Well, we promised a multi-chapter fic, and here it is. Oddly enough, it's a bit different from our normal style, and our normal topics, but we hope that you'll enjoy the first chapter of our project, Angelus Delapsus.
So make sure all your doors are locked, grab a snack, settle into your favorite chair and enjoy. Oh--and if you happen to hear a strange noise while you're reading, don't worry. It's probably just a passing airliner…
London hated hospitals.
Ever since she could remember, she'd hated the smell, like death and disinfectant. She felt like a lab rat, like a specimen behind a cage, being watched with a cold, scientific eye. She hated the smooth feel of the paper set down to keep patient from touching anything, hated the way that it tore under when subject to even the slightest motion. The white walls, the surgical equipment, cramped rooms, the sterile no-fresh-air-no-sunlight feel to the place.
If she had a choice, she would be somewhere, anywhere else.
But the fact remained that she did not have a choice. Her parents had finally decided that enough was enough, and had dragged their protesting daughter her after almost two years of off an on sickness. It seemed that she was immune to nothing, not healthy enough to fight off even the most trivial virus, and she spent more time at home with a thermometer under her tongue than at school with a pencil in her hand. Bruises and cuts, too, took longer to heal, and the result was that she always looked half-dead on her feet. Lately, even sleep had offered no real rest, as she always awoke in the middle of the night with a thirst that could never quite be quenched.
Exhausted, half delirious with fever, she had finally given her grudging consent for a doctor's exam.
Her father tried to make her feel better about the whole ordeal, keeping up a steady stream of optimistic advice and assurances that'd they be out of there in no time. She might have believed him, if it wasn't for the underlying look of worry that clouded his face making him seem older than he was. She knew that secretly they were dreading the outcome of the tests that were soon to be delivered.
The little exam room that they were forced to wait in was inexplicably dull. The picture of some mountain range in the Americas was the only thing that decorated the room, and that was on the ceiling. They'd been waiting for nearly fifteen minutes now, London counting down every second she was forced to be in this God forsaken place.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the door opened. She glanced up, her eyes finding Dr. Hunt's kindly, wrinkled face. Instantly, London wished that she were still waiting for his arrival. His expression was one of concern, puzzlement, and something else which she did not recognize.
She clenched her fingers on the sides of the ugly, cushioned bed, and willed herself not leap to her feet and race from the room right then and there. She took a few deep breath, steadying her nerves, and braced herself.
"Well, London…" Dr. Hunt began, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose and shuffling through a few papers. London noted that he did not make eye contact, perhaps for the first time in all the years he had treated her family. Her mind raced back - a broken leg at age seven after falling from a gravel pile, her mother coming down with pneumonia, a quick check-up after striking her head on the ice three years ago - in every scenario, Dr. Hunt had greeted her with a warm, comforting smile, an assurance that everything would be fine, that she would feel better in the morning and it was really nothing to worry about.
There was no such display this time.
"We've finished the preliminary tests," he went on, still intently focused on the paperwork he held.
"And…?" London pressed as she started to wring her pale hands together. She watched as Dr. Hunt's lip twitched as though hiding a scowl. Something was quite wrong if she had to drag the answer out of him like this.
"We need to take a few more tests, centered around the possibility of blood cancer, and problems in the absorption of vitamins."
"More tests?!" her mother shrieked indignantly, turning nearly as pale as her daughter. "Dr. Hunt, how much more will there be before we discover the problem?"
Dr. Hunt sighed and pressed a weathered hand to his temple. "Mrs. Jensen, now that we know the source of the problem is a lack of minerals and energy we can take measures as to discover which minerals are missing and why your daughter is deprived of the energy to fight off the simplest of disease or even attend Physical Ed. You told me she eats fairly normally, yes?"
Mrs. Jensen nodded, her brown hair bobbing.
"Then, the problem lies within her body's ability to absorb the nutrients she is receiving." He paused, then added, "Or inability."
"…Blood cancer?" London was surprised to find herself speaking, as she had been incapable of uttering more than a few words scarcely moments ago. "How could I…"
"We won't know if it is cancer until we do a few more tests," Dr. Hunt reiterated evenly. "There's only a small likelihood of that, though it is a possibility… Honestly, at this point we don't know what to think. The symptoms mimic those of a hundred other conditions. Since we don't know what it is as this point, we can't treat it… which is why it's necessary to do a few more tests."
Before her mother could speak, London nodded. "All right. Whatever you need. Let's just get it out of the way." She internally grimaced at the thought.
For once a tentative smile touched the doctors face. "Impatient as ever. Don't worry; we'll try to get you out of here a fast as possible. Now, just follow your nurse, Ms. Adams, to the Hematology lab and we'll get started right away."
London nodded and stood, brushing a back a lock of deep crimson hair from her face. Said nurse was waiting outside the door, her golden hair set in a tight bun keeping her elderly face clear.
"Just follow me, dear," she said and off she went down the hallway.
