Monday, 2 July 2007

Chapter 77: 'Butcher Him'

The vampire soldier’s eyes darted around maniacally in their sockets then locked onto mine. He opened his mouth to reveal extended canine teeth. The muscles in his arms and legs tensed but the straps tying him down were holding him to the bed. For now.

‘Jesus Christ! He’s woken up already, shoot him!’ Captain Stein exclaimed and the armed soldiers clicked the safety catches on their rifles.

‘No, wait!’ shouted the doctor as he reached across me, picked up a syringe full of anaesthetic and injected it into the soldier’s neck. Within a few seconds, the soldier’s eyes and mouth closed and his body lost its powerful energy.

‘This is too dangerous, Doc,’ said the Captain, ‘if that happens again, I will shoot him.’ The doctor turned to Captain Stein, ready to start an argument but soon realised that he wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Instead, he turned to me once again.

‘We’d better do as much as we can before he wakes up again. My original estimation of four to five hours of unconsciousness was way out. I now estimate around twenty to thirty minutes before he wakes up.’

‘So what’s the plan?’ I asked.

The doctor thought to himself for a few moments. ‘We butcher him. As fast as we can.’ He turned to the soldiers. ‘Gather up all the basins and buckets you can find.’ They all turned to Captain Stein for guidance.

‘Don’t look at me,’ he said, ‘Do what he said. You heard him, we haven’t got much time.’

Doctor Owen leaned over the body of the undead soldier with a scalpel and reopened the chest cavity. As the soldiers ran around the labs gathering together all the vessels they could find, the doctor was dipping conical flasks into the chest cavity one after another, collecting as many samples as possible, and putting corks in the tops of the flasks to stop the vampire blood making its own way out. He knew this soldier would die very soon and wanted to get as much data for further examination as possible before our time ran out.

The basins piled up on the bench next to us and the doctor ordered me to stand by and hand him a new basin for each organ that he was going to extract. I held the first basin in front of me. In one quick move, the doctor yanked the soldier’s stomach out of his abdominal cavity and sliced it free from the rest of his digestive tract. It landed in my basin with a watery splat, followed by the order: ‘Get ready, here comes the liver!’

For the next few minutes I managed to catch all the organs that Doctor Owen threw at me. The organs were all drenched in blood and splashed drops onto me as they landed in each basin. The doctor stopped and we both looked at the organs lined up on the bench next to us. He had extracted the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, heart and lungs.

‘Very interesting,’ he commented.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘If we assume that a vampire’s body turns into ash when it dies, we can therefore assume that this man is still quote-unquote alive, even though all of his vital organs are sitting over there. Look, the blood is still active.’

He was right. This was a very unsettling experience. In each of the basins, the drops of blood that had splattered around the organs were making their way back into their host. Every drop of blood was alive, with a mind of its own dictating its movements.

‘What does that mean?’ asked Captain Stein.

‘It means that this man has no use for his internal organs. The biological processes required to sustain human life cease to be relevant once the virus has consumed the body. It is safe to assume that the muscles are still required by the limbs in order for them to function but it appears this body runs almost solely on blood. That must be why vampires feed on human blood: nothing else provides them with the sustenance their bodies need. It is as if the virus has taken control of the blood completely and is using the body as a home.

‘When we saw the blood drain from the chest cavity, it must have been moving to the brain to provide the energy necessary to overcome the effects of the anaesthetic.’

Everyone in the lab stood in silence. Doctor Owen had just delivered a bombshell. As long as the human race had walked the Earth, vampires had always been the enemy and now, for the first time in recorded history, we had biological evidence of the differences between them and us. The first step on the path to rid them from our world.

Something else occurred to me. What if vampires are the superior species? Are we trying to rid the world of the next step in human evolution? The anatomy of a vampire seemed so much simpler, so much more elegant than that of a human body.

I looked at the body of the soldier and saw the blood start to drain away from his chest cavity. Just as it had before, the chest cavity closed like an invisible zipper was being done up.

‘Doc, he’s going to wake up again.’

Captain Stein picked up his gun but the doctor stopped him.

‘No sense wasting another bullet,’ said Doctor Owen as he picked a bullet up from the petri dishes and casually lobbed it into the soldier’s wound just before it closed completely. As the soldier’s eyes opened, smoke started to rise from his chest and the burning spread around the body.

The soldier screamed and tried to shake himself free. The bed rattled and he managed to rip one of the straps and release one of his arms but it was too late. As he tried to reach over to free his other arm, it turned to ash, along with the rest of his body. Within seconds, nothing was left of the soldier other than a thick layer of ash.

‘Good work, Doctor,’ Captain Stein conceded, ‘keep at it. Looks like you’ve got a lot of samples to get to work on.’ He marched most of the soldiers out of the lab, leaving one volunteer behind to keep an eye on us.

Doctor Owen, Agent Simpson and I looked at each other and assessed our surroundings. We were faced with a bed covered in ash from a dead vampire and a row of basins filled with live organs. The organs had not turned into ash. They looked exactly the same: fat, moist and full of vampire blood.

‘Very interesting,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘the organs haven’t died, even though the vampire’s body has died.’

‘What does that mean?’ asked Agent Simpson.

Doctor Owen smiled. ‘To be honest, I’ve no idea. It feels like we’ve discovered penicillin, cracked the human genome and discovered the triple helix all on the same day. I think we’ve earned a five minute break.’

We all nodded in agreement. Unfortunately, it was that very second that I felt a burning in my stomach like nothing I had ever felt before but I instinctively knew what it was. I gripped my stomach with both hands and doubled over in agony.

Like the doctor had predicted and I had feared, I was suddenly unbelievably hungry.

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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