In what critics have branded “the most reckless scientific undertaking in half a century,” three maverick researchers are preparing to drink the blood of Vlad the Impaler – the historical Dracula.
If all goes well, the trio will prove once and for all that Vlad was no vampire – but if it fails, experts fear the trio could become vampires themselves.
“This so-called experiment is shockingly arrogant and foolhardy,” blasts Romanian folklorist Costica Popescu. “The risk is not only to them. They could unleash a vampire plague that sweeps through the entire region in a matter of weeks.”
But German researchers Albrecht Holtzmann, 54. Leopold Koertig, 44, and Johanna Eichelberger, 37, insist that nothing could go wrong.
“We are taking every conceivable precaution,” Holtzmann assured reporters. “We will be properly restrained and security staff will be on hand, equipped with crucifixes and holy water in the unlikely event that something extraordinary occurs.
“If we’re right, we’ll prove to the world that Dracula was not a vampire, clearing his name. But if we’re wrong, the scientific community will have a unique opportunity to examine these mysterious, marvelous creatures the world knows as vampires.”
The strange scientific saga began in 2002 when a small bottle sealed with wax and labeled “Blood of Vlad Dracul-a of Wallachia” was discovered beneath the ruins of a deconsecrated church in Romania. The site – just 35 miles from Castle Poenari, the legendary stronghold of the 15th century warlord — was being excavated by archaeologists. DNA tests conducted on the contents in 2008 and compared to living descendants of Prince Vlad found an 87% chance the blood was indeed that of the notoriously brutal ruler.
“It was all very puzzling,” explains science writer Hans Fruehaul. “The vast majority of historians say that Vlad, while widely described as ‘bloodthirsty’ in texts from his time, did not literally drink blood. It is generally believed that Bram Stoker, the author of the famous novel Dracula, merely borrowed the name and background of the historical figure for his book. But there are a handful of experts who disagree, insisting that Prince Vlad was a bona fide vampire. And the fact that the bottle of his blood was found at a site known to be a gathering place for devil-worshippers in the late Middle Ages did give some credence to that assertion.”
Controversy arose when the German lab where the genetic testing was conducted refused to return the blood, instead transferring it to a vial where it has remained stored in a refrigerated compartment for the past seven years. When Holtzmann, the lab’s director, announced on June 2 his team’s plan to sip the blood, he was met with a firestorm of criticism. There have even been calls for the government to put an evacuation plan in place for the area in the event that things go awry.
But the researchers have adopted a lighthearted — some say frivolous — attitude to the risky venture. They plan to take sips of the blood exactly on midnight next December 1, believed to be the anniversary of Vlad’s birth.
Said Holtzmann, “We will either open our eyes normal and pop open a bottle of champagne, or awake as new beings with remarkable powers and characteristics to discover.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
If you found this story by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…
Read Hour of the Beast.
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