I’m still seeing swoons online over becoming immortal. “Please turn me.” “I want to be one of you!” “Vampires are SO cool — be my maker!” “I want to BE somebody!” And the one that floors me: “You’re so lucky that happened to you!”
All I hear is, “I wish I were handicapped so I could get better parking.”
Seriously: it’s the same damn thing — and you’re ASKING for it.
So here it is: my magnum opus. All further inquiries into being turned, remade, transformed, or whatever wonders you’ve imagined will now and in the future be referred to this post/document — I’ve been stewing over it for eight years and it’s time I unloaded. Feel free to skip all of this if you want to keep deluding yourself about becoming a creature of darkness and putting yourself in harm’s way that can’t be undone.
“Getting Lucky”: My Big Mistake
I turned left. That’s it — doomed in an instant. As I’ve done dozens of times before and a hundred times since, I crossed the Butchers Road bridge over the Little Kanawha River before turning onto Route 5. A right turn would take me in the direction of my Gramma’s old farmhouse; a left turn would head toward Glenville. I remember being a little hungry and a bit impatient, figuring I could nab a quick six-inch turkey sub in town and scarf it down it on the way back.
The laziest bloodsucking bastard imaginable was already eying my little red Kia Soul from inside his stolen black Cadillac Escalade. If I’d have gone home to Gramma’s, I would have known he was following me. Once you leave the main road, only locals bother with the backwater twists and turns you have to take get anywhere — and we all have guns (welcome to West Virginia) since our nearest neighbors may be five miles away, never mind any possibility of the sheriff’s patrol getting there faster than a pizza delivery. To coin a phrase: city folks just don’t get it.
I turned left and the bastard followed. I often park farthest away from where I’m going because I like to walk, and he’d cleverly positioned himself between where I stopped and my favorite local sandwich shop. I left the safety of my vehicle, assumed the (admittedly) handsome man in the pretty SUV was lost and in need of directions — and I awoke naked in a shallow grave covered in dirt. One glance and a few words — that’s all — and I was his toy. No seduction, no sweeping me off my feet, no promises of a better life; he stole me away and took everything from me.
Okay, here’s where Joss Whedon suggests I should lighten the dire mood: How does a lady Vampire flirt? She bats her eyes. Funny, right? Yes? No. Moving along…
Myth #1: It Can’t Be As Bad As All That
Vampirism changes you physically. A thimbleful of your once-favorite beverage or a lick off of a medium-rare steak fillet are yours to enjoy without incurring ill effects, but none of that compares to your craving for the sweet taste and aroma of warm, living blood — and you’ll want more than you need. “That’s okay, I’ll just go to a local blood bank and make a withdraw.” Nope, nope, and nope. You can’t freeze it or store it, and anything drawn that’s over an hour old is repellent.
You need warm living bodies to feed yourself (read: HUMAN only… no rats for you, Louis) and you need them readily. If you don’t satisfy that need, you’ll feel and look the part of a monster as your body betrays you and your mind devolves; you won’t be able to stop yourself if you slip too far away until that need is fully met. You’re going to want to connect with your old life — relatives, friends, co-workers — and they’ll be the first people you’ll want to sample. Oh, and children? Witches may hate them but Vampires LOVE them; that’s the blood you’ll want the most.
What would you get if your doctor became a Vampire? More blood tests than ever. Never trust “Dr. Acula.”
Myth #2: I’ll Still Be Me, Only Better
Sure, you get everything a supernatural predator needs: blackened eyes to see in low-light conditions, fangs and talons for ripping through flesh, strength and speed to catch and subdue your prey. If your victims can see and hear you, their minds become yours for as long as you like — but if you drink from them too heavily, their minds and memories stay with you… forever. A good rule of thumb is if you drain enough to kill them (whether you do or not) you risk a piece of their souls embedding itself within yours, starting with your maker (you can’t opt out of that one).
They judge and distract you, and your mind’s eye sees them in anything reflective: mirrors, chrome, even still water. If those sound like things you’ve heard Vampires avoid, now you know why. If you give into their taunts and interact with them — we call it daydreaming — it leaves you vulnerable; it makes it difficult to distinguish memory from reality, especially if you’re in dangerous territory. Remember how Vampires on “Buffy” lost their souls after they turned? It can feel a little like that, and sometimes you’re not sure where you end and they begin… a bit like going mad.
Here’s another riddle. What’s it like to be kissed by a Vampire? It’s a pain in the neck.
Myth #3: No Honor Among the Un-Dead
Oh, and then there’s every other Vampire on the planet instinctively wanting to destroy you. None of this “nesting” thing like rats or bats; if you lock two Vampires in a box for an evening, only one is coming back out. It isn’t as easy as the movies and television show to make a Vampire, either, so it isn’t done on a whim and you’re technically creating a competitor and/or possibly your own self-destruction.
We can even sense when we’re pushing up against another immortal’s territory, but not enough to pinpoint where they are exactly or how many there are. We believe it’s meant to warn us away from each other, but many take it as a sign of “getting ready to rumble.” Sure, you can keep human friends, but will they want to keep you? Maintaining a so-called masquerade is nothing short of exhausting — especially knowing you can kill pretty much anyone and be done with it.
Who does Dracula get emails from? His fang club.
Myth #4: Nothing Can Stop You
The good news: you don’t have to sleep in a coffin. The bad news: you don’t sleep at all… or dream ever again, for that matter. You’re always conscious and always aware — unless you’re daydreaming, which is just as distracting as it sounds. It isn’t unusual for Vampires to be seen talking to themselves, because they’re actually not (see Myth #2). But when the sun is up between dawn and dusk and its light can touch the earth, within the earth is the only place a Vampire can hide. Being up, active, and not below ground in at least a shallow grave feels like becoming the walking dead. Your heart stops, your breath ceases, and everything feels horribly wrong… but when you’re down in the dirt, it’s all comfortably numb. If you don’t plan for this at the end of every night, it won’t go well for you.
At night, our physical bodies simulate life, retaining youth (unless we choose otherwise) and are hard to ignore. To quote a recent mockumentary: “We are the bait — but we’re also the trap.” People around us feel a fascination toward us, almost celebrity-like, an attraction they won’t understand, even to the point of empathizing our heightened emotion (read: if I’m sad, you’re sad). It’s difficult trust anyone around us because we can’t always tell sincerity from influence. A Vampire becomes the center of attention but they can feel more alone than ever — never mind all the ways you can be subdued or destroyed (which I won’t go into details about here, mortal).
How do Vampires get around on Halloween night? Using blood vessels.
Maybe It’s Already Too Late
So, to recap: living human blood only; multiple personality syndrome; other Vampires want to destroy you; no sleeping or dreaming and you feel truly alone. Glamorous, right? Everything you wanted and more? Better than the way you have it now? Offing yourself is easy — just throw yourself at another Vampire and let paranoia take its course.
Having said all this, if you have been turned against your will or have found yourself unable to endure eternity, reach out to me; ask me anything. Modern technology and social media have created the perfect venue for immortals to interact in the human world like never before, all in a virtual place where we don’t need to fear one another.
Oh, and you can thank Timothy for telling me this one: Where do Vampires learn to suck blood? Law school.
Keep each other safe.