Lou Tasciotti


Dr. Laurel Capelli and her husband, Dr. Paxton Hill, have little time to grieve over a refugee-camp orphan they lose when their evacuation plane is shot down. Marooned on the African savanna, the pregnant Dr. Laurel Capelli saves Paxton from an organ trafficker, Dr. Jacob Duarte, who has slit his throat. Duarte escapes into the night leaving behind a 350-year-old book on the practice of leeching blood, stolen from the Vatican library, bearing Duarte’s name as the author. Laurel sutures her husband’s severed artery by flashlight and transfuses her own blood into him. But two weeks later, as Paxton’s health and sanity deteriorate in a Manhattan hospital, she is bewildered by his claim that Duarte drank his blood.

Paxton’s eyes are permanently dilated. His salivary glands have dried up. His stomach no longer digests food. He starts drinking his blood transfusions, and though he does not sprout fangs, rise from the dead, or burn up in sunlight, Paxton believes he has become some kind of real-life vampire. Growing violent with thirst, he attacks a patient, attempts to drink his blood and flees the hospital.

Meanwhile, Duarte returns to Manhattan. A policeman tails Laurel to find Paxton and takes them to Duarte’s residence, an old, Dutch farmhouse hidden behind a stone wall in Harlem. Surrounded by the doctor’s private collection of Rembrandt paintings the world has never seen, Paxton learns Duarte has infected him with sanguivorism, an ancient disease whose biological facts underlie the age-old vampire myths. Prone to blindness and forced to drink blood, Duarte is as mortal as any human, though his lifespan and immune system have been enhanced by the disease he was born with. Aging now, Duarte is a descendant of physicians who have lived for centuries by leeching blood from the sick and dying as their ancestor, Hippocrates, once did.
Bounty hunters for the CDC raid Duarte’s residence in their ongoing war to exterminate the disease. Laurel and Paxton escape with Duarte through a tunnel into an abandoned subway station and follow him to the sanguitorium, an underground lake of bones marked with the Vatican seal. The sanguitorium is a sanctuary maintained by the familiars, watchdogs of a 4th century Pope who recognized the miracle of the blood drinkers’ longevity and biological immunity. In sanguitoriums around the world, papal familiars have allowed the infected to live and feed for centuries in exchange for not propagating the disease—a crime punishable by death.

Duarte drags Laurel and Paxton into an age old conflict between the sanguivores and their familiars. Attempting to manipulate an ancient prophecy, he infects Laurel with HIV, coercing her to infect herself with Paxton’s sanguivorism and give birth to a “vampire messiah” who will free them from the papal grip of the familiars.

Laurel and Paxton react by exposing the disease and sanguitorium to the media. Worldwide chaos erupts as desperate people clamor to infect themselves with the healing powers of the disease. Laurel’s twin sister betrays her, kidnapping Paxton to sell his infected blood to the highest bidders. In a rescue attempt by the FBI, a familiar kills Paxton. Alone, pregnant and HIV positive, Laurel kisses Paxton’s bloody lips, choosing the blood-drinking disease over AIDS and ultimately fulfilling her role in the anti-papal prophecy when her son is born a sanguivore.

Copyright 2009 Lou Tasciotti
All Rights Reserved