Vampire shift, p.1
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       Vampire Shift, p.1

         Part #1 of Kiera Hudson Series One series by Tim ORourke
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Vampire Shift
Chapter One

  My name is Kiera Hudson. I'm twenty-years-old and employed by Havenshire Police as a police constable in the south west of England. I have been a police officer for eighteen months. On completion of my initial training, I was posted to the coastal town of The Ragged Cove. I'd heard rumours that the post was a difficult one to fill. Although this posting wasn't forced upon me by my superiors, they did make me an attractive offer that I found difficult to refuse. The terms of my posting to the town The Ragged Cove included free accommodation and an unsociable shift allowance of £5,000, paid in a lump sum annually.

  When I told my fellow recruits that I had accepted the offer, some of them had laughed nervously, stating that the force paid the shift allowance annually as no one had lasted long enough in the post to collect it. My shift pattern was a constant series of nightshifts that started every night at 1900 hours and finished at 0700 hours the following morning. Looking back now, I can understand the raised eyebrows of my friends, but at the time, I didn't want to refuse the post. I thought that if I did, I would be viewed as inflexible by my superiors and I had ambitions way past the rank of constable. Like me, most of the other recruits were young, and knowing that The Ragged Cove was pretty remote and miles from the nearest railway station or motorway, I suspected that they were more concerned about their social lives than their future careers.

  So packing a suitcase, which consisted mainly of my smart new uniform, I set off in my tired old Mini and headed from my rented rooms in Havensfield to the desolate town, The Ragged Cove. I remember that day clearly as I made my way by a series of deserted country lanes towards the town. A few miles out, the sky clouded over and it started to rain. The day almost seemed to turn to night, as the rain lashed against the windscreen of my car and the wipers had trouble keeping the screen clear. With my headlights on full beam, I cautiously navigated my way towards the town. Several times I had to pull over off the narrow roads, and park up by the entrance to some field and check the map I'd been given by Sergeant Phillips at training school.

  I knew that the town was remote, but it was only as I tried to reach it, that I realised how isolated from the outside world it really was. It seemed to me that The Ragged Cove didn't want to be found. Realising that I was just spooking myself, I shook off any regrets that I might have already been having, and carried on through the rain and gloom towards The Ragged Cove.

  In an attempt to lighten my spirits, I turned on the car radio, hoping to find something I could sing along to. I settled for On the floor by Jennifer Lopez. The roads seemed to get narrower as I headed down towards the cove, which spread out below me like a giant horseshoe. Wiping the mist from the windscreen with the back of my hand, I could see the sea in the distance and it looked black and angry as it crashed against the cliffs. As I neared the town, the radio began to hiss and spit with static until I lost the signal completely and made the rest of my journey in silence.

  I reached the town just before five, but the sky was so dark that it seemed a lot later. Driving my car through the cobbled streets, I peered up at the tired-looking buildings that lined each side of the road. There was a row of shops which had been shut for the day, and the streets were so deserted, I wondered how they managed to stay in business. Sergeant Phillips had said that a room had been rented for me above an Inn named "The Crescent Moon", but I couldn't seem to find it. Over and over again, I drove up and down the same streets, the wind and the rain hammering my little car.

  It was just before six when I noticed a small side street that I hadn't seen before. Turning into it, my car bounced and lurched over the cobbled road, until in the distance, I could just make out the glow of a blue lamp attached to the front of a white-washed building. Any anxiety that I felt disappeared on seeing it. I knew that I'd found the police station where I had been posted to. They would be able to point me in the right direction to my lodgings, and it would give me a chance to meet with some of my colleagues before I started my first nightshift the following evening.

  Parking the car just outside, I pulled my jacket tight about my shoulders and ran towards the old wooden door below the blue lamp. Pushing against it, I stumbled into the station and out of the howling wind and driving rain. I must have looked a right sight, my black hair matted in dark, wet streaks to my forehead and cheeks, my face pale with the cold.

  "Can I help you?" someone asked me.

  Looking up, I could see a small front counter. Sitting behind it was a police officer. He had short, grey hair and was clean shaven. He was about forty-years-old. He was dressed in his uniform and was sucking on an old looking pipe, which pumped clouds of blue smoke into the air.

  "Can I help you?" He asked again.

  Straightening my hair and pulling it from my face, I smiled and said, "I'm Kiera. "

  He looked back at me as if he didn't have the slightest idea as to what I was talking about. So holding out my hand for him to shake, I stepped towards the front counter and said, "I'm Kiera Hudson. The new recruit?"

