This week we have a guest editorial from a student of that noted expert on vampires,
Dr. -- err -- John Smith, Ph.D., M.D., D.D.
by Jaye Michael
©2000 Jaye Michael -- all rights reserved
Do vampires automatically know it all?
"Welcome ladies and gentlemen. My name is Vlad Tspsis." He waited for the scattering of chuckles to stop. "Actually my name is currently John Smith, Ph.D., M.D., D.D. and I will be your professor for this class. Please take your seats so we can commence." Tall, with wavy silver white hair and a patrician nose, the man behind the lectern tapped a foot impatiently as the last stragglers took seats and poised pens above paper.
"Thank you," he cleared his throat in annoyance. "In the future I expect you to all be here and prepared to commence immediately at the start of the class, after all, the night's a wasting.
"Just to be sure there will be no more interruptions, this is not Home Economics, Basket Weaving, or Introduction to Volleyball. Any of you who are here for one of those classes or who think this is another one of those 'easy A' classes, please leave now." He waited to see if anyone left and one scruffy looking late adolescent packed everything he'd unloaded moments ago and slunk out the door at the back of the lecture hall.
"Let us continue,' his eyes, black irises surrounded by red rather than white, bored into the students in the front rows and they squirmed uncomfortably. "This is PMV-101, otherwise known as Introduction to Physical Morphing for Vampires. One last time, is there anyone who suddenly realizes that they do not need to be here?" This time no one left, although several more rows began to squirm under his intent glare.
"Unlike my expectations for each of you, the outline of this course is very simple. First, we will discuss the history of Homo vampiris with special emphasis on the fallacies related to morphing. Second we will review the physiology of vampires as it relates to morphing. Third, we will discuss the mechanics of morphing. This course does include a practicum -- and before anyone asks, the practicum will be eighty percent of your final grade."
"You!" He pointed to a nerdy-looking lad with the trademark taped black spectacles. "There will be no side conversations or attention to material other than what I present in this classroom. Is that clear?"
The student in question, finding it impossible to slide through the plastic seat to the painted cement floor below, nodded dejectedly and fumbled quickly in his book bag as he put away a computer magazine. Hoping to avoid any additional notoriety, he stared intently at his writing pad.
The professor's glare left his last victim and returned to the class in general, "I talk, you listen. I give instructions and you follow them. Now that we have the ground rules clear, let us commence with the topic at hand.
"Open to Table One in your texts. Page sixteen." He spoke over the sound of pages flipping. As the room settled down again, he flipped a transparency onto an overhead projector and turned to the screen behind him.
Table One: Myths and Reality Regarding Homo vampiris
|Vampires Suck Blood||Direct observation.||True. Vampire dietary requirements include high levels of iron and a selection of trace elements only found in blood.|
|Vampires Can Overwhelm and Control Others' Minds||Spouses attempting to explain why their husband or wife strayed.||Partially true. Many have learned hypnotism, but most use body morphing and pheremone production to lure food supplies.|
|Vampires Control Wolves, Bats, and Other Creatures||Seeing vampires surrounded by wolves, bats, etc||Untrue. However, vampires do have control of pheremone production and can become 'familiar' to most animals except dogs and horses. Note: Nor cats, but they don't care.|
|Vampires Can Live Forever||Occasional photos and paintings over time showing people who appear identical except for period clothing.||True, in theory. In reality vampires can die from extreme trauma. The oldest known living member of Homo vampiris was reportedly 2031 years of age in 1878.|
|Vampires Have Superhuman Strength||Those few humans to see a vampire fight and survive to tell of it.||Partially true. Most are extremely capable fighters due to various martial arts learned over time and they do have slightly enhanced strength resulting from a ferrous-based physiology which can be enhanced further by judicious use of morphing|
|Vampires Cannot Cross Flowing Water||No known basis in fact but possibly elaborations on beliefs regarding fear of holy water.||False. Flowing water is not an obstacle, except that swimming is more difficult due to heavier density.|
|Vampires Fear Garlic||Seeing vampires shy away from strong smelling objects.||False. Vampiric senses are significantly better than those of humans and extreme sensory overload can be painful. In effect, garlic and other odoriferous items are painfully strong smelling.|
|Vampires Can Be Killed by a Stake Through the Heart, Decapitation or Fire||Seeing vampires turn to dust when assaulted in such manner.||False. Only destruction of the brain causes death. The image of vampires turning to dust results from an autonomic safety mechanism of any morph-trained vampire that assures survival following trauma, much as plants release their seeds in the face of a forest fire. Who tries to kill dust?|
|Vampires are Controlled by their Master Vamp||Situations where humans have seen vampires acting in concert under the direction of a single coordinating vamp, usually a teaching guide.||False. There is no 'Master Vampire', although there is the Council, which coordinates general policy for all Homo vampiris. Additionally, many extended Vampire families do maintain an age-based decision-making hierarchy. Additionally, there are various religious and fraternal groups which provide guidance and instruction.|
