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882. NuPlanetOne - 1/13/2009 9:03:52 PM

And so.... Jen, here is a beginning for our Vamp story. Comments first, or just spit out the next installment. We will need some technical fiction perhaps, so you may pass the next part off, then jump in thereafter. Thoughts?

Perpetual Darkness

“It is said that the mutation occurred as the result of a transplant. A young woman dying of leukemia received bone marrow from a Changer just a mutation removed from becoming a 'Perp.' Now, as you may or may not know, a Changer is a vampire that has a limited hereditary ability to stay 'lit,' as it is described, perpetually for several days before the need to go dark and re-enter Death-mode, or 'Coffed.' No one is exactly sure when or why the Coffed mutated into the 'Un-coffed,'(Un-coffined) but one thing is for certain, once a vampire becomes a Changer, it will eventually become a Perp. That is, in a perpetual state of being lit. Instead of following and fearing the sun, it follows and re-enters the darkness. Why we are here today, of course, is to discuss the recent claims that some of these Perps seem to have the ability to transport west to the nearest night zone, somehow during the exact second before dawn where the sun will break the horizon. So far, it appears that they are limited only to jumps back and forth to the point from which they could actually see the horizon, but the physics of it is why I have invited Dr. Kronen here today to try to conjecture precisely as to how this 'transport' ability can be accurately understood and explained. I will then turn the discussion back to how the creatures can rejuvenate without a need to un-plug and go Coffed. Dr. Kronen, sir, if you will?” Brief applause escorts Dr. Kronen to the lectern.

883. judithathome - 1/14/2009 6:12:28 PM

(Nice start...one suggestion for more ease of reading...paragraphs, please.)

884. webfeet - 1/15/2009 7:37:08 PM

NuPlanet,
I just adored your post. Honestly, you should really be writing the great foodie vampire story, or anything else on the subject of dandelion greens, sicilian widows..(i simply can't tell you how delightfully vivid that image was) or any other offal-related subject. Your natural style is always extremely entertaining.

Frankly, 'True Blood' is porn with barbecue sauce. I just think it sucks. And the sociological commentary dimension that is offered by way of elevating this estranged genre for Anne Rice refugees, has always seemed rather thin to me..as thin as the papery thin neck of an anemic tween, starved of "true literature."

I will check on the vamp camp later.

885. Jenerator - 1/16/2009 3:20:42 AM

"Zank you all, ples be seated, " Dr. Kronen said in a thick German accent.

He eyed the audience of young academics who had gathered to hear him speak in the dimly lit underground meeting room.

"Ze Apostles, eh?" he thought to himself.

Cambridge had been the University he had wanted to attend as a young man, but his parents had kept Kronen home and insisted he attend the University of Tübingen.

Tonight's secret meeting thrilled Kronen, and at the same time made him sick to his stomach. He never felt safe talking about Sophie and the Changers, even though he wore the cross underneath his shirt.

886. judithathome - 1/16/2009 2:27:15 PM

as thin as the papery thin neck of an anemic tween, starved of "true literature."

So you watched and got nothing of the social commentary linking it to gay culture, corruption in politics, small-town rigidness, or anything like that? Or rather, thinking that was considerably less than "meaty"?

I guess this "tween"...'tween AARP and the grave, steeped in true literature and the schlock we all delve into from time to time, was impressed enough to take it for what it Alan Ball was trying to convey. Silly me.

887. webfeet - 1/17/2009 7:02:45 AM

Nuplanet, I didn’t get a chance to respond to your post on Julia. Cherish that photo. I would do anything to hear that distinctive voice in person, to this day I can’t see a rolling pin without thinking of her. Part of my mid-day pause, those solitary moments of happiness in the kitchen, are inspired in part by her. The genius of her kitchen repetroire is its simplicity; with miracle ingredients you can find in the homeliest of pantries, it’s surprising what magic a little store bought bouillon cube and a hunk of leftover pork butt can yield.

That said, Navettes à la champenoise is a lovesong to the turnip: yes, a lovesong. with mandolins and tender weeping pauses over its syrupy consistency. Particularly good if you're a root vegetable cross-dresser, you could totally add a parsnip or two.

