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A Bloodsucker's Holiday: Part 3
Published Dec 20, 2010


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Written By

spladoum

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The nearer your destination, the more you're slip-sliding away ...

The nearer your destination, the more you're slip-sliding away ... Medical school was just the way it was in the old days, Matthew discovered. Aggressive classmates who had something to prove to everyone else, uninterested classmates who were there because their folks were rich, starry-eyed classmates who came to med school to save the world but fainted at the sight of blood and wounds.

Of course, there hadn't been GIRLS there in the old days, which probably explained why some of the students were doing so poorly in class. Within six months, the initial entering class of 250 dropped to about 195. By the end of year one, it had shrunk to 171.
But he was still doing quite well; so well, in fact, that many of his peers accused him of cheating on exams and practicals. They had no evidence besides his near-perfect scores and completely sweat-free oral examinations, but the rumors refused to die. He was a fixture in the clubs, he was always showing up on "page 10," the who's who of the night owls. He literally left the hospital and headed straight downtown. How else could he earn such high marks if he wasn't cheating? The whiny blogs and irate message board posts finally caught the attention of the media outlets. Smelling a story, they sent a reporter to the hospital to pelt the directors with questions. This led to a nasty exchange, a big dust-up in front of a camera, more than one person being put on suspension, and Matthew himself receiving a recorded call from the review board on ethics charges.

He told them the same old story: he was a vampire, he was on vacation in a human body, he had in fact already attended medical school, he knew the information legitimately, and he would take any test they could give him to prove it. Nonplussed, the board members backed off.
Renee read about all of these matters, both in the assignment request she received from her bosses, and in the private email she received from Emmy Starr. The editors were itching for a fresh scoop, and Emmy was understandably nervous about having her name associated with any hint of scandal. Renee told her bosses that she would do a bit more digging. She called Emmy personally, and they spoke in whispers, agreeing to meet somewhere secluded and private, away from cameras and salivating paparazzi. "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go," Renee warbled sarcastically as she bent her little jet engine of a car towards a private campground in the woods. The area was guarded, gated, and absolutely off-limits to anyone who was not specifically invited in. Renee parked, went into the dank sauna room and changed into a bikini. Maybe she could squeeze in a bit of sunbathing while she waited. Top o' the morning to ya," Emmy drawled when she emerged. She, too, had changed into something less constricting. "Nice to see your purging is going so well."

"I'm not purging," Renee growled.

"Oh yes you are. You're not that thin naturally ..." Emmy laughed long and hard at the expression of fury on Renee's face. "Calm down, you old bag! I'm just kidding. Let's go inside, it's too hot out here. ... yes, it is. Vampire, remember? And speaking of vampires ..."

"Hold off for a minute," Renee interrupted.
She quickly popped open a bottle of sparkling wine and poured out four small drams before covering it all with orange juice. "There, perfect. Mimosa?"

"Anything to distract you. You really ARE messed up over this, aren't you?"

Renee didn't bother to answer.

"Look, all I know that the board was all set to suspend him from school, and then he volunteered to take a full doctor's exam. I mean, what can you DO with a guy like that? If he's lying, he'd have never offered to do it. If he's telling the truth, a lot--and I do mean a LOT--of his accusers are going to face severe disciplinary action for unethical conduct. Everyone loses. But what else can we do? The reputation of the entire program is on the line."

Renee drank more.
"I gotta admit, I was a little skeptical when I saw his photo. But when I met him in person, no doubt. And then, of course, once he said how old he was, it all made sense--"

"No," Renee cut in, "it doesn't make ANY sense."

"Hush, woman, and listen for a minute. Vampires have eras, same as people. If he's over 300 years old like he claims to be, he was born in the 18th century. That was our 'Eruian' era. Guys from that era stand out like sore thumbs nowadays, you can spot 'em from a mile away."

"YOU can."

"If you'd stop interrupting, that'd be great. Geez! Eruian era guys are notoriously old-fashioned. Their big calling card is that they don't like it when women hit on them. They find it presumptuous. Not that they can't be nice guys, just ... y'know, they take the lead. That's it."
Renee's expression darkened. "And you could spot it ... because you hit on him."

"Yeah, so? He turned me down. I mean, he was totally nice about it. What's with the sour puss, hmm? You a little jealous?"

Renee set her glass down and walked back outside, despite Emmy's protests about 'sunshine' and 'burnt skin' and whatever else that stupid woman was saying. She climbed into the hot tub and kicked back defiantly.
"Ouch ... ouch ... ouch!" Wincing, Emmy crept in after her, on the shaded side, of course. "Really, Renee, what the hell is your problem? I just told you it didn't go anywhere! And besides, you're married!"

"And you're not?"

"Look ..." Emmy began, but didn't finish.

