On Vampires

My thoughts on vampiric myth, from a more academic perspective.

The problem with vampires is that, once you know there’s a vampire in the area, all you have to do is leave. A vampire, by definition, cannot walk about during the day and so fleeing to any area which takes more than 10 hours to travel by car is the ideal way to deal with one. In effect, you starve them out. If they can’t eat, they dwindle away to nothing, and once they’re gone, you can safely rebuild as close to their lair as you’d like. Of course, you must be sure they’re dead first, which presents its own difficulties.

Even if people never figure out there’s a vampire dwelling nearby, the vampire, if not careful, will either run out of food or be forced to leave themselves. Since few vampires drive cars, they won’t be able to get too far. Of course, the vampire can attempt to purchase a train ticket or try and travel by boat. Historically, some vampires have had success with these means of locomotion.

Even those vampires capable of supernatural feats of travel can’t risk overlong voyages by land, sea, or air. Commercial airlines are of course out of the question. Even if the vampire is able to keep their window covered, they cannot control the actions of the other passengers. Mind controlling all passengers and the crew is an option for older, more powerful vampires, but even this presents problems upon landing. Most modern airports are not designed for nocturnal creatures, having large plexiglass windows to let as much sunlight in as possible. Shorter, overnight flights are thus preferable.

Of course, the central problem of shelter still remains. A vampire cannot afford to be homeless. A homeless vampire, one without a cave or a basement or a tomb or a castle to retreat to, runs the risk of incineration under the rays of the sun. That’s why most vampires prefer to stay within walking distance of their lair. For this reason, also, there are few vampires remaining today. Some have managed to extend their line through infecting travelers with the vampiric curse. Pony express riders, motorcycle gangs, truck drivers, stagecoach drivers, knights, and other transient workers make excellent choices for the vampire looking to give their line the best chance at survival. Of course, survival for any one vampire is the real challenge.

All of this is not to say that vampires aren’t dangerous. A line thousands of generations long of vampires who only last a few days or, if lucky, a few years as undead could theoretically make them about as numerous and dangerous as insects. That is, vampires could be as dangerous and deadly as malaria or the bubonic plague, both spread by short-lived mosquitoes and fleas, respectively. And of course, any one vampire is several times more powerful than a mosquito or a flea. Armed with an array of fascinating abilities, the average vampire is, at minimum, as strong as ten men, smart as a grandmaster at chess, and capable of withstanding all but the most powerful of conventional firearms.

We do not hold with those that say a vampire can only be slain through beheading, impalement, and sunlight. While the garlic allergy and impairment around holy objects have both been well-documented, the susceptibility of vampires to immediate cessation of being when faced with, say, an M60 or even a simple hand grenade is quite evident.

Unlike the zombie or werewolf, the vampire can be effectively reasoned with and even convinced into the value of human life, at least to an extent. Some of the older varieties, being descended from European or Asian nobility, have such an aristocratic mindset as to be incapable of compromise by modern standards. They simple will not regard those of us in democratic countries as being an equal. Indeed, they barely register each other as peers. Such is their level of egotism. And for perhaps this reason, these vampires are most susceptible to being starved out of existence as, despite their efforts at population management, they manage to deprive themselves of their local food sources and quietly wither away in their castles, keeps, and towers.

One other reason, beside the travel problem, for the relative scarcity of vampires in the modern day is the relative abundance of spices. Garlic, as previously mentioned, induces an allergic reaction in vampires akin to anaphylaxis. In older days, this was no major impediment to the vampires of Europe or the Americas, but since the 15th century, the growing abundance of garlic in everything from restaurants to home cooking has made it difficult for vampires to find untainted sources of food. Our blood has become poison to them. The 20th century grew so suffused in garlic as to nearly wipe out vampires as a species on this planet. The prevalence of garlic, along with the increased mechanization of warfare and rise of satellites that map every section of the globe, have made it almost impossible for vampires to operate unhindered in all but the least inhabited – and least habitable – places on the earth.

The long nights at the poles would seem at first to be most accommodating to modern vampires, but one must remember that six months of sunshine is an incredibly long time to go without eating. The relative lack of food available in what should ostensibly be their fattening-up months make a six-month hibernation and thus successful polar habitation highly unlikely.

All of this calls into question whether the modern vampire will survive the coming years, let alone the 21st century as it stands today. While it may be easy to conclude from all this data that the modern vampire is likely to go extinct in the very near future, we must remember that the vampiric species is a very tenacious strain. It has survived on this planet almost since the dawn of civilization, and for that reason alone we must wonder whether vampires will survive the fall of ours.

Until then, be sure to like, subscribe, and share this newsletter with whoever you think will enjoy it. You can also find me on Twitter @MrWBrust. Be seeing you.