First, there was one girl in all the world.
For centuries, one girl in each generation, the Slayer, fought the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness.
Now, there are many.
The Slayer of her era, Buffy Summers, and her friend, the witch Willow Rosenberg, gave the power of the Slayer to every “potential” in the world. Then there were thousands of slayers, overseen in their fight against evil by the reborn Watchers Council.
But Slaying Isn’t Forever.
With thousands of slayers all over the world, it was soon discovered that every slayer loses her powers on her thirtieth birthday. Every slayer who survives the job must now figure out the answer to a question no previous slayer had to ask: what happens next?
Life After Slaying Isn’t Easy.
Slayers are blessed not only with supernatural strength and speed, but supernatural healing. When that healing goes away, the consequences can be disastrous. It is now 2023, and despite years of effort, no one has been able to find a way to alter the slayer expiration date. Still, many continue to seek a cure for…
The Slayer Syndrome
House – Dining Room – Night
The banner read “Happy 31st Birthday” in rainbow letters. Below it, several men and women surrounded an oval dining room table. Most of them were jovial, some with pointed paper hats, many with drinks in their hands. One of them, however, a beautiful woman with dark hair, stood at the head of the table, with her lips slightly pursed and eyes downcast.
She turned her head slightly toward the girl next to her, a blonde with glasses. “I told you guys we didn’t need to do anything this year,” she said quietly.
The blond girl reached out and put a comforting hand on her friend’s arm. “We wanted to…we know this year has been hard for you, Lucia. But you made it. You’re here, and you have people who support you, and things are on track. You’re starting on the Hill soon, right?” Lucia nodded, and her friend smiled at her. “Well then, let’s celebrate!”
Lucia gave her a small, genuine smile back, one which disappeared when another woman appeared out of the kitchen carrying a round cake, heavily-laden with far too many candles, and put it down in front of her.
“Make a wish,” the girl prompted.
Lucia looked at her for a long beat. “You’re not a Vengeance Demon, are you?” This brought loud laughter from all present. Lucia sighed, took a deep breath, and blew on the candles as hard as she could. Only a few went out. The laughter died down a bit. Then she blew again. The candles kept burning.
House – Hallway – Later
Lucia sat on the floor of a dimly-lit hallway, her back against the wall and her face in her hands. She looked up to see her friend with the glasses standing silhouetted in the doorway to the next room. Upbeat music drifted in from behind her.
“Are you okay?” her friend asked. “I should’ve known this was too much. I’m really–”
“No, Steff, it’s not…” Lucia sighed. “I really appreciate everything. I just…I think maybe I need some air. Just for a minute.”
“For sure!” Steff nodded. “Just, uh…” She flashed a fake smile. “Maybe not through the cemetery this time?”
Columbia Gardens Cemetery – Minutes Later
Lucia walked between large tombstones and mausoleums. Her hands rested in her pockets, but her eyes were on high alert. A chill wind blew her hair behind her.
The sound of a twig snapping made her turn her head around. Three large vampires, game faces on, stood behind her. Lucia hurriedly produced a wooden stake from her waistband, her breaths coming nervously through her nose.
“Not as sharp without those senses, huh, Slayer?” one of the vampires taunted. “Actually, maybe I should call you something else now, since…y’know. How ’bout…dinner?”
He grinned and ran forward. Just as he reached Lucia, she leaped six feet straight up in the air, did a flip, landed on her feet behind him and stabbed her stake into his back.
As the vampire turned to dust, she said, her voice almost dazed, “I think Slayer’s fine, actually.”
Then the two other vampires were on her. She moved in a blur, parrying their attacks. She ran one of their heads into the stone side of a mausoleum. She threw one several yards away. She did multiple cartwheels. She pulled out all the slayer moves, and she had them all down without thinking. Within a minute, both remaining vampires charged her from two directions. But she moved with lightning speed, and soon both of them were dust, too.
The smile threatened to break Lucia’s face. She leaned back deliriously on a tall grave marker.
“Dios mio, it worked!” she said. She started laughing, a little bit crazily. “I can’t believe it actually worked.”
She kept laughing for a long time, her hands on her knees. As she finally trailed off, she wiped her face with the back of her hand. To her shock, her hand came away smeared red.
A trickle of blood came from her nose. A moment later, she started coughing. Almost immediately, the coughs grew more intense, wracking her body. Unable to control her coughing, Lucia doubled over. The coughs changed into wretches, and then she vomited profusely. The thick liquid that came out was a dark red.
Lucia managed to fall over in the opposite direction. She groaned, trying to pull herself forward on her hands and knees. She collapsed over on her back between the headstones, then pulled her phone from her jacket pocket and somewhat desperately put in a number.
“Yeah,” she managed hoarsely, “this is Lucia Dominguez. Something’s…something’s wrong.”
A very calm male voice spoke on the other end of the line. “Your body is rejecting the serum?”
Lucia ran her free hand over her mouth. It came away smeared with blood. She stared at it for a moment. “I think…maybe.” Then a sharpness came into her eyes. “Wait, you knew this might happen?”
“It is always a possibility.”
“That’s not what you told me,” Lucia said, force coming back into her voice. “That’s not what you tell anyone, is it?”
“Ms. Dominguez, please tell me where you are.”
Lucia hauled herself up to a sitting position with a groan. “You can’t do this,” she said. “I still…I have to tell people.”
“You are making a mistake, Ms. Dom–” Lucia ended the call. With great difficulty, she braced herself against a headstone and started to try to pull herself to her feet.
House – Front Porch – Later
Lucia dragged herself up the front steps of the small brick house she shared with her roommates, leaning heavily on a thin iron railing. When she reached the door, she produced a key and attempted to insert it into the keyhole below the knob. However, it only took the lightest touch from the key for the door to swing slightly open.
Lucia stared for a long moment at the opening. Then, very slowly, she pushed the door open further. It creaked as it opened. She took a careful step into the darkened entranceway.
“Steff? Guys?” she called out. There was no response.
Seeing a light coming from the living room, Lucia moved in that direction, falling heavily against the side of the door frame as she did so. When she got her bearings, she saw a pair of legs sticking out from behind the far end of the couch. They were not moving.
Lucia stumbled over and fell to her knees next to one of her male roommates. “Malik?” she said, her voice hollow. The front of his shirt was covered with blood. Lucia pulled her head up and scanned the room, eyes wide as dinner plates. Another of her roommates lay sprawled in an easy chair with their back to the door, also very dead. A half-finished beer was still on the coffee table in front of them.
Lucia took several panicked breaths then started coughing again. After several seconds of wet hacking sounds, she crawled over to the fireplace on the other side of the room and grabbed a long brass poker. She grabbed the bricks surrounding the fireplace and pulled herself upright again.
House – Stairway – Moments Later
Lucia held the poker in front of her like a rapier as she carefully ascended the darkened stairs one step at a time. Near the top, she found a blond woman lying face down, her legs and arms at awkward angles. Lucia rushed forward and turned the body over. It was Steff. Her smashed glasses hung uselessly from one ear. She had a single bullet hole in her forehead.
Lucia ran a hand over her friend’s cheek, and a tear streaked down through the red stains on her own face. Then she noticed the fallen paper plate and half-eaten slice of birthday cake lying on the stairs next to Steff.
Lucia sniffed back more tears and stifled another cough. Then she moved on to the upstairs hallway, where she could see light coming from a single doorway. To get there, she had to step over the body of another roommate sprawled across the corridor.
She reached the lighted doorway and stood in the opening, the poker shaking in her hands. Inside, she found several men dressed in all-black tactical gear, holding silenced automatic weapons. The bloody bodies of two more of her housemates lay on a queen bed.
She faltered, the end of the poker dipping slightly before she raised it again. “They…you didn’t have to. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t…you didn’t have to.” Her words came in a raspy whisper.
One of the commandos took a few strides toward her. “We didn’t do this, Ms. Dominguez,” he said. “You did.”
She tightened her grip around the poker and set her jaw as best she could. “You-you can’t shoot me. Too hard to cover up. You would have already.”
The man shook his head. “You’re right. We can’t shoot you.” He moved forward quicker than she could react, grabbed one of her arms, and slammed it against the side of the door frame. The loud crack of her bone breaking rang out in the silent house. She let out a strangled cry, and the poker fell to the floor with a clatter.
Columbia Gardens Cemetery – Day
Lucia Dominguez’s open eyes stared sightlessly up at a cloudy morning sky. The back of her head rested against a tombstone in the middle of the cemetery, and her arms and legs jutted out in unnatural directions. On one side of her neck, a bloody smear surrounded two small holes.
The body was surrounded by Council personnel, many wearing hats or jackets bearing the Council coat of arms. Two of these people, a young man with a handsome face surrounded by an unkempt mane of shoulder-length brown hair, and a young woman with long-straight blond hair and thick glasses, stood directly over Lucia’s broken form. They stared for a long moment.
“Well, shit,” the man finally said.