I read a collection of vampire short stories in the 90s. One stood out about a group of UN inspectors or delegation of some sort in Romania after the fall of Ceaușescu. One of the group is a vampire and is secretly investigating the effects of AIDS on the vampire population.

One scene shows a visit to an orphanage where a doctor in the delegation expresses outrage at the conditions and the lack of a working autoclave. The vampire eventually meets the old one/master who is suffering from AIDS.


2 Answers 2


As the OP specified a short story, I will suggest another work by Dan Simmons, a novelette entitled All Dracula's Children. It was published in a vampire anthology in 1991 called The Ultimate Dracula.

It has a lot of material in common with DavidW's suggestion of Children of the Night, including a character called Radu Fortuna. The story is set in post Ceaușescu Romania in December 1989. The delegation is not from the UN, but consists of mixture of different organisations:

“Dr. Aimslea is with the World Health Organization . . . Father Gerald Paul is here representing both the Archdiocese of Greater Boston and the Save the Children Foundation ... Dr. Leonard Paxley, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Princeton University,” continued Westler. “Winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Economics... Mr. Carl Berry representing American Telegraph and Telephone... And Mr. Harold Winston Palmer,” said Westler, gesturing in my direction, “Vice President in charge of European markets ”

They travel to Transylvania and find

In Sibiu we found the hidden children. There were four orphanages in this central Transylvanian city of 170,000, and each orphanage was larger and sadder than the one in Sebes. Dr. Aimslea demanded, through Fortuna, that we be allowed to see the AIDS children.

The authorities are reluctant, but they insist, and are allowed to meet the AIDS children.

The AIDS ward was behind four sets of locked doors. There were no nurses there, no doctors . . . no adults of any kind. Neither were there cribs; the infants and small children sat on the tile floor or competed to find space on one of half a dozen bare and excrement-stained mattresses thrown against the far wall. They were naked and their heads had been shaved.

It is there that the scene about the syringes occurs:

“Mother of Christ,” whispered Dr. Aimslea. “You don’t have disposable syringes?”

Fortuna made a gesture with his hands. “A capitalist luxury.”

Aimslea’s face was so red that I thought capillaries were bursting there. “Then what about fucking autoclaves!”

Fortuna shrugged and asked the nearest nurse something. She snapped a reply and went back to her injections. “She say, the autoclave is broken. Has been broken. Sent to Ministry of Health to be fixed,” translated Fortuna.

We find out that one of the party is a vampire, and he indeed meets the "Old Master", an ancient vampire who is suffering from AIDS.

The figure lying there under thick tapestry-like covers and between gray sheets was so old as to be outside of age, beyond gender. The shutters were drawn, dust and cobwebs filled the room everywhere except where the head and shoulders lay on the pearl-white pillow, but there was a trail through the dust where attendants had trod, and just enough light filtering through the chinks in the shutters to allow one’s eyes to adapt.

I drew closer, went to one knee despite myself. He was barely recognizable from the photographs others in the family had shown me. The high forehead was still dominant, the deep-set eyes and sharp, noble cheekbones still visible, but nothing else was the same.

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    Interesting. This I have not read, but it's obviously the source from which Children of the Night was expanded. Your second and third quotes were repeated verbatim in the novel.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 0:13
  • 1
    @DavidW Yes a lot of the material is recycled. Interesting that in the novel the protagonist is a woman (Ruth), and in the short story it's a man (Harold Winston). Commented May 1, 2022 at 0:20
  • This is what I was looking for and the ISFDB cover image is the one I remember. Thanks everybody, I thought I was dreaming in technicolor about it being a shorter piece. Commented May 1, 2022 at 13:40

I know you said this is a short story, but the scene in an orphanage with a foreign delegation investigating the spread of AIDS and the doctor freaking out about the lack of an autoclave is straight out of Children of the Night (1990) by Dan Simmons:

In the "healthy ward" downstairs, differing from the Sebes orphanage only in size—there must have been a thousand or more children in the endless sea of steel cribs—nurses were moving stolidly from child to child, giving them glass bottles of what looked to be formulized milk, and then, as each child sucked noisily, injecting him or her with a syringe. Then the nurse would wipe the syringe with a rag she carried on her belt, re-insert it in a large vial from her tray, and inject the next child.

"Mother of Christ," whispered Dr. Aimslea. "You don't have disposable syringes?"

Fortuna made a gesture with his hands. "A capitalist luxury."

Aimslea's face was so red that I thought capillaries were bursting there. "Then what about fucking autoclaves!"

Fortuna shrugged and asked the nearest nurse something. She snapped a reply and went back to her injections.

"She say, the autoclave is broken. Has been broken. Sent to Ministry of Health to be fixed," translated Fortuna.

"How long?" grated Aimslea.

"It broken four years," said Fortuna after calling the question to the busy woman. She had not bothered to turn around while replying. "She say, that was four years before it sent to the Ministry for repair last year."

Dr. Aimslea stepped closer to a six- or seven-year-old lying in his crib, sucking on his bottle. The formula looked like gray water. "And these are vitamin shots they're administering?"

"Oh, no," said Fortuna. "Blood."

Dr. Aimslea froze, then turned slowly. "Blood?"

"Yes, yes. Adult's blood. It make little babies strong. Ministry of Health approve... they say it is very... how do you say... advanced medicine."

Aimslea took a step toward the nurse, then a step toward Fortuna, and then wheeled toward me as if he would kill either of the first two if he got close to them. "Adult's blood, Trent. Jesus H. Christ. That was a theory that went out with gaslights and spats. My God, don't they realize..." He suddenly turned back toward our guide.

"Fortuna, where do they get this... adult blood?"

Much of the rest of it is a match too; the story is set in Romania immediately after Ceaușescu was deposed. The protagonist, Kate, is part of an international group involved in opening up relations with the new government of Romania:

We flew to Bucharest almost as soon as the shooting had stopped, landing at Otopeni Airport just—after midnight on December 29, 1989. As the semiofficial "International Assessment Contingent," the six of us were met at my Lear jet, escorted through the confused milling that passed for Customs since Romania's revolution, and then herded aboard an Office of National Tourism VIP van for the nine-mile drive into town. They had brought a wheelchair to the bottom of the aircraft ramp for me, but I waved it away and made the walk to the van myself. It was not easy.

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    Thanks. Could have sworn this was a short story. Well, time, memory age, etc. Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 20:04
  • Just read the synopsis on ISFDB and I don't find it at all familiar. I must be getting very muddled these days. Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 20:07
  • 1
    The amazing Dan Simmons. How powerfully creepy this excerpt.
    – releseabe
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 23:59

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