Chelsea Gets in Some Practice

This is a series of short stories, detailing the adventures of Chelsea Childling. You can start with her origin story or pick something from the index.

The setting sun reddened the mountains in the distance as Chelsea raced down the open road. The gas pedal wasn’t quite flat against the floor, but she was ready to speed up if need be.

Next to her, Jim grabbed at his door handle. “This next turn is sharp and to–”

“The left.” She finished for him, as she let off the gas, hit the brakes, and spun her wheel to the right. Jim groaned as she turned the car back the left and accelerated again. 

Once she had straightened out, he leaned back in his seat. “You know you aren’t trying to beat him to the finish line, right? We want Jack to keep up with you.”

“I know.” She slowed her speed. “But knowing how to take that turn at high speed might save me if this goes bad.”

“Where did you learn how to drive like this, anyway?”

For a moment, her father, thick of arms and solid in a way she couldn’t describe, once again argued with her mother. “It’s a damned race car. If she doesn’t know how to drive it, she might wreck it.”

Chelsea tucked away the memory and let herself smile. “My dad. He insisted on professional lessons from a stunt driver.”

“Damn. Lucky you.” Jim sat up, his obvious fear at her driving abated as she slowed further. “I learned on a rusted-out pickup truck in a field.”

“My mom would have preferred that.” She laughed. “She hated driving with me and Dad.”

“You really are the right hunter for this job.” He turned to look out the window. “I wondered why you put it off for a few days.”

“Yeah, I don’t know these roads at all.” She shrugged. “Taku-He was different. It was a big open field, parallel to the road, and I was chasing him. This is leading a vampire on a chase, and I want to know that route, really, really well.”

“Understood.” He turned back to her. “Was your dad a hunter, too?”

“Nope. He was a developer.”

“What’s that?”

“He bought up former industrial spaces and built affordable housing complexes. He was specializing in walkable neighborhoods when he died.”

“I’m sorry.” 


“Is that why you’re hunting?”

She fought for a clear throat and won. “No, my parents died in a freak accident. It was later, a friend got caught by a nightling.”

Jim chuckled. “Well, that’s a… nice subversion.”

The sarcastic questioning on the word “nice” got Jim a smile. “Guess most of us have similar stories.”

“Yeah, we’re all out here avenging someone.” Darkness colored his voice. 

“Wanna talk about it?”

“No.” His voice was pleasant, but firm.

She nodded. “Cool. I hate talking about my shit, too.”

Jim grunted his agreement and turned back to the ever-darkening desert out the window.

A sudden and an odd desire to talk washed over her. Perhaps it was the empty desert road stretching ahead or Jim’s melancholy. Whatever the prompt, she gave into it. “Yeah, my dad was a strange man. He grew up poor and built a business dedicated to helping the poor. But he also very much enjoyed his wealth and independence. So it was sports cars and food drives on any given Saturday. He made sure I could fight because I was a girl, but he loved buying me dresses and art supplies. And going to society balls with my mom.”

“Society balls?” Jim’s earlier darkness was subsumed by curiosity.

“Dad was poor, but my mom came from old money. Old, Southern money at that.”

“So mint juleps and shit?”

“Oh, very much so.” Chelsea grimaced. “Mom never shied away from her family history, but she did want to make up for it. She loved raising money for Dad’s projects. Nothing could perk her up like funneling the proceeds of abuse and horror into public works and programs for the poor.”

Jim’s smile brightened up the car for a moment. “Sounds like your folks were good people.”

“They tried.” The memories felt good, and she gave in to more. “Dad loved road trips, too. Nothing like driving to clear the mind and reorder the soul, according to him.”

A long, straight bit of road stretched into the dry plains. Chelsea pressed on the gas pedal and felt her car respond. Her father and his friends had built it. The doors didn’t match, and the engine gave mechanics fits, but it ran like a dream. She flew down the road to the next turn.

It wasn’t particularly sharp, but at her speed, it didn’t have to be. Still, she drifted the turn to Jim’s moan, marked the spot where hunters would lay in wait for Jack, and slowed to legal speed as she headed back towards town. The last thing she needed was cops watching for the car with Georgia plates racing around the area.

Before they hit city limits, she spotted Jim’s sister, Kristin, on the side of the road. Her long black hair danced in the desert wind, showing the purples and blues of the sunset in bars.

Chelsea had barely pulled up beside the rusty, red truck when Jim opened his door and tumbled out of the car. “She’s nuts on the road. You’re going out with her tomorrow.”

Kristen grinned. “You ever gonna admit you’re afraid of cars?”

Jim’s face shaded a brick red, and Chelsea laughed along with Kristen. “How was Bentley?”

Kristen opened the cab and Bentley hopped out. His coat, shaggy, thick, and dark brown, shimmered and his nails had been painted a sparkly purple. “I took him to my friend’s grooming shop. She had some fun.” 

The huge mutt pranced, head held high.

Chelsea snorted. “How much food did he steal?”

Bentley turned his head to her, then gave a flick of his tail, before lifting a leg and just missing her tire.

Jim shook his head. “Does he understand us?”

Chelsea gestured to Kristen. “You had him for a few hours. What do you think?” 

Kristen grinned at both of them. “I think I understand why you say, ‘he’s just a dog, but’.”

As the siblings laughed and joked with her dog, Chelsea let herself relax. This stop on the road was a good place to be at the moment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s