ScifiShort fiction

The Vampire Option : a philosophical story by: GF Willmetts

‘Living forever isn’t always a good option.’

  Vampires get very bad press. I blame Bram Stoker and Anne Rice among others for stirring the flames but developed over the years, vampires have been anything from demonic to comedy cartoon characters. They were mostly hidden in earlier times and wasn’t until the Middle Ages that they started to be noted. Considering storytellers sat around late night fires, I reckon they misdirected everyone with their own tales of anything non-vampire and thus reduced the mention of their own kind. Clever ploy, huh? We should have recognised that this also meant they were more protective of their own kind. More so as it was done world-wide.

Of course, when humans began telling stories themselves, the vampires stepped back as they weren’t keen on bright lights. Stage, film and Hollywood wasn’t for them. Something in their condition made them avoid bright light. They kept a low profile for a long while. At least until ‘Dracula’ and ‘Nosferatu’ presented them as villains of the piece and they moved from paper to cinema legend and stayed ever move away from the limelight. Then they became ever more hidden than correcting the myth that authors and media distorted them. Everything from changing into bats and wolves to becoming mist to get under doors. If they could do that, why would they need permission to enter premises? The myth kept people thinking of them as bad than the benefits. After all, who wanted to be bitten by them and get eternal life? They were seen as the hidden boogiemen, not potential benefactors.

That was until a blood sample was taken and discovered to belong to what was thought to be a fictional vampire and showed unusual attributes. Healthy blood but also highly infectious if it entered your blood stream. Unlike most illnesses it didn’t damage your body but did things to make it well.

Out of something like how Pasteur inoculated a boy with cowpox and who recovered from smallpox, one of the other doctors involved, infected a terminal patient who then recovered. Patient Z, as the vampire was called, wasn’t happy about being discovered and preferred to be in a windowless room but not worried about electric lights. There was still a need for the odd drink of blood but they drank from a bottle than from the body to reduce infection. To have more vampires than humans would reduce their blood supplies. The astonishing thing was discovering he was also over two hundred years old. Vampires were really very long-lived. The possibilities for prolonged life for the terminally ill became a possibility.

Even so, talks at top level and highly secret went on between the two communities. For those who had terminal patients, they could be offered the vampire option. They could only come out at night but they would continue to live. It was thought every terminal patient would jump at this option for added life but the fear of the media vampire had dug into the human conscience and many chose to die instead.

Word got back that the vampires were happy but the desire to keep various terminal or seriously damaged people was still explored on the QT than public knowledge. There were problems. The paraplegic didn’t get restored limbs and the few who tried it didn’t like the idea of living forever like that, even with artificial limbs. One thing we did discover was cremation would kill these vampires, mostly done by vampires themselves. We were discovering their own ethical system and quickly decided the wealthy should be kept away as I doubt if vampires would tolerate another set of unethical blood-suckers.

Those with cancers did prosper, though. Becoming a vampire put them in remission but those selecting weren’t family people. They didn’t like the idea of the odd nip of blood to keep going. They wanted sunshine to enjoy with their grandchildren not an eternal night where all they could enjoy was the stars which got increasingly shorted in the spring and summer months.

Of course, that didn’t include everyone. Loners or people with no family saw it as a means to have extended life. Oddly, the vampires were less than happy if that was the only reason. They wanted responsible people who would became part of their family. They were more family than we thought and broke their own rule and actually tried to dissuade them from the change. There was more of a middle-ground here between us than we thought.

However, there was also a lack of need for nepotism. They didn’t want whole families becoming vampires because they would also want to expand and have all the distance cousins and kin change as well. That was put a stop from the start as vampires didn’t give birth. We and them didn’t want an elite. What need did they have for country politics other than a need to stop global warming and keeping the environment healthy?

Oddly, many saw becoming a vampire as a disease and becoming a volunteer potentially passing it as a disease and didn’t want to create a pandemic. Explaining that to some of the vampires didn’t raise an eyebrow but, unlike the fictional vampires, they preferred to keep their numbers down. They did explain one thing to me. Drinking blood did not infect a human, it was feeding their blood into a human that did. They didn’t want to be seen as a world-conquering species. They just preferred a quiet life and carry on in the world. A separate species of mankind not hindered by belonging to a particular country.

What we didn’t realise was how moral these vampires were. That kept growing as we learnt more. I blame their fictional counterparts. They have their own laws and any criminal activity isn’t tolerated and, as commented above, those who committed serious crime were incinerated. No excuses. That surprised us but they had to remind us that they aren’t under human law and had to have their own controls. Incarceration for a people who live forever would give a few years of boredom and they would be out to do it again. Death made it clear. We also lost a lot more people not willing to change when that was revealed. Even criminals didn’t like the vampire option Not because they were a criminal element but they didn’t like this aspect of their law. You had to be unusual to be a vampire and we were glad we kept this information away from public knowledge. Who knows what they did to keep concealed. Really concealed.

Finding out what finance they had would be difficult. They had to have places to stay during the day, especially the long summer days, unless they migrated but I expect you had to belong to them to find out. No wonder they were coy about who should belong to them. So much for a pandemic of vampires.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’ve got the Big C and eligible for the Vampire Option. Me, who had to find the dying to see if they wanted to live forever was now in that situation myself. So what do I ask myself? With such a low take-up, me taking the vampire option would not only save my life but might also persuade others to do the same as well. Even in a limited number.

So, why was I hesitating? So many didn’t like the vampire option. You would have thought the long life and surviving the terminal illness would be enough. The limited time they could see their relatives, who would mostly have to sleep at night, just didn’t appeal to them. Can death be better than that?

Maybe it’s the mindset. People have been indoctrinated to believe vampires are evil and crossing over would carry that image. They’re also good at manipulating people. A little too well in my opinion although they’ve had a long time to learn a better diplomacy than us, probably realising one day we would discover them again. They must have known they’d get few people wanting the vampire option.

Now, I have the choice. A passing of blood and a few days to get the infection and instant vampire. Mirrors still work. Travelling on water, OK. Just a little drink of blood from time to time. The only other thing was an aversion to light. High level sun cream and dark glasses might help there but do I want to go change or just die, like most people on this planet.

Something I have learnt from all this negotiation is the vampire option showed that they often made better choices about themselves than we humans made. It is we who were really the inferior transitionary species and not the final product.

The cat…er…bat was really out of the bag now. Rather contradictory, even the discrete offering of the vampire option to the seriously ill was often completely turned down. When the vampire community chose people themselves to join, they had a better selection system than ourselves. If anything, it seemed better to let them do their own recruitment and slowly forget about the vampire option ourselves.

Bringing me over would really be to keep some sort of liaison between the two human species but did I really want such a responsibility for just one bite?

Of course, I would have to playact being affected after being bitten. We hadn’t told the humans the truth about being able to go out in the light. We kept secrets but still needed to test acceptability so I had to pose as one of the humans to see if we would be acceptable publicly. No more myths. The truth? They weren’t ready for the vampire option and our secret would be there for a few more generations yet. First contact but not far enough. Let them keep their legends for the moment.

© GF Willmetts

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I don’t necessarily bite


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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