Weekend Writing Warriors: Sunday 12 May 2013 (Vampire Variations: an offer forestalled)

“Life’s what you make of it,” she says, which was cliche when I was young eight hundred years ago. “And life is change. The only thing immortal is cancer.” Her tone shifts, into the dreamy music of the storyteller, “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful woman who died in pain, but before she went they took a bit of the tumor that killed her… and it lives forever. It’s been replicating in glass dishes more than half the last century.” She looks up, eyes alight in the darkness. “Even if she’d lived, she’d be an old woman now, but her cancer is ageless. And everyone’s made money from it but her kith and kin.”

Terence steps back and looks at her, an odd sour look of appraisal on his face.


Excerpt from my work-in-progress in response to the Vampire Variations challenge. Weekend Writing Warriors offers eight-sentence excerpts from a variety of writers; see the other excerpts here.

Notes: The ‘beautiful woman’ of this story is Henrietta Lacks, the unknowing donor of the HeLa cell line. The full story is told in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

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7 Responses to Weekend Writing Warriors: Sunday 12 May 2013 (Vampire Variations: an offer forestalled)

  1. Interesting snippet. I’ve never thought it was fair that Mrs. Lacks’ family gets no benefit from all the research her cells have contributed to…

  2. Kate Warren says:

    I had the same thought that Veronica did about Henrietta Lacks. Interesting thought that cancer is immortal.

  3. Probably one of the reasons we aren’t immortal.

  4. I like when a vampire story is mixed with science, it makes it a lot more realistic than fantasy only.
    This is really good !

  5. Hmm… Very interesting – actually kind of makes me wonder if the woman is somehow related to Lacks – because of how bitter she seems about the whole thing.

    • epbeaumont says:

      Interesting take on this! Actually, there’s very little chance they’re closely related, but the inspiration of this piece was a conversation with a writing friend of mine about the vampire mythology and the grungier realities of bench science and biotech.

  6. B. M. Reed says:

    What a lovely snippet. Quite vivid imagery.

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