first impression

Flash FictionI’m having a bit of fun, and you don’t even know it. Hell, I didn’t know it until after I finished last week’s story. It was actually the beginning of a series that’s peripherally related to the book I have coming out before too long.

I’m big into back story and cross-overs. In my mind, all my characters inhabit the same universe, and I really enjoy watching their paths cross. As a result, it’s not unusual for seemingly disconnected stories to end up somehow tying in to bigger projects. And here’s the really fun part. I don’t usually admit that’s what I’m doing. Most of the time, I just do it, chuckling to myself about the unknown connection and hoping that one day I’ll have a fan base that tears through archives of my stuff looking for points of intersection. 

Hey, I’m allowed to dream.

But even though this short series is related to something else you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read, it stands on its own, too. Click here to read the rest of the series. The posts will display starting with the first so you can read them in order.

first impression

The kid’s green, Carter thinks. That’s what she told the boss man when he informed her that a trainee would be joining her and Harkins for this in-and-out. Trainees tend to end up dead. She told him that, too, but he insisted.

Truth be told, Carter doesn’t care. It’s no skin off her bones if this kid gets killed. As long as she doesn’t get blamed, who cares? The whole world is going to shit anyway.

She considers her current partner to be evidence of this truth. Daniel Harkins. He was a teacher before the guild recruited him. A fucking teacher. Not at a college or even a high school. Second-fucking-grade. Jesus. It was a wonder he didn’t accidentally shoot himself the first time they put a loaded weapon in his hands.

Okay, yes, his story is sad, but who’s isn’t? Dead family? Check. Suddenly aware of the existence of all kinds of monsters? Check. Unsure what to do with his life now? Check. A desire for revenge masked in some self-righteous bullshit about protecting humanity? Check.

Somehow he made it through training, and then they assigned him to her. The CO told her it was by design. She was seen as reckless. They hoped he’d tame her a bit. She secretly wondered if the intended taming effect wasn’t meant to come about via a good dicking. It seemed every time Harkins was in her presence he was trying (and failing) to hide a hard on.

He told her his first name the day they met. She told him he’d never learn hers. After an awkward period of attempted flirting, she managed to wound his ego enough that he retreated. Since then, he feigns a lack of interest, but she knows if she told him she was good to go he’d be down. Most of the guys in the guild would be.

Of course, none of them know she’s a lesbian. Ain’t life a bitch?

The in-and-out should be easy. It would be if it was just her and Harkins. For all his whiny ways, he’s not half bad in the field. But this fucking trainee. Breaking into a vampire’s house comes with enough hassle. An inexperienced soldier will only make a high-risk situation worse.

Carter heads for the mess hall, lighting up another smoke as she walks. She knows they’re not good for her, but she can’t be bothered to care. Hunting vampires and werewolves isn’t exactly an effective health plan, either. Besides, she meant what she said to Harkins. She intends to die on her feet with a gun in her hands. When she can’t take this shitty job trying to save a shitty world any more, she’ll just start volunteering for the most dangerous missions on the books. Enlisted suicide. They’ll probably name a barracks after her.

She’s supposed to meet the trainee for an informal briefing. All these guild fuckers seem to think killing monsters will be easier or more fun if they’re all friends. She knows the CO is hoping she’ll break the ice, maybe make a human connection. She has no intention of doing so. Emotional attachment is, in her estimation, the greatest handicap a soldier can ask for.

No thank you.

She rounds the corner into the mess hall and doesn’t even bother to look for the trainee. Instead, she makes her way straight to the coffee pot and pours a cup of toxic sludge that’s probably been sitting there for entirely too long. She adds plenty of nondairy creamer and four packets of sugar. When she first joined the guild, one of the guys asked her if she like a little coffee with her sugar and cream. She jammed a stir stick up his left nostril. Everyone has pretty much left her alone since then.

Coffee in hand, she turns and scans the room. There’s only a few other people present, and only one sitting alone. Based on age and the ambitious expression, that has to be the trainee. And right then and there she knows the two of them are not going to get along.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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