Flash Fiction Challenge – Aftermath
The latest challenge , and I got Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets Mad Max. Can you say hell yes? I know I did.
The weirdest thing? Vampires smelled like hamburgers.
No one knew why, or if they did, they hadn’t shared. And not good hamburgers either, but ones just starting to turn, ones with wilted, slimy lettuce and mayo this side of rancid. Pretty disgusting, especially when a bunch of them were together in an enclosed space.
Not that the human in the carbon fiber net smelled any better. It was a feral kid, one from the wastes, so covered in grime and with a matted tangle of wild hair it could have been a girl or a boy. Raven had tried talking to it, but it just whimpered.
Finally, they were moved from the total darkness of the back of the van, and thrown down on the dirt, in front of a group of five vamps. Mostly they were dressed like burn outs, in denim, leather, and decorative studs and chains. Some even had the long, stringy hair that went with the outfit, although others had weirdly anachronistic, sleek hairdos that hinted at the world before the vampires appeared. Before everything went to shit.
As the net fell away, the feral kid tried to run off, but the vamps grabbed it and tossed it back to the center of the circle, laughing. Raven pushed herself up to a sitting position, and looked between the vamps, trying to determine if she was in the encampment or not. The moon high overhead was only three-quarters full, but it was a clear night, and her eyes had adjusted enough to make out the wall of tires, scrap metal, and the skulls of their victims. It always seemed like a performance art project to her, those walls that were supposed to be so intimidating. She even found them kind of funny at times, which led to Dare accusing her of being morbid. Maybe she was. It was hard not to be.
One of the vamps grabbed her chin and tilted her face towards them. They were mostly shadowy figures, although their skin had an almost pearlescent cast, and their eyes had a faint glitter, like diamonds at the bottom of a murky well. “Good, young meat,” the one holding her chin said. She decided to name him Bluto.
The gravelly voiced leader, whom she’d already named Dumbo, said, “She might be a good breeder. Popping out veal like it was candy.”
“I don’t wanna wait,” moaned a reedy voiced one. She mentally dubbed him Fucko. “I’m hungry.”
“You’re always hungry,” a butch female voice said, giving Fucko a violent shove. She decided to call the woman Elvira. “If we could get tapeworms, I’d say you have one.”
Dumbo shouldered Bluto aside, and bent over, so he could look her in the eye. Supposedly some vamps had a kind of hypnotism thing, but it didn’t work on all people. It had never worked on her. “Why aren’t you scared, bleeder?” The tips of his fangs were just visible over his pale lips, and his eyes glimmered like pools of oil.
She smirked up at him, aware that most of the other vampires had moved on to taunting the feral kid. “’Cause I got you where I want you, asshat.”
For a moment he just stared at her, like he was trying to work out if she was bluffing, when a flaming arrowed arced over the wall and punched right through Fucko’s head with supernatural precision. It lit his greasy hair on fire before it burst through his rotten brain cavity, and he hit the ground like a fallen torch, still smoldering. Burning hair smelled even worse than a bunch of vampires.
It all happened on cue. The vampires were barely reacting to the threat when she heard the throaty, straining rumble of the lumber truck speeding towards the vamp’s desert nest. The vamps had strips of tire shredding spikes surrounding the encampment, so you couldn’t come up to it without blowing your tires. But they didn’t need to get all that close. Not with physics on their side.
At first, the discovery of the lumber truck was one of those random things. They actually argued a bit before taking it, because what use was it? Sure, fuel for fire and arrows was great, but these logs were massive, trees felled just before the end of the old world, not yet cut into manageable chunks. But Hannah noted they looked like battering rams, and their usefulness fell into place.
Alej had the hard part. He had to get the truck up to speed, and keep it at least at sixty, even in reverse. He’d managed in the rehearsal, though, and she trusted he could do it now, even with the load unsecured in one crucial way. He’d slam on the breaks just before the tires hit the spikes … and the logs would keep going. All they needed was one to puncture the barricade.
Raven reached out and grabbed the feral kid by the ankle, pulling him or her to her, and hissed, “Stay down and stay with me. I’ll get you out of here alive.” She reached inside her army surplus coat, and pulled out the silver dagger that she took with her everywhere as Bluto suddenly loomed over them and grabbed her arm.
She let him pull her to her feet, and as soon as she was up, Raven kicked him in the crotch as hard as she could. If she were a normal human, that might not be anything, but she wasn’t, and she was pretty sure she felt something pop under the toe of her boot. Bluto doubled over with a pained, breathless wheeze, and that’s when she slammed the dagger right through his eye socket. Vamps weren’t really all that hard to kill, not as myths would have you believe. You just had to be precise, and fast, as you’d likely just get the one shot at it.
She saw a dark blur out of the corner of her eye, and Raven whirled around, pulling out her gun at the exact same moment, so she shot the vampire at point blank range. The salt glazed bullet put a hole in her chest the size of a grapefruit, and she stared at Raven in wide eyed shock as she staggered back, the salt sizzling as it ate away at her skin. (Since blood was pretty salty, Raven always wondered why that didn’t hurt vamps. But a lot of this shit she just didn’t understand.)
Just then, the logs punched through the barricade, four of them in all, crushing skulls and sending tires and vampires flying like so many crashed cars at the Indy 500. More flaming arrows flew into the compound, and nearly all hit vampires dead center. If they didn’t know a vampire was helping them before, they did now. No way was a human that accurate from this distance.
Hannah was the first through the barricade, a gun in one hand and a crossbow in the other, picking off all vampires within her range. Tabitha came in behind her, lobbing salty Molotov cocktails, while Alej followed her, two guns in his hands. As Raven had hoped when they were planning this, all the fires and chaos distracted the vamps and kept them from successfully counter-attacking right away.
Raven bent down, and pointed out the gaping holes in the barricade, making sure the feral kid saw them. “Go now. There’s a truck. Wait for us there if you don’t wanna get lost in the desert.” It was then that Dare appeared in the opening, with his old fashioned style longbow, and a quiver of arrows on his back. He used a burning tire to light his arrow on fire before he shot it at a vampire who was about to attack Tabitha, getting him right through the eye. People infected by the vampire strain who didn’t completely turn were extremely rare; Hannah put the number at roughly one in a billion. But Dare was one of those, and even they didn’t hate vamps as much as he did. But then again, vamps had yet to try and turn any of them.
The smart vamps were running away or had already melted into the night. Surprise and mass attacks were the most effective weapons vampires had, and they’d taken it away. Hannah lobbed a few grenades at running vamps, and then pointed towards the outbuildings where they most likely had their human captives. Lucky ones died fast, but they’d taken to collecting them and using them like cattle. It was both pragmatic and as sick as fuck.
She sensed movement in the darkness before she even saw it, but Dumbo still managed to grab her arms and pin her up against a stack of tires. “You’re that Raven bitch, aren’t you,” he said. His breath was almost worse than the cloying rubber smell.
“Yeah. And you’re the idiot who let me into his camp.” She slammed the top of her head down on his nose, shattering it, and kneed him in the dick at the same time. He howled in pain and reeled back, and she shot him in the center of his stupid, ugly face.
Dare came over, his bow slung over his shoulder. “And here I was going to save you.”
She gave him a faint smile. ”Like I’d ever need saving.” Well, occasionally she did, but not often, and not for long. The air was thick with the smell of burning rubber and burning flesh, and they needed to get out of here, but Raven felt so good she pulled Dare in for a quick kiss.
One encampment down. Twenty five others to go.