It is World Haemochromatosis Week this week, and after my fortnightly venesection (phlebotomy), I decided to write a story about blood, and here it is.
by Jason Gibbs
Vanessa walked slowly along the street. It was late, she’d been drinking, but she felt she was walking on air. He’d said he loved her!
She’d been having dinner and a drink with her friend Louise. It had been the first time they’d been out for a while, she had been feeling so tired recently, but Louise had dragged her out. They’d been laughing about Louise’s latest dating disasters when Vanessa’s phone went, it was Peter. She’d apologised to Louise and then gone outside to talk to him. It had been such a short call, or a long one, but he’d said he loved her! He’d just woken up, he was on a business trip, and he’d just had to tell her.
She’d floated back into the restaurant, told Louise, who’d squealed with delight, and then ordered a bottle of champagne.
Oh Peter, he was so amazing…
Wait? What was that? She looked round, there’d been a noise. Where was she? Oh no, she’d missed her turn. And the noise had come from behind her, she’d have to head back towards it.
This looked like a bad neighbourhood, which to Vanessa meant there was some rubbish on the ground and a small number of weeds. There it was again. The sound of a step? Was someone following her…
Suddenly a shape loomed out in front of her, it was huge and scary and… she passed out.
“Miss? Miss? Are you alright?”
The young doctor, quite handsome she thought, was staring at her concerned. Where was she… an ambulance?
“I’m fine… where am I?”
“You’re in an ambulance, and we’re about to take you to hospital, don’t worry.”
“Please tell me.”
“You were being, um, followed by a vampire, and then you fainted.”
“And you saved me?”
“In a manner of sorts. I’ll explain more at the hospital.”
“Is she alright?”
The voice was deep, and resonant, and sounded a little irritated. The answer was from the young doctor.
“I didn’t mean to frighten her, but she must have heard you, it put her on edge.”
“Apologies sir, but… we’re not all quite as, silent, as you are,” replied the young doctor, though he didn’t sound particularly apologetic.
“Shall I explain the situation to her, and then you can…”
“Yes, please. I need to tidy something up, I will be back a bit later.”
There were steps, heavy ones heading away, lighter ones approaching.
She realised he was asking her name.
Her throat was dry, he handed her some water.
She nodded her thanks, and drank deeply, then said, “Vanessa.”
“Vanessa, nice to meet your properly. I expect you’re wondering what is going on?”
“Yes. You said something about… a vampire?”
“Yes, does that bother you?”
“No, I understand that they’re among us, though I haven’t met one. But I thought they didn’t stalk people any more?”
“They don’t, not normally. No, sorry, I didn’t mean that. The doctor was using the same techniques, but not with the same intention.”
“He doesn’t want to drain my blood?” She smiled, a trace of her usual humour. Then she saw his face.
“He does?” Almost a screech.
“Um, I’m not explaining this properly. Look, have you heard of haemochromatosis?”
“It’s a genetic condition where your body absorbs too much iron. It’s more common than you might think.”
“OK, and what does that have to do with me?”
“We think you might have it. The doctor smelt the iron in your blood. We’re testing his ability to detect high levels of iron, as it might help us catch more people before the disorder starts to hurt them.”
“Is it bad?”
“Well, it can be very bad as it damages your organs, particularly your liver. One of the most common symptoms is fatigue.”
“Oh. I have been feeling tired recently.”
He nodded. “Don’t worry, it’s actually easy to treat. It just requires regular venesection.”
“Your proposed treatment is a course of leeches?” She laughed.
He nodded, and said, “That has been done, though we’re trialling a new treatment.”
“What is the new treatment?”
As she said that, a large, pale man entered the room. He smiled, and she saw his large and growing incisors. Her eyes grew large.
The man looked at her and said, “Me.”