Actions

Work Header

Motorcycle Diaries

Chapter Text

The black-haired, pale-skinned woman had been digging the rectangular pit in the ground since eight in the evening. Sweat glistened on her smooth high forehead and dropped down to her high arched eyebrows, which served to give her a perpetually disdainful look on her face. Dirt caked the calf-length boots that she wore on her feet, and those boots encased legs in black high-waist leather jeggings that were both slim and strong at the same time. A loose-fitting white shirt was tucked into those jeggings, and above that shirt the woman wore a denim vest with a large patch on the back showing a grinning skull with vampire fangs on its canines in front of a blood red background. Another patch bearing the word VAMPIRES was sewn on top of the main patch while a third patch with the word ONTARIO was below the skull patch. Lean and muscular arms powered the shovel in the woman’s hands as she dug deeper into the pit to create a three-foot-deep hole in the ground. 

The woman straightened up as she admired her handiwork. Standing, she gave the impression of a slender but robust build and the air of a successful young businesswoman or model. But she was neither of those things. And the pit which she had been digging was meant for one use and one use only. 

The woman looked up when she heard the sound of approaching engines. She looked up from the edge of the pit to see a black Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a red panel van approaching her. The woman sighed, threw the shovel back up to the ground, and climbed out of the pit. Both the Harley and the van stopped beside another black motorcycle that had been parked beside the pit. The rider of the newly-arrived Harley took off her helmet to reveal long orange hair in tight and stringy curls. She also wore a similar denim vest to the one on the black-haired girl. She got off the bike, hung her helmet on one of the handlebars, and approached the woman who had been digging the pit. “Yeah, that should be deep enough,” she muttered as she looked at the pit. The orange-haired woman then turned to the van and whistled. 

A person hopped out of the driver’s side of the van. They had orange hair of a similar shade to the woman on the Harley who had come with them, but their hair was cropped short and flat. They walked to the side of the panel van and opened the sliding door, where two women were waiting. One of the women inside stepped out of the van, her height forcing her to duck her head so she wouldn’t hit the roof of the van. She then reached inside the van and hauled out a third woman whose arms were tied in front of her with duct tape. More of the silvery tape covered her mouth while a black cloth blindfold covered her eyes and prevented her from seeing where they were. “We got the snitch, Mother,” the tall woman said. “She put up a fight but then Genius hit her in the gut and she fell like a sack of potatoes.”

“Good job, Genius, Chains,” Mother, the woman with curly orange hair, said. “Now get her front and center right here.” She pointed at a spot right in front of the pit that the black-haired woman had just dug.

Chains, the tall woman and Genius, the orange-haired non-binary, forced the duct-taped woman to move towards the pit and, when the woman fell to her knees, Chains kicked the woman’s shins and said, “Get up!” Finally, they got the woman standing once again and they dragged her towards the pit. They made the woman face the rest of them before Chains and Genius made to join the others. Mother then walked up towards the woman, who was practically hyperventilating in fear and panic.

“Nice night out, isn’t it, Betty?” Mother asked the woman. She knew that her suspicions were finally confirmed when “Betty’s” eyes widened at the mention of the name. Mother then took out a Browning Hi-Power pistol from the small of her back and pulled back the hammer. “All right, ladies,” she said. “Who here should do the deed?”

“Why don’t you let Countess kill her, Mother?” Chains said. “She’s the one who almost patched in this snitch into the club.

“Well, you’re right about that, Chains,” Mother said, and then she turned to the black-haired woman and held out the Browning to her. “You heard what Chains said, Countess,” she told the other woman. “You brought in the rat. Now you gotta take her out.”

Countess, the black-haired woman, looked Mother right in the eye before she finally took the Browning offered to her. She checked the gun to see if it was loaded. “So you finally trust me with a loaded weapon now, huh?” she muttered as she looked down the handgun’s sights. Countess then walked up to the now-whimpering “Betty” and pointed the Browning over the woman’s heart. “I can’t believe I sponsored and almost patched in a rat into this chapter,” Countess said. “And now I can’t let you bring down this club from the inside.” She then stepped back and fired two shots straight into Betty’s heart, and the snitch’s body fell back into the pit.

“That takes care of that particular problem,” Mother muttered. “You take care of the rest, Countess. Genius, Chains and I are gonna get a beer at Benny’s. Catch up with us later.”

“Sure thing,” Countess replied. “I’ll toss the gun in the lake.”

Even before Mother had left the scene of the crime on her Harley with Genius and Chains in their van, Countess was already busy at work covering the pit now holding the dead body of Betty the snitch, and once Countess had flattened the area with an even layer of dirt she tossed the shovel on the back of her own motorcycle and drove off towards the shores of Lake Ontario.

Chapter Text

It’s funny how these things work out, you know? You accept a deal to finally do something meaningful in your life and the next thing you know, bringing down bad guys has become your personal mission. That’s exactly what happened to me. I had been caught in a very bad position when I was offered this chance to finally make something out of my crap-tastic life, and I had to be a fool to refuse it. The consequences of my refusing that chance would be unthinkable. And like I had already said earlier, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. The path that I had taken once I had made my choice to fight for the good side would lead me to the edge of both morality and sanity, but by that point whichever way the path I had chosen would take me was a result of a conscious choice on my part. But we’ll get to that later.

My name is Laura Eileen Hollis, and this is the story of how I managed to bring down an entire biker gang.

So how does this story of mine start, anyway? Where should I even begin? Not at the very beginning of my life, that’s for sure, although it wouldn’t take too much of your time to read about it anyway. But no, I’ll start at the point in my life where I had sunken to my lowest. Yeah, let’s go with that.

It all started when I was 21 years old and broke. And I mean motherfucking broke. I was so broke, I had to turn to shoplifting just to put food on my table. Now how does a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism sink that low in life? I don’t know, really, but it has to be a combination of factors. But definitely chief among them was the fact that my college was found to have implemented an extremely shoddy version of the approved educational curriculum. That single thing essentially rendered my degree and my diploma worthless. Heck, the parchment my diploma was printed on is worth more than my journalism degree itself. But I gotta tell you, the world has a way of taking the goodness out of people when they least expect it. Maybe the media plays a part in it. Maybe it’s the people themselves who let their inner goodness get sucked out for money or pleasure or whatever else they may want.

And let me tell you something that happened to me personally that made me believe that it doesn’t pay to be good. When I came out of college, I came out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and filled with all of these ideas on how my journalism can change the world, one article at a time. But all that optimism and desire to change the world gets sapped out as soon as it makes contact with the real world. Pretty soon, when I looked in the mirror, I found that that spark in my eyes had gone away. I had been chewed up by the establishment and spat out as yet another gum-wad of cynicism and bitter disappointment. Any desire I may have had of changing the world one article at a time had gone away; sapped out of me by the world because I saw that everyone else was all going through the same stuff that I had gone through and come out the same way: uncaring hardened cynics. I admit that there were points where I contemplated putting an end to it all, and it was only the thought of what my death would do to my father that kept me from going ahead and doing the deed.

But still, a lot of the other things that I’ve done at that point wouldn’t have made my father proud of me either. Stealing and shoplifting is pretty bad, I know, but how am I going to pay for the things that I needed if I didn’t have any sort of a stable job? Like I told you before, my journalism degree basically turned into trash the moment the college I graduated from had to close its doors because of numerous irregularities in its curriculum and staff, and no one wants to hire me with that on my resume. The only people who will hire me (or at the very least let me do some copy-editing for them along with the occasional journalistic article) were people on the Internet asking for quick, no-questions-asked services whenever, wherever. The pay is actually quite good, if it comes on time. Otherwise…. Well, let’s just say that it doesn’t take too long for me to get desperate enough to steal stuff.

And it was one of these instances which has just landed me in prison. Granted, it was just the jail in a local police station, but still, I got arrested for stealing stuff. A convenience store employee saw me stuffing instant noodle cups into my jacket and tipped off the cops, leaving me unable to do any sort of resisting when they finally came to arrest me. I spent three days in the local station with an assortment of other ladies, mostly just girls who had had too much to drink and were drying off but also the occasional hooker or two and girlfriends of drug dealers who also happened to have some drugs on their persons as well at the time of their boyfriends’ arrest. Finally, the day of my release came, and who else would be there to pick me up than my father.

Meet Sherman Hollis. Or rather, make that meet Sergeant Sherman Hollis of Strategic Response Unit of the Toronto Police Service. His job, or rather his team’s job, is to handle high-risk situations that regular cops can’t handle, including bomb threats, hostage takings, heavily armed suspects and the like. Dad’s main function in the team is as the negotiator, and as such he’s developed an ability with words that, while he doesn’t force you into agreeing with what he’s saying, Dad leaves you convinced that he’s got a point and it would do you a world of good to follow along with what he says.

But the pressures of his job had taken their toll on Dad, and you could tell it by the way that he raised me. Heck, if you compared Sergeant Sherman Hollis and Sherman Hollis the dad, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were two completely different people. Sergeant Hollis is calm and levelheaded in almost any situation. Daddy Hollis got an anxiety attack the day that he dropped me off for my first day in college. Like I said, two completely different people. But, looking at Dad’s face as he came to pick me up from the station, I think the two sides of his personality have finally come together in agreement, and it was all because of me.

“Hi, Dad,” I said as the cop opened the cell and motioned for me to get out. Dad didn’t say anything. Instead, he just stood there with arms folded across his chest and a frown on his face. At any time before or after this moment, seeing that frown on my father’s face and knowing that I had put it there would have really brought me down, like really, really down, but as I had already reached my lowest point at this time, I didn’t particularly care about what my father felt about me.

Dad just shook his head and held out his hand. “Come with me, Laura,” he said. We walked over to the counter to pick up the stuff that I had on me when I had been arrested. The cop behind the counter looked up and saw us approaching. “Hey, Sherm,” he said in greeting.

“What’s happening, Wally,” Dad said disinterestedly.

“Your name, please,” the cop asked me.

“Laura Hollis,” I said.

“Hollis, Hollis, Hollis,” the cop muttered as he searched through the cubbyholes in the cabinets surrounding him. He finally found what he was looking for and retrieved a small wooden box from a cubbyhole to his left. “Okay, we got one driver’s license, Ontario,” he said, laying down my driver’s license on the countertop. “One money clip with one five-dollar bill. And three quarters, six dimes, and one nickel. There, that’s all of it.” I scooped up the coins and the cash that represented my total net worth along with my driver’s license and stuffed them into my pockets. “Thank you,” I muttered and then I walked away from the counter.

“So, is this what you want to do for the rest of your life, Laura?” Dad asked me as he followed me out of the station. “Always going in and out of jail? Is that what you want?”

“Of course not, Dad,” I replied. “I do have plans to get my life sorted out. As soon as I finally get my paycheck from those damned bloggers, that is. I’m still waiting on my check from them from three months ago."

“All right, now, Laura, what kind of work is it that you do that you have to work for bloggers who don’t even bother to pay you on time?” Dad asked as we finally stepped out onto the street.

“The kind of work that only happens across me because the college from which I graduated went completely tits up and turned my pedigree into dogshit, Dad,” I said hotly.

“Hey, don’t blame that on me, Laura,” Dad retorted. “How was I to know that Silas University was already falling apart at the seams when you enrolled and finally decided to come crashing down after you graduated?”

“That’s the thing, Dad! It’s all just so frustrating!” I screamed, attracting the attention of some passersby. “I go to college, I work my ass off for four years—four freaking years, Dad!—and all I’ve got for it is a worthless piece of parchment and leather that means fuck-all because the university that issued it no longer exists! God, I just can’t take it anymore!” I then let out another scream as all the frustration and anger that I had kept inside finally boiled over. And then after all that came the tears. “Oh, God, I hate it,” I muttered. “I hate it!”

“Oh, Laura,” Dad said, and he reached out and embraced me. I hugged him back. It was probably the first time that both of us had embraced each other since I had moved out of our house to finally pursue my journalism career that would never be. And all the emotions that I had been keeping bottled up inside me finally let themselves loose and I cried them all out. “Oh, Laura, I’m so sorry,” Dad said to me. “If I had only known…” he muttered as he rubbed my back to comfort me.

“You couldn’t have known, Dad,” I said to him. “You couldn’t have.”

“Look, I don’t know if this is the right time to say this,” Dad said once we had both finally regained our respective composures, “but if there’s anything that you need, just let me know. Let me know if you need my help, and I’ll help you.”

I wiped away the tears on my face and managed the first real laugh that I’ve let out in so long. “Yeah, Dad, I know you will,” I said. “But maybe this is something I have to do myself. Well, goodbye, Dad. Thanks for picking me up, by the way.” I then put my hands in my pockets and began to walk away.

“Laura,” Dad called out. “When you call for me, and I know you will, where am I gonna find you?”

“Oh, you know where to find me, Dad,” I said.

“I hope you don’t mean jail by that!” he yelled out to me. I just smiled as bravely as I could and went on my way.

Chapter Text

It’s been a week since I went to jail for the first time for shoplifting, and one week since I finally got out and I told my dad that I was going to fix my messed-up life. I finally got paid by those bloggers so I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for my bills, my rent and my food, but still I was no closer to finding a job that would accept me and my tainted diploma. I felt that I was still in quite the doldrums in my life. I felt like I needed to do something positive in my life to start the ball rolling and finally get me moving forward. My problem was that I didn’t know what it was that I should do.

I was in my dingy and crappy apartment watching the game between the Maple Leafs and the Jets when my cellphone rang. The caller was an unlisted number so the first thing that came to my mind was that one of those loan sharks whom I had asked for help back then was finally coming to collect on my debts. Either that or someone somehow managed to discover my number and was trying to hook up. I didn’t want to answer my cellphone; I really didn’t. To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to talk to anybody at the moment. Not Dad, not those pesky loan sharks, nobody. I tried to ignore my phone and concentrate on the game but it just kept on ringing and ringing. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I snatched my phone up and answered. “Who’s this!?” I demanded.

“Is this Laura Hollis?” A deep, dignified yet soft-spoken voice asked me from the other end.

“Who’s asking?” I asked in reply.

“I’m Superintendent Cornelius Vordenburg, Miss Hollis,” the man replied. “I believe I know your father well. We know each other from work. He is Sergeant Sherman Hollis of the Strategic Response Unit, correct?”

“So? What do you want with my dad?” I demanded.

“On the contrary, Miss Hollis,” Vordenburg replied. “It is you whom I want to talk with.”

I nodded my head, even though I knew that Vordenburg or whoever he was couldn’t see me. “Well, we’re already talking,” I said to him. “So talk.”

“Not over the phone, Laura,” Vordenburg replied. “Can I call you Laura?”

“Yeah, sure, okay, whatever,” I said.

“All right. Now, Laura, we need to talk face to face. This is a very sensitive topic I want to talk about with you. I can’t just talk about it over the phone, on an unsecured line. As I said, we need to talk, and we need to talk face to face, preferably as soon as possible. Are you free this Friday morning for breakfast?”

“So what if I am?” I asked. “What’s in it for me?”

“Well, Laura,” Vordenburg said, “this is a chance for you to finally do something meaningful in your life. This is your chance to make your mark in this world, this country, and this city. It will be a mark that will last for years to come. Look, just think about it, Laura. I’ll be waiting for you at the restaurant on Bay Street near the police headquarters. Remember, the restaurant on Bay Street near the police headquarters. I’ll be waiting for you at six in the morning.” Vordenburg then abruptly ended the call, giving me no chance to attempt to negotiate perhaps a better meeting time with him.

I spent the rest of the night thinking about Vordenburg’s offer. I dimly remember someone named Vordenburg in the Police Service serving alongside Dad in the SRU. Or maybe I was misremembering and Vordenburg had always been Dad’s boss. But what could this Vordenburg guy needed done that he thought I was best suited for it? What was it that he thought would finally bring meaning back into my life again? I tried thinking of the possibilities, but nothing really stood out for me. If he needed a secretary to help him with some of his office duties then why did he need to call me personally? Surely there was a pool of interns, unpaid or otherwise, who would be chomping at the bit for the chance to work in the Police Service? That certainly didn’t make any sense. But then I figured I might as well just give it a shot because aside from it, I’ve got nothing else. And it might just be what I needed to finally take a step forward in fixing my life.

I slept for as long as I could, and then I woke up at five in the morning as the commute to Bay Street and the Police Service’s HQ could very well take an hour long, give or take a few minutes. I arrived on Bay Street with five minutes left to go before six, and then I had to search for the restaurant near the HQ that Vordenburg was talking about before I finally found a possible candidate in a small fast food joint. I scoped the place out to make sure that I got the right place by looking for Vordenburg, or at least a guy who resembled Vordenburg from the last time that I remembered seeing him. Finally, I laid eyes on a tuft of bright white hair peeking above a newspaper, and I committed myself and went in.

The white-haired man lowered his newspaper to look at me, the new arrival, and I knew right then and there that I was looking at Superintendent Vordenburg. “Ah, Laura, you’re here!” he said jovially as he folded up his paper and set it aside. “And right on time as well, too!” he added as he looked at his watch. “Come on, don’t be shy! Sit, sit!”

A plate of French toast and ham was on the table in front of Vordenburg. My stomach grumbled at the sight of such food as the only breakfast I had eaten was a single pack of saltine crackers. I sat down on the seat in front of Vordenburg and watched as he began cutting up his toast. “So, Laura, you came here,” he said as he forked a piece of toast into his mouth. “That means that you’re interested in hearing what I have to say.”

“Look, man, I’m not interested in any small talk right now,” I said. “I woke up early; I haven’t slept a lot lately; I haven’t eaten a decent breakfast in three days and right now I’m staring at you chowing on some fucking lovely French toast, and I just got my fucking period this morning. So, in case you can’t tell, cut the crap and cut to the chase, sir. What did you want to talk about with me that you couldn’t talk about on the phone?”

“Ah, well….” Vordenburg took his time wiping his mouth with a paper napkin and setting it aside. At this point, he was probably doing this just to mess with me. “All right, Laura. Since you’re here, you deserve to know why I called you and you personally,” he said. “Recently, our neighbors to the south have been having problems with biker gangs taking advantage of the open borders between Canada and the United States to escape the law on both sides of the border where they so choose. One of these biker gangs has been getting very, very notorious in our neck of the woods, and I’ve been tasked with setting up a task force to deal with this particular biker gang.”

“I guess that makes sense,” I said. “But what do you need my help for? Why can’t you just use any one of your cops? You do have female cops, right? If that’s what you’re after?”

“Well, yes, we do have female officers in our ranks,” Vordenburg replied, “but as it happens, you are uniquely qualified to do this while they are not.”

“Now what could I possibly have that any one of your female cops don’t?”

“You graduated from Silas University, right?” Vordenburg asked me.

“Yeah, and it’s also because of Silas that I’m unemployed right now and desperate enough to go chasing after this particular straw that you’re offering me,” I replied.

“All right,” Vordenburg nodded. “And have you heard of the Vampires Motorcycle Club?”

“No, not really,” I admitted. “And what does my being a Silas alumna have to do with this biker gang?”

“Patience, young Laura,” Vordenburg said, raising his hand. “All will be revealed to you soon enough.”

I wanted so bad to punch Vordenburg in the face right at that moment. I’ve never really liked people talking down to me or talking to me in a patronizing way, and my period was also exacerbating my emotions quite a bit at the moment. But I kept my fists to myself. Vordenburg might very well be my only shot at finally fixing up my life.

“The Vampires were originally founded as the Silas Motorcycle Club,” Vordenburg said finally. “Vampires was originally just their nickname but they then renamed themselves the Vampires went one percenter. The reason that they originally named themselves Silas in the first place is because the club was founded by a number of Silas University alumna, and that has been their primary criterion for recruitment and inclusion into their club. Well, that and the fact that you must have a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a 900cc engine before they would let you join, but we’ll get to that later.”

“Wait a minute,” I said as I began to absorb what Vordenburg was trying to say. “You want me to join a biker gang, is that correct?” I asked him. “You want me to join these, these Vampires?”

“Like I said, you’re perfectly qualified for the job,” Vordenburg said. “All you have to do is walk up to the Vampires, prove that you’ve really been to Silas U, and Bob’s your uncle!”

“Surely it can’t be as easy as that,” I said skeptically. “And surely you’ve got people who are more qualified at this thing than I am.”

“Well, yes,” Vordenburg nodded, “and no. “Yes, there are people in my department whose entire job is to pretend to be criminals to get into gangs but seeing as they’re police officers, they’re never going to get past the Vampires’ background checks. And they are very thorough with their background checks, the Vampires, you know. And before you ask, yes, I have asked someone else to do this, but they found out that she was reporting to me and they killed her for it.”

“And then there’s that,” I said. “What do you mean, they killed her?”

“I mean exactly what I said, Laura,” Vordenburg replied. “The Vampires killed the confidential informant that I had tried to plant into their ranks.”

“Okay, who is she and how did they kill her?” I asked.

“Her name was Betty Spielsdorf,” Vordenburg replied. “She, like you, was a graduate of Silas University, which was why I chose her to infiltrate the Vampires as a confidential informant. Betty provided the Police Service with some information on the Vampires but nothing very substantial for us; certainly nothing that we can use to prosecute even just one member of the Vampires. That’s mostly because Betty hadn’t been able to get that far into the gang yet. And then the Vampires found out that Betty was talking to the cops, and she, well, we found her body in a shallow grave near Port Granby three days ago. Two gunshot wounds to the chest.”

“And you’re only telling me about this now?” I asked Vordenburg.

“It’s an occupational hazard in your potential new line of work, I’ll admit,” Vordenburg said. “But then again, that’s all part of the job, isn’t it? So, Laura, are you going to take on this job for me?”

“Gee, I don’t know, man,” I replied. “I kind of value my life over doing something that could possibly get me killed, you know?” I added sarcastically. “But here’s a serious question though: am I gonna get paid for this?”

“That depends on what you can and are willing to do for us,” Vordenburg replied. “But you know what, Laura? I think I’ll let you do this your way. The main problem that I think I had with Betty was that I tried to micromanage her all the way through the process, and I think that that’s probably why she got caught by the Vampires. This time, I’ll let you figure out a way to get close to the Vampires and get into their gang. In two weeks’ time, I will be in this same place at the same time. If you show up then I’ll know that you’re going to take the job. If you don’t show up, well, looks like I’ll have to look for someone else to do this for me.”

Vordenburg then took out a money clip stuffed fat with bills from his suit pocket and picked out five one-hundred dollar bills on the table. “Consider that your first bi-weekly wage from the Police Service,” he said. “That is, of course, if you want to take on the job. Oh, and breakfast is on me.” Vordenburg took a few more bills out of his billfold and put them on the table, but on the other side of the five hundred dollars. He then wiped his hands and his mouth with the napkin one more time and then he stood up and left the diner.

Chapter Text

When I got back to my apartment, my mind was still reeling. I was still coming to terms with what had just happened. I had just gotten five hundred dollars richer! And all because I had met with an old man at a diner, but not in that kind of way. I remember eating the French toast that Vordenburg had left on the table with the gusto of a famished pig, and then I rushed back home to count my newly acquired money, leaving behind the cash that Vordenburg had set aside for the food to pay for it. I immediately set aside a hundred dollars for my rent, putting it in my “DO NOT TOUCH THIS BOX LAURA!” box, and then I laid out the rest of my money on my desk and pondered on what I could possibly spend it on. And then I remembered that I had to be really careful with my money from now on because this was the only time that I was going to get this kind of money, unless I did what Vordenburg wanted me to do and tried to join the Vampires.

I tried to think long and hard about what I was about to do. I was intending to go undercover in a biker gang for five hundred dollars, for Christ’s sake! I was already calling myself stupid for even thinking about it. My life isn’t worth five hundred dollars, you know! There was simply no way that I was going to do this for such a measly sum. Or so I thought. Eventually, my own greed and my needs triumphed over my common sense and I resolved to do everything in my power to get into the Vampires, so long as I was properly compensated for it. I was going to go undercover in the Vampires, but not for Vordenburg. I was doing this for me. And if I was able to at least talk to a Vampire, then maybe I could already demand a pay increase from Vords.

Unfortunately for me, I was a complete noob with regards to the Vampires and the motorcycle gang culture as a whole, so I hooked up my laptop to the Internet and began researching as much as I could about the Vampires. I started from the ground up, from their history to their current organization and to even what kind of person they allowed into their club. I looked up their website, their Facebook page, their Twitter handle, everything about the Vampires on the ‘Net that I could use to add to my knowledge.

Five TARDIS mugs of coffee and three large cups of instant noodles later (which was equivalent to an indeterminate amount of time), I now felt like I knew as much about the Vampires as an actual member of the club did. I knew all about their history, how they were founded two years ago by a bunch of Silas University graduates who had wanted something to connect them following the demise of Silas U. I knew the names and locations of their six chapters located in and around the Toronto-Hamilton area, and I also knew about the Original Six, the six founding members of the Vampires, when they were still the Silas Motorcycle Club. I didn’t know their names, obviously, but I knew that there were six of them. Kinda obvious, if you think about it, because their number is right in the title. But the meat of it was that I now felt like I could have a conversation with a Vampire about the Vampires knowing that I wouldn’t feel like I’m in way over my head.

As I built up my knowledge of the Vampires, a plan also began forming in my head. I think I know just how exactly how I was going to get into the Vampires. All I needed now was the name and location of the nearest Vampires chapter so I went to the Vampires’ official website and searched for the addresses of their six chapters and searched for which was the nearest to my apartment, at least according to Google Maps. But when I did find that nearest chapter to my apartment, a lump of lead suddenly appeared in my stomach, and I suddenly began to question whether I really wanted to do this. The Vampires chapter nearest to my apartment was located in Kitchener.

First off, a little background about me: I was born in Kitchener. There, I said it. It’s out to the rest of the world now. That’s going to make it easier for my enemies to track me down now. But I digress. Even though I was born in Kitchener, there was just something about the place that made me really sad and not like it at all. Maybe it’s because my first conscious memory as a person was of Dad and I moving away from Kitchener to Toronto after Mom had gone. I mean, when you’re a kid and your first conscious memory is moving away from the place you grew up in and your mother is nowhere to be seen, it’s gonna shake you up real bad. It also shook up Dad as well, Mom leaving us, and he never talked about it until I was maybe twelve or thirteen (somewhere around that age, definitely) and he felt that I was finally ready to know the truth. Turns out that Mom and Dad were already fighting for over a year over Dad’s growing alcohol problem because of his duties with the Strategic Response Unit and Mom finally had had enough and left on that day that I got my first real and conscious memory when I was five.

Anyway, aside from all that stuff about my personal life, Kitchener is actually both a great town and a great place to live in. I was just looking at it through jade-tinted glasses, which was I felt like I had always hated the place. Besides, the place where I was actually going in the first place was on the outskirts of Kitchener. I was going to go down the road leading out of town, to a roadside place called Benny’s Bar.

What is Benny’s Bar, you may ask, and what is its purpose in the story? Well, once when I was eighteen years old and I was about to go to college, Dad decided to take me back to Kitchener. That was his plan anyway, but as you can guess, it fell through. He drove straight through town before finally stopping at Benny’s because he couldn’t bring himself to return to our old place in Kitchener. So Dad and I talked a little over a beer or two at Benny’s before we finally went back to Toronto to prepare for my going away to college. Back then, Benny’s was still your regular roadside tavern and, as far as I could remember back then, it didn’t appear to have been taken over by a biker gang just yet, although Dad made sure to keep his badge on display so that any guy who was ogling me could see it (not that I would have gone out with a guy anyway but that’s another story). But according to my extensive research (aided massively by Google Maps), the address of the Kitchener chapter of the Vampires Motorcycle Club was actually also the address of Benny’s Bar.

Anyway, as Benny’s Bar was the location of the nearest Vampires chapter to me, that was where I decided to go to meet one of these Vampires and hopefully make my way into their biker gang. I didn’t want to do it but if I wanted to get a steady income from Vordenburg, I had to do this. I could already imagine Dad’s reaction if he found out what I was about to do. He would have an apoplectic fit if he had even the barest inkling of what I was about to do.

I had rented out a car to drive myself to Kitchener and Benny’s using some of the money that Vordenburg had given to me earlier. I had driven through Kitchener proper, noting distantly that nothing had really changed about the place from the last time that I had been there, but as I got closer to Benny’s, that was where I saw the changes that had happened. There were about three or four motorcycles, all of them Harleys, parked right in front of the door to Benny’s, and there were way fewer cars than before. I parked my rental in an empty space quite far away from both the motorcycles and the door and killed the engine.

I took a deep breath to calm myself down. You can do this, L, I told myself. You don’t just want the money Vordenburg’s offering you; you absolutely need it, and that’s why you’re doing this, so you can keep getting paid. This is your new job now. You even wore the goddamned giraffe shirt for this.

Yes, it was true. I absolutely hated the giraffe shirt that I had gotten as a Christmas gift from Dad in my first year of college. I didn’t hate the shirt as a gift; no, I hated the shirt because it was made of this strange thin material which not only let in a constant breeze but also refused to absorb any sweat at any point in time, which meant that I always needed to wear a jacket or a blouse on top of it. Also, because the giraffe shirt was somewhat see-through, I had to wear an undershirt or a tank top underneath so I wouldn’t have my bra exposed for the world to see. I had no reason to keep wearing this shirt if I was this uncomfortable about it. But the thing was, whenever I wore the giraffe shirt, my luck would always improve noticeably. All I could hope now was that the giraffe shirt still had enough luck left to help get me into the Vampires.

All right. Enough stalling. Time to earn my keep. I hopped out of the rental car and made my way towards the bar and inside, passing by the motorcycles as I did so. As I went in, I saw that Benny’s was still almost exactly just like I remembered it. It was still a bit of a dingy dive lit by harsh fluorescent tubes and a smattering of neon lights at some inconvenient places. Some kind of heavy metal or grunge rock song was playing in the background from battered and rusting speakers. A small number of guys and girls were drinking all over the place, just like last time. However, the huge flag of the Philippines that used to hang over and behind the bar had now been replaced by what I assumed was the flag of the Vampires, a red field with a skull in the middle with four sharp fangs in place of its canines. The words VAMPIRES FOREVER was on top of the skull while the words FOREVER VAMPIRES was below it. Benny, the curly-haired Filipino owner, bartender and namesake of the bar, was nowhere to be seen behind the bar as well. He probably sold the joint to the Vampires when they came knocking and decided to go while the going was good.

As I looked around the place though, I couldn’t stop any possible member of the Vampires hanging out or drinking inside the bar. Looks like I had chosen the very night that the Vampires were going dry as the night to look for my new Vampire friend. Maybe the luck in my giraffe shirt had finally run out. “Damn it,” I muttered, and I made my way towards the bar to maybe drink a little before I went back home to try again.

But then, as I got closer to the bar, I saw off to a side table the proof that my trip here was not actually in vain. The Vampires were in here; I just hadn’t been looking properly. However, that presented me with a new problem entirely: there were three Vampires in that side table and they were all together. My plan was entirely dependent on being able to talk to just one Vampire and not two or even three. I wasn’t entirely ready to introduce myself to a bigger group just yet.

And then my golden opportunity came. Two of the bikers stood up and appeared to excuse themselves from the third biker chick, who nodded her head regally like a queen dismissing her courtiers. Now here was my chance to talk to this Vampire while she was alone. This was my moment of truth. Once I begin talking to her, there was no turning back for me. I’m in this for the long haul, and once I go in, there’s nowhere else for me to go but deeper.

“How may I help you?” Turns out Benny the owner of Benny’s was still around; he was just doing something under the bar when I had searched for him a while ago.

“Two beers,” I replied. Benny bent down once again to grab those two beers, and he laid the bottles down on the wooden countertop. He then examined me closely and said, “Don’t I know you from before?”

“Maybe,” I replied noncommittally. I then picked up the beers and began walking towards the lone Vampire in the side table. Her back was turned towards me, and while her long black hair covered a lot of her “club colors”, I could still see the blood-red patch of the Vampires smiling at me with those wicked fangs. This is it, L, I told myself. No turning back now.

I walked up behind the biker chick and laid down one beer on the table beside her. A slim hand with long and thin fingers and manicured nails with black polish instinctively reached for the bottle and then the hand’s owner remembered that she hadn’t ordered a beer just yet so she turned around to face me.

Let me just say that the face looking back at me wasn’t really the face that I was expecting to see. Then again, I had no idea that there was such a thing as an all-female biker gang before Vordenburg talked to me about infiltrating the Vampires, so I had no idea about what a female biker should look like. Anyway, most bikers I’ve ever seen, be they male or female, have always had tanned or bronzed skin from all those days riding under the sun. But this lady was pale as the driven snow. Eyes the color of varnished wood looked up at me from beneath lofty arching eyebrows. But her facial feature which really drew my eyes was her lips, which were thin but bright red, and I could immediately tell that that was natural. That got me wondering on whether female bikers spent as much time on makeup and beautifying themselves as ordinary women. Probably not.

“Do I know you?” the biker asked me.

I took a deep breath to mentally compose myself before speaking. God, there was just something about her eyes that just made me wish that my heart would stop beating so fast. That was for me the first sign that I was getting anxious or nervous, and if I was anxious or nervous I can’t speak well. And I needed to speak clearly if I wanted to make it to the next step in my plan to infiltrate the Vampires. I had to take control of myself. I need to get on with this.

“Oh, I’m sure that you don’t know me,” I replied, “but I do know about you Vampires gals.”

The girl swiveled in her seat so that she could face me fully. “What do you know about the Vampires, girl?” she asked with an arched eyebrow. Man, she got eyebrow game. She could probably get a place either in Guinness or Ripley’s for having the most expressive eyebrows known to man.

“Well, I know for a fact that the Vampires are a motorcycle club,” I said carefully. “And I also know that one of your gals saved my life.”

A small smile began to tug at the corner of her lips. “And how did one of our girls save your life?” she asked me.

“Oh, it’s a long story,” I said. “I just wanted to give a Vampire a beer for what that Vampire did for me. You probably don’t want to hear my story.”

“I got all night long, girl,” the woman said. “So let’s hear your story.”

Chapter Text

“All right,” I said, taking the seat beside the biker chick from the Vampires. “Here’s my story.

“I have a part-time job over at the 7-Eleven over by the university,” I began, “or at least I used to have a job there until a few days ago. Anyway, there was this one night, I was about to go home from work. I’m walking over to the bus stop when this guy, this meth-head, he jumps me and he asks me for some money, probably so he could get to his next high. Obviously, I’m not real keen on handing over my hard-earned money to anyone, but especially someone who’s just gonna blow it all on drugs. He doesn’t take to it kindly, though, so he pulls out this folding knife and begins threatening me with it. Well, I value my life more than my money, so I give him my wallet and my paycheck, and at first it seems like that’s all right with him, but then he begins getting a little too touchy-feely with me, and then finally I begin screaming for help because that’s about the only thing I can do right there.

“Meth-Head puts his knife up to my neck and tells me to shut up,” I continued, “and then, suddenly, the next thing I know is that Meth-Head is getting beat up, and by a girl, no less. Meth-Head runs off in defeat and humiliation, and then the girl picks me up and gives me my wallet back, and when she did that, I saw that she had a tattoo of the number 19, and when I looked it up later on, I found that 19 stood for the 19th letter of the alphabet…”

“S for Silas,” the woman said, nodding her head. “Our club is known as the Vampires now but when we started it up, we called it Silas because us founding members were all from Silas University. God, I remember the day I found out that they were closing down Silas U due to all those irregularities they found…”

“You’re one of the founders of the Vampires?” I asked. I hadn’t expected that at all, but then I remembered that I was wearing my giraffe shirt. Maybe it was still lucky, after all, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have lucked out and gotten to meet one of the founding members of the Vampires right off the bat.

“Yep,” the woman replied. “You see it right here,” she said, pointing at her cuts just below the diamond one-percenter patch where there was a red tag with the words ORIGINAL 6 in black stitched on. I knew that the Vampires were founded by six alumna of Silas University and that they had named their club after their alma mater as a way to keep connected with each other after the fall of Silas U. And to think that I was actually talking to one of them on my very first attempt to make contact with the Vampires…

“What are the odds, huh?” I said. “Anyway, to end my story, after that Vampire saved my life, I swore to myself that the next time I saw a Vampire, I would buy them a beer. So…” I reached out and clinked my bottle to the one in the woman’s hand. “That’s my story.”

“Hmm,” the Vampire said, nodding her head. “You’re right when you said that yours was a long story. And it must have taken you a long time to find us, seeing as we aren’t exactly a big club…”

“Well, that’s the miracle of the Internet,” I said. “I finally managed to find your website as well as the nearest chapter to me, and here we are.”

By that time, the two other bikers who had left earlier and given me the opportunity to strike up a conversation with this Vampire by herself had returned to their table, and they were now both looking at me. “Who’s this?” one of them, the tall girl with orange-brown hair, asked the Vampire with whom I was talking.

“Some chick who just wanted to give a Vampire a beer,” the black-haired woman replied. “She says it’s because one of our sisters saved her from getting robbed and raped… when was it again?”

“Six months ago,” I said.

“Who saved you?” Tall Girl asked me. “Did you see who saved you?”

“Nah, not really,” I replied. “As I said, everything happened so fast it was all a blur. I didn’t get a good look at her, only her 19 tats.”

“Was she white or was she a POC?” the other biker, the short one who looked neither like a boy or a girl, asked as well.

“POC?” I repeated.

“Person of color,” Short Person clarified. “Was the Vampire who saved you white or a person of color?”

“Hey, white is a color too, you know,” I said. “But like I said, it all happened so fast that I don’t remember much about her, just that she saved me and that she was a Vampire.”

I then stood up and continued, “Anyway, it looks like I’m about to disturb an important meeting between you three. I’ve done what I came here to do, and I won’t take up too much more of your time.”

As I turned my back to leave, the Vampire I had been talking to called out and asked me, “What’s your name?”

I turned around to face her and shrugged my shoulders. “It’s Laura,” I replied. “Laura Hollis.”

The woman stood up and held out her hand. “Countess,” she said, and I realized that she was actually introducing herself, so I quickly switched my beer to my left hand and shook hers. Countess then indicated to the other two bikers who had joined her. “The tall one is Chains and the short one is Genius,” she said, pointing at them as appropriate. “And don’t drink and run on us just yet,” Countess told me. “There are a lot of things that we all have to talk about.”

So the hour or two that I had intended to stay in this bar to chat up a Vampire turned into an all-nighter that saw me get real close and acquainted with most of the members of the Kitchener chapter of the Vampires Motorcycle Club. As it turns out, there were only four members in that chapter, and I had already met three of them in Countess, Chains and Genius. The drinks flowed freely, although I kept myself to only two bottles max as I was still going have to drive back to Toronto after this. And as the drinks flowed, so did the words from our mouths.

“Look, Countess, I gotta level with you,” I said as I was halfway through my second beer and Countess was already starting on her fourth. “Giving you that beer from earlier wasn’t just because I wanted to thank your club for saving my life. I did it because I wanted to talk to a Vampire about joining your club.”

Countess gulped down a mouthful of beer and then she looked at me and scanned me from head to toe. “You want to join the Vampires?” she asked, and her tone seemed to imply that I was making a joke.

“Hey, no, this is serious,” I retorted. “I’m at a very low point in my life. I want to, I need to do something with my life to fix it, and to make sure that that Vampire who saved me didn’t do it all for nothing. And what better way to do that than to join the Vampires?”

When I said this, Countess laughed softly and almost to herself. It wasn’t a condescending or snide laugh, though, just a laugh of resignation. “That’s not gonna happen, Laura,” she finally said.

“Why not?” I replied. “I’m a Silas graduate; I took journalism there and I graduated just before it closed down. That’s the only requirement you have for someone to join the Vampires, right?”

Countess laughed once again, and this time it was beginning to get to my nerves. “You don’t join the Vampires, Laura,” Countess finally said.

I let out a long breath and sighed. “So, it’s like that, huh?” I asked.

“Let me clear this up for you, Laura,” Countess said. “You don’t get to join the Vampires. The Vampires choose whether you can become a member of the club or not. Understand this, Laura: the Vampires isn’t a place where you can just come in and leave whenever you feel like it. The Vampires are a club, a sisterhood, and we are a sisterhood that chooses our sisters very, very carefully. We make sure that only those that deserve to be in the club are in the club, and those that don’t aren’t. And we’ve also had our run-ins with the law, but that’s to be expected with a club of our stature, and we also have our own enemies working to bring us down. Now, having said that, Laura, do you still want to become a part of the Vampires?”

“Of course I do!” I replied, although I was feeling the exact opposite feeling at the moment. “Look, my life at the moment is one big steaming pile of crap. I need to feel like I’m a part of something bigger if I’m to finally get it back on the right track.”

“If you really want to be a part of the Vampires then you better come up with a better reason than that,” Countess said. “That being said, if you really want to make yourself known to the rest of us…” Countess reached out and began writing an address on a paper napkin. “That’s the address to our local clubhouse,” she said as she handed me the napkin. “Come support us, and once we’ve gotten to know you a lot better, maybe, just maybe, we might consider thinking about making you a part of our sisterhood.”

“Sure,” I said, pocketing the napkin.

“I’ll tell you what, Laura,” Countess said. “If you’ve got the time tomorrow, drop by the clubhouse at noon. We’re going for a run, and it would be a good opportunity for you to support your local Vampires; get the others used to you. If you want to become a part of the Vampires, you’re gonna need it.”

I nodded my head. “Sure. I can do noon tomorrow,” I replied.

“Well, that’s settled, then. It’s a date.”

A date? Not really the words I would have used in this situation, Countess, but sure, I’ll indulge you. The night went further on, and I managed to down half a bottle more than I had wanted, but by the time the party finally broke up, I was feeling considerably light-headed, and not just because I was drunk. I had just managed to get myself into a biker gang. Sure, I was at the topmost layer of their group right now, but the fact that I was already that deep in without me really trying made me feel like I’m way in over my head and on the verge of drowning. Death by drowning has always been one of my greatest fears but at the moment, I was about to take my chances with that. The fact is that while I may have made some new friends, if they knew why I was really trying to get into their club, they would kill me quicker than you can say “snitch”.

Anyway, as the party finally wound down, I managed to get to my rental car without stumbling and staggering around too much. As I was about to get into the car, I heard the roar of a motorcycle engine behind me, and I turned around to see Chains, the tall Vampire, riding up to me. “Nice story,” she said to me, and then she revved her engine and peeled away from the bar. I watched as her blood-red patch disappear into the night, and I pondered on what she could have meant when she said to me, “Nice story.” It was stuff that was enough to keep one up all night. I tried not to think too much about it and I got into the car with the intention of getting home without getting pulled over for drunk driving.

They say that the best lies are the ones that are actually half-truths. The true part of my story is that I did work part-time for 7-Eleven once. And I did get robbed by a meth head while working at a 7-Eleven. The only thing that’s not true with my story is the Vampire biker who saved me from the meth head. In reality, it was the cashier from the 7-Eleven where I worked who scared away the meth head with his revolver. Still, I have to admit that this was one of the best goddamned lies I have ever told. It would also prove to be good experience in lying for me, as I would need all my skills in telling believable lies to not only get into the Vampires but to also keep myself alive while on the inside.

Chapter Text

Once I had managed to sleep off my hangover from the previous night from meeting and talking with the Vampires (but only to a degree, as I could still feel someone chiseling their way into my skull), I drove over to the address that Countess had given me last night. It turned out to be an old motorcycle repair shop, a perfectly convenient hangout for a bunch of hard-riding bikers.

The rest of the chapter was already there when I arrived in my rented Mazda. Countess introduced me once I got there. Countess, Chains, and Genius I already knew from last night, but there was still one other member of the Kitchener chapter that I had to meet, and that was Mother. Mother was yet another redhead or ginger (depending on how the sun strikes her hair, although for me personally I would call her a ginger) and a shade shorter than Countess. As I shook hands with her, I noticed that Mother also had an ORIGINAL 6 patch underneath the one-percenter patch on her kutte, meaning that she was one of those six founding members of the Vampires MC.

Of course, the names by which I’ve been referring to these members of the Vampires that I’ve met so far are their road names, the names by which they call each other and themselves in the presence of outsiders (which at the moment includes me) and which are given to new members upon getting patched into the club. I did manage to learn their real names once I was patched into the club, and now I am going to write them down for posterity and also because I might switch between their road names and real names throughout the rest of this story.

Chains was Danielle “Danny” Lawrence. She got her road name Chains because, and I quote, “she’s a motherfucking artiste with a bike chain.” Apparently, she can do just about anything and everything with a motorcycle chain from using it as a sling for a broken arm to using it to break another person’s legs. Like I said, a motherfucking artiste.

Genius was S. LaFontaine. They were born as Susan LaFontaine but when they identified as non-binary, they decided to drop the Susan from their name and keep just the “S.” as their first name. They got the road name Genius because they graduated from Silas with a biology degree and hence knew the best places to hit another person to cause the maximum amount of pain and damage possible. And, having seen what they are capable of doing, I’m inclined to believe that they are indeed a genius.

Countess was Carmilla Karnstein, an Austrian immigrant who moved to Canada with her family in search of new opportunities. The Vampires called her Countess because she claims to be descended from Austro-Hungarian nobility, specifically a Countess Mircalla (or Millarca, I can’t remember) Karnstein. Also, there was apparently this one time where Countess got into a fight with some rival bikers and ended up having blood coming out of the corners of her mouth like Count Dracula, hence Countess.

And last but not the least, we have Mother, whose real name is Lola Perry. She got her road name because when Lola came to kill a rival biker, the last thing that she says he said before she pulled the trigger was “Motherfucker.” The Vampires shortened it to Mother, and it became Lola’s road name.

The four of them comprised the entirety of the Kitchener chapter of the Vampires, and once I had been introduced to all of them, it was time for us to go. But before we did go, as a token of their appreciation, the Vampires gave me a new shirt to wear for their run. It was red (insert Star Trek joke here) like the Vampires’ logo, and on the front were written the words I SUPPORT THE VAMPIRES in plain black letters. I took off my shirt and put this new shirt on to the cheers of the chapter. “Damn, don’t you look good in red, Hollis,” Countess said, and we all had a good laugh at that. I think I even did an arm flex, but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

Now it was time to go off on a run. From an outsider’s perspective, a biker run looks like just one big mass of bikers riding together, but in reality, there is actually a rigid system or hierarchy about who rides first and who rides last. At the head of the line is the road captain, who in this case is Genius. They’re responsible for scouting out the roads that the chapter will pass through, and then on the day of the run itself, the road captain acts as the navigator for the rest of the chapter and leading the bikers to their destination. Behind the road captain rides the president. That’s Mother. Chapter presidents are like the leaders of their own little fiefdoms. It’s the president’s job to make sure that their respective chapters follow club rules, and when the club gets together the presidents represent their chapters.

Beside the president rides the vice president, who in this case is Countess. Just like actual vice presidents, the chapter vice president’s main job is to back up the president and handle presidential duties in the event that the chapter president is incapacitated or killed. In the event a chapter president retires or dies (with the latter being more likely among these bikers), the vice president takes their place as president, and I think some elections take place as well. And finally, behind the president rides the sergeant-at-arms, who in our case is Chains. The sergeant-at-arms is basically the chapter’s resident bodyguard and hitman. They’re in charge of security throughout the chapter and making sure that members follow individual chapter rules as well as the wider club rules. And when the chapter president wants someone hurt or killed, the sergeant-at-arms takes care of it. There are also a number of other ranks among the bikers like tail gunners and enforcers but given that this particular chapter that I was trying to infiltrate was small in terms of membership, they didn’t have these ranks among their members yet so I won’t talk about them just yet.

And bringing up the rear of every biker run are the keggers: trucks and cars fit for hauling beer and prospects without bikes with the rest of the chapter. As the only kegger with the Kitchener chapter, my Mazda rental was the only one tagging along with Genius, Mother, Countess and Chains, but as we passed through the territory of the other Vampires chapters, more bikers and keggers rode up alongside us and turned our little run into one long line of bikers and keggers as far as the eyes could see.

Our convoy of bikers finally stopped at a bar in north Etobicoke, and as with all biker runs, this one begins and ends in a drinking session. It was during this that I got a glimpse of what biker prospects had to endure to prove that they deserved to be patched in to the club as a full-time member. Prospects have to do whatever it is that full-patch members tell them to do, no matter how humiliating or even dangerous it could be. That was what I would have to go through, if I ever made it so far as to become a prospect. Looking back at some of the shit that prospects have had to go through, I started to wonder if maybe staying in jail wasn’t that bad of an idea after all. But I didn’t have to worry about all that just yet. As a “friend of the club,” the only thing I really had to do was bring beers to tables. Much easier than being a prospect.

Also, as a friend of the club doing her job, I managed to hear things that, if they found their way to the authorities, could get people arrested. There was this one time during this particular where, while I was carrying beers to full-patch members like a Bavarian girl during Oktoberfest, I overheard some Vampires talking about how they had shot up a bunch of rival bikers from Toronto proper. Of course, if I went to the police with this, it wouldn’t land them in jail immediately, but at the very least it could open up an investigation or two into their activities. But that wasn’t all why I was here with the Vampires in the first place.

I laid down the beer mugs on their table and was about to get some more when Chains, who was at the table, called me back. “Have a seat, Hollis,” she said, and I did so. Chains then held out a joint. “Do you smoke?” she asked.

“I puffed a few times in college,” I replied, and I took the joint and sucked in a few puffs. I made to hand the roach back to Chains but she shook her head. “Keep it,” she said. “Anyway, Hollis, I called you over because I wanted to ask you about your story. Remember your story? Remember that Vampire you said saved you from getting mugged?”

“Yeah, what about it?” I asked.

“This is Archer,” Chains said, pointing to the biker beside her. Archer (real name Melanippe “Mel” Callis) was a person of color with long curly black hair tied back in a high bun and of medium height and build. She nodded her head at me and I nodded back. “Was she the one who saved you from that meth head?” Chains asked me.

Even though I knew that Archer was not the Vampire who had saved me (remember that I made that whole thing up) I still pretended that I was comparing Archer to the Vampire in my memory. “No, I don’t think so,” I finally replied.

“Are you sure?” Chains pressed me. “Look harder!”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s not her,” I maintained.

“All right, then,” Chains finally conceded, but only very reluctantly. “But didn’t you say something about your savior having 19 tats on their hands?” she asked once again.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Chains was already testing me right then and there because she had her doubts about me and my story, but luckily for me my journalism background allowed me to remember the pertinent details of my story. “I never said anything about the Vampire having tattoos on her hands,” I said.

“But she did have 19 tattoos, that’s for sure?” Archer, speaking up for the first time, asked me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “I remember that very well.”

“Well, then it must be Angel,” Archer said. “Last I heard, Angel was hanging out in the area in and around Laurier University. I know that there’s a 7-Eleven near there.”

“Eh, yeah, that could be her,” I said, choosing my words carefully. “I did work at the 7-Eleven near Laurier. It was a part-time job. Maybe it was Angel who could have saved me.”

“Forget about ‘could’, Hollis,” Chains said. “Was it Angel or not?”

“I don’t know. I’d have to check,” I bluffed.

“Angel’s a nomad now,” Chains said, “but she does hang out with the North Etobicoke girls from time to time.”

“You want me to check out the Etobicoke girls one by one, see if one of them is the girl who saved me?” I offered. I probably won’t be the best poker player out there if I learned how to play the damn thing, but I do believe that I am quite good at bluffing. And now I would have to hope that my bluffing would be enough to get Chains off my back already.

“Actually, hold that thought,” Archer piped up. “I just remembered, Angel got picked up on a weapons charge last week. She’s currently doing time in Vanier right now so we won’t know for sure if it is Angel who saved you.”

“Really!?” Chains asked, and then she shook her head and groaned. “Oh, I can’t believe this,” she muttered to herself. And then she saw me just standing there looking at her and she said, “You know what? Just go. Go get us a couple more beers or something, okay? Scram!”

