Coming soon from Eagle Peak Press—The Fountain and More, short stories for lovers of fantasy and science fiction. We had hoped to make it available for the holidays but missed that target. Instead, it will be out early in 2017. Our loss is your gain. You can receive a FREE digital copy of the collection. How? Subscribe to Eagle Peak Quarterly by January 31—and it’s FREE, just like the subscription to the Quarterly. We never share your email address with anyone. You will also get occasional updates (no more than monthly; unsubscribe anytime). If you miss that January 31 deadline, we will be including discount promotions in those periodic updates. In the meantime, read “The Fountain” in its entirety here. Also, check out a free preview of “Alfred’s Rare Blood Disorder” below. There’s always room for some humor with vampires, along with the mock horror, isn’t there?
Alfred had lived a normal life (or death, one might say) for three decades, after his turn in 1985. He met the attractive young woman in a bar. She pulled him into an alley as he walked her home through Tribeca. He thought her impatient to get to the business of romance. Instead, she had something else in mind—planting fangs in his neck. They had fun for a few years. She instructed him in the art of being a vampire. Eventually she moved on to others as she grew bored with his pedestrian sensibilities—looking at the lights of city, cruising the neighborhood for easy targets and plying his trade as an itinerant karaoke instructor. As far as she was concerned, he might as well have been an accountant. He had been a simple man before the turn; he remained one thereafter.
Then one night he began experiencing distress after meals. The living looked at menus to find favorites—French cuisine, Thai, Mexican, Italian or just good old fashioned American. Menus were not an option for vampires; they took their necks as they found them. At times, it meant last resort dining among the homeless with their diet of discards. Other times it might be feeding on extreme foodies with exotic tastes for meats covered in strong spices. Noxious flavors circulated in the bloodstreams of those people. Flavors that Alfred and others of his kind shared when fangs pierced a neck. But it wasn’t the sometimes disgusting taste of a victim’s blood. This was something more. At first, it was just an uneasy feeling. Then came cramping and diarrhea. Finally his body simply threw up before the blood could affect him. He must drink blood to survive, but couldn’t anymore. Vampires don’t get sick after all; what disease can bother someone already dead?
Fortunately for Alfred, among the world’s vampires, there are those who practice medicine—albeit treating the living. He scoured the dark web for help. He located several doctors in the New York City area on Vampnet. None were helpful. He grew weaker by the day. Tired as he was, Alfred finally expanded his search to Europe, where there were many older and wiser vampires. He found Simon Baxter through his prominent listing on Vampnet, detailing his age and experience with both the living and the vampire communities. Dr. Baxter had a medical practice in London, spanning over 400 years. He catered to a clientele who were quite happy at being able see a doctor late into the evening. As a vampire, of course, he never opened his doors during the day–when most people expected consultation. Baxter had some difficulties keeping up with medical advances the first 350 years of his practice. Nonetheless, with the aid of living staff who were well-paid for their discreet efforts, he managed to remain board certified as well as up to date in medical advances via the internet.
Alfred took a redeye flight from New York to London, arriving before dawn. One of Baxter’s assistants picked him up at the airport for a daytime stay at Baxter’s accommodations for visiting vampire patients. How will I afford this? Alfred wondered, looking at the luxurious room. Baxter must charge a fortune. Of course Baxter did; but then with the immortal existence of vampires, an extended payment plan posed little risk to Baxter. A brochure for incoming patients explained it all. That evening, another assistant picked up Alfred for his appointment.
“So Alfred, I understand you are having problems feeding? You appear quite weak,“ said Dr. Baxter.
“Yes, I throw up after each meal. I haven’t been able to keep blood down for some time now.”
“Ah, I see. Well then, don’t worry Alfred; though your condition is quite rare, I believe that I can treat you.”
“What is it? What’s wrong with me, doctor?”
“Only a handful of vampires have experienced this problem over the centuries. Those in earlier times simply crumbled into dust without blood. Now, with advances in knowledge of blood disorders and their treatment the cause has become apparent. A simple test will confirm my suspicion.
“What do I have to do?
“You must swallow a few drops of blood, not enough to make you very sick, just enough for the test. Afterwards, you’ll wait here in the examining room for a few minutes and we’ll see if I am correct.”
Alfred did as instructed, with some small hope and no little trepidation. A half hour later, Dr. Baker returned.
“Yes, just I expected. It’s a problem similar to what some of the living face. You know, the ones who can’t eat or drink dairy products without problems. They’re lactose intolerant. You are hemoglobin intolerant. I have developed just what you need. I call it hemoglaid. Just take one pill before each meal and you’ll be fine.”