The Void has Noticed Us and is Hungry

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I had the dream last night. A cloaked tall dark figure stood before me on a desolate plain storm rolled overhead. The figure reached for me a single skeletal finger emerging from its cloak to press against my forehead and then I awoke. We learn about the dream as children. Sometimes it causes nightmares most grow out of the nightmares sometimes they reoccur. I try to find solace in that thought. But if it was the dream I have little time to waste. I roll out of bed, pad across the carpet, down the hall into the bathroom and hesitate before flicking on the light. There on my forehead faintly glowing with golden light is the symbol of the Chosen. I have just one day to live now.

The Chosen are a sacrifice, a gift, a tribute, to something beyond us. Three hundred years ago men seeking power pierced the veil between worlds and something took notice of us. Our world was threatened with total consumption but a deal was bargained between “the unknowable ones” and “those who strayed from the safe path”.

Every day one human, neither too old nor too young, is chosen to willingly sacrifice themselves. Our debt will be settled when the sun eats the Earth. The Chosen are given one day to resign themselves to their fate. At the end of the day, midnight as measured by the position of the sun from where they stand, the emissary of “the unknowable ones” appears and takes their life. If they try to run or hide or fight, the emissary will take reparations: every life within five miles of the Chosen.

The early years of this new status quo were rife with mass deaths caused by Chosen who didn’t know about the settlement with “the unknowable ones”. Even after the information was spread widely, many people were simply too scared to willingly allow themselves to be killed. Only after the children, who had grown up seeing towns and cities harvested, came of age and shouldered their responsibility to the world willingly did the reapings come under our control.

We are taught from a young age, that if we are chosen, it is our duty to die willingly to spare those around us. Not everyone takes this to heart, however. Over the years some have used to threat of a reaping to become tyrants for their last day. Others merely indulge themselves with luxuries. No one denies the request of the Chosen.

Back in my bedroom, I retrieve my phone, took a selfie, and posted it on every social media account I had. I could stay home alone or spend my final hours privately with family and friends. Say my goodbyes, write a final will, and leave this mortal coil quietly and peacefully.

I have other plans. I have a revolution to start.

I Can Remember Tomorrow

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It’s not helpful or useful in any way. A memory isn’t something that you can change. Not in a meaningful way. I mean you can misremember something or convince yourself that something different happened but that doesn’t change the past. It’s the same for remembering the future. If I could change it, then I wouldn’t be able to remember it.

That’s how I found you. Yesterday I remembered coming to your house and talking to you but it wasn’t until today that I remembered seeing you in the news tomorrow. ‘Local resident killed in own home.’ I’m sorry I can’t call the police. Your neighbor will find your body in a few hours when they come over for your nightly beer. That was in the article. I don’t think you have much longer. I’m so sorry that I can’t help you. If I save you, then you don’t die. If you don’t die, then there’s no article for me to read. If there’s no article for me to read tomorrow, then how can I remember it today? It’s a paradox, of course.

Sometimes I dream that I remember acting on something I remember from tomorrow. I still couldn’t change anything but I could … I don’t know.

I’ve never been able to talk to anyone about this. Anytime I wanted to try I just couldn’t say anything. I think if I told someone it would change the future even if I didn’t tell them what I could remember of tomorrow. But you aren’t going to make it to tomorrow.

I’ve tried to think of a way to change things but nothing works. My thoughts just run in the same circles over and over. I want to scream but I can’t. Don’t think I’m a slave to my memories. How much of yesterday do you remember? Bits and pieces maybe a few clear spots but if I asked you to replay the day exactly you couldn’t. No one remembers every minute of their life or even of the past day. It’s the same for me and tomorrow.

I know I sound delusional and I’ve thought that myself but you’re the proof that I can remember tomorrow. How else could I have found you before anyone else? I don’t even live on this side of the city. I had to take the bus and walk around for twenty minutes to find your house. How could I have known? I couldn’t have. Are you…? Good. I was afraid I was talking to a corpse.

It won’t be much longer. I’ll stay until … it’s over. It’s the most I can do.