Gladly, I said to myself as I began to walk away from their table. However, I wasn’t even a few paces away before an argument boiled over between Chains and Archer. “Why do you always have to be like that, Mel?” Chains asked Archer hotly. “I’m trying to verify Hollis’ story here and then you come and tell me that I can’t do that? What the fuck is up with you?”

“I’m just speaking the truth, Danny,” Archer replied. “And you know what? I’m having none of this. I’m not getting into another argument with you, Lawrence. I didn’t become a Vampire just to get bogged down in Summer Society bullshit here as well.”

Well, that was my first test with the Vampires passed, if not exactly with flying colors. But I knew that there was still more to come, and I would have to keep alert if I wanted to make sure that I didn’t slip up with these characters. Because one wrong move with the Vampires and it’s pretty much off to an unmarked grave with me.

Chapter Text

So that was my routine for the next two to four weeks. As a friend of the club, all I have to do is to watch out for a text from any of the Vampires, and then I just go and do it. It’s little different from being a hang-around and a prospect; the only difference is that if you’re a prospect, the full-patch members can do anything to you and you can’t do anything about it. However, if you’re just a friend of the club or a hang-around, the full patches pretty much don’t touch you.

And then, two weeks into my infiltration of the Vampires as a friend of the club, I saw firsthand the Vampires’ capacity for damage, destruction and mayhem. We had gone out for yet another run, and we had gone back to that bar in north Etobicoke where Chains and Archer drilled me about the Vampire that I had said saved me. We were all drinking beer and chatting shit when suddenly the bar went quiet. Three biker dudes in the classic biker getup walked into the bar and looked around. I know that it sounds like the setup to a bad joke, but that’s what happened. I also happened to notice that the patches on their kuttes were far different from the ones on the Vampires. These biker dudes had what looked like a Buddha in the classic lotus position riding a bike. A cross-legged Buddha riding a bike. Yeah, I did an actual double take when I saw their patches and, as a yoga enthusiast myself, I have to admit that I have no idea how a person can actually assume the lotus position while at the same time riding a motorcycle.

“Take a look at those Lazyboys, girls,” Genius said under their breath. “Waltzing into the bar like they own the place.”

“Lazyboys? Who are they?” I asked.

“The Elysium Motorcycle Club,” Countess replied. “AKA the Lazyboys. They’re our rivals, Hollis. They lay claim to the whole Greater Toronto Area, which we also happen to claim. They control the majority of Toronto itself while we control some parts of it. We’ve been practically at war with the Lazyboys ever since we took over Etobicoke and split it with the Red Devils. But these guys know better than to walk into a bar packed full with Vampires.”

“It’s like those guys have a bit of a death wish,” Mother agreed.

“What are you going to do about it?” I asked.

“Stand back and watch the pros do this, Hollis,” Chains said as she stood up and cracked her knuckles. “And it’s been a while since my chains has tasted some Lazyboy blood.”

Mother and I stayed behind and watched as Genius, Chains and Countess stood up to confront the Lazyboys. Some of the other Vampires in the bar tensed up as well as they noticed the three of them walking up to the Lazyboys, and they braced themselves for the fight that was sure to come later.

Countess and Chains placed themselves behind two of the Lazyboys while Genius sidled up to the third Lazyboy who had made his way to the bar. Genius grabbed a bottle of beer and then they tapped the Lazyboy on the shoulder. “Hey, buddy,” they said, and when the Lazyboy turned his head, Genius smashed that bottle right in his face.

What followed next was so quick and chaotic that I only got a few glimpses of it. The next thing that I saw after Genius had smashed that beer into the Lazyboys’ face, Countess was already punching the second Lazyboy silly while Chains had wrapped her bike chain around the third Lazyboy’s neck. The Lazyboy may have been bigger physically than Chains (but only by a little bit because Chains is a tall mofo but the Lazyboy still has her beat for muscle mass) but it was Chains’ superior height advantage that eventually allowed her to haul down the Lazyboy to the ground, and that was when the stomping started. And I do mean a stomping. These Vampires were basically using the poor Lazyboy as their personal doormat, and they even began kicking, spitting and spilling beer on the Lazyboy. You wouldn’t have thought that these women were college graduates or at least came through the hallowed halls of Silas University the way that they went down on that Lazyboy.

Eventually the Lazyboy that Chains had brought down to get stomped on finally got himself away from the mob of Vampires, and then he and his fellow Lazyboys ran out of the bar pronto. As the Lazyboys hopped into their Jeep, Genius and Chains chased after them but Mother eventually held them back at the parking lot. “Leave it!” she said to them. “The Lazyboys know when they’re beat.”

But then the Lazyboys did something that none of us had expected. Or at least I didn’t expect it to happen. The Lazyboys backed their Jeep right up to the Vampires’ motorcycles in the parking lot, knocking them down like a pile of dominoes. “Hey! What the fuck, you fuckers!” Chains shouted.

“Come on! Let’s get them!” Genius said, and they, Chains, and a couple of other Vampires got into a pickup truck and chased the Lazyboys and their Jeep away. Meanwhile, I was left there standing in the parking lot, not knowing what to do. I then decided that I might as well start helping the Vampires get their bikes up and ready for when they returned so I walked over to the first bike in line that was lying on its side and hauled it back upright. I was in the middle of parking the bike when the pickup truck carrying Chains, Genius and the others returned to the bar. “We chased the bastards all the way to the edge of their turf,” Chains said as she hopped out of the pickup. She then noticed me parking one of the fallen bikes back into place and asked me, “Did you touch my bike, Hollis?”

“Yeah, I set it back upright,” I replied. “I’m just trying to help, that’s all.”

Chains then walked up to me and got all in my face. “Next time you touch my bike without my permission, I will cut your tits off myself,” she said. And then she walked away from me and shouted out loud, “Somebody get the hang-around a beer!”

When I walked back into the bar, Countess handed me a bottle of beer. “Congratulations, hang-around,” she said. “Now, I don’t know if you just made a friend for life or an enemy of life out of Chains, but congratulations nonetheless.”

I accepted the bottle in her hand and toasted Countess. “To the Vampires,” I said.

“The Vampires,” she repeated.

That Friday, I reported back to Vordenburg that I had been made a hang-around by the Vampires, a promotion in all but name from my previous status as a friend of the club. Vordenburg seemed pleased about it, although I couldn’t tell if he was pleased for me for making it that far into the club so quickly or if he was pleased with himself for having picked me out as a new confidential informant.

“That’s good news, Laura,” Vordenburg said to me as he ate his breakfast. “You’re actually doing quite well at this, if I may say so. You’re actually the first CI we’ve had that made it to hang-around in a biker gang in such a short period of time. Two weeks, Laura! Even though I still have trouble believing it. But that’s good, Laura. Keep it up. At this rate you could very well become a full-patch member within six months.”

“If I make it that far,” I muttered.

“And, as promised, your pay,” Vordenburg said as he slid over a small brown envelope to me. I peeked inside and saw ten- and twenty-dollar bills inside. “It’s been split into smaller denominations,” he explained. “I believe it makes it easier for you to settle your arrears this way.”

I pocketed the envelope and asked, “You know that what I’m doing is a very dangerous job, right?”

“Yes, of course it is,” Vordenburg replied. “I’m very well aware of that.”

“So, I need your assurance that if I want out of this operation of yours then you’re going to get me out immediately.”

“Of course I will. On my word and honor as a Vordenburg, I will make sure that you get out when you want out.”

“And if I get killed because of what I’m doing,” I continued, “I want your word that you will tell Dad everything that happened to me, everything that I did. He deserves to know everything that I’ve done.”

“I will make sure that your father will be briefed on the circumstances of your death, should it happen,” Vordenburg said. However, the way that he said those last three words did give me a sneaking suspicion that they were just an afterthought on his part. But unfortunately enough for me, it would have to be enough.

And so it went on for another two weeks. I continued doing little favors for the Vampires as a hang-around and joining them on their runs if they called for it. If Mother wanted a beer and a pack of smokes then I was supposed to bring her a Moosehead Lager and a pack of Camels. If Chains needed a ride home because she was drunk as a skunk and couldn’t remember where she had parked her bike then I was supposed to go to wherever she was in my rental Mazda to drive her home. And if Countess needed “protection” thanks to Aunt Flo’s monthly visits then I was supposed to bring her a box of Kotex pads and tampons.

The one day, I received a short but strange text from Countess. It said simply, CHURCH. NOW. “Oh, shit,” I muttered, and then I immediately rushed for the bathroom to get a quick shower. Church in biker terms is not the same as church in the normal sense of the word. Church for bikers is the weekly meeting by the chapter members to discuss all sorts of things. As a mere hang-around, I was not supposed to be anywhere near biker church, so when I got this text from Countess calling me over for their chapter’s church meeting, I didn’t know how to react to it. Heck, I don’t think I even how I was supposed to feel about it.

I arrived at the chapter clubhouse in Kitchener and was then told to wait outside while they held church. I had no idea what they were talking about. And then Chains arrived at the clubhouse just after me, and she noticed me waiting outside. “Are you feeling good right now, Hollis?” she asked, although I didn’t think that she was asking me out of concern.

“Honestly, I don’t know what or how to feel at the moment,” I replied honestly. “I don’t know if I should be nervous or afraid so I’m just trying not to feel anything.”

Chains chuckled at me in a sort of sneering way. “I’d run if I were you, Hollis,” she said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. Chains merely shrugged her shoulders and walked into the clubhouse. “Hey!” I shouted, but she was already inside the clubhouse, which was basically forbidden territory for me to enter. I had no choice but to stop my pursuit of her and walk back to my waiting place to wait for church to finally end. I think I might have waited for an hour or so before Chains came out of the clubhouse and gestured at me to stand up. “Front and center, Hollis,” she said. “They’re waiting for you.”

I stood up and followed Chains into the clubhouse. The rest of the Kitchener chapter (Mother, Countess and Genius) was in there as well. Only the incandescent bulbs had been lit up inside the clubhouse, but I knew that they had brighter fluorescent lights inside the clubhouse as well. “What’s going on, guys?” I asked.

“Take a seat, Hollis,” Mother said, gesturing at a folding steel chair that had been set up right in front of her. I walked up to the aforementioned seat and sat down.

“The whole chapter has been talking about you, hang-around,” Mother said once I was seated. “Now tell us again why you wanted to fall in with the Vampires.”

“I already told you,” I replied. “A Vampire saved my life, and I wanna feel like I’m finally doing something meaningful with my life.”

“Aha,” Mother said. “You see, Hollis, the problem here is that nobody here in this chapter knows you. We don’t know who you are, we don’t know where you’re from, and we don’t know why you seem dead set on wanting to join us.” She then held up what appeared to be a questionnaire and handed it to me. “This is a background check,” she explained. “I need you to fill it out. It’s gonna tell us if you’ve been up front with the truth to us and whether you’ve got any sort of juicy secrets in your past.”

“Yeah, you better make sure everything you put down there checks out,” Countess added. “Because, if your data don’t match up with what you wrote down, well, you wouldn’t want to know what’s gonna happen next.”

I took the background check and looked at it. This could very well be the thing that kills me. However, if I didn’t take it, then everyone would know that something’s up with me and they would kill me right then and there. So I had no choice but to take the questionnaire anyway. “What, you want me to fill it out right now? Anyone got a pen?” I asked.

“No, keep hold of it,” Mother said. “You can bring it back tomorrow. And four hundred bucks to pay for it. All right, now I got good news and bad news for you. What do you want to hear first?”

“All right, what’s the good news?” I asked.

“The good news is that Countess here has agreed to sponsor you as a prospect,” Mother replied, turning to look at Countess, who had what had to be her best poker face on. “And what’s the bad news?” I asked.

“The bad news, Hollis, is that Countess here has agreed to sponsor you as a prospect,” Mother replied, and this time Countess busted out a sly grin. Chains and Genius laughed loudly at that as well. “Now you might that going up from hang-around to prospect would be a promotion, Hollis,” Mother said, “but you’re dead wrong. As a probationary member of the Vampires Motorcycle Club, your ass belongs to us, to the Vampires, to this chapter. Your life is our property. Anything we tell you to do, you do quickly and with a smile on your face. If a full-patch member tells you she needs a beer, what do you do?”

“I bring her a beer,” I replied.

“If a full patch calls you in the middle of the night because she needs pads or tampons, what do you do?”

“I bring her a full U by Kotex set.”

“If a full patch tells you to fight, what do you do?”

“I fight.”

“If I tell you to kill someone?”

I hesitated, but only barely. I didn’t know if I would really get asked to kill someone later on, but I knew what I was supposed to say for this. “I kill someone,” I told Mother.

“And if I tell you to go to my apartment, get down on your knees and eat me out, what are you gonna do?” Mother asked. Now that threw me off by quite a bit because I was simply not expecting it. I didn’t know if she was serious about me wanting to eat her out or not. “Can I ask you to reconsider on that?” I said, hoping that that wasn’t the sentence that would get me killed by these biker chicks.

The Vampires laughed at my attempt at lifting the mood in the place. In all honesty, that place was dark as fuck, and I mean both physically and in terms of mood. But I got them to laugh and ease up on all the darkness. Even Mother managed to laugh at my joke before she turned deathly serious once again and said, “If I catch you staring at my crotch for more than three seconds, I’m going to force-feed my asshole to you. Countess!” Countess got off of her place and handed me a black zippered pouch bag. “What’s this?” I asked.

“Prospect kit, smartass,” Countess replied. I opened the bag and saw inside two spools of thread, a couple of needles, a thimble, and even those strange wire things that you use to stick the thread into the eye of the needle if your fingers weren’t dexterous enough. I also some white tubular objects inside the bag, and when I lifted one up to the light, I finally saw what it was. “Tampons?” I asked.

“It’s great for plugging up bullet holes,” Countess replied. “Also useful in case you encounter the other kind of emergency.”

“And another thing, probate,” Mother added. “There’s only one thing that I can guarantee you. If you survive your probationary period, and God knows how long that could take, you can only end up in one of two places with us: either you end up dead or in jail. That’s the price of being a Vampire. Do you think you can handle that?”

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” I replied.

The fluorescent lights finally came on in the clubhouse and I saw Mother standing in front of me holding out a strip of red cloth. “Welcome aboard, probate,” Mother said, and I took the strip. It was the bottom rockers for my kutte, identifying the province where the chapter where I was a prospective member was based. Sure enough, it had the word ONTARIO written on it in white letters in stark contrast to its blood-red background. “You got five minutes to sew it onto your kutte, prospect!” Mother said, and then everyone was surrounding me, celebrating my entry into the chapter as a prospect. Countess embraced me and then whispered to me, “You better make sure you don’t embarrass me and make me look stupid in front of my sisters, Hollis.”

I finally managed to get myself free of the others to sew on my bottom rockers, and just like that, I was a legit biker gang prospect. Maybe Vordenburg did have a point when he said that I might be able to become a full-patch member of the Vampires in just six months. That is, if I survived my probationary period first.

So now I was a prospect for the Vampires. I’d worked hard to get this far into the Vampires, and now I had no intention of ever turning back. I thought trying to infiltrate the Vampires was just going to be another thankless job for me. But the funny thing was, I was actually enjoying going this deep into the Vampires. I’m actually getting a thrill from it. And I’m just getting started.

Chapter Text

So now I was a legitimate prospect for a legitimate outlaw biker gang. And I did it all in the span of four weeks. If you had met me four weeks ago and told me that I was going to go undercover in a biker gang for the police so I could finally sort out my messed-up life, I’d have thought that you were crazy. But now here I was, and I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but I think I’m actually liking this whole thing. And not just the undercover bit. The thrill of hanging out with this close and tight-knit group of girls and their bond forged by both their common university backgrounds (one of the Vampires’ main criteria for membership is being an alumna of Silas University, remember) and their single interest in riding bikes was just so infectious. And at this point, I don’t even have my own bike yet. Imagine what will happen when I finally do get my own bike, huh?

But I’m getting a little bit too ahead of myself. I’m still just a lowly prospect right now. But as luck would have it, the Vampires made me a prospect on the Thursday before I was due to report back to Vordenburg on my progress into infiltrating the Vampires. The conversation we had two weeks ago about me potentially being the fastest “confidential informant” to get from friend of the club to hang-around to prospect and even full-patch member was still fresh on my mind, and while I didn’t really feel like letting the pompous old bastard know that he may have gotten something right about me, I also wanted to tell somebody, anybody, that I managed to make it to prospect that quick.

I was already on my way to the diner where Vordenburg and I have talked twice, first to get myself interested in infiltrating the Vampires in the first place and the second time to report that I had gone from friend of the club to hang-around, when my phone rang. It was the old man himself. “Hello, Laura,” he said. “I don’t wish to be rude but unfortunately I cannot meet you today.”

“What? Why’s that?”

“I do hope you understand, Laura, that my position in the Police Service has made me quite the high-profile person,” Vordenburg said. “And unfortunately that means that the two of us cannot be seen together in public regularly. It might give the wrong people the wrong ideas.”

“Oh, right,” I said. I thought I understood what he had meant that moment. I thought he was talking about the probability of some biker from the Vampires or another biker gang seeing me talking to a police superintendent. It turns out that Vordenburg was actually more concerned about the fact that his fellow policemen or even a tabloid newspaper might see him eating breakfast with me and assume that I was his mistress. Not that I would want to get into a relationship with the old bugger.

“But don’t worry, Laura,” Vordenburg continued. “I have still sent a friend to the diner to meet you. Her name is Carly. She is a friend from our neighbors to the south. A word of advice, though: when you talk to her, think that you’re still talking to me. Our American friends have heard about what we’re doing to the Vampires and they decided that they wanted a piece of the action as well. Do tread lightly around her, please, Laura. Both the American authorities and our own are very concerned about the Vampires potentially crossing the border and spreading to our southern neighbors. This is a very important partnership we are trying to cultivate here, and I don’t need you to give our American friend the attitude you’ve given to me in our first meeting. Anyway, that’s all, and I’ll see you again soon, Laura.”

So I wasn’t going to meet Vordenburg this time. Instead, I was going to talk to this Carly person. All I knew about her was that she was from the United States. There was a part of me which wondered why the Americans were bothering to help take down a Canadian biker gang before it had even gotten across their border, but then I remembered that New York (the state, not the city) was practically a stone’s throw away from Toronto, so maybe the Americans jumping onto our little bandwagon was more understandable than not. So I shrugged my shoulders and went on to meet Carly, my new handler.

I went into the diner where Vordenburg and I had met twice before to discuss my infiltration of the Vampires, and immediately I noticed that it seemed as if all the lights had gone out. The place was dark as a cave, and my eyes took some time adjusting to the lower lighting conditions. I blinked furiously as my eyes got used to the dark interior of the diner, and as I looked around, I spotted a lone woman sitting on one of those round chairs right next to the counter. She didn’t look like she was eating anything, although she appeared to be drinking a cup of coffee. An attaché case was right next to her coffee. It had to be Carly.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that Carly looked more like a young girl than a woman, which did not jive with how I had imagined her in my mind’s eye. She had long black hair, a square-ish face, almond-shaped eyes, a squashed nose, and full red lips like Angelina Jolie’s. She also looked like some actress or singer, Miranda something. Lambert? Hart? Cosgrove? All I knew is that Carly looked like an actress named Miranda, but the surname of the particular woman escaped me at the moment.

Carly took a sip from her coffee and looked at the door of the diner, and she spotted me almost immediately. She waved me over and held out her hand. “Are you Laura?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“I’m Carly. I’m going to be your new handler for this assignment. Take a seat, Laura,” she invited, and I sat down next to her. “I assume that your Captain Vordenburg has already introduced me to you, however briefly that may have been.”

“Uh, yeah,” I replied. “You’re my handler?” I asked her. “Why does that make me feel like I’m a dog with a leash which you’re holding?”

“Well, there’s no easy way to explain it or even think about it,” Carly conceded, and she sipped at her coffee once again. “So, what do you know about the Vampires?”

“I know their history,” I replied. “I know some of their members, I know the locations of their chapters, and I also know some of their Original Six, the six founders of the Silas MC, later the Vampires Motorcycle Club.”

“Good, good,” Carly said, nodding her head. “Now where exactly are you with the Vampires? The last I heard from Vordenburg, you were already a hang-around after just two weeks. And Vords said that you had an update for him about your status. So go ahead. What is it?”

“The Vampires made me a prospect,” I replied.

“What? No way!” Carly said. “From what Vordy told me, you’ve only been with the Vampires for, what, four weeks, right? And now you’re telling me that someone in the club has already decided to sponsor you?”

“Yeah! I know, right?” I said. “If you asked me where I would be after four weeks with the Vampires, I’d say that I’d probably be dead already!”

“Well, you don’t really look like a ghost to me right now,” Carly told me. “Well, that was unexpected. Okay, um, let’s get a little bit back to the beginning, okay? Before you told me about you becoming a prospect just four weeks into your infiltration.” Carly reached into her attaché case and took out a bunch of papers stapled together, along with a pen.

“This is your contract, Laura,” Carly explained. “You’re free to read it if you want, but let me explain the basics to you. This contract binds you to the Toronto Police Service and the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service since you’re a Canadian citizen, and once you sign it, you’re going to be committed to your mission to infiltrate the Vampires for as long as we want. Actually, it should be a Canadian citizen giving you that contract and witnessing you sign it but since we’re all playing for the same team, I guess I’m good enough for the police and the CSIS to see you sign the contract.”

“As long as you want?” I asked in surprise. “And how long is that gonna be?”

“Who knows?” Carly shrugged. “These operations take years if done correctly, which I hope is the case with you. I’d hate to have a CI get killed on my watch, especially someone like you, Laura, but you’re going to have to watch your own back as well. I’m not always going to be there to keep you alive. Biker gangs are a dog-eat-dog world and just one wrong move could mean the difference getting patched in or getting killed.”

“Well that’s a comforting thought,” I muttered. “But tell me something I don’t know, eh.”

“It’s not all doom and gloom though, Laura,” Carly said. “The contract also states that you’re going to be a paid CI. That means that you’re going to get a monthly wage for the whole time you’re with the Vampires. You can choose to get paid any way you like. Do you want it dropped on your doorstep in an envelope old-school or do you want an account in the Cayman Islands or someplace whereabouts where we can wire the money and you’ve got the only code to withdraw? What’s your pick?”

“I’m not so sure of anything myself just yet,” I said. “Sure, just give me the cash up front.” I then put pen to paper and signed where I needed to sign, and that was how I began my career as a confidential informant, infiltrating the Vampires Motorcycle Club for the Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service, and the American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Welcome aboard, sister,” Carly said once I had penned my final signature on the contract. “I’ll be taking that for safekeeping,” she said as she returned the contract back into her attaché case. “All right, now back to you being a prospect. What’s your bike?”

“What?” I asked.

“I mean what kind of bike do you have, Laura,” Carly clarified.

“Oh,” I said, nodding my head. “Well, I actually kind of don’t have a bike just yet,” I finally admitted after a few awkward moments for me.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Carly said, shaking her head. “Are you telling me that you managed to make it to prospect with the Vampires without having your own bike? What are you driving to and from their clubhouse? Don’t tell me you’re driving a Honda or a Toyota to the club.”

“Actually, it’s a Mazda,” I replied.

“A Mazda!” Carly this time couldn’t contain both her shame and her amusement, and she actually laughed out loud. Like literally out loud. It’s a good thing that there was nobody else in the diner apart from the waitress (who was also the cashier) and the cook, or else people would wonder why this girl was laughing at me. “Oh, Laura Hollis, aren’t you the gift that just keeps on giving,” she finally said through her laughter. “You know what? Screw it. I was gonna do this anyway later on but I might as well just do it now. Come with me, Laura,” she told me. “We’re going for a ride.”

“A ride? To where?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” Carly replied. “You’ll see.” We got out of the diner and into Carly’s car, a maroon Ford Crown Victoria parked in a no parking zone. It was so obvious that it was a cop’s car that the only thing it needed to complete the cop car image was a massive billboard on the top with neon arrows pointing down saying COP CAR RIGHT HERE! Carly started the engine and we drove out of the city center over to a storage facility near Missisauga. Carly unlocked an outdoor storage unit and then removed a tarp over what was eventually revealed to be a motorcycle. “Is that what I think it is?” I asked.

“Yep,” Carly replied as she sat on the bike. “A 2005 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Custom, to be exact. What were you expecting? A hardtail chopper already? No, no, Laura. You gotta get that from your Vampire friends if you really want it.”

“How long has this been in here again?” I asked.

“For as long as the paperwork to finally transfer it to your name finally goes through,” Carly replied.

“Who owns it?”

“Technically, this bike is the property of the ATF, but once that paperwork finally gets through the red tape, she’s as good as yours.” Carly then started the engine and immediately peeled off in a straight line through the rows of storage units before finally making her way back to me. “Oh, yeah, that’s it,” she said as she stopped the bike and got off. “Still feels like the first time I rode a bike.” She then took her helmet off and tossed it to me. “Your turn, prospect,” she said.

“Well, shit,” I muttered. I wasn’t expecting to be taught how to ride a motorcycle today right now. But there was nothing else I could do. I was already there, and I didn’t want to antagonize Carly, as the great Vordenburg had described it. I strapped on the helmet and straddled the Harley, trying to find the spot where I felt most comfortable sitting.

“Okay, so the Dyna is a bit heavy and the clutch is very narrow,” Carly explained as I fidgeted in my seat. “If you pop the clutch, you stall the bike. All right, let’s see you in action.”

I revved the engine and tapped the accelerator just a little bit, and then just like that the bike jumped forward and then stopped in its tracks. “Motherfucker,” I exclaimed.

“Now what did I tell you, Laura?” Carly said. “You pop it, you stall it. Now do it again but really, really gently. Your first try was still a little bit rough. Just do it slowly, gently and deliberately, and let’s see where that takes you.” I started the engine once again and stood up on the bike and bounced around a little bit, trying to find that sweet spot that Carly was talking about to finally get this Harley moving. I tapped the accelerator once again, but really very gently this time and then, wonder of wonders, the bike was moving! I was moving! I was finally riding a bike!

“All right, easy now, girl,” Carly called out behind me as I proceeded to take the Harley down a straight line in between the storage lockers. I then executed a very careful U-turn with the bike to take me back to Carly, and then once I was finally level with her, I touched the brakes very lightly. And then the bike stalled once again.

