Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Chapter 68: Questions

Under the circumstances, I seemed to be getting on pretty well with Doctor Owen. He had me hooked up to various machines that beeped every few seconds and kept prodding and poking me but even so, with the exception of Agent Simpson, he was the only one treating me as if I was human.

I hoped I had enough blood left because he was taking a hell of a lot out of me and squirting it into test tubes. Everywhere I looked I could see my blood, labelled with the date and time.

He was explaining a lot to me but it surprised me how many gaps he was so far unable to fill. For example, no one knew where vampires got their powers.

How can they fly?

How do they absorb and process human blood?

Why do they have superhuman strength?

All these questions and more needed to be answered before the doctor could expect to find a cure for the virus.

‘It has been very difficult to conduct these kinds of experiments. The problem is that these guys are so twitchy, they never bring back a live specimen,’ he sighed.

Captain Stein walked into the room. ‘What would you have my men do, Doctor? Ask them to come quietly?’

‘There must be a way of capturing a vampire without killing it. Without a live specimen, my work remains in the realm of theory and speculation. That is the only reason that we know very little about vampires.’

‘What about our friend here?’ the Captain asked, pointing at me.

‘I am getting an incredible amount of data from Detective Ryder but there’s no guarantee that he’ll change. For all I know, I’m just filling this lab up with clean human blood.’ He was covering up the miraculous healing of my hand, which cemented my suspicion that he trusted Captain Stein as little as I did. I lifted the bandage to my neck again before Captain Stein could notice that the wound had healed.

‘This situation is tough for all of us, Doctor. We have to make do with what we’ve got so keep at it. I want you to present your findings to the Commander first thing tomorrow morning. Remember, he is expecting the primary treatment to be your main focus, same as me.’

‘What do you mean?’ he protested, ‘I’m still in the data gathering stage.’

‘You heard me, Doc. Give me results!’ said the Captain and left the room, slamming the door behind him.

I decided to ignore the soldier standing in the corner of the room and ask the Doctor the question that had been burning in my head since we arrived.

‘What are the primary and secondary treatments?’

The doctor glanced at the soldier as well and hesitated but decided to tell me anyway. He had been given one day to come up with results that were not physically possible. I suspected he was beginning to feel as much of a prisoner as I did.

‘The secondary treatment is what I gave you,’ he started, ‘The whole idea behind the secondary treatment is to remove the effects of the virus and to stop it taking over all bodily functions. This may then lead to a treatment that could reverse the rebirth process: to return vampires to their natural human state.’

‘So the secondary treatment is a cure?’

‘Eventually it will be, yes.’

‘And the primary treatment?’ I asked.

‘To develop a treatment that will cause a violent chemical reaction with the virus. The primary treatment will kill any vampire it is given to. The Brotherhood would rather have a poison than a remedy. They seem to think it will be easier to develop and deploy a formula that will kill all vampires without affecting humans.’

‘Are they right?’

‘Probably, but there’s no way Captain Stein or Commander North know anything about this research on a scientific level. They have no time for development and experiments. All they want to see are results but anyone who has worked in my field knows that once you start, tangible results may be years away, even for the primary treatment. Shouting louder won’t lead to results any sooner.

‘The secondary treatment would be the only true way of ridding vampires from this world. By immunising everyone at birth, within a generation there would be no vampires.’

To me, it sounded like an ideal solution. A vaccination for all would mean no more vampire rebirths and all the undead brothers and sisters could be returned to their natural state and start to live their human lives again.

I could see why this plan didn’t appeal to certain members of The Brotherhood. They weren’t exactly the most sophisticated bunch of people I had ever met. They had brand new expensive military hardware up to their ears and you can be damn sure they were itching to use it.

‘Hang on a minute, there’s a problem here,’ I said as something occurred to me, ‘Even if you could develop a vaccine, how would you distribute it? As soon as word got out, the vampires would just launch another massive attack and destroy the stock of any vaccine you had.’

‘I’m aware of this,’ said the doctor, ‘and if you can think of a way to do it, make sure you let me know.’

It was at this moment that I realised my job was to sit in this lab with a scientist who was learning everything from scratch. I felt like the zombie guinea pig from a horror movie I watched late one night while struggling to sleep. I guess I had to be happy that I hadn’t been chained to the walls. Not yet, anyway.

‘What about Doctor Forrest?’ I asked.

‘What about him?’

‘How is he involved in all of this?’

‘You mean does he know more about it than I do?’ the doctor asked with a wry smile on his face. He was right though, that was exactly what I meant. I was sure Doctor Owen would forgive me for wanting to have as many experts around me as possible.

‘You may be right,’ I said, ‘but can he help us?’

‘He’s a very old man,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘he’s been working on this pretty much his whole life without getting very far. Then we managed to make the breakthrough recently and came up with the experimental vaccine that I gave to you. After that he disappeared and I haven’t seen him for over a week. He goes AWOL from time to time so I just assumed he took a break.’

‘So now you think they’ve got him?’ I asked.

‘Well he’s been a member of The Brotherhood for all of his life. He’s not here and no one’s heard from him. All we can do is assume that he’s either gone into hiding or the vampires have him.’

‘Either way, you’re not going to see him again, are you?’

‘We should continue our work as if he’s not going to be found.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

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