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Bagged by David J. Schow

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We kicked in the door of the crypt with an aluminum battering ram and did the sweep-and-spread you usually do when trying to cover unknown space. No bloodthirsty monsters attacked. Our own blood was up from the first bag of the day; maybe I should tell you about that first.

Our uniforms are not designed for comfort–special Kevlar, too many Velcro pouches of heavy gear–but the worst is the steel collars we wear to avoid getting fanged. It’s like a clerical collar of metal designed to strangle you and cook your neck at the same time. Mine is pitted from all the bites it has deflected. Our ordnance hasn’t changed for about ten years: Ashwood stakes, garlic in aerosol cans, auto-assault rifles packing silvertip slugs with little crosses embossed on each bullet head. The little crosses still work; virtually none of that other religious claptrap even phases your boneyard-variety vamps, these days. Nights.

We haven’t been able to call them “vampires,” legally, ever since Alucard Vs. the State of California, 1995. Turns out they have the rights of normal human beings, so long as they are “provably alive,” and the courts determined that there was really no applicable difference under law between “living” and “living dead.” That damned attorney, whatsisname, Winter, not only got all the appeals by various churches flushed, but showed that sociologically there was no legal distinction between vampires and homeless people. Think about it. In fact, vampires often preyed upon homeless people, putting them sort of on the rung between gangbangers and East LA bartenders. Well, that lawsuit loosed a real shitstorm in the courts. All of a sudden vampires wanted their rights. Their own language had to be legitimized–Nosferatonics. “Sanguinary Parasitism” took its rightful place alongside Creation Science and Scientology. Social Security was damned near busted out flat.

And we went from being heroic, modern-day Van Helsings to just another bludgeoning bully-arm of the LAPD. As you might imagine, the budget for vamp-smashing pales next to the appropriations for what politicians call the “war” on drugs. Cutbacks savaged us. We had to go to silver plating, for the bullets.

Then tabloid TV shows began stalking our stakeouts to document how we abused vamps. Thankfully that amounted to nothing because our supposed “victims” never registered on videotape, and were invisible in the surveillance photos. We were all acquitted.

Finally we had to eat a bushwhack–an officer was ambushed by a crowd of juvenile vamps, drained like a juice-pak and left hanging upside-down with his eyes removed and limbs broken in front of the Hollywood Station. In broad daylight, not to put to o fine an emphasis on how little they respected us. The news treated us fair because the officer had children. The vamps themselves didn’t look old enough to prosecute as adults even though a couple of them were into triple digits. Public sympathy elevated the profile of our unit, and all of a sudden it was payback time.

We nailed an old-schooler–slicked-back hair, opera cape, the works–living, or unliving, inside a junked hearse in the middle of an auto salvage yard. It was amazing how fast he talked once we set fire to him. He gave us the location of the crypt. We gave him the business end of an assault auto and a full magazine of silvertips right in the face. Our first bag of the work day.

Now, inside the crypt, just shy of dinnertime, my partner Naylor levered back the stone lid of a sarcophagus and shined in his worklight. Man, vamp or no, the occupant was drop-dead gorgeous (she had obviously dropped dead that way) and it seemed a pity to mess her up by driving in the stake. But that was our job.

Naylor shifted the lid further back. “Take a look,” he said, and we all moved in.

She had centerfold boobs too big to be real–gravid, too round, enough flat sternum between them to land a small airplane–just like those lesbian vampiresses in Hammer Films’ more lurid Technicolor melodramas. The kind of tits that looked great in repose, or in a still photo; the kind that would hang crookedly like bags of broken glass if she was moved.

Our unit deployed, each selecting a sleeping target. Weirdly, every vamp in this crypt seemed to be a female with inflated breastworks; a kind of adults-only Vampi-rama. Stake-points were positioned and, at my say-so, the mallets would come down in symphonic synchronization, three whacks each.

“Hit it,” I said.

I never saw what became of my teammates.

Upon penetration came the usual chorus of cheating, hellish howling, the smoke of corruption freed, and the steamy fizzing of the bogus human form you expect when the earthly corpus begins to deliquesce. At least, that was how it was supposed to go, and did not. I saw that my stake, which had sunk firmly, was not jutting up and liberating gouts of blood, but had flopped over and was crumbling like a rotten tooth stump. A million miles from my ears, my guys began screaming.

My hands were dissolving. The smoke from burning flesh was my own. When I inhaled, the corrosive steam began to gobble up my lung tissue.

In human beings, the most metabolically user-friendly kind of breast implant is composed of a plastic bag of saline–salt water. Vamps never had to worry about bodily integrity because they just regenerated when damaged. What they had to worry about was sharp wooden objects being driven into their chests. Therefore, to preserve your own existence, those plastic bags hanging off your front could be filled with a bit more bite than saltwater. Something that could eat a wooden stake in half in four seconds, for example.

I grabbed rearward for my gun but my target swept my feet and was on top of me, shrieking, one full breast dangling, its voided partner still sizzling and smoking, its load discharged. She drove down hard from the shoulders, swinging one of my own wooden stakes dead-bang toward my open mouth, and the last thing I learned was a new meaning for the word implant.

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Posted by on Thursday, December 15th, 2005. Filed under Fiction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry