The Vampire and the M.D

an excerpt

Prologue

Somewhere in the Middle East 2035AD

The tall man dressed in the long black robes of his faith descended the steps that would take him to a secret place, a sacred place, the entrance of which, long sealed by time had been laid bare by the blast from an allied bomb. Abir El-Hashem had discovered this place and had realized at once from the tales of his childhood what it was and what it could mean for him. His chest had throbbed with anticipation laced with fear, for here was the answer to everything he desired. Vengeance on the infidels that had destroyed his country and proclaimed victory in the War that had raged for ten long years, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers alike. El-Hashem had immediately sworn the two men accompanying him to silence. No one but them must know of what they had discovered. They alone must have the power to make the infidels pay.

Lifting the scroll he carried in one hand and a flashlight in the other, he surveyed the ancient words that would bring forth the one who could change the world--and destroy those who had invaded this land and laid it to waste. Breathing deeply, he began to chant in a language long forgotten, just like the god he now sought to bring into the light.

"Horam! I bid thee rise. Thy people need thee in their hour of darkness. Oh, great Horam, Lord of all things on earth, hear my plea... arise and bring the infidels to their knees..."

***

Somewhere in the bowels of the earth, deeper even than that of the Demonworld, something stirred. An ancient being, older than the sands of the desert, forgotten to mankind for eons, forgotten even by the gods that ruled after him. Horam... Legend had it that he once reigned supreme over gods and man alike, over all beings, demons, vampires, all that filled the darkness and were the stuff of folklore and nightmares. And now, from a millennium of sleep, he awoke to the call in his ancient tongue, the intoned words filling him with new life. He awoke to the awareness that all other gods had been swept away, leaving him to rule alone once again. History may have forgotten him, those who had once knelt in obeisance might be no more, but the mad ambition that had driven him to kill those closest to him all those centuries ago, still burned like a festering greed inside him.

Horam, Ruler of the Underworld, Demigod of Darkness, answered the call. He would rise again, determined to once more strike terror into the hearts of men and women. Ruling by any other means was unacceptable to him. Death and destruction would be the price for those who questioned his authority. The world may have moved on, faiths and beliefs may have changed, but Horam would be the one to bring humanity to heel, and all those who would spurn him would die. Be they human or immortal, they would feel the fury of his displeasure should they not bow the knee.

Unfortunately, Horam was not the only one to awaken...



Chapter One

Pasadena, California, 2035 AD.

It had been one of those grueling days at the hospital and Dr. Blake Farnon was looking forward to mixing himself a nice strong vodka martini when he eventually got back to his apartment on El Molino. Glancing at his watch he noted that at least the rush hour traffic would have more or less dissipated by the time he hit the road. The 210 was always busy but less so after eight p.m. After a ten-hour day, being stuck in traffic on the way home was something he liked to avoid at all costs. One of the reasons he preferred the ten to eight shift when it rolled around on the hospital's flexible schedule rotation.

At thirty-two, Blake had only been in civilian medical practice for two years after completing his residency training and passing his Medical Licensing Exam in California. It had been a hectic twelve years since graduating from high school, but looking back he wouldn't change a thing. He loved what he did, and according to colleagues he'd worked with, it showed. Yes, maybe his social life had suffered some during college. Blake wasn't the type to party hearty when exams loomed ahead, or when the rigors of residency demanded his time and attention. He'd seen one or two of his friends fall by the wayside from a too active party agenda. His parents had given so much of themselves throughout his college years, and he wasn't about to let them down by dropping out and pursuing a less taxing and ultimately less rewarding career.

Toward the end of the Middle East War, Blake had been recruited and sent as part of a medical team to Syria where American and allied troops had at last gained control, even while they suffered heavy losses. Blake had been shocked by the carnage. No other word could describe the enormity of death and destruction he'd witnessed while caring for both troops and civilians. The memory of it still made him shudder. It didn't pay to dwell too much on the past and the horrors he'd seen thousands endure.

Saying good night to Sam Burnett, his relief, and the duty nurses, he made his way across the parking lot to his car... his one indulgence ... a sleek 2034 Audi X5 in cobalt blue with cream leather interior. It had cost him a bundle, but he'd justified it by reminding himself he didn't throw his money around dining out in expensive restaurants or carousing with friends in high-end bars. Can't even remember my last carouse, he thought wryly as he climbed into the vehicle and turned the ignition. The satisfying purr of the engine still made him smile and he wondered when he'd get over his love affair with his new toy.

Better than the love affair that a year ago had crashed and burned leaving him determined to never, ever give his heart to another soul, no matter how beautiful or charming that soul might appear to be. Beautiful and charming had a nasty habit of morphing into ugly and mean, in spirit anyway. Blake tapped the steering wheel impatiently.

Not going that route, tonight. No dwelling in the past, thinking of ass-wipe Jay, and making yourself all grumpy and depressed.

He needed that martini even more at that moment.

The road ahead through a smart residential section of Pasadena was well lit and pretty much devoid of traffic so he made good time to the 210 freeway. It too presented no traffic snarls and the light at the top of his exit ramp where he turned right was green. He glanced at his dashboard clock. Wow...only ten minutes since I left the clinic. Some kind of record and-- "Shit!" He swerved to the side as something smacked the front of the car.

What the hell was that? Christ, did I hit someone?

He rammed the car into park, threw the door open and jumped out. At first, he couldn't see anything in the dark, and then on the grass that bordered the road lay what looked like a body. "Oh, my God..." He hurried over and knelt by the prone figure. It was a man, dressed in black jeans and a T-shirt, also black. Blake ran his hands over the man's limbs searching for signs of breakage. Carefully, he turned him over onto his back. Dark brown hair fanned out around a strikingly handsome, if somewhat pale, face. Blake placed his hand over the man's heart. He could feel it beat but it seemed unnaturally slow. Better get him to a hospital...

He pulled his cell from his coat pocket and almost jumped out of his skin when his wrist was gripped by cool but strong fingers. "I'm just calling for an ambulance," he gasped as he stared into the man's dark eyes. "I think you must have run into my car, but I didn't see you crossing and I had the light, and--"

"No ambulance."

"But, you need to be checked over for injuries. I'm a doctor. I don't think anything's broken but you may have a concussion or internal bleeding. You need medical attention."

"So attend me." The man sat up, still holding Blake's wrist in a viselike grip. "You say you are a doctor." In the light cast by the streetlamp his eyes were a deep blue and completely mesmerizing. Blake felt as if he could lose his senses gazing into those eyes.

And his mouth... Oh my God... beautiful... "I... I can't do anything here on the side of the road. You need a proper examination and--"

"Can you take me to your home and examine me there?"

"What? No, no, I can't do that."

"I think you can, Doctor...?"

"Uh, Farnon... Blake Farnon, but--"

"Can you help me stand, Doctor Farnon? I am feeling quite weak."

"That's to be expected," Blake said, putting an arm around the man's waist and helping him to his feet. "You really should be in a hospital. I can drive you to emergency if you don't want me to call for an ambulance."

"No. Look at me, Doctor."

Blake stared into dark blue, fathomless eyes, and suddenly what the man had asked for seemed to make perfect sense. Of course he could carry out a preliminary examination at home. "Okay, I'll take you to my apartment, but if your injuries are too severe, I'm calling an ambulance." The man smiled and seemed to steer Blake toward his car. "Wait, relax, put your weight on me, let me help you. What's your name by the way?"

"Daniel Vale."

"D'you live around here?" Blake asked as he opened the car door and started to help Daniel into the passenger seat. At least he thought he was being of assistance, but as he supported Daniel's lean hard body, it seemed he was completely capable of managing himself. Blake closed the door and walked around to the driver's side, wondering why he'd just agreed to take the stranger back to his place. For all he knew the guy could be some kind of felon. He didn't look like a felon, more like a model or a dancer... so slim and lithe. But you could never tell these days, and why wouldn't he want to go to a hospital? He hesitated before climbing back into his car, then Daniel smiled at him, showing gleaming white teeth, and once again Blake felt powerless to make any sense of what he was doing. He just knew he wanted to do whatever Daniel asked of him.

"Uh, do you live nearby?" He repeated his question.

"No."

Blake waited patiently for further comment, but none came. He shrugged and put the car in gear. "Then, where do you live?"

"Here and there."

"Here and there? You're English aren't you? Are you on vacation?"

"Yes and no." Daniel sighed as if he'd figured Blake wouldn't be satisfied until he knew Daniel's background. "I am originally from England, but that was a long time ago. I now have a house in Santa Barbara but lately I spend more time in LA. I like Los Angeles. It is easier to lose yourself here, although this area is not one I am familiar with."

"This is Pasadena. A part of LA I guess," Blake told him. "Coincidentally, my mother lives in Santa Barbara."

"And not your father?"

"Dad died a few years ago. A sailing accident."

"I am sorry."

"Thanks." It seemed to Blake as if Daniel was steering the conversation away from himself. "So, were you lost when you and I... uh, ran into each other?" Blake asked, trying to get them back on track.

Daniel chuckled, a dry, non-humorous sound. "I was misled."

"Misled? In what way?"

"I accepted a lift from another hu--um, person, and he changed his mind about helping me and asked me to get out of his car. I had walked but a few yards when you hit me."

"I hit you? But I didn't see you at all. I had the green light. All I felt was a bump, but I didn't see you until I got out of the car and noticed you lying on the grass." He was babbling, defending himself, but shit, he really hadn't seen the guy, and now he felt terrible about what had happened.