The smell was the worst.
It assaulted like a living, breathing thing. The smell hung on clothing and hair. If you stepped out of the hospital, down to the shores of Mighty Thames, the cloud would stay with you. Not even the cold and bitter wind washed it away.
The vampire didn’t care about the stench. The dying came to the London hospital in droves. He cared for them as best he could. He was a physician honor bound to treat the victims of this vicious plague. And then he would eat them.
The physician’s rotund. He was of normal girth before the scourge came. The floodgates opened. Black Plague brought an endless stream of blood-filled vessels. Very few survived. The Plague was deadly like that.
The vampire bled as many as he could. Sometimes twenty a day died in this manner, all but dried husks. They were cremated in great funeral pyres. Flames licked the sky and the heavens turned a blind eye to the suffering below.
The physician plump, flushed pink, growing more so by the day. The more blood he drank, the more he wanted. After a time, he could no longer fit into his clothes. He had to have another suit made. He grew out of that one too. And still they came.
He finished her off with one last gulp. The physician dropped her to the rags-covered pallet. Her cooling body settled with ankles crossed, arms slung out either side. He looked at her a moment. She reminded him of – something.
The vampire settled back on the stool, studied his hands. They’re burning now. They were bright pink, almost red. The fingers were as plump over-stuffed sausages, hard and rigid. The hands felt on fire, fingers coarse to move. Each subsequent attempt became more difficult. He sweated all the time. The bloody sweat stained his latest suit of clothes, already ripping at the seams.
He stood slowly up, legs cramping. His knees were sketchy from the improbable weight. Crimson sweat popped out on his forehead. It made him look like he just swatted away a swarm of biting insects.
His eyes began to tear. The tears slow at first, then fast. The great drops poured forth from bulging eyes. His swollen face cascaded salt-bloody tears. He slapped tears away and both his ears spurt. Ejaculates of blood shot out ruptured eardrums.
Pain dropped the physician to his knees, leaving splatters of fluid on the floor. He clawed the ears and shrieked. Clots of blood exploded from his mouth. It sprayed out pond ripples, splattering the floor ten feet in front of him. Because of ruptured eardrums, the vampire/physician couldn’t hear drops hit the swept-dirt floor.
The chest pain was next. Shortness of breath from a dirge of blood cells damming up arteries and veins. Skin split from excessive internal pressure.
The seams of his pants parted. Solidified blood pushed out the vampire’s rectum in a long, solid, bracken cylinder. A bloodsnake seeking sunlight, it was followed rapidly by fresher blood from the torn stomach.
The physician threw up more blood. He could no longer see because both eyes lay dangling astride his nose, suspended by optic nerves.
His heart burst. One could see from the way busted ribcage pushed outward he had a strong one. The vampire/physician lay still in the ever-spreading pool of his own blood. His patients’ blood. His victims’ blood.
A small crowd gathered to gawk and they were disgusted by the scene. But what they saw was not the worst.
It was the smell. That was the worst.