Olivia Van Grimm

By Joe Vadalma




One dark, cloudy night, Officer Wisnowski was cruising slowly along Cross Street. As he passed The Johnson Funereal Home, he noticed a dim light. Someone was in the cellar. He approached the building with his pistol ready and peered through the window. Someone was wandering about.

A chill went up Wisnowskiís spine. Funereal homes gave him the creeps. He never liked corpses. Nonetheless, he bravely mounted the porch steps, crawled into a window with a broken pane and played his flashlight around. Ahead was a coffin surrounded by flower displays, whose sickening sweet smell made him nauseous. He shivered as he hurried out into the hallway.

When he found the cellar door, he turned off his flash and tiptoed down the steps. On the landing, a board creaked. The intruderís light went out. He turned on his own flash and called, "Okay you, the jigs up. Iím a police officer. You may as well surrender."

The first thing his light showed was a corpse on a metal table. "Shit," he cried. A sour taste came into his mouth. He moved the flash away. The intruder, a young woman in black, crouched in a corner sucking a tube in a container. Her pale face and hands were as ghastly white as the corpse. Big, round eyes with dark circles stared at him. A stream of dark red liquid ran down her chin.

"Place your hands on your head and get up."

The woman obeyed. She was young and pretty in a macabre way with a gorgeous figure.

"Whatíre you doing here?"

She smirked. "Getting a little drinky."

"Whatís that stuff?" He guessed formaldehyde. Junkies got high on it when nothing else was available.

"Blood from that corpse. The mortician drains it into jugs. Want to try some, Officer?"

Wisnowski examined the container. It contained a dark red substance. Vomit came up to his throat. The thought of sipping a corpseís blood made him ill.

"Youíre a sickee," he said as he cuffed her and patted her down for concealed weapons. She wore little beneath her T-shirt and jeans.

"Enjoying yourself, Officer," she said. "Bend down a little. Iíll bite ... I mean kiss your neck."

"Shut up and go up those stairs."

***

At the station, Wisnowski interviewed the girl for his report. "Name?"

"Olivia VanGrimm. Two mís in Grimm."

"Where do you live?"

She told him the graveyard. He wrote down "Homeless."

"Okay, whyíd you break into the funeral home?"

"You saw. I drink blood drained from corpses. Iím a vampire. Itís better than killing people." She bared her teeth. Her canines were long and pointed.

With her sunken eyes and cheeks, pale skin, and blue lips, she looked like a vampire. But, Wisnowski had seen worse looking junkies. "So youíre a vampire and needed blood. Thatís a new excuse. Iím charging you with breaking and entering. I should charge you with felony burglary."

Olivia batted her eyes at him. "Thank you, Officer. I didnít mean any harm. The funeral home dumps the blood. I needed it."

Wisnowski felt sorry for the deranged girl. "Do you want to call someone?"

She shrugged. "I wouldnít know who to call. My friends are undead."

As she was placed in a lockup, she begged Wisnowski to allow her to keep her sunglasses. "Sunshine hurts my eyes."

Because Wisnowski was attracted to the girl, he allowed her to keep the shades.

***

Oliviaís lawyer in city court was a young woman just out of law school. "Iíll talk to the D.A. This is your first offense. Plead guilty. Theyíll let you off with probation."

Hence, she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor breaking and entering. Her cell mate, a junky, allowed her to take blood in exchange for a promise to score smack when they got out.

The judge asked, "What did you expect to get in a funeral home, young lady?"

"Blood, Your Honor. Iím a vampire."

He squinted at her. "Yes, Iíve had cases like yours before. Itís a delusion. But your addiction to blood is real."

"I need it. Iím undead."

Although the judge didnít consider himself superstitious, he made the sign of the cross. Olivia blinked, but was otherwise unaffected. "Thatís what you nut cases all say. I sentence you to twenty days community service and three years probation, during which you must see a doctor to determine why youíre delusional. Whatís your current address?"

Olivia shrugged. "Iíve been sleeping in the cemetery, Your Honor."

"Well, social services will assign you a room in a shelter. Apply for public assistance; youíll be able to rent an apartment."

***

At social services Olivia signed papers she didnít read. They gave her bus fare to a clinic that accepted Medicaid. The waiting room was crowded with people in ragged clothes, children with runny noses and two young women in miniskirts. Olivia read year old magazines until a nurse weighed her and gave her a paper cup. She pointed to the lavatory. "Pee into the cup and leave it on the shelf."

"I canít urinate."

"Just went, huh. Well try."

As Olivia entered the bathroom, a woman was leaving it. She whispered, "I brought drug-free piss. For a ten-spot Iíll give you what I have left."

Olivia handed her ten dollars. From a vial in her purse, the woman poured a quarter-inch of amber liquid into the cup. In the bathroom Olivia placed it on the shelf, flushed the toilet and washed her hands.

In the examination room, the doctor examined her eyes and ears and peered into her mouth. She held a stethoscope to Oliviaís chest and wrinkled her forehead. "Thatís strange. I canít detect a heartbeat." She tapped her stethoscope on the examining table. "Time to get a new one. Nonetheless, you seem in good health. Do you have any complaints?"

"About what?"

The physician grimaced. "Donít get smart, young lady. Do you have pains, rashes or other symptoms of disease?"

"None of that."

She examined Oliviaís vagina, taking a pap smear. "Are you sexually active?"

Olivia grinned. "The men never get that far."

"The people who sent you here say that you crave human blood. Is that true?"

"Yes."

"Well, thereís nothing physically wrong with you. Iím referring you to a psychiatrist."

***

Olivia reported to a mental health facility. The psychiatrist was a pleasant man in his middle years. "According to your PCP, you have an obsessive craving for human blood. Why is that?"

"Iím a vampire, one of the undead."

The psychiatrist wrote in his notebook. "How long have you held this belief?"

"For two years."

"And before that?"

Olivia shrugged. "I was pretty normal, I think."

"What changed? Was there some event, like breaking up with a man or being fired from a job, that you associate with these thoughts about death and vampirism?"

"I was attacked."

"Were you raped?"

"No. My attacker bit my throat and sucked blood from me. For a while heíd come to my room at night." She blushed. "I received erotic pleasure from the experience."

The psychiatrist scribbled furiously. "What happened then?"

"I grew weak. One evening, I woke up in a coffin in the cemetery. Ever since, Iíve craved human blood. I donít hurt anybody. I bought blood from a prostitute. When she went away, I started breaking into funereal homes."

The psychiatrist nodded. "Yours is a classical case of VS, vampire syndrome, brought on by trauma. Iíll write a prescription for a tranquilizer. In addition, Iím assigning Miss Sweet as your councilor. She specializes in your delusion. I recommend that you attend BA meetings as well. After a few months, youíll be leading a normal life."

"Whatís BA?"

"Bloodsuckers Anonymous. Itís like AA, for people who experience blood cravings and have learned to live with it. BA will help you overcome your addiction."

Olivia doubted that she could be cured. As she sat in the psychiatristís office, she stared at the vein in his neck, wondering what his blood was like. Nonetheless, his words gave her a glimmer of hope that she might live as she had before becoming a vampire. "Iíd like that. I hate being undead."

***

The BA meeting was in the basement of a church. Ten people sat around an old scarred table. In the back of the room, coffee, milk, sugar, artificial sweetener, tea bags, and doughnuts were available. People mostly wore dark clothing, black pants and dark shirts printed with witchcraft or Satanism symbols or charcoal dresses that covered the women from neck to ankle. Younger people wore Tís and jeans with rings dangling from various parts of their anatomy. One man wore an old-fashioned tuxedo and a cape. Although it was evening, everyone had sunglasses,.

A woman called the meeting to order. "My name is Mildred, and Iím a bloodsucker. I see new people present. So Iíll explain what Bloodsuckers Anonymous is about. Weíre a fellowship of people who share our experience, strength and hope that we may solve our common problem and help others to recover from vampirism. The only thing we require for membership is a desire to stop drinking blood. Our purpose is to stop sucking blood and help others end their obsession.

"Twelve steps are the heart of our program. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we carry this message to other bloodsuckers and practice these principles in our affairs. As newcomers, youíre not asked to accept or follow these Twelve Steps in their entirety if you feel unwilling or unable to do so. You will, however, be asked to keep an open mind, to attend meetings at which recovered vampires describe their personal experiences, and to read literature about the B.A. program. Any questions?"

Olivia asked, "Are you vampires?"

"Before I reply, may I ask your name? Just your given name. We donít use surnames here."

"Olivia."

"Okay Olivia, before we joined the program, most of us believed that we were undead. Through prayer, meditation and self examination, we understand that we were deluding ourselves. Nonetheless, we realized that such a strong delusion might return at any time. Thus, we call ourselves simply bloodsuckers."

"I see. Also, Iím a pagan and believe in many gods and goddesses. I believe in many Higher Powers."

"Thatís fine. Simply pray to the ones thatíll help you defeat your delusion."

The young man in the tuxedo and cape asked, "What about Satan? Iím a Satanist."

"If you believe that Satan can help you with your problem, pray to Him. Whatís your name young man?"

"Count Lust."

"Your real name. Many of us, when we thought of ourselves as undead, took on such names. Here we prefer the name your parents gave you."

The manís sullen expression showed disdain for his parents. "Dirk."

Several people spoke. Each gave their first names, followed by "I am a bloodsucker." They told stories about bad experiences while pursuing their taste for blood, described how miserable they were and the misery they caused others.

Afterwards, everyone chatted with each other about their problems or made small talk. Dirk approached Olivia. "Hi. I guess weíre the newest members."

Since Dirk was good-looking in a cadaverous way, Olivia smiled. "Yeah. So youíre a Satanist?"

He chuckled. "I figured as a vampire I should be. But Lestat was Catholic."

Olivia made a face. "This coffee is awful."

Dirk grinned lopsidedly. "Not at all like blood. Yíknow, youíve got beautiful eyes."

"So, Iíve been told. Some say that theyíre hypnotic."

"I like you. Youíve got my kind of macabre humor."

"Oh yeah. Well, you need an odd sense of humor when you sleep in a mausoleum."

***

For weeks, Olivia faithfully attended counseling sessions and B.A. meetings and did community service, picking up trash along the highways. Although this latter activity lasted only through the morning, she was given credit for a full day. During a community service excursion, she ran into the junky from jail and paid her for her blood. The woman said, "Honey, you could make tons of money turning tricks. Youíre good looking."

Olivia was flattered, but turned down the offer. "If you change your mind, let me know." She gave Olivia a business card for an escort service. "Johns would love to have you drink their blood, if thatís your thing."

Soon Olivia and Dirk became lovers, exchanging blood in his ancient car. Olivia found Dirkís to be sweet and light, but not exciting. After a few dates she moved into his apartment. They slept in coffins most days, except when Olivia had to report to mental health or her probation officer.

Evenings Dirk invited his friends, bloodsuckers and people who liked to donate. Meanwhile, Olivia tried to beat her addiction. But as she watched blood being drawn all around her, her cravings became stronger. She wondered what it would be like to suck a victim dry.

One night at two in the morning, she waited in an alley until she spotted an inebriated, handsome fellow staggering home. She accosted him. "Hi handsome."

The guy looked at her google eyed. "Hello there, Missy. Whatís a sweet thing like you doing out so late?"

"Looking for someone to have fun with." She nodded toward the alley. "Come in there."

"Are you a pro? I never pay for it."

"What Iíve got for you is free."

He cocked an eyebrow suspiciously. "Youíre not going roll me?"

She smiled coquettishly. "A little thing like me?" She led him by the hand into the alley. "See, thereís no bruiser to harm you." She leaned against a wall, closed her eyes and pursed her lips.

"Oh, Baby. Youíre what Iíve been hoping for."

He snuggled in close, kissed her and slid his hand inside her blouse. She sighed and nipped his ear. He kissed her neck. She reciprocated. When she found the pulsing artery, she bit in quickly. He cried out, but her strong hands held his head steady as blood flowed into her mouth. It tasted marvelous, rich and spicy, not thin like Dirkís. After two pints, she withdrew. The guy slumped to the ground passed out.

***

When Olivia returned home, Dirkís friends were still there. The donors were slumped on various furniture and the carpet. The bloodsuckers looked dazed. Olivia asked, "Whereís Dirk?"

A guy with dried blood on his chin nodded toward the bedroom. Olivia threw open the door. Dirk and Dawn, a young donor, were naked on the bed. Dirk drew blood from her throat with his hand on her vagina. Dawn was in ecstasy.

"Oh crap, Dirk. Is this what you do when Iím not here?" Olivia roared.

Dirk stared at her. "Blood is blood. You werenít around."

"Of course you two had to take off your clothes for you to take blood. What kind of fool do you think I am?"

Dirk snarled, "And what the hell were you doing, Miss Innocent? Youíve been out taking blood from strangers." He lit a cigarette, puffed a cloud of smoke, "Besides, Dawn is warm to cuddle with. Youíre as cold as a corpse. Making love to you feels like screwing a dead body."

"Screw you. Iím going back to the cemetery. I canít live like this."

Dirk laughed. "Youíre not. Youíre undead, you cold fish."

Olivia stomped from the apartment without looking back. Angrily she accosted another victim before sunup, almost draining him. Before the first rays of dawn, she returned to her old haunt, a crypt in the cemetery.

***

Olivia had acquired a taste for blood from living victims. Cold blood from corpses no longer suited. She even disdained paying prostitutes. She craved the excitement of waiting in hiding for a young hunk to lure into some concealed place. But then it happened. She chose an undercover cop out trying to get the goods on a pimp. He arrested her for soliciting.

She was hauled before the same judge. "Olivia, youíre up to your old tricks. Arenít you interested beating you addiction?"

Olivia played remorseful. "I am, Your Honor. Iíd do anything to stop my craving for blood."

"Okay, Iím giving you a second chance. Iím sending you to a Vampire Rehabilitation Center called Blood No Longer. The program is eighteen months."

"Thatís a long time."

The judge shrugged. "Itís that or jail. You violated probation. I could sentence you to six months. Which will it be?"

In jail Olivia knew she had no chance to overcome her blood habit. "Iíll take the rehab."

***

The first weeks were awful. Olivia became ill, having the dry heaves and the shakes. She hallucinated that people were after her with wooden stakes and mallets. She barely slept. Once over this initial shock, she still had cravings, but not as strong.

The rehab was strict. Visiting was allowed only every other Sunday. Everyone was watched to ensure that no blood was exchanged. Packages were searched, and phone calls were limited to one a week. No black clothing or sunglasses were allowed.

With intense counseling and help from those whoíd been through the program, Oliviaís every waking moment was no longer obsessed with blood and death. She felt as she had before she was attacked. Soon she was given more freedom, day trips outside the facility with other recovered inmates. Finally she was sent to a halfway house to begin a normal life, although she was not allowed out at night.

One day, her probation officer said, "Youíve done well. If you think you can hack it, Iím recommending that you live on your own. Youíll have to find employment and a place to live."

***

Olivia rented a one-room apartment and got a job in a bank. She dated, although she never allowed petting, fearing that sheíd lose control and suck blood. She attended BA meetings faithfully. For a while it seemed as though sheíd make it. Nonetheless, after six months she returned to her old ways. Although she didnít hunt victims, she quit her job, slept in a coffin, wore long dark dresses and paid prostitutes for blood.

One evening she attended the theater. During intermission she met a handsome stranger, John Fraquest. He invited her to join him in bar hopping. Fraquest drank heavily and refused to leave until closing time.

Since her apartment was nearby, she suggested they walk, hoping the night air would sober him. He started to make lewd remarks. Olivia said, "Cut it out."

Fraquest laughed. "Donít get hoity-toity on me, tart. Címon, thereís a hotel over there." He pointed at a neon sign.

They were near an alley. Olivia said, "Since youíre so hot to trot, why bother with a hotel? Letís go in here."

"Now, youíre talking."

Oliviaís bloodlust kicked in. She thought, Iíll take a pint from him while heís having his way with me.

In the alley, he shoved her up against a brick wall, pulled up her skirt and ripped off her thong. As he tried to rape her, she bit into his throat and sucked blood. His heart was pumping hard, squirting large amounts of blood into her mouth. Suddenly, the flow stopped, he clutched his heart and collapsed. Olivia became frightened. This had never happened before.

She tried to give him artificial respiration. It was too late. Suddenly a bright light was shining in her face. When she glanced up, a policeman pointed a gun at her. He said, "Whatíre you doing in this alley?"

Olivia figured they wouldnít believe that the man was date raping her and died of a heart attack. She said nothing. They stood her against a wall while a cop searched for weapons.

One cop cried, "This guyís dead. Heís got puncture wounds in his neck." He made a cross with his fingers. "Sheís a vampire. Cuff her before she does us too."

The blood Olivia had swallowed made her high. She kidded with the cops. "Címon, officers, wouldnít you like to neck with me."

***

The press had a field day. A beautiful woman was on trial for an unusual murder. The police claimed that the victim was killed by having his blood drained. Headlines screamed: BLOODSUCKER ON TRIAL; VAMPIRESS TO FACE JURY; DA ASKS DEATH FOR UNDEAD. Media people jostled each other to glean a comment from the defendant, lawyers and witnesses, pushed microphones into passerbysí faces and made silly statements to the camera.

Olivia walked calmly behind her overweight and dough-faced lawyer, John Jacobs, oblivious to the turmoil. She wore dark glasses and a skintight, black, long sleeved dress. A jaded newsman shouted into anotherís ear. "God, sheís gorgeous. Look at that rack. She could suck my blood anytime."

A TV reporter nudged his cameraman. "Focus on her face. Turn the color control towards white. Itíll make her look undead."

The crowd pushed forward. Those in front had a look of superstitious fear on their faces. A female reporter thrust a microphone into Oliviaís face. "Whatís it like to drink blood?"

Olivia glared and hissed, delighting the media people. Jacobs chanted, "No comment, no comment."

He took Olivia to a conference room. Olivia stared at his throat and licked her lips. "John, you should lose weight. Your arteries are probably clogged. I hate fatty blood."

"Young lady, you're not taking this trial seriously. The prosecutorís asking for the death penalty."

"Iím innocent. That fool died of a heart attack while trying to rape me."

Jacobs shuffled papers. "What about the blood on your chin? DNA evidence tags it as the victimís."

"To be honest with you, what the press said about me is true. Iím a vampire. I took Robertís blood after he died. He didnít need it anymore." Her moist eyes gazed innocently at Jacobs.

Jacob put a comforting arm around her. "Okay, let me get this straight. He pulled you in that alley to rape you. You fought back by biting him on the neck. During the struggle, he had a heart attack. After you were sure that he was dead, you drank his blood. Is that what you told the police?"

Olivia nodded. "Iíve never killed anyone. I purchase blood from prostitutes or steal it."

Jacobs figured her for a kook. This was going to be a difficult case. Dipsy clients were their own worst enemy. Initially heíd try to have her statement to the police and the DNA evidence thrown out. If that didnít work, heíd go with self-defense. The one thing he didnít want the jury to believe was that Olivia was a vampire. They might convict regardless of her innocence or guilt.

His reputation was on the line. If he got an acquittal, the case had so much notoriety that heíd get the rich clients that he deserved. But, if he didnít, heíd become a laughing stock. Although he figured Olivia for a nut, he felt a kinship toward her. He had a dark side that he wouldnít want revealed.

Most lawyers did.

***

The DA chose Marsha Manning, an attractive woman in her early thirties, as prosecutor to counter Oliviaís attractiveness. Manning pranced before the jury in a miniskirt, showing lots of cleavage. "Ladies and gentlemen, ..." She leaned over the rail, giving the male jurors a good look at her plastic surgeonís handiwork. "... certain aspects of this trial may seem bizarre. Please keep an open mind as to the possibility that there may actually be ghosts, werewolves -- even vampires. As strange as it seems, the state intends to prove that Ms VanGrimm is guilty of murdering Mister Fraquest by draining his blood." She stared at Olivia in horror. "I know you may find this hard to believe, but our evidence shows that the defendant is a vampire who murders to obtain the blood she craves."

