Blade for Blood

By Bethany Lo-Han

Pull, strike, splutter, repeat.

Pull, strike, splutter, repeat.

Camille Mejía’s world had stopped the day her wife’s body had been discovered. Months had passed since the tragic find, and life had moved on, but Camille’s mind had remained trapped in the moment. She hadn’t taken on a case since. Attempting to work was useless when, every day, the stench of Lorelai’s blood filled her nostrils and melded with the smells of petrichor and coal. Instead of warmth or cold, she felt the skin of her corpse against her palms, ghost-white and devoid of blood. Some detective she turned out to be.

Deep in her grief on a rainy London night, Camille half-collapsed into the closest alleyway. Her fingers trembled from the cold when she pulled a pack of cigarettes from her coat pocket. After tucking one between her lips, she yanked a box of matches from her other pocket and tried to light one. But thanks to the rain, every match she pulled from the box and scraped to life died before it could light anything.

Pull, strike, splutter, repeat.

She was soaked to the bone, miserable, and still in desperate need of a fucking smoke.

When the last match caught fire and flickered out, something inside her snapped. A frustrated scream escaped her throat when she chucked the half-emptied box as far down the alley as she could manage. She buried her face in her hands, failing to suppress a sob amidst the pounding of the rain. When that didn’t console her, she tilted her gaze to the sky, silently letting the ongoing downpour run down her cheeks. Blankly staring at the clouds, she basked in the brief numbness the feeling provided.  

Then, in the corner of her eye, she saw something move. 

It turned out throwing the matchbox “as far as she could” sent it much further than she thought. The matchbox had skidded across the cobblestones before finally stopping in front of a humanoid figure sitting in the dark.

The figure sat on the bricks, curled into themself like a wild animal. Their chest heaved with exertion, and they held a white-knuckled grip on their left arm. Their face was indecipherable, shrouded in shadow cast by the wall behind them. 

Camille knew she should have walked away, but she drifted forward like a moth drawn to a flame. Was this person injured? A runaway? She had to take a closer look. Only when she was arm’s length away that the figure slowly looked up, and two specks of burnt umber glinted back at her through the darkness.

She knew instantly. There was no mistaking the stark white glint inside the woman’s gaping mouth nor the slight blood-red tint in her eyes, wide and hungry.

A vampire.

A deadly snarl echoed through the alleyway. Camille’s back hit the ground when the vampire pounced upon her in a blur. She yanked the vampire’s head back by her long, knotted hair seconds before she could sink her teeth into her neck. Sharp pain flared on her face as claws scratched her cheek in a flash of inhumanly fast movement. 

A knee to the chest made the vampire stumble back, and a vicious punch sent her tumbling to the floor. Not wasting a second, Camille planted a boot firmly on the vampire’s chest before it could get up. The vampire said nothing and glared at her through pants of exertion. The roar of the rain drowned out the frantic thumping of Camille’s heart in her ears.  Worried the vampire might hit her second wind, Camille pressed down harder. 

A pained wince forced out of the vampire. She finally relaxed, letting her body go limp. When her voice left her, it was no more than a quiet rasp of three words.

‘Make it quick.’

Camille blinked. Considering how fiercely she had fought, it was strange for her to give up so quickly. She leaned closer and scanned for any trace of deception. The vampire’s eyes, which shone with animal hunger mere moments before, were dull and glassy, full of resignation to her fate. Camille knew those eyes. She saw them whenever she looked in the mirror.

She took in every detail of the vampire’s face. The vampire tensed under Camille’s heated gaze. When she tried to turn away Camille’s firm hand on her chin kept her head in place. Pieces started to fit together, connected by a red string on an evidence board in her head.

Sunken cheeks a sign of a vampire starved for blood. A stained beige tag punched into the helix of her ear. Black liquid dripped from the open wound in her panting, gaping maw. Camille caught sight of the vampire’s fang again. Fang, singular. She had lost her other fang. And judging from the cleanness of the hole in her ruined gum, the fang hadn’t been knocked out. Someone had extracted it. 

