Click on image to enlarge.
by Robert Marcom
Description: A chapbook of the collected works of popular author, Robert Marcom. Speculative fiction and poetry. The stories will make you stop and think. They will make you wonder. They will make you afraid--perhaps very afraid.
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2002
eBookwise Release Date: November 2003
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [173 KB]
Reading time: 101-142 min.
"Looking for a quick evening's read that will leave you thinking? Darkly, Darkly fills that need. A collection of seventeen short stories and eight poems ranging from the surreal to hard science fiction in the far future, to the witch trials in our dark history, this book will keep you turning the pages. I especially liked the short blurbs at the end of each story telling the reader a bit about the background of the story. Darkly, Darkly is a wild trip through one man's vision of what might have been and what may be yet to come. The stories will make you stop and think. They will make you wonder. They will make you afraid--perhaps very afraid. They will stay with you long after you turn the last page. I highly recommend this book to any lover of short stories in any genre."--S. Joan Popek, author of Sound the Ram's Horn for KnowBetter.com
The call of the robot door startled him. He couldn't seem to get used to the disembodied voice, nor to the sudden apparition of a holographic image of his visitor. He wished he could turn it off.
Ordinarily he would have, but not today. Today, his monthly supply was delivered. Other deliveries might be left for him in the delivery bin--but not this one.
"Delivery is by hand, Vladimir. You are required to receive it in person."
"I know. Announce that I'm coming, please." He didn't know why he tried to hide his irritation with the door answering device. The device wasn't neurologically intelligent enough to take offense. The biological enhancements were restricted by law from possessing anything close to human intelligence. This one was, in Vlad's opinion, dumber than dirt.
Vlad made his way to the front entry, turning the lights up to dusky glow. He disliked doing so, but he thought the delivery-waif might not have low-light vision.
"Vladimir Drakeson? I have a delivery for you. Do you have your certificate?"
Vladimir fumbled with the plastic card, turning it so that the little connection strip was available to the delivery... person? Vlad stopped in mid-gesture.
"Are you bio-engineered?" The comment passed from Vlad's lips before he could stop it. The question was impolite, and worse. Vlad was always concerned that such a personal question would invite unwelcome curiosity in return.
"Yes. This is my first day. Virtual Intelligence Certified, number Ten, six sixty-six. You are a hematosexual, aren't you?"
Oh mother, thought Vlad, here we go. "Yes. Yes I am. Is that my package?"
"Yes it is. Insert your certificate here, please."
"I didn't know they were approving virtual intelligence. I thought it was prohibited."
"Not anymore sir. We were authorized by World Congress joint bill A-six sixty six. I'm the tenth VIC grown."
"I just can't seem to keep up anymore."
The VIC-ten smiled. "Sir?"
"I would like to know more about hematosexuals. You see, delivery will be my occupation. I am expected to learn on the job. You seem very open. Do you mind?"
"Hummf. I suppose not. What do you want to know?"
"Well, I know that 'hemos' were declared a legitimate alternative life-style by the Civil Rights Extension Act of 2056. I understand that your lifestyle is a protected one. I just don't know what 'hemos' do differently than other people. Could you explain it to me? If you have time, that is.
"Well, first of all; I'd rather be called a vampire, than a hematosexual. Do you mind?"
"Oh no, sir. This is the sort of information I need."
"Good. We aren't really all that different. We do use bio-farmed blood. That is a bit personal though." Vlad looked more closely at the VIC-10. It looked rather generic; asexual, really. Rosy skinned and full of life, he thought. Full of life.
"Would you like to come in? I'd rather not explain it out here in the vestibule."
"I suppose so--but I can't stay long. I have other deliveries."
"Just drop the blood on that table. Say, tell me, are VICs biologically similar to human beings? You look amazingly like a little boy. Do you know your blood type?" * * * *
Dracu, the Old Dragon, stirred. The great serpent who slithered between the Realms of Light and Dark had awakened. It had indigestion. The pitifully meager soul it just received was decidedly substandard.
No substance really, Dracu thought. Everything seemed so bland these days. Dracu yearned for the old days. My son Dracula, he ruminated. Now, there was a vampire. What feasts we had! He knew how to harvest souls....