dead all around them.

“How did you know to come?” Jo asked.

“Katie called me.  I called everyone else,” David answered.

“Katie again.  She saved me.  Kurt Davidson was a fang.  He went into it knowingly, to avoid getting old,” 

Jo said. She looked around at the group of people who had come to rescue her.  “Thanks everyone, including you, Katie, wherever you are.”

A little girl’s giggle filled the air for a moment.

Jo continued: “David, if we didn’t need you as our police liaison I would offer to recruit you right now.  Kate, you’re promoted to full agent.  Andrew, if you want to come out of the pathology lab and be an agent, you’re hired, you too Yowie, if you want, although I don’t know how I’ll explain you on the streets.”

The Yowie reached down and patted her on the head.

“Since you’re normally the clean-up crew, I guess we’re all helping you with this clean-up.  Tomorrow, I’m going to try to get more experienced agents to transfer from other capital cities. We’re at war everyone. The Countess clearly didn’t leave and she’s not even pretending to play by the rules this time. The city’s going to be overrun with fangs.”

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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