Spirit Cleansing

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The man stood paralyzed in the center of the circle by a minor charm. I inscribed the last symbol and the circle closed. He deserved worse than what I was about to do to him I reminded myself. With a heavy sigh, I took another step down that familiar paved road.

I began by drawing the man’s breath out of his lungs and sealing it in the first jar. His mouth flapped open and closed as he tried in vain to take in air. Next, I pulled the water, just the water, from his body. Blood dried in his veins, organs shriveled in his torso, skin contracted around tough, dry muscle. The water flowed through the circle into jars; as each one filled, its lid snapped shut and sealed. The husk of a man stood in the circle just beginning to collapse when I sundered him into a fine dust. This I let fall to the floor. The man’s spirit hovered anxiously over what had been its body only seconds before. A moment passed before it spoke.

“Am I dead?” it asked.

“Yes.” It darted towards me and stopped suddenly at the edge of the circle.

“I can’t reach you.”

“No,” I said plainly.

“Why did you do this?” It flung itself back and forth across the circle looking for a way out. The dust pile shifted and spread from its movements.

“I was paid. Five hundred gold for the breath of a man. Seven hundred for the waters of a man.” It pressed against the point closest to me.

“Why me?” it wailed.

“You were cheap. For only two hundred gold I bought you from the executioner. You only had one more night left in any event.”

“I was a criminal?”

“Yes.” I paused and began to explain. “Death, even from losing one’s head, is slower than what I did to you. The longer a spirit clings to a dying body the more of the person stays with it. You are nearly pure spirit with only the bare traces of humanity in you. When I release you, you will be free to do as you will. Harm me and I will dispel your energies.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why leave me like this?”

“The flesh is weak against desires and willing to compromise the spirit’s morals. Now you are nothing but spirit with a chance to be something other than human. It’s a small kindness to balance the evils I’ve done.”

I scuffed my foot across the circle, breaking it and freeing the spirit. It moved to hover near me. A spectral hand reached into my head. It was inexperienced at robbing a person’s mind, searching through my childhood for information on who it had been in life. I guided it to three days ago when the executioner had recounted the man’s crimes for several minutes in graphic detail. The spirit recoiled.

“But what about the evil I’ve done?” it asked.

“It’s up to you to balance that debt or not,” I said and began packing the sealed jars in a crate. The spirit floated over the loose pile of dust and began to gather it.

Item: Obsidian Ring

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Dear Buyer #86297,

I hope this finds you in good spirits because I have some bad news. First I want to put your mind at ease about the authenticity of the item. The ring is genuine obsidian with inlaid gold lines crisscrossing its surface. Its origin and date of manufacture are unknown. I bought the ring from a woman at a small stall at a flea market. The woman and stall could not be found later.

The ring will keep you safe if you listen to it. When you are in danger or about to be in danger it will vibrate. Stop moving, look around, and you can usually avoid the danger easily.

The first time, I was about to cross a street when the ring started vibrating. It felt like a phone notification buzz or the rumble from an x-box controller. I stopped walking and a pick-up truck ran the red light; flying through the intersection an arm’s length from me.

The second time, a shelf at my job suddenly buckled dropping a couple of the big planters in the aisle I was walking down. That time I had to run to avoid the danger. The third time was another near miss on the street. The fourth was an elevator. My ring started vibrating when the doors opened and wouldn’t stop until the doors closed. I heard a clunk and felt the crash when it hit the bottom.

This may sound like a good thing, like a blessing, I thought so too; until I paid attention to how many “accidents” I was avoiding. How often do you get hit by a car? How often do objects fall on your head? How often do safety systems fail around you? Probably not very often.

During the first month, I was being saved at most once a week. After wearing the ring for a few months, I was avoiding danger three or four times a week. I don’t know if the ring does it deliberately or as a side effect but the result is the same. You will be in more danger the longer you wear the ring. The ring, however, will keep you safe.

I know this is hard to believe but your life depends on believing me. The woman who sold me the ring didn’t warn me but I couldn’t pass the ring to another person without a warning. Don’t try to track me down. I’ve done everything I can to distance my real identity from the profile I made to sell the ring. By the time you receive this, I’ll have destroyed the last links and hopefully returned to my normal life.