“Okay,” Carly said. “Lots to work on at the moment. Still, you did pretty good for a novice biker. Now, I want you to keep practicing riding that bike until it becomes a part of your body. Do it off-road so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else so much. Also, don’t ride in your kutte until we get your license and registration for that bike. You break it, you bought it.”

“So does this mean I can take this home with me?”

“You know what? Yeah, sure, you can have it,” Carly said. “Oh, and one more thing. I need to keep in contact with you, Laura. We’re going to be seeing each other every month or so, and I’m going to text you our meeting place. Give me your number so I can text you back so you can keep my number. If anything interesting happens to you, or if you think you’re in danger, don’t hesitate to call me. I got your back, got that?” As she said, Carly texted me, and I quickly saved her number to my cellphone.

“Good luck, Laura,” she said as we parted ways outside the storage warehouse. As I watched her car recede into the distance, I wondered whether I had made the right choice after all. Sure, I was one step further away from jail, but now I was also one step closer to my potential death. Trust me, it’s not a place you would want to be in any given time.

It’s the price of freedom, L, I told myself, and then I got on the Harley and rode back to my apartment. I wasn’t sure if I was to go ahead with being a prospect for the Vampires, but I had to do it anyway. It was part of my job as a “confidential informant.” But now it was time to impress the right people.

Chapter Text

Being a prospect in a biker gang is not an easy life. Quite the opposite, actually. Trust me, I know this stuff. I’ve lived through it. I’ve lived through the hell of being a probationary member of the Vampires Motorcycle Club, and I am telling you right now that it is a fate that I wouldn’t wish on even my worst enemy.

As a prospect, I have to do everything that a full patch member tells me to do, no matter how pointless, stupid, or even dangerous it was. You have to do what they tell you with a smile on your face. If they tell you to jump, you say how high. It’s that kind of stuff they make you to do. Sometimes it was just normal and acceptable stuff like the times they make me drop to the ground and do 19 pushups (19 for S, which stands for Silas University, the alma mater of the Vampires). There were times that they would have a kick or two at me while I was doing my pushups, and then other times they would pour beer down my head and my back, but that was okay for me. It wasn’t like that was going to kill me or anything. That was tame by the Vampires’ standards.

It was some of the other things that the Vampires made me do and did to me that really made me wonder if infiltrating them was worth the price of not going back to jail. There was this one time when Archer (aka Mel Callis) decided to test out her new compound bow by trying to William Tell a bottle of beer on my head. At first I was all right with it because Archer was just using toy arrows with suction cups for tips to shoot at the bottle on my head, and then suddenly she says that she wants a bigger challenge so she pulls out this real and wicked-looking arrow like the one you might use to hunt for deer and put it in her bow. Now I’m thinking, Is this how I’m going to die? Taking an arrow to the head in a failed recreation of William Tell?

Luckily for me, Countess, my prospect sponsor, put an end to things before they got completely out of hand. Archer looked real disappointed that she couldn’t pull off her William Tell impression that night, but I was secretly relieved that Countess put an end to this madness. Still, just as I was walking away from the scene, Archer let loose the arrow in her bow, hitting the wall right at the spot where the bottle on top of my head used to be. All right, fine, Archer, you’re very accurate with a bow. That’s how you got your road name, if I remember correctly. But I didn’t have to be your target so that I had to learn that firsthand.

But I have this to say about the Vampires, though: their treatment of me improved massively once I finally arrived at one of their runs on my new 2005 Harley FXDC courtesy of my new American “friend” Carly. As I rode up to the Kitchener chapter clubhouse on my new bike, I could see the others pointing at me and talking. I drove right up to the door of the clubhouse and stopped right in front of Countess, Mother, and Chains. “Sweet ride, prospect,” Mother said, nodding her head in approval.

“Hey, Hollis,” Chains called out. “I thought you said you were broke.”

I revved the engine so that I could pretend that I couldn’t hear her. “What?” I shouted.

“I thought you said you were broke!” Chains shouted back.

“Oh. I never said I was broke,” I replied. “But, that being said, I’m paying for this in installments. A friend of a friend was looking to sell her ex-husband’s bike and I made the best offer. Actually, I made the only offer. None of her other friends really like the bike that much.”

“Ha!” Countess let out a short laugh. “You got a sense of humor, prospect,” she told me. “Makes me glad I’m sponsoring you in the first place.” And then we all went into the clubhouse for the regular shithousery before we went out for the run with the rest of the Vampires.

However, being a member of a biker gang, even if just on a probationary status, has its own drawbacks, especially when you’ve finally got yourself a bike. Turns out that the cops will do just about anything to pull over a new biker and get them into the system ASAP. In my case, it was because of a broken taillight. And this was before I had even made it to full patch myself. Imagine what the cops will try to pin on me when I’m finally a fully-fledged member of the Vampires. If I make it that far. The Vampires, for all of their talk about unity and sisterhood, if they ever found out the real reason why I decided to join their club, they wouldn’t hesitate to take me to the woods and then put a bullet between my eyes.

But having to get my taillight fixed also means that I get to come closer to another member of the Vampires. Remember what I said about how Genius (aka S. LaFontaine) got their road name, about how their knowledge of human anatomy means that they know where to strike an opponent for maximum damage and pain? Well, they know even more stuff than just that. Aside from human anatomy, Genius knows probably all that there is to know about motorcycles, probably even as much as both William Harley and Arthur Davidson know and possibly even more. That’s why Genius has basically taken over the role of the Kitchener chapter’s mechanic alongside their official rank as the chapter’s road captain.

I drove my bike into the garage beside the clubhouse. When I got inside, Genius was busy working on their bike, a 2006 FLHR Road King, but I hadn’t even cut the engine to my bike before they turned around and faced me. “Morning, Hollis,” they said. “What’s happening, probate?”

“I just got pulled over by a cop,” I replied. “Said I got a broken taillight, but I tested it out before going here and it doesn’t really look that broken to me.”

“Yeah, the cops love to do that,” Genius muttered while nodding their head. “Whenever they see a new prospect riding around town, they want to get that prospect into the system ASAP so they do what they can to slap at least a citation on you and thus get you into the system.”

“Still, I kinda wanna make sure,” I continued. “Maybe it is broken but I’m just not seeing it or catching it right now.”

“Sure thing,” Genius said. “What year and model did you say your bike was again?”

“2005 FXDC.”

“2005?” Genius whistled in appreciation. “Probate, you don’t know it just yet, but you got yourself the newest bike in this chapter! But the bike itself definitely needs a little work. I mean, it’s all right, but it’s also meh. How long has this been sitting around?”

“I don’t know. Two years, I think?”

“Well, right now it’s most definitely not a Vampire bike. But I can change all that. You wouldn’t mind me tweaking with your bike a little bit, do you, prospect?”

“I mean, sure, do what you want, go nuts,” I replied. “But should I expect to get it back once you’re done with it? Should I even expect to get it back in one piece?”

“Wise-ass,” Genius said with a smile. “Personally, I don’t like a prospect who’s also a wise-ass. But, for you, I think I might just make an exception. But the answer to your questions, prospect, is three days tops, and yes, you may still expect to get your bike back intact.”

“What if I don’t get my bike back in three days or intact?” I asked.

“You’re going to get your bike back in three days,” Genius said firmly. “I’ve never been wrong with an estimate before and I sure as hell don’t plan on starting now.”

“All right, Genius. Three days, sister,” I said. Sister was about the only gendered noun or pronoun that Genius didn’t mind being used on them because the Vampires was a sisterhood and all that, and they were a part of it despite identifying as non-binary.

So for those three days, I was without a bike once again. Whenever I ran errands for the full-patch Vampires, they would ask me where my bike had gone, and I would tell them that Genius was fixing and tweaking it up. I took the brunt of some of their more extreme demands and initiations once again for the three days that I didn’t have my bike, but for the most part it wasn’t like those times that they made me do prospect see, prospect do.

But finally, after three days, I got a text from Genius telling me to come on over to the clubhouse to pick up my bike. I went there by a combination of walking and public transport because I’m going to ride back to my apartment on my bike, and then when I finally got to the clubhouse, Genius was standing beside my bike, although I almost didn’t recognize it as mine when I first saw it because that was how much Genius had changed it up. My hog now sported an apple green spiderweb-pattern on black paint job on the fuel tank and front fender, beefed up suspension, bigger and throatier exhaust pipes, and ape hanger handlebars.

I walked around what was now my new bike before I sat down on the seat. “Holy cow, it’s amazing,” I exclaimed. The first time that I had sat down on this bike to test it out, it felt a little bit weird, uncomfortable, even. But now the seat, heck, the whole bike felt like it had been molded or even sculpted to fit the contours of my body and my butt (but mostly my butt). I wasn’t exactly the thicc kind of girl but my booty wasn’t really scrawny either. That being said, it felt oddly really satisfying that the new seat that Genius had installed on my bike fitted my butt like a glove.

But it was the new ape hangers that really, really caught my attention. When I had first seen bikers with ape hangers as high as I was tall (and I’m not a really tall girl to be honest), I questioned the wisdom of getting handlebars that were so far up above your head that you had to stand up just to reach them. But not the ape hangers on my bike. When I reached out to hold them and test them out, they were at just the right height to both look badass while riding and to not tire out the arms and give them somewhere to rest when they do get tired.

“I didn’t really know how long your arms were,” Genius said as I admired the ape hangers, “so I made a guess and cut the tubes for the ape hangers. And don’t mind me saying this, but damn, you are one tiny girl!”

“Damn, Genius, you really are a genius,” I said to them. “Everything is just so… perfect. Everything feels right and fits right. I can’t wait to ride on this!”

“And maybe you should, prospect,” Countess suddenly said from behind us. She, Chains, and Mother had arrived at the clubhouse while I was busy ogling Genius’ work on my bike. “You know, a bike like shouldn’t be allowed to just sit in the middle of a garage,” she continued. “It has to be on the open road. So what do you say, sisters? Should we go for a ride?”

“Sounds like a really good idea,” Mother agreed. “And it’s been a while since we went out on a ride, right?”

So that was how the five of us ended up going for a ride. There isn’t much difference between a biker run and a ride; the only thing really distinguishing the two is the fact that a ride is more like a joyride instead of a systematic way of getting from point A to point B. And as the five of us rode down this little hidden back road out of Kitchener, I finally began to understand the real reason why biker clubs are so appealing to people. It’s the feeling of freedom that you get whenever you’re on your bike and you’re feeling the wind through your hair and every bump, crack and pothole travel up your spine. Never mind the ugly side of some of the outlaw biker gangs, the crime, the drugs, the gun-running; riding a motorcycle is where the real thrill is at. It’s the thrill of the ride that gets you hooked. And I have to tell you, I was getting hooked real good.

And I’ve never seen the other Vampires this happy before ever since I began hanging out with them as a friend of the club. Genius, Mother, Countess and Chains were all enjoying this ride very much. I had this feeling that if this was their last minute on Earth, they would all die with a smile on their faces. Genius and Countess were actually performing stunts on their bikes that I wouldn’t even dream of doing even if I finally got proficient with riding a bike, like driving with one hand or even no hands and standing up on the seat of the bike and then driving it from that position. They were all having so much fun with their bikes. Meanwhile, I just stayed in my seat and let them do their thing. I didn’t want to get this far into my infiltration and this deep into the Vampires only to die in a stupid bike accident.

But, as with all things, this run had to come to an end. But the end of the ride wouldn’t come until I had completed yet another one of those bizarre Vampire initiation rituals that I had to do as a prospect. There was this truck in front of us, and the whole chapter (minus me of course since as a prospect my opinion doesn’t matter to the rest of the chapter) decided to overtake the truck. Genius went first. They signaled that they were about to overtake the truck and then, once they had checked that there was no incoming traffic on the other side, they overtook the truck. Mother and Countess immediately followed suit, and then before Chains took her turn, she turned to me and said, “You gotta overtake the truck, prospect, and you gotta do it the way we do it. You wanna become a full patch, this is what you gotta do!” Chains then accelerated to overtake the truck, and then she and her bike disappeared from view, leaving me alone behind this truck.

I knew that I had to follow the others in overtaking the truck and getting ahead of it. Full patch member’s orders, after all. But I was in absolutely the worst place to overtake any vehicle, much less a truck, as not only could I not see beyond the truck’s massive rear end but this two-lane road was about to come up on both a bridge and a blind turn. However, I had no choice. I had to do it. It was overtake and maybe die or get left behind and definitely don’t get patched into the Vampires quicker or at all. At least the truck wasn’t a trailer truck. I’d never be able to get past one of those if you put me on an open highway and my bike was at top speed. And of course, just as I had gotten onto the opposite lane, a pickup truck crested the hill beyond the bridge and began barreling towards me at top speed. I know that I’m probably exaggerating things at this point but back then, everything was happening so damn fast. So I did the only thing that I could do: I went even faster.

The pickup honked its horn when it saw that I was trying to force the issue by going faster, but I ignored it. I had to ignore it. Come on, come on, come on, I said to myself as the gap between me and the pickup truck grew ever narrower, and all throughout this I could feel like I was no closer to overtaking the truck beside me than when I had first started this overtaking move. Finally, I saw some space open up between me and the truck, and I immediately cut back into the proper lane. The pickup let loose a long loud blast from its horn as it passed me by, and I thought that I heard the driver swearing at me in French. “Yeah, buddy, fuck you too and fuck Quebec!” I shouted back. In all seriousness though, I love Quebec. I love the people and I love its cities. Except Quebec City. Quebec City can go fuck itself. But don’t get angry at me, people of Quebec province.

As I rejoined the Vampires’ formation, I could hear Countess laughing heartily in front of me. “God, I really thought you weren’t going to make it past that pickup there, prospect,” she said. “I really thought you were gonna die!” I just shrugged my shoulders and laughed along with her.

We drove off into a side road and stopped at this little hillock that gave us a good view of the sunset. Genius had brought along a six-pack which they shared with the rest of us. The five of us drank as we stared out at the sunset, and soon the others were sharing stories that they gotten during their time in Silas University as well as the Vampires.

“Hey Carm, remember that time when it was still just the six of us and we all thought that we were gonna die?” Mother asked Countess. “We really bit off more than we could chew back then, didn’t we? We shouldn’t have stirred up all that shit with the Lazyboys back then, huh?”

“Yeah, we did,” Countess said with a laugh as she sipped at her beer. “I thought I was going to die when those Lazyboys chased us all around the city. You and the sisters got lucky, didn’t you, Perry? You and the sisters got away while me, Mattie, and Ell got cornered. I legit thought that we were all gonna die when those Lazyboys cornered us and backed us into a corner, and then good thing that cop car drove by with its lights all flashing and the Lazyboys had to beat it because the cops were cracking down on biker gangs back then.”

“Crap, that was a close call, wasn’t it?” Mother muttered.

“Yeah. Those black-and-whites might be useless most of the time but one time, they really saved our asses,” Countess said. The Vampires had a good laugh at that. Me? I just grinned and nodded my head.

“A toast, then,” Countess said, and she raised her can of beer over her head. “To the Vampires.”

“To the Vampires,” we repeated.

“To the sisterhood, to our sisters her and now, and to our sisters who have gone on to the next ride.”

“To our sisters.”

“May we get what we want, may we get what we need, and may we never get what we deserve.”

Amen to that, I said to myself as I drank my beer. I certainly wouldn’t want to get what the Vampires think a snitch like me deserved if they ever found out the real reason why I wanted to join the Vampires. Because, the simple matter of the fact is that when it comes to snitching, there’s no such thing as sisterhood for these women. You’re either with them or against them, and if you’re against them, you might as well be dead meat to them. And that’s exactly what I will be if the Vampires find out who I really am.

“Vampires forever!” Countess shouted.

“Forever Vampires!” we shouted back.

Chapter Text

“Oh, come on, man! Not now,” I muttered as I heard my cellphone ringing. I had just finished getting ready for bed when the text came in, and once I saw that it was from Countess, I just knew that I wouldn’t get to sleep early like I had originally planned to do tonight. Countess wanted me to get some food for her and Chains and then bring it over to Chains’ place where the two of them were. I sighed and shook my head, and then I took off my pajama sweats and put on some jeans and my Vampires kutte over my tank top. I then got on my bike, rode out to buy some burgers, and then I went over to Chains’ apartment to bring them their food.

As I parked in front of Chains’ house, I happened to notice three other bikes alongside Chains and Countess’s Harleys, and those three motorcycles were dirt bikes and not Harleys as you or I would expect. The dirt bikes were painted garishly and in bright neon colors, and I wondered why a trio of dirt bikers would be visiting Chains alongside Countess this late at night.

I got my answer when I knocked on the door. A big burly guy with a thick but trimmed beard answered the door and I held out the paper bag holding the girls’ food to show him that I meant him no harm. “Let her in,” Countess called out from inside the house. “She’s our new prospect.”

I walked into the threshold of the house, still holding out the bag in front of me, when I saw a red laser dot hovering right over my chest. “Bang!” Chains said as she pointed an M16-lookalike rifle with some kind of laser targeting device on the side of the barrel grip at me. “If this bad boy was loaded, you’d be dead by now, prospect,” she added.

“Come on, man! That’s not funny,” I retorted. I tossed the burgers to Countess, who dug into the bag and took out a sandwich wrapped in foil. “Only basic cheeseburgers, prospect?” she asked me. “Not even a BLT or a TLC?”

“It’s the middle of the night, man,” I replied. “It’s the only thing they had without cooking up some more.” Countess seemed to think about my answer before she shrugged it off.

“As I was saying before the prospect here barged in with our food,” Chains said to the fifty-something man who was seated across the living room from both Countess and Chains, “the HK416 is one of the newest guns out there based on the M16 platform. There are only two gun platforms that ever really became popular, and that’s the AK and the M16. Heckler and Koch made the HK416, and you know the Germans: ruthlessly efficient at everything. This guy is also supposed to be the successor of the M16 to the Canadian Army, which should tell you something about how highly this gun is rated over here.”

Countess took this as her cue to lean forward from her seat in the living room and move closer towards the fifty-something, who appeared to be the leader of the dirt bikers. “So how many do you want, Elijah?” she asked him.

“I’ll take twenty-five,” Elijah replied. “Fifteen hundred bucks a pop.”

“You’re joking,” Chains said. “One of these HKs can get us over thirty-five hundred to the right buyer. The only reason we’re talking is because you asked for us specifically, and also because you’re a valued customer. Make it three thousand a gun and you’ve got a deal.”

“Come on, Danny, that’s ridiculous money and you know it,” Elijah retorted. “I don’t have cash flowing out of my pockets like water. Fine, I’ll bump it up to two thousand dollars each.”

“Hey, we had to work hard to get those guns too, you know,” Countess added. “Do you actually believe that these guns actually fell out of the truck when they got reported as ‘damaged or lost in transit’? It takes time and money to get the guns and sell them on to whoever wants them. We deserve to be compensated for the work we’re doing for the community, if you know what I mean.”

“You’ve always driven a hard bargain, Carmilla,” Elijah said with a shake of his head. “All right. Twenty-five hundred bucks a rifle. For twenty-five rifles, that’s what? Sixty-two and a half thousand right away. Surely that would be enough compensation for your efforts to help the community, as you called it.”

Carmilla (Countess) and Danny (Chains) exchanged looks with each other. Chains shrugged her shoulders and Countess replied with a nod. “All right, Elijah,” Countess said to the older man. “Twenty-five hundred a pop it is. You got yourself a deal. Let’s shake on it.” Countess held out her hand, her pearly white hand with long and slim fingers and nails in black polish and cut and filed to wicked points. Elijah extended his hand, which looked humongous and hairy compared to Countess’ small and smooth hand, and they shook hands.

Something that I believe you should know about the Vampires: unlike a lot of other outlaw biker gangs out there, the Vampires don’t have a lot of fingers in the pie that was the Canadian underworld. About the only real large-scale illegal activities that the club were committing were money laundering and gun-running and gun smuggling. I don’t know how they ever got started on stealing and selling guns, but by the time I prospected for them, gun-running was by far and large the biggest money earner for the Vampires.

But despite qualifying for the definition of being an outlaw biker gang (and practically living the lifestyle of one as well), the one thing that the Vampires will not tolerate among its members is the use of illegal drugs and narcotics, and by that I mean the really strong stuff like crack cocaine and Ecstasy. Abusing prescription drugs (the ones you can get from a doctor or the drugstore) is also highly frowned upon among the Vampires. That’s what the beer and the marijuana are for, they say (marijuana being the only “drug” that was not prohibited among the Vampires). If anyone affiliated with the Vampires, whether they were just a friend of the club, a hang-around, a prospect or even a full-patch member, was caught using drugs or carrying drugs on their person then that was grounds for immediate dismissal from the club. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with the club for one day or since its foundation; if the Vampires find drugs on you, you’re out of the club, baby. The Vampires will disown you and kick you out of their clubhouses and tell you that if you wanted to be a junkie then you shouldn’t have joined the Vampires because we simply do not use drugs. But selling guns and even high-powered rifles to the less lawfully inclined sector of society? Hop right in!

Both Countess and Elijah the dirt biker stood up with their hands still together, a sign that this deal was real, and that there were to be no renegotiations afterwards, I would learn later. Outlaw biker gangs may be criminals but they’ve got their own morals and code of conduct, twisted it may seem to be. “Chains will even give you this piece as a token of the Vampires’ appreciation for choosing us as your armament supplier once again,” Countess told Elijah as they finally broke off their long handshake. Chains tossed the Heckler & Koch HK416 assault rifle to Elijah, who caught the rifle in mid-air and examined it closely. “I’ll have a hell of a time trying to hide this on my bike,” he muttered mostly to himself. “The usual, right?”

“Half the guns this weekend and the other half on the next,” Countess recited from memory. “And the same goes for the money, yeah?”

“Sure, sure, of course,” Elijah replied. And then he leaned in close to Countess and whispered, “And let’s not forget about that special order that I made last Friday.”

“I’m working on it,” Countess replied in an equally furtive whisper. “Don’t worry about it.”

I waited until the dirt bikers had walked out of the house and rode off with their bikes roaring loudly in the night before I finally opened my mouth to speak. “Was that Elijah Cruz you just sold guns to?” I asked. “The Elijah Cruz?”

“So what if he is? What’s it to you, prospect?” Chains asked in reply. “You ask an awful lot of questions for a prospect, prospect. You’re always trying to make us think that you’re a cop, Hollis. If this was just once or twice, I’d really think that you’re a cop, probate. But no cop would ever ask so many questions like that because surely they can’t be that stupid, right? Or are you double-bluffing us by pretending to be stupider than you look?”

“Hey, hey, Danny, now is not the time and place for this bullshit,” Countess said, killing off a potential confrontation between me and Chains before it got out of hand. “As for you, Laura, I think it’s time for you to forget that all this happened.”

“I was just asking, man,” I said before I stepped out of Chains’ house and drove off on my bike. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know who Elijah Cruz was; I just knew him from the news because there was an article or two about him being the oldest active Motocrosser in history, and because there was some kind of separated at birth meme circulating comparing Cruz to some actor named Ray Stevenson, a guy whom I think I may have heard of but not really seen (but according to his Wikipedia article, I’ve actually seen some movies of his). For me, there was some kind of resemblance between the two; Cruz had the eyes, the hair, and the beard, but other than that I just couldn’t see how Elijah Cruz and Ray Stevenson could have been mistaken for twins. Not that that I could speak for myself. To this day I still have some difficulty telling apart Matt Damon from Mark Wahlberg.

As Countess said though, I promptly forgot about the meeting with Elijah Cruz and his gang of dirt bikers (which I would later learn was called the Yahoos) as soon as I got back to my apartment and fell asleep without even changing out of my clothes. A few days passed after Countess and Chains’ deal with the Yahoos for a number of high-end and high-powered assault rifles before the topic was brought up again, this time during one of the Vampires’ regular runs to Toronto. I was serving drinks to the full patches just like any prospect would in this situation when Countess called me and Chains over to her table. “Have a seat, prospect,” she told me, and I complied immediately.

Once Chains had sat down beside Countess, the latter leaned closer to me and said, “Remember that night when I asked you to pick up some food for me and Chains? The one where you met the Yahoos?”

“I don’t know. Should I remember?” I replied. Countess was the one who had told me to forget all about that night, and I had the feeling that this might be yet another test that the Vampires were doing to me.

“Genius was right when they said you were a wise-ass,” Countess muttered, but there was a smile on her lips as she said that. “All right, Laura, I’ll cut to the chase. That night, I didn’t call you over to Chains’ place just because we were hungry. We called you over there because I thought that it’s time for you to get acquainted with the other side of the Vampires.”

It took a few moments for Countess’ words to sink in before I finally understood what she was trying to say. “You want me to help you sell guns to the Yahoos?” I asked.

“Of course not, you idiot,” Countess immediately retorted. “Not yet, at least. But I do want you to understand how we do things here in the club.” Countess then proceeded to explain how gun running was the Vampires’ primary source of income and how they have used it to become a force to be reckoned with in terms of the Greater Toronto Area outlaw biker scene. “Right now, it doesn’t matter to you how we get the guns that we’re going to sell to those who want to buy,” Countess added. “Think of it as you cutting your teeth into the family business, this being a sisterhood and all. All that matters to you, prospect, is that you now know what you’re actually getting into.”

“I don’t suppose it’s too late to back out now, is it?” I asked. I had intended it as a joke but apparently neither Countess nor Chains were in the joking mood right now.

“Now I want you to listen to me carefully, prospect,” Countess said to me. “Later tonight, I’m giving you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Vampires’ business. I promised Elijah that I was going to give him a bunch of new handguns fresh from our supplier, but because Mother and I have got some more important business to attend to with the rest of the Original Six, I’ve entrusted the deal to Chains. She knows what to do; she’s the one who’s going to deal with the old man, and the Yahoos have been one of our biggest clients lately, and I do not intend to screw up that particular business relationship. But I want you there to get a sense of what we’re doing to keep this club up and running, Laura. There might come a time when you’ll have to do it yourself.”