Although Jacobs admired her playacting, he smiled, feeling that Manning would have a hard time convincing modern people that vampires exist. He paced in front of the jury, jabbing the air to make points. "We intend to show that the victim was not murdered by ..." He turned to gaze at his client. "... that poor distressed young woman sitting there. That she was, in fact, the victim of the dead man. If he were alive today, he would be on trial here -- for rape. You're intelligent, educated people. The prosecution will try to convince you that fictional beings such as vampires and werewolves exist. You know that's absolute nonsense." He winked at the jury.

***

Manning's first witness was the arresting officer. "Officer Wisnowski please tell us what you observed in the early morning hours of April 20."

"Officer White and I were cruising when we noticed activity in an alley. I went to investigate while White backed me up. I saw the perp ..."

Jacobs shouted, "I object to the term 'perp,' Your Honor."

Judge Adams said, "Sustained. Please use less inflammatory language, Officer. The defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty."

Wisnowski colored. "Sorry, Your Honor. What I meant was that I saw the defendant kneeling on the ground next to the body ..."

"Object. At the time, he couldnít have known that Fraquest was dead."

Adams glared. "We know it now, donít we, Mr. Jacobs. Overruled."

"Continue officer," said Manning.

"I asked the bit... the defendant what she was doing. She looked at me with evil eyes ..."

"Object."

"Sustained. The jury will disregard the term 'evil eyes.' Stick to the facts, Officer."

"Anyway, blood was running down her chin. I patted the per... I mean, the defendant down ..."

A reporter remarked, "I'll bet you enjoyed that."

Adams pointed his gavel. "Order. Another remark from you, and I'll have you removed. Continue Officer."

"After we cuffed the suspect, I examined the victim ...

Jacobs popped up. "I object to the term Ďvictim.í Itís yet to be proved that Fraquest was anyoneís victim. I intend to prove that my client was his victim."

Adams frowned. "Stop making speeches, Mr. Jacobs. Youíll have plenty of time to present your case. As for the term Ďvictim,í it doesnít matter how Fraquest died, he was still a victim. Overruled. Continue."

"The corpse had two puncture wounds, right here." Wisnowski pointed.

"Let the record state that Officer Wisnowski has pointed to his carotid artery," said Manning. "What happened then?"

"I called the station and waited for homicide. Then we brought the defendant to the station for booking."

"Did you question her?"

"No. That's the detective's job."

"Thank you, Officer Wisnowski."

"Your witness," said Adams.

Jacobs rose slowly, consulting his notes. "Good morning, Officer."

"Morning. I donít know whether its good or not." Wisnowski feelings toward defense lawyers was obvious.

"Did Miss VanGrimm say anything when you arrested her?"

"Yeah, she asked whether we'd like to neck with her and laughed, evil like."

"Didn't she tell you that Fraquest died of a heart attack?"

"She claimed that. But she was bending over the body sucking ..."

"Thatís enough. You answered the question. Did it occur to you that she was giving CPR?"

Manning made a sour face. "It didnít look like CPR."

Jacobs walked away as though about to return to his seat, but suddenly turned.

"Why didnít you believe my client when she told you that Fraquest had a heart attack?"

"Cause he looked like heíd been murdered."

"Howís that?"

"He was lying in an alley. Dead bodies in alleys mean that somebodyís been murdered."

"You had no idea at the time how Fraquest died. What did you charge my client with?"

"Public lewdness."

"Public lewdness?"

"Her clothes were in a disarray. She and the victim were screwing before she done him in."

"She told you that heíd raped her."

"She didnít act like a woman who was assaulted. She acted like it was a lark. We figured she was high on drugs."

"Was she tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol?"

"Yes. The results were negative. She had alcohol in her system, but she wasnít drunk."

"So her behavior was not due to drugs or alcohol. Did it occur to you that she was simply happy to escape being raped?"

"Object. Conclusion."

"Overruled. Answer."

"No. I think she's demon straight from hell." The cop made the sign of the cross.

"No more questions."

"You may step down."

Several detectives testified and forensic evidence was presented including blood from Olivia's refrigerator. Olivia licked her lips.

Doctor Jane Wilson, medical examiner, was called. Manning asked several preliminary questions about her duties and expertise. "You performed the autopsy on Robert Fraquest?"

She consulted her notebook. "Yes. A male corpse by that name was brought to the morgue on ... the nineteenth," she replied coldly as though she were talking about a piece of meat.

"According to your expert opinion, what caused his death?"

"Heart attack -- brought on by loss of blood. The corpse had been drained as though by an embalmer. The heart had been worked so hard it simply gave out."

"How was the blood drained?"

"Through two puncture wounds on the carotid artery." Wilson pointed to an area on her own throat.

"Those were the only wounds?"

"There were minor scratches on the back made by fingernails, presumably female."

The jury's eyes turned toward Olivia, buffing her long, pointed nails.

Manning smiled. "The prosecution has no more questions."

Jacob glanced at his notes and asked the witness, "Doctor Wilson, could the blood have been drained after Mr. Fraquest was dead?"

Wilson shrugged. "Thereís no way of telling."

"Please describe how so much blood could be removed from a person through small punctures."

"Special equipment."

