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The 31 Days of Hallowe'en - A Week In The Unlife

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  • brent wodehouse
    A W e e k I n T h e U n l i f e by David J. Schow I WHEN YOU STAKE A bloodsucker, the heartblood pumps out thick and black, the consistency of honey. I saw
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2011
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      A W e e k I n T h e U n l i f e

      by David J. Schow


      I

      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.


      II

      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.


      III

      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
      cadaver. Warm.
      With some of them the human warmth is
      longer in leaving. But it always goes.


      IV

      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.


      V

      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.


      VI

      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.


      VII

      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
      proper later.
      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.


      VIII

      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
      is exciting!
      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
      soon need.
      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
      documentation.
      I'm afraid I may be a bit envious.




      A WEEK IN THE UNLIFE copyright © David J. Schow 1991



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