Today I made a lemon curd cake to celebrate the bracing bold flavors of January. Lemon curd is brazen: lemon curd is so ‘do you want me? Yeah?” It was a little too ow, lemon curd. You’re going to have to be a little less lemon. I preferred my version with buttermilk; but I only had sour cream.

Guys, thanks for the vampire trib; but it’s getting slightly disjointed and weird, like we’re twelve and playing vampire mind games in my parents dark living room and jenerator is speaking through a styrofoam cup attached with a string à la homemade walkie talkie to nuplanet..and so on…

888. Jenerator - 1/18/2009 1:07:18 AM

It's Nu's fault. I wanted it be sexy and funny and he had to make it all cerebral and well written!

889. Jenerator - 1/18/2009 1:09:33 AM

PS - Yours truly with her fabulous new best friend Nigella!

890. alistairConnor - 1/18/2009 2:32:08 PM

What nobody at the Cambridge seminar knew at that time, was that this transport ability had been extended by certain Perps, with the involuntary help of second parties. Alistair's case is the first which has been unequivocally documented.

Whatever the active principle of the infection should prove to be -- virus, bacteria, amoeba, or some esoteric life principle from beyond science, as many, inevitably, still claim -- it can be diagnosed by physico-chemical blood analysis. It is still controversial whether the "Changer" and "Perp" phases can be distinguished by this means, but frankly the question is rather academic, as comportmental clues are generally quite sufficient.

The origin of Alistair's infection cannot be traced. The contemporary vogue for vampire fiction and films provide ample cover for individuals of idiosyncratic complexion and dress; quite likely, it was while picking up his daughters and nieces from the vampire flick at the mall in Auckland that the targeted infection occurred.

891. alistairConnor - 1/18/2009 2:50:01 PM

The first of the return flights, overnight from Auckland to Hong Kong, went about as well as these things ever go : they all got at least some sleep. Rather than hanging around the airport from 6am to 1pm, they headed into town to visit HK Central and the Peak Tram.

Wandering around in SoHo as the city started to emerge from night, Alistair suddenly sat down hard on the pavement and hunched over. He described it later as being suddenly and entirely emptied of all force and intelligence; his sensory perceptions were unimpaired, but he was, for a couple of minutes, deprived of all his motor and cognitive means.

The girls did not panic, were calm and supportive, and soon he was on his feet again. The younger girl later claimed that she saw a cloaked figure emerge from a nearby darkened doorway, but she has always had a well-developed imagination.

The rest of the return journey, Hong Kong-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Lyon, was apparently uneventful. In fact, unbenownst to both, Alistair and Dr Kronen crossed paths in a busy Frankfurt restroom, Kronen entering a stall thirty seconds after Alistair had left it. It was long thought that respiratory aerosols were the prime path of transmission; later research has shown that they are hardly infectious at all, but that skin contact with other bodily fluids can be exceedingly virulent. So most likely, Kronen caught it off the toilet seat.

892. alistairConnor - 1/18/2009 3:06:19 PM

Having got home and to bed at midnight, Alistair was up before dawn, feeling fine, but unsurprisingly not adjusted to the cumulative twelve time zone changed. He was slouched on the couch channel-surfing when it happened again.

A few minutes later he was fine again, and didn't know what to make of the whole thing. Logically he should have seen a doctor, but he was supposed to be working that day, and reluctant to take the route of sick leave after an extended holiday.

And in fact, he was fine all day. The following day it became clear that he had the flu -- pretty much inevitable, as his entourage in Lyon had all had it during his absence -- and, although that certainly did not explain the Hong Kong event, he gave it no more thought.

893. Jenerator - 1/18/2009 5:01:47 PM

Dr. Kronen, however, was not fine. After that quick layover in Frankfurt, he noticed a sudden onset of burning on his buttocks - a feeling he was all too familiar with during his quest to find the origin of the infection that caused the change in the Perps and his beloved Sophie.

He had hoped that the London flight would be quick, but the delays forced the plane to sit on the tarmac an extra 2 hours. Dr. kronen's burning intensified, and at one point he was afraid that perhaps he, too, had been infected intentionally by a Changer.