“No bikes, prospect,” Chains added. “Bring that shitty Mazda of yours tonight. I saw cops running a regular beat on Cruz’s street when I scoped out the place yesterday. If the cops see two bikers hanging around Cruz’s place, that’s the deal busted before it even began.”

“Bring the Mazda. Okay,” I nodded my head.

“Right, that’s about it. Go and bring us a couple of beers then, prospect,” Countess said, and it was back to the shithouse of a probationary member of the Vampires Motorcycle Club for me.

The prospect (pun not intended) of taking part in a gun deal between the Vampires and the Yahoos, while it didn’t particularly appeal to me, happened to take up the majority of the free space inside my brain as the day turned to night. Sure, it may be part of me proving myself to the other Vampires but it was also getting me up close and personal with the dark side of this particular outlaw biker gang, and I wasn’t about to let that opportunity slip. Finally, at seven PM, I drove my rental Mazda out to Chains’ house and picked her up. “All right, prospect,” she said to me. “Time to go to Old Man’s place.”

Chains gave me the directions to Elijah Cruz’s house, and we arrived at the place an hour later, although granted that was through the early night rush hour in Toronto. That being said, I really could have waited until eight or maybe even nine PM to pick up Chains and drive to Cruz’s place, but here we are.

“Hey, prospect,” Chains said to me. “Yeah?” I asked.

“What’s your deal, prospect? Why did you want to join the Vampires again?”

Oh, God, not this again. “I already told you before, man,” I replied. “I wanted to make something more out of my life, find meaning and purpose in it again. Maybe even pay it forward by helping out another girl in need.”

Chains shook her head. “I don’t think I have to tell you this one more time, prospect, but I don’t trust you,” she told me. “I’m only tolerating you here because Countess is the chapter vice president and her word is as good as gold, and until you do something that really proves to me that you’re on the up and up, I’m always going to be suspicious of you. That being said, if you don’t want anyone else to get real suspicious with you, just keep your mouth shut and don’t ask any questions unless we tell you to ask. I shouldn’t have to tell you that already since you should know.”

I honestly didn’t know how to react to what Chains had just said to me. She like went from basically saying that she didn’t trust me to giving me a tip on how to help the others trust me a little more. It was like, what was her deal? For a brief moment I wondered whether Chains was either an undercover agent or another confidential informant like me, but in my own honest opinion Chains was too much of a cop-hater to even think about working with the police to bring down the Vampires. Unless she was a very excellent actress in which case I can only applaud her acting skills, because she is really selling her cop hate and suspicions of me very well. And that got me thinking: would two undercover cops trying to infiltrate the same gang know that the other guy is a UC? Or will they both treat the other like any other legit gangster? It was something to ponder about, at the very least.

I killed the engine of my Mazda to save fuel and not contribute any more to global warming than I already have, and Chains and I lowered the windows to let in the cool night air. We listened to the rustling leaves and the crunching of gravel under tyres as cars passed by us but, one hour later, the lights to Cruz’s house were still not on. “Where the heck is that old geezer?” Chains asked, more to herself than anyone else. “God, I can’t take this silence anymore. If I don’t hear any music in the next few minutes, I’m going to go crazy.” She then reached out, turned on the radio, and tuned in to a soft rock radio station.

“Dude, my battery’s already shot,” I said. “You could short out the battery.”

“Just one song, prospect,” Chains replied. “Just let me listen to one song or else I’m going to go batshit insane.”

I would have said something about Chains always being on batshit insane but it might just trigger the very same situation that I was trying to avoid so I held my tongue. Having said that, Chains didn’t turn off the radio after the first song, and she didn’t turn it off after the second, third, and even fourth songs. But by that point I wasn’t really bothered anymore. Who was I, a mere prospect, to complain about the actions of a full patch member anyway?

It was probably about 9:30 in the evening when I felt my cellphone vibrating in my pocket. I took it out and saw that it was a text message from Carly asking me where I was and why I wasn’t answering my phone. “Oh, crap,” I muttered. I was supposed to call in with Carly tonight but Countess telling me that she wanted me to cut my teeth into the Vampires’ gun running business had driven my scheduled appointment with Carly right out of my head.

“Who’s Carly, prospect?” Chains asked. She had glanced over to look at who had texted me. She was probably hoping that she would catch me making contact with the authorities which, technically, she did, but as she didn’t know who Carly was (I hoped), I believed that I could talk myself out of this.

“It’s nobody,” I replied. “Just a friend of mine. An acquaintance.” I then texted back a quick reply to Carly telling her that I was busy and can’t talk, and then I turned off my phone and put it back in my pocket. I didn’t need to deal with both Chains and Carly at the same time.

Thirty more minutes passed while we waited for Elijah Cruz to arrive home. I had finally gathered the courage to turn off the radio myself, and when Chains protested, I told her that if we had to make a run for it and my battery failed, I was going to pin it all on her. We had both sat in silence yet again, both stewing in our own mental juices as we both pondered how this deal was going to unfold. In the back of my mind I was pretty sure that both Carly and Vordenburg were now throwing hissy fits because I had turned off my phone and was refusing to respond to both of them but I didn’t care. I was just doing what they had told me to do, and that was to get in deep and close with the Vampires. And I couldn’t do that if they were constantly hounding me tonight.

“Where the fuck is that old bastard!?” Chains muttered to herself with more than just a hint of anger and bitchiness. “God, I gotta do something or else I’ll go crazy!” Once again I wondered whether I should say anything about Chains already being crazy but I value my life too much. And then Chains took out a semi-auto handgun and began disassembling it. “What the heck are you doing?” I asked. “Where the fuck did you get that?”

“Hey, what did I tell you about asking questions, prospect?” Chains replied.

“You might wanna put the gun away,” I said. “Someone might see it!”

“So what if they see it? It’s not like I can use it on anyone, at least not looking like this!”

Of course, it was right at that moment that a police car chose to appear and make a slow rolling patrol down the street, flashing its blue and red lights and sounding out its siren. “Put the gun away!” I hissed at Chains, and she quickly shoved the disassembled parts of the gun under her kutte and arms. The black and white passed us by and I held my hand up to my face so that the cops wouldn’t get a good look at me even with their spotlight. “Nothing to see here, officer, just move on,” I said under my breath.

The police car drove on, and as soon as it was out of sight Chains reassembled her gun and then returned it to where she had hidden it in the small of her back. Finally though, we both heard the familiar sound of dirt bikes revving and roaring down the street, and we could see three headlights that looked like the right size for road-legal dirt bikes. We waited until we could make out the riders on the bikes before we made our move. “Go flash your lights at them,” Chains told me, and I complied. I flashed the lights of my Mazda twice to get the attention of the Yahoos, and we both heard their bikes slowing down.

The biker in the middle then began talking with the others, and then the two bikers to the side peeled off and continued down the road while the middle biker drove up to the driveway of the house beside which we had been waiting for over two and a half hours. Elijah Cruz got off his bike and went into his house, and then Chains and I waited for a few minutes before we got out of the car to follow him inside. “Stay quiet and follow my lead no matter what,” Chains told me. I nodded my head, and then she knocked on the door and then Cruz let us in.

The inside of Elijah Cruz’s house was similar in layout to Chains’ place, but the decorations and furnishings were different. The majority of the walls were covered with motorcycling and dirt biking posters but there were also a few flags up and around. The flags of Canada and Ontario were pinned prominently on the walls behind the couch where Cruz had sat down, but I also noticed a flag underneath those flags that looked very much like the flag of Nazi Germany except the swastika was replaced by a strange three-pronged cross that looked like a bunch of number 7s joined together at their bottoms. I think it was the flag of a group of radical fascist White South Africans who were vehement supporters of apartheid.

I sat down across the table from Elijah Cruz while Chains took up a standing position beside me. “All right, let’s have it,” Cruz said to me.

“Hold up, mate, eyes on me,” Chains said. “You’re dealing with me tonight. The prospect is here for some on-the-job training, if you know what I mean.”

Cruz furrowed his eyebrows at that, and then he shrugged as if nothing had changed. “So, you got what I asked for, Danny?” he asked Chains.

Chains reached into her kutte and pulled out a package tightly wrapped in black plastic. She unfurled the plastic wrapping as best as she could and then she pulled out a metallic gray pistol with black molded grips. “Smith and Wesson 5946,” Chains said, handing the gun over to Cruz. “It’s the official service pistol of the Mounties. Fresh from the factory and serial numbers gone, just like you asked.”

Cruz inspected the pistol closely, making sure that any potential identifying marks had indeed been erased from the pistol. He then aimed down the sights with first one eye and then both eyes, and then he put the gun on safe even though it wasn’t loaded with any bullets and he asked, “Where’s the rest of it?”

“Go get it, prospect,” Chains told me. “It’s in your boot,” she whispered to me. I went out, opened the boot of my car, and retrieved a small cardboard box that was nevertheless big enough to fit in nine more guns as well as a few boxes of ammunition. I went back to the house and laid the box on the table in front of Cruz. Cruz opened the box and inspected the contents, and when he was satisfied that he had everything he had asked for, he asked, “How much?”

“Ten thousand,” Chains replied.

“Cash or drugs?”

“Come on, Elijah. You know how we do business. We’re all about the cash. You should know that by now.”

“All right. Just wait there while I get the cash.” Cruz stood up and vanished into a side room, and when he went out he was carrying a thin brown envelope. “Ten thousand dollars,” he said as he handed the envelope to Chains. “Like Carmilla and I agreed.”

Chains tossed the envelope to me. “Pleasure doing business with you, Elijah,” she said, and then she stood up to leave.

“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” I said. “Countess told me to count the cash. I gotta count the cash first.”

“Are you serious, prospect?” Chains asked me in a tone which made it very clear that she thought that I was very much kidding.

“No, dude, I’m serious,” I replied. “Ask Countess if you want. She told me to count the cash right before we all went home after the run.”

“All right, fine,” Chains muttered. I opened the envelope and laid out the cash in front of me and began counting. The bills were in small denominations like twenty- and fifty-dollar bills, meaning that the counting process took me some more time than I would usually take if the cash was in hundred-dollar bills. Eventually I finished counting, and I put the money back in the envelope. “Yup, it’s ten thousand dollars,” I said.

“All right, now can we go?” Chains asked me. “Or is there anything else Countess told you to do?”

“No, no, we’re good,” I said, shaking my head.

“Good.” Chains then nodded her head at Cruz, who nodded back, and then she and I went out of the house and back to my car, but not before I had given the envelope with the cash back to Chains.

Chapter Text

The next day, I found myself in Mississauga once again for my face-to-face meeting with Carly that was supposed to happen last night. I couldn’t make the original appointment because I was busy helping the Vampires seal the deal on a guns for cash trade with another biker gang in the Yahoos. Carly was already waiting for me in her maroon Crown Vic in the parking lot of a recently condemned motel. I drove my Harley right next to the car and then I got off my bike and jumped into Carly’s passenger seat.

“You can’t just drop off the grid on me like that, Laura,” Carly told me as soon as I got in the car. “You had me and your Captain Vordenburg all worried all of a sudden when you said that you couldn’t talk. We couldn’t find you, couldn’t contact you, and when you finally sent us a text, it’s just to tell us that you’re busy doing business. What the hell was that all about, Laura? What gives?”

“Look, Carly, it’s a long story, man,” I replied with a tired sigh. I took a long breath, and then I told Carly the story of how Carmilla “Countess” Karnstein, my biker sponsor, had roped me into making a deal between the Vampires and the Yahoos Motorcycle Club of Elijah Cruz. Carly listened to me intently as I told her my story, nodding her head at key parts and muttering “Mm-hmm” at times but otherwise keeping to herself. “So let me get this straight, Laura,” she finally said once I was done, “your Vampire buddies not only brought you into the loop of their real business, but they also made you take part in one of their guns for cash deals?”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” I nodded.

“And you’re telling me all of this only now?” Carly asked, suddenly quite furious. Her change in tone made her question to me sound more like an accusation. “Whose side are you really on anyway, Laura?”

“Hey, I only found out about it and everything else yesterday,” I retorted. “I couldn’t tell you about it because everything went down last night. You don’t have to accuse me of playing both sides just because of that. Trust me, Carly, if I had had the time when I found out about this, I would have told you all about it.”

Carly let out a long and deep sigh of her own. “All right, Laura, I believe you,” she finally said, although her tone suggested that she felt the complete opposite of what she had just told me. “Now, I have something for you,” she told me, and she reached for something in her jacket. For a brief moment, I thought that Carly was going to pull a gun on me and shoot me right then and there just so she could get rid of me easily, but the reality was much more mundane than that. The object that Carly took out from her jacket was actually some kind of a cigarette lighter.

“It’s actually a recording device, Laura,” Carly replied to my unasked question. “The folks over at Sony came up with a way to squeeze an audio recorder into a space as small as a Zippo. Now, Laura, this baby can record up to eight hours of audio, which should be more than enough for you to record everything your Vampire friends tell you and then some. All right, Laura, listen to me carefully because this is how you work this recorder. One click on this logo in the middle of the lighter activates the recorder.” Carly pressed the thing to demonstrate, which made a soft but distinct clicking sound. “And then two clicks turns it off. And the good thing about this is that if the Vampires catch it on you, they can test it and it’ll light up like an actual lighter. Try it out. It actually works.” Carly struck the steel flint twice to get a flame started on the lighter.

“That’s actually pretty cool,” I muttered.

“Don’t get used to it just yet,” Carly continued. “Every time we meet starting next week, you’re gonna give me back that lighter you currently have and everything you’ve recorded in it, and then I’m gonna give you a new one, and then rinse and repeat. Remember why you’re doing this, Laura. You’re gathering evidence so we can finally take the Vampires to court and get some convictions as well. Unless you want to call off the whole thing. I can bring you in on a weapons charge, and then you won’t have to worry about the Vampires anymore.”

I took a deep breath of my own and sighed. “No, no, Carly, I want to keep doing this,” I said to her. “I have to keep doing this. I’m already in way too deep to back out of this now. You arrest me now and the Vampires are going to want to silence me because I know too much about their guns for cash thing. I have to keep doing this.”

“All right, Laura, you called it,” Carly nodded. “If that’s what you want then all fine by me. Just remember the next time you find out anything juicy from your Vampire friends, you call and tell me immediately so I don’t have to worry when you don’t make the next meeting.” She then reached into her jacket once again and took out a small brown envelope. “Your pay for the week, as promised,” she told me.

I took the money and pocketed it. “Thanks, man,” I said, and then I got out of Carly’s cop car and got back on my bike, and then I got out of there as fast as I could. I didn’t really pay attention to where I was going; it was like my body was on autopilot. Lots of things were running around my mind: Carly telling me off for not telling her that I now knew about the Vampires’ real business; the lighter-cum-recording device in my pocket that was going to be the key to my successfully completing my mission; and my own decision to keep doing my infiltration into the Vampires despite all the risks. However, I knew that doing this while riding my bike was not the safest thing for me to do, so I pulled into a gas station so I could catch my breath and collect my thoughts.

I stopped my bike in front of one of the pumps and began refueling my bike, and then I walked away so that I wouldn’t have to inhale the fumes while I took deep breaths to calm myself. Suddenly though, I felt a wave of nausea rising up my throat (but it had nothing to do with the gasoline fumes) and I bolted for the nearest restroom and threw up at the first sink I saw. I spewed out a few chunks and then I began to dry heave, which ended up rubbing my throat raw. Goddamn it, man, this double life of mine could very well be the death of me.

I wiped my mouth dry with the back of my hand and then I went out of the restroom and bought a bottle of water from the convenience store in the station so I could rinse my mouth and wash away the bile and acid. I spat out the water, and then I walked back to my bike to wait for the tank to fill up. As I waited, I heard a pair of Harley engines coming down the road, and I looked up and saw “Countess” Karnstein and Danny “Chains” Lawrence approaching the station on their bikes. I’ve never had much time to appreciate the other Vampires’ bikes until now, but this moment now allowed me a moment to admire Carmilla’s 2002 FLSTC with its black body and blood red pinstripe graphics, and Danny’s silver 2003 XL1200. Seeing their bikes this way allowed me to think that Carmilla and Danny’s bikes were somehow physical manifestations of their personalities. It would make sense that Danny, who was quite often loud and brash and very much straightforward, would have the shiny silver XL1200 with its big engine while the quiet and aloof but very much observant Carmilla would have the understated but still magnificent black FLTSC with red pinstripes.

Carmilla and Danny seemed to notice that I was looking at them so they brought their bikes over to the gas station and parked beside me. “Well, well, well, if this isn’t a pleasant surprise,” Carmilla said to me. “What brings you out here so early, prospect?” she asked as she killed her engine.

“Woke up early,” I replied. “Couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided I might just burn off some energy by driving around. Now I’m just filling up the tank so I don’t have to walk back home.”

“Where’s your kutte, prospect?” Danny asked. “Where is it?”

“It’s right here, man, chill,” I said, pointing at one of the saddlebags on my bike. “I’m just riding by myself. I thought you’re only supposed to wear your kutte when you’re supposed to represent the club.”

“You represent the club by wearing your kutte wherever you go,” Danny said. “That means you wear your kutte no matter what you’re doing, even if you’re just hanging around at home. No exceptions.”

I kept my mouth shut and didn’t argue any further. I wasn’t really in the mood to fight with anybody about anything anyway so I just took out my kutte and threw it on. Meanwhile, both Carmilla and Danny had begun filling up their bikes’ tanks as well, and I began to mentally brace myself for the prospect of spending some of my hard-earned money (that I got to betray the Vampires to the authorities) to pay for the gas going into their bikes.

Right at that moment, three more Harleys roared into view. This time though, it was three men who were riding those bikes. I braced myself for the possibility of yet another showdown between Vampires and Lazyboys or maybe a Lazyboy drive-by, but upon closer inspection I saw that the patches on the male bikers’ kuttes simply weren’t like the ones that the Lazyboys wore. In fact, their patches were very similar in design to that of the Vampires, except instead of a fanged skull, their main patch was of a cartoonish drawing of a devil with a pitchfork, similar to the devil on the logo of Manchester United.

The three male bikers revved their engines when they recognized the Vampires filling up at the gas station and then they pulled into the station themselves. I can only imagine what the managers of the gas station and the convenience store were thinking while they watched all of these bikers turn their place of business into some sort of impromptu meeting place.

Two of the male bikers who stopped by to meet us were white, while the third one was black (oh, sorry, I mean person of color). All of them looked to be in their early to mid-twenties but the guy in the lead, the one with the INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT patch on his kutte, had that same quiet and aloof but also observant eyes as Carmilla, along with the same shade of pale white skin. “Well, well, well, if this isn’t a nice surprise!” he said. “What brings you to sunny south Mississauga, Carm and Danny?”

“Oh, nothing, just did some business, made a few deals,” Carmilla replied. “How about you, Will? What are you and your boys doing here?”

“We’re patrolling the streets and making sure that the Lazyboys aren’t trying to sneak back into our turf, that’s what we’re doing,” the black biker (ahem, the POC biker) replied. Right off the bat, I could immediately tell that I wasn’t going to get along with this guy. He seemed to me rude, skittish, impatient, and always looking to prove himself even though no one was asking him to do so. I looked at the other Vampires and saw that Danny seemed ill at ease with the black guy as well. Now that was something I wasn’t expecting: Danny and I agreeing about something.

(Oh, and before you social justice warriors out there say anything, I’m not saying or even trying to imply that all men of color are rude, skittish, impatient, and always looking to prove themselves when they don’t have to prove anything at all. But this particular guy is all of those things and more.)

The biker in the middle, the one with the plaid shirt and the sergeant-at-arms patch on his kutte, then looked at me as if he had only noticed me being there for the first time. “Hey, Danny, who’s the new girl?” he asked.

“Oh, her?” Danny asked in reply, jerking her thumb at me. “She’s our new prospect,” she said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “She doesn’t have a road name right now so just call her Prospect. You don’t mind, do you?” she asked me.

“Laura, meet our friends and brothers, the Red Devils Motorcycle Club,” Carmilla said. “These three jokers here are Greek, Guardian, and Thirdy. Thirdy, the guy who’s as pale as me, is the international president of the Red Devils. Guardian is the guy in plaid, and Greek is the POC.”

“Hey Countess, I already told you, girl, you can call me a black man,” Greek said. “It’s all right with me.”

“And my real name is actually The Admiral,” Thirdy added. “I’m only called Thirdy because I’m the third guy to have The Admiral as a road name. My grandfather, he was the first Admiral, and he was one of the founders of the Red Devils MC. He got the name Admiral because he used to be in the Canadian Navy before he helped establish the Red Devils. My father, when he was patched in, became the second Admiral, and now I’m the third one, hence why I’m Thirdy.”

Now would probably be a good time to mention that in addition to learning the real names of the Vampires when I was patched in, I also got to know the names of some of the Red Devils since they were allies of the Vampires. And since I had already disclosed the identities of the Vampires that I rode with during my time in the club, it seems only proper that I also reveal the identities of these Red Devils that I have met.

For starters, “The Admiral,” aka “Thirdy,” is really named Will Luce. His grandfather, the first Admiral and one of the founders of the Red Devils, was Jean-Paul “J.P.” Armitage, a somewhat well-known figure in the post-war Canadian Navy. “Guardian”, the sergeant-at-arms in plaid, was Wilson Kirsch. He got his road name because of his time as a volunteer Guardian Angel for the female students of Silas University during the infamous “Week of Hysteria” where lots of shit that didn’t reflect well on the safety and wellbeing of Silas’ students happened. I remember it happening in my junior year in Silas, and I think I actually remember being escorted from my dorm to my classroom by a guy who looks just like Guardian/Kirsch. And Greek’s real name is Theo Straka (which is itself short for Theodoros Strakathiates). Three guesses as to how he got his road name, and the first two don’t count. (Hint: it’s in his name.) His father is also Greek, so there’s that.

“Actually, it’s good fortune that you girls are here,” Thirdy said after I had been introduced to the Red Devils. “We’ve got some good news to share to you.”

“Oh, really? What’s that, Will?” Carmilla asked.

“Guardian over here, he and his old lady are getting married.”

“Oh, really?” Danny asked in reply. “Who’s the unlucky girl?”

“Oh, come on, Danny, don’t give me that,” Guardian replied. “Besides, you all know who she is. Sarah Jane’s been my old lady for what, seven months already? I proposed, she said yes, and now the wedding is on the 10th, ten days from now.”

“Man, you really must be serious about her,” Danny said. “You’re already getting married after just seven months. What happened to the last one? Marie-Elaine or Polly-Lou or whatever her name was?”

“It’s Mary-Louise,” Guardian replied. “And no, I was never serious with her. She was just a groupie, a quickie. But Sarah Jane? Now she’s a keeper. And I’m glad I found her because I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone else like her in my life.”

“Really? Well, good for you, Kirsch,” Danny told him.

“Remember, Kirsch’s wedding is on the tenth,” Thirdy said. “Everyone’s invited, Vampires and Red Devils. Yeah, Carm, even you and Mattie. Oh, and it was nice seeing you out here, Carmilla.”

“Right back at you, Will,” Carmilla said, although judging by the slightly forced smile on her lips and her somewhat strained tone, she didn’t seem too happy about seeing Thirdy out here at all.

“See y’all girls later,” Thirdy said. “And tell Mattie, Lola, and the others I said hi,” he called back as he and the other Red Devils peeled out of the gas station in a cloud of white smoke and rubber dust.

“Oh, look at that,” Carmilla muttered once the Red Devils were gone. “Little Kirsch is finally getting married. Thank goodness he finally found someone who loves him back.”

“Yeah, good for him,” Danny replied. “I wonder when I’m going to get married.”

“Probably not anytime soon,” Carmilla said with a smile. “Because, Lawrence, let’s face it, you’re a great woman and all, but I think you just rub a lot of other people the wrong way.”

“So says Her Majesty the Countess Karnstein,” Danny retorted. “Turning up her nose over the peasantry.”

“Hey, I’m always on the lookout for the potential future ex-Mrs. Karnstein,” Carmilla said. “I just haven’t found her yet. Thank God for Canadian progress! Once I meet Miss Right, I’m hauling her ass right in front of the nearest minister or justice of the peace and getting our gay asses bound in holy matrimony.”

“That’s the dream, sister,” Danny said. “That’s the dream.”

Carmilla then saw that her bike was done filling up on gas, and she made a theatrical display of searching for something on her before she finally looked at me and said, “Oh, darn, will you look at that. Looks like I forgot my wallet.”

“Same for me, Carm,” Danny added, a smirk already beginning to form on her face.

“Looks like you’re gonna have to pick up our collective tab, prospect,” Carmilla told me. “I hope you haven’t blown your cut of the deal on pads and tampons just yet!” she cackled as she started up her bike and left the station, followed close behind by Danny. I knew it. I would have to pay for their gas as well as mine. Yet another part of life as a biker prospect. At least I had the money that I had got from Carly with me and I could use it to pay off the gas. Otherwise I probably would have had to pay off for all that gas by offering my services to that station and they would take it all out on my salary.

Chapter Text

Things quieted down for the next few days until one particular Thursday, the Thursday after I was introduced to the Red Devils. This particular Thursday will remain forever burned in my memory because it was the day that I got my road name and also the first time that I ever set out to deliberately and actively harm and hurt a person.

As with the vast majority of the things that have happened to me during my time with the Vampires, this particular incident happened to me during a biker run. This time though, our run took us south to Burlington, practically the heart of Red Devils territory. Far from being our enemies, the Red Devils were actually the Vampires’ friends and allies, mostly against the Lazyboys in Toronto proper. The fact that a lot of the Red Devils’ younger members as well as one of their founders being alumni of Silas University certainly helped to cement the good relationship between the Vampires and the Red Devils.

