Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Since the question of Putin's health has been evoked repeatedly :

What follows is the "Putin" sub-plot of a collaborative parody vampire novel I participated in, in 2009. The main theme is a plot by a Californian vampire start-up aiming for world domination.

Perpetual Darkness - an extract
The Board's ordinary business was expedited in a perfunctory manner. Everyone was restless; they were all on standby, awaiting the results of the Davos mission.

If the mission was successful, it would be probably a week before Mirka could get back with labelled bags of organic material; another couple of days to brew the serum; and then they could finally go into action. There was no way to know how many samples would be recovered, or which world leaders would fall thus into their power. There was, indeed, no formally defined process to assign Directors to victims; but all assumed that the well-defined informal pecking order would prevail, with their Chairman, Master Valeriu, having first pick.

Valeriu sensed the restless mood and decided to take the bull by the horns. He made a game of it. They brainstormed a list of names, in three columns : Political leaders; business magnates; top journalists. He stopped the count at forty prime victims. Then he took an anonymous poll : who would be your first choice?

After the count, there was a rare moment of levity when it turned out that, of twenty-three directors present, seventeen wanted Putin.


That same afternoon in Davos, Peter Brown also had a rendezvous with Milos and Laslo. He interrogated Laslo about his sample collection methods, and smiled with approval when he explained about his helpers. He enumerated a number of high-value targets, which Laslo undertook to give the highest priority to.

"And our number one target is Vladimir Putin", said Brown.

"No way!" said Laslo. "I've talked to the permanent staff about him. Apparently, every year, he brings his own staff, chambermaids and everything. Nobody gets near him. He doesn't even use the hotel's toilets : he craps into a sort of potty thing, and they ship it all back to Russia."

"Wow, that's weirder than Howard Hughes!" said Milos.

"No, it's sort of rational paranoia", Laslo continued. "It seems the CIA pulled a trick on Brezhnev in the seventies : they cut into the waste pipe from his room, collected a sample of his shit, and diagnosed the liver disease that eventually killed him. Putin doesn't want to be diagnosed, it seems."

"What are all these samples for, anyway?" asked Milos anxiously.

Brown smiled broadly. "It's a research project. We wish to discover whether, as we suspect, a large proportion of world leaders have vampire ancestry. We need to analyze biological samples to do that."

"Then why do you want me to add stuff to their food?" Milos pursued.

After an almost imperceptible hesitation, Brown replied : "It's a biological agent that will react in a certain harmless way on the metabolism of a person with vampire ancestry, and leave traces in samples taken afterwards. It will greatly enhance our capacities of detection and analysis."

"That's great!" said Laslo enthusiastically. "I'm proud to contribute to the project!". Milos kept his own counsel, but accepted the bags of blood Brown handed over to him.

The town was already buzzing with business magnates, power brokers and deal-makers. World leaders were mostly expected the following afternoon, in time for the inaugural dinner.

Shortly after nightfall, Hank and Mark Davidson met with Peter Brown in a different café on the outskirts of Davos. Brown was terse and businesslike: "As our direct-action operatives, your mission is to obtain biological samples from high-value targets which we can't access by other means. But your first duty is to avoid detection. Even at the expense of failure in your assigned missions. And in the event of your being captured or killed, it is imperative that there be no connection to myself or to the Organisation. Any compromise of my status as official invitee would be disastrous."

Hank realised that Davidson was seething with anger. Understandably so : Brown was apparently treating the two of them as equals, and as his inferiors; whereas Davidson was a fellow Director, and chief of the Security section of the Organisation. In Davidson's mind, and perhaps in that of Brown, his status as a mere Coffer put him perpetually in a position of inferiority, and resentfully on the defensive.

"Master Petru, there is no need to lecture me about security imperatives. Indeed, it would be well to defer to me on the subject. Give me the list of targets, and let me deal with the matter."

"Of course, Master Mirka." said Brown, with a forced smile. "I treat with you as an equal. But you must understand that, in this mission, there can be only one operational commander."

"Indeed", Davidson concurred. "However, for security reasons, I think it would be unwise for us to meet again at Davos. There are police, soldiers, cameras everywhere. Iancu and I will execute our missions without any further reference to yourself. I believe this will be the most effective strategy."

"Fine", said Brown, realising he had been out-manoeuvered. "Vladimir Putin is our highest value target. Our local operatives do not have access to him." He outlined what was known of Putin's domestic arrangements. "Over to you, Master Mirka, to devise the plan to get what we want from him." On the one hand, Brown realised, if the Putin mission succeeded, he would have difficulty claiming much credit for it. On the other hand, if it went sour, then he would carry no blame.

The approach to the hotel was fairly easy, much easier than Hank had anticipated. Davidson had plotted it out well, he realised; it was physically challenging, with fences to vault and walls to climb, but not very risky for someone of his calibre. He had to be very careful with the timing; Davidson had determined the pattern of military patrols precisely, and his safety margins were slim.

The real danger was the random patrols which supplemented the regular ones. But Davidson was lurking in the shadows, ready to cover him in that event.

Likewise, entering the hotel wasn't all that hard. Laslò had given him some useful clues about how to work around the alarm system. Once inside, he took off his grey overall, and headed for the Russians' suite in his bellhop uniform.

There, he had a stroke of luck. He had all the necessary material and skill to pick the lock of the suite, or to force it if necessary; but it would have taken time, and might have attracted attention. But the door was ajar, and he glided through. The suite was big, and apparently empty. He found the legendary potty, and collected the precious sample with distaste. He had almost reached the suite's exit door again when a door opened, and a young woman emerged from a small office.

Startled, she addressed him in Russian, then in English : "What are you doing here? It's off limits, surely you know that." She's probably feeling guilty about leaving the door open, thought Hank. Good looking : perhaps she's waiting for a lover? Do I have to take her down? A quick decision was required : he knew he could do it without fuss, and would do her no lasting harm. He would get away OK, but there would be an investigation, and who knew the consequences? Better try to bluff his way out.

"I'm sorry. I saw the open door and ... I thought you might be waiting for someone. Why not me?"

She grinned at this, and seemed to weigh his proposition. Oh Christ, he thought : what if she says yes?

"Run away, little boy. The important people will be back soon. Another time perhaps." Hank winked at her, and made a graceful exit.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Feb 27th, 2022 at 11:39:15 AM EST

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