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The Modern Vampire


History:This is the first story I wrote, and though I\''ve surpassed it since, I still have a certain affection for it.
Acclaim:Accepted for inclusion on "Pathways To Darkness" vampire resource site.


The Modern Vampire

We stood across from each other in the lounge of a small New York apartment. The apartment owner, a lovely young lady just home from work, lay crumpled and dead in a growing pool of crimson liquid leaking slowly from her neck. It was always such a shame to waste so much life essence; normally I would be sure not to spill a drop. However, when I was interrupted by my guest, I had to let the woman go; it is, after all, terribly rude to eat in the presence of another who is not eating.

I, of course, am a vampire; a "mythical" creature that feeds on the blood of others. It still astounds me to this day that so few people truly believe in us. But, better anonymity than notoriety.

My companion was a self-professed vampire hunter. He would stop at nothing to lay vampires to rest and rid the world of us. I have outlived far more vampire hunters than I care to remember, but they are a persistent creed, and sooner or later more come along looking to alter your existence in a final, decisive movement. Rather than threatening, I find them troublesome; rarely do they find me, but when they do, they are a chore to dispose of. Far better to hide and watch them die of old age.

My latest protagonist had, in fairness, gone to some effort to achieve the traditional look. His face was framed with short, curly, fair hair, reaching from the top of his head down in long sideburns to a short beard across his chin. His jacket was tweed, with leather patches on the elbows. His arms rested by his side, one hand tightly gripping a short but heavy mallet and the other holding a stout wooden stake. He had the traditional strength, too, having hammered the door open mere moments ago. Just under his jacket I could even see the much famed silver crucifix, glinting in the light.

I swear there must be a growth business in making those things.

For my part, I shunned the old image of the black cape with red lining, but I did have a floor length black leather jacket - an amazing find in my local shopping mall, and once the owner had been persuaded to part company with it, I was pleased to find that it fitted perfectly and the blood would wash off.

That was the only time I killed without hunger or danger of attack.

I step over the out-stretched arm of the girl, pulling the coat up to be sure it didn't brush against her blood stained clothes, and walk over to a small drinks cabinet. Opening the door, I pull out a bottle of finest scotch whiskey and two tumblers, and flash a fanged grin at my guest. I hold a glass in a querying gesture, but the hunter only turns to follow me with his eyes, and makes no other movement. I shrug, and replace one of the glasses in the cupboard.

It continued to disappoint me that after all this time the vampire hunters still could not look beyond the centuries old prejudices, and insisted on thinking of us as foul and vile creatures of incredible cruelty and viciousness, fit only to be exterminated. In fact, as a species we are remarkably fair; in general, we will only attack those who would attack us, or those who we need for food. Our practices are no worse than the lions and tigers humans seek to protect, and the admittedly drawn out deaths of our victims are no worse than the deaths inflicted on animals by many of the world's major religions. People just have a problem with other people dying.

I pull the cork from the bottle and the sweet aroma of a vintage whiskey met me. 30 year vintage in fact. I doubted the girl was much more than half that age. The bottle had made a good present at one time, perhaps.

As I said, the coat was the only time I struck out without any reason that you could give to humans. But it was perhaps as important as any other motive for killing. Vampires try to move with the times; it is important to keep up to date, to fit in. Mostly it also makes for a much better time. But it is very important to remember tradition. Never forget the old ways and what they have to teach us. The coat was a modern progression on the old style of a black cape. This was so much more than just a fashion accessory. Wear a long black cape, and you look imposing. From half the people you will command respect and fear, and from the other half you will command love, desire and admiration. Either way, it is a win-win situation.

Probably the only other people with a similar understanding of tradition is the hunters themselves. They follow it almost like a religion, although as devout Christians they already have religion enough. By contrast, most vampires don't follow religion; we simply don't see the need. So instead, tradition becomes a religion-substitute of sorts. We make changes though; try to keep it up to date and relevant. No use getting out of date.