We had gone down to Burlington as a show of support and solidarity for the Red Devils, who had also just recently survived a spate of Lazyboy incursions and attacks on their territory. The Vampires and Red Devils had rode together during this run, and then we had retired to two different bars in Burlington. I was doing the usual prospect stuff for the Vampires, bringing full-patch members beers and whatnot. Eventually Carmilla aka “Countess” told me that I had finally done enough grunt work for the day and that it was time for the newer prospects to pick up the slack, so I grabbed myself a bottle and took a seat at a table in the corner nearest to the door. When I sat down, I happened to notice a box cutter on the table. Any other day, I wouldn’t have paid the box cutter any attention at all except wonder how it had gotten there in the first place, but this was not an ordinary day. I picked up the box cutter and began twirling it between my fingers, and then I began feeling a little bit naughty and I decided to lay my left hand down on the table and began sticking the cutter blade through the gaps between my fingers. If you couldn’t tell, I hadn’t really had a lot of time to enjoy myself so I was going to take every opportunity that I could to let off some steam.

Of course, this calm and orderly state of affairs couldn’t last for very long, and it disappeared the moment that three Hispanic men walked into the bar. They were dressed just like your stereotypical cholos (open plaid shirts, wifebeaters, bandanas tied around their heads, cargo shorts, thigh-high socks and rubber shoes), and because I had been around the Toronto underworld long enough by this point, I recognized these three as being members of the Halcon Syndicate. The Halcon Syndicate was a notorious organized crime group that deals mostly in drugs but also has their fingers in other things, primarily the underworlds of every South and Central American country out there. The Halcon Syndicate had also tried to infiltrate both Canada and the United States and they’ve been more successful in infiltrating the great white north instead of our southern neighbors because our prime minister is busy promoting feminism and gender neutrality instead of focusing on crime and other real problems plaguing our country. Not that that’s a bad thing; I just think that between fighting crime and promoting feminism, fighting crime would be higher on my own priority of things to do when I become prime minister myself. If I do become prime minister, which basically isn’t going to happen because I have no stomach for politics.

The Halcons walked into the bar and everyone fell silent. And no, it’s not the setup to yet another lame joke. Everyone looked at the Halcons, examined them carefully. The Vampires were scoping out the newcomers like they did with the Lazyboys last time, but the difference now is that the Vampires weren’t really looking for a fight this time around. The Vampires had just found out that aside from drugs, another source of income for the Halcon Syndicate was the trafficking of guns in and out of Toronto, something that the Vampires had dominated for a very long time before the arrival of the Halcons. This was a time when we were still wondering if going to war with the Halcons would be a good thing or a bad one seeing as if we began fighting the Halcons, they could join forces with the Lazyboys and the turf war would become bloody real soon.

Eventually, Danny Lawrence and Mel Callis, being the sergeants-at-arms of their respective chapters, stood up to confront the Halcons. For their part, they didn’t look too intimidated by the fact that a six-foot-something pale-skinned redhead and a five-foot-something black woman (ahem, make that woman of color) were walking up to them. The Halcons kept drinking their beers and ignoring Danny and Mel before Danny finally spoke up. “Excuse me, sir, but this is a private party,” she told one of the Halcons. “You might want to move your asses over to another bar.”

“No such sign outside the bar, chica,” the Halcon gangster replied. “This is a public place. My homies and I can drink wherever we like.”

“Still, we really think it’s best for you and your friends if the three of you got out of here,” Mel added.

“Says who?”

“Says us,” Danny pressed. But still the Halcons didn’t move. It looked like they were determined to stay here despite the fact that a number of other Vampires were already standing up to surround them. Finally though, one of the Halcons stood up from his place at the bar and confronted Danny. “I thought this was supposed to be a free country, chica,” he told her. “I thought anyone could do anything here.”

“Yeah, you could, Danny replied. “Except for when I tell you that we’re telling you to get out of here because you’re right in the middle of a private party.”

“And if I say I don’t wanna leave, bitch?” the standing Halcon asked back. “You gonna have me deported back to Mexico like they’re doing in the US? Whatcha gonna do about us? Whatcha gonna do?” He stared down at Danny (or rather stared up because like I told you, Danny Lawrence is one tall bitch), who stared right back at him.

“Trust me, man, you wouldn’t want to know what I can do to you,” Danny replied.

“Oh, I think I would love to find out,” the Halcon replied with a sneer. And so a standoff began between the two of them. Vampires versus Halcons. Neither side looked like backing down, and at the same time neither side looked like they really wanted to make the first move to spark the inevitable fight.

And it was at that moment that I made my name with the Vampires.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it. Maybe I saw my chance to impress the Vampires and I just took it. Maybe I just wanted to get these Halcon bastards out of here because neither Chains nor Archer looked like they were actually going to do what they were threatening to do to the Halcons. Maybe deep down I just wanted to hurt somebody after all the shit I’ve been through. Even today, writing about my experience that day, I’m still trying to come up with an explanation about why I did it in the first place. And I still have nothing to say for myself.

But what I did do that day was to walk up behind the Halcon who was standing off with Danny like I had seen Danny and LaFontaine do to that Lazyboy. I tapped the Halcon on the shoulder to get his attention, and he turned around almost immediately to face me. “What is it now, little girl?” he asked me almost condescendingly. I didn’t reply to his question. At least, I didn’t reply to it verbally. I did reply to him by raising the box cutter in my hand and swiping it in his general direction. The Halcon immediately reeled back and grabbed at his neck. “Crazy bitch!” he called out even as blood began to drip through his fingers. His blood also dripped down from the blade of the box cutter in my hand.

The Halcon looked down at the blood on his hand, the aftermath of my attack. I had actually wounded him on the underside of his jaw, and the cut wasn’t really that deep so it wasn’t like he was bleeding out to death in front of all of us. “Oh, you’re gonna pay for that, puta,” he said as he grabbed his beer. “You just made the biggest and last mistake of your life!” He then raised his arm and made to smash the bottle into my head. But before he could do so, a slim and pale hand with black nail polish appeared out of nowhere and grabbed his own arm.

“Nobody threatens a sister like that and gets away with it, hermano,” Carmilla said, and then she cold-cocked him with a left-handed haymaker. The standoff was now broken. The rest of the Vampires descended upon the Halcons and fists and even bar stools began flying everywhere. Even I joined in on the fight, although this time I made sure to throw the box cutter away so I wouldn’t actually mortally wound someone. I’m pretty sure that I got a few punches in. I still have a few scars on my knuckles as a reminder of that incident.

Almost immediately after the fight started, the Halcons began making their way towards the door of the bar. Two of the Halcons eventually made it out of the place while the third one, the one who had stood up to stare down Danny, looked like he was determined to make some sort of final stand, outnumbered as he was. It didn’t really make sense to me until I saw the Glock pistol sticking out of the waistband of his cargo pants. At the same time that he drew the pistol from his pants, I ran towards him and shoved him against the wall, and the impact made him drop the gun. Now disarmed, this third Halcon finally saw the writing on the wall, and he scampered back to his feet and followed his friends out the door.

“And stay out!” LaFontaine shouted at the retreating Halcons even as they jumped into their dusty sedan, and the Vampires cheered on our victory. As the adrenaline in my veins finally began to wear off, I saw Carmilla walking towards me. “Looks like you just found yourself a road name, prospect,” she said to me. Then she turned to face the rest of the Vampires, and in a loud voice she said, “From this day forward, this probate right here, Laura Hollis, will now be known as Cutter!”

“To Cutter!” LaFontaine shouted. They had just gotten back from scaring off the Halcons and was now back in the bar holding a beer in their hand.

“To Cutter!” the other Vampires cried out in unison. Carmilla raised a clenched fist into the air and shouted, “Vampires forever!”

“Forever Vampires!” me and the others shouted back.

“Vampires forever!” Danny Lawrence repeated.

“Forever Vampires!”

“Vampires forever!” a third Vampire, I couldn’t tell who, said for the third time to complete the trinity. The others replied with their own cry of “Forever Vampires!”

“Now it’s time for you to really get that well-earned drink, Cutter,” Carmilla/Countess told me even as she laid a hand on my shoulder and steered me towards the bar. For the next few minutes, I was the talk of the town. Everyone in the bar wanted to know me, see me, shake hands with me. And I was more than happy to oblige. To be perfectly honest, I had never been the center of this much attention before in my life ever, but now that I was, I found that I was actually enjoying it. Now, I was no glory hunter or attention seeker but it felt good being noticed by these bikers for something other than getting them a beer or performing some humiliating task.

However, all of this would last only a few minutes, and I have to admit that it was partly my own fault why it happened. I was at a table where Mel “Archer” Callis and other members of her chapter were seated when it happened. I was telling for probably the fiftieth time already the story of how I had walked up to that Halcon and slashed his neck with a box cutter to one of Mel’s chapter mates (I can’t remember her road name off the top of my head, but I do know that her real name was Elsie) when I noticed something fall out of her pocket and roll away under the table and into my foot. I bent down to pick it up and I examined it carefully. It was a small glass tube with an opening on one end and a large round bulb-like thing on the other. It took me a few moments to realize what I was holding in my hand, but by then it was too late. “What the hell is that in your hand, probate?” Mel asked me heatedly. “Is that a fucking meth pipe?”

“Hey, man, it’s not mine,” I said immediately. “I just picked it up!”

“Oh, so you did? Where could it have come from then?” Mel asked me, standing up and putting her hands on her hips. “You said you just picked it up, prospect. Where did it come from then?”

I wondered whether I should tell her that I saw the meth pipe fall out of Elsie’s pocket. But that, even though it was the truth, was still an accusation from a prospect that a full-patch member was carrying drug paraphernalia. And who the hell was Mel going to believe: a prospect with a newly-minted road name or a full-patch member who’s been with the club for God knows how long? Well, what the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound. “It dropped out of somebody’s pocket,” I said. “I saw it rolling towards my foot so I picked it up.”

“Yeah, sure,” Mel said, her face telling me that she didn’t believe a single word that I said. “But you haven’t answered my question. Where did it come from?”

I was about to tell Mel exactly where the meth pipe had come from when Carmilla walked up to the table. “Yeah, Archer, I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” she said, “but Cutter here is telling the truth. She did just pick it up from the floor.”

“And where did it come from?” Mel pressed.

Carmilla took a deep breath and sighed. “It came from Elsie,” she finally replied.

All eyes were now on our table, or more specifically the meth pipe in my hand. There was an audible gasp of surprise as Carmilla dropped her bombshell on the rest of us. If it was me who had said that the meth pipe came from Elsie, I was confident that nobody would ever believe me. But because it was Carmilla freaking Karnstein who had said it, the motherfucking Countess herself, one of the Original Six of the Vampires, people were taking it seriously.

Melanippe now turned her attention to Elsie, whose mouth had dropped open in shock, mostly on the fact that Carmilla had called her out on the meth pipe. “Elsie, is this true?” Mel asked her. “Does this shit belong to you?” She grabbed the meth pipe from my hand and held it up in front of Elsie.

Right then and there, Elsie knew that she had only two choices, both of which were not good. Either she could deny the claim and imply that Countess, one of the Vampires MC’s founders, was a liar trying to save the ass of her own prospect. Or she could admit that the pipe was hers and stand to be expelled from the club altogether. Elsie chose the honorable way out. “Yes, it’s mine,” she finally admitted, to the even greater shock of those around us. “But trust me, Mel, it’s not a habit! I was just experimenting! I just wanted to try it out! And I don’t even like it!”

“Yeah, sure, that’s what they all say,” Mel retorted, “but once you’ve tried it, you wanna try it again! And after you’ve tried it again, you wanna try it again a third time, and after that you wanna try it yet again and before you know it, you’ve become a junkie!” Mel then suddenly went all calm and business-like, and then she said to Elsie in a low voice, “You know what this means. Give me your kutte, Elsie.”

“What?” Elsie asked in surprise.

“You know the rules, Elsie,” Carmilla replied for Mel. “We don’t tolerate hard drugs like meth and crack in our club. We just don’t. And if you get caught with drugs or even just paraphernalia on you, like you just did… I’m sorry, Elsie, but you’re out of the club, plain and simple. No second chances, no appeals, nothing. Now give Archer your kutte.”

“Carm, Mel, please,” Elsie said, suddenly on the verge of tears. “Don’t kick me out of the club. Don’t force me out like this. Don’t make me give this up. This club is the only thing I have left. Mel, you know that you’re the most important girl in my life! Don’t let it end like this! I was gonna throw that pipe away because I already told you, I don’t like the taste of meth! It’s fucking awful!”

“Yet you were still curious enough to try it once, Elsie,” Carmilla pressed. “You should have thought about the consequences of breaking the rules before you decided to break it. Now I’m going to ask you again nicely, but this will be the last time I’m gonna do it. Give your kutte back to Archer or else I’m going to rip it off of you. Along with both your arms.”

For one brief tense period, nobody moved. Elsie looked like she was really determined to not give up her kutte, the symbol of her membership in this exclusive club, even though she knew (along with the rest of us) that possessing drug paraphernalia was grounds for immediate expulsion from the Vampires. Melanippe looked hurt more than anything else that Elsie would even dare experiment with drugs and yet, here were are. I couldn’t see any hint of emotion at all on Carmilla’s face, her face a neutral blank that betrayed nothing that was going on in her mind, but somewhere deep in my gut I knew that she was more than willing to go violent on Elsie if it ever had to come to that.

But things didn’t go that far, thankfully. Elsie voluntarily gave up her kutte and handed it over to Archer, who took it without a hint of satisfaction on her face. What I did see on Elsie’s face were the tears forming in her eyes, but at least she looked like she still had the dignity to not bawl her eyes out in front of all of us. Silently, wordlessly, Elsie walked away from us and went out of the bar for the last time.

“I know how you feel about Elsie, Mel,” Lola “Mother” Perry said, speaking up for the first time since the Halcons crashed our party. “But rules are rules, and she broke them. We can’t make an exception for her just because she’s dating one of the club’s sergeants-at-arms.”

“I know, Lola, I know,” Mel replied with a curt nod, fighting back some tears of her own. “I just can’t believe that Elsie would even want to try meth. I just thought that she would be smarter than that, you know.”

“Well, what’s past is past. We just have to accept it for what it is and move on with our lives.”

However, it seemed as if we had barely just moved on from Elsie’s expulsion from the club when we all suddenly heard the loud honking of a truck horn followed by a sickening crunch of metal against metal. We immediately ran out of the bar to see what had happened outside. A large semi-trailer truck was stopped in the middle of the road, smoke pouring out of its crumpled and damaged front. The twisted and shattered remains of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle lay in front of the truck.

“Oh, my God,” Carmilla muttered, putting a hand over her mouth. “I think that’s Elsie’s bike.”

Mel made her way to the front of our little crowd of Vampires to get a better look at the commotion, and then when she saw the bike, she gasped as well. “Yeah, that’s Elsie’s bike, all right,” she said quietly. She then closed her eyes and sighed. “Oh, Elsie, what have you done?”

Lola took out the meth pipe that I had picked up from Elsie’s pocket, which had been handed over to her after Elsie’s expulsion. “No one is to speak of any of this, understand? No one needs to know.” She then threw the meth pipe to the ground and crushed it with the heel of her boot.

Chapter Text

It’s kind of funny, now that I think about it. Here I was, still trying to make my way through the dangerous world of outlaw biker gangs, and at this point I’ve already been invited to attend a biker wedding, but it would actually turn out that I would get to attend a biker funeral first. I mean, looking back, it actually makes a lot of sense. Guardian and the Red Devils couldn’t have known that Elsie would get busted with a meth pipe in her possession, and that her getting kicked out of the Vampires would lead to her death.

The official story was that Elsie got sideswiped by a trailer truck while she was pulling out of the parking lot and trying to merge onto the road. The truth however was much worse than that. Because she had been kicked out of the Vampires for having that meth pipe in her possession, Elsie had decided that not living anymore was better than being removed from the MC so she had driven her bike straight at the truck and crashed right into it. That was the story that the truck driver had told, but the Vampires drowned it out by constantly repeating “our” “official” version of events.

It was my first time attending a biker funeral. First, once Elsie’s body had been released by the morgue, “Archer” Callis and the rest of her chapter took Elsie to their clubhouse and had her lying “in state” in an open coffin, like she was a deceased prime minister or MP. They put ice in the coffin to slow down the decomposition of the body, but by the third day, the place was already smelling rancid, so the Vampires decided that it was finally time to put Elsie in the ground since everyone in the club and even the Red Devils had paid their respects to Elsie.

I don’t know how they managed to do it, but the Vampires had managed to book a custom bike-pulled hearse for Elsie’s funeral. Apparently, there was enough demand from bikers to have a biker-themed hearse for a few customization companies to actually put money into creating a motorcycle hearse. Once Elsie’s coffin had been loaded into the hearse, the ride from the clubhouse to the cemetery was just like any other run, with the road captain from Elsie’s chapter leading the way, followed by the motorcycle hearse. Vampires and Red Devils rode side by side that day, and I remember riding alongside other Vampire and Red Devils at the back of the pack. All of us kept quiet. This was a somber occasion after all; this was no time to let loose some wisecracks.

We arrived at the cemetery, and we drove through at least two other funerals before we finally arrived at the plot of land where Elsie was to be buried. Two Vampires and two Red Devils, all of them prospects (but none of them me) served as pallbearers for Elsie’s coffin, and they brought the coffin over to the canvas straps that were going to lower the coffin into the grave. A minister (I couldn’t be too sure, though) said some words about how Elsie had just gone on to the real greatest ride of her life, and then the coffin was lowered into the grave and covered with soil. The tombstone was to come later, they said.

The other Vampires and Red Devils then formed a circle around the grave. Nobody said a word, and nobody even made a sound apart from breathing and coughing. Finally, Melanippe, who was apparently very close to Elsie (as in intimately close, if you know what I mean) broke the silence. “Today, we say goodbye to a sister and a dear friend,” she began. “Elsie was a sister and a friend to all of us. I think on that, we can all agree. Elsie has contributed a lot to the club; that we cannot deny. She was one of the first members of the Vampires back before it was even called the Vampires, and she has seen, she knows what we had to go through to gain the respect and authority that we now have. She even helped us to gain some of that respect and authority herself. And now… she’s gone. No one could believe it. I couldn’t believe it, that’s for sure. No one here could have known that that truck was going to catch her by surprise while she was driving out of that parking lot. No one could have known.”

Yes, that was our official line. Elsie was driving out of that parking lot when that truck smashed into her bike and killed her almost instantaneously. Never mind that we were directly contradicting the statements of the truck driver himself and the dozen or so other witnesses who saw the whole thing; this was “our” truth and we were going to stick to it come hell or high water. We were choosing not to acknowledge the fact that Elsie was driven to commit suicide by onrushing truck because we had kicked her out of the club for breaking one of our cardinal rules. But that was fine with us. The rest of the world can believe that Elsie was the victim of a massive misfortune, because as far as they were concerned, Elsie died a one percenter. And Mel had said that that was what Elsie would have wanted, so we’re only respecting her last wishes.

Unfortunately for Mel though, those were the last words that she was able to say before she eventually broke down into tears, and Danny “Chains” made to comfort her (Danny and Mel were in the same sorority in Silas U before they became bikers). Lola “Mother” Perry then stepped forward and took Mel’s place beside Elsie’s coffin. She had a bottle of Jack Daniels, freshly opened, in her right hand. “To Elsie,” Lola said, raising the Jack Daniels over her head. “She was a right bitch, and she will be missed.”

“To Elsie,” we all repeated, and Lola poured the first third of the Jack Daniels over the grave, and then she took a shot from the bottle herself. Just a small gulp though, and then Mother tossed the bottle to Archer, who took a slug of her own. But even as the Jack Daniels was being passed around from Vampire to Vampire and Red Devil to Red Devil, the vast majority of the attendees to Elsie’s funeral were already breaking up and heading their separate ways. Vampires and Red Devils said goodbye to each other, and hugs and even a few kisses were exchanged. For my part, I was walking back to my own bike and about to ride off back to my apartment when Carmilla called me over. “Over here, Laura!” she told me. “Walk with me, probate. We’ve got something to talk about.”

“You know, Laura, you’ve been through a lot with us Vampires,” Carmilla told me as we began walking back towards the parking lot. “You already know how we get our money, but that’s still a side of the club that you’ve only managed to see once or twice. Well, now I’m about to introduce you to yet another side you’ve never seen until now.”

“Can I ask what is it we’re about to do now?” I asked.

“Look, what Danny said to the Yahoos about how we get the guns that we sell to the others is true,” Carmilla replied. “We don’t get all of these guns just by pushing them out the back of a truck. We’ve got a few suppliers of our own. And the way that we keep our suppliers loyal to us is through always giving them a piece of the action. Don’t worry, Cutter, Mother and the others know all about this. This is a completely legitimate operation. However, because Elsie over there decided to drive head-on into a semi, we had to delay giving the suppliers their respective cuts, and they don’t like it at all. They don’t like waiting for anything, especially their money. That’s why we have to get their said money pronto, and we need to move the money tonight. Genius and I have already volunteered ourselves, and now I’m volunteering you into this job as well.”

“But why me? Why can’t Chains or Mother or Archer or someone else get volunteered for this?” I asked.

“All the other girls you mentioned are going to be either too busy or too hungover to ride a bike all the way to London and make the drop,” Carmilla replied. “And we can’t trust any of the other prospects with this job just yet. And if you’re going to make it to full patch, you need to know about this anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity for you to get a leg up on your fellow prospects. You’re the perfect woman for this job, Cutter.”

I sighed, rolled my eyes, and shook my head. “All right, where do you want me to go?” I finally asked. Like I had any choice in the matter.

“Glad to have you on board, Cutter,” Countess said with a smile once I had asked my question. “All right, first things first. We’re going to Genius’ place first,” she said, “because the cash we’re going to give to the suppliers is with them right now.” Countess then gave me the address of Genius’ apartment, which I repeated over and over loudly and in my mind until I was confident enough that I could remember it when asked out of the blue. “Oh, and one more thing. You got a gun, prospect?” Carmilla asked me.

“What?” Now that was a question that I had not been expecting. “Um, well, yeah. I think I got a gun stashed around in my place someplace.”

“Well, tell me if you find it,” Carmilla told me. “But if you can’t find your gun, tell me so I can get you a gun before you, me, and Genius head out for London. I’m telling you right now, Laura, where we’re going, we might very well need a gun.”

“Okay. Like I told you, I’m gonna look for my gun,” I said.

“You better. Remember, Cutter, 8:30,” Carmilla said as she got on her bike and rode off in a cloud of smoke and dust. I covered my nose and closed my eyes and waited until the cloud had passed me, and then I hopped on to my own bike. I looked around for a moment to make sure that there was no one in the vicinity, and then I reached into my jeans pocket and took out the recording device disguised as a lighter. I had turned it on when Countess had called me over to talk, and now I was turning it off to save both battery power and memory space. “I hope that’s good enough for you, Carly,” I muttered, and then I started up my bike and rode back to my apartment to search for my gun.

When I had graduated from Silas University, my dad had given me a gun as a gift. I kid you not, I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness handgun with bullets and a safety and that kind of stuff. Well, considering that Dad’s previous gifts to me for my 18th birthday and for when I went to college were a taser (the same kind that the police use) and bear spray, I guess it was kind of inevitable that he would eventually give me a gun to defend myself. In addition to the gun, Dad had also enrolled me in a personal defense course where I learned how to properly handle a firearm, how to shoot a gun properly and how to disassemble and reassemble a gun within three minutes. Back then, I thought that Dad had gotten just a little too paranoid about my safety, but now I found myself growing ever more thankful that I had such a protective father.

I remember that when I had moved into this apartment, I had stashed the box which I kept the gun that Dad gave me in underneath my bed, and I could only hope that it was still there. It was, and it had accumulated a thick layer of dust on top for the time that I had kept it there. I wiped off the dust once I had taken the box back out into the light of day, and then I opened it. Inside was an M1911 pistol, and it still had the shiny nickel plating when Dad had given it to me. Two seven-round magazines were also in the box, but there weren’t any bullets loaded because I had been told by the firing range instructor that, unless I intended to use my gun in the immediate future, it was better to keep the magazines unloaded so that the springs would remain fresh and, well, springy and not jam when I actually had to use it. It was a lesson that had somehow stuck with me despite my intention at the time to never use the gun at all. But now I had a reason to use my gun. It may not be a good reason for me to use it, but I had to take my gun out of the box and use it nonetheless.

The bullets for the M1911 were stored in another box. The rounds were .45 caliber, and something else that I had remembered during my time at the firing range was that the .45 had been created to help the Americans take down the Moros in the Philippines back in the 1900s because the Moros wouldn’t be stopped by the .38 round. I loaded seven rounds into each magazine and then I inserted one into the gun. I pulled back the slide to chamber a round, and then I took out the magazine and added another bullet to give me eight rounds if ever I had to use my gun because of what I was about to do with Carmilla and LaFontaine.

Now my problem was how I was going to carry my gun without it being noticed. First I tried sticking it into the front of my jeans, and while that felt only a little bit noticeable while standing up, when I sat down I could really feel the gun sticking out through my jeans and into my private area. So obviously this wasn’t going to work out for me. I switched to sticking my gun into the back of my jeans, and that felt somewhat more comfortable than when I put the gun in front, so it looks like this was how I was going to pack my heat. I checked the gun one more time to make sure that there was a round in the chamber and that the safety was on. It wouldn’t do for me to get my butt shot off by my own gun now, would it?

At ten minutes to eight, I started up my bike and drove over to LaFontaine’s place. Carmilla was already there, and she and LaF had been drinking a few energy drinks while waiting for me to arrive. “Took you long enough to get here, Cutter,” Countess told me once Genius let me into their apartment. “Now please tell me that you have saddlebags on your hog and that you don’t have any stuff in said saddlebags.”

“Um, okay. Where do I start? Yes, my bike has saddlebags, and no, I don’t have anything in those bags,” I replied.

“Good,” Carmilla said. “We need all the space that we can get. That deal with the Yahoos for the assault rifles gave us a really nice big pile of dough and now we have to get our suppliers a proportional cut of the deal. Now, LaF and I would usually do this by ourselves but now we’ve got some big sums to move around, and your bike just happens to be the perfect fit for the job, Cutter.”

“Okay, sure,” I said, nodding my head. “Just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.”

“Good, good, that’s good to know, Laura,” LaFontaine said, patting my back. “Now get your bike over to the back and help Countess load the money. We can’t have prying eyes seeing what we’re doing now, can we?”

