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Copyright ©2013 B.J. McCall
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"Stop here. I want to walk the street."
Harper Croix hit the brakes, stopping her patrol vehicle in the middle of the empty street. She looked through the reinforced windshield at the tall, windowless edifice of the Cemetery, and then glanced at her passenger. "You can't be serious?"
"I've done seven episodes in seven cities," Derek Hays said. "In every city, I've filmed the capture of a vampire. After two nights out here, what do I have? A couple of dark shadows, flitting between rooftops. The public wants to see a vampire. They want to see the DSA in action. They want to see sizzling flesh."
The anchor of the popular cable show called Lawmen, Hays had TV star looks and a perfect smile that didn't touch his blue eyes. The new season of Lawmen featured the Dead Souls Agency, and Hays had rolled into town with a full entourage three days ago. The anchor had wanted a young, female agent for the Bright Center episode, someone to represent the agents working the streets of a city once known for its brilliant skyline and now more commonly called Blight.
Not someone who enjoyed being photographed, Harper had unfortunately caught the eye of the show's producer. With her slim figure, lean face, short spiky brown hair and big green eyes, the producer had picked her out of a room of agents. To Harper's dismay, the camera loved her and since she wasn't as pretty as Hays, she'd gotten the assignment.
Her watch commander was thrilled. She wasn't.
Harper just wanted get back to the job, keeping the streets of Blight safe.
"You suggested we come out here alone," Hays said. "But I still don't have a vampire."
Hays and his crew had followed her on patrol, irritating Harper with constant questions, directives and touch ups to the makeup she hadn't wanted to wear. When Hays had complained about not seeing any vampires, Harper hadn't held back. She'd told him that the vampires could see and hear his noisy crew coming from a mile away. If he wanted to see vampires, he should go it alone and hang out by the Cemetery.
She thought that would shut Hays up. Instead, he loved the idea. For the last three hours, she'd been driving Hays and his cameraman along the streets surrounding the Cemetery.
"If several vampires attack this vehicle, I have weapons, but out on the street I can't ensure your safety."
"I know how to use a light wand," Hays said, holding up a personal ultraviolet wand.
The size of a flashlight, the personal wands were very expensive, but limited in range and power. If Hays thought his wand would keep him safe from a pack of vampires he had another think coming. There was a reason she was armed with a top-of-the-line UV wand, a gun that shot debilitating silver needles, another that spit out pointed wooden bullets, and patrolled in a reinforced vehicle. Harper hated vampires, but she respected their strength and power.
Harper was tired of Hays. Maybe if he got a shot of a vampire, he'd wrap up the filming and move on. "Good. It's likely you'll need it."
"This is more like it."
Harper picked up her UV wand and verified the charge. Commonly called a burner, the ultraviolet wand was an effective weapon against a vampire. The stream of concentrated light burned the flesh, subduing the creature until it was properly manacled in heavy cuffs that emitted UV light if moved. A reinforced paddy wagon was used to transport the creatures to a jail facility designed to contain the creatures. The sentence for being caught outside the authorized vampire zone, the Cemetery, was incarceration. The government had a cheap, strong, never aging labor force at its disposal. Little wonder the unemployment rate was so high among humans.
A wall, flooded with blue, ultraviolet light, surrounded the Cemetery. The light was supposed to keep the vampires inside, but the creatures still managed to venture inside the city using old sewer, drainage or rail tunnels. The DSA blocked every tunnel discovered, but the determined vampires dug themselves out.
Harper climbed out of the air-conditioned vehicle and put on her helmet. The sun had set hours ago, but the air was still hot and sultry.
"I'd rather film you without the helmet," Gus said.
"Helmets are required outside vehicles."
"It will ruin my shots."
Harper stepped up to Gus, grabbed the lens of the camera and shoved it aside. "You think this camera is going to protect you if a pack of vampires attack us? You're on the street in front of the Cemetery. Get real."
"This is great," Hays said. "Would you say that again on camera?"
"Fuck you. Get your heads in the game. Watch and listen. Vampires move fast."
Ignoring her instructions, Hays turned to the cameraman and began speaking into his microphone. "We're walking the streets near the Cemetery, the home of a large population of vicious vampires. The brave officers of the Dead Souls Agency face off with these villains every night. Officers like Harper Croix."
Turning away from the camera, Harper groaned. If they ran into vampires, Harper prayed Hays wouldn't lose it. Fighting a vampire was a challenge. Add an over-eager newsman and you have a catastrophe waiting to happen.
With Hays and Gus tagging along, Harper walked down the middle of the street, the Cemetery loomed on the left and buildings, long abandoned by their human occupants, stood to her right. Harper's gaze swept from side to side, looking for a darting shadow and listening for a whoosh of air.
Although it was illegal for vampires to enter the human zones, the bloodsuckers were drawn to the living. Ignoring the tough laws, vampires often interacted with humans, having sex and sipping blood. Only a fool would walk the streets after sundown...