The First Word on the Publishing Industry

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Vampire House MD

To celebrate Mediabistro’s upcoming Media App Summit, we hosted The World’s Longest Literary Vampire Remix writing contest.

With the help from writers around the country, we rewrote Varney the Vampire–a bestselling vampire novel from the 19th Century filled with enough star-crossed romance, vampire action and purple prose to inspire another Twilight trilogy.

Below, GalleyCat reader and contest winner Barbara Barnett rewrote her passage as a scene from House MD.

Vampire House MD by Barbara Barnett


Chillingworth put his leather messenger bag on the ornate sofa and whipped out a white board and three colored dry-erase markers, setting them on a small end table. He wrote “Languor” at the top of the board, underlining it in red. Beneath that, in blue meandering letters he wrote “Really amazing drugs” and in red letters seemingly dripping with blood droplets he wrote “AVS!”

 “AVS? I’m afraid I don’t understand, sir.”

 “Acute Vampiric Syndrome.” Chillingworth’s young companion could only shrug.

 Chillingworth sighed, clearly annoyed. “There are really only two things that could cause this…condition. And unless you’re hiding Count Dracula in the closet, we can rule out AVS. What’s she taking?”

 “I’m afraid…” But Chillingworth had disappeared down a long hallway towards the bathroom. He began opening cabinets and drawers.

 “What on earth are you doing?”

 “Needles. This looks like it could be morphine. How long has your sister been using?”

 “But that’s impossible, my dear sir. I’m confident that there are no such drugs in the house.”

 “What she’s never kept a secret from you before? She’s lying. Everybody lies.” He continued to search, becoming more annoyed at his lack of success as he found no evidence of narcotic use. “My team is better at this, but they’re busy, so…”

 “Really, Mr. Chillingworth, I must insist…”

“Look. Whatever it is, slowed… Say you have a steam engine on a train,” began Chillingworth, speaking slowly as if to an idiot. “And the guys shoveling coal are working as hard as they can, but the train just keeps slowing down. Eventually, the coal shovelers are just going to give up. And if they give out, the train just stops. Now, what would cause that? One, the shovelers are taking enough drugs that they just don’t care and the coal’s going everywhere but into the boiler—they keep missing. Other possibility is that the shoveling’s efficient but there’s a leak somewhere, and the steam is bleeding out and killing the heart.”

“What?” Now he was really confused. “I hate metaphors. Can’t you just tell me what’s wrong with my sister?” Chillingworth stopped his rummaging around and spun on the young man, his eyes flashing angrily.

“Narcotics depress the respiratory system, creating the langorous state in which you found the young lady in question. And unless we take care of it, she will no longer be languorous, but dead. Got that?”

But what about the Vampire…whatever you said…”

Chillingworth chuckled. “Yeah. It’s easier to live in denial and believe vampires did this rather than admit she’s a junkie,” he replied. “Excuse me.” He palmed an amber pill bottle, shaking out three oblong tablets and dry swallowing them.

"Oh, that I could believe she’s an addict; that would be much simpler, I confess, to comprehend, but I am confident she has taken no narcotic; she could not even do so by mistake, for there is no drug of the sort in the house. Besides, she is not heedless by any means. I am quite convinced that she has not done so. And after what I witnessed last night, your vampire theory makes more sense, I fear."

 “I made that up.”


“AVS. It’s not real for one simple reason: there are no vampires. Most symptoms associated with vampire contact through the ages can be attributed to either drugs or acute porphyria.”

“But I know what I saw.”

“Then I’m the wrong person for this. I have a good friend, slightly peculiar, but smart. Name’s Mulder. Fox Mulder. Talk to him. He’d love it, but your friend here is dying. Of course it’s up to you.” Chillingworth removed his mobile phone from his pocket and started dialing a number.

"I know what I saw."

“I’ve had delusions too, my friend. Landed me in a haunted house of a psych hospital for six months. In New Jersey.”

“But what if you had seen…what…” he hesitated at the recollection, hairs at the back of his neck standing on end. He shivered.

"Me? I would not have lost sight of it for the world’s wealth. How cool would that be? Pictures. I would have taken tons of them. Sent them to the Inquirer. Do you know that I once extracted a 24-foot tapeworm from a woman? Now that’s impressive. Vampires? Like I said, more likely porphyria for him; drugs for zombie girl."

"You would have felt your blood freeze with horror, that’s what you would have done. I wish you had been here. Then you would believe me."

"I wish to Heaven I had. If there was a heaven, which there’s not. Trust me; I know.”

"I am going to sit up to-night with my sister, and, I believe, our friend Mr. Marchdale will share my watch with me."

“She could die without treatment, but you go ahead and do that.”

 Mr. Chillingworth appeared to lost in thought, a faraway look in his eye. Suddenly he rose from his chair, using his walking stick for balance. She shook his head derisively at the idiot sitting before him.

"We’re done here."

 “Is there nothing you can do help her?”

“Well, since you’re set on vampires, then, well…do you have any garlic? Whole bulbs? Preferably strung into a…” he gestured around his neck. “…like a loop?”

Henry nodded. “Great on pizza. As for your sister. She needs to be in the hospital and treated with naloxone.”

Henry frowned. He didn’t need Chillingworth’s sarcasm—not now.

"Fine,” the older man sighed. “I will send you some medicines, such as I think will be of service to Flora, and depend upon seeing me by ten o’clock to-morrow morning."

"So you know for certain there’s no such thing as vampires." It was more a statement than a question.

Another sigh. The doctor had to admit to having read centuries old medical texts in the original Swedish that seemed to suggest at least some truth to the superstition. And some relevant Arabic tomes dating back to the Ottoman Empire that were well argued.

"Yes. The ghouls of the Mahometans are of the same description of beings. All that have heard of the European vampyre has made it a being that can be killed, but is restored to life again by the rays of a full moon falling on the body."

 ”Yes, yes, I have heard as much.”

 ”And that the hideous repast of blood has to be taken very frequently, and that if the vampyre gets it not he wastes away, presenting the appearance of one in the last stage of a consumption, and visibly, so to speak, dying.”

Barbara is an entertainment journalist and authors, specializing in all things pop cultural.

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