The Perfect Bag by JM Paquette

For Briana Jager

“I don’t suggest eating dirt. It doesn’t taste very good.

I know this because the vamp was in the process of shoving my face deep into the dirt of the courtyard. My job definitely has some downsides.

Slay the vampires, they said. It will be fun, they said.

I had been there less than a day before they handed me my own kit: wooden stakes, of course, vials of blessed water, a small silver cross all shoved carefully into a small shoulder bag.

I do love my kit bag. It’s bandolier style, sits on my shoulders, and fits perfectly across my chest, the bag itself nestles comfortably against my hip. And it’s got that old leather smell that stores make you pay extra for back home, so that was a bonus. It even had an extra pocket across the front to keep other sundry items in. I had recently lined that pocket with an iron plate after a vamp nearly skewered me with its claws. The bag makes a decent shield in extremity.

The bag could also be a detriment, though, especially when the vamp gets behind you and uses that strap to toss you around. And right now, the vamp was using the slack in the strap to pull the bag tight, the bulk pressing hard into my shoulder and neck as it pressed my face deeper into the dirt.

I could hear the seams in the old leather bag beginning to groan with the strain.

Oh hell no.

Not my bag. This vamp is not going to break my bag.

I pushed up on both arms with all of my strength, spitting the dirt from my mouth as I used the split second of surprised slack to tug the vamp off balance behind me, slid a stake from the font pouch, and shoved it into the air behind me. The stake met the vamp’s chest with no noise or resistance, and suddenly, an ash cloud swirled around my ears.

I closed my eyes until it I was sure it had faded. Vamp ash turns your eyes bloodshot for days.

I looked down to check my bag. The strap was definitely strained, but gave no sign of immediate failure. I straightened it against my hip, replacing the stake in the front pocket.

Spitting the remains of the dirt from my mouth, I rubbed a fist against my lips, wishing the bag had some room for a napkin or handkerchief.

Maybe it was time for some upgrades.

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