His mind searched through all of the faces he had seen that day, and one stood out in particular. He was an average guy with soft grey hair and a nice red sweater, but there was something definitely sinister in the way he glared at Dr. Kronen when he left the stall in the Frankfurt airport restroom. Perhaps this mystery man was the Perp who had been following him since his stay in Vladivostok. That same, impenetrable stare was certainly familiar in the men's restroom.

Dr. Kronen knew he needed to drink some of his homemade antiserum, but the vial he had smuggled it in exceeded the 2 oz size limit that was currently forbidden on planes.

894. judithathome - 1/18/2009 5:35:49 PM

(Jen, great shot! And great STORE!)

895. alistairConnor - 1/19/2009 7:57:19 PM

"Good morning, Dr Cascu!"
"Good morning, you're looking..." Cascu didn't finish the sentence.
"Yes I know : nice tan, but I'm looking terrible. Divine retribution for taking a summer holiday in the middle of winter : I got the flu from hell."

Alistair had been sad when his previous doctor had retired, and initially rather suspicious of her young Rumanian replacement. It seems young French doctors are too lazy or too greedy to take on a little country practice; whereas the miracle of the European Union opens the jobs up to all comers, as long as they speak French. Hence the veritable onslaught of Rumanian doctors in rural France: it helps, perhaps, that their principal alternative is a career at 300 euros a month in the Rumanian health system.

And Cascu, in any case, was a goodun. Alistair had grown to respect and trust him. Always he would go the extra distance, look at the big picture, ask probing questions unrelated to the original subject of the visit. Alistair liked that.

Most doctors would now go through a perfunctory "Say aaah" routine, then write a scrip for four or five palliatives, sign the sick leave form, then ching ching, next please! Cascu, he knew, would not let him off that easily. So he stretched his aching body out on the examination table.

But the examination was over rather quickly, as it happened. Examining Alistair's skin, the doctor's eyes narrowed, then widened, and he took a step backward, and asked if he had experienced any symptoms other than the classic flu ones.

His tone and manner were still friendly and professional, but something there conveyed a clear subliminal message to Alistair : something like "please don't be alarmed, but you're in really deep shit now." As he related the strange "jetlag" episodes in Hong Kong and Lyon, Cascu broke out a couple of surgical masks, put one on, and gave the other to Alistair. Then he filled the air of the consulting room with an antiseptic aerosol spray. At least now we don't need to keep pretending to smile, thought Alistair.

"So, what's it all about Doc?" Cascu explained that there was a need for specialised blood tests. "I don't think they can be done in France. Germany perhaps. Your girlfriend : you live with her in town during the week, yes? Have you ... excuse me, have you made love since your return? Yes? Then she will need to be tested too. And I'm putting you both on a month's sick leave."

"WHAT!" Alistair hit the roof. "You're going to have to fill in a few more details before I can agree to that!"

"In the first instance, you should both be quarantined until we get a blood diagnosis. I suggest you should go to your place, out here in the country. I really don't want to be mysterious, but I promise I will tell you more tonight, I'll make a housecall."

Well that's something, thought Alistair. A doctor in France making a housecall. Wonders will never cease.

896. alistairConnor - 1/19/2009 9:43:46 PM

Sorin Cascu spent most of the afternoon on the phone to Rumania. He was something of a rarity among his generation of Rumanian doctors, in that he actually had a detailed working knowledge of the medical aspects of ... the subject. It had been in decline for decades at the Bucarest medical school, becoming a little-chosen optional subject, and had been completely scrubbed from the curriculum during the European Union normalization process. For this is the other side of the coin concerning freedom of movement for European professionals : the body of knowledge imparted must be standardized, from the Atlantic to the Urals (or nearly. To the Carpathians, anyway.) So European committees lop off any trace of folk remedies, esoterism, empiricism or anything else not "rigorously science-based".

