by Robert L. Sellers, Jr.
Without warning, the winter maelstrom roared out of Alaska and quickly swept down across Canada; bringing with it twenty inches of new snow and cold biting winds that made conditions miserable for every warm-blooded creature who endured its fury.
Fortunately vampires are not warm-blooded. Even she would have ignored it.
As a mortal they’d called her Hunter. Considered short by those around her, she’d enjoyed being underestimated. Slight, almond-shaped brown eyes framed by a thick mane of black hair that fell in tangled waves behind her back along with a toned athletic build and naturally soft Asian looks gave her an exotic allure that most men found difficult, if not impossible, to ignore. Fending off unwanted attention had made her tough and respected amongst her peers.
Standing on the fourth-story apartment deck she gripped the rail as the wind futilely attacked her, taking instead the tails of her open coat as they billowed behind her like a cape. Although the cold itself would not affect her, she really had to watch that damned wind. It was doubtful a fall would hurt much, but she really didn’t want to test any more theories than she already had.
The female vampire who’d sired her had also helped to educate her about her new condition, finding amusement with Hunter’s misconceptions about what it was that she’d become. Comfortably able to sit in broad daylight while admiring her reflection in a mirror and holding a crucifix had only proven she truly had no clue.
It would be the hunger for blood which would prove to be her ultimate nemesis; along with a new level of improved sensory perception. As a predator, any warm-blooded creature that happened to cross her path would instantly register as prey.
The downside to this new existence was the way her body reacted when her hunger was left unfulfilled for long periods and left her increasingly hypersensitive to anything and anyone who might serve as her next meal. Her Sire had gone to great lengths to explain how important it was to control the new hunger and how to hide evidence of feeding, especially when dining on humans. Take too much and you were left with a corpse that needed to be carefully disposed of without attracting the attention of those around her.
Although authorities did not officially believe in vampires, they could effortlessly track murderers.
When her Sire had finally deemed her ready, the first thing she’d done was return to where it had all began: Toronto.
She’d grown up in the city becoming a woman amongst men and leading a gang which helped enforce street policy for those who wrote them. Becoming the main enforcer for the most powerful crime lord in the city had been her greatest accomplishment as far a she was concerned. That Italians would accept an enforcer with Asian features — let alone a female — spoke volumes of their respect for her abilities.
Anthony “Tony Chins” Chincheonelli had used her services long enough that trust was never questioned between them. Unfortunately no one ever really knows who they might cross while administering punishment until something goes wrong.
Hunter and her crew had done their share of enforcement; ranging from roughing up late payments, breaking bones and on through severe beatings or administering more permanent solutions to problems that arose. If one of their victims happened to die during the process, they simply disposed of the evidence and moved on.
Such was life in the ways of crime and punishment on the street. Everyone who lived it knew it and accepted it as it was. Unless, that is, you had certain connections to certain people who might protect you.
When Tony Chins had grown tired of a hoodlum named Morgan Thomlason, he’d skipped ahead and told them that the young punk needed to become an example for others like him. Morgan Thomlason moved from a simple warning to a heavy beating in that instant.
The problems began shortly after he’d succumbed to the blunt force trauma they’d administered. At that point, Morgan became just another anonymous corpse rotting in an unmarked grave.
Unfortunately Morgan also happened to be a distant relative of Peter Giovanni, who, although understanding that his cousin might have shown arrogance warranting the punishment, was most displeased when he’d learned Morgan had died in the process.
Giovanni came to town one day with several of his crew and representatives of larger families who might want to take a new interest in Tony Chin’s activities. After much discussion, it was decided amongst them that instead of instigating an unnecessary and undoubtedly bloody turf war, simple retribution against those responsible for Morgan’s death would suffice as justice.
Instead of losing an entire crew, Tony was able to convince them that their leader would be sacrificed as a token of the newly formed relationship. In his case, there would be no pleasure from this business.
In true gangland style Tony never let on to Hunter or her crew that Hunter’s days were suddenly numbered. Instead life continued as it always had while he and the others made their plans for her.
She’d been leaving Gregor’s Pizzeria one night when they’d approached her for a meeting with Tony. It wasn’t entirely unusual for such things to happen and she went alone without backup.
Unaware of her predicament, she’d arrived at the warehouse where they’d often met and fell for the trap that they’d set. Walking into the room, she’d realized a split second too late what was in store for her.
Tony stood silently with Giovanni and the others as they watched from behind reinforced safety glass listening to soft classical music that offset the muted violence. It took longer than he’d expected before they acknowledged that enough was enough and the debt had been repaid.
In the end, not even he could look at what had become of her on the other side of the glass. Perhaps it was the guilt of his conscience, or the fact that he’d lost his main enforcer that had soured his mood.
She’d been dumped and left to die of her injuries in such a way that when she was found it would send an important message that no one was above the law of the street, including those who enforced it.
Fortunately, like a dark angel, her Sire had swooped in and saved her from certain death.
Looking up at the sky and feeling the blowing snow brush against her face, she quietly laughed at the irony. She’d escaped death by becoming death itself.
Her anger at discovering what had happened and why had led her back to administer her own form of retribution. It took several days to track Tony down to the apartment of his current mistress.
While she searched, she’d found what had once been places of fond memories were nothing more than nauseating reality. Now, she was more interested in those who made Gregor’s pizza than the pizza itself she once loved. The local bars and clubs had become nothing more than smorgasbords of moving bodies drawing her attention like cattle to a coyote.
Even indulging in sex had changed.
She’d become a black widow, feasting upon whomever she happened to be with — not that she was complaining. Arousal that turned into blood lust brought with it intense orgasms that unfortunately often left her partners dead once she’d fed from them. Men in particular did not initially mind when she’d used their physical arousal for more than giving them pleasure. Sometimes it was like sucking ice cream through a straw until they realized what was happening — by then often far too late for them to object or stop her.
The closer she got to Tony Chins the more she found herself looking forward to returning the favor that had been done to her.
Unfortunately discovering the little girl huddled over a heater on the deck below and hearing the muted sounds of a headboard banging against a wall combined with moans and whimpers had given her pause.
Carefully easing onto the deck so as not to frighten the girl, Hunter took off her coat and wrapped it around the huddled form as the young eyes watched and shaking hands never left the warmth of the heater; rewarding Hunter with a smile of appreciation that warmed even her cold heart.
In this girl she saw herself. It may as well have been her waiting for her mother to finish making the rent payment or paying for the groceries that had been delivered after the paychecks ran short. One simply did what was needed to be done to survive.
Angrily, she glanced at the closed curtains behind the glass doors.
“It’s okay. My Mom will come get me when that man is done helping us.”
Hunter turned back to the little girl and relaxed, smiling to put her at ease; relieved that her fangs had retracted in time.
Crouching next to the girl she looked into her dark brown eyes. “Tell that man if he ever leaves you out in the cold again, Hunter will come back to visit him. He knows me, okay?” Gently brushing aside strands of hair that had blown over the girls face, Hunter stood and realized another change that had come with her new reality.
She might have to suffer having a conscience. Perhaps simply knowing she’d been there would be enough for now.
Walking away from the apartment she realized she still had a lot to learn about her new reality and everything that came with it.
Copyright © 2005 by Robert L. Sellers, Jr.