Hiss, Rattle and Bite
The opening scene
Getting stabbed by an overzealous vampire hunter sucked. Piss poor aim stopped the living, breathing Marigold from dying a slow, painful death. She pulled the homemade wooden stake out of her pectoral muscle. It hurt, yet the chest wound didn’t bleed as much as she expected. Glancing around to confirm that the streets were still unoccupied by residents, she summoned the little bit of magic it took her a week to gather.
With a deep sigh, she mumbled, “Heal.”
Although spoken at a volume only she could hear, the word screamed in her mind. It knocked concerns out of the way and overshadowed other thoughts. Seconds later, silence. Then, ambient noise from being outside resumed. Mari blinked rapidly and then narrowed her eyes as she sought the owner of the stake.
While she vowed to never harm a vampire, Mari made no such promise to the unenlightened and misguided people that made it their lives’ mission to rid the world of supernatural beings. She bent one knee and slid the other leg back as she moved into a warrior two pose. With balance and concentration, she repositioned the bloody stake in her hand and threw it at the hunter that injured her. The startled jump, outraged cry, and loud thump of a body hitting pavement assured Mari that she hit her mark despite the setting sun’s glare.
Mari smiled while dusting off her hands. She wore a long, loosely flowing green dress with tights and brown ankle boots. Her leather jacket matched her boots in color and material. She zipped up her jacket, anticipating that the tight fit would increase pressure to her wound and reduce blood loss.
Her paltry magic kept her alive, and now she needed time to mend. Magic drained too much energy for her to use it regularly which hindered her ability to get better with practice. Mari shook her head slightly, already accepting her fate as the worst witch ever.
The cold weather and threat of snow kept most people indoors today. She still didn’t want to linger and risk being seen by a concerned neighbor. After checking to make sure that her hands were relatively clean, she picked up the package by her feet. Grateful that leaving no trace of the supernatural was no longer part of her job description, she walked away from the scrimmage.
Today, Mari’s master tasked her to discreetly deliver this oddly-shaped package to the home of his former lover. Break-ups were hard. The break up of a romantic relationship during the holidays was harder. Without judgement, Mari would deliver a gift a day if her master requested it.
Wrapped in thick, brown paper and secured with glossy, black ribbon, the hexagon-shaped package was large and heavy. There was no postage label or return address. The most remarkable detail, however, was the fact that the weight of the package shifted occasionally as if something inside moved. She reminded herself that it wasn’t necessary for her to know its contents when she heard a faint hiss. It was only necessary that she follow instructions to successfully drop off the package at the large townhouse with brick veneer on the corner of Hillcrest Road.
Eight minutes later, she arrived. It was bad luck that she interrupted a battle between an inexperienced hunter and a newly created vampire a mere four blocks from her destination. The quiet, affluent neighborhood seemed like the last place a supernatural creature would settle into; and, yet, Collines Vertes was the home of the Master of the Land. It was also the residence of Mari’s master’s former lover.
Feeling like a scared trick-or-treater, Mari jogged up the front steps and rang the doorbell twice. No one answered. Her instructions stated that she needed to hand the holiday gift directly to Boone or his servant. Without a plan B, she tried knocking as well as ringing the doorbell again. Still nothing. Injured, in enemy territory, and knowing vampire hunters roamed the streets, Mari decided she couldn’t wait for the household to wake up and she certainly wasn’t going to break in. She placed the unassuming package on the top step, ignored the way the package seemed to wobble on its own accord, and walked away.
Innately worried about her role in a dangerous lovers’ quarrel between two master vampires, Mari prayed the gift she left on the doorstep didn’t come back to bite her.
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