The halls of the hospital were lit with ugly florescent bulbs which flickered now and then and made the picture lined walls seem even smaller and more oppressive. In this ward, a few empty wheelchairs were propped exhaustedly against tables and stands adorned with fake flowers. One side room which they passed displayed a neatly adjusted sign reading "OXYGEN IN USE", while the muffled sound of a sitcom on television drifted from another. These details confirmed London's suspicions that there was something badly wrong with her, and even the professionals were trying to sugar coat it, as if the fake flowers would dispel the seriousness of the situation. Another thing she hated about hospitals. It was the "Now, we know that shot hurt, but you get to pick out a sticker from the box" attitude. As it that made it any better…
The nurse drew to a halt, then held open a tall metal door, smiling. "After you, hon."
As soon as she stepped through the door, London had the strange inkling to turn and walk right back out. The sickly stench of disinfectant mixed with iron drifted into her nostrils triggering the gagging reflex. She managed to hide her disgust from the nurse by turning her head and breathing through the cloth of the cream shirt that she wore.
"Okay, now just sit in this chair, I'll be right back with the hematologist."
Expecting another long wait, London began tapping the metal armrest of the chair she was seated at. At a tray to her left there was an array of needles and other sharp objects that made the hair on the back of her pale neck stand on end. The room didn't even have a window for her to look out and avoid imaging the piercing feeling of needles being jabbed into her arm. She was saved when the nurse returned with the Hematologist, a middle-aged man with dark hair.
"So, what tests will this fine young lady be receiving?" he asked the nurse once he was seated at London's side.
"Dr. Hunt has asked for a full blood count, a bone marrow examination, a coombs test, an EOS test…"
"I get it, the works right?"
London looked up at him, her face falling fast. "How long will this take?" she asked.
He raised an eyebrow. "And most people would as whether it is going to hurt or not."
"They usually lie."
This earned a smile. "About a half-hour. Maybe a few minutes more."
What little color had been in London's face to begin with drained away with astonishing speed, leaving her white as a chalk pillar. A half-hour… of needles and… "And how long until we know the results?"
"It could be anywhere from tomorrow to next week." The Hematologist turned his back to her for a moment as he began washing his hands in the steel sink in the corner.
London closed her eyes for a moment, drawing in a deep breath. "We'd best get started, then."
The next day they were seated once again in their exam room, London fiddling nervously with a strand of her crimson hair. Her father twiddled his thumbs from his corner and her mother's foot tapped quickly against the floor.
"How much longer are they going to make us wait?" her mother finally said, her voice thick with anger and concern.
"It's okay, Eve," her father said as he put his arm around his wife. "Dr. Hunt said that it was luck that they had her tests done this quickly."
London watched as her mother deflated and nodded. It was so difficult for her to be patient… she herself couldn't believe she had to be here for two days in a row, her arm still stung from all the blood they'd siphoned from her.
And yet again, like some sort of mirror image from the previous day, the door clicked open, and Dr. Hunt entered. But this time there was something different in the way he carried himself, something confident in his step. He glanced up and met London's eyes, smiled briefly, and went to lean against the counter.
"Let me start off by saying that it's not cancer of any sort," he said. "In fact, you're going to be completely fine."
London caught the sound of a relieved sigh from both her parents.
"That's not to say," Dr. Hunt went on, "that there isn't a problem at all. You do have a certain… abnormality. We've encountered it a few times, and while there is still a high degree of uncertainty, we've discovered a way to treat it." Here, his smile faltered. "While you will be perfectly healthy, London, this… may come as something of a shock."
"What?" She tensed, a strand of auburn hair clenched tightly around her fingers.
"Have you heard of something called Porphyria?"
"In laymen's terms, it's known as 'the vampire disease'," Dr. Hunt went on, adjusting his glasses and glancing down at the paperwork he held yet again. "It's a highly misunderstood condition which affected both Mary Queen of Scots and King George III. It is a genetic disease which causes the canine teeth appear to be more prominent, and suggestive of fangs. At other times, it causes depression and affects the brain to produce peculiar behavior. It's probably no surprise that garlic makes all the symptoms worse."
There was a long silence.
"What you have seems to be a mutation of this. Or, more likely, Porphyria is a mutation of it." He cleared his throat a bit, shaking his head. "It truly defies the laws of physics as we understand it. As far as science knows, it's not genetically inherited… Mrs. Jensen, you may want to sit down."
Shockingly, Mrs. Jensen did as she was told, gazing at the doctor as though her entire life depended on it. Mr. Jensen's knuckles had suddenly gone very white, clenching the arm of his chair. London was gazing at him as well, her mouth hanging slightly ajar.
"You're daughter… uh… is gifted. She possesses the ability to absorb and use protoenergy, proto meaning "life-force."
"Get to the point," Mr. Jensen spoke up, his voice hoarse.
"Your daughter is, essentially, a Vampyre."
Hopefully, as cliche as this seems so far, you will stick with us for a few more chapters at least. We promise, it become more original, and, unlike some popular fiction today, does NOT portray vampires as a poor, misunderstood race.
Loved it? Hated it? Don't care one way or the other? We promise plenty of virtual chocolate for reviews. ;-)