The Ice Pack
Copyright 2016 by Chrissy Peebles
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Cover Artist: Book Cover by Design
Editor: Autumn J. Conley
Gripping a stake tightly in her hands, Julie walked into the dense woods. It was midmorning, and she was ready to kick butt, dressed in a flannel shirt, well-worn blue jeans, a winter coat, and black boots, with her hair tied up in a tight ponytail to keep it out of her face. They were hunting a nest of vampires who had been murdering innocent people for at least six months. Myles had evidence that victims were being taken to the nest, where the vamps kept them alive; they were like helpless prey, with no chance against the supernatural threat against them. Now, it was time for someone to go after the vicious predators.
Julie could smell it, the alluring scent of the hunt. The vampires had walked that very path last night, and the stench they left behind triggered a quick vision. She gasped as a vampire sank its razor-sharp fangs into the neck of a screaming woman, but then the vision ended as quickly as it had begun. Short as it was, it was enough to turn Julie’s stomach. Her blood boiled with rage and thundered through her whole body, swirling her mind into a fury. That’s it, she thought. It’s time to send these monsters back to Hell!
Her team consisted of six Ice Pack wolves, and Myles had dubbed Zach the leader. They all knew it was best to catch the vampires when they were sleeping, and they had discovered that none of their fangy foes were wearing daylight rings, which was a relief. The team had spent over a week trying to find out where they were holed up, and that persistence had paid off. Now, it was time for the bloodsuckers to go down.
Sunlight glistened on the snow Julie crunched beneath her booted feet, making it glisten like a thousand tiny diamonds. As pretty and serene as it was, it was also quite creepy, like some sort of Halloween scene thrown haphazardly into the script of a Christmas movie, a Norman Rockwell painting on the verge of a bloodbath. When a bird fluttered its wings and flew off, Julie jumped, and her heart almost beat right out of her chest.
“Shh!” Zach scolded, lowering his crossbow and motioning for her to be quiet.
Julie was eager to get it all over with, because the sooner they put the vile nest of vamps out of everyone’s misery, the sooner she could go back and look for Grant. The leads she’d followed hadn’t panned out, so she was frustrated, but she knew she had to keep trying. No matter what direction her hunt for Grant took her, the trail eventually grew cold. She had no idea where he was or if he was even alive. It was as if he’d just walked off the face of the Earth. Not even Tabby could find him, and with all her connections, that didn’t make any sense at all.
Julie glanced around at the tall pine trees as she swiftly moved past them. When Zach pointed, she followed his finger to the elusive vampire nest, housed inside an old mansion. Get in and out, Julie thought hopefully.
She was well aware that Taylor, her best friend, would prefer to try to rehabilitate the vampires at the immortal sanctuary, but after seeing the bloody crime spree photos, she knew they didn’t deserve a second chance. Besides that, Tristan had ordered that the vampires were to be killed and their lair burned to the ground. Not only were they killing by the dozens, but they were bringing way too much attention and bad press to the immortal community, and that was dangerous for everybody involved.
“We could just burn it down with them in it,” one team member suggested. “If we pool all our magic together, we’ll turn ‘em into toast in a matter of seconds.”
“No!” Julie said. “Have you forgotten that they’ve got hostages in there? We set their dinner free, then hit ‘em hard and fast, then play Firestarter on that nasty old house, just to make sure we got them all.”
“There can’t be that many hostages remaining. What are a few human lives anyway? Why should we risk ours when we could just as easily—”
“Um…every life matters,” Zach retorted, “except for those murdering, vampire pigs.”
“You’re biased,” Jordan said, shaking her head. “Still hurt from past experiences.”
“C’mon, sis. You know what they took from me.”
“I get it, Zach. They killed your girlfriend. And you can’t stop thinking about revenge. It’s too personal for you. You shouldn’t be here, whether we have to destroy them or not. That kind of thing is what gets people hurt.”
“You gonna hate vampires forever?” another team member asked as he pushed through the vegetation.
“I don’t hate all bloodsuckers—only the fanged freaks who hunt and kill humans, like the animals we’re hunting now.”
“Well, just don’t let that hate get you killed in the process, man.”
They made it to the basement without incident and followed a tunnel to a large room. Julie could smell the metallic tang of blood, and it turned her stomach. Zach pushed open the door and walked inside, only to see the grim sight of people hanging from chains, inside metal cages, like livestock. The vampires were cozy as could be, all nestled in sleeping bags on the floor.
“Look at ‘em,” Zach whispered, “huddled down there like Boy Scouts.”
“I doubt they’d help any old lady across the street,” Julie said.
“Maybe to this godforsaken torture chamber of theirs,” Zach said, glaring at the vampire closest to him and resisting the urge to stomp his face in with his boot. “Let’s do this. These things make me sick.”
