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Dr. Hugo Pecos: My Story (Part IV)

I was laid low for awhile, and the world moved on. During the Eighties, profit-hungry drug companies mounted an assault on Congress, pushing to overturn the ban on vampire research. This outrage was enough to wake me from my stupor: I spent many a day in Washington lobbying to uphold the ban. In the end, we were outmanned and outspent: President Reagan signed the bill and, in short order, the Vampire Genome Project (a.k.a., the Methusela Project) was launched.

The Bluestone Center
I was glad of at least one thing: the Santa Rosa Institute was chosen as the base for the Project, enabling me to keep a close eye on the proceedings. And all that I have seen convinces me that we are moving too fast. Recently, the Project moved into the animal testing phase, housed in the appropriately ominous-looking Bluestone Center. Behind its thick walls are thousands of animals that have been injected with mutated vampire DNA. If just one handler gets bitten, we'll have a new plague on our hands.

In perhaps the cruelest irony of all, one of my former students, Edward Westhead, recently returned to New Mexico to take over the Vampire Genome Project. Dr. Westhead was an exceptional student with a never-ending supply of questions about vampires. He would follow me after class and pick my brains. It's funny, I always hoped that he would return to the Institute, only I expected it would be to take over for me at the reigns of the Vampire Studies program. While I have no doubt that Dr. Westhead is motivated by an altruistic desire to help people, my opposition to the Vampire Genome Project is well-documented on this site and elsewhere. Rest assured I will continue to try to impress upon him the risks in opening this Pandora's Box.

My humble abode
Lest you think I'm obsessed with vampires, I do have other interests. I live in an adobe house on two acres of land in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. Years of practice have made me, if not exactly a master gardener, then at least a worthy apprentice. I have a pretty fair vegetable garden and grow prize-winning roses. I enjoy reading and have a weakness for detective stories (perhaps a natural outgrowth of the detective work involved in finding vaccines). I am blessed with good health and six beautiful grandchildren. I try not to dwell on the losses.

There is, however, one thing that bothers me. As vampires have faded into folklore, there has been considerable glorification of them in our media. Vampires in movies and TV shows are depicted as charismatic, sexually potent, the life of the party. Vampire Chic has swept the country, with vampire-themed nightclubs and cults and music. I have even had some young people tell me they wish that vampires were still around.

Folks, let me assure you of one thing: we should all thank God that vampires no longer live among us in large numbers. Vampires are bloodthirsty, indiscriminate killers. They prey on the elderly and infirm, they will snatch newborn babies from their mothers. I speak with authority when I tell you, their lives are a constant torment. I'll never forget one young man who'd been brought to the Institute after being bitten on his way home from a bar. We had him trussed-up to a table, and I was walking about preparing to draw blood from him, when I noticed him looking at me and trying to say something through his muzzle. I leaned close to him, and he hissed, "please, make me like I was before."

Memories like these fuel my desire to counter the current wave of misinformation about vampires. Each pair of eyes I can open makes the struggle worthwhile. But sometimes I wonder: who will do it after I am gone?

My strong voice has cost me much: most recently, my job. I'll miss my daily walks across the picturesque Institute campus, just as I'll miss greeting the new students every fall. You don't spend over forty years in a place without forming some strong friendships. But I feel too strongly about this to stand pat (go to my FAQs page for more on my decision to resign). I know Dr. Westhead sees me as a cranky old-timer who prefers living in the past. I don't blame him. He didn't grow up in a world of vampires, he doesn't know how it really was.

Perhaps because I have endured so much tragedy in my life, I am extra cautious. I unequivocally believe that we should not be opening the Pandora's Box of vampire DNA research until we know more about genetics. My opponents often say to me, "don't you want to live three-hundred years?" I admit, the idea of immortality has its allure, but I don't believe we are meant to live forever, and any attempt to do so will meet with unforeseen consequences.

Though I've left the Institute, my work
continues (as you can see by the state
of my study!)

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