Sweetblood (9781439108741)

Sweetblood

 

Also by Pete Hautman

Hole in the Sky

Stone Cold

Mr. Was

 

SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
www.SimonandSchuter.com

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2003 by Pete Murray Hautman

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

S
IMON
& S
CHUSTER
BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster.

Book design by Ann Sullivan
The text for this book is set in Century Schoolbook.

Manufactured in the United States of America
10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hautman, Pete, 1952–
Sweetblood / Pete Hautman.
p. cm.
Summary: After a lifetime of being a model student, sixteen-year-old Lucy Szabo is suddenly in trouble at school, at home, with the “protovampires” she has met online and in person, and most of all with her uncontrolled diabetes.
ISBN 0-689-85048-4 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0-6898-5048-6
eISBN-13: 978-1-4391-0874-1
[1. Diabetes—Fiction. 2. Vampires—Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 4. High schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.H2887 Sw 2003
[Fic]—dc21    2002011179

 

For Mark and Amy

 

I would like to thank Alice Beard for her support and encouragement when I began writing
Sweetblood
a quarter of a century ago; Jennifer Flannery, David Gale, and Ellia Bisker for their understanding of, enthusiasm for, and commitment to the YA field; and Mary Logue for too many things to tally. I must also acknowledge the three pillars of modern vampire fiction: Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and Joss Whedon. The Undead would not be walking without them.

CONTENTS

  
1. Blood

  
2. Friendship

  
3. Undead

  
4. Sblood

  
5. Blue Eyes

  
6. The Sad Truth About Bloodsucking Demons

  
7. Draco

  
8. Femmes Fatale

  
9. Low

10.
BLAH BLAH BLAH

11. French Cuisine

12.
Poisson

13. Night Creature

14. Espresso Yourself

15. Butterflies and Beer

16. Wine Red

17. Fuzz

18. Bad Girl

19. Shrink-Wrap

20. Studying

21. Adrift

22. Angst

23. Trick or Treat

24. Bizarro

25. Wine and Chocolate

26. Snail

27. Logic

28. Me

29. Blue Sky

1

Blood

Blood is my friend. Without it my cells shrivel. Without it I die.

At night, alone with myself, I hear it rushing through arteries and veins, platelets tumbling in a soup of plasma and glucose through slick, twisty tubes, lining up to enter narrow capillaries, delivering oxygen and fuel, seeking idle insulin. It is a low-pitched sound: wind passing through woodlands.

I hear a higher pitched sound too: A demon dentist drilling, rising and falling but never stopping. It is the sound of my thoughts.

Alone, at night, with myself, the low sound and the high sound become music. If I lie perfectly still and quiet the concert separates me from my body. Eyes closed, I float above myself, supported on a cloud of song.

But these are my secrets, things I do not talk about. You don't
want people to think you're crazy, not even your best friends.

Even if you are crazy.
Especially
if you are.

When I was six years old I found a dying bat, probably
Myotis lucifugus
. Or maybe it was
Desmodus rotundus,
the infamous vampire bat, on vacation from South America. Nobody knows for sure. I saw the bat flopping around on the grass. I didn't know what it was, but being only six and fond of all small creatures, I picked it up. Its wings were velvety soft and it made squeaking, mewling protests. I put it in my pocket and took it home to show to my mother.

She let out a shriek. That was ten years ago, but I can still hear her screech echoing in my skull. I dropped the bat—
flop flop flop
—on the kitchen floor and my mother grabbed her broom and
WHACK WHACK WHACK.
She swept it into the plastic dustpan and carried it outside and dropped it in the trash. Another pet story with a sad ending.

That night when my father got home he heard the story of the bat. He did not scream like my mother but instead got very gruff and concerned and made me show him my hands. Scratches, scratches everywhere. Did it bite? He kept asking me did it bite. I was going
NO NO NO,
but my hands were scratched from picking raspberries at the Fremonts', where I was not supposed to go, and he was holding my hands too hard and he was furious and my mother was whining and I was screaming and shrieking loudest of all, I'm sure.

WHERE IS IT?

The bat is in the trash, my mother tells him. He drops my scratched hands and runs outside, but the bat is gone.
The trash has been picked up. My mother and I sob in the face of my father's rage.

I don't remember much about the hospital. They say that rabies shots are painful, and that there are a lot of them. I don't remember the shots. Maybe I have blocked the memories, or maybe they have dissolved into the memories of all the other shots I've had in my life. I've had a
lot
of shots. All I remember now is that the emergency room doctor was very calm and gentle, and I liked him.

“Little girls aren't supposed to play with sick bats,” he told me, smiling.

“I'm not so little,” I said.

I don't know why I remember that and not the shots.

Fish, my endocrinologist, tells me that the bat and the rabies shots had nothing to do with my diabetes. I am not so sure. How can you give a six-year-old girl rabies shots and not have it affect her? The way I see it (and I have done a lot of research in this area) the rabies vaccination trains the body's immune system to attack. That's what vaccines do. They don't actually kill the bacteria or virus, they just activate the immune system. As soon as the supposed rabies virus starts to multiply, the immune system is ready and waiting and
BAM
. The virus never has a chance.

But here's the thing: That same immune system that kills rabies viruses kills other kinds of cells too. The cells that make insulin, for instance. Beta cells. I have been over this with Fish. He doubts that the rabies shots did anything bad to me. He says that my immune system destroyed my beta cells all on its own. Fish (real name: Harlan Fisher, M.D.) knows his stuff, but he still can't tell
me why, three months after the rabies shots, this little girl guzzled an entire half gallon of orange juice in just one afternoon.

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