To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 13
Although the Curious brothers wanted nothing more than to storm the residence of the Grand Vampire that very night and whisk Charity away, they were smart enough to realize that to do so unprepared might just well be the last thing they ever did. Nervous had told them about how the edifice was protected, and they had no way of breaching such fortifications. So, using their better judgement, they made their way back home, their hearts heavy.
“What are we going to do?” Vidcund asked as they collapsed on the couch.
“I don’t know, Vid,” Lazlo said helplessly. “I just don’t know.”
"I just hate to think of Charity there," Vidcund said. "With him. God, what he could be doing to her..."
“Nervous said she wouldn’t become a vampire until she fell in love with him and married him,” Pascal mused. “but surely she wouldn’t! I mean, she knows how I feel about her... ” He caught Vidcund’s harsh gaze and swallowed. “...um... how we feel about her. Don’t you think that would prevent her from falling in love with a monster?”
“Well, you have a point,” Vidcund said hopefully, but Lazlo shook his head.
“There’s no guarantee the Grand Vampire is a monster to her,” he said. “In fact, he’s probably just the opposite. That book I brought home talks about how the heads of the vampire clans are noted for their ability to mesmerize, they are extremely charming, and they are almost always very good looking. Need I go on?”
“Thanks, Lazlo.” Vidcund said sarcastically. “That makes me feel a lot better.”
“I’m sorry, Vid,” Lazlo said emphatically, “but we have to prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that Charity could become one of them, whether we like it or not. In fact... ” He stopped, unable to continue.
“What?” Pascal prompted. “In fact, what?”
“Well,” Lazlo said slowly. “The way I see it, she’s going to have two choices in this. Either marry that Grand Vampire and become a vampire herself, or get killed. Think about it, guys. Do you really think if she rejects him that he’s just going to say, ‘Oh, okay...sorry,’ and let her go?” Lazlo shook his head. “No. He’d turn her into that night’s main course and go out looking for someone else.”
They all three were silent for a while as they thought about that. Which was worse?
Vidcund was simply beside himself. He loved Charity, and just as he found out she felt the same way about him, he had driven her from this house with his own stupidity, and now this had happened to her. He felt as though it was entirely his fault.
“No, I won’t let it happen.” he muttered out loud to himself, although Pascal and Lazlo heard.
“Let what happen?” Pascal asked him.
"I won’t let her be lost to us,” Vidcund said . “I can’t! Listen, if she can be made a vampire, shouldn’t there be a way she could be un-made? Some way to turn her back human if she does become one of them? What do you think?"
Lazlo dove for The True Mythology and began to leaf through it, while Pascal stared hard at Vidcund, contemplating what he had just said.
The sun rose, filing the house with light, and Pascal blinked and rubbed his eyes as he answered.
“I guess it would depend on exactly what has been altered in their bodies,” he murmured thoughtfully. “What genomes have been changed, or how the DNA structure has been re-formed.” He pressed his forehead with his palm. “If there was only a way we could get our hands on some kind of tissue sample.”
“Well, what about Nervous?” Vidcund asked. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind parting with a little of his bodily fluids and cheek scrapings in the interest of science.”
“That’s it then.” Lazlo said, closing the book with a muffled snap. “We’ll go see Nervous tonight and get some samples. This book says vampires can’t be changed back into human form, so whatever we decide to do, we’re on our own.” He yawned and blinked tiredly. “But right now, we all need to go to bed.”
“We can’t go to bed,” Vidcund protested. “We have to work, and I’m sure Jenny wants to know what to do with the children today.”
“Fuck work,” Pascal said shortly. “... and I’ll call Jenny and ask her if she can keep the children indefinitely. I’m sure she will.” He gazed at his two brothers levelly over his glasses. “I have a feeling we’re going to be extremely busy for quite a while.”
“Hold still, Nervous.” Pascal said with exasperation. “Stop being such a baby! Just look away if you don’t want to see the needle.”
“I’ll still feel it though!” Nervous whimpered. “Do I have to give a blood sample, too? I mean, isn’t that...um... other sample enough?” his blush was evident even on his pallid skin.
“Yeah and I don’t recall you having such a problem getting that one out to us.” Lazlo joked, grinning. “What were you in the bathroom for, a whole two minutes? Methinks practice has been making perfect.”
“Stop it, Laz.” Pascal said quietly, clicking a phlebotomists' tube into the syringe and watching it quickly fill with blood that looked way too light and felt way too cool. He withdrew the vial and slid another one gently in its place. “But remind me again why we needed that particular sample?”
“Reproductive cells are unique,” Vidcund answered. “They are the only cells in the body that contain just half of the DNA. Generally, if a genetic problem is present, it can be found in the reproductive cells the easiest, so it’s best to start there if possible.”
“Makes sense,” Pascal agreed, arranging his new collection of tubes filled with Nervous’ blood. He pressed a wad of cotton over the oozing hole in Nervous’ arm and told him to hold his arm upright for a few minutes. Nervous looked extremely faint, but did as he was instructed.
Pascal stripped off his latex gloves and dug into his briefcase. “Here,” he said to Nervous, pulling out a bottle of ferrous sulfate. “I don’t know if this will help you with your cravings, but it can’t hurt.”
“What is it?” Nervous asked, reaching for the bottle.
“Keep your arm elevated!” Pascal said. “They're iron pills. Take two per day... ”
“... and call me in the morning,” Lazlo sang teasingly. “Oh wait, you can’t.”
“God, will you please be serious, Lazlo?” Pascal said in an irritated voice, then turned back to his friend. “I don’t know if they will help, Nervous, but like I said, they couldn’t possibly hurt.”
“Okay,” Nervous said. He had been able to control himself thus far during the brothers’ visit, but was starting to feel some hunger pains. “Are you guys finished now?”
“One more thing,” Vidcund said, advancing on Nervous with a long cotton swab. Nervous recoiled.
“Where are you going to put that?” he asked in horror.
Vidcund smiled. “Open your mouth. I’m just going to take a sample of the cells on the inside of your cheek. Won’t hurt a bit.”
Nervous did as he was told. Vidcund sealed the swab in a plastic bag and stowed it away. “Well, I think that’s it.”
“Good.” Nervous said in a relieved voice. “Because I... ”
“Yeah, yeah...” Lazlo interrupted lazily. “We get it. That whole, ‘I might have to kill you’ thing.” But he smiled and patted Nervous on the shoulder companionably as he and his brothers stood up to leave, gathering their samples and equipment.
“Thank you, Nervous.” Vidcund said, “These samples are exactly what we need.”
Pascal hugged his friend. “Remember to try those iron pills,” he advised.
“I will.” Nervous said. “I hope you guys can find whatever you’re looking for.”
“So do I.” Pascal said. They hadn’t told Nervous they were hoping to find a way to reverse the vampirism as they didn’t want to raise false hopes, but it had occurred to Pascal that if they did create a cure for Charity, it would also work on anyone else who was afflicted.
“C’mon guys,” Lazlo said, “... the night is still young.”
“What do you mean?” Vidcund asked, lugging the case with the samples down the steps. It was heavy from all the ice packs inside.
“Let’s get started on all this tonight. Why wait?”
“Well, perhaps because the lab is closed, locked and won't be unlocked until morning.” Pascal said testily.
Lazlo grinned. “Not so much." He held up a thin black magnetic card. "I swiped a key.”
To Be Continued...