Darkness and The Man

Chapter One

The Reluctant Hybrid

Chet Darkness-Winterpaw was a very nervous and confused individual. You would be, too, if your mom were half vampire and your dad were half werewolf, making you 25 percent vampire, another 25 percent werewolf, and 50 percent human. In other words, Chet was a mutt. That wasn't the worst of it, though. In fact, where he was from, nearly everyone was half somethingor other. The humans were the ones to blame; they started the trend a few generations back, when they got fed up with being normal. They craved supernatural beauty, strength, and skills for their offspring, and sought to mix up the gene pool. The other species went along with it, not because they loved, or even respected their human companions, but because they were in desperate need of technology.

Chet wistfully recalled his grandfather Obsidian, or Sid for short, and his human wife Lolly at the couple's fortieth anniversary dinner. Blessed Lolly, with her rosy cheeks and snow-white hair, gazed longingly at her husband all evening. He returned her gaze with a light smile, but Chet could tell it was painful for him to look at her like that. In contrast to his wife's sagging wrinkles, Grandpa Sid, a vampire, was eternally youthful; he never looked a day over twenty.

Lolly gave him a laptop computer as a gift, which made his crimson eyes sparkle with delight. His long, pale fingers caressed the keyboard like a pianist practicing Chopin, and once he discovered the joys of Internet, he was as good as gone for the rest of the night. Chet found himself sympathizing with Grandma Lolly; it was obvious the woman held some real feelings for Sid, but all she could do was sit there, sipping at her wine, while her husband wasted away their special evening IM-ing his vampire buddies.

Now Chet, having reached the ripe age of nineteen, was wondering more and more about his future, specifically his love life. Instead of going to college, he worked the nightshift at a local pharmacy, stocking shelves. It was hard for him to get a date, because of his many problems. First there were his looks to deal with.

Some crossbreeds turned out easier on the eyes than others. Take human-elves, for example. Human-elves looked just like humans, with the only difference being pointed ears or a pleasant glow about the forehead. Werewolf-vampires, on the other hand, were often born with hideous and startling features, such as one red eye and one yellow eye. Chet once knew a guy with a furry tail and bat wings. His name was Marvin Stumps, and he worked for the sanitation department. He and Chet had been best friends through high school.

Chet received a call from Marvin one lonesome Friday night. It went something like this:

"Hey, Chet, old buddy, what's happening?"

"Nothing much."

"Well, me and the boys are heading up to Dingo's for a night of crazy fun! You in?"

"Uhh…I don't know. My shift just started…"

"Aww, screw the pharmacy! I hear this place is packed with hot chicks!"

"Really? I thought the owners made it into one of those family-friendly joints, with kiddie menus and stuff."

"Yeah, but…no matter how hard it tries, Dingo's will never be family-friendly. So, you in?"

"Gee. You know I don't do too well with the ladies."

"Exactly. This is your chance, dude! And trust me, these gals ain't looking for much, just a post to hitch their -"

"Ew. Please don't start with the hillbilly analogies." There was a slight pause on Marvin's end, and then:

"Are you gay, or something?"

"What? No!"

"You sound pretty defensive about it."

"I'm not gay, Marvin."

"'Cause if you are, that's cool. I'm a peaceful, accepting kinda guy."

"I'm not gay."

"Are you sure? I mean, with a name like Chet…" He quickly pressed the CALL END button on his cell phone and shut it off for the night. So much for friends

Okay, so Stumps wasn't exactly Mr. Sensitivity, but Chet gave him some credit for trying. Most people pitied him; the other fraction ignored him. Me? Well, that's a different story; however, I do pity him, and sometimes I try my best to ignore him.

Anyways, getting back to the story, Chet Darkness-Winterpaw was troubled beyond belief. It wasn't just his looks dragging him down, though the fangs and whiskers were kind of a turnoff. No, he had much bigger problems to worry about, like his many weaknesses.

Chet was a hybrid of three great species, so you'd think this would make him stronger. Think again. Though he was indeed part vampire, part werewolf, and part human, he somehow wound up with the weaknesses of all three, but the strengths of none. Quite a terrible misfortune, if you ask me.

He couldn't run fast, or hypnotize people, or fly. He had only the strength of one man, and a wimpy one at that; Chet couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. And to top it all off, he was two sticks short of a Neanderthal when it came to technology. He didn't know the difference between a gigabyte and a bug bite. Trust me, it was that bad.

If I hadn't bumped into him that night at Dingo's Bar and Grille, he probably wouldn't be here right now. I saved that poor sucker's life. He owes me one.

It was a cold autumn night; Halloween night. I remember it well

The restaurant was decked out in orange and black, with paper ghosts and all that cheesy junk American kids love. The occasion leant itself to my purposes; I was able to breeze in with a full ninja mask on and no one blinked an eye. Why the costume, you ask? Because I was a renowned and dangerous bounty hunter seeking my next payday, and I couldn't let my quarry know that.

I sat at a table diagonally across from hers, waiting for the opportune moment. I angled my compact to get a clear view and fiddled with my earpiece until it picked up every word of her conversation. The elf was innocently chatting away with her friends, or so it would appear to an outsider. They were really arguing about where to hide the latest shipment of stolen weaponry.

Something about plotting elves put me on edge. Elves were the first species on the planet, a fact which a true elf would never cease to rub in your face. And since they were immortal, you never knew what kind of ancient tricks they had up their sleeves. Only a handful of people knew the proper way to kill an elf. I, of course, was one of them.

Physical damage wouldn't do any good; elves had powerful healing magic. You had to hit 'em where it hurt: their self-esteem. Elves, like samurai, lived by a code of honor, and if they did anything to break that code, they were forced to kill themselves immediately, also like samurai. That's why none of them became politicians.

The thought of a dead elf was tempting, but I had to stick to my mission. The cops wanted her back alive. Killjoys.

"Hello! I'm Donna. I'll be your server for tonight.'

"Great," I thought. "Perfect timing."

"I love your costume, by the way! It's so dark and mysterious. My son was a pirate this year, too."

"I'm a ninja."

"Excuse me?"


"So, can I start you out with something to drink?"

"No thanks. I have to be perfectly sober for this."

"Um…we have a selection of sodas…"

"Oh, right. I'll have a Diet Coke on the rocks."

"Okey-dokey! I'll be back in a minute. Why don't you look through our menu and decide on a meal?"

Middle-aged women who say 'okey-dokey.' I'll have to put that on my list of pet peeves. When Donna's big hips stopped blocking my view, I saw that the elves were gone! I cursed myself for getting distracted. They couldn't have gotten too far. Or so I hoped.

I heard a girlish scream from outside in the parking lot. I sprang from my seat to see what was going down. That's when I saw him for the first time. Chet Darkness-Winterpaw had landed himself in a hostage situation…