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[This is Part 2 of my original short story "Blood Science" - a tongue-in-cheek look at a scientist trying to write Science Fiction and Fantasy from a logical perspective. See the "Coming Soon" tab above for more on the upcoming schedule, including the return to The Lab Rats Guide to the Brain.]
Intent on the story outline, Bob didn't notice the pale graduate student standing in the door. Wondering if his advisor would ever look up from his typing, the student decided to knock discretely.
"Wha'? Oh, John, sorry, I was involved in this outline."
"Another grant? Something that can pay for another technician in the lab? I really need some help in the daytime." John was studying diurnal cycles in rats and needed to perform most of his experiments during the night when rodents were most active.
"Not yet, that particular grant should be reviewed this week. Once I know for certain how it scored, I'll post a position for the daytime tech."
"Oh, good. Thanks. Actually, I came to ask if you could talk to the committee about my Comps?" John was due to take the Comprehensive Qualifying Exam that would allow him to start working on his Ph.D. "With this all-night experiment schedule, it would be a lot easier if I could just take the Comps at night. I could come in, start the experiment, then go to the conference room for the exam. We get breaks every two hours, and that would be sufficient to check on the experiments. Nigel and Keisha are checking with their advisors, too. If would be a lot better for us, after all, you're the one that taught us about the dangers of disrupting an established sleep-wake cycle. Prof. Rose is willing to proctor the exam overnight, so we just need the committee's permission."
"I don't know, John." Bob frowned. "I'm not entirely comfortable with you students working all night out of the eye of the professors. We had a few unfortunate incidents when I was a student…"
"I know. You've told us all about the homeless dude in the restroom and the guy that accidently killed himself. It's okay, we're not alone. There's the security guards, and Profs. Rose and Tepes. They have to run experiments late at night to avoid vibrations from the traffic outside and construction of the new hospital tower." John paused, and pushed back his long black hair. "After all, it's not like we're trying to avoid you – you told us yourself that you used to work until 5 AM, catch 4 hours sleep, then be right back for a lab meeting. It's just until we get these experiments done."
"Okay. I'll talk to the committee. They're meeting tomorrow at 5, so I’ll see about it then."
"Great! Thanks, Dr. Bob!" John left so fast, Bob barely saw him go.
That kid needs a girlfriend. Thought his advisor. So pale and thin. I'd worry about his health, but he's been the best player on the departmental volleyball team for the past two years. Just doesn't get out in the sun much.
Sun. Yeah, Vampires drink blood, so they'd have extra hemoglobin breakdown products in the body. Hyperbilirubinemia. It makes a person sensitive to sunlight. Hmm, but yellow skin… Ah! If they stay out of the sun, then the skin would mostly be pale. Good. That's another one down.
Silver bullets? Stakes through the heart, cutting off the head? Those are all pretty obvious ways to kill anyone, let alone a vampire. Holy water and religious symbols? Make that a myth. Fast healing, though… I've got to figure out a reason why they'd be hard to kill.
Hmm. For now just leave it that they heal fast. They'd have to have pretty good control of clotting and bleeding factors to keep from contaminating their food source. Yeah. Control your own bleeding and you could survive quite a bit of damage.
Bob stopped typing as the phone rang. "Yeah, honey, just finishing up. It is? Wow. Okay, I forgot. I'll meet you at the concert." He replaced the phone, tapped a few keys, saved the outline and turned off his computer. "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date…" he muttered as he left the office.
[to be continued...]