One of the men hanging helplessly in a cage met Julie’s gaze and moved his dry, cracked lips, as if to say something, and she motioned for the prisoner to be quiet. Zach and Jordan quietly sneaked over to the cages to unlock them, while everyone else positioned themselves near the snoozing vampires.
“Help me!” the man blurted. “For goodness sake, get me out of here!”
Just like that, the element of surprise was gone, courtesy of his petrified, piercing cry.
Julie lifted her stake high in the air and readied herself to plunge it deep in the heart of the vampire sleeping below her in a purple sleeping bag, but he suddenly jumped up and kicked her back with all the strength of an MMA fighter. She flew into the wall, pain exploding in her back.
The vamp, a nasty creature with spiky hair and scary eyes, pounced on her in a blur. Drool dripped from his gaping mouth, and he struggled to bite Julie with his long, sharp, fully descended fangs. His fierce claws sliced at her face, coming dangerously close to slashing her. Julie kicked his ribs with everything she had and finally sent him flying, but he raced right back over to her in the blink of an eye, smiling sadistically and baring his terrifying teeth. The beast inside Julie fought an animalistic urge to rip his heart out, and she instead reached for the stake she’d dropped in the collision.
Growls and snarls filled the air as the other wolves were locked in battle, but everyone silenced when a gunshot echoed and a bullet penetrated the ceiling, sending plaster and paint chips crumbling down on a few of them.
“Wait!” the vampire yelled, tightly clutching the rifle. “Stop this fighting!”
“And who are you to tell us what to do?” Zach hissed.
“I’m Sal, the coven leader. Can we not talk this out, come to a truce, so there is no bloodshed on either side? Surely you wolves are more civilized than…this,” he said, looking around at the carnage and the blood that had already stained the floors.
“Civilized?” Julie said with a smirk. “You call this civilized? Murdering people, keeping them in cages till you get a sweet tooth and drain them dead? If we let you walk out of here, you’ll just make a new nest somewhere else like the vipers you are, and the killing will just start all over again in a new place.”
The man in a black shirt and leather pants, with eyes the most unusual hue of green, stepped toward Julie. Even when he pointed his rifle at her, Julie wasn’t frightened; she knew she could stop the bullet in the blink of an eye with her magic.
“You know, there’s this old song,” Julie snapped.
“It’s called ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me,’ The Police. I know it’s about as ancient as you are, 1980 or something, but you oughtta give it a listen sometime and stop standing so close to people who don’t wanna smell your nasty breath!” she said, peering furiously at him.
“Is it because we’re on your turf?” asked a vampire with long, blonde hair.
“Listen, we don’t want any trouble with the local wolves,” their leader said.
“We’re not local,” Zach said.
The vampire smiled. “We’re willing to share. We’ll even give you first dibs on our prisoners. You can have all the meat you want, as long as you leave the blood for us.”
“We didn’t come here for a freaking buffet, you monster!” Julie shouted.
“Why are you here then?” Sal asked. “I was under the impression that you dogs are here in search of…Puppy Chow, like those nasty hyena kin of yours who try to surround a poor lion and steal his hard-earned prey.”
“The only preying that is going to go on in here should be yours, on your knees, begging for your undead lives,” Julie said. “Are you really so stupid that it isn’t obvious? We’re the cavalry. We’re here to save the people, not eat them.”
“Oh. My mistake.”
“As Sal said, we want no trouble, and we are happy to go elsewhere,” another said.
“If you didn’t want trouble, you shouldn’t have made this town your feeding grounds,” Julie barked, “or any town, for that matter. You can drink from blood bags or animals. As your slimy leader said himself, there is no need for all this bloodshed.”
“Blood bags? No!” a vampire answered. “Why should we be condemned to drink stale blood from some unknown source? We don’t just merely drink blood…we drink life. We enjoy draining our victims. And I can’t believe you’d have us drinking from rats and rodents!”
“Well, you are what you eat,” Zach sniped, “though that’s somewhat of an insult to the filthy rats, I suppose.”
“Your murderous rampage caught the attention of the Immortal Council, and now you must be punished,” Julie said.
The blonde woman’s eyes widened with horror. “The Council? So you’re…vampire hunters? They sent you after us?”
Julie nodded. “Yes, and we’re here to shut you down permanently.”
“That won’t happen, you mutts!” Sal said, shifting his stance to study his adversaries.
“Wanna bet? You may think you’re invincible, you toothy terror, but remember that we tracked you down pretty easily, in just a few days. You’re not so smart, and your bloodthirsty rampage ends right now.”
They stared at each other hard for a moment before Sal inhaled sharply and spat, “I smell you, wolf. You stink like a wet dog.”
The wolf inside Julie growled at the insult, desperate to rip the vampire open with razor-sharp claws. It took every single ounce of control she had to stop her wolf from taking over, but she didn’t want to be controlled by pure rage, as she knew it would override all her common sense. Her wolf was infuriated by the fact that the nest survived by committing mass murder, but she had to tame the beast inside her.