"Suppose I had such equipment. How long would it take to drain the blood from a corpse through the carotid artery?"

"More than hour. If I was going to remove a subjectís blood, Iíd go through the aorta as close to the heart as possible."

The prosecutor ground her teeth together. Wilson was undermining her case.

"Is such equipment available in the morgue?"

"Yes."

"In the morgue, was Detective Mathers alone with the Mr. Fraquestís corpse?"

"For a short time while I was on the phone."

Jacobs raised his eyebrows. "How long was that?"

Wilson colored. "Iím not sure. My husband called. We ... uh ... argued."

"Could you have been arguing with your husband long enough for Detective Mathers to drain the blood from Fraquest?"

"I donít think so. Besides ..."

"Youíve answered the question." Jacobs rubbed his bald pate for several seconds. "Do you believe in vampires?"

"Not as supernatural beings."

"Thank you. I have no more questions for this witness."

Manning leaped to her feet. "Redirect. Doctor Wilson, please clarify your answer to the defense attorney's last question about your belief in vampires."

"Certain medical conditions make patients crave blood. These subjects mistakenly believe that they're vampires."

"Do you have direct knowledge of this?"

"Yes. Once."

"Was the person insane?"

Jacobs popped up. "Object. The witness is not a psychologist or a psychiatrist."

"Overruled."

"No, the patient was rational, except for the delusion that he was a vampire."

"Also, this business of Detective Mathers being alone with the corpse. The defense didnít allow you to finish your reply. What else were you going to say?"

"That Detective Mathers didnít know how to operate a blood pump."

"Thank you. No further questions."

"Any other questions from the defense for this witness."

"Yes. Is the operation of a blood pump complicated?"

Wilson thought for a moment. "Not really."

"Thatís all I have."

"You may step down. Next witness."

Manning called forensic specialists, who gave evidence that Fraquestís skin was under Oliviaís fingernail, that her DNA was on the victim and that blood taken from Oliviaís chin matched the victimís. The jury had puzzled expressions on their faces, as though confused by the details.

He called the Detective Mathers. "Were you in charge of booking my client?"

Mathers was an old-timer whoíd testified at many trials. He knew not to say nothing unnecessary. "Yes, sir."

"I have your report listing the items found on my client. I donít see a blood pump on the list. Did you forget to list it?"

"No, sir. The list is complete."

"By the way, do you help with autopsies?"

"No. Sometimes I watch though."

"While blood is being drained?"

The detective flushed. "Uh ... yes."

"Thank you, Detective. Thatíll be all."

***

As Olivia and Jacobs walked through the court hallway, a strange bearded man approached Olivia. "Miss VanGrimm, Iím Professor Orson Shinklebach. May I have a lock of your hair for scientific purposes."

"You may not. Get away from me."

Jacobs cried, "Leave her alone." Before he could act, the professor slapped Olivia on the back. Olivia bared her teeth and reached out with her pointed fingernails as though to scratch his eyes out. "How dare you touch me, you buffoon."

Jacobs got between them. Shinklebach walked away.

"Who was that madman?"

Jacobs shrugged. "Thereís a Shinklebach on the prosecutionís witness list. Probably heís a forensic expert."

***

The prosecutionís final witness was the Professor Shinklebach. Throughout the trial, Olivia had been placid, staring straight through her sunglasses, hardly moving, almost catatonic. The press wrote that she seemed dead. However, when Shinklebach took the stand, she growled like a jungle cat.

Manning said, "Professor, you teach Paranormal Detection, correct?"

"Yah. I study phenomena such as lichenthropes and demonic possession." Shinklebach adjusted rimless glasses.

"Do you investigate sightings of werewolves and vampires?"

"Yah. Vampire detection is my specialty."

Jacobs stood up. "I object to anything this fraud may say. This is fantasy."

Judge Adams said, "I have a tendency to agree. Approach the bench."

When Manning and Jacobs came up, Adams said, "Marsha, give me one reason why I should allow this testimony."

"Your Honor, although these creatures are thought of as fantasy by many, some subscribe to its reality. A famous writer said, ĎThe magic of yesterday is the technology of today.í Professor Shinklebach is ahead of his time. He has degrees in philosophy, psychology and comparative religion. His investigations follow accepted scientific methods. My case is predicated upon proving that Miss VanGrimm is a vampire, a person who kills by sucking blood. Shinklebach is an expert."

"Okay, I'll allow it. But if he becomes too outrageous, out he goes, along with his testimony."

"I understand, Your Honor."

"I take exception," said Jacobs.

"So noted."

Manning continued. "Are you the foremost authority on vampires?"

Shinklebach puffed out his chest. "I don't know if I'm the foremost authority, but I've studied the phenomena thoroughly. I've read the literature and examined vampires."

"Doctor Wilson of the coroner's office stated that vampirism is a disease that makes people crave blood. Are vampires persons with this addiction?"

Shinklebach stared at Olivia hatefully. "Some. But, theyíre not true vampires, who are undead."

"You've examined the victim. In your opinion, what killed him?"

Jacobs cried out, "I object. This fraud is no forensic specialist. His testimony regarding cause of death is worthless."

Manning said through pouting lips, "Professor Shinklebach has investigated deaths purported to be the work of vampires. He has consulted with forensic specialists and has worked along with our Doctor Wilson."

"Iíll allow it. I want to hear what the professor has to say. Overruled."

"A vampire, and not a person with the vampirism disease. He was murdered by the undead. All signs point to it, the draining of blood, the burst heart, the throat wounds. Nothing human could do that."

"How do you determine whether someone is a vampire? By seeing whether their reflection is in a mirror?"

"No. Thatís a fallacy perpetuated by novelists. Vampires have physical bodies which light bounces off of like everything else. Also, it's not true that theyíre afraid of crosses or garlic. Those are superstitions."

"So, how can you tell whether someone is a vampire?"

"Because they're undead, they feel no pain. What's necessary is to stick them with a sharp instrument. If they donít scream and bleed, they're undead." Again he smirked pointedly at Olivia.

"What about the defendant? Is she undead?"

"Absolutely."

Jacobs bounced up as though shot from a cannon. "Object. This is outrageous, Your Honor."

Adams peered over his glasses. "Well Marsha, hasn't this gone far enough?"

"No, Your Honor. There's evidence to back up the witness's claim."

"This better be good, or I'm holding you and your witness in contempt. Overruled."

"Professor, why are you certain that the defendant is undead?"

"Earlier today, I stuck a needle in her back. She didn't even blink. It's still there."

This threw the courtroom into a turmoil until the judge pounded with his gavel several times.

Manning turned to Jacobs. "John, please have your client stand and turn so that her back is toward the jury."

"This is preposterous," screamed Jacobs,

Adams shrugged. "Have her do it. If this turns out to be shenanigans, Iíll dismiss or call a mistrial."

Olivia turned and lifted her long hair. To Jacobs chagrin, a needle protruded from her back. Manning asked that it be removed and entered into evidence. When the bailiff pulled it out, no blood flowed.

"I have no other questions for this witness."

Jacobs thought for a moment. Bright sunshine shone through the windows. "Professor, isnít it true that vampires sleep in coffins during the day?"

"Some do; others find a dark place with no windows. During the day they're in a state of death."

"According to the movies, one ray of sunshine falling on a vampire turns the creature into a skeleton."

Shinklebach looked sour. "Typical Hollywood nonsense. Vampires are sensitive to ultraviolet. Your client wears dark glasses and has her body covered."

"I thought vampires must return to their grave when the sun rises."

"Pure fiction. They're nocturnal, but so are owls; yet owls fly during the day."

Jacobs was at a loss of how to shake Shinklebachís testimony. He'd simply make up facts about vampires. He glanced at the jury. The reports said they were mostly college educated. No superstitious peasants among them. He was positive that they didnít believe in vampires or Shinklebachís testimony. "No further questions."

Manning said, "The prosecution rests."

Jacobs' witness, a forensic expert, testified that he examined Fraquest and concluded that his heart burst from exertion, possibly from sexual excitement. "The man had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He mixed alcohol and Viagra. His encounter with Miss VanGrimm had been too much for him."

On cross, he admitted that his information was derived from reports. He hadnít examined Fraquestís corpse and couldnít explain what happened to Fraquestís blood.

Jacobs tried to enter a police report that showed that Fraquest had been arrested for attempted rape, but was let go due to lack of evidence.

Manning objected to the entry of his rap sheet into evidence.

Out of hearing of the jury, they argued the merits. Manning said, "Fraquestís past record has nothing to do with this case. There was no physical evidence that VanGrimm was raped."

"It shows a pattern of behavior. And the rape was not successful because Fraquest sustained a heart attack."

Adams thought a moment. "Iím sorry, John, but I cannot allow it. Without corroborating evidence, Fraquestís past behavior proves nothing about this case."

The trial was recessed.

***

Jacobs took Olivia into the conference room. "Iím unsure where we stand. If Marsha has the jury convinced that youíre a vampire, they could find you guilty, regardless of the prosecutionís lack of proof that Fraquest died of anything other than a heart attack. What bothers me is why you didnít feel that needle."

"I donít know. When that bloody fool slapped my back, it never occurred to me that he had something in his hand."

Jacobs sighed. He wanted to put his client on the stand. She was beautiful with innocent eyes. Several jurors were men. If only one had sympathy for her, he could get a hung jury. He doubted whether the D.A. would pursue a new trial. But Oliviaís belief that she was a vampire could backfire.

"Olivia, Iím putting you on the stand. You must not say that youíre a vampire. Can you do that?"

Her big eyes gazed up. "You want me to lie. To play the innocent damsel. I can do that."

"Yes. But you must tell the truth about everything else, especially about what happened that night. Juries sense when a witness lies."

She gazed at the floor. "I understand, but I have a confession."

"What? Youíd better tell me now."

"I consented to fornicate with that awful man. My bloodlust took hold of me. I wouldíve taken less than he wouldíve given during a blood drive. I said he tried to rape me, because I donít want people to think Iím a slut."

"Oh Christ! This makes things difficult. I wanted the jury to believe that you killed Fraquest in self defense."

"I didnít kill Robert. He died of a heart attack."

"Only you can convince the jury of that. Say nothing about taking blood."

