I, Vampire by Jody Scott

I, Vampire

by Jody Scott

"Get out!" Papa thundered.

"And go where? And do what?" I howled.

"You are not our daughter. You are a limb of Satan," screamed my fat, pretty little mama.

The uproar went on all night. I had made the childish mistake of confessing to the crime, then retracting the confession, and on and on until they shrieked: "You swore you sucked that priest's blood!"

"I lied! I tell lies; everyone knows that."

Snow had begun to fly, and torches blazed, but my parents were adamant about not letting me back into the house. I'm sure they had been dreading this scene since the day of my birth. Maybe earlier. We all knew in our bones that I, Sterling O'Blivion, had "it"--the defective gene that runs through our family. Something was tragically wrong with me; something that terrified others, but was minor, natural, and even quite pleasant as far as I was concerned.

My old nanny Blescu screamed The Lord's Prayer for hours, crossing herself and rolling her eyes. That nanny used to make dolls for me ("They come to life when you sleep, my little pet," she often told me) and I was her loved one, her adored favorite. But now the crass old hypocrite had gone completely barmy. She held up a crucifix and pleaded with Jesus to kill me on the spot. (Which, I am happy to say, he did not do.)

The most shocking thing was what had happened to my parents' faces. Fear had burnt away every trace of love; indeed, of everything familiar. They looked at me with such cold distaste that I could hardly believe it. They had become like the peasants, certain I was going to perform a ghoulish miracle that would destroy them.

"Papa!" I wheedled. "Please, there's nothing to worry about. You're jumping to conclusions--"

I used every bit of the charm and persuasiveness God had given me (which even then was quite something) and spoke carefully, not wanting to betray myself with the wrong words. "The superstitions are a bit misleading. It's not as bad as it sounds."

Papa's mustache trembled. He wanted to believe me, but the crime was far too disgusting; he couldn't stomach it. He made an irritated gesture with his index and little finger outstretched. It meant I was disowned, of the devil, and should go far away and die and let them forget the Gorgon monster they had spawned. Of course dying was the last thing your correspondent was planning to do.

All this took place 700 years ago. Nothing is left of our estate in the town of Sibiu, in Transylvania, except a ghetto which stands on the site today. Actually, 130 years later but still bowed with grief, I was in Munich wrestling with plans for a time portal. I longed, absolutely yearned to go back and see my dear parents and make things come out right this time.

Yet that eruption of evil, which seems like a week ago, actually happened when I was thirteen. It was well below freezing but Papa told the servants to nail every door shut and drop rocks and boiling water if I tried to climb the bastion, which I had done all through childhood for sport.

Dozens of peasants were up there clicking rosaries and whispering, or throwing aprons over their heads when I stared a little too boldly. To keep myself from crying (because I had lost love, because I saw the handwriting on the wall, because my heart was broken) I stuck out my tongue and chanted, hair tossed back and fists on hips:

Tattle-tale tit,

Your tongue is going to split,

And every little dog in town

Will have a little bit.

Then, absolutely determined that Papa and Mama must believe my side of the story, I hid in the barn. I was terribly unhappy about being no longer loved, but not a bit guilty. Why should I be? My "crime" was a normal act. God had made me this way. My parents and nanny were the cruel ones, not myself. I figured out a little speech that might convince them, then cried myself to sleep between two friendly cows.

The morning seemed most peaceful after that hideously tortured night. I gazed at the house, its walls rosy-tinted by the dawn, and its spires and turrets capped with fresh snow. I bowed my head and commended my soul to St. Jude the patron saint of bloodsuckers (wherever did that idea come from? I can't imagine) and with hands clasped, while stared at by several curious ravens, I prayed: "Omnes gurgites tui et fluctus tui super me transierunt."

Then I washed in the pig trough, combed my tawny hair, and figured out what words to use.

As I approached the house, a rock or two whizzed past my ear.

"Summon your master, you preposterous, miserable, quivering nincompoops!" I shouted.

I had all the arrogance, all the wild humor, the enormous vitality and scornful cruelty of my race; and the servants adored me for it. Or so they had, up to now. Now they thought me eerie. Now I was despised and rejected. But my eye flashed fire, and in a minute came a rattle of locks and squeak of hinges and out rushed Papa and Mama who both looked all puffed and haggard, as if they had slept in separate beds, unwilling to face each other.

I made a courtly bow and said: "Let me stay, and I thank you from my heart. Send me away and the pain of separation will kill me. Either way I bear no malice; indeed, I will love you forever.

It was the absolute truth.

Then...I still don't know how I pulled it off. Papa had been a knight in the last Crusade and was tough and ruthless, but with that sales pitch I had worked out so sincerely in the barn, and which would be called "hard sell" in today's jargon, I convinced him that:

1. The man who said I put him to sleep and sucked his neck was lying. Or partly lying.

2. He was a parish priest, so what? Priests have been known to lie. This one exaggerated my crime. Why? I could only guess it was because of my fine complexion, well-built body, and the certain something I possessed which charmed everyone (including Papa).

3. It was the Priest's word against mine. Would they take the word of a baseborn ruffian against an O'Blivion of noble blood?

4. See for yourself, that confessor was alive and kicking. He was fit enough to bring false witness against the innocent. So what was all the screaming about?

The upshot was they let me back in; they were under the wonderful impression that a vampire drains every drop of blood and therefore I couldn't be one. Illogical, but I did not argue.

After that I learned to be sneaky enough not to get caught in the act for a whole year; although I did "it" every chance I got, being hungry--O! so ravenous--in those wild, wonderful, windy young years. And I scanned the night skies constantly from my small window under the eaves.

It was then I became absolutely certain and positive that one fine day a woman from the stars was going to land in our pasture. She'd be piloting a beautifully crafted starship. And wearing fantastic star-clothing. And we would fall deeply, passionately in love; because she, unlike everyone here in Sibiu, didn't care a rap about my "evil nature."

Then we'd zoom off in her galactic cruiser and have thrilling adventures on strange worlds, with plenty of swordplay and romance, and we would couple ourselves for love, and live happily ever after.

It's now the tail end of the 20th century and I'm still waiting. Where are you, my light-of-wonder? This is Sterling O'Blivion sitting at her desk at the Max Arkoff Studio of Dance in Chicago. For you, soulmate and lustrous star-woman, I've kept myself alive and gorgeous (by tooth and claw! I might add, and don't you ever forget it; for after that night came a wild, savage hand-to-mouth existence that it sickens me to remember) for the better part of the millennium.

Haunted by shadows, but unbowed.

The logic of my nature tells me "something terrible is going to happen." Swift as the storm-blast, destiny comes full circle; warning lights are flashing. I'm having premonitions and the weirdest dreams. A part of me longs to break free, not only of the wheel of life and death but of my "compulsion." Not that it hasn't been a joy and a delight, after the first shock.

I'd never knock vampirism. Without it I'd be nothing, less than nothing, a bag of bones in some European crypt. My compulsion is all that sets me above the ruck of women: that scent of conquest, the noble chase, a game of wits, figuring out how I can penetrate and feast without getting my neck broken. And then the thrill of victory forever new, the ritualized ecstasy as I master the unconscious victim and at long last that slow, marvelous caress on the tongue as the Ruby slips down my throat...

Ough! Just thinking about it makes my heart pound like a triphammer.

I adore being a vampire. I love the lore, history, rich tradition and sense of fabulous majesty it confers upon an otherwise simple, sentimental, and perhaps boring older woman. The only part that wearies me is the convulsive outrage and vain lamentations, the barbed words of cruel slander, as a selfish world fights to hang onto that few lousy, crummy, measly drops of blood.

And I'm sick, too, of getting the crap beat out of me, which happens oftener than one would like to believe.

I suppose the bottom line is, I'd love to be "cured" (how I despise that vulgar, vulgar word!) without losing any of the miraculous powers and thrills that come along with the perils of my compulsion.

But...are things ever that easy?


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Novels:

I, Vampire
Read Chapter 1
Reviews on Amazon.com

Passing for Human
Read Chapter 1
Malzberg Review of Passing for Human


Columns:

An Orientation
Censorship in Our Time?
Anthrax
I See Dead People
The Elements of Disaster
Dog Park Incident
Florence of Arabia
Hannibal
PEOPLE SHOULD NOT SAY "YIPPEE"
The Silence of the Hacks
A Nutshell in India
Seatbelts
Sleep Tight, Ya Morons!
Spin Control
When This War is Over
Iraqi Children






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