After a few minutes, Renee continued. "My problem is that I all but offered myself to him on a silver platter with an apple in my mouth, and he left me in the middle of the Prosper Room standing alone like the world's biggest fool."

"Oh," Emmy said, cringing. "Oh, you poor thing. But don't feel bad. How could you have possibly known what a guy like him is like? I'm sure Reuben is nothing like him."
"Reuben," Renee said in a shaking voice as she slid over next to Emmy. "Reuben is at some hole-in-the-wall-bar dancing with our maid." She pulled her glasses off and wiped her eyes. Emmy pretended not to see.

"I just keep wondering, how did things get this bad? I mean, we were never madly in love, but at least we recognized that, and we wanted it to work. He needed my money to get started with his acting career, and I needed him so I wouldn't look like some bitter Betty writing nasty stories because I couldn't keep a man around. And we've tried to make it work for all these years. But now everything's just crumbling to pieces."

"Time," Emmy said.

"What?"

"Time," Emmy said again. "It makes things rotten. And if there wasn't much there to begin with ... well, down it all comes."
They went back in the lodge. Renee drank more mimosa while Emmy fiddled with the foosball table. Finally Emmy announced that she needed to go home and take care of some things, and they parted.

Renee found while dressing herself that she had missed calls from Reuben. She listened to the voicemail glumly. He would be going into the office to catch up on some paperwork, so he would be in late.
She deleted the message. Lies, lies, all lies. Ever since he had left acting behind for the political world, he conducted this affair more and more brazenly. Soon it would be her turn to be exposed to the world for everyone to gawk at and cluck over. And she already knew how little sympathy she would receive from any quarter. If anything, she would be an object of open scorn. Renee Littler! An investigative reporter who specialized in exposing businesses, but couldn't even tell that her husband was sneaking around with the maid!

Her stomach hurt.

No.

Her stomach was on fire.
She had known this pain once before, but never before had it been this fierce, this dominating. If she could just get to her car--she'd go straight to the hospital--

The first tottering steps she took were so painful that her knees buckled. She clutched her abdomen. And she screamed.

She screamed over and over again, her cries echoing through the air and mocking her. It was a private park. The gatehouse was over a mile away. No one would hear her.

Over the sound of her own voice, she heard a motorcycle's engine. Then running footsteps. The scent of an aftershave that she had no reason to recognize filled her swollen nose.
"Stop shouting, you're making yourself worse," Matthew ordered roughly. "And move your hands."

When she didn't move quickly enough, he grabbed her arms and pulled them to either side. Before she could catch enough wind to ask him just what in blazes he was doing, he was scanning her torso with a portable vitality tablet. He monitored her pulse, her blood pressure, and temperature in a matter of seconds. She stood there agape, shaking and stunned.

"How did you get in here?"

"Stop talking," he snapped. "I won't tell you again."
He closed the tablet's monitor and began to type rapidly into the keypunch area. After a few more seconds, the machine spit out a receipt. He fumbled through his leather saddlebag, located several vials, and poured their contents into a capsule.

"Here, take this. It'll settle the symptoms enough for you enough to drive. Listen to me, Renee. You are going straight to the hospital, okay? Do not stop anywhere, do not call anyone. Just go. Now."

Every part of her wanted to argue, refuse, question him, something.

She took the pill and swallowed hard. It went down, a solid lump burning away in the cauldron of her stomach.
The terrible pain eased, her legs stopped shaking, and she could breathe again. Despite his orders, she remained where she was, looking down at him. He was re-packing his equipment.

"Are you dense? Did I not just tell you to get medical attention? Go! Now!"

When she still didn't move, he finally stood and came to her, and she clung to him.

"Renee, I'll be right behind you. Please go. Please."
And she eventually did, racing back into town, the motorcycle whining behind her like a persistent mosquito. As for Matthew himself, he made certain that Renee Littler was admitted to the ER before heading back to his side of the city and continuing to pack his things. His lease on this place was up, and he had to be out before 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Which was really too bad considering that it was now 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday. The landlord grumbled a bit, but finally decided to extend his move out date until tomorrow due to his "excellent payment history. " Matthew wasn't sure that paying a lease on time counted as "excellent" but decided not to look that particular gift horse in the mouth. He packed a few more boxes before crashing on the bed. The next few days were a blur. Back-to-back rotations on top of lab work, volunteering at an elder care facility, and trying to set up his new apartment beat him up badly. Plus, the landlord still seemed to expect him to clean the OLD apartment. Matthew offered him the security deposit instead, but that didn't seem to be an acceptable compromise. He slid into a chair, exhausted.

"Hey there."

It was Renee Littler, sitting on the employee lounge where she wasn't supposed to be. She was turning her laptop off.

"Mrs. Littler! Nice to see you when you're not in anaphylactic shock. Stay away from those hornet's nests next time you decide to tan in the middle of the woods, okay?"