However a couple of the older professors continued to teach the subject, not exactly clandestinely, but informally. A Transylvanian himself, Sorin had considered it an essential part of his medical education, and attended all the evening classes, despite his heavy workload. In his fifth year, they were denounced by the modernists for misuse of university premises, and were obliged to switch to private venues. This had created no great logistical difficulties, since there were fewer than a dozen students in the class, out of a cohort of six hundred. But it had certainly facilitated the development of his relationship with Dumitra...

897. alistairConnor - 1/20/2009 12:08:23 PM

Dumitra! Their love had seared his soul, and, as a wise friend had noted, perhaps made his heart inaccessible to ordinary women.

Among the study group, she was always the most engaged, inquisitive, and as Sorin soon realised, her interest extended well beyond the medical aspects of ... the phenomenon. She was involved with other groups on the subject, not medical at all, and tried to take Sorin with her on her journey of discovery. He resisted firmly, wishing to stick within the medical domain. She interpreted this as weakness and fear, and began to despise him a little.

The final betrayal and break-up happened days before their final exams. This timing is probably what saved him from the depths of howling despair : discipline, rigour and hard work enabled him to shut her into a tiny corner of his mind.

Alistair's case brought her back in full force, by association. He persuaded himself that she could be a useful resource in his research.

Professor Albu, his old mentor, was delighted to hear from him, and eager to help. He remembered Dumitra, of course, but had no news of her since medical school. He gave Sorin a number of contacts among those of the medical profession who were still engaged in the surveillance and control of ... the phenomenon.

For the centuries-old networks were breaking down. Part of the social fabric through the centuries of feudal and imperial regimes, the struggle against vampires had continued, in one form or another, throughout the twentieth century. Of course, the Communists had attempted to wipe out this superstition, subjecting exorcists and potion-brewers to severe re-education; but the Party itself had been infiltrated to the highest level, and following a narrowly-averted coup d'état, they changed course and medicalized the phenomenon. By discreet sanitary measures, they locked down vampirism to tolerable levels.

Now, only the older professionals took the business seriously, and had no funding. Although official statistics were no longer collected (move along, nothing to see here), there were clear indicators that the phenomenon was on the rise.

898. alistairConnor - 1/20/2009 12:27:32 PM

[Sorry for being The Me! I was severely jetlagged when I read Nu's post, and it sparked something. And now I'm sitting around having the flu, with nothing in particular to do... I'll try to leave openings for others.

Perhaps we need to decide on a common thread for the story? An emerging worldwide epidemic of vampirism and how it was defeated, or a love story, or ???

Sorry Nu, on re-reading it's clear I've fkuced up the science already. The infectious thing can't propagate the Changer status, obviously, which appears to be hereditary? It must be a third, ancillary, category, of Enablers. Our out on this is that medical science cannot distinguish between the three categories through blood analysis. Perhaps you could take up the technical fiction aspect?]

899. alistairConnor - 1/20/2009 4:11:39 PM

[OK how's this for the overall plot : a conspiracy of vamps, perhaps California based, are propagating the Enabler epidemic in a plot for world domination. Nobody knows yet what the prognosis is for Enablers, nor how exactly the Perps can use or control them...
Not all vamps are on board with the conspiracy : some are traditionalists, pining for good old blood-sucking feudalism. Others are new-age types, wishing we could all accept our differences and just get along (Sophie's group?). Plenty of room for loners, renegades, confused adolescents etc.
Meanwhile, individuals and groups who become aware of the menace need to network and organize to overcome it...
What do y'all think?
For a vampire hater I'm taking it all far too seriously. That's what the flu will do for you.]

900. NuPlanetOne - 1/20/2009 9:34:46 PM

alistair...

By all means, you have moved the story along quite nicely! It does seem more logical to write bigger chunks at one time, as the muse dictates. And your plot outline will expand mine, but we must not lose sight of the transport aspect. And don't worry about being too serious, we can have a Bela Logosi impersonator leading a Vamp cult fan club behind the whole thing, or something equally outrageous to tie in the traditionalists. And definitely some new fangled excorcism-ish rite totally untraditional. Anyway, you are on a roll. Carry on!

901. Jenerator - 1/21/2009 2:50:55 AM

I guess I am just invisble!

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