I’m sorry. I really am. My only advice to pass it on to someone like I did. Sell it. Don’t try to lose the ring or give it away. You have to sell it. Good luck and in the meantime don’t forget to wear the ring. Your life depends on it.

Seller #95749

Pit Stop in the Zone

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Somewhere between San Diego and Santa Fe, a late ‘80s station wagon with original wood paneling glided through the Southwest. Behind the wheel, Alice, the driver, scanned the horizon.

“How far is the next gas station?” she asked her index tapping against the steering wheel.

“There’s one coming up in like ten minutes but we just filled up at the last one,” Jamie, the map reader, said from the shotgun seat.

“I need to make a pit stop,” Alice said.

“Why didn’t you go when we stopped earlier?” Jamie checked her watch and opened up the map. “This is going to put us off schedule.”

“I didn’t have to go earlier. I have to go now,” she hissed between clenched teeth.

“Just hold it for a couple of hours and you can go when we stop for lunch.”

“Hey, uh, I think I have to use the restroom too,” Greg, the passenger, said from the backseat.

“Seriously?!” Jamie tossed the map onto the dashboard. “You can hold it too. We have a schedule.”

“It’s two to one for a pit stop. Where do I turn?” Alice asked.

“Passengers shouldn’t get votes.” She sulked in silence for a minute. “Get off at the next exit. It’s just off the feeder road. Can’t miss it.”

A few minutes later, Alice was pulling into a parking space in front of a gas station. All three walked inside, two peeling off to the restrooms, while Jamie browsed the fruit pie selection. Next to the wire rack holding the sought after pies as well as other pastries were a series of coin-op machines. Most dispensed a variety of small toys in plastic eggs. The one that caught Jamie’s eye was shorter than the rest, lacking the large clear hopper of plastic eggs. Instead, it had a red squat winged devil figure over the coin mechanism that took pennies and dispensed slips of paper through a slot.

“Hey, what’s that?” Greg asked as he walked up behind Jamie. She jumped slightly, realizing she had been staring into the plastic jewel eyes of the devil.

“It looks like some sort of cursed fortune telling machine.” She rubbed her eyes and returned to considering the fruit pies.

“Aww cool! I always wanted to try one of these things out,” Alice said. She twisted the dial back and forth but it refused to turn without a penny offering. “Anyone got a penny?” Greg turned out his pockets and held out his change, all dimes, nickels, quarters, and a golden dollar. Alice turned to Jamie.

“Just leave it alone. We’ve already lost enough time to this unscheduled stop,” Jamie said picking up an apple fruit pie and turning it over to read the ingredients. She raised an eyebrow at the surprisingly natural ingredients and grabbed two. At the counter, she paid with a five and dropped her pennies into the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny bowl.

Alice grabbed a quarter from Greg’s change dropped it into the bowl and removed a small pinch of pennies. The clerk gave her an odd look but said nothing. She skipped back to the machine and squatted in front of it. She inserted a penny into the slot and turned the lever. A slip of paper popped out with a metallic ding.

“Questions unasked cannot be answered,” she read from the paper. “What does that mean?”

“You have to ask a question first, maybe?” Greg said.

“Do I have to ask a question first?” Alice said to the devil statue.

Penny, turn, ding! “Yes.”

“Ok, now we’re cooking. What should I ask it?”

“Ask it if we’re ever going to get back on schedule,” Jamie said.

Penny, turn, ding! “Time wasted cannot be returned.”

“You hear that! The cursed devil machine agrees with me now can we please get back on the road?” Jamie said.

“I still have pennies left.” Alice paused to think of a question.

“What about: will we make it home safely?” Greg said.

“You can’t ask it leading questions like that it’ll just twist the answers to keep you asking questions,” Jamie hissed at the other two.

Penny, turn, ding! “No one lives forever.”

“See! It’s totally trying to mind trick you into asking more questions.” She stomped over to the machine. “I know what you’re doing and I’m not falling for it.”

Penny, turn, ding! “You can’t fool all of the people some of the time.”

“Oh no, you don’t! Don’t think that just because you’re agreeing with me that I trust you. Also, that’s not even the full quote.”