I pour the golden liquid into the tumbler, and carefully re-cork the bottle, replacing it in the cupboard. As I raise the tumbler to my lips, the sunlight streaming in through the window glints off the glass in a most attractive way.

It took the hunters about a century to get used to us going out in the day, as I recall.

My knowledge of history is limited, it must be said. I haven't lived through all of it, but by the human measure there has been a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I might be forgetting some events... minor wars, that sort of thing. Except I know I'm not; I remember everything.

I remember the faces of everyone I feed from.

This isn't as troubling as it sounds. I also remember the faces of everyone I pass in the street; every face and every name I've encountered in my many years. I remember the smallest details of time, location, surroundings, events. It really is quite remarkable. I've lived with it for a long time, and I'm still impressed. Being a vampire has many benefits, but this is the best. The strength, the teeth, the claws, the wings... all there when I need them, and hidden when not. But none of them as good as the benefits to the mind.

I raise the glass to my lips, and taste the smooth whiskey within. It's a strange fact that one of the major loses in becoming a vampire is food. Doing away with the need for frequent meals is good, but you also lose the taste for them. Most foodstuffs become horribly bitter, so only the crimson flow of blood provides any sweet-tasting nourishment. There are exceptions though. I was most surprised when I accidentally found through a previous meal that I still had my taste for whiskey. Vampire longevity also makes it possible to have some truly great vintages.

I sup the liquid as the boiling rage in my companion grows. His knuckles whiten as he grips his stake tighter. A fine traditional weapon. In truth, any sharp object will do if it pierces the heart; stopping the blood flow is the important part. But a stake has significance.

I can feel the tension in the air growing, and as I drink my fangs clink against the side of the tumbler. Careless, careless. In truth, I hate to flash my fangs at the hunters, as it only serves to agitate them. But unfortunately it is a fight-or-flight reaction. Preparation for trouble. Mostly, it is a habit which is hard to shake off after so many years.

That appears to be the breaking point for the hunter; with gritted teeth, he charges towards me with stake and mallet raised menacingly. He's quick, I have to give him that. The short distance between us disappears at an amazing rate. I see in slow motion the snarl on his lips and the perspiration on his forehead. The sharpened tip of the stake could kill me without the mallet, so much force does he have behind him.

I hold the tumbler carefully, and swing back the left side of my coat. My right hand reaches down automatically to my waist, pulls a hefty black object up from its holster, levels it with the hunters head and the lightest brush of my index finger unleashes all the fires of hell in the hunter's face in the shape of one metal bullet.

The hunter is caught square in the forehead by the bullet, and flips backwards with the force of it. Momentum carries him forward, and he lands on his back at my feet. The stake and mallet are still tightly gripped by his hands.

I kick his leg off the toe of my boot, and replace the gun in its holster. A spray of blood from the hunter's head glistens across the floor. Hungry as I am, it would be disrespectful to feed on the hunter, no matter how inconvenient they are. I finish the whiskey and step over the hunter's body towards the door to the apartment. For all their convenience, guns are not subtle, and tend to attract attention. More attention I can do without.

I stand in the doorway, and look at the bodies laying on the floor in front of me. So much blood, but so little food. Such a shame. I gently pull the door to behind me, and start walking down the steps.

For all their hard work, the vampire hunters are doomed to fail. They are so wrapped up in their traditions, they don't see the real world around them. Us vampires, we've kept our traditions, but we've updated. Fangs and teeth are fine weapons when push comes to shove, but that miracle of human ingenuity, the gun, provides a far more effective and immediate way of disposing of irritating house guests.

So the hunters will never win. They'll always take second place. And it's just because they won't move with the times.

I reach the front door to the apartment block, and pause. Adjusting the coat to hide the gun, I check for signs of blood. Then I pull out my shades, place them on my face, and head out into the sunlit day.

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