|Vampires Sleep During the Day, Fearing the Sun||In the past the hunt was paramount to survival and, like most hunters, vampires were most commonly seen at night.||False. Vampires are no more affected by the sun, the moon, light, dark, etc. than are humans. Tradition, from the days of the hunt, has made many vampires night dwellers and this has been encouraged as a safety factor. All vampires are required to avoid any displays of difference from the more common Homo sapiens (e.g., fangs, morphing) during daylight hours to aid in maintaining "the Masquerade."|
|Vampires Can Turn Humans into Vampires||Seeing what appear to be loved ones return to life as vampires.||False. Blood transfer does not transfer genetic material capable of overwriting human DNA. However, many instructors encourage their students to replicate the forms of recently departed food as practice and as part of the hunt for more food.|
|Vampires Cannot Cast a Reflection||Failure to see reflections in early, minimally functional mirrors placed in poorly lit rooms.||False, although some have developed sufficient speed to move into and out of the line of vision and in boredom have toyed with humans.|
|Vampires Can Change Shape||Images of shape changers.||True. This is what will be taught in this class.|
"We shall do this in much more detail later in this class, but for this first session, let us elaborate a bit on some of these beliefs. Obviously, blood is an excellent source of iron and iron is the primary nutrient for vampires. Does anyone here think they are limited to human blood only?" He waited patiently as a scattering of hands were hesitantly raised.
"You!" In the black cape," he pointed to one of a group of people in the traditional 'Lugosi' uniform.
"Tell us why vampires can only ingest human blood." He didn't hide his sneer very well.
"It is so written in the Books of Bela, again in the Carradine Commandments, and yet again in the Tablets of Lee."
"Stop!" He held up his hand to silence the youth before he could begin quoting chapter and verse. "A Traditionalist, as I suspected. This classroom is not the place for discussions of religion, or I would point out that the precepts you refer to were written by humans, not vampires --"
"Humans divinely guided by vampires!"
"I said enough!" His face became demonic in its fury. "There will be no discussion of religion in this classroom."
The student began taking a deep breath in order to respond.
"I said no! One more word and you will be required to leave this room. Is that clear? This is my classroom and I set the tone, content, and depth of all discussion here."
Pacing from side to side he glared at the boy, daring him to speak. The emotions were plainly visible across the boy's face: shock, anger, hurt -- and finally grudging, admittedly unhappy, acceptance. As Dr. Smith watched the progression, his face also returned to a more human visage.
"Despite the stated position of our Traditionalist friends over there," a hand waved loosely in the black clad group's direction, "the reality is that a vampire can take nutrition in any form, and blood is just one of those forms. Vampires can, and usually do, have fully formed gastrointestinal systems. Thus nutrition can be obtained from any reasonable food source and with the vampire's heightened senses what a human describes as the aromatic bouquet of a fine wine, can be nearly irresistible to a vampire -- and many would admit that, like a fine wine, human blood is most appealing in its taste, texture, and fragrance. Why have a Whopper when you can have filet mignon?"
Glancing at his watch, he frowned. "This is a short class, so let's skip directly to an overview of morphing. Does anyone think they know how to explain morphing?" He waited briefly for a hand or two.
"Anyone?" A hand finally rose. It was the same guy who'd challenged the professor on the subject of blood as the only source of food for vampires.
"Of course. Stand up when you speak to me. Are you prepared to explain how to morph to the rest of the class?"
"Then why did you raise your hand sir? Surely you were not asking permission to go to the bathroom?"
"No. What I meant was that I couldn't explain how to morph, but I could demonstrate."
"Save that for the practicum, Mr. Cushing. For now, why don't you try to verbalize the process?"
"Err. Ah. I don't think I can."
"Try, Mr. Cushing. Extend yourself."
"Well. The easy part is creating an image in your mind."
"I think you mean 'simulacrum', Mr. Cushing, or don't you concern yourself with the other sensorium?"
"You create a simulacrum," the dark youth spoke through gritted teeth, "in your mind. It would need to be a detailed simulacrum, including appearance, sound, smell and the others. Then you compare that to another im... I mean simulacrum of your current form. Finally, you concentrate on sending your body the instructions to change each part of your body, in the image in your mind and in reality, to match the image you want to become."
The young man stood waiting for Dr. Smith's response. The silence drew uncomfortable as they glared at each other, Cushing daring the professor to criticize him further. Finally, Dr. Smith took a breath. "Not very detailed Mr. Cushing, but adequate. I did say that this would be only an overview.
"Class. In the weeks to come we'll discuss the details that Mr. Cushing glossed over. For next class, read my monograph on vampires in modern society and be prepared to discuss it. Dismissed."