HEART OF VAMPIRE
by Thomas A. Peever
Chapter 1: Carnal Lust
COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND, FEBRUARY 1940
Dr. Evan Childs adjusted his spectacles, stretched latex gloves over his liver-spotted hands and peered over his table at the perfect specimen. Under an overhead lamp, a muscular, young man lay on the operating table, hooked up to assisted breathing. His Majesty's Royal Air Force had sent this former paratrooper, Private Gregory Herod, to Childs for the V-Program after a spinal cord injury from a jump exercise paralyzed him. Herod's name would be wiped from all public records the moment surgery began.
The operation would either heal him, or just as likely, kill him. One thing was for certain, though: it would not be a pleasant experience. It was almost kinder to leave him paralyzed, but as soldiers said, orders are orders. Childs only hoped his assistant, the fresh face around here, Dr. Caulfield, had used ample anesthesia today.
He grabbed a black marker and drew a dotted line between the pectorals of the patient, admiring the poor soul’s physique. It was a damn shame for looks like these to be wasted on a cripple.
Childs cupped his hand. "Pump!"
"Yes, doctor!" came a familiar voice from the hall.
The bright-eyed Dr. Caulfield wheeled a clunky monstrosity into the operating room double time, streaking past the soldier standing on duty who lifted the bayonet of his Lee-Enfield just enough so that Caulfield wouldn't gouge his eye out on the way by. Childs flashed his assistant an approving smirk veiled by a surgical mask. He reminded Childs of himself when he was a young man; back when he was the spectacled, but spirited brown-noser and second pair of hands to the head surgeons at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary.
Childs went through the procedure one last time in his mind. Though risky, a vampire blood transfusion was a simple procedure. The most important thing was the strength of the subject’s body and mind. First, the heart had to be slowed to near flatline and drained of human blood. Though vampire blood cells were cannibalistic, and would wipe out any human blood cells, draining the patient first minimized trauma, streamlined the process, and saved the cleaners from a nightmarish amount of red-stained linens.
Caulfield handed Childs the hypodermic. With a stabbing motion, Childs stuck the suction machine hypo into the patient's chest. It made a satisfying pop as Childs punctured Herod's breastplate and found his heart. Caulfield attached the machine`s pump hose, and with the flick of a switch, the machine lurched into action. Viscous blood filled the tube.
Childs turned to his other assistant, Dr. Deloitte, who stood silent behind the EKG monitor.
"BPM?" Childs asked.
"78 and falling,” Deloitte replied. He had a thick, Belgian accent, which most people assumed was French. “Blood pressure is optimal. You may begin the procedure momentarily."
Deloitte had straight, jet black hair, a beak of a nose, and an air of seriousness about him. Childs, in their short time together, had found him to be top-notch. He seemed to have infinite knowledge of human anatomy. Probably cost the government a pretty penny too; no expense spared for the government's new toys, the V-Units.
Once the specimen's heart had nearly stopped, Childs got to work. With a scalpel, he made an 11 centimeter slice down Herod's chest, following his marker trail. His hands, though wrinkled and arthritic, never failed him when called upon for surgery.
Childs’ eyes darted to Caulfield. "Rib spreader."
Clenching his teeth, Childs pried open Herod's sternum, revealing the naked heart of the desperate, and perhaps misinformed, volunteer. Childs had to have a visual on the heart to make sure the patient’s coronary arteries didn’t burst from the upcoming transfusion. Herod’s heart glistened, moist and vivacious.
It was time to see if the host was strong enough to accept the blood of a vampire. Caulfield and Childs exchanged a knowing glance and the young assistant wheeled in a bag marked "V PLASMA" on a piece of masking tape.
Ready for the worst, Childs had Caulfield stand by with adrenaline, should Herod slip into a coma, and extra sedatives, should the opposite happen. As he flicked the IV needle, popping any air bubbles, Childs reminded himself that Herod wanted this, though he doubted the soldier knew the full ramifications of what could happen.
With a steady grasp, Childs pushed the needle into Herod's heart. Next, he had to restart it. Defibrillation had caused complications in his previous operations, so Childs cupped the organ and massaged it. The heart quivered for a few seconds before sputtering into action, like the motor of an old motorbike.
Herod's eyes shot open wide. He let out a gurgling cry as his heart beat fast and hard. The patient’s arteries pulsed, but didn’t burst. Childs peered at the dancing organ with a sick sense of awe and fear. He could feel it. This was the one.
"Doctor!" Deloitte's shout brought Childs back to his senses. "BPM is 110 and rising!"
The soldier aimed his rifle at Herod as he writhed in agony on the operating table. Childs stood between his patient and the gun.
"Stand down! Don't you dare harm him!”
Luckily for Herod, and even luckier for Dr. Childs, fear froze the guard in place, if only for a few moments. Deloitte rushed over from the monitor to help Caulfield pin the thrashing subject.
Childs yanked the rib spreader free before someone lost an eye. "Caulfield, what are you waiting for? Sedate him!"
The veins on Herod's arms and neck bulged as the cannibal plasma surged through him. After wrestling Herod down, Caulfield jabbed him with the sedatives. Herod's eyeballs rolled into the back of his head, and he slumped down, unconscious once more. The soldier lowered his rifle and fell back against the door. His face grew a few shades paler and a drop of sweat trickled from his forehead down his nose.
Childs braced himself against the wall, breathing heavily. "The V plasma has fused with the subject."
Within a few minutes and without the surgeons touching it, the gaping wound in Herod’s chest began to close itself. The patient's ribcage folded back over his heart, eventually encasing it once more. The incision Childs had made was sealed, as if an invisible welder had taken a blowtorch to him.
Childs took off his mask and grinned at his fellow surgeons. He rapped on Herod's chest with his knuckles. "A complete heal. No bone or tissue damage."
With some difficulty, he rolled the patient over on his right side, and ran his fingertips along Herod’s spinal cord. The vertebrae were perfectly aligned and undamaged.
“All of his vitals appear stable,” Caulfield agreed. “On the other hand, I think I just had a heart attack.”
A nervous, group laugh escaped their mouths. However, there was once last thing Childs had to be sure of. He gulped as he stuck a latex covered thumb in Herod's mouth, peeling his top lips back. Sure enough, predatory fangs jutted out from his bright, pink gums.
Childs cleared his throat. “Gentlemen, the operation is a success. Allow me to introduce you to Vampire Unit 17.”