Olivia got a sad look. "Promise me one thing. If Iím given the death penalty, donít try to get it reduced to life. I couldnít stand that."

In the weeks that theyíd been together, Jacobs had developed feelings for Olivia. "You want to die, don't you? You're obsessed by death and vampirism." He shook his head. Putting her on the stand was risky. One false statement could be her downfall.

***

Jacobs positioned himself so that Olivia would face the jury. "State your name and occupation."

"My name is Olivia VanGrimm. I donít work. I'm on welfare."

"Please relate the events of the evening of April 20."

Olivia crossed her legs, folded her hands and told the story of how she met Fraquest, how they wound up in the alley and what happened there. She left out the part about taking blood.

"So, you believe that he died of a heart attack because of sex?"

"Yes."

"Are you a vampire as the prosecution claims?"

"No."

"Why didnít you feel pain when Professor Shinklebach stuck that needle into you?"

"My back is insensitive to pain. Itís a birth defect."

"No further questions." Jacobs sighed. He gazed at the jury. They didnít look sympathetic. The women stared daggers at Olivia. Even if they didnít think she was a vampire, they believed she was a slut.

"Your witness."

Manning puffed out her chest. "Olivia, during your testimony you used the word 'rose' rather 'awoke' or 'got up.' Do you sleep in a coffin?"

Olivia gazed toward Jacobs for guidance. Manning moved so that her body hid him from her sight.

"Yes. Daylight bothers me. In a coffin, I can close the lid."

"So, you sleep all day and are awake at night?"

"Iím a night person."

"Miss VanGrimm, if you only bit the victim on the neck and didnít suck his blood, why did the autopsy show that his body was drained?"

Before Jacobs could object, Olivia replied, "I don't know."

"That's all."

After Olivia returned to her seat, Adams asked Jacobs whether he had any other witnesses.

"No, Your Honor. The defense rests."

***

The next day was given to summations. Manning emphasized Shinklebach's testimony about the reality of vampires and his method of testing whether the defendant was one. She finished by saying, "The defendant admits that she sleeps in a coffin all day. As Shakespeare put it, 'There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' This woman is a vampire who kills to satisfy her thirst for blood. If sheís set free, her next victim could be one of you."

Jacobs argued that Fraquest died of a heart attack brought on by the excitement of having sex with a beautiful woman. "Even if the sex was consensual, it was so rough as to be considered rape." He accused Detective Manning of manufacturing evidence by draining the corpse. "Itís impossible for my client to have killed Fraquest as the prosecution described."

The jury brought in a guilty verdict in two hours.

Olivia was sentenced to death by lethal injection. She requested that Jacobs not make any appeals. He did anyway. They were rejected.

During the year that Olivia was on death row, Jacobs heard rumors that guards had come down with a strange anemia. He dismissed this as one of the crazy rumors that run rampant inside maximum security prisons.

Since Olivia had no relatives, she was buried in the prison cemetery.

***

Late one night, as Jacobs left his office, he was accosted by a woman with a familiar voice. "Hello, John," she said.

A street lamp shed enough light for him to recognize her. He gasped, "Olivia! It can't be."

She chuckled. "You never believed what I was. Now you know the truth."

He became frightened. He didnít believe in the supernatural, but here was proof that vampires existed. "Wh-what do you want?"

"To thank you for trying to save me. Prison was hell. Thank goodness, I was not sentenced to life. You can imagine what that would be like for someone who cannot die. John, I like you very much and can make you immortal. We could be together for a long, long time. I lead a lonely life, as you can imagine."

Jacobs was horrified. She was offering to make him a vampire. "No thanks."

"If you change your mind, whisper my name. I'll hear you." She kissed him on the cheek, an act that sent cold chills down his spine. Although she claimed that she hadnít killed anyone, he wasnít sure she told the truth.

As she walked away, Jacobs sighed, wondering what it would be like to be a vampire, a sad life most likely. Olivia was lovely, lovable, mysterious and a person to be pitied. Sheíd be on his mind for a long time.

The End

Copyright © 2003 by Joseph Vadalma

Bio: I am a retired technical writer who used to work for a major computer company. I am a voracious reader of all kinds of books, but am especially fond of science fiction and fantasy. I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, but have been living in a small town in upstate New York for many years. I am married with four children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. My hobbies, other than writing, are computer games and do-it-yourself projects. I have had the following short stories published or about to be published in internet E-zines: "The Sands of Time," Black Moon Rising, January, 2001 issue; "Empty Planet," Aphelion, Feb. 2002 issue; "Cosmoergy," Martian Wave, Mar. 2002 issue; "The Key," Black Moon Rising, Apr 2002 issue; "Shadow in the Sky," Aphelion, Apr 2002 issue; "Pop-Art Nightmare," Nocturne Horizons, Jan 2002 issue. I have also written several novels of which are yet to be published. To see more of my writing, visit my website at www.geocities.com/papajoev. It is called "The Fantastic World of Papa Joe."

E-mail: jvadalma@hvc.rr.com

URL: The Fantastic World of Papa Joe


Read more by Joe Vadalma

Visit Aphelion's Lettercolumn and voice your opinion of this story.

Return to the Aphelion main page.