Friday, March 17, 2017


After what happened in the advisor's residence, Jonathon found refuge in a boarded up row house in another part of town. There were others there, but they ignored him, adrift in chemically induced dreams more vivid and comforting than any part of life they'd ever know. The vampire quietly settled down in an empty basement closet, waiting for sleep to come, though sleep did not come. He sat there, leaning against the wall and he thought. He saw catacombs... bunk beds for the dead... passage after passage of recumbent moldering bodies. Some stared at the wall, others at the bottom of the platform above. A few turned their skulls toward the passageway, as if greeting (or judging) the occasional visitor who sullied the darkness with their flickering oil lamps. It was as if Jonathon was one of those visitors. He silently walked on for quite a while, too scared to turn around and face the horrors behind him. Then one corpse, a long slumbering woman in an ancient, moldering, lacy gown, turned her eyeless, parchment skinned face toward our vampirino and in a dry whisper said - None bear fools' righteousness more than they who fail to see the fault within themselves.... After that she collapsed into dust....

Then he roused from his stupor, quietly left the basement and walked through the creaking and groaning structure giving a 'vampire's kiss' to all the ruined people resting there. A drop of his enchanted blood passed from his mouth and through the lips of each recipient. Three score heartbeats after the act of acceptance they were restored. All the people got up and left that place, returning to their lives. Did they know who did this? Who cares? It was done and they were well.

But Jonathon wanted to go home. He needed the townhouse in Society Hill. He needed his own surroundings. The sound of that whimpering child haunted him. What memories would she have? One soul's 'good' is another soul's 'evil.' He once heard a saying - History is hard on children.....

Boy, is it ever....

When he got back to Philadelphia, Doctor Franklin was waiting for him. He sat at the granite peninsula in the kitchen, with Edith , the witchy-woman housekeeper and Sarah, Jonathon's vampirina consort, playing Risk.

Franklin said - Diversions calm the heart, dear boy. Come, sit down. We'll talk. As you know, I have no love for the current administration. If the 'Annex' in the Poconos had not been there after what they did to me, well, not to me, but to my complex, I think I would have killed myself....

No, you wouldn't - said Jonathon. You'd have screamed and cried and yelled and ruminated, but 'killed yourself?' No.

Well, you tell me. What would I do? - said the old reprobate...

You'd get even - said the vampirino.

Franklin chuckled and went - BINGO! Was testing you! Knew you'd get it! That's it.....

Then he just grins and sits there....

Do you mind telling me what you've done? - asked Jonathon.

Looking down at the Risk game board, Franklin said - I've just conquered Irkutsk, my Andaluciano, hidalgo friend. King of Siberia! King of Siberia! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

Sarah went - Finally. Game's over. I'm done...... Me, too - said Edith and they began to put all the pieces away.

Then, in a quiet voice, he goes - So, Washington was rough, was it?

Jonathon nods..... Franklin said - Close contact always is. You're a vampire. You're stuck with it (reaches into the pocket of the cardigan he wears over his Philadelphia Eagles sweat shirt and puts a little silver cylinder on the counter), but maybe not.

What is that? - asked Sarah.

A septum plug from a piercing shop. What do you think it is, you saintly vampirina, you? This, or what's in it is an almost perfect weapon. It doesn't explode. It just 'changes' things. And don't ask me to open it. God! That's the last thing you want - went the patriot-scientist.

The others just stared at the small, shiny thing glistening on the granite, so after a few heartbeats Franklin continued - Deep within that protective barrier rests a few micro-grams of the prion that causes Jakob- Creutzfeldt Disease... the human version of Mad Cow. Think of it... a simple scrap of something not really living, not really dead... like you all. Not you, Edith, but 'them' I mean. No cell that comes in contact with any of those lethal agents is in any way chemically changed. They're merely contorted into a slightly different shape. It turns out that, that shape is the wrong shape for normal cerebral functioning. Brains stop working. People die. And it's fast.  We can pinpoint its application, or we can be slightly less discriminate.

And then silence.....

After a bit Jonathon says - Tell me more.

Not now - responds the scientist-statesman. But we will test it overseas first.

Against who? - asks Sarah.

Look at the news, my dear. Can't you figure that out? - went Franklin. And, no, official government channels are not 'in' on this. Well, maybe a few rogues are. But it's essentially just me, myself and I, plus everybody else up at the 'Annex.'

Then he laughed, dropped his head on his chest, as if dead and went 'guhk.'.... A quiet, little 'guhk' noise is Franklin shorthand for mysterious, sudden death. The old reprobate has been responsible for a few of them over the years.

Edith said - Yeah, OK, right. Who wants cold drinks?

Jonathon carefully picked up the silver cylinder and studied it.....

What a game changer.....

<more next time>


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