Penny, turn, ding! “A smart person knows when to leave the buffet.”

“Hey, who are you calling ‘smart’?” Jamie shouted at the machine. She waited for Alice to feed it another penny. When one was not inserted into the machine, she looked down at Alice.

“I’m out of pennies. Well, that was fun. If we cut our lunch short, we can get mostly back on schedule,” Alice said standing up.

“But … But I’m not done fighting with …” She looked at the devil and thought she saw its eyes gleam. She let out a sigh, “Right, cursed devil fortune machine. Ok, let’s go and we don’t have to cut our lunch short. We just won’t take our afternoon pit stop.”

“You know that’s not going to work, right?” Alice asked.

“Yeah but I can try,” she said as they walked out to their station wagon.

Unexplained Event #?

After my closing shift, I walk home. I could take the bus but the last bus passes before I get off work. Also, recently we started closing at eleven for the holidays. My apartment is only about a forty minute walk so I don’t mind it. The street is well lit and there’s sidewalk most of the way, just a few undeveloped lots that don’t have any. In my opinion, sidewalks should come with the street.

I usually listen to a podcast on my home to help me pass the time. On this night, like many nights, I was listening to “My Favorite Murder”, a podcast by two women who have an interest in murders and other true crime stories but mostly murder. Some might say it’s tempting fate listening to a podcast about people getting murdered while walking alone late at night. I consider it self-education. With every story, I learn about I become more knowledgeable about recognizing potential threats and unsafe situations.

The event happened in front of a small U-shaped shopping plaza. The sidewalk there was impassible because of some short trees planted between the sidewalk and the street. Either the recent hurricane or poor maintenance had caused them to lean far over the sidewalk. So, I was walking on the edge of the parking lot. The street and sidewalk were on my left; parking lot to my right. Ahead was the convenience store that meant I was a little more than halfway home.

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It ran into my peripheral vision from behind me on my left side. I jumped a step to the right at the motion, thinking a person was running past me. As I did so, I saw it. I don’t know how to describe what I glimpsed. Bipedal, lean, hairless, naked, large head, shorter than me. It was hunched forward, arms pulled up in front of it. And then it was gone. It didn’t run off into the night; it just vanished.

At first, I dismissed this image as a trick of the light. Probably a car passing on the street but there were no cars coming or going on the street. Besides the street lights, there were lights in the parking lot so the area was well lit. I might almost believe it was my shadow except there isn’t anything for it to cast on. I’ve walked this same path for months and never been surprised by my shadow.

Besides true crime, I have an interest in the paranormal; aliens, bigfoot, ghosts, etc. I believe I saw something “other” that night. I’m not fanatic enough to claim that I saw “el chupacabra” or was abducted by aliens. No, this sighting will become just a memory, like the other unexplained phenomenal I’ve experienced. A memory that I will revisit from time to time; turning it over and over like a puzzle box. Maybe I’ll stop in the same place and examine the shadows one night but mostly I’ll put it behind me as something unexplainable but somehow true.

***

Author’s Note: This story is something that actually happened to me. It’s one of several events that I can’t explain but have no proof they happened.

Untitled (For Us)

They threw slurs and bottles at us.
They beat and burned us.
They hung and dismembered us.
They said heaven was closed to sinners like us.

So, we sought succor and aid from demons and devils.
Burnt twisted bodies approached us.
They saw our love and wept for us.
Voices silent for a millennia cried out for us.

They turned to our tormentors with hungry smiles.
“We’ll see you soon.”

***

Author’s Note: This was loosely inspired by the following image of demons presiding over a couple of gay weddings.

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Knocking on the Airlock Door

The last person in space heard knocking on an airlock door.

You pulled yourself through the empty space station toward the sound. Again you heard the knocking. Three thudding knocks. You reached the airlock before the knocks sounded once more. Through the window, you looked into the airlock. No one was in the airlock. Not that you expected anyone to be there since you were the last one left on the station.

Left behind when the emergency evacuation order came through and there were one too many people for the return capsules. Everyone had stared at each other in horror as you all realized someone would have to stay. There was no fighting, no posturing, no exceptions. A simple lottery, short straw stays, was improvised with strips of paper. Everyone drew and you lost.

The knocking happened again you to pushed away from the door startled. As you impacted on the wall behind you, you realized the knocking must be coming from outside the station. Some part of the station has come loose, you thought, it could damage something if I don’t secure it. You had several months of air and supplies but it would be all worthless if something knocked a hole in the station.

You went through the nearly impossible task of putting on an extravehicular suit and mobility harness alone. There were latches and seals and straps that were not meant to be closed from inside the suit. For an hour, you struggled with it, all the while hearing the repeated knocking. At first, you cringed at every knock hoping the station could take the hits. By the time you were suited up and ready to cycle the airlock, you had started counting the seconds between the knocks.

As the air was evacuated from the airlock, silence descended around you. You clipped a safety cable from your suit to the inside of the airlock. The outer door swung open and you carefully exited. You looked around for whatever had been knocking against the station but there was nothing. The airlock was at the far end of the station, away from the solar panels or cross modules, meant for docking with the shuttle. The robot arm for moving cargo from the shuttle was locked down, unmovable.

Your safety cable suddenly went slack. By the time you finished turning, the outer door was closed. By the time you reached the outer door, the inner door was open. You struggled with the outer door but safety systems prevented both doors from opening at the same time. Carefully you made your way around the outside of the space station to another airlock. It also refused to open. As did the third airlock.

Stranded in space, locked out of the station, floating with limited air, you began to feel hopelessness creep into your mind. For an hour, you stared into an airlock window willing the inner door to close. Then you saw a shape move past the open door. Just a blur in your vision but it was something. It, you realized, was what had opened the airlocks. It was what had been knocking. It was what you let in.

You waited, staring through the window until you saw it flash by again and then you knocked on the airlock door. It returned to the airlock. Long arms with too many joints pulled it into the airlock. You knocked again. It flinched back before jerking forward to stare back at you through the window. Large multicolor faceted eyes regarded you from an alien face. You knocked again. The alien tilted its head in an almost human gesture and then it left the airlock.

For the next several hours, you continued to knock trying to get its attention but anytime is passed the airlock it would only glance inside before continuing on. With your air supply almost exhausted you began continuously knocking on the airlock. It came then and watched you for the longest time. When you began to labor with each breath it moved closer to the window. The last thing you saw was its eyes staring at you without apparent care.

The New Interview with a Vampire Part 3

<<Previous


“We are back talking to Monica the commander of the space mission to Kepler 186. Why don’t you tell us a little about Kepler 186,” the host prompted me.

“Kepler 186 is a star system about five hundred light years from Earth. We’re heading to the fifth planet out. It is slightly bigger than Earth so higher gravity but we think has a chance at being human habitable.”

“How habitable are we talking? Sunny tropical beaches?”

I chuckled. “Not that sunny. At noon, Kepler 186 is barely brighter than our sun is at sunset.”

“Sounds like a perfect place for vampires.”

“That’s something we’re going to find out. We honestly don’t know if it’s just our sun that will burn vampires or any sun.”

“The scientist at the space agency haven’t run tests? Have they tried using sun lamps?” The audience laughed.

“Ha, no most of the testing with sun lamps was done a couple of hundred years ago.”

“Was that when vampires became public knowledge?” she asked.

“Not exactly. There have calls to go public since before I became a vampire. I saw several during my first century but they always got shot down by older vampires afraid humans would try to exterminate all of us. It was a valid concern so no one went beyond suggesting we go public.”

“What changed?”

“IDs.”

“IDs?” the host asked.

“Yep. In 2234, the Global Identification System changed its encryption schema and made it virtually impossible to create new fake IDs. It was common at the time for vampires to change identities every forty to fifty years. Suddenly it looked like we were going to be locked out of human society and forced back into haunting abandoned buildings. Without the appearance of legal identification, we couldn’t own property, we couldn’t have jobs, we couldn’t receive mail, we couldn’t travel. It was the end of the world for us. Then someone suggested we go public. This time the idea wasn’t shot down right out of the gate. There was a year long debate weighing every possible pro and con. And in the end, enough of us said yes.

