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The Vampire Archetype—a Brief Clarification

Nosferatu, 1922

There is a romantic notion of what a vampire is. I would like to suggest that there is nothing romantic about a reanimated corpse that tears the throats from its victims and walks around with blood dripping from its chin. Having said this, I would also like to suggest that there are no vampires--not of the zombie variety and not of the sort that have become rather popular and trendy these days.

If it were possible to exist on animal blood… don’t you think we would choose this? If it were feasible to keep a population corralled for us to imbibe on… don’t you think we would? If we tried the first, we would starve; if we attempted the second we would not be very discrete. And discretion is quite important to us. It is our only means of survival.

Think of it this way… You’re in a horror movie, but it’s not a movie. It’s your reality.

There is something that will hunt you if it knows you exist. It does not understand you. It does not think there is a place for you in its world. For that reason alone, it will take your life--erase you and erase everyone in your family if it can. For it desires the extinction of your kind.

Now, if you will, visualize a moment when it has a sense of you. Perhaps you’re hiding in a house and it is carefully working its way through the various rooms. You are absolutely still, immutable, holding your breath for fear you will be detected by even the suggestion of movement. Minutes pass and the house is silent. Then you hear the creak of a floorboard beside you. You pray you will not panic and give yourself away. You can smell its loathing as it creeps closer. You can feel it studying the space around you, looking for a sense of that which is different from itself.

It leans closer. You want to close your eyes yet you cannot help but be drawn into its gaze. And for a brief moment you comprehend its wants, needs, hopes and fears. You feel compassion--for a brief moment only, because it doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you understand it. It doesn’t care if you love. It only knows you are different. It only knows it wants you gone.

You sip the air carefully, because you need to breath. It leans closer. You could lash out, strike it down, or even kill it. It wouldn’t matter. For another will rise from where this one has fallen. And you realize its numbers are countless. And there are only a few of you in the entire country. But there are millions of it.

In that moment, you realize you do not want to be dismissed from life. Your heart aches with love for the world--the beauties of nature’s mystery, the teeming multitudes, the spirit of life’s energy, humanity… Oddly, especially humanity.

So you don’t strike. Instead you sink back, meld into the shadows, blend into society. Hide in plain sight. Yet you watch, aware that at any given moment, it may see you for what you are. It may begin the hunt again.

You will live with this, knowing it is all around you, waiting for your misstep. You will spend your life however you choose--but you will never be able to completely relax. For it will always be there. Waiting.

This is my life. This is how the very few of my kind live--with a tempered fear of discovery. And you, you fear the very idea of us. This is perhaps what makes you so dangerous.

Historically we have earned your fear. My predecessors did not behave well. I know for a fact that some were monsters. It doesn’t matter. We know it doesn’t matter because we live among you. We pay attention. We know that your fear of the unknown, the unusual, the unearthly… drives you to destruction. We have seen you do this to yourselves, to fellows of your kind, to those who you’ve only suspected may be different. We cannot bear to imagine what you would do to us. It is not our expectation that you understand what drives us; though we spend considerable time exploring your motivations.

Indeed, our very ability to do this--to see your intentions, allows us to make your cities safer for you. We seek malevolence and, literally, bleed it dry. Yet, you would condemn us--destroy us if you could, for killing while in the same breath you send human murders to death row. There is a paradox here. Yes, certainly at least one. For we always know who the guilty are. You often let them go.

What you have done then, is to soften the vampire image because you don’t want the truth of us. You will only see us as demonic monsters or heartthrobs. You’ve developed an archetype of the brooding, haunted, yet always attractive, vampire. You’ve not really given much thought to what it’s like to have centuries both behind and ahead of you. You only grasp the potential for tedium and insanity… you do not allow for the enlightenment such a lifespan affords.

There is beauty in this--in us. But I hesitate to call our lifestyle romantic. To love us is to deny a part of your own humanity, to accept that lives will be lost and feel no weight upon your conscience. And in this respect, it does not matter that they are murderers, molesters and rapists. We enjoy feeding upon them, we relish the adrenaline that surges through their system and thickens their blood.

We are inhuman. Surely, no sane person would wish this upon themselves.

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