This past Friday, my buddy TruantPony and I hung out via GChat, talking about the monsters and the aliens, while doing 30-minute writing bouts on various projects. Like all writer-buddy conversations, it was tremendously fruitful. Bouncing ideas off each other, we’re smarter than when we’re sitting alone at our desks. We were together on-line for something on the order of seven or eight hours, and both came away with many ideas for blog posts and stories.
Today’s post is all about the vampires and the zombies, and ends in a challenge.
As I read the news, it’s no coincidence to me that vampires and zombies are the monsters du jour. They are avatars of a soulless society based upon consumption, that moves forward by mindless shambling.
My buddy Truant said that she could relate to zombies because of all the brain-eating and shambling about that she’s personally witnessed. The contemporary notion of a zombie is something like a degenerated vampire. The replication method is similar: a contagious bite.
The real world correspondent is clear: both in small groups and in large organizations, stupid is contagious.
Vampires are about fear of death, I think, but the archetype recognizes that living forever you still can’t cheat the conservation laws. A vampire may persist, but it’s not exactly living.
The first Twilight book featured a teaser excerpt from the second book, in which Bella is freaking out about how she will age compared to perfect Edward. In that passage, Bella channels the American horror of female aging (or even maturation), as she obsesses about how she and Edward would look together, herself too old and him eternally seventeen.
I propose in opposition: the vampire’s girlfriend, refusing the undead life, might age and grow up and eventually become bored with him. A grown woman might find a seventeen-year-old fundamentally uninteresting.
I’m realizing now that I took on this territory in Necromancer and Barbarian. Elsa is 35, the revenant from the Iron Age is 17, but he’s no teenager. Nor is he a bloodless shadow in search of eternal life; he’s a sensualist who wants a second chance at living out his mortal span. Both of them, Elsa the daughter of Chernobyl downwinders and Little Bird/Heinrich the youthful sacrifice, are well aware of their mortality and use it as a spur to live as fully as possible.
Edward seems to be fixated at seventeen, the age when he was turned. In the story, he’s supposed to have been turned during the 1918 flu. so, yes, he’s over a hundred years old, but forever frozen in time, psychologically as well as physically. Edward’s vampire family moves from place to place, playing out the same stage of life until they can’t fake it in that place any more.
At one point in our conversation about this subject, TruantPony said, “I think your brain would still remember the taste of food, even if your body refused it and everything but blood turned to ashes in your mouth.”
Which sent a chill down my spine, even as it struck a minor chord with esthetic possibilities.
I replied, “I think that after a hundred years or so your human life would resemble a distantly recalled dream. Everyone you had known in that form would be dead.”
Out of this conversation came a whole collection of prompts: the actor’s Vampire Curse (remember Bela Lugosi, and I suspect Robert Pattinson fears something similar–to be type-cast forever in a single role); the fever-dream interpretation of Twilight, the aging girlfriend of the unchanging vampire, who gets bored and dumps him; body memories of food one can no longer process; vampire family dysfunction (the household bickering among a set of bloodsuckers who’ve known each other forever. TruantPony: “Who drank my O negative?!”); vampire reality TV.
So we’re doing it: the Vampire Variations, with humor, horror, and everything in between. Anybody want to join us? Write it and link to your story in the Comments below. Tell us which parts of the challenge you took up, and what special ingredients you threw into the soup in addition. If the story’s for sale, include links to your sales locale(s) so readers can view an excerpt and buy the story.