I nodded my head silently and then set off to do what they wanted me to do. Carmilla and LaF’s bikes were already in the courtyard behind the apartment where LaF lived. LaFontaine was already busy loading bundles the size of A4 copier paper packs that you find in office supplies into their bike and Countess’s, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that those bundles were actually the cash that were about to give to the Vampires’ gun suppliers. Once Carmilla’s saddlebags had been filled with the bundles, we loaded more into my bike, and then the rest went into LaFontaine’s bike.

“Everyone fully loaded?” Carmilla asked as we walked our bikes back to the street. “Everyone armed, everyone ready to go?”

“Yep,” LaFontaine replied.

“Um, you know what? I’m ready and everything,” I said, “but so we’re clear on this whole thing… We’re going out at night?”

“Yes, we are,” Carmilla replied. “Why? Don’t tell me you can’t drive out at night, Cutter,” she said in a low whisper.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just… I’ve never driven anything at night before.”

“Well, think of it this way, Cutter. This is actually a good time for you to get started on that,” LaFontaine quipped.

“Anything else, then?” Carmilla asked. When no one replied, she said, “All right. Next stop: London, Ontario. Genius, lead the way.”

“With pleasure,” LaFontaine said with a smile, and they cranked their bike and then peeled out onto the street, followed closely by Carmilla and then yours truly.

Chapter Text

It took us a little under two hours to make the trip from Genius’ place in Etobicoke near the airport to London, Ontario, aka the birthplace of Justin motherfucking Bieber himself, one of the most well-known exports of the Canadian nation (if not necessarily the best or most popular). We passed by London’s city center and drove straight through, continuing on to a seedier part of town, the part where no tourists or outsiders dared tread. We stopped in front of a row of wood and brick houses that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the 19th century. Carmilla talked to a bearded white guy with long dirty blonde hair, who sounded American and was surrounded by firearms of all types and calibers. We handed over to him a fat stack of cash, three brown paper packages’ worth, equivalent to about 150 thousand dollars (Canadian). After a brief jibe about how his payment had arrived late, Carmilla promised that this wouldn’t happen again, and then the three of us got out of that house and drove back to the better-looking part of town. We went to a motel, got ourselves some rooms, and then we headed over to a bar across the street from the motel for a celebratory drink (or two, or more).

“Well, that was quick,” Carmilla said as we sat down at the bar and she began to drink her beer.

“Yeah, Shaun seemed more miffed than anything that he wasn’t able to get his cut until tonight,” LaFontaine agreed. They were drinking the same beer that Carmilla was, as was I. It was apparently the only beer they had left in this place.

“That’s the easy part done now, though,” Carmilla continued. “Now comes the hard part.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked. “You mean to tell me that that guy back there, the one who was constantly telling us that he doesn’t do this for free and that he’s constantly putting his ass on the line by giving us guns, he’s the easy part of this run?”

“Oh, Cutter, you have no idea,” Carmilla said with a smile. “At least I managed to negotiate an extension with the Dean. She’s willing to wait for her cut, but only up to nine o’clock tomorrow morning. Any later than that and the Vampires are going to, quote-unquote, ‘suffer the consequences’.”

“Yeah, and you wouldn’t want to know just how bad those consequences are, Cutter, believe me,” LaFontaine added.

“The Dean?” I asked. “Is that, like, her road name or something?”

“It’s not really a road name because she isn’t part of any MC as far as I know, Cutter,” Carmilla replied. “But it’s the name that we’ve always known her by ever since we got started in this business, and that’s that, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Okay,” I said, nodding my head. “Whereabouts is the Dean’s place anyway?”

“Nobody really knows,” LaF replied. “What she does is move from place to place, and then when it’s time for us to give her her cut, she texts us her current address and we go there.”

“Isn’t that a bit tiring, both for us and for her? Why does she do it anyway?”

“It’s because she says she’s one of the most wanted people in Canada,” Carmilla replied. “I don’t know if that’s true or not though because I haven’t seen her face on any of those top ten wanted lists. Heck, I don’t think I’ve even seen the Dean in the top twenty most wanted. LaFontaine thinks the Dean is just being too paranoid for her own good. I don’t mind though because the Dean has been one of our best and most trustworthy suppliers. She’s been with us since the start, and the Vampires appreciate that.”

“Yeah,” LaFontaine agreed. “I always thought that a little paranoia is good because just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. But the way the Dean does it, moving around and not staying in one place for too long, I kind of feel as if that’s kind of dangerous in its own way.”

“…And then I said to her, ‘If Trump isn’t your president then Justin Trudeau is most definitely not my prime minister!’ That shut her right up, the feminazi bitch! Of course, the joke is that I’m not a Canadian citizen at all, which means that Trudeau was never my prime minister in the first place. Still, that bitch doesn’t know how good she and America are about to get it now that they’ve got a God-fearing capitalist in the White House! On the other hand, that is precisely why feminazis like her hate Donald Trump. And now that bitch will become one of the very refugees she’s trying to ‘protect’!”

“Speak of the devil,” Carmilla muttered. I made to turn around and look at the new arrivals but Countess immediately tapped my shoulder. “Don’t. Don’t give them a reason to notice us,” she told me quietly.

“Why? Who is it?” I asked.

“Lazyboys. But not just any Lazyboys. That guy you just heard yapping his mouth, his name is Prawn. He’s the vice president of the Lazyboys, and he is a right nasty piece of work. He’s a racist, sexist, misogynist motherfucking pig. Actually, I wouldn’t even call him that because it’s insulting to motherfuckers and pigs to be mentioned in the same breath as Prawn. Other than that though, everything else we know about him is just hearsay and rumors, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.”

“People say that Prawn is from South Africa,” LaFontaine added. “I mean, the accent fits. They also say that Prawn escaped here to Canada after apartheid fell, and he wanted to get out of the country before he was rounded up along with his friends in the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, the South African fascists. And he’s pro-Trump, anti-Hillary, anti-Trudeau, anti-Muslim, anti-POC, and anti-LGBTQ. What more do you need to know about him?”

“And Prawn never passes up an opportunity to call our members of color the N-word,” Carmilla added. “Every time Prawn comes across Archer or Sonic or any other woman of color in the club, it suddenly sounds like we’ve been transported into a rap music video with the amount of N-bombs he drops.”

“N-bombs? Is that what we’re calling it now?” I asked with a chuckle.

“Hey! You might laugh about it, but this is serious business,” LaF said. “Now everybody shut up before the Lazyboys notice we’re here.”

However, this particular plan of ours wouldn’t work out the way we wanted because the Lazyboys’ raucous laughter soon died down and turned into excited whispers and mutterings. And then I heard Prawn begin to whisper in what he probably thought was a good impression of Sir David Attenborough, “And now we have three mosquitos buzzing around at the watering hole. Remember to be wary and always remain vigilant when approaching these mosquitos especially when you’re a man because you’re liable to be accused of rape when you so much as exhale in the general direction of these mosquitos.”

And then Prawn finally pulled level with us, and he slammed his hand down hard on the table, surprising all three of us. “Well, hello there,” he said with a smile that was actually more of a condescending sneer than anything else. One look at Prawn and you just knew that he was bad news no matter what. He had a long and narrow face, sharp features, messy spiky brown hair, and crooked and yellowing teeth. He looked very much like that South African actor from District 9, the one who had his face sprayed with alien goo and eventually turned into an alien himself, Sharko or Sharlow or whatever his name was. There was also a mischievous gleam in his eyes, and I had a disturbing feeling that he saw himself as a cat about to pounce on and play with his food. “So what brings you three lovely ladies out here to quaint little London, Ontario?” Prawn asked.

“I already told you, Prawn, I am not a lady,” LaFontaine said calmly and quietly, although I could tell that they were trying to keep themselves stoic and unmoving. “I am neither a lady nor a gentleman. We’ve had this conversation a million times before, Prawn.”

“Yeah, so we have. Mind if I chew some gum?” But Prawn had already popped the gum into his mouth before any of us had even had a chance to reply. “So I heard that one of your girls crashed into a truck this week,” he said. “My honest condolences for her. I’ve seen my fair share of people crashing into trucks, and I’ll tell you what, it’s not a very nice sight. But I have to say that I feel more sorry for your girl’s nigger girlfriend. How is she going to fuck with the white people now?”

“You know, Prawn, I don’t know where you come from,” Carmilla said, “but here in Canada, we don’t really do racism.”

“It’s funny that you should mention racism,” Prawn said. “You keep saying that white cishet males are the most racist people in the world. But that’s simply not true. In fact, we white cishet males are the most tolerant people in the world. Who else would allow black people to call us crackers without so much as lifting a finger against the niggers for fear of being called racist? Admit it, the blacks and the yellows are more racist than the whites. Heck, even the redskins are more racist than us. The blacks hate the whites because of slavery, but these blacks conveniently forget that it was other blacks who actually sold their black brothers into slavery in the first place. You think blacks aren’t racist? You obviously haven’t seen Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe as you might know it. In Zimbabwe, the niggers are the ones in power, and Mugabe and his cronies steal and steal the land from the white farmers who are just trying to make a living. If the white farmers don’t sell then the niggers send in death squads to scare the farmers into selling or killing them altogether so the government can then seize the land. That’s the ugly truth. You might not want to hear it but it’s the truth. Men like Mugabe and Malcolm X are the niggers’ real heroes, not Mandela and Martin Luther King. And don’t get me started on the Asians. The Chinks, the Japs, and the Gooks all hate each other with a passion, but nothing beats the Chinks’ hatred for every other race on this earth. They hate everybody. They hate the whites, the blacks, the Muslims… Heck, they even hate other Chinese people.”

“That’s an awfully racist way of seeing the world, Prawn,” Carmilla said.

“I’m not being racist, lass, just telling it as it is,” Prawn replied immediately. “South Africa was a paradise when the Afrikaners were in power. It was heaven. But the blacks ruined it, and now it’s just one more shithole among shitholes. Mandela, Mbeki, Zuma, they all played a part in destroying South Africa and turning it into what it is today. And don’t even get me started on what’s happening right here in Canada right now. The same thing that happened to South Africa is happening right here in Canada right now, but now the niggers have the faggots and the dykes and even the Muslims to support them. The niggers, the Muslims, the dykes and the faggots all worked together to put that cuck Justin Trudeau into power, and now they’re all tearing apart Canada from the inside. Same thing’s also happening in America, but at least they were smart enough to recognize what was happening and that’s why they put Trump in the White House to set things right once again. And unless someone like Trump takes the plunge, kicks Cuck-deau out of power and keeps the gays, lesbians, and minorities in line, Canada is going to go the way of South Africa.”

“Man, I don’t even know if you really believe the things you say or if you’re just saying shit to stir things up,” Genius said. “Surely there isn’t a person alive today who could possibly be as racist and ignorant as you are.”

“I guess that is true,” Prawn conceded. It was as if he was actually proud to be called a racist. “Then again, I wouldn’t take at face value the words of someone who calls herself a genius and yet claim that it is possible to both have a million genders and no gender at all. I hate to say it, but that ain’t exactly the mark of a genius, Genius.”

“I told you, Prawn, I am not a girl!” Genius said through gritted teeth. “I am neither a boy nor a girl. Stop misgendering me.”

I have to say that up to this point, I had been struck dumb by how openly and proudly racist, sexist and homophobic Prawn was. I couldn’t even get a word in with regards to countering some of Prawn’s points, and now he had just gone and misgendered LaFontaine twice. He actually seemed to enjoy it. Prawn seemed to revel in trying to get a rise out of a rival biker. But even as LaF was telling off Prawn for misgendering them, I saw the mischievous light in Prawn’s eyes turn malicious and evil, and his lips split apart to reveal his yellowing and misshapen teeth. I had a sudden and uncomfortable feeling that the cat was now done playing with his food and was about to go in for the kill.

“Me? Misgendering you?” Prawn asked with much mock indignation. “I’m not misgendering you, Susan! Ain’t nobody here misgendering you except yourself, lass! Running around telling people that you’re neither boy nor girl… How do you even stomach calling yourself a genius, eh? Because I know I’m not a genius; I’m just a simple saffer boytjie. But I do know my basic biology, and basic biology has taught me that there are only two genders, male and female. It’s what’s between your legs that defines your gender, not what’s in your head. But for the sake of argument, let’s say you are what you are: a human with no gender. What does that make you then, if not a boy or a girl? An anomaly? A freak of nature? Or quite possibly someone who’s mentally ill? Because that’s what you have, lass, a mental disorder. No person with even a short grasp of basic biology will ever say that a human can have no gender. You’re born either a man or a woman, and there’s no in between or none at all. End of story.”

Okay, um, wow. Like, I literally cannot even right now. I can’t believe what I was seeing and hearing right now. Prawn was a grade A asshole, plain and simple. Actually, that statement was an insult to grade A assholes. I literally cannot believe that a person like Prawn is alive in this day and age. Then again, people like Prawn are the reason why an orange rapist now sits in the White House, according to the very people who also lost that particular election. Honestly, I don’t even know what to believe anymore. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve tried to keep away from politics as much as possible. But what I do know is that Prawn is very much a racist sexist LGBTQ-phobe.

But for all of my silent indignation, it was nothing compared to the shocked silence coming from both Countess and Genius. Both of their mouths were literally hanging open in shock. I don’t think either of them would have noticed if a fly flew into either of their mouths. Prawn meanwhile looked like he was having the time of his life.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “Are you triggered? Did I trigger you? Would you like to go back to your safe space to catch your breath? Would you like to go back to your cloistered university so you can remember how it’s possible to have no gender at all, and how the straight white man is the devil that is setting the world back? Oh, wait. I remember now! You can’t do that anymore! Your precious Silas University is gone! And unfortunately for you, there are no safe spaces in the real world, lass! You can’t avoid every nasty thing that’s going to be said to you, just like you can’t avoid the people who just want to set you right and teach you basic biology. You just have to deal with them, and if you can’t deal with them then you shouldn’t have gone out of your parents’ basement!”

“Well, my work here is done,” Prawn said with a smile once he had seen LaFontaine absolutely freeze up before him. “If you ladies don’t mind, I will be rejoining my friends at that table over there. Feel free to not join us. Don’t miss me too much while I’m gone!” And then as he stood up to leave, Prawn seemed to notice me for the first time. “Well, hello there, little girl,” he said to me. “You’re a new face in this here part of town. Are you with these two ladies here? Looks like it. Well, that’s a real shame. You look like you’re an honest, smart, God-fearing woman. You might wanna get out of this whole business before it’s too late, before they make you believe that God is just a tool of the ‘patriarchy’ to keep the ‘strong independent’ women of the world down. Good night.”

None of us spoke for the next two to three minutes. We could hear Prawn regaling his Lazyboy friends with tales of how he had singlehandedly put the three of us in our proper place. Finally, Carmilla made the first move, and she asked LaFontaine, “You okay, Genius?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” LaFontaine replied, even though it was painfully clear to both me and Carmilla that they were telling a lie. “I’m good! I’m completely fucking dandy!” LaFontaine then slapped the bar counter loudly enough to attract the attention of the majority of the bar, and then they took out some cash from their pockets, put it on the counter, and stormed out of the place.

“LaF, wait up!” Carmilla said as she made to follow Genius out of the bar, and I had no choice but to follow both of them out of the bar as well, and as I walked past the table with the Lazyboys, I heard Prawn say, “Another one bites the dust, boys! The Master Baiter strikes again.”

We found Genius back in their motel room. They were crying. Softly, sure, but still crying. Yes, S. LaFontaine, the tough-as-nails road captain of the Kitchener chapter of the Vampires Motorcycle Club, was crying their eyes out. “That fucking Prawn asshole!” they shouted. “Calling me mentally disabled when it’s he who has the real disorder… I’m just so fucking triggered right now! I mean, not only is he ignorant and proud of it but he also doesn’t care about who he offends or hurts with his ignorance!”

“LaF, we’ve had this conversation before,” Carmilla said as she consoled Genius. “This is exactly why Prawn keeps doing what he does. He knows what triggers us, and he loves to keep pushing those buttons. This is exactly what Prawn wants to happen to us. Now I don’t know what shit Prawn has in mind tonight, but he definitely has something cooking in that crooked, twisted mind of his if he’s trying to push us around like that.”

LaFontaine took a deep breath and covered their face with their hands. “You’re right, Carm,” they said eventually as they wiped away the tears from their eyes. “We can’t stay here for long now, not with Prawn and his boys out there. Did the Dean already text you her new place?”

“Yeah, she did,” Carmilla replied. “Someplace right near the border with Detroit.”

“Well then, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!” LaFontaine shouted. “You got the address on your Waze, Carm?”

“Locked and ready,” Carmilla replied, tossing her phone to LaF. She then turned to me and said, “Laura, look through the window and see if those Lazyboys are getting ready to move.”

I nodded my head and walked over to the window. I pushed aside the curtain by just a sliver in case someone else was looking at us in our room. The street was quiet; the moon shone through a thin cloud cover, and I could clearly see that there was nothing happening at all outside the bar. “I don’t think they’re moving just yet,” I said. “I can still see their bikes out there.”

“All right, LaF, your call,” Carmilla said. “Do we go now or do we wait for the Lazyboys to leave?”

“I say we go now,” LaFontaine said after thinking about it for a short time. “I don’t know what the Lazyboys are planning, but I don’t want to be anywhere near here when it happens.”

“You heard the road captain, Cutter,” Countess said. “Let’s bounce.”

I went out of the motel first. Countess said that I was to be on point, to check out if the Lazyboys were going to make a move if they saw us making a run for it. Frankly, I felt like bait, plain and simple. I felt like I was the one who was going to get my ass shot while Countess and Genius hung back to wait it out. Well, I may have a road name now but I’m still very much a prospect, and whoever said that the life of a biker prospect was going to be easy? I sure didn’t.

But to get back on topic… I kept my eyes looking straight ahead as I walked over to my bike, but I also tried to watch out for any movement out of the corner of my eye. Nobody was coming out of the bar, whether they were wearing Lazyboy colors or not. I sat down on my bike and started the engine, and then I waited yet again for the Lazyboys to come rushing out of the bar and turn me into Swiss cheese. But nothing eventually ended up happening to me, and I breathed a slow sigh of relief and turned on my left blinker, the signal to both Carmilla and LaFontaine that the coast was clear. I let the blinker blink three times before turning it off, but already I could hear footsteps coming up from behind me. “Thanks for the help, prospect,” Carmilla said as she and LaFontaine hopped onto their bikes as well.

“We’re going pedal to the metal, balls to the wall for this one,” Genius said, and then they pulled out of the motel parking lot. “Try to keep up,” they called out, and then they revved their engine and sped off into the night. Countess followed them out right afterward in a cloud of smoke and dust, and then it was my turn to leave.

We rode fast, we rode hard, and we rode well into the night. We avoided the major highways and thoroughfares, instead sticking to the smaller back roads where there were less people, less cops, and an overall lesser chance of someone coming along and screwing up this whole thing. I honestly didn’t know what I was supposed to feel at this time; whether I should be nervous or afraid or if I should just accept whatever was about to come my way and roll with the punches. All I knew right now was that we had to get the money to the Dean ASAP, and that we had to get out of London before the Lazyboys did some shit to us.

I don’t remember for how long the three of us had been riding down this dark country road, but I do know that it had to have been quite some time already. My eyelids were growing heavy because, even though I was used to going to sleep at odd times, my body clock was telling my brain that it was time for an eight-hour nap. And it didn’t help that the monotony of the country road and its surroundings and the drone and vibrations of my motorcycle’s engine were beginning to have a hypnotic effect on me, and it was literally lulling me to sleep. The struggle to keep my eyelids open was beginning to get all too real, and I was in real danger of driving off the road and crashing into a tree or a signpost or whatever.

I was trying everything that I could imagine to keep myself awake. I pinched myself, I slapped myself, and I even dug my nails deep into my arms (but not deep enough to actually draw blood). But even that particular extreme method was losing its effectiveness, and it was taking more and more effort on my part to keep my eyelids open. Why did they have to be so heavy? Whoever turned them into solid lead? I just needed to go where we needed to go, and then I was going to sleep like Sleeping Beauty…

However, what I happened to see in my side mirrors would drive out any thoughts of sleep and rest out of my head almost immediately. I saw at least three men on motorcycles, and as they got closer to me and the moon peeked out from behind a cloud to shine its light down on this country road, I thought I recognized one of the bikers. I had a sneaking suspicion as to who it might be, but I didn’t dare look back in case my hunch was right. Instead I kept my eyes on my mirrors, alternating between them and looking straight ahead, and I watched the bikers behind me for any signs that they might start attacking us. And then almost right on cue, the biker whom I thought I recognized pulled out a boxy-looking submachine gun and pointed it at me, or rather in my general direction. I barely had enough time to yell out a warning to Carmilla and LaFontaine before a burst of gunfire rang out from behind me.

“Where are you going, little girls?” Prawn shouted from behind me. “Don’t run away; Papa Prawn wants to play!”

“Get out of the way, Laura!” Carmilla shouted at me as she pulled out her own gun and pointed it behind her at the Lazyboys. I swerved to the left and Carmilla let loose, forcing the Lazyboys to break up their formation.

“They’re fighting back, boys! They’re fighting back!” Prawn shouted with unbelievable and inexplicable (for me) glee. “This is gonna be fun!”

I gunned the throttle so that I could pull level with Countess. She was in the middle of reloading her gun when I caught up to her. “Where’s your gun, Cutter?” she asked me. “This is exactly why I told you to bring it! Now is the time to use your gun!” Carmilla then racked back the slide of her gun and unleashed another volley on the Lazyboys. For my part, I pulled my gun out from the small of my back and turned off the safety. And that was as far as I got before I nearly fell off my bike. Turns out riding a bike and shooting a gun at the same time was easier said than done. It didn’t help that I was still getting used to my bike even after six months of practically living on my bike.

And I also had no idea how I was going to defend myself and my fellow Vampires like this. I tried looking back at the Lazyboys, who seemed numberless and infinite even under the light of the full moon, and that simple act was almost enough to put me off-balance. So obviously that wasn’t going to work. Next I tried to do what Carmilla had done and fire my gun at the Lazyboys without looking. My gun almost flew out of my hand after I had pulled the trigger just once, and that was more than enough to convince me not to do that. I don’t know how Countess was able to do it, but I knew that I couldn’t do it right now.

And then suddenly a Lazyboy appeared to my left. I didn’t get to see his face, his clothes, his boots or his motorcycle, but I could certainly see the SMG in his hand. I knew that even just a single burst from that gun would punch quite a few holes into my body, and I was not keen on that at all. I had to shoot him before he shot me. It was as simple as that. I pointed my gun at him and pulled the trigger, bracing myself for the impact of at least half a dozen slugs into my body. But the slugs never came. Instead, the Lazyboy riding beside me had vanished, and for a very brief moment I thought I had just shot at a ghost before common sense knocked itself back into me and I saw in my mirror the Lazyboy and his bike down on the ground and blocking off the two-lane road.

“Holy shit,” I muttered even as a brand new realization sunk in with me. I had just shot another person, another human being. Sure, I was acting out of self-defense, and the Lazyboy would have shot me if I hadn’t shot him, but it didn’t matter. I had just shot and possibly killed someone for the first time in my life. Deep down I knew that it was a matter of me or him, and it was only by sheer luck that I shot him first.

And then my bike flew right off the road, over the embankment and into the grass and a small copse of trees to the side of the road. I allowed the bike to slide out from underneath me even as I began to slide across the grass myself. I got cuts, scrapes and bruises all over me, and then I saw a rock approaching me right at my head. I couldn’t steer myself away, and the rock grazed my head. Everything seemed to go into slow motion after that, and I saw myself flying over my own bike and landing on some coarse and loose gravel. I felt myself tumble end over end, and once I finally stopped rolling around, I could feel every little cut and scrape and bruise on my body that my little trip across the countryside had given me.

I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even pull myself up into a sitting position. I just lay there on the ground listening to the sounds of the gun battle between three (make that two) Vampires and who knows how many Lazyboys, from the roar of motorcycle engines to the staccato pops of gunfire. Part of me wanted to call out for help, while a much bigger and possibly smarter part of me told me to keep my mouth shut unless I wanted a Lazyboy to “help” me into the afterlife.

Too late though, as I saw a tall figure begin to approach me from the road. I’ve never been a really religious person but tonight I probably broke some sort of world record about prayers fired off to heaven in a single night. God was probably still going through his inbox, and I was probably only cluttering it up even more with prayers as I begged Him to save me from this Lazyboy.

Suddenly, I heard a roar to my left, and this big black cat jumped out of nowhere and began to attack the Lazyboy. The Lazyboy screamed and shouted as he tried to get the big cat off of him, but the cat was already beginning to maul him. The Lazyboy’s shouts then turned into a single high-pitched scream, and then that scream turned into a sickening, nauseating gurgling noise before eventually stopping altogether. The cat then turned its attention to me, and for a brief second I felt the lines of reality and fantasy begin to blur as I thought I saw the cat transform into a woman, an eerily familiar woman with black hair, white skin, milky white eyes and sharp and bloody fangs. This particular image then burned itself into my memory, and then my own eyes rolled back into my head and I blacked out.

Chapter Text

By the time that I woke up again, it was finally daytime. I was still on the ground, but I was not in the same place where I had fallen off my bike and slid into the ground. I remember being surrounded by trees that night, but when I opened my eyes I was on the side of a small grassy hill without a single tree in sight.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Carmilla “Countess” Karnstein said to me as I got up into a sitting position. The whole of my body was still aching from all the punishment that it had sustained the night before from my very short journey along the ground. The back of my head hurt especially bad, and it was like all of my worst hangovers rolled into one mega-uber-hangover for this very day. “What the… where… where are we?” I finally managed to ask.

“Pretty much in the same spot where the Lazyboys tried to jump us,” Countess replied. “Give or take a few miles.”

“My bike… what happened to my bike?”

“Right over there.” Carmilla pointed at what I had originally thought to be just a random heap of scrap metal, but a second and closer look allowed me to identify it as indeed being my Harley-Davidson. It was still in one piece and somewhat recognizable as a motorcycle, but a trained and professional eye would know that it had been through some shit.

