The room in the back of the building was dark, with only a modicum of late afternoon light showing through the windows, but he shut the curtains anyway, and blocked whatever light he could with some paper and tape.
Our sensitivity to light was greatly overstated, but even still, the sunlight was not something our species enjoyed.
Those that weren’t helping shut the windows were rearranging chairs, and setting up tables