Today's Monday is in response to Em, who warms FCN in a world as cold as stone. It is dedicated to Tori, who kept the author awake this morning as he was writing this post to help keep you all alive. You should thank them both.
With all this talk of zombies chowing down on your brain, it's impossible not to devote at least a little brain juice to one of the most iconic of all villains in the western world: vampires. While the existence of vampires is now well-established scientific fact, few people really worry about them because they don't really have to deal with them. Scientists estimate that there are probably less than a hundred vampires in the world today. Vampires are very anti-social and timid and usually only prey on one other person before death.
So why all the fuss?
Because it takes just fifteen minutes to prepare for the worst: a Vampire Apocalypse. Suppose any number of seemingly random events caused vampires to become active hunters, tracking down multiple targets and systematically spreading human vampirism across the planet. Would you know what to do when it came to your home town? Do you know how to recognize and protect yourself from a vampire?
We didn't think so.
This Monday, we're not even going to bother giving you advice about forming your VSF. Instead, we just want to clear the air and give you a solid handle on what you're up against. From there, you should be able to cross-reference what you've learned from previous Mondays and get yourself a decent plan.
Now, buckle in! We're about to tour modern and ancient understanding of vampires. No more superstition. It's time for scientific facts. Warning: a few of these might be a teeny bit on the unpleasant side. If you start feeling woozy, put your feet up on the desk (but not on the keyboard, please).
Oh, one more disclaimer. Twilight isn't going to get you very far here. No more "I'm a nice vampire who only drinks animal blood!" nonsense. We're sticking to real, hard facts.
MYTH: Vampires live on human blood.
FACT: Vampires crave human blood.
Vampires are humans, just like you. Okay, not just like you (unless you are a vampire, in which case this post probably won't have many surprises). In any case, the dietary needs of vampires are the same as those of normal humans. You've got your carbs, your proteins, your pizzas ... you get the idea. Here's the difference: when you're eating broccoli, you're wishing it was chocolate. When vampires are eating their broccoli, they're wishing it was blood. Vampires lie awake at night dreaming of blood. They have a craving as drug addicts yearn for a fix or N pines after Sunny D.
MYTH: Vampires love preying on victims.
FACT: Vampires feel really guilty about it.
Most vampires are deeply conflicted about their cravings (and many, at least for awhile, don't even know what the cravings are). Remember back when you were young and your mommy told you not to eat that candy bar she put on the counter? And you walked around for hours playing with your legos and dreaming about that candy bar? And the harder you tried to forget it the more it took over your mind? And in a sudden fit, knowing it was the wrong thing to do and that you'd get caught, you went and ate that candy bar, and even though you loved candy bars it tasted like ashes in your mouth because of the guilt?
Vampirism is like that. Vampires can't wait to sink their teeth into someone but they know it's the wrong thing to do and they're grossed out by it. But day after day, year after year, the temptation wells up inside them and eventually they just can't stand it anymore.
MYTH: Vampires can only be killed by silver bullets/wooden stakes; they're afraid of garlic; etc.
FACT: Um, no! Lol.
Vampires do have strange anatomical properties (ex: fangs capable of sucking blood, like bats), but they are still human. They're just as likely to be killed by silver bullets and have garlic phobias as anyone else. If you need to kill a vampire, do it the same way you'd kill a human, with one important difference: mind the teeth.
MYTH: Vampires have ice cold skin and are sensitive to light.
FACT: Vampires prefer the night.
Studies on exactly why vampires prefer the night are still inconclusive. Some postulate that vampires have guilt/freak complexes and try to stay in the shadows. Others believe there are more complicated forces at work. We're not sure about the details, but we can say for certain that vampires have normal human skin.
MYTH: Bat bites turn you into a vampire.
FACT: Vampire bites turn you into a vampire.
Vampire bats do suck blood, but they don't have the power to spread human vampirism. That's a condition unique to humans. Vampire saliva (which gets into your blood stream much as mosquito saliva does after a bite) spreads throughout your body, and a few days later, you're a vampire. There is no known antigen, though several vampires have generously donated their bodies to science in hopes of finding a cure. Until that happens: be safe.
MYTH: Vampires don't reflect in mirrors; their eyeballs have strange shapes; they wear huge collars; etc.
FACT: The only way to identify vampires without extensive testing is the length of their fangs.
After being bitten by a vampire, a newly infected vampire's fangs will loosen and drop out, giving way to elongated, hollow teeth with razor sharp tips. These teeth are very painful and impractical; they cut the inside of the mouth, they hold the mouth open wider than is comfortable; they get in the way of chewing food. The hollow points in the teeth are part of a thin line running back to and joining the esophagus, and that creates all sorts of complications. Identifying vampires is a simple matter of getting them to open their mouths. Tell them a joke - that works every time.
MYTH: Vampires live for centuries and/or are undead.
FACT: Vampires live about seven years after infection.
Tragically, the vampiric digestive system gradually stops working over time, causing death. There is no known cure. As a vampire's stomach shuts down and its hunger increases, the craving for blood becomes almost unbearable. Eventually even the most careful vampires usually give in to temptation and make their move.
Concluding thoughts: remember, even if the world is filling with vampires, there's no reason to panic. Vampires are humans too and it's wrong to just bump them off like zombies or politicians. Show them love and understanding in the scary years at the end of their lives. Give them space to be alone when the cravings take over. Let them know you trust them - then never, ever turn your back on them.
Not even for a second.