Elora protested against the goon pushing her along.
“We caught her trying to sneak in, boss,” said the lackey as he held her with his only arm.
“I wasn’t trying to sneak in,” she said, pulling away from him.
“Aren’t you a feisty one?” the boss asked, smiling his crooked yellow grin.
She had heard about him, but was surprised by the sight. In her experience, zombies where decaying flesh piles. He still looked half human. If not for the ash gray color of his skin and sunken features he could have passed for living. The rumors must be true. He knew how to keep the rot away.
“Look,” she said, “everyone knows that this is your place, Boss. Really, though? An Italian restaurant? A pinstriped suit? The Fedora? Could you be any more of a cliche?”
“I became living impaired back when the world was great. Just because it changed doesn’t mean I have to. Back then, music was alive, men were men, and women knew their place,” he said, looking her over. He hated women in pants, ones with short hair, or ones that had attitude. She wore all three.
“I know all about you. That’s why I’ve come.”
“I know all about you, too, Detective Elora.”
She could not hide her surprise.
“I know that you’re living on borrowed time,” he continued. “You’re infected. Worse, you’re body is resisting the change. It will kill you.”
“Then you get why I’m here. I want the cure.”
“Even if I had such a thing, why should I?”
“Because I can take care of your pest problem.”
“That rival gang of vamps, the ones that have been muscling in on your ‘hood, I can make them stop.”
“What makes you think I can’t?”
“They’re too fast for you to take care of yourself. And Zombies can’t fight vamps, anyway. No offense, but they’d tear you limb from limb if they don’t fall off on their own.”
“You make a point.”
“I have the legal system on my side. Humanity has been developing a few tricks for dealing with the vamps. Help me, and I’ll catch them red handed and lock them so far underground that they’ll go back to being a myth.”
“Alright. If this works, the cure is yours. But you can never tell anyone. I don’t want hordes of would be zombies or corpses knocking on my door.”
“I hear you.”
“I hope so. Because if you cross me, that virus inside you will feel like a tickle compared to what I’ll do.”
With his aid, she set up a sting in one of his businesses. The Boss, knowing there was a leak somewhere in his organization, put the word out that they would soon be receiving a special shipment. As word got out to the vamps, she outfitted his store with cameras and equipment.
On several occasions, she had to stop and sit. The virus was taking it’s toll. Getting too weak and sluggish to subdue the criminals when they eventually came, she requested back-up from her department.
They took turns watching and waiting. After two days, the time had finally come. They watched on their monitors as three vamps entered the store.
“Tyler,” she whispered softly as she lay a hand on the screen, “why you?”
“I heard you got a shipment,” Tyler said to the clerk. “And I hear you got a lot of it.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Old, or just very decayed, the cashier would be no match for them.
“Then let me jog your memory.” Tyler snapped his fingers, and the enforcers grabbed the man by his arms. They pulled hard, until the one on the right gave way. The enforcer on the left kept him in place, while the one with the severed arm began to beat the dead man with it.
“Ok, ok!” he cried. “It’s in the supply room.”
Letting him go, they walked to the back of the store. As the three entered the small room, a bright and powerful light came on. Elora had learned that a moderate burst of UV light would cause vamps to freeze in place, like a possum playing dead. They had no control over this instinct.
The police rushed in, with Elora trailing after. She walked directly to Tyler and slapped him in the face. He could do nothing. She bound him with silver, neutralizing his strength.
“I thought you loved me,” he struggled to say through his clinched teeth.
She couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief.
“How dare you? This is all your fault. If you hadn’t forced me to cover for you, if you hadn’t gotten me bitten,” she struggled to hold back the fury. “This was my only option. It didn’t have to be you, but I’m glad it was if there was one life in this world that I had to trade for mine. You’ve done it, so you know how that feels.”
She turned to her partner.
“We’ve got enough evidence here to lock them away. Give a deal to the first one that turns in the kingpin. Unless it’s Tyler.”
With a pain in her body, and a tortured mix of emotions in her mind, she left the scene to deliver the good news to the Boss.
“You did well,” he said, handing her a vial. “You earned this.”
Without hesitation, she drank it. Immediately, her pain subsided, and she was filled more energy than she had in weeks. She was relieved. Without any words of gratitude or acknowledgment, she turned to leave. She wanted to celebrate that she would live, but she knew she had paid a high price for that gift. As she walked out, the Boss called to her.
“Oh, Detective. Since you won’t be dieing any time soon, I just wanted to make sure you were aware that we own you know.”
She spoke, but didn’t look back.