So, I didn’t plan to do this, but I’ve had some e-mails asking to see a sample of my writing.  So, instead of starting on the next book, I thought I would post a short story that I’m not shopping to any markets.  I think I should mention that if you publish your writing to the internet, many editors won’t look at it. You’ve already given it away for free, so why should they pay you for it?  So be cautious when posting whole, completed work to the internet.

This is the humorous story I referenced in Friday’s post.  I hope it doesn’t ruin my credibility.  🙂  Comments of any variety are, of course, always welcome.

The photo of the sugerholic vamp is by kairin and I found it on Flickr!

Is There A Support Group For This?

Raymond knew he was in trouble when his ear fell off.  The earlier symptoms were easy to ignore: the sluggishness, the increased thirst, and the blurry vision.  But when he held his ear in his hand, he experienced a queer sensation of nausea that he hadn’t known for a century.  Humans lost ears sometimes.  But not vampires.  Never vampires.

It took him over an hour to sew the ear back on and, without the benefit of a mirror, he had no idea what it looked like.  A week later, when it fell off again, he tucked it away in an orange Tupperware.  A few days later, his pinkie finger joined the ear in the plastic container.  Then, a toe.

Raymond Leo was in deep denial, but even he couldn’t ignore the fact that he was falling apart, bit by bit.

It took something truly drastic, a wobble to one of his fangs, to convince Raymond that he needed to seek help.  Breaking a fang would make it harder to eat and eating was Raymond’s primary concern.  It always had been, even when he was mortal.

So, he took his Tupperware and made his way to the Undead Clinic.  Immortality wasn’t insurance against injury so a good physician to the undead was precious.  A wrinkled, sharp-faced immortal, who called himself Dr. Jack, ran the clinic.  Everyone knew him.  The doctor became a vampire at the age of sixty-three.  In life, he ran a private medical practice.  Vampirism hadn’t changed anything for him but his business hours and his diet.

Raymond visited the clinic once before, decades ago, when a feisty human got him in the shoulder with a wooden stake.  And again, about four years back, to get his fangs sharpened.  Raymond walked into Dr. Jack’s waiting room stinking like rotting fruit.  He made the air in that closed-up, overheated, little space as thick as syrup.

Dr. Jack opened the door to the waiting room and looked at Raymond.  “Underweight,” he muttered to no one in particular.  “Cataracts.  Bad color.”  The doctor sniffed the air, grimaced, and crossed the room to open a window.  “Guess you should come on back.”  Raymond nodded once and followed him into the exam room.  “Lost an ear, did you?” the doctor observed.

“And a finger and a toe.”  Raymond peeled back the plastic lid and held up the grizzly display.  The sweet, syrupy odor grew stronger.

The doctor peered at the wound on the side of Raymond’s head.  “Tried to sew it back on?”

“Yes.”

“But it didn’t heal?”

“Obviously not.”

Dr. Jack prodded Raymond’s wound with a crooked finger.  “Looks like the skin around this wound dried out instead of healing,” Dr. Jack said.  “It’s brown and curled like jerky.”  Raymond would have been quite happy not to know that.  “Really, it’s rather fascinating,” the doctor added.

“I’m glad you think so.”

The doctor pursed his lips and his voice became all business.  “When did you fist start noticing a change in health?”

“About a month ago,” Raymond said.

“Are you sleeping normally?  Waking at sunset?”

“I’ve been over-sleeping, actually.”

“And your diet,” The doctor asked, eyeing Raymond’s sunken form.  “Do you feed regularly?”

“Twice a week.”

“Men?  Women?”

“Children, mostly.”  Raymond looked away from the doctor.  He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to say.

Dr. Jack didn’t miss much.  “Why children?” Raymond didn’t answer but the doctor didn’t give up.  “Any specific type of child?”

Raymond fidgeted in his seat.  “They have to smell right,” Raymond finally muttered.

“Right?  Like how?  Clean?  Healthy–”

“No,” Raymond interrupted, the mental image of his wound making him confess.  “Sweet.”

“I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“Sweet,” Raymond said again, this time impatiently. “They smell sweet.”  The memory was enough to make Raymond ache.  “Children are the best.  Sometimes I go after a pregnant female.  And if worst comes to worst, I can usually find one of the fat ones.”

“I see,” Dr. Jack said.  “By sweet, you mean diabetic. Diabetic kids.  Pregnant women with gestational diabetes.  Obese–”

“Whatever,” Raymond interrupted.

“Is that all you eat?”

Raymond shrugged again.

Dr. Jack leveled a stern look at Raymond.  “I think you already know the problem.  All that sugary blood is rotting your tissue.”  Raymond glared at him but the doctor kept lecturing anyway.  “You’re going to have to change your diet if you want to see any improvement.”

“I can’t.”

“Of course you can.  Hunt by health clubs and look for humans with bright eyes and good muscle tone.  Eventually you’ll want to work your way up to vegetarians–”

“I don’t want healthy humans,” Raymond snarled.

The doctor’s tone grew cool.  “What utter nonsense.  You’d better figure out a way to get some low-sugar, low-fat athletes into your diet or next time you come in here you’re going to be carrying more than just fingers and toes in that Tupperware.”  The doctor’s eyes flickered pointedly to Raymond’s crotch and the vampire felt colder than usual.

Raymond bit his lip and took a deep breath.  “Isn’t there something…anything, you could give me?” he asked slowly.

“Like what?”

“Medicine,” Raymond said.  “Treatment.  You’re not going to let me leave like this, are you?  I thought that you were a doctor.”

Dr. Jack’s heavy eyebrows drew together.  He looked more than a little offended.  Then, his face cleared and he seemed to be thinking.  “Stay here,” he said.  He left the waiting room and returned a moment later, handing a vial and a syringe to Raymond.  “It’s insulin.  Take a few units before you feed.  It might help.”

Raymond sniffed the vial and made a face.

“You don’t drink it,” the doctor said, nodding towards the syringe.

Raymond scowled, but he put the vial in his pocket along with the syringe and turned to leave.

“For God’s sake, take your bits,” said Dr. Jack, handing him the plastic container.  Raymond snatched it out of his hands.

The vampire left the clinic and leaned against the pole of a streetlamp.  He thought about what the doctor had said.  If he wanted to slow the rot, he had to change his eating habits.  Switch from sweet, tasty, diabetics to tough, tasteless health-nuts.  It had been a very long time since Raymond had tried to change anything.

A scent wafted on the air.  Raymond lifted his nose and inhaled.  Something sweetly promising made his mouth water.  This part of the city held a couple of hospitals.  They were always good hunting spots for the sweet ones.  He sniffed again.  His body ached for the rush of sugar.

A pounding rhythm distracted the vampire.  Raymond looked up.  A block away, there was a jogger.  Probably a human nurse getting in a little exercise before her shift.  Raymond moved away from the streetlamp, into the shadows.  The jogger was lean, muscular…scent-less.

Raymond watched the jogger.  Her eyes were fixed ahead of her.  She had some sort of MP3 player strapped to her arm, trailing cords to her ears.  If Raymond grabbed her now, the jogger would never hear her coming.

The wind picked up and the sweet, mouthwatering odor tickled his nose again.  He inhaled deeply.  Surely, just one more diabetic wouldn’t kill him.  Raymond let the jogger go by.  Then, he slipped out of the shadows and walked casually towards the sugary scent.  Just one more.  Perhaps the insulin would help.  And if it didn’t, well, nobody lived forever.

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