“I wish I could read those comments.”

“Actually you can. Someone compiled the discussion into a book after we were recognized as full citizens in 2262. It’s titled Road From Out the Coffin. Horrible title but the content is good.

“How did that lead to scientists running tests on vampires?”

“Right got sidetracked for a second. Basically, some of us revealed ourselves to doctors around the world and let them run whatever test they wanted on us to prove we weren’t vampires. Of course, they got odd to weird results back but couldn’t prove we weren’t vampires. With this wide range of doctors saying “I don’t know what these people are but they aren’t normal human,” we went to specialized labs and continued the cycle. We wanted scientific proof that we, vampires, existed. After several years, everyone was stumped on how our bodies worked but we had detailed reports that they did. Then began step two: petitioning the World Government to recognize vampires as legal citizens with all the rights and protections that entailed. We wanted to be people, not monsters anymore.”

“Is that how people saw you? As monsters?”

“It was ingrained in society. Except for some novels written during the early twenty-first century, vampires have been portrayed as blood sucking murderers. We were that at one time but over time we stopped killing and even stopped having to forcibly take blood from people. That was probably what helped our case the most.”

“You had blood donors?”

“Actually yes. In the 2100’s, some vampires established a worldwide blood bank.”

The host’s eyes widened. “Wait, the World’s Blood Bank is run by vampires?”

“Well, not anymore. It started as a small front to get people to donate blood that was then sold to local vampires on the side. It worked so well that they got vampires around the world to invest and opened a network of vampire controlled blood banks under the name World’s Blood Bank. Then a couple of years after they had started a series of hurricanes and tsunamis and an earthquake devastated local blood supplies around the world. Someone in a hospital somewhere remembered hearing about The World’s Blood Bank and called up to request some blood.

“There was mild panic online that our blood supply was going to be exposed. The vampires running the blood bank decided they couldn’t not help. They had been collecting world wide and felt like they had plenty to spare. Then more requests came and then more. It seemed like the whole operation was going to collapse but then people started donating in mass. Their false image as a blood bank for the world became reality. The vampires set up a corporation to control the blood bank’s finances and set up a board of doctors to monitor day to day operations. They set up small private clinics around the world that could request blood and distribute it to local vampires. Our detractors tried to use this against us, calling us leeches on the world’s blood supply but all the vampires in the world use less than one hundredth of a percent of the blood used in hospitals around the world.”

“Wow. I just donated blood last week.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Well, we’re almost out of time so do you have anything else you’d like to say about the Kepler 186 mission? What do you hope to learn or see?”

“I hope it is habitable. Earth is going to be here for a long time but humans might not. In the last five hundred years I’ve been alive, I’ve seen several man-made ecological disasters. Humans are getting better at cleaning up their messes but it just takes one mess too big to clean up to wipe us out. Too many eggs in one basket. So we’re heading out to find new homes for humanity. This is just the first of several vampire led missions to distant stars. We’re the first wave because we can sleep must of the hundreds of years it will take to get there. The hope is that by the time we get there and can send a message back new forms of transport will have been developed. My greatest hope is we arrive at an already populated planet.”

“You’re giving up your life for humans?”

“A few decades ago a conversation started about what would happen if all the humans died and only vampires survived. The discussion ranged from creating human farms to cloning blood to creating synthetic blood. There are many ways we could keep living if you wiped yourselves out but none of us want that world. Several of us were already in the space program and we suggested finding more worlds for humanity and us to live on. It seems very selfless but really we don’t want to be alone with only each for company.”

“Thank you, Commander Monica, for your time and service.

“Thank you for having me on.”

“That’s all the time we have today. Thank you for watching and don’t forget to donate blood.”

The show’s theme music blared one last time as the audience clapped.


<<Previous

 

The New Interview with a Vampire Part Two

<<Previous Next>>


The lights came up and the theme music played. “We are back and we are speaking with Monica who was about to tell us what the vampire community was like in the twentieth century.”

“Right. Well, the vampire community I entered into was almost completely online in secret groups on Facebook, password protected forums, and private websites. The internet, as limited as it was in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, allowed us to make connections, share info, negotiate territory. There were a few who had open journals or blogs but most normal humans dismissed them as works of fiction. A hundred years earlier, hell fifty years earlier, I would have been lucky to know more than three other vampires.”

