Knock. Knock. Knock.

Jack Mallard waited to hear the “Come in”, pushed open the door and entered the office of Hilary Bennett, MD. After brief introductions he took the offered seat in front of a tidy, modern desk and told the doctor why he was there.

There was Silence. Time stretched. Jack straightened himself as tall and upright as he could in the functional, wooden, slightly-too-big chair. He waited for a response as a few more seconds ticked away. He looked at her, seeing a fifty something, slightly plump lady of average height with greying blond hair – no colouring – and hard grey eyes set in a friendly roundish face. Her tasteful woollen suit said ‘professional’ in a minimalist and, being honest, ever so slightly cheap way.

Jack had picked her almost at random: the most important thing was that she had no links to him or his family. Dr Kurt was a friend of his father and never told him anything. No, Dr Kurt lied to him. Now he was here to find out the truth and he hoped Bennett would be honest.

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said at length, “but would you mind repeating that?”

Word for word he said again, “I want you to do some tests. I want you to tell me if I’m really human.”

“I see,” said Dr Bennett. She appeared very matter-of-fact, not fazed at all. “And what makes you think that that you might not be?”

Jack paused and sucked in a breath. He was forty three but always felt strangely younger when dealing with authority figures on anything like an equal basis. “Remember the mission,” he thought and repeated it in his head a couple of times more. The mission. The mission. His ‘threes’ were bad today. It wasn’t a good sign.

He was going to go through with this and he needed to be honest. So he began with the words he’d been rehearsing all day. “I’ve never really slept,” he said, “not once, not for a minute. Even as a baby. Now I can rest in bed and watch the hands of my clock go around. I can look at a clock and not notice time pass. When I’m like that I can make the hour hand seem like the second hand. Yet during an attack it can all go the other way … rain drops hang in the air. People freeze in their tracks.”

“An attack of what?” asked Dr Bennett.

Jack ignored her. “I’m mainly colour blind through my eyes, but I can hear and smell colours just fine. If I go out in the sunlight for too long – and that’s not really so long at all – my skin starts to blister.”

Another pause. Dr. Bennett took a long thoughtful breath through her nose. Pursed her lips. “Well, that’s very interesting! Synaesthesia … temporal illusion … polymorphous light eruption. That’s quite a collection of unusual symptoms Mr Mallard. But hardly inhuman you know. Even when taken altogether. Is there something else?

He looked at her. He could see the slight pulsing of a vein on her neck. People were dull cattle and sheep, filled with blood. The blood. The blood.

He tried to shake away these dark thoughts. “There are other things.” He said.

“Now tell me,” Dr Bennett said, “and I need you to be honest with me. Are you on any medication?”

A moment of panic hit him. She knew about the meds!
The meds!
The meds!

Of course he had had to come off them in order to think, in order to sort out this mission. Dr Kurt always made him take the meds, tried to make him more ‘human’. “No,” he said calmly, “I’m not taking any medication.” A pause. Time stretched again as they regarded each other. “I’m attracted to blood,” he said, “very attracted.”


“Right now, I can smell yours moving through you. I can taste the vein on your neck. I can hear your heart beating: B-Blue. B-Blue. B-Blue”

“Ah-ha. Escalating synaesthesia coupled with vampirism. Excellent!” It seemed that her eyes had lit up with excitement – he could hear them! And he could actually feel them too. So cold! She rose from her desk and started over to some bookshelves on the wall away from the window. “I think you may have come to the right place, Mr Mallard. Can I call you Jack? Now, I’ve got some information over here…”

He could take it no more. He should never have started thinking about the blood. Her blood. He did not need the tests: nothing human could behave in the way that he did.

He counted her across the room: One step. Two. Three.
Three. Three.

And just as the doctor reached the shelves, he leapt with an almost unbelievable speed and precision. Time stretched for him as he arced through the air. He noticed her hand reaching for a book at the same time as his own curved like claws. Knife pointing, she turning, him snarling, her eyes widening, as he flew, flew, flew towards her. An impact, the sound of bones breaking, a hand movement faster than the eye could follow and finally, at last, the blood.
The blood.
The blood.

“Oh Hilary”, Dr Jarvis said to himself as he pulled on his overalls, “what have you done?” The body on the slab said nothing. Could say nothing. A body on a slab is just cold meat. Naked, exposed. Bloodied. Pete Jarvis leant closer and peered over his glasses. The ribcage was so obviously distorted. A kick, he reckoned, and he tried to imagine the force required to do such damage. He made a note on his pad and moved his inspection along to the face before returning to his notes and frowning. He went on to carefully describe the neat hole in the centre of the forehead, set on a line one centimetre above the eye sockets.

There was another wound over the heart and a third hole right through the larynx.

“Oh Hilary,” he sighed. He remembered her now from her student days, studying into the night as if she never needed sleep, like she wasn’t really human at all. Of course, she had always been so adventurous, and he’d lost track of her for a long while. He glanced over at the still, death-blue body. “Well,” he said to himself, “Ten years out of the Marines and still the finest pistol shot I ever saw. I guess Mr Mallard here never knew what hit him.”

“Bang! Bang! Bang!”

Alyson Madden-Brooker