  Again he looked at me as if I were speaking in a foreign language. Lowering my hand, I added, "Force headquarters sent me. I'm to be stationed here. "

  Then with a sudden look of recognition on his face, he stood up and came towards me. It was then that I noticed he wasn't in full uniform at all, but was wearing a pair of jeans and carpet slippers. He appeared to lean to the right as he walked, as if he had a limp.

  "Hudson," he said, thumbing through some paperwork on the other side of the counter. "Hudson. Kiera. Oh yes," he said, plucking my file from beneath a mountain of paperwork. Then looking back at me, he said, "You know you're getting old when the new recruits look younger than my daughters. "

  Noticing the three stripes on his shoulders, I asked, "Are you in charge here?"

  Placing my file to one side, he smiled back at me and said, "Kind of, but not really. I'm Sergeant Murphy - Murphy to my friends," and thrust out his hand. Taking it, he pumped my arm up and down until I thought it might just fall off. "We do have Chief Inspector Rom, but we don't see him much. He pops his head in from time to time and that's the way we like it. Don't want the boss nosing around," he said, winking at me as he puffed on his pipe again.

  Knocking my fringe from my eyes, I noticed that Sergeant Murphy was wearing a small tiepin which was in the shape of a crucifix. I thought this was a little odd as we'd had it instilled into us at training school that we were only to wear police insignia on our uniforms - nothing else - especially not anything religious or anything that might cause offense.

  Sergeant Murphy saw me looking, and his fingers went straight to it. "I know what you're thinking," he said. "Straight from training school where you've had your head crammed full of all the things you should and shouldn't do. "

  "No," I said, shaking my head, not wanting to offend my new sergeant in the first few moments of meeting him.

  "Well, let me tell you something, little lady," he said leaning over the counter towards me, his voice dropping to a whisper. "This little cross here will offer you more protection than any can of CS spray, a baton, or a Taser. They don't mean diddly-shit in The Ragged Cove. "

  "Don't listen to the old fart," someone said from behind me.

  Spinning round, I saw another police officer step into the station out of the rain. His raincoat dripped water all over the floor, and it ran from the brim of his helmet. Taking it from his head, he shook the rain off. Unlike Sergeant Murphy, this police officer was younger, no older than twenty-two. He had short black wavy hair, green eyes, and a handsome looking face.

  "I'm sorry?" I asked, taken aback by his sudden presence. His jaw line was sharp and square and he had such a deep cleft chin that it looked as if it had been made with a nail gun. Although he was clean shaven, the lower
half of his face was shadowed where his black stubble hid just beneath the surface.

  "I said, take no notice of the old fart,'" he smiled, and looked over my shoulder at Sergeant Murphy.

  "You show some respect,'" Murphy said, but he didn't sound angry, it was as if it were a joke that he shared with this officer.

  Taking off his black raincoat and draping it over the counter, he turned to me and said, "I'm Luke Bishop. " Then smiling he added, "The one who does all the work around here. "

  "You don't know the meaning of the word," Sergeant Murphy scoffed, and went back to his seat, where he propped his slippered feet up onto his desk and sucked on his pipe.

  "So you must be Constable Hudson?" Luke asked.

  "Kiera," I said, shaking his hand.

  "Good to meet you," Luke said, and I couldn't help but notice that he held my gaze just a little too long - long enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Looking away, I noticed the sign above the counter that read:

  It is against the law to smoke anywhere on these premises.

  Then looking over at my new sergeant with the pipe dangling from his mouth, he winked at me again and picked up some of the paperwork that littered his desk. I was immediately struck by the lack of professionalism Sergeant Murphy showed, and it felt at odds with the almost military style of policing instilled in me at training school.

  "I thought you started your shift with us tomorrow night?" Luke said, cutting into my thoughts. "You're a night early," he smiled, and it was a smile that seemed to light up his whole face.

  "I can't find my digs," I told him.

  "Where you staying?" he asked.

  "'The Crescent Moon Inn,'" I said, and I couldn't help but notice the look that passed between Luke and Sergeant Murphy across the counter.

  "Is there something wrong?" I asked.

  Shaking his head, Luke said, "No, there's nothing wrong. I'll show you where it is. " Throwing on his overcoat again and grabbing his helmet, I followed Luke outside. As I swung the police station door closed behind me, I could just see the top of Murphy's head on the other side of the counter.

  "Welcome to the sleepy town of The Ragged Cove, Kiera Hudson. I'll see you tomorrow night at seven for the start of your first vampire shift. "

  Not knowing what he meant, I let the door swing shut and I stepped out into the rain again.

