Horla Flash Fiction (June 2021)

 

THE NIGHTSHIFT

by TOMMY ELLIS

 

JAKE checked his watch. Nearly sunset. Almost time to go to work. He pulled on his leather trench coat, hands trembling as he fumbled with the buttons.

The year had eased from fresh green into wood-smoked gold, meaning an earlier start and later finish. Still, if he could get his nerves under control that meant a higher body count.

His watch alarm beeped. Five o’clock. Time to leave his Godawful basement flat with its damp, mould-slimed walls, odour of sewage and rumbling Tube line just feet below. The damned place didn’t even have any windows. Not that he minded. Working permanent nights, he spent the daylight hours asleep in his box, anyway.

He shook his hands to rattle out the trepidation. Once he’d dispatched the first one, he’d be rockin’ and a rollin’.

In the old days Theatreland would have been buzzing by this time in the evening. The sundown curfew had been in place for a decade with only registered hunters allowed to roam free, though. Adverts for long-dead shows peeled from hoardings joining the growing pile of crap choking London’s streets. Jake kicked at a rat snuffling through a torn bin bag, wafting stench into the crisp October air. There were more than just rodents about, though. There were always a few moonlight morons who thought of themselves as hard men. Some even made it to sunrise alive.

Jake pulled the rusted corrugated iron to one side, peered into the theatre’s rubble strewn foyer and sniffed the air. No prey to be had in there tonight.

He had loved the theatre before the Covid jab side-effects kicked-in properly. After the clots came the anaemia, and the incurable blood disease. Once the transfusions ceased working and the porphyria took hold, the government started to panic. When the first clinically dead walked into hospital, the panic became a rout.

Martial law? Jake remembered that. Lead bullets? Not even silver ones worked. That’s when VHUK was founded. Jake had joined up immediately. Vampire Hunters UK. Shame about the acronym, though.

He stared down at his overly tanned hands. At least spray-tan-orange was better than a whiter shade of bloodsucker. ‘Oi, you!’ Not a vampire. No. A moonlight moron showing off to his equally intelligently deficient girlfriend. The sharpened chair leg the idiot was carrying could be a problem, but Jake was small and fast. ‘You do understand the meaning of the words sundown curfew, I take it?’ He’d covered the hundred metres in less than six seconds. Not his personal best, but not bad.

‘Jake De’Ath, vampire. Hunter.’ He flashed his permit before slipping it into his pocket. Now the formalities were out of the way, he could get to work. Grabbing the girl by the throat to stifle the inevitable scream, he broke the man’s wrist, chair leg clattering to the floor, before sinking his teeth into his jugular.

Wiping the blood from his mouth, he looked down at his hands. They no longer shook. Yep, it worked every time.

 

 

***

Tommy Ellis lives in Wales and has been been a professional saxophonist and singer since 1986, during which time he says terrorists have threatened to blow up two of his gigs. He has a book out, The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby, which is available on Amazon. He has contributed several stories to Horla, which can be found by entering his name in the search engine at the top right of our pages.

Title photo credit – william santos on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer – image has no direct connection with the fiction