"Can it," she snapped. She was trying not to laugh.
"I'm glad you're okay," he said in a softer voice.

"All thanks to you. I knew I was allergic to bug stings, but it's never been that bad. I didn't even realize that's what it was."

"Yeah, well."

"How did you find me? I didn't think anyone else was out there, and the gate guard didn't come."

"I was looking for the student fundraiser barbeque and went the wrong way. I was about to turn around when I heard you screaming."

"There's no way--"

"In the mountains, remember? Everything echoes."

She smiled then.
"... and you have a big mouth."

"You go to hell, Mazza."
Another day dawned on the city.
Matthew loved his new place--absolutely loved it. Very few people were clamoring to get into Civil Suites, so the rent was completely manageable, and thanks to a few friends who did contracting work as a side job, he was able to have the entire unit modernized at a reasonable rate. The other residents who saw his place were incredibly envious what he had made out of a very ugly granny flat. And perhaps best of all, there was something about granite countertops and a flat-screen TV that made automatically made parties that much more awesome. If he wasn't actually hosting one, sometimes people just invited themselves in, turned the music up nice and loud, opened a bottle of something alcoholic to spike the coffee or cocoa, and started raising hell. Instant party!
Of course he remembered that he was still supposed to be working towards that M.D., and well, he was. But ever since he embarrassed the medical board of directors by proving that he actually had all of the practical knowledge that they did and then some, the degree just didn't seem as prestigious. And anyway, he was a relatively young man still, and maybe partying four nights a week was superficial ... but it was fun!

But one night the fun came to a screeching halt. He had way too much to drink and woke up in an alley next to the freeway. Someone had managed to make off with his wallet and his keys. Oops.

They had missed his phone, which was jammed deeply in his pocket. And ringing.
"H-h-hello?" he stuttered through bruised lips.

"Grand Count Mazza, this is Shelbie from HR. How are you, sir? How's your vacation going?"

He chuckled painfully. "Ask me tomorrow. Why are you calling me? I assume something's gone wrong."

"It has, I'm afraid. One of your towns is falling into a sinkhole. You'll need to return sooner than we anticipated, to help re-write the history books."

He rubbed his nose and got a rusty red splotch on his skin. Damn, must have been one hell of a night. "So how much longer do I have here?"

"Well, you were supposed to have at least 30 more human years, but--" He could hear her muffling the speaker. "Grand Count, the town is over half evacuated. At the rate the sinkhole's increasing, we may need you to return in less than a year. So, um, if you have loose ends, maybe you'd better start wrapping them up."
He hung up silently, rubbing his bloody nose. He almost called a cab before remembering that he had been mugged.

Grumbling, he prepared himself to walk home before seeing the little dark red sports car pulling off the main interstate.
"Thank you for bringing me home," he shouted above the running water. There was no answer, but he knew that Renee was still there, lingering in the hall.

One of her contacts at Bridgeport PD had called her to report that one of the patrol officers had seen a man matching Matthew's description stumbling around in the alley behind Plasma, a report that had only gained urgency when they arrested some teenagers with his ID and debit cards. And she had run out of her house at the break of dawn and rushed into town, frantic.

His cash was gone, of course, and so was his physical wallet, but the police had his ID and his cards, and a quick call to the bank set the account to rights. The officers were still looking for his bike.
He turned the water off and went into his bedroom to pull the same clothes back on. Renee refused to look at him. "Why are you putting those clothes on again?"

"Eh. They're not that dirty."

"You were robbed. In those clothes. How can you even stand to wear them?"

He went into the kitchen for coffee. She followed and stood in his way. "The clothes didn't rob me, you nutcase! Why should I be mad at the clothes? Move, I need coffee."

She didn't move.

"Renee, come on. You've been around me when I haven't had coffee. It's an ugly sight. You should move."
"Stupid!" she sobbed explosively. "Stupid, stupid, stupid man!"

"Hey, I resent that! I'm smarter than you, and don't you forget it!"

She was still crying.

"Renee ... aww, come on. Look, no harm, no foul. So I got rolled when I was drunk. It's not a big deal. I'm fine. Not hurt, not ..." His voice trailed off and his smile faded as she met his gaze.

The look in her eyes spoke volumes. Her anguish, her sorrow, her vulnerability. Her heart, all of its stone casing chipped away, hanging there on her sleeve.
"Damn it," he sighed.

And despite direct orders from HR, he made another entanglement.
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bridgiedetteApr 15, 2012

very good and first comment\:cool\:

Wannabee16Mar 25, 2011

\:wub\:\:wub\:  Yahhhhh, I hoped that would happen!!!  \:wub\: \:wub\:  

silvertoraFeb 15, 2011

Sounding good - great work! \:\)

AnnaleighRoseJan 18, 2011

LOVEDDDDDDDD IT! \:\) 

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