  "Is this yours?" Luke asked, looking at my beat-up old Mini. "Yeah, why?" I asked, feeling proud of my little red car.

  "Nothing. " Luke grinned, going to the passenger side.

  Opening my door, I got in. Throwing his helmet into the back, Luke wedged himself into the front seat. His legs were so long, that his knees seemed to rest just beneath his chin. Smiling to myself, I put the car into gear and we rumbled off up the street.

  We sat in silence, and I felt uncomfortable. "So where is this Inn?" I asked him, trying to make conversation.

  "It's a mile or so up the road from here. Just take a right at the top," he said.

  "So what's with the crucifix and all this stuff about starting my first 'vampire shift' tomorrow night?" I asked, above the sound of the wipers as they squeaked back and forth in the rain.

  "Oh, that's just the sarge trying to be funny," Luke said, staring straight ahead into the dark. "I don't think he was trying to be funny. It was as if he were trying to give me a warning," I told him. Glancing sideways at me, Luke said, "Look, some strange things have happened here in the last few years or so, that's all. " "What do you mean by 'strange'?" I asked him, struggling to see in the dark.    "Well, apart from some of the new recruits that have been sent from headquarters going missing, we've also had our fair share of grave desecrations and murders for such a small town," Luke said, and looked back into the night.

  "What do you mean by 'missing'?" I asked, feeling intrigued rather than scared.

  "Well, they don't show up for work. One day they're here and the next they're gone. Not even so much as a goodbye," Luke explained.

  "What, they ask to be posted someplace else?" I asked.

  "No, they just go missing," Luke said, and again he looked at me. "I guess they must just leave the force altogether. Perhaps they realise that being a police officer isn't like watching cops on the T. V. and they quit and go find something else to do. "

  "But, why?" I asked, slowing down so as to steer the car around a rather sharp bend in the road. "Dunno - maybe they weren't expecting so much paperwork,'" he said. "But you can't have that much paperwork out here," I said. "It can't be that busy. "   "You're right," he said. "We don't have a burglary problem, robbery problem or even that much antisocial behaviour. But like I said, we do have a murder problem - and they create mountains of paperwork. "

  Speeding-up again, I asked, "So how many murders are we talking about?"

  "Well if you exclude the thirty or so people that have gone missing - no one really knows what's happened to them - we've had about twenty murders in the last three years or so. "

  "Twenty?" I gasped, nearly crashing the car into a nearby hedgerow. "Some cities in the UK don't even have that amount in five years - let alone a small little town like this!"

  "They started slow at first," he explained. "The first year we had three and a couple of disappearances. In the second year we had six murders - but this year they've escalated at a frightening rate. "

  "Are they connected?" I asked, still reeling from what he had just told me.

  "The M. O. is the same in each case - if that's what you mean?" he said.

  "So you have a serial killer in The Ragged Cove?" I asked him, not being able to comprehend what he was telling me. How my colleagues had been dumb enough to turn down a posting like this, was beyond me. Some officers could wait a lifetime before they came anywhere close to even getting a whiff of a serial killer case and here I was - right in the middle of one - just days out of training school.

  "I don't think it's the work of a serial killer," Luke said, glancing at me again. "But you said the M. O. was the same in each murder," I reminded him. "It is the same," he said, then added, "but there is more than one killer. " Gripping the steering wheel so tight that my knuckles glowed white through the skin, I asked, "How can you be so sure?" "There are always more than one set of prints at the scene and the. . . " he trailed off. "And what?" I asked, almost ready to pee in my pants. "Forensics say that the tooth marks come from different sets of teeth," he said. "Tooth marks?" I almost screeched.    "Yeah, tooth marks," Luke said in a grim sounding tone. "At first we thought that they were the tooth marks of an animal because -"

  Luke was suddenly interrupted as the airwaves radio that was attached to his coat began to talk in the sound of Sergeant Murphy's voice.

  "Echo One to Echo Three, receiving?" and his voice came through, mixed with the sound of static.

  Speaking into the radio, Luke said, "Go ahead sarge - what you got?"

  "I hate to be the one to tell you this," Murphy's voice crackled back over the radio, "but Farmer Moore reckons his dog has just come across the remains of the Blake kid who went missing a couple of days ago. "

  Taking a deep breath, Luke seemed to gather himself together, then said into the radio, "Okay sarge, I'll make my way straight there. " Then looking at me he said, "Fancy starting your duties a night early?"

  "You bet," I told him, my stomach beginning to buzz with nerves and excitement.

  "Okay then," Luke said, "Welcome to your first vampire shift. "

 
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