VAMPIRE, VAMPIRISM, VAMPIRIC, VAMPY!
A collection of short stories which explore and celebrate the vampire genre with talented, world-class writers. There’s something here to delight and horrify even the most seasoned vampire fan.
Abraham R Nox, Adrian Bond, Dennis Kriesel, Emily de Rango, Eric S. Brown, Frank C. Gunderloy, Jr., Greg Beatty, H. Turnip Smith, J.R. Corcorrhan, Jean Burnett, Jennifer Moore, Joshua Alan Doetsch, Laura Cooney, Lester Thees, Liz Williams, Lorna Dickson, Miles Deacon, Mordant Carnival, Raymond T. McNally, Richard Jones, Sheri Morton-Stanley, Stephen Minchin, T. P. Keating, Tom Phillips, Trent Walters.
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Dialogue with Reality
A vampire story by Dennis Kriesel – Featured in Fangers Inc. Volume One
“Vampires do not exist.”
The man, statement concluded, raised the chipped china cup to his lips. He wore a grey sharkskin suit with matching shirt and tie. His deeply tanned skin, like his almond hair, looked almost black in the dim lobby of the hotel.
Frank had just concluded his presentation regarding scientific support for vampires. Only a couple dozen interested souls attended his lecture, but those numbers were twice his last count. He was gaining a following.
The man in the suit approached Frank after the speech. He bluntly offered to debunk Frank’s theories. Frank, always glad to influence non-believers, accepted the offer. Both men sat in overstuffed chairs away from the major walkways. Once coffee was requested and delivered, the man in the suit spoke.
“My name is Joshua,” continued the tanned man. “And like you, I once accepted that vampires were more than the mythological. It took years for the truth to sink in. I hope to spare you the same gruelling ordeal.”
Frank flashed Joshua a slight smile. “I appreciate your concern. However, I believe the empirical evidence speaks for itself, and is quite clear on the matter.”
It was Joshua’s turn to smile. “Oh yes, it is clear, but not in the way you think. I’ll be happy to explain, but let’s save time. You state what proof supports the existence of vampires, and I’ll explain how you misinterpreted it.”
Frank chuckled at the man’s confidence. “All right, I’ll play. There are numerous reports, all confirmed, of people killed with two puncture wounds to the neck.”
Replacing his chipped cup on the nearby coffee table, Joshua cleared his throat and responded. “I have seen these studies. It is important to note that those wounds have never been shown to be the cause of death. In addition, no saliva traces have been found around the wounds, suggesting some device, a device other than fangs, made the holes.”
Frank quaffed half his brew from a purple mug proudly proclaiming the hotel’s name three times in gold lettering. “Please,” he said after replacing the mug in his lap. “The bodies were completely exsanguinated. Where did all that blood go, if not into the mouths of vampires?”
“How about into bottles?” calmly asked Joshua. “Or jugs? Or even plastic bags? Understand that blood has a market value, particularly high in the less industrialized nations. Blood is vital, for both research and survival, so many places with desperate need are very lax on the requirements to obtain it.”
“Blood banks?” Frank asked, his tone half sceptical and half incredulous. “Surely the nature of the wounds disputes your claim. These puncture marks are in the neck. Why not in the arm, or even just wider than the current holes? I mean there are faster ways to drain a person than two tooth-sized wounds.”
“Bravo,” exclaimed Joshua, clapping his hands together once, much as a child offered candy would. “There are faster and more efficient methods of extraction. However, none is quite so terrifying.”
“Um, Joshua, I hate to break it to you, but all these victims are dead,” responded Frank, a smirk crawling across his face. “Why terrify someone who isn’t going to live?”
“The terror isn’t for them,” explained Joshua, ignoring the condescension in Frank’s tone. “It’s for you. For me too, and for all others on the outside looking in. Think about it. What is scarier, a bunch of hoodlums killing people for a quick buck, or vampires prowling about feeding on the innocent?”
Frank shot to his feet, face red with anger. The hotel’s vanity mug, forgotten in his lap, tumbled to the floor, failing to break but succeeding in emptying its remaining contents on the marble tiles. “There are bodies missing,” hissed Frank. “They up and disappeared. Are you telling me there is some medical use for those nonviable organs? You know very well vampirism is the only logical explanation.”
“Have a seat,” replied Joshua, peering stoically at Frank. “There is no need to be upset.”
Frank slowly settled back into the arms of the plump chair, eyes like flinty steel, but the blush diminishing from his cheeks.
“Of course, it looks like the dead rising up as vampires,” continued Joshua. “The missing bodies only add to the overall mystery. Bear in mind that this is not common. By my calculations, only two percent of bodies drained in this manner disappear. If there were real vampires, the number would naturally be higher, would it not?”
“We don’t know that,” replied Frank, his voice strained as that of one fighting to control his emotions. “We can’t be sure of anything.”
Joshua reached beside his chair and retrieved an attaché case, made of black leather and displaying brass clasps finely polished. From it, he extracted both a videocassette and a series of bound papers.
Joshua asked, “Frank, do you remember the Belgrade Couple Massacre?”
Frank nodded. “Of course. Two tourists, one male and one female, were found dead in an ally. The puncture marks to their necks fit the standard vampire profile, and they were completely drained of blood. The bodies disappeared from the morgue the following night.”
“Your recollection is impressive and accurate,” said Joshua. “Except you obviously think they became vampires. The thing is, that morgue had video surveillance recently installed. This tape is a copy of that recording, and it shows not the undead rising, but just organized thieves taking what they knew would generate a scare.”
Joshua passed the tape to Frank, who took it with a shaking hand. Frank stood, and Joshua rose with him.
“I’m sorry to deliver this shock to you,” Joshua said, passing the assembled papers over to Frank. “These documents outline the research I have done, and are fully referenced to the various media reports, autopsy results, and other analytical data assembled.”
“How did you get all this?” questioned Frank, the shock obvious in his broken voice.
“I have many sources of information,” replied Joshua. “Like I told you before, I used to be a believer. Save yourself the trouble, look over my research, and lay your doubts to rest. Don’t waste your life, as I did, trying to make more out of these heinous crimes than reality warrants.”
Frank thanked Joshua, as best he could in his state of mind, and shambled out the doors of the hotel. From behind Joshua approached a man of average height and black hair, made all the darker due to the incredibly pale skin exposed on his face.
“Greetings, Warder Joshua,” replied the man. “It looks like you’ve done well again.”
“Yes,” sighed Joshua, sitting back down and returning his attention to the chipped cup and its contents. “Though I tell you, the Comitia needs to tell their grunts to stop turning so many people. Even two percent is too high at this time. We need to diminish our presence in the eyes of mortals for a while.”
“I’m sure they’ll listen to you, Warder,” responded the man, still remaining behind Joshua. He turned to leave, but then called back, “Warder, I do have a question. How is it you keep your skin so dark? It is very convincing.”
“Tan in a bottle, my Tyro,” responded Joshua. “Tan in a bottle. Now go, I would like you to start transcribing the conversation I just had for the Comitia.”
(c) Dennis Kriesel, All Rights Reserved.Featured image by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash