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The vampire’s most recent lair was an abandoned basement, and was as to be expected - dark, dank and disgusting. She prodded the rags on the floor with her sword, nose wrinkled from the rotting smell. The place was deserted, but it looked like they'd stayed here a for a couple of nights at least. That, coupled with her five full days of riding, meant she could allow herself a small smile. She was gaining on them. 

Ever wary of traps, she did a quick circuit of the room, but came up with nothing, helpful or otherwise. All around was the smell of death and decay and she found herself batting away lazily buzzing black flies. Her stomach turned horribly and she turned back towards the steps up to the door. There was nothing more to see here, and she was eager to be out in the fresh air again.

She had just reached the bottom of the stairs when the door handle twisted and the door began to open. She dropped down and to the side, out of sight, her sword lowered and ready.

Someone was coming down the steps, nearly soundlessly. For a moment she felt a stab of panic, but behind that door was daylight - the vampires couldn’t be back. 

So who was this?

She took a deep breath, then slowly stood up. She was hidden in the shadows, and the stranger had his back to her. She raised her sword, but just as she took a step forward he spun around, and once again she found she had a gun pointed at her head.

For a few seconds they stood in silence, his gun aiming at her head, her sword an inch from his neck - a stalemate. 

“Who are you?” she snapped eventually. “What are you doing here?”

The stranger smiled pleasantly. “I could ask you the same thing." He had a slight accent but she couldn't quite place it. "You don’t find many young ladies with swords sneaking around vampire lairs. Well,” he corrected himself, “not mortals, anyway.”

She narrowed her eyes. “How do you know I’m mortal?”

“You’re using a sword, not your teeth. Plus,” he flashed a white toothed grin, “you’re too pretty to be a corpse.”

She tried to hide her frustration. She didn’t want to admit it, but she wasn’t sure what to make of this man. He was nearly a head taller than her and quite slender, wearing a long black trench coat and a black stetson. The gun pointed at her was an old fashioned looking revolver and he had another gun, a shotgun, on his back.  Due to the hat and the darkness in the room she couldn’t properly see his face. She didn’t like that.

She held the sword steady. “You haven’t answered my question.”

“How observant you are.” There was a harder edge to his voice now. “How about you lower your weapon, then I can do the same, and we can talk this through in a slightly more civilised manner.”

“You first.”

“Not very trusting, are you?”

“In my experience, trusting mysterious strangers gets you killed, or worse.”

The man didn’t reply, but a second later he lowered his gun, taking his finger off the trigger with largely exaggerated movements. “There.” He holstered it, then raised an eyebrow - your turn. 

Reluctantly, she put the sword back in its sheath on her back. “Happy now?” she said irritably. 

“Exceedingly,” he replied. “And now, in answer to your question, I am here because I am tracking a group of vampires that I believed stayed here very recently. You wouldn’t know anything about them would you?”

She frowned. “You’re looking for the group of vamps that stayed here?”

“Yes.” He paused. “Is that a problem?”

“Why are you looking for them?” She asked quickly.

“Why do you think? A ton of money.” He stepped back. “Oh…”


“You’re looking for them too?”

She was about to snap it wasn’t any of his business, but decided honestly would probably save her time in the long run. “I was hired to track them down.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“You mean to tell me that my employer has hired us both to do the same job?” She was starting to get angry. This man had no right to that money. She had got the job first, and she was going to finish it.

“Avenging his dead wife? 300,000 credits? Afraid so.”

“But he hired me! I told him I’d do the job!”

“Don’t get angry with me!” The man protested. “Bloke hired me a week ago. Said he’d got someone else on it but they hadn’t turned up anything yet.”

She bristled. “I’ve only been on it a fortnight. Maybe he should try tracking a group of vamps across the bloody country.”

“Like I said,” the man replied evenly, “don’t get angry with me.”

She shook her head. There was a long, slightly uncomfortable pause. 

“What now then?” She said eventually.

“You mean, should we try and kill each other?” He shrugged. “I’ve nothing against you, poppet. I reckon we wish each other luck, then go our separate ways and hope that we never meet again.”

“Sounds good.” She headed for the steps, trying to turn her back on him with an air of finality.

“Wait a second…”

She ignored him, speeding up the steps, through the abandoned building and out into the sunshine. Her horse was tied to a fence post, another horse, presumably belonging to the man, next to him. She had untied him and was about to mount when she heard quiet footfalls behind her. She turned around.

“Do I not at least get to know the name of my competitor?” he asked.

“Mila,” she replied, before mounting the horse in one fluid motion.

The man grabbed onto the saddle, preventing her from leaving. With his face turned up to hers she could see his features better, although there was still a shadow from the brim of his hat that fell over his clear blue eyes. He was grinning. “Liar,” he said.

She shrugged. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. But you can call me Mila.” She raised an eyebrow. “What do I call you?”

“Caelan,” he replied. He was still smiling, his expression of warmth totally at odds with her feelings of mistrust.

She looked away pointedly. “Well, I suppose I should say, best of luck to you,” she said gruffly.

“And to you.”

“Goodbye, Caelan.”

“Goodbye, Mila,” he replied, finally taking his hand away from her saddle.

She pushed the horse into a canter. She didn’t look back.

Submitted: January 02, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.


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Add Your Comments:



I'm interested..I think Caelan might be my favorite character
Good Story so far! Keep up the good work!

Sat, January 2nd, 2016 1:05pm


Thank you for your comments! Yes, I think Caelan is quite a likeable character, but there's much more to him than meets the eye... Stay tuned for more ;-)

Sat, January 2nd, 2016 8:47am


Oooh, is love in the air? Haha. Another good chapter. I like how you're building the story and also intrigued to know more about these two characters :)

Tue, January 12th, 2016 8:22pm

Charleen Langley (ClaireBearandMyrnin)

Quick word of advise: don't say stuff like "chiselled cheekbones" or "baby blue". These kinds of flowery descriptions - while nice - will lead a lot of readers to drop what they're reading immediately, especially if they happen to be publishers or agents. Also try not to do a "laundry-list" way of describing them. Both types of description can be seen as off-putting since it might seem as if your characters are pretty faces and nothing more - especially at an early stage like this, and especially during such a circumstance. It doesn't matter how pretty a guy is; you'll be far too adrenalized from having a gun pointed to your head to notice such things, even a few minutes afterwards.

Thu, January 14th, 2016 9:49pm


Thanks for the advice - I'll certainly bear it in mind

Thu, January 14th, 2016 2:33pm


Hmmm. . . I like the Mila character, she may be a little rough around the edges but I feel like I have more in common with her than Caelan.
Interesting chapter.

Fri, April 8th, 2016 1:42am


Caelan sounds adorable. I hope they learn to work with each other because going after the same vampires they will see each other again. This is going to be so much fun to read. I am looking forward to seeing how things go from here.

Sat, June 18th, 2016 1:22pm


Thank you, and I'm glad you like Caelan :)

Sat, June 18th, 2016 2:50pm

A. K.Taylor

Nice work, Amy. Great dialogue. It's something I need to work on a bit with my novel, particularly in the first half. The interaction between your two characters is promising and leads me to believe we'll be seeing them together throughout the story. There were fewer issues with this chapter and they were mostly in the first paragraph or two. I noted them for your attention later. On to the next chapter.

Mon, December 24th, 2018 1:29am


Thanks again, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Mon, December 24th, 2018 12:33am


I enjoyed the chapter.It'll be interesting to see how it develops.

Tue, January 22nd, 2019 4:21am


Thanks for reading :-)

Tue, January 22nd, 2019 4:16am

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