Julie smiled. “I smell you too. What is that scent called anyway?” she asked, sniffing the air. “Oh, I know. It's called...Revolting.”
“Cute,” the vampire said. “Now let’s talk this out.”
Julie took another step closer. “There’s nothing to talk about. Prolonging your pathetic life by drinking the blood of these innocent people just pisses me off, you rogues.”
An entourage of six vampires moved in behind Sal, and several more eased over to join them, until he was surrounded by at least a dirty dozen.
The beast within Julie stirred. It feared nothing and longed to attack, but she managed to stifle her anger.
Sal crossed his arms. “Well? What are you going to do, little pup? We are not about to run…or repent.”
“I doubt running would get you very far anyway,” Julie said, seething.
Sal’s fangs lengthened, and his eyes glowed. “You claim you are smart, but it seems you came so…unprepared. Only a few crude stakes? Darling, you really should be more armed to fight a coven like ours,” he said, pointing at his gun.
“Not necessary,” Julie said.
“No, really. You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”
“You think you’re stronger than us, little wolf? Perhaps you are in the stinking department,” he said, drawing laughs and cruel chuckles from the others of his kind, “but we are certainly not afraid of a mangy bunch of house pets.”
Julie met his gaze. “Well, I’m not your typical mutt.” With that, she flung her hand, and a large gust of wind knocked the entire group backward. “And that, darling, is why I don’t need weapons like you do.”
“Who are you?” Sal demanded, dumbfounded and stumbling to his feet.
“We’re The Ice Pack,” Julie answered, “and we’re about to freeze this nest for good!”
“The Ice Pack? That can’t be true. It’s just a myth, some silly fairytale about mythical creatures created to guard elite immortals,” a woman shouted, laughing. “Next, you’ll be telling us you are the Tooth Fairy.”
“We do exist, and we have strength, power, and magic like none you’ve seen before. No immortal can win against us. Surrender now, or we will kill you. We will destroy you so thoroughly that there will be nothing left but ashes, not even one fang for you to put under your pillow!”
“We are vampires, and we do not surrender, least of all to dogs!” a woman shouted.
An arrow flew at Julie’s face, but she caught it in a split second, just before it hit her face. “Nice try,” she said with a growl in her throat and a glow in her eyes. “All that did was make me mad though. I warned you before that you should run, and I won’t warn you again.”
The ravenous predators did opt to run, only at her team instead of away from them. The Ice Pack fought back, charging directly at their enemies and dodging fists, claws, and fangs. As they fought, the humans in the cages, roused from their painful, nightmarish sleep by all the commotion,
A vampire in a fedora threw his fist at Julie, but she ducked the blow easily with immortal Ice Pack speed. In exchange, she delivered a flurry of blows to his face, chest, and groin. He struck her with his body, sending her reeling backward, then fell clumsily on top of her. As he tried to punch her, she threw her arms up, and a yellow stream of energy threw him to the ceiling, so hard that large chunks of concrete came raining down. As soon as he crashed to the floor, Zach rammed a stake through his heart, and he vanished, leaving behind only a pile of black dust with the fedora sitting on top of it, like some sort of twisted Indiana Jones shrine.
Jordan kicked another vamp’s legs out from under him. As he started to stagger and stumble like an old drunk, she staked him. Next, a furious redhead took slow, measured steps toward her, but Jordan kicked her in the chest.
The vampiress flew back but somehow caught her balance and let out a demonic, inhuman growl. “You killed my husband!” she shrieked.
Jordan gripped her stake tightly and lifted it high in the air, ready to strike again. “Then you need to join him…in Hell!”
The woman gnashed her teeth and charged, but Jordan was much too fast and easily penetrated her chest with the stake.
A vampire with a red Mohawk charged at Zach, but he easily pulled back his fist and took a hard swing at the corpse’s face. The sucker-punch knocked the creature right out, and he fell to the hard floor with a loud thud.
A gothic chick with dark eye makeup hissed and leapt at Julie, but she quickly delivered a crushing blow to the vampire’s throat, sending her to the ground in an unnatural, twisted contortion. Before she could stake the sprawled-out vampire, she heard the crunching of glass behind her and spun around to see another female adversary rushing in her direction. A kick to the chest sent her flying against the wall. Julie ran over as the monster hissed, snarled, and curled her lips, and she finished her off as the thing lurched at her with deadly intentions. Julie was enraged, and two more fireballs emerged from her palms.
“I now see the legend about The Ice Pack is true,” a vampire asked, growling through her bared fangs.
“Ya think?” Julie retorted.
The vampire vented her fury and, shrieking like a banshee, ran at Julie with a butcher knife. Julie moved faster, her Ice Pack instincts kicking in. In a blur, she threw a stake so hard it sank straight into her heart. With a guttural growl, the vampire exploded.
End of Sample.
The Ice Pack is available here for preorder: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01B6K4RME