Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

The December Featured Writer is

Keith "Doc" Raymond

Please feel free to email Keith at: lawien94@gmail.com


by Keith ‘Doc’ Raymond

What doesn’t kill you prefers to torture you. No one told a vampire not to play with their food. Which is why I’m strapped to a table, or perhaps just a collection of boards lashed together, me as the glue. The bark digs into my back. Fish hooks lodge in my skin, causing the wetness of blood to provide the only coolant in the room.

It’s some kind of chambre. Likely, my captors are French. At least, I think so because I started out on the outskirts of Paris.

Maybe I should start at the beginning. If only I could think properly with all the tearing and rending of flesh next door. The gnawing wouldn’t bother me so much, but the preternatural howls and shrieks make me squirm, which only helps the sap and blood to mingle on my back.

My summer break began innocently enough: a tour of Europe; a reward for good behavior. My college prison sentence was attenuated by a professorial parole: a rail pass, a backpack, and thou. Well, thou disappeared the moment a Greek God flexed in front of us on the beach, before he plunged majestically into the turquoise water.

Since then, I am a will-o’-the-wisp plotting my course online via youth hostel vacancies. Natashas, Simones, and Francescas vanquished me in broken languages that only love could discern. Badly scrawled posters over graffiti invited us to raves. We snapped our fingers and danced to unintelligible rappers in another abandoned warehouse at the edge of some village.

A temptress emerged from the smoke in the early morning daze, a woman that I now know to be a creature of the night. I was defenseless in the emerald pools of her eyes. She placed a lozenge on my tongue rather than introducing herself, her hips sidling toward me in that unhinged way that suggested she was no virgin.

Drawing close, I could smell her black ringlets as they swept towards my cheeks. Hints of patchouli taunted rather than repulsed. We danced, letting the strobes, the music, and the drugs have their way with us. The caution lights flashed as I glimpsed her face transforming from Lycan to bat, vicious and predatory, dripping canines, only to change back to her former beauty. I forgot those phantasms, my caution lights blending with the rotating color balls in the rafters.

I was a ‘crazy and sleepy Comanche’ as Patti Smith howled at us from the speakers. The temptress drew me close as the pulsation slowed and her body rubbed against mine in the erotic way I knew only too well. I loved everything in that moment, but it was I, not her, that swooned. When I awoke, I found myself here, wherever here may be.


On the other side of the oak door, I can hear havoc. Think Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, think Montague and Capulet, think vampires and werewolves. Except there were no werewolves; just two clans of vampires locked in immortal combat. It had come down to blood: human blood untainted by drugs, alcohol, diseases, and venom.

The supply was dwindling globally. It had reached a point where purity was a problem. Vampires sickened by all the chemical substitutes were succumbing to the taint; sickened by cholesterol levels so high the blood was white instead of red. Sickened by blood made so sweet by diabetes, it was nauseating. Viral loads so high, they spoiled the meal.

It was an unintentional genocide, an extinction of the species. The vampires were being systematically exterminated, starving to death. Their food source was toxic, making their numbers nonviable. Removing a check, humanity fell out of balance…and then the rats turned to killing their own to save themselves.

I had no idea what was going on in the world. I was just food placed in the refrigerator for later consumption. They gave me a lozenge which turned out to be a test of purity mixed with a detox cocktail to remove any residual taint. My ‘high’ was from the stored toxins coming out of my tissues. It was a demon’s dialysis.

I heard things. Lots of screaming, and I tried to imagine what was going on in the other room. I could feel muscles rend, bones crack, eyes plucked, and teeth ripped from sockets on the other side of that wall. But my imagination was not up to the actual massacre beyond.

Following an indeterminable duration, there was a frightening silence. Who knows how long the fight continued before I fell awake?

And then it got worse. I heard the door to my room being slowly pushed open.

The weight of a frayed body forced it aside. The hinges cracked and whined. What emerged was a single female form, black ringlets torn away. It was hard to tell, and even harder to describe. It looked like a fragmented piece of meat: little skin showing, hobbling on stumps, supported by a fresh bone beneath a torn arm pit. The thing was blind, and had an ear hanging by a piece of cartilage off the side of what could no longer be called a head.

It groped its way toward me, a shredded tongue moving over broken teeth. I pieced together hunger in its somnolent drag. The bone that propped her up stuck in a crack, and the creature toppled, smacking the stones. It was unlikely she would have stood upright much longer, anyway. She crawled toward me, salivating.

The premonition of pain radiated up my bound leg where she would first place whatever body part she’d use to maul me. She was patient, choosing carefully. When the gash that was once her mouth arrived, she bit down, yet her teeth were too blunt to penetrate.

She began gnawing. The pressure and tearing from her broken jaw was excruciating. A hornet pinned to my ankle could not sting worse than what she did; ripping away my hide, and burrowing down to a vein. But she succeeded.

The information transfer was intense, I forgot the agony. I felt a thousand years of her life in so many seconds. It was a psychotic blood lust; a feast of myriad terrified faces, necks penetrated and drained. There were so many blood meals that they blurred together: dashes of love, desire, and ultimately the devouring and temporary satiation. I must have lost consciousness several times only to wake up spinning in the menagerie of her conquests.