“Why was that?”

“Mostly it was geography and lack of wide spread communications. Vampires rarely collected in groups larger than two in a city. A moderately sized city with an average crime rate in the twentieth century could support one or two vampires without their feeding creating a strong pattern. More than that and people start to notice and then concerned citizens start burning down houses.

“The exact number of vampires a city can support scales as the size of the city increases. New York City had a couple dozen dispersed throughout its boroughs. By the time I entered the community there were twice that many who regularly flamed each other online about intruding on their territory. I say community but they were about as cohesive as the trans community at the same time.”

“Trans community? What was that? A community of transportation fans?” She smiled and the audience chuckled.

“Ha, no. It’s an arcane term from the twenty-first century. So … it’s not important.”

“No, go on. I’m interested in hearing about this trans community.”

“Ok. I’m what was called a trans woman.”

“What’s that?”

“It meant I am a woman who was born with a penis.”

“So … ?”

“At that time any person with a penis was considered male and a man and any person born with a vagina was female and a woman. Anyone who didn’t fit into those narrow definitions was made to fit.”

The host recoiled slightly. “That’s hideous! Sex and gender don’t work like that.”

“No, they don’t but it was the general belief of society at the time. There were those like myself that defied the norms and demanded to be respected as our true genders.” I paused as memories bubbled to the surface of my mind.

“But to get back to the vampire community. For two hundred years not a lot changed for us. We stayed hidden, some of us made new vampires, some of us disappeared. Most times a vampire would announce their intention to walk into the sun but sometimes a vampire just disappeared. We could never be sure if they had killed themselves or just dug into the earth and fallen asleep.”

“What do you mean fallen asleep?”

“That is a quirk of vampire physiology. We can enter a dead-like-sleep that can last for centuries. It’s a way for us escape the world for a while. A vampire doesn’t have to kill every time they feed. It was actively discouraged as early as the second century in parts of Asia but that attitude wouldn’t come to Europe until around the seventeenth century. Vampires before that would feed on small communities until they were all dead. Then they would find a safe place and sleep until more people moved into the area. In the last seven hundred years, it has been rare for a vampire to overfeed on a population in that way, so sleeping away the years has become a voluntary affair. Vampires from older time periods sometimes do it because they can’t cope with the way the world has changed.”

“Have you slept any years away?”

“Only a year in the twenty-fourth century. I was reading “The Blue Death” by Gabbalta Joennes and didn’t want to wait for the next book in the series. So, I took a nap until the sequel came out.” The audience laughs.

“Really? You slept for years just to read the next book?”

“I was three hundred, almost four hundred years, old at the time. Honestly, I had lost the thread of what life was supposed to be. I had realized I had time to read all the books I wanted. I wasn’t wasting my time reading day after day because I had all of eternity before me. So, I spent ten years reading book after book trying to catch up with all the books I had neglected to read in the previous three hundred years.

“And then I read “The Blue Death”. It was the first of a promised series and I loved it. I spent five months re-reading just it. The sequel was to be published in a year so I took a nap to pass the time. When I woke up, the second book had been published. I was ecstatic to read more until I saw a note in the front of the book. The author had died in an accident. Another writer had taken her mostly finished manuscript and notes to completed it. There were no plans to continue the series. I read the new book and it was good but I could sense the hand of the new writer subtly guiding Gabbalta’s brilliant prose in slightly more conventional ways. I …,” I blinked and glanced around the studio suddenly back from the memory I had been reliving. “Oh, I got a little ah caught up in that memory. I didn’t mean to go on so long about that.”

“You looked like you were someplace else while you were telling that story.”

“A hazard of having a perfect memory. Our memories can seem so real we get lost in them.”

“You remember everything from the last five hundred years?”

“Everything I’ve experienced. Don’t ask me about historical events cause I rarely paid attention to the news. I’m barely better than grade school history book.”

“We have another break for our sponsors and when we come back Monica will tell us about her mission to Kepler 186.”

The lights dimmed and the music played.


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