A W e e k I n T h e U n l i f e
by David J. Schow
WHEN YOU STAKE A bloodsucker, the heartblood
pumps out thick and black, the consistency of
honey. I saw it make bubbles as it glurped out. The
creature thrashed and squirmed and tried to pull
out the stake - they always do, if you leave on their
arms for the kill - but by the third whack it was, as
Stoker might say, dispatched well and duly.
I lost count a long time ago. Doesn't matter.
I no longer think of them as being even *former*
human beings, and feel no anthropomorphic sympathy.
In their eyes I see no tragedy, no romance, no
seductive pulp appeal. Merely lust, rage at being
outfoxed, and debased appetite, focused and sanguine.
People usually commit journals as legacy. So
be it. Call me sentry, vigilante if you like. When they
sleep their comatose sleep, I stalk and terminate
them. When they walk, I hide. Better than they do.
They're really not as smart as popular fiction
and films would lead you to believe. They do have
cunning, an animalistic savvy. But I'm an experienced
tracker; I know their spoor, the traces they leave,
the way their presence charges the air. Things
invisible or ephemeral to ordinary citizens, blackly
obvious to me.
The journal is so you'll know, just in case my
luck runs out.
Sundown. Nap time.
Naturally the police think of me as some sort of
homicidal crackpot. That's a given; always has been
for my predecessors. More watchers to evade.
Caution comes reflexively to me these days. Police
are slow and rational; they deal in the minutiae of a
day-to-day world, deadly enough without the
inclusion of bloodsuckers.
The police love to stop and search people.
Fortunately for me, mallets and stakes and crosses
and such are not yet illegal in this country. Lots of
raised eyebrows and jokes and nudging but no
actual arrests. When the time comes for them to
recognize the plague that has descended upon their
city, they will remember me, perhaps with grace.
My lot is friendless, solo. I know and expect
such. It's okay.
City by city. I'm good at ferreting out the
nests. To me, their kill-patterns are like a flashing
red light. The police only see presumed loonies,
draw no linkages; they bust and imprison mortals
and never see the light.
I am not foolhardy enough to leave
bloodsuckers lying. Even though the mean
corpus usually dissolves, the stakes might be
discovered. Sometimes there is other residue. City
dumpsters and sewers provide adequate and fitting
disposal for the leftovers of my mission.
The enemy casualties.
I wish I could advise the authorities, work
hand-in-hand with them. Too complicated. Too many
variables. Not a good control situation. Bloodsuckers
have a maddening knack for vanishing into crevices,
even hairline splits in logic.
Rule: Trust no one.
A female one, today. Funny. There aren't as many
of them as you might suppose.
She had courted a human lover, so she claimed,
like Romeo and Juliet - she could only visit him at
night, and only after feeding, because bloodsuckers
too can get carried away by passion.
I think she was intimating that she was a
physical lover of other-worldly skill; I think she
was fighting hard to tempt me not to eliminate her
by saying so.
She did not use her hands to seduce mortal
men. I drove the stake into her brain, through
the mouth. She was of recent vintage and did not
melt or vaporize. When I fucked her remains, I was
surprised to find her warm inside, not cold, like a
With some of them the human warmth is
longer in leaving. But it always goes.
I never met one before that gave up its existence
without a struggle, but today I did, one that acted
like he had been expecting me to wander along and
relieve him of the burden of unlife. He did not deny
what he was, nor attempt to trick me. He asked if
he could talk a bit, before.
In a third-floor loft, the windows of which
had been spray-painted flat black, he talked. Said
he had always hated the taste of blood, said he
preferred pineapple juice, or even coffee. He actually
brewed a pot of coffee while we talked.
I allowed him to finish his cup before I put
the ashwood length to his chest and drove deep
and let his blackness gush. It dribbled, thinned by
the coffee he had consumed.
Was thinking this afternoon perhaps I should
start packing a Polaroid or somesuch, to keep a
visual body count, just in case this journal
becomes public record someday. It'd be good to
have illustrations, proof. I was thinking of that
line you hear overused in the movies. I'm sure you
know it: *"But there's no such THING as a vampire!"*
What a howler; ranks right up there alongside *"It's
crazy - but if just might work!"* and *"We can't
stop now for a lot of silly native superstitions!"
Right; shoot cozy little memory snaps, in
case they whizz to mist or drop apart to smoking
goo. That bull about how you're not supposed to be
able to record their images is from the movies, too.
There's so much misleading information running
loose that the bloodsuckers - the real ones - have
no trouble at all moving through any urban center,
*with impunity*, as they say on cop shows.
Maybe it would be a good idea to tape record
the sounds they make when they die. Videotape them
begging not to be exterminated. That would bug the
eyes of all those monster movie fans, you bet.
So many of them beleaguering this city it's easy
to feel outnumbered. Like I said, I've lost count.
Tonight might be a good window for moving
on. Like them, I become vulnerable if I remain too
long, and it's prudent operating procedure not to
leave patterns or become predictable.
It's easy. I don't own much. Most of what I
carry, I carry inside.
They pulled me over on Highway Ten, outbound,
for a broken left tail-light. A datafax photo of me
was clipped to the visor in the Highway Patrol car.
The journal book itself has been taken as evidence,
so for now it's a felt-tip and high school notebook
paper, which notes I hope to append to the journal
I have a cell with four bunks all to myself.
The door is solid gray, with a food slot, unlike the
barred cage of the bullpen. On the way back I
noticed they had caught themselves a bloodsucker.
Probably an accident; they probably don't even know
what they have. There is no sunrise or sunset in the
block, so if he gets out at night, they'll never know
what happened. But I already know. Right now I will
not say anything. I am exposed and at a
disadvantage. The one I let slip today I can eliminate
tenfold, next week.
Next week. And I am vindicated at last.
I relaxed as soon as they showed me the
photographs. How they managed documentation
on the last few bloodsuckers I trapped, I have no
idea. But I was relieved. Now I don't have to explain
the journal - which, as you can see, they returned
to me immediately. They had thousands of questions.
They needed to know about the mallets, the stakes,
the preferred method of killstrike. I cautioned them
not to attempt a sweep and clear at night, when the
enemy is stronger.
They paid serious attention this time, which
made me feel much better. Now the fight can be
mounted en masse.
They also let me know I wouldn't have to stay
in the cell. Just some paperwork to clear, and I'm out
among them again. One of the officials - not a cop,
but a doctor - congratulated me on a stout job well
done. He shook my hand, on behalf of all of them, he
said, and mentioned writing a book on my work. This
As per my request, the bloodsucker in the
adjacent solitary cell was moved. I told them
that to be really sure, they should use one of my
stakes. It was simple vanity, really, on my part. I
turn my stakes out of ashwood on a lathe. I made sure
they knew I'd permit my stakes to be used as working
models for the proper manufacture of all they would
When the guards come back I really must ask
how they managed such crisp 8 x 10s of so many
bloodsuckers. All those names and dates. First class
I'm afraid I may be a bit envious.
A WEEK IN THE UNLIFE copyright © David J. Schow 1991
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