My name is Cathy Grogan; not a typical vampire name but I try to blend in. Tryzkandelle ile Zlatok is the name I was born with. I’ve had many names since. But Cathy Grogan is the name I’ve chosen for this stage in my life. A life in which I’ve continually had to adapt to survive. I’ve had to learn new languages. I’ve had to teach myself to speak with perfect accents. I’ve had to accustom myself to many dress codes and fashions. That’s the easy stuff.
But here’s what I want to share with you; one of the greatest secrets about being a vampire is that vampire laws mutate. They’re not even laws. They have more in common with an obsessive-compulsive disorder than they do with laws of vampiric nature. Sure; we need to drink human blood to survive. That fact of life never changes. It’s the societal laws that change. At one stage we couldn’t enter a home without being invited. This was more reflective of a time when it would be unthinkable for a regular person to enter a home without being invited. This is a custom we fixated upon for some time and culturally passed on through the generations. We could, of course, enter a home without being invited but the stress and agitation this caused, would permeate every cell in our body. The stress was so extreme that the physical response would go way beyond a fast heartbeat and shortness of breath. Every cell in our body would agitate, an internal sensation which, in levels of discomfort, far exceeds physical pain. This stress would manifest itself physically in myriad ways including the seepage of blood from our eye sockets. As society changed, so did our attachment to this one rule. It took many generations to change but eventually, it ebbed away like a slowly receding echo. The closest vampire law to this in modern times is that it’s practically impossible for a vampire to visit a house unannounced, without first calling ahead, or sending a text. Such as it is that vampire laws are closely linked to societal norms.
Of course, we have many other laws that don’t closely relate to typical human social norms. It’s hard to know how these came to be; Vampires cannot drive a car unless they are in a country whose motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road and we cannot sleep unless we have seen three magpies the previous day (without actively seeking them out). It’s hard to communicate that these ever-evolving rules are neither superstitions nor OCD tics. Nor are they tacit laws. With vampires, these traits evolve and devolve like an antibiotic resistance to bacteria. They become embedded in our DNA and we have no control over their development or cessation. They start as a social meme and then become embedded in our physiology. Ok, some of them start with regular superstitions or OCD traits, or social codes, but once vampires get infected, these become hardcoded, and as discussed can sometimes have very real physiological effects.
The worst example of this is in modern years is something we call The Glistening; the autonomic extension of our fangs. We once had complete control over extending our blood-sucking teeth. We could extend and retract them at will. But now they can only extend if a human gives us a particular request. A vocal request that has a physical response. This request is to smile. When we are sequestered to smile by a human, we cannot refuse, but the unfortunate side effect is that our smile bears our teeth, and then our fangs extend against our will. This is a very modern anomaly. It became imbibed in our DNA at an alarmingly rapid rate; just under a decade. Just as we cannot seek out magpies, we cannot trick people into telling us to smile. In fact, it is very hard to Glisten under any circumstances other than walking down a street, and a complete stranger giving us this instruction without the slightest hint of invitation on our part.
This is perilous to our breed. If a stranger does not tell us to smile, we don’t Glisten. If we don’t Glisten, we cannot feed. If we cannot feed, we die. Male vampires are a dying breed. There aren’t many of us left. The continuation of our race depends on a particular type of man, himself a dying breed; one who is attached to stereotypical notions of his gender. These men are becoming harder and harder to resist. For example, I only need to feed every 4 or 5 days. I fed yesterday but just couldn’t help myself today. I was running late for a movie that I really wanted to see and I was becoming quite agitated. I was going past a block of shops which had a bus stop right in front of the shops. It’s an awkward manifestation of bad planning. The people waiting at the bus stop inadvertently block the path. There was a sole man at the bus stop doing just this; somehow blocking the whole path just by himself. He saw me coming and made no effort to let me pass. Then as I tried to get by, stressed and agitated, he said: “Fuck’s sake love, a smile wouldn’t kill you! G’wan gimme a smile”.
I did as requested. I showed him my teeth, and then my beautiful glorious special teeth, my shards of sustenance. The last smile he would ever see made his own own smile disappear so quickly, it was like it never existed. In a blink, I had him dragged behind the shops, and though I wasn’t even hungry, within minutes I had completely drained his body of blood. Like my old friend Zlotan used to say in his later years “Never pass a toilet without using it, and never ever waste a Glistening”.
So gentlemen, never change. Please. Keep telling us to smile.