Prison With a Difference

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London - 1843

I hit the cobbled path face down with a crescendo of crunches. Vampires were designed to land on their feet, not their faces.

'Well, that was embarrassing,' I muttered.

My shoulder cracked back into place and my ribs reset like a macabre piano accompanying a rousing rendition of imaginative Irish curses. For a man who didn't curse Bran had taught me quite the selection.

Groaning I pushed myself to my feet, jerking every time something popped back into place. Josef had told me I'd be fine as long as I didn't land on my head, but his definition of 'fine' was proving... interesting.

Alas, Father Brennan was excellent at getting into trouble, but incapable at getting out of it, so I'd have to wait to have a lie down.

I staggered along the path, steps straightening as everything worked out where it belonged. Falling from the church tower was going on the list of things Brennan owed me for, he was lucky he'd been cornered up there rather than ran up there, he would've had two murderers after him.

The slapping Father Brennan's running feet against stone escaped the church, echoed by his would-be assassin's. I snapped a bear branch off a tree as I passed. Brennan burst out of the church, red and sweaty. I swung the branch and smacked his pursuer in the head. The man went down.

I stumbled against the wall. 'If anyone's going to kill my brother, it's me.' With any luck Brennan wouldn't notice that the fella wasn't breathing, killing people in church was probably on the list of major sins, though he was technically more out than in.

Father Brennan sucked in air before he said, 'What happened?' He coughed. 'I worried, maybe -'

'I took a short cut.' I nodded towards the dead fella. 'Thought I told you to play nice with other children?'

He pulled a handkerchief from inside his cassock and dabbed his face, 'Lord Wentworth doesn't like me suggesting workers should have fair treatment,' he said.

'Suggesting,' I murmured and hefted his new friend over my shoulder. My freshly healed bones protested but I ignored them.

Brennan's eyebrows raised but he said nothing. I was a woman who habitually climbed buildings rather than walk the street, why shouldn't I be able to lift a man?

'What are you going to do with him?' Brennan asked, and sat down on the church steps, paying no heed to the autumn dampness.

'I thought I'd bury him in the graveyard, seems the right place for a dead man,' I replied, shifting his weight.

'You're not funny,' Brennan said.

I might not have told him that over the years I'd add a few corpses to the church collection, it was a good place for a corpse, but and there were only so many corpses I could add. They needed to be spread round.

'God didn't bless you with a sense of humour,' I said and walked away, the assassin's knuckles dragging on the cobbles behind me. Strong as I'd become I still only four foot eleven.

I stepped into the first alley I came to and bumped into Josef.

'Need a hand with that?' he asked, brushing crushed leaves off the front of his waistcoat.


'You need to work on your balance.'

My balance had been perfect until the assassin hit the church bell with a metal cosh. The sound had been agonising, with notes so high I thought my ears might bleed. But I wasn't going to make excuses to him, excuses implied he'd wounded me.

'Are you going to keep following in the shadows, like the old days, Josef?' I made to step by.

He caught my arm a gentle tap to make me stop. 'As far as anyone knows you're my progeny,' he whispered. 'I have duties to fulfil and there are appearances to maintain. You're still a young vampire, anger The Council and they will kill you, Lot.'

'Thank you for that wonderful lecture on common sense, Sef, I wouldn't have consider the ramifications of having my head chopped off if you hadn't told me.'

He gave me the cold-eyed stare that had sensible folk running a mile.

I dropped the fella at his feet. 'If you think me incapable, why don't you tidy him up?' I turned away.

'Don't you have any respect for the dead?'

I swung back to him. 'The man killed innocent people for money. If you think he deserves respect go dig him a little grave and put some flowers on top.'

'You're being irrational,' he said with annoying calm.

'Irrational? I've spent the last six months only going out with supervision. You might as well have put me in prison.'

'By rights, I should've taken you out of the city to somewhere... less populated.'

'Oh, so you're doing me a favour,' I snapped. 'Take your self-righteous shit and fertilise your new friend's grave with it.' I stuck both my middle fingers up at him. 'I'm going home.'

'There's no-one to watch you.'

'I'll try not to decimate the population in the next half-mile.' I walked off.

My stomach grumbled that I needed to find some dinner and I sighed. Regenerating could take a lot of energy but, as a vigilante, the night had become an all I could eat buffet with a side of moral justification.

There was always someone more monstrous than a vampire.

I had a list.

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