I sat in the dining room eating my breakfast with the morning paper opened to page three as I glanced at a familiar article.
DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO RISE IN SEATTLE. POLICE HAVE NO LEADS.
I continued to read the entire article though I knew the story off by heart. People gone missing, bodies appearing hours or days later burnt beyond recognition, the lack of evidence in each, gang activity suspected. I had seen these signs before, though admittedly note in this magnitude, and wasn’t blissfully ignorant to the truth like the innocent civilians of Seattle. The names of the known victims were inserted among the words, a bleak photograph accompanying each. Maureen Gardiner, Geoffrey Campbell, Grace Razi, Michelle O’Connell and Ronald Albrook. Each of these lives had been ended by the monsters that now stalked Seattle’s streets and while it was not known to the public, there were other victims. There were always others.
I sensed my mother enter the room before I heard her voice, “Morning Annabell.”
I rolled my eyes without looking at her and exclaimed, “Mom, I don’t know why you insist on calling me by my full name, how many times do I have to tell you I prefer Anna.” Why couldn’t she just have named me plain Anna? Annabell sounded like a Disney character.
Though I could not see her face I could hear the smile in her voice, “I don’t know why, you have such a beautiful name. I’m sorry hun but you will always be my Annabell so I’m afraid you’re just going to have to live with it.” She came to stand behind me and touched my shoulder affectionately. I could hear her glancing over my shoulder and sigh, “It’s getting worse.” Her voice was grave, laced with concern.
I nodded my head quickly in agreement. “I can’t put it off any longer. I’ve waited too long as it is. I’m going to Seattle tomorrow and putting an end to this.” I said confidently, my eyes not leaving the page. Sometimes it unsettled me how cool and collected I could be when talking about things that would make a normal person would run away screaming. Run, and for good reason.
While I was only twenty, I somehow felt older, much older. I had been forced to grow up quickly and had not only witnessed but partook in acts that would make a grown man cry out with fear.
I was raised a hunter, a warrior, from the time I was a young girl. My father came from a long line of hunters, Vampire hunters. My family had hunted them for centuries it seemed, it was in my blood and I was trained to kill, trained to protect. By the time I was nine I could shoot a ten inch target from over 50 meters away and throw a knife with perfect ease. I was trained by my father in martial arts and could easily take down an individual twice my size. No one had beaten me in a fight, though many had tried.
In addition to my acquired skills I was born with a gift and it made me an even more formidable foe. From my earliest recollection I could sense others, their ‘auras’ as it were. It encompassed both their minds and physical bodies, distinguishable from each other but still part of the whole. Each person was unique, no aura the same and it told me a great deal about them. How old they were, approximately, what gender and most importantly, what species. The difference between vampires and humans was so tangible it shone like a neon sign. Not only could I sense humans and vampires but other animals, plants and with enough concentration even non-biological creations, though their auras were so weak I barely took notice.
As long as they were within a few hundred meters of me, no matter how fast they moved or how silently the walked, I knew where they were. Once they were close enough, and with a great deal of concentration, I could actually grab hold of their aura, manipulate it. I could make objects move and float around me. I could stop a person in dead their tracks, though only for a short period of time, thirty seconds if I was really concentrating. It was enough though. It didn’t take long for me to strike. I only needed a few seconds, I was efficient, a natural. It was worth the migraine I would feel shortly after, just another price to pay. It was my burden this life, my duty and I continued with it without complaint though I did not enjoy it.
I constantly reminded myself of the lives I was saving, the families that would never be torn apart by the loss of a child, sibling, parent or lover. I did it for them and it was worth it. However, a small part of me demanded recognition, the part that now hunted out of revenge, out of pain.
My mom broke my reverie as she sat down beside me and looked at me with unashamed love and…fear? “Annabell,” she began slowly, “I don’t want you going to Seattle, please. I’m no expert” I smirked involuntarily but she continued on, “but this is no ordinary situation, even I can see that. It’s too dangerous, let the Seattle police handle this.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, this was a joke it just had to be. “The Seattle police, you have to be joking!” She gave me a cool stare that let me know this was not the least bit funny to her. “Mom, they couldn’t solve this problem if the monsters themselves strode into the station in broad daylight and declared their guilt. You may as well ask me to write to Santa for help” I loved my mother dearly and while she knew what I did she did her best not to dwell on it. She knew the essentials, nothing more nothing less.
“Annabell Elizabeth Green, don’t you dare make light of this situation.” She all but yelled at me. I hadn’t seen her so livid about a hunt in a while.
“I’m not! I’m just stating that the police are totally incompetent with these kinds of situations, and that’s just a fact. I’ll be fine, as always, so there’s no need to worry about me. This isn’t my first rodeo.”
I put my hand on top of hers as I tried to calm her down though it seemed to have the opposite effect.
“I’m quite aware that this isn’t the first time you’ve gone looking for trouble.” Her eyes blazed with anger and concern.
“What is that supposed to mean? Do you think I hunt for kicks? You think I see this as some sort of sick game, that I’m not taking this seriously?” I asked. I could tell where this conversation was going and I was beginning to get defensive. I shook my head slightly, trying to clear it while reigning in my emotions.
She took a deep breath, “Ever since your father died…”
I knew it, “You mean murdered don’t you” I said coolly. I knew I had no right to be angry with her, it was unjustified but I couldn’t help it. She knew this was a sore topic for me and that’s putting it mildly.
She just looked at me sadly and continued as if I had said nothing, “You have been reckless and consumed with hunting. You never used to actively track and hunt down vamp…well you know what.” My mother always had trouble with that word. “And frankly I’m concerned. I don’t want to loose you! Sometimes I think you’re trying to put yourself in dangers way because you blame yourself… ”
I cut her off there, I had reached my limit. “I don’t want to talk about this.” I stood up out of my chair and yanked my hand away. “I need to get ready if I’m leaving tomorrow.” I said quickly before walking out of the room without making eye contact.
Once in my room I locked the door behind me, not wanting to be disturbed, and paced around for a few seconds. I stopped abruptly and placed my hands against my dresser and began staring at myself in the mirror. I was breathing heavily and I tried to calm myself down and soon my heart resumed it’s normal pace. I was pretty, not beautiful, just merely pretty. I was 5’10, tall for girl, and had a decent and muscled physique, not unfeminine just strong. I had straight, light brown hair that was just past my shoulder and layered perfectly with my face. I looked a lot like my mother except for my eyes. My eyes were dazzling shade of green, the same eyes of my father….
I stopped my self before I could go too far down that road, blaming my mother for bringing up the topic to begin with. Desperate for a distraction I turned away from my reflection and walked over to my oversized closet. Inside I found everything I needed. First I packed away my clothing, bringing with me over a week’s worth knowing it could be a long trip. They were light fabrics that allowed for flexibility and movement but were extremely durable.
However, clothing was not the only thing I kept in my closet and certainly not the most important. Near the back was a locked cabinet and inside contained what I needed to hunt. As I opened the doors a familiar sight hit me. There were several shelves displaying a series of knives and guns unique in themselves. These weapons had been passed down for generations in my family, though I had recently made some improvements and additions to the collection.
These weapons were made from the bones of destroyed vampires. Destroyed mostly by their own kind and left to burn. Not often but occasionally a small piece remained and my ancestors had used this to their advantage. Though it took weeks, sometimes months, to sharpen and shape the immensely strong bone it was not impossible. Recent technology had made this process much easier. When finished my blades could cut through steal with enough force, or vampire skin for that matter.
I picked up my favorite blade and twirled in my hand for a few seconds, freshening my familiarity with it. I grabbed a few others, not needing my entire collection, and packed them safely away taking care not to tear through their case or through any of my stuff. I placed my bag on the floor, sat at the edge of my bed and looked around my room. My room was a light yellow and decorated very simply. Yellow wasn’t exactly my favorite colour but I never felt the need for extensive re-decoration.
Pictures of my family were on my dresser. None of the frames contained friends like a normal girl my age. While many had tried befriending me I never felt comfortable allowing others into my life, especially when I entered high school. It was easier as a child when I was still ignorant to the dangers my life contained and could still interact with others without care. That soon changed when reality set in. True relationships required honesty and that was something I could not give so I distanced myself from others. Though I was often lonely it was for the best. My life was too dangerous and unpredictable.
My eyes rested upon a picture of me and my father. I couldn’t have been more than seven and we were laughing about the large fish we had caught. I remembered that camping trip, one of the many the three of us took while I was growing up. I could feel my eyes beginning to sting and quickly adverted my gaze. My mother had opened up a carefully sealed box and I knew I needed to get out of the house.
Having nothing else to do and knowing I would not be able to really relax or let my guard for a while, I decided to go for a walk and savor the sunny day. I silently made my way down stairs and slipped on my running shoes. As I left my house I could sense my mother in the living room. I felt guilty about before, I was all she had left, but I continued out the door anyway.
“I’m going for a walk, I’ll be back soon” I shouted and left without waiting for her reply. As I walked I couldn’t help thinking that this hunting trip was different than the others. Change was coming. I couldn’t explain it, I just felt it and my instincts had yet to lead me astray. As I looked up at the sun and bid a temporary farewell, for Seattle was not known for its immensely sunny days, and hoped I was up for whatever was waiting for me in Seattle.
I had to be…