Camille had a vague understanding of vampire trafficking. She’d heard horror stories of morally-bankrupt shitheads harvesting resources from trapped vampires like cattle, keeping them on the cusp of starvation so they couldn’t escape. Vampire venom was worth its weight in gold on the black market. Harvested fangs were almost priceless. 

The vampire before her was a trafficking victim. She had been starved for several weeks and was still in severe pain from several wounds from her latest harvest session and escape. 

Despite all this, she still almost managed to take Camille down. If the vampire hadn’t been so severely disadvantaged, Camille would have been drained dry before she could even blink.

‘What’s your name?’ said Camille, and finally released her hold on her jaw.

Camille met the vampire’s gaze for the first time. The vampire grimaced. It took her a minute to respond. 


‘Vivian?’ Camille lifted her boot from Vivian’s chest. ‘What do you know about the Opulent Murders?’

‘Almost nothing,’ Vivian drawled. She sat up with a grunt. ‘What does that have to do with anything?’

“The Opulent Murders,” were a series of weekly killings that had run for generations. Every Sunday morning, the people of London would find a body in the streets. The corpse would always be sucked dry of its blood, and an invaluable piece of jewellery would be placed on its person. Rings, bracelets, necklaces. It was a mockery of vampire tradition that sent chills down the spines of humans and vampires alike.

A few months ago, Lorelai Mejía had been the murderer’s latest victim. The image had stained Camille’s mind like a bloodstain you couldn’t wash out. When she closed her eyes, all she could see was that torn-open throat and the glittering green gems that adorned her collarbone. 

Camille didn’t answer Vivian’s question. Instead, after a second of contemplation, she pulled a knife from her jacket pocket. Vivian flinched at the sight of the blade and looked away. But the sinking sensation of metal into undead flesh she was probably expecting never came. Instead, Camille sloooowly dragged the blade across the back of her own arm. Crimson drops bloomed from the fresh cut when she held it in front of Vivian’s face. 


Vivian’s eyes locked onto the ruby beads dripping from the wound, but she growled and quickly turned away again.

Camille didn’t miss the line of drool that ran down Vivian’s chin. She squatted until she was at eye level with the vampire.

‘I want you to work for me. The person behind the Opulent Murders took my wife. You help me find them, and I’ll give you all the blood you need until we do.’

Vivian turned back, her eyes wide at Camille’s offer. She took a second to think, seemingly at war with herself.

‘H-how much…‘

‘…once a week, half a litre,’ Camille cut her off. ‘That should be more than enough for you. Beats dying alone in an alleyway.’

Vivian slowly crawled forward, inch by agonising inch, as she continued to speak.

‘You’re a detective, aren’t you? If I’m going to work, I’ll need more than blood. I want proper wages.’

Camille leaned back at Vivian’s advances, letting her come. ‘That can be arranged.’

‘And you’ll have to stop smoking. Smoker’s blood is too bitter.’

Camille shakily forced her fists to uncurl. ’I’ll see what I can do.’

The vampire was almost straddling her now. Claws pulled Camille’s collar down. She shivered when Vivian settled in the crook of her neck, mere inches from touching skin. She started to pant again. There was a tinge of desperation in her voice when she made her last request.

‘Promise me I won’t be used again. I’m helping you, and you’re helping me. Nothing else. Promise?’

Camille didn’t have anything left to live for. After all, she had lost her capacity for love the day Lorelai died. But revenge? That was something she could die for. Hatred burned in the empty spot in her chest where Lorelai used to sit. As long as she had hatred, she could drag herself to her feet and keep going.

But at the end of the day, she was a detective, not a fighter. And if she were taking on a century-old serial killer, a vampiric bodyguard wouldn’t make for a bad partner. A pair of broken souls, miserable together.

‘We’ll be on equal ground. I promise.’

Camille let out a guttural groan when Vivian’s fang slid into her neck.



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