After the meeting, the doctor and I were escorted to a medical room by two soldiers sticking the barrels of their guns in our backs. My protestation was met with the comment: ‘The faster you move, the less it’ll hurt, asshole.’
More soldiers arrived carrying the equipment that we had managed to save from Hartley House. I wanted to ask the doctor about the primary and secondary treatments but the presence of the soldiers made me feel uneasy. Unless we were left alone or I got over my paranoia, it would be very difficult to speak candidly with someone watching me, ready to fill my body with silver bullets as soon as I started talking like a vampire.
‘We’ve only missed one interval,’ the doctor said as he looked at his watch, ‘we should still have manageable data.’
It was then that I realised how much I had been through. In just over two hours I had woken up from a vampire bite induced coma, discussed my future as a human pin cushion for experimental blood treatments and narrowly escaped another battle, this time on the side of The Brotherhood against a flock of hungry vampires.
Sitting in my unmarked car drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself felt like a lifetime ago, but it was only twenty-four hours. I’d give anything to be back there right now, I thought to myself.
It was at this moment I realised what a horrible person I’d been without good reason. Okay, my wife had been killed but that was five years ago and I’d caught the killer. Her killer was in jail because I’d put him there. Everything bad that had happened in those five years had been blamed on Sarah’s death. The fact of the matter was that there was no one to blame anything on apart from myself.
I should have come to terms with the fact that I was on my own and I had to look after myself but I’d taken the easy route. I’d hit the bottle and the last five years were a blur. I felt like I had nothing to lose.
I had to get a grip and this was a better time than any other. Now I had everything to lose. If what the doctor was saying about me was true, then I owed it to him to stay alive. He had saved my life and now my life was in his hands.
Doctor Owen inserted a needle into a vein in my arm and took his sample. I winced and wondered how long it would take for me to get used to the injections. ‘How long will we be here for?’ I asked him.
‘They’ll probably keep us here for a while. The medical facilities are adequate and the outpost seems to be secure.’ Doctor Owen seemed to have more faith in The Brotherhood than I did.
‘You haven’t been here before then?’ I asked, ‘I assumed you followed these guys around and did all of their research for them.’
‘No, not at all,’ he said, ‘until now I’ve done all my work at Mantek. The turning point was when I made a breakthrough with the secondary treatment. I wasn’t expecting to reach that stage for another two or three weeks. Now that the research is out in the open, so to speak, only now is it necessary to continue the research behind closed doors.’
Looking around at all of the equipment, I realised I hadn’t seen any living quarters since we’d arrived. I turned to the one of the soldiers watching over us. ‘Where are we supposed to sleep?’
‘You’ve both got rooms,’ he said. ‘They’re across the hall. We’ll make sure you get all your meals, everything you need. There’s no need for you to leave this level.’
‘What about…’ I started.
‘You don’t understand,’ the doctor said to me, ‘they won’t let us leave here.’
‘Because you’ve been bitten. They have to isolate you. Why do you think we were marched down here so quickly?’
The horrible reality of my future began to dawn on me. I hadn’t known what to expect but for some reason I didn’t think I would be locked away in a concrete bunker until the day I die.
‘So I’m a prisoner here? For the rest of my life?’ I asked, with desperation causing my voice to crack.
‘There’s only one way out of here, Detective,’ said the solider.
‘That’s if I find a permanent cure,’ the doctor said but I suspected the soldier would have finished the sentence in a different way if he’d been given the chance.
‘Well we’d better get cracking then,’ I said. I tried to do my best to sound upbeat. There was no point in throwing a fit. I was down here and we may as well do our best to make the most of it.
‘Okay,’ said the doctor, ‘tell me how you feel now.’
‘A little tired but other than that, I feel fine. If I start to turn, what should I expect? Do my teeth get longer? When do I start flying?’
‘I’ve been thinking about this,’ he said, ‘All vampires have their differences but they all have to feed after being reborn. One of the first symptoms you can expect is an insatiable hunger, like nothing you’ve ever felt before.’
‘For human flesh?’ I asked.
‘For blood, more specifically. Vampires crave human blood because theirs is deficient in a number of ways.’
‘Like what?’ I was no scientist but I had to find out all of the details. If something unnatural was going on in my body, I wanted to know everything.
‘The energy needed to sustain the undead life of a vampire is considerably more than the energy a human needs. If a vampire sustains an injury, it will heal itself very quickly, which requires an incredible amount of energy. The only way is to absorb more red blood cells into the body.’
I realised my hand had stopped hurting where it had been cut during the escape from Hartley House. I opened it and looked at my palm, expecting to see the bloody wound.
There was nothing. There was no trace of the wound at all. I held up my hand. ‘I cut this hand just before we got on the helicopter, now it’s completely healed.’
Doctor Owen took my hand in his for a closer look. ‘Very interesting,’ he said, ‘one attribute has shown itself but there are no other obvious signs that you have been infected.’
He removed the bandage from my neck and held a small mirror up for me to look into. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘your bite mark has gone as well.’
This made me feel very uneasy. My body thought I was a vampire and was starting to act like one. My thoughts turned to my impending desire to drink human blood.
‘How do vampires choose their victims?’
‘Vampires must feed on humans with the same blood type as them. Experienced vampires seem to be able to tell what blood type humans have. A new vampire will kill as many humans as it can before finding the correct blood type.
‘Needless to say, vampires with rare blood types don’t tend to last very long. For what it’s worth, I tested your blood type earlier and you’ve got a very common blood type, O positive. If you start to feel hungry, you won’t have to kill very many people to find a match.’
‘Thanks, Doc. That’s comforting.’
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