As one, we sprinted at vampire speed past the first street and the second, but stopped at the corner of the next one. Knowing that the other team would have reached the opposite end of the street at the same time, I didn’t hesitate in getting everyone into position. Following my hand gestures – after months of training, they knew my signals well enough – Chico and Butch crossed over to the other side of the street. Chico slipped inside the second building along while Butch took position behind the car at the corner of the street, placing him a little distance behind Chico yet close enough for them to watch out for one-another.

At my signal, David and Harvey positioned themselves behind a row of gas drums in the middle of the road, keeping at the rear. Satisfied with their locations, I gestured for Salem to run on ahead of me as we kept close to the buildings on our side. On reaching the second house along, he hid behind a large pile of tyres there, while I dashed inside. As we had all moved at vampire speed, it had taken mere seconds.

Inside the house, I headed quietly up the stairs. Once on the second floor, I went to the balcony and crouched behind a gas drum there. My enhanced vision allowed me to spot some of the other team, but unfortunately I didn’t have a clear shot. There was no order to where they were positioned…but that was Jared’s plan, I realised – unpredictability. He figured that if I couldn’t guess where any of them were, I couldn’t move into position to pick them off. It wasn’t actually a bad strategy. He wasn’t going to win, though. Not a bloody chance.

Wanting the other team’s attention on my side of the street to give Butch the best chance at slipping into the ‘B and B’ without being noticed, I jumped up and leaped over to the next balcony. Although I’d moved at vampire speed, the others saw me clearly, and paint pellets headed for me. But the moment I landed on the balcony, I’d rolled to the gas drum for cover.

My move seemed to have sparked the rest to act, because suddenly people were darting from spot to spot, and pellets were flying through the air. Knowing better than to stay in one place, I quickly darted down the stairs. Flat against the wall near the entrance, I took a quick peek outside. Salem had moved from his position near the tyres and was now squatted behind a gas drum further along the street. He was also exchanging shots with Stuart, who was crouched behind a car. Although there was a little paint on Salem, it was only on his leg.

Some sixth sense beat at me, telling me to look up. I did just in time to see that Damien was lying on the roof of one of the buildings across the road, aiming his marker at an unsuspecting Chico. I didn’t have a good enough angle to take the shot, but Salem did. “Salem, ten forty-five.”

Without hesitation, he swerved and shot. The pellet hit Damien’s shoulder, surprising him; he lost his balance and tumbled down the roof, onto the balcony…and right into Chico’s line of fire. A second later, there was a splat of yellow paint on his mask. Damien held up his gun, growling, “I’m hit.” With that, he marched off to ‘the dead zone’, grumbling to himself.

One down, six to go.

Distracted, I almost didn’t notice that not only was Max training his marker on Harvey – typical, since they didn’t get along very well – but he had a nice, clean shot. Quick as lightning, I turned sharply and rained pellets at him, forcing him to take cover. Although a few hit him, they didn’t catch him in a fatal spot. Cursing silently, I darted to the car outside and hunkered behind the wide-open-door.

“Harvey, learn to hide better!” I called. His cockiness was his downfall sometimes. This proved to be true when, only seconds later, he stood with his gun high above his head, declaring that he’d been hit…by Max.

Of course, Max was absolutely delighted. That was until Salem managed to hit him in the torso, temporarily cutting him out of the game. Much like Damien, he grumbled his way to ‘the dead zone’.

Two down, four left to go. But I didn’t have time to laugh about it, because suddenly pellets were hitting the car I was hiding behind, catching my sleeve. I tucked myself in tighter, avoiding the spray. I quickly realised that the pellets were coming from two directions. A peek to my left told me that Reuben was one of the arseholes responsible. No way would I give the two teammates a chance to flank me – which was exactly what they were trying to do. While one shot at me, the other advanced forward, and vice versa.

I took a smoke grenade out of my pocket, and flung it over the car. Five seconds later, it exploded. I wasted no time in rushing around the car, delivering a fatal shot to Reuben’s mask, before leaping onto the balcony above. However, rather than staying up there, I quickly scampered down the stairs. I was right to do so, as no sooner had I moved than paint pellets were being fired.

Startled by movement in my peripheral vision, I almost shot David. Likewise, he almost shot me. We both sighed. I’d have been as embarrassed as all shit to have to walk out of there, declaring I’d been hit by a member of my own team, and that I’d hit him too.

Gesturing for him to follow me, I went to leave the house. I had barely taken a step when an array of pellets came flying my way. I managed to dodge most of them. The ones that made contact had only hit my leg and foot.

I turned to David. “While I shoot, you run to the pile of tyres outside. Once you’re there, you take over firing. I’ll head to the gas drums a few feet away from you. Got it?”

He nodded. The second I popped out my head and gun and began shooting, David rushed out as instructed. As I pulled back, David started firing. Bent over, I ran to the gas drums, giving David a grateful and approving nod. As David continued exchanging shots with Stuart, I glanced around the gas drums, only to quickly pull back as Magda fired shots at me from behind one of the cars.

Thankfully the bitch had a crap aim. She was even dumb enough to look over the car rather than around it. Truly, it was a wonder that she was still in the game. It wouldn’t have surprised me if she’d been hiding there the whole time, simply waiting for me to come near.

I was about to finish her when a better idea came to mind. Yeah, okay, it would be best to take her out of the game, but this would be more fun. I grabbed one of the paint grenades and threw it at the car, satisfied at her outraged cry when it exploded all over her. I probably should have been ashamed that my laugh had sounded more like a cackle, but whatever.

The problem was that this would have given away my location to anyone around. Wanting to quickly reposition myself so that no one could get a good angle on me, I headed over to a pile of tyres. An array of pellets zoomed at me, but I managed to take cover before they could land on me. Something told me that the person responsible had been my fiancé. A quick peek to the right confirmed my suspicion.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires