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Dr. Hugo Pecos: My Story (Part II)

I ran back to our cabin and awoke my father; he organized a search party of about a dozen men, and they went into the woods with torches. They called for him all night, to no avail. The next day, the plantation owner organized a larger search party, with dogs. Two days later, the party returned, with a bound and gagged Rayleen draped over one of the horses. My father and I ran out to see if there was any news on Orlando. That was when I noticed that the men were dragging something behind one of the horses. My father tried to shield my eyes, but I broke away and saw what had once been my brother.

The owner blamed my family for what happened and threw us off the plantation. Though we quickly joined up with another tobacco farm, my grieving father could barely rouse himself for a day's work. When he collapsed the next summer in a field of strawberries, the coroner listed the cause of death as a heart attack, but I know he died of a broken heart.

My WW II Medic ID
My mother was left to raise four rambunctious children by herself. She was a strong woman, and she had to be. After we settled with some relatives in Dallas, my mother worked as a maid by day, cleaning lady by night, and still managed to keep us kids on a short leash. All that discipline paid off for me when I graduated high school first in my class and enrolled at the the University of Texas.

Plans to attend medical school were derailed, however, when I was drafted into service in World War II. My interest in medicine compelled me to enlist as a medic, and after some brief training in New Jersey, I shipped out to England with the 31st Infantry Division on October 31, 1944. After a month of additional training in England, we crossed the English Channel on a bitterly cold, blustery day and arrived in France to help the Allied push east into Germany.

Zozobra Project housing
was rustic at best
I am not going to dwell on my World War II experiences here. To go into them in any detail would require far more space than this Web site can provide. One day, I intend to publish the whole story in book form. For now, let's just say that I saw things no 19-year-old should see, and nothing was worse than the experience of liberating a POW camp in Luxembourg that had been overrun by vampires. Some say the Germans intentionally infected the POWs in a desperate attempt to slow the Allied invasion. Whatever the case, I gained valuable experience fighting vampires and treating those wounded by them. And so, when the war ended and I returned to the States, I was summoned to Washington D.C., where I heard for the first time the words "Zozobra Project."

The Zozobra Project was an attempt to bring an end to several millenia of vampire activity by developing a vaccine for the virus. Mindful of what happened to my brother, I signed on, and a day later, in an atmosphere of stonefaced secrecy, I was flown to the air force base in Albuquerque and then escorted into the back of a van with no windows. Some time later, I arrived in what could have passed for a summer camp, with trees and cabins, except for all the scientists milling about.

The scientists of the Zozobra Project were a true "dream team." Men I had read about in books were now sitting across from me in the lunchroom. As one of the younger scientists, I felt like I was in over my head. But there was no time for anxiety, as reports of vampire outbreaks were reaching us almost every day.

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