Yet she was too late to save herself. Sustaining too much injury, she vanished in a flash of sparks and ash.

I lay there gasping, waiting and worrying for the next one to come. None did. No one could survive the massacre beyond the oak door. She only lasted a few minutes longer than the rest. No doubt I would die here too, her hunger passed to me. It would be an ultimate curse and coup de grâce.

Now I was what she was, but even with superhuman strength, I could not break my bonds. I would starve to death staring up at a Gothic ceiling, only to have one of her memories percolate up through my spine. It was more a feeling than a thought; a sensation I yearned to embrace. As I joined it, the room brightened. I became flexible; almost fluid. My view changed. I tasted the air with a forked tongue.

I slithered off the wood, my skin scaly and my limbs gone. I inched my way along the cold ground, expanding my length then contracting to move forward, the stone stealing my body heat and my speed. Arcing around the frame, I saw for the first time the remains of the clan war. There was blood still warm, iridescent bright, calling to my craving.

I slipped into a pool and drank up the un-coagulated bath. I began to spin, throwing off any final remnants of humanity. I spun faster and faster until my vampire form emerged. With unfamiliar hands I went from puddle to pool, scooping food into my mouth until I gorged myself. Sliding to the ground, sated, refreshed, ten thousand years and countless lives swamped me in the collective memories of the last of my kind.


I sat there for days, maybe weeks, unpacking all those lives and incorporating them into my own.  I stayed until the hunger drove me to my feet. Climbing out of the dungeon, I could sense it was night. Pushing aside the manhole cover, I climbed out onto the sidewalk. Meals on heels moved passed me in both directions.

There was more, though; more than I’d ever seen before. The spray of coughs. Floating red corpuscles I could sample, both sweet and nasty. The greenish glow of the sickly, the cancer ridden, and the malnourished. I now knew what had driven the vampires to fight. There were so few healthy people. It didn’t spare the children either. The foul taint was everywhere.

Fast food infection, the dullness of medications was making their cheeks sallow. Now I understood their fascination with zombies: humans, with their unhealthy lifestyles, sought to become them, even before death. They were deluding themselves about the nature of true health.

My eternity might be a lonely one, cloaked in the shadows of human myth. For now, I will not create changelings to suffer my fate. Perhaps some future bounty will reward me with a companion. To make another of my kind, only to let them starve. would be selfish. The vampires are too proud a race to endure such ingratiation. I shall carry and savor their memories instead.

Should the paradigm shift, I will welcome others to join me.


“Crow Red Heart, what do you have?”

The tracker ignored the hunters gathered around him. He squatted, looking right and left. A trace of blood lay on the ground between the arches. The native sniffed the air. Suddenly he thrust his arm out, elbow locked, and pointed, “This way. We back track to the source. There was a noble struggle up ahead.”

Crow Red Heart rose and stalked, his moccasins silent on the pavement. The others followed, white-knuckling wooden stakes and crossbows, scanning their surroundings nervously. He turned into an alley. Light rays came in at an acute angle. Crow pointed at a manhole cover, “Down there.”

“You want me to go down first, V.H.?” asked a fierce muscular woman, Nita. Her eyes hooded beneath heavy brows.

“No, I’ll take point,” said the tall gaunt man, beneath a waxed mustache.

Crow Red Heart shifted the manhole cover away. V.H. moved cautiously through the chamber below, then pushed open the oak door. The other hunters followed, then flinched, aiming their weapons inside.

V.H. adjusted his torch beam to a wide setting and entered the abyssal black. The reek of blood was heavy in the air; ominous.

“Spread out, stay focused, lads.”

Crow rested his hand on V.H.’s shoulder and pointed, “Stench intense.”

The others spaced themselves so each had a clear field of fire. One man sucked in his breath between bad teeth. Nita gasped.

“We knew we’d see this,” said V.H.

“Looks bad,” Crow gestured with his head at the carnage.

“Whatever happened here, we missed it,” V.H. announced, and stepped forward. He marched boldly into the massacre scene, crossbow raised, ever cautious. The others behind him ready, torches flashing in all directions.

V.H. staggered back into Crow Red Heart. It overwhelmed him. He’d seen horror, but nothing like this.
The hunters breathed heavily. Only Crow Red Heart remained stoic.

Nita quipped, “Saved us a lot of trouble. Vampire stew.”

V.H. recovered, gritted his teeth, and ordered, “Check ’em, we need to be sure.”

The hunters waded in, going from body to body, fragment to fragment, piece to piece. Occasionally one hunter would fire a bolt, or stab down with a stake, but undead were now dead. V.H. squatted and surveyed the scene after composing himself, squinting occasionally.

“Looks like all of them,” Nita muttered.

“Good,” said another.

V.H. uttered into the silence, “No, there is one more.”

Dr. Raymond is a Family and Emergency Physician who practiced in eight countries in four languages. He is currently living in Austria with his wife.

When not volunteering his practice skills, he is writing, lecturing, or scuba diving. In 2008, he discovered the wreck of a Bulgarian freighter in the Black Sea.

He has multiple medical citations, along with publications in Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grief Diaries, The Examined Life Journal, The Satirist, Chicago Literati, Blood Moon Rising, Frontier Tales Magazine, and in the Science Fiction anthologies Sanctuary and Alien Dimensions, among others.