“Yeah, your hog got banged up something fierce after you got shot off of it by one of the Lazyboys,” Countess said. “Luckily it was still a little bit intact when Genius and I found it. Although they tell me that it’s now gonna take some work to get it back up to speed. I mean, Genius is talking about a major goddamn overhaul. The gas tank’s been shot to shit; the engine’s in pieces; and your suspension is now practically nonexistent. The good thing is that none of the cash got tossed out while you were tumbling around. I’ve seen it happen before; had it happen to me twice already. You don’t know how lucky you have it right now, Cutter.”

“The money,” I muttered absentmindedly. And then I remember the very reason why Countess, Genius, and I had braved the darkness of the Ontario countryside and the threat of the Lazyboys, and I said, “Oh, shit! What about the deadline, Countess?”

“Oh, don’t worry about the deadline, Cutter,” Countess waved off. “I already texted the Dean about why we’re gonna be running late for this delivery. Naturally, she’s pissed off about it, but she understands, at least after I sent her pics of what had happened. I mean, she expects this to be the last time that this will happen. Of course, I could have told her that there was no way of guaranteeing that but I just kept my mouth shut. The Dean was this close to blowing her top,” Carmilla muttered, touching her thumb and index finger together to show me what she means. “I didn’t wanna risk any more stupid shit, not with the Dean on one of her hair-trigger tempers.”

“Okay, that sounds fair,” I muttered. I then looked around the place some more and then I asked, “Where the hell is Genius?”

“They’re over in Chatham,” Carmilla replied. “They’ve gone over there first to scout out the place and whatnot. You know, regular stuff after an ambush and an accident. They’re gonna get us a truck, take us to the Dean and then back to Toronto. I mean, let’s be honest; the state our bikes are in right now… we’re not going anywhere anytime soon, let’s just say that.”

“Okay, so let me get this straight,” I said. “Genius is in Chatham. They’re trying to boost a truck. That truck is then going to take the three of us to the Dean and then back to Toronto. Did I get that right?”

“Nailed it, probate,” Carmilla nodded. “Of course, we’re gonna have to find a way to make sure that that truck doesn’t get found once we get back to Toronto. You feel me?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever. Now where the hell are the Lazyboys?”

“They ran off once they ran you off the road. Probably thought that that was enough to stop us from doing what we’re supposed to do.”

“Which is?”

“Shit, probate, I already told you, didn’t I?” Countess then shook her head. “Jesus, people sometimes…” she muttered.

”Hey, Countess. Can I ask you something?”

“Well, that depends, probate. Go ahead, and I’ll see if it’s worth answering,” Carm said.

“Okay, so get this. Last night, when I got ran off the road, I saw… something weird,” I began. “This Lazyboy had gotten off his bike and was walking over to me like he was going to finish me off. And the suddenly, this… big cat pops out of nowhere and attacks the Lazyboy. I’m telling you, Countess, he got fucking mauled! You didn’t happen to see any big cats around here last night, did you? You or Genius?”

“What big cat? You mean like a mountain lion?” Carmilla shook her head. “There ain’t no mountain lions in this part of Ontario, Cutter. Never have been since the 19th century. I think your little tumble through the grass banged you up a lot worse than I thought. Hallucinating some big cat attacking a Lazyboy? Yeah, I think you got hit in the head a little too hard. I just can’t imagine not only why a big cat would be here, but why it would attack the guy standing and walking and not the easier prey lying defenseless on the ground? Don’t you think that that’s strange?”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I muttered softly. “Maybe I did hallucinate the whole thing after all.” And Countess might have a very valid point or two. But what had happened last night felt really real to me, as real as the Lazyboys chasing us last night had been.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about the Lazyboys if I was you,” Countess told me as she slapped a fresh magazine into her gun once she had checked her weapon was free of dirt or damage. “They’re already back in their bars in Toronto, probably. London is the farthest from Toronto that they’ve ever been. Hey, Cutter,” she called out. “I found something for you.” She then tossed me my gun, the two-tone Kimber 1911 pistol that my Dad had gifted to me on my 21st birthday. The slide was locked back, the chamber empty, and no magazine to be found in the well. I looked around the place and my own body and bike for spare mags and didn’t find any. Either I had used them all up fighting off the Lazyboys or I had lost them while rolling on the ground. So really, all I had to defend myself this time around was a hunk of metal and rubber, little better than a rock or even a handheld club.

A truck appeared off in the distance. It looked like it was on the same road near where Carmilla and I were catching our breath. “Uh, Countess? There’s a truck coming our way,” I said.

“Ah, that’s probably Genius,” she replied as she looked at the truck. “There they come.”

Genius pulled up to our position after a few minutes. They were driving a red box truck with white sides. They turned the truck around on the road so that the rear end faced us, and then they stepped out of the cab. “We’re going to have to steer clear of Chatham for the moment,” they told us. “I had to boost this truck from there. I don’t think I got spotted, but I’m just making sure. I’d rather not take any chances.”

“Your call, LaF,” Carmilla said. “You are the road captain, after all.”

“All right,” LaFontaine said, clapping their hands together and rubbing them. “Let’s get these bikes into the truck so we can finally get out of here and be done with all of this.”

Carmilla and I took our damaged and mangled bikes and dragged them over to the back of the truck where LaFontaine’s bike had already been stored. I managed to get a glimpse of all three bikes lined up together before Countess slid the door shut. It was like a reverse biker version of the evolution of man; the devolution of biking, as it were. Genius’s bike on the left was practically still intact; except for a shot-out taillight, it was impossible to tell that there was something wrong with their bike. Countess’s bike in the middle looked the worse for wear when compared to LaF’s bike, but at least it still looked like a Harley-Davidson. The handlebars were a little bit bent, the headlight was smashed, one of the exhaust pipes was barely hanging on to dear life, and the paint job on the fuel tank was half scraped off, but it still looked like a motorcycle. The same couldn’t be said for my bike though. It was just a few dinks and scratches away from being a complete and utter pile of junk barely worth its weight in scrap metal. Both wheels were crushed; the front fork was bent way out of alignment; the seat looked like it had been mangled by a very distressed and angry house cat; and the exhaust pipes were practically dragging along the ground. I’ve always been an optimistic kind of person, but even I was beginning to doubt that Genius had the knowledge and the ability to fix all of that damage.

“All right,” Genius said as we walked back to the truck cab. “Let’s get this show on the road!”

“You get to ride shotgun this time, probate,” Countess told me as we went into the cab. “It’s about time you took a turn watching over our asses. Heck, I’ll even let you borrow my gun ‘cause I saw you run dry during the chase last night.” She then handed over to me her pistol, a silver-tone Smith & Wesson 5946 with rubber grips. The grips felt weird in my own hand, maybe because they had been molded to the shape of Carmilla’s hand through years and years of use. I stuck the pistol into my jeans even as Carmilla climbed into the truck cab and sat down right in the middle, between me and Genius. I followed her inside and closed the door, and LaFontaine got the truck moving again.

The drive to Chatham was quiet. Genius didn’t turn on the radio, so we had nothing but the hum and growl of the truck’s engine and the occasional vehicle passing us by to hear. That was enough to put Countess to sleep as it turned out, and her head lolled and bobbed around on her shoulders before finally settling on mine. For me, it was a completely awkward situation. I simply didn’t know how to react to it. This tough-as-nails biker chick had just laid her head on my shoulder, and I knew that I couldn’t do anything about it. I mean, I could try to shove her off my shoulder, but that would more than likely just wake her up and make me let her rest her head there because she had the patch and I still didn’t. So I just decided to ignore her altogether and keep my focus on the road, looking out for either cops or Lazyboys. I could sense that Genius was also feeling a little bit awkward about Countess laying her head on my shoulder, but they said nothing so I also said nothing.

We didn’t drive through Chatham or anywhere near it, just as Genius had said before we left. Since they had stolen the truck from there, they were concerned about there being potential witnesses to their crime and didn’t want to attract any undue attention by driving straight through the town they had just stolen a truck from. We stuck to the back roads as we circumvented the town, and I could feel Genius breathe a sigh of relief only after we had passed a sign saying we were leaving the Chatham city limits. “That’s the hard part done, probate,” they told me. “Now to find the Dean’s new digs.”

We drove on for what felt like miles and miles and hours after hours searching for the Dean’s place. It felt like we had scoured the whole of the northern shore of the lake as well as the border between Canada and the United States. I even thought that LaFontaine might have gotten lost after they turned the truck down a very old country lane that looked like it hadn’t seen any traffic since the day it was laid down. The road was full of cracks and potholes, and it was covered in layers upon layers of rotting leaves. Trees were growing right up to the edges of the road, and their branches met together to form a canopy over the road, hemming us in a tunnel of greens, browns, and yellows. And then suddenly, an old mansion appeared beyond the trees. It looked like it had been built in the time of the American Revolution, and it appeared to be very well-maintained considering both its age and its surroundings. Carmilla also suddenly woke up from her nap and immediately pointed at the driveway in front of the door. “Park right there,” she said, and Genius obliged.

Once the truck had come to a full stop, Carmilla said, “Wait here, both of you. I’ll go talk to the Dean.” She then clambered over me before getting out of the truck cab. I remember her grabbing hold of one of my boobs and the inside of my thigh to step over me in order to get out. But it was all accidental. At least I hope it was.

Carmilla had already gone into the mansion by the time that LaFontaine and I got out of the truck. Once LaF had gotten around to the passenger side, I asked them, “So what’s the deal between Countess and the Dean? She looks like the main contact between the Vampires and the Dean, and also the only person who can ever talk to the Dean. What’s up with that?”

“Eh, nobody really knows, probate,” LaF replied, shrugging their shoulders. “Sometimes we talk about it. You know, speculate. But Countess has never said anything about it, and we’ve never asked her too. I guess it’s just one of those things that you don’t really try to question until something bad happens. And nothing bad has ever happened between us and the Dean just yet.”

A few minutes later, Carmilla stepped out of the mansion. “All right, ladies, let’s get the money in the house and then get the hell out of here.”

I noticed Genius twitch a little at the mention of the word “ladies”. As we walked to the back of the truck to pick up the money parcels meant for the Dean, I noticed out of the corner of my eye LaF whispering something to Carmilla. “Sorry about that, LaF,” she replied once LaFontaine was done talking. “I didn’t mean to include you. But I just want to get this done. Sorry for the slip.”

We took out the cash bundles wrapped in brown paper from our bikes, and then we walked back to the mansion and went inside. I was reminded of the phrase “looks can be deceiving” when I walked down the mansion’s main hallway. The outside of the place may look clean and well-maintained but the interior was still covered in a very thick layer of dust. I could literally see the dust clouds puffing up from the floor with every step I took, and I even imagined myself beginning to choke from all the dust. “Over there,” Carmilla said, pointing to a small circular table standing alone in what I thought to be either the dining room or the ballroom. “Just put them down on the table and walk away. Don’t look around and don’t look back.”

I did as she said, stacking my bundles of cash on top of the ones from Carmilla and LaFontaine. Then I followed them out of the mansion and back into the truck. As they started the engine, Genius asked, “Now what?”

“Now?” Countess repeated. “We go home.”

Chapter Text

Barely had I closed my eyes for what I had told myself would be a quick nap when I felt someone nudging my elbow lightly. It was Countess. “Wakey-wakey, probate,” she said. “We’re home free, baby. We’re back.”

“Really? That quick?” I asked back. I looked around and saw that we were in the middle of a grassy field. A couple of rusting abandoned cars were scattered around the field along with a lot of… oil barrels, I guess you could call it. A train’s horn sounded off in the distance. “Wait a minute; I thought we were going to Toronto,” I said.

“This is Toronto,” Genius replied. “Or at least it’s the GTA. It may not look like it but we’re inside the GTA right now.”

“Oh, God,” I muttered, wiping away the grime at the corners of my eyes. “How long was I out?”

“The better part of two hours, prospect,” Countess replied. “Genius and I talked about it, and we decided to just let you catch a few Zs, because God knows that you’ve earned it, what with all the shit that went down yesterday and the day before. Now let’s get out so LaF can wipe this truck down.”

As I was the one closest to the door, I had the responsibility of getting out first. I opened the door and jumped out, but as I did so I heard Carmilla mutter, “Oh, shit.”

“What! What is it now?” I asked with barely restrained frustration. Why can’t everything I do just be done and other with? I wanted to ask myself.

“Prospect, you got some blood on your seat!”

“What!?” I immediately turned to look behind me to see if my monthly visitor had decided to pay me a surprise visit. I’ve had a fairly regular cycle since two years after my first period, but like many other girls out there, I’ve learned to never trust my own body, especially in situations like this.

“No, not there, you dummy!” Carmilla said. “Higher! Much higher than that!”

My hands went up from my butt to my head, and that was where I felt something sticky clinging to both my fingers and my hair. I looked at my hand and saw the fingertips coated with dark reddish brown blood.

“Goddamn it,” LaFontaine muttered. “Now I gotta do more than just wipe this truck down. Now I gotta bleach it as well!”

“Hey, I’m sorry that I bled all over the truck, okay!” I said. “But in case you haven’t noticed, I didn’t exactly have medical professionals tending to me after what happened last night!”

“All right, everyone, that’s it. Enough!” Countess said, stepping in between me and Genius. “Cutter, just get out here. Get out of here before things escalate. And you, Genius, zip it. We all got hurt out there, not just you or her. Everybody calm down, and then we’ll do the thing.”

“Okay,” I said, raising my hands to my shoulders. “You sure that you don’t want the prospect to help you out with that?”

“You’ve already done enough damage as it is, prospect,” Genius retorted. “I don’t need you fucking this up even further.”

“LaF! I said cool it!” Carmilla said pointedly. But I knew that I wasn’t needed here, so I slowly backed away from the two of them, but I made sure to keep facing both of them until I was reasonably sure that I was far enough away before I turned my back on them and ran off. Not that I thought that either Countess or Genius was going to shoot me in the back as I walked away, but you can never be too sure, especially in my line of work. In any case, no gunshot rang out and I didn’t feel anything hit me in the back or in the leg or wherever. Looks like I’m finally home free. For the moment, that is.

I started walking in the direction of a gas station that I had seen the night before, when we had rode out to do our business. I wanted to get to the restroom there, but not to actually use the toilet there (unless I wanted to get an STD or something just as nasty). No, what I wanted to use there was the sink, so I could wash away the blood that had stuck to my head along with whatever else I might have picked up on my midnight road surfing.

Getting there wasn’t easy though. As I walked, I could feel this kind of strange pain somewhere on my lower back every time I took a step with my right foot. Like every time I put my foot down on the ground, this pain shoot straight up my leg to my lower back. I don’t think it had anything to do with a broken foot; the fact that I could walk threw that theory right out the window. But most probably I had been banged up by my wipeout last night more than either me or Carmilla could tell. Anyway, it was disconcerting and bothersome, but it didn’t stop me from getting to that gas station like I had planned.

By the time I got there though, my lower back was sore and throbbing. I tried rubbing and massaging the part where I could feel the pain the most as best as I could, but the pain just wouldn’t go away. And when I tried to angle my head down into the sink so that the water from the faucet would hit me right where I had felt the dried blood, my back refused to cooperate. Any little bending or curvature of the spine resulted in immense pain for me. Stars were literally shooting out of my eyes because of the pain. But I gritted my teeth and braced myself. You are gonna clean up your head even if it means that you get a shot back, I told myself. I took a deep breath and plunged my head underneath the water flowing from the faucet, taking care not to pick at the scabs that had formed on my scalp, accidentally or not.

I don’t know for how long I stood there bent over the sink trying to wash the blood out of my hair. And I didn’t hear anyone come into the restroom while I was doing that, and even then I can only imagine what they would have thought had they seen me like that. But eventually I felt satisfied that I had washed out as much of the blood from my hair as I could, and I stood up to look at myself in the mirror. There were gray bags under my eyes, and my hair was a wet and bedraggled mess. You need to get some rest, and quickly, girl, I told myself.

I used up all of the tissue in the dispenser to dry off my hair, but only because the sheets were one-ply and basically tore themselves apart as soon as I touched them to my hair. But I eventually got my hair dry, if even only just to say that it was dry. My roots and my scalp were still quite wet, but maybe that was sweat and not the tap water. Well, if this was as good as it’s going to get then why bother trying? I shrugged to myself to say that it was no big deal, and then I walked out of the restroom and towards the nearby bus stop. Good thing I had enough money on me to take me to the stop nearest to my apartment. If I hadn’t had the change to afford the bus trip then I would have had to walk all the way from wherever Genius had dumped the truck to my apartment, and with the strange pain on my lower back, I probably would have ended up crawling my way back on my hands and knees.

I went into the apartment and headed straight for the fridge. I took out the ice tray, popped out all of the cubes, put the cubes into a plastic bag, and slapped that bag onto my lower back. I sighed as the cold touched my skin and soothed the low throbbing pain, and I stuck the bag under my clothes and laid down stomach first on my bed. Oh, the things I do to make it through another day. I sighed once again and closed my eyes, letting my thoughts drift to wherever they wanted to go. Suddenly, I remembered that strange black cat that I had seen the night before, that big cat that had taken out the Lazyboy who was about to finish me off. I was halfway between thinking that it was just a hallucination, but then again it had felt so real to me at the time…

My eyes opened at the sound of someone knocking on the door. I looked around blearily, trying to figure out what time it was. Some time definitely must have passed because the bag of ice on my back was now a plastic bag filled with somewhat cool water and some chips of ice that stubbornly refused to melt. I tossed the bag aside and made to answer the door. My back still hurt with every other step I took, but nothing like the first time I had experienced it. “Who is it?” I called out as I put my hand on the door knob.

“It’s your father, Laura. Didn’t you get my text?”

I wrenched the door open and leaned on the frame. “Hey, Dad?” I said. “How’s it going?”

“Laura, you look like hell,” Dad said in reply. “What the hell happened to you?”

“If I look like hell, then that must be why I feel like shit,” I replied. “I’ve just been through a very rough last few days, Dad. I’d really rather not talk about it.”

“Sure, sure. But aren’t you going to invite me in?”

“Oh, shoot, Dad. I’m so sorry. I’m just so distracted. Sure, come on in,” I said as I stepped aside. Dad walked into my apartment. He was carrying a dark blue duffel bag with the logo of the Toronto Police Department on it. He laid down this bag on the nearest available space, which happened to be one of the three chairs in what I could barely bring myself to call my “living room”. “Didn’t you get my text, Laura?” he asked me again as he sat down in the second seat. “I told you I was coming like, three times already. When I didn’t get a reply, I… actually I didn’t know what to think.”

“Don’t worry about me too much, Dad; I’m fine,” I said. “I already told you, the last few days have been really rough for me. I must have been asleep when you texted me because I haven’t heard a thing from my phone.” Now would probably be not a good time to say that I broke my phone while I was skidding along a dark country road being chased by some bikers.

Dad nodded his head. “Okay, I get that,” he said. And then he saw the wet spot on my back that had been formed by my improvised ice pack. “Um, aren’t you a little too old to be wetting the bed?” he asked. “I thought you had already grown out of that when you were seven.”

“It’s not what you think it is, Dad,” I said. I then explained to him the ice pack and how I had literally just thrown it away before I answered the door to let him in. Dad nodded his head in understanding. “Yeah, growing old sucks, doesn’t it?” he said.

“Well, I wouldn’t know,” I muttered. “You want anything to eat or drink?”

“Surprise me. Whatcha got?”

I looked around in my fridge, trying to find that I could share with Dad. “I got some yoghurt and some soy milk,” I called out. “You want any of that?”

“Yeah, sure, that’s fine,” Dad replied. I walked back to the living room carrying the yoghurt and the soy milk. Dad took the milk, unscrewed the cap and took a few swigs before he put it down on the table and opened the yoghurt. “So I heard that Captain Vordenburg tried to offer you a job with the PD,” he said, making it sound more like a question than a statement.

“I mean, you heard right,” I replied, digging into my own yoghurt. “He offered me what he called a ‘clerical position’. I figured that he meant something like being an intern or a secretary. I didn’t take it. It’s not really the kind of job I want.”

“Well, that’s a shame,” Dad muttered. “I was kind of hoping that maybe you would actually take the job. I’d say that you need it.”

“Come on, Dad. Are we really gonna have this conversation again?” I asked.

“Not if we don’t have to,” Dad said. “I’m just saying that you had a chance to do something much more than just typing up and mailing articles to websites for cash.”

“You’re trying to make this conversation happen again, Dad,” I said. “Stop trying to make it happen. It’s not going to happen.”

“All right, Laura, if you say so,” Dad nodded. We both then ate our yoghurt in awkward silence for a few minutes before Dad decided to break it again. “But are you happy? Are you happy with what you’re doing right now?”

“Dad,” I said, looking up from my yoghurt. “What kind of a question is that?”

“A serious one. Are you happy with what you’re doing right now? Is this what you’ve always dreamed of doing?”

“Of course not, Dad,” I replied. “I want to be an international correspondent. I want to be the girl that the major networks and newspapers send all over the world to cover elections, natural disasters, revolutions, that kind of thing. But I also know that I have to start from somewhere, and that’s why I’m where I am right now.”

“But don’t you want to do something else? Don’t you want to do something better than what you’re doing right now?”

“Of course I want to do better, Dad!” I shouted. “I want to be an actual journalist, not just some nightcrawler who gets paid by some two-bit low-traffic Internet news aggregator start-up by the article, and even then sometimes I don’t get paid on time, if at all. But I can’t. You wanna know why, Dad? It’s because of my freaking diploma! No self-respecting publication is gonna even come near me with a ten-foot pole, and all because I was a graduate of Silas University! I mean, what the actual fuck!? I’m just a student there. I didn’t do anything. I don’t even know why they got closed down! Why am I and all the other alumni paying for the sins of the board?”

“Okay, what’s with the screaming at me all of a sudden, Laura?” Dad asked me calmly, or at least as calmly as he could make himself appear. “I didn’t do anything to you.”

“I know, Dad. I’m sorry,” I sighed as I slumped back on my seat, hands on my head. “I just needed to vent.”

“I understand,” he nodded. “Feels good to finally have that off your chest?”

“Yeah,” I nodded sheepishly. “I didn’t even know I’ve been keeping all that bottled up for all this time.”

“But you did finally get it out, and that’s what matters,” Dad said. “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

I thought about the other things that I could talk about with my father. My time as a biker and an undercover agent, the real job that Captain Vordenburg had offered me, was one thing I definitely could not talk about with Dad. Not only would it give Dad an aneurysm if he found out, but he would also probably, definitely go after Vordenburg and tell him, no, demand that I be taken off the case immediately. And that would only increase the drama that I was already living through.

“Yeah, no, I don’t think there’s anything else I wanna talk about,” I said.

Right at that moment, my phone vibrated. I took it out of my pocket and looked at the message. It was from the website asking for yet another article. “You still haven’t paid for the last one, assholes,” I muttered at my phone. “Go find someone else to not pay!”

“What’s up?” Dad asked.

“Nothing, just the guys asking for yet another article from me,” I shrugged.

“Whoa, what the hell happened to your phone?” Dad said as he leaned over to look at the cracked screen of my phone. “Tell me the truth, Laura,” he told me sternly, eyes locked onto mine. “What happened to you? Did you get into a fight or an accident or something that you’re not telling me about?”

“Um, yeah, about that,” I mumbled as I tried to come up with a plausible story about my busted-up phone that would both sound realistic enough for Dad to not question it and also not make him go ballistic at the same time. Well, I did read somewhere that some of the best lies are often based on the truth or even just a half-truth. “I, uh, picked up a second job a little while back,” I explained. “You already know how I’m not getting paid regularly, if at all, by the Internet guys. I heard about this delivery service looking to hire some part-time riders, and I just… jumped at the chance.”

“A parcel delivery service?” Dad asked. “Those guys running around town in bicycles and mopeds? Also, I didn’t know that you can ride a bike, Laura,” Dad said, his intonation with the last sentence making it clear that that was a question and not just a statement. “Since when?”

“I don’t, Dad,” I replied. “At least not that well. That’s why I wiped out and busted up my phone during the training session. Damn near busted up the Piaggio too. Good thing they didn’t make me pay for the damages because I just couldn’t have afforded it.”

“So let me get this straight,” Dad said as he absorbed my words. “You’re going after a second job ‘cause you’re not getting paid on time by your first job, and even though you don’t even know how to ride a tiny-ass moped, the employer of your second job still decided to take you on board.”

“It’s not yet official,” I clarified. “But at this point, they don’t have a choice. Nobody really wants to do it except for the real desperate people, and I guess I’m one of those desperate people. Also, don’t blow your gasket just yet, Dad. It’s not like I’m joining a biker gang, right?”

Dad had to laugh at my attempt at a joke. “Yeah, maybe you’ve got a point there,” he conceded with a smile. “Look, if you’re going to be running around town on a bike or a moped, just be careful, all right? They may look small and harmless but they’re actually dangerous, mopeds. I don’t know the actual statistics but there are a lot more accidents involving mopeds right here in Toronto than you might think. So just be very, very careful with them, okay? Oh, and speaking of biker gangs, if you find yourself about to meet a bunch of them, just stay the freaking hell away, okay? Being a courier is already dangerous enough as it is.”

“Okay, I’ll try to remember that,” I nodded.

We talked about a few other things after that, but not a lot more. Dad urged me to reconsider Vordenburg’s offer to me, not knowing that I had actually said yes (although I wasn’t about to tell him about Vordenburg’s real offer). After some awkward goodbyes, Dad left my apartment, and once he was gone I sat down to catch my breath. Believe it or not, this was the first time in a long time that I had lied to my father, lied right to his face, and I was shocked by how easy it had been. It was so easy for me to feed my father that line of bullshit about becoming a courier as my second job. What was I becoming? Was lying about to become as easy and automatic to me as breathing? I had never been much of a liar until now, not even when I was still struggling with my own identity and sexuality. To tell the truth, my father was the very first person to whom I came out when I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was gay. You would think that after that, I would be able to tell him anything. But coming out was much different from telling him that I was now an undercover agent in a biker gang. So why was it easier to lie and deflect rather than tell him the truth?

Well, there’s still one thing that I know for certain: being an undercover asset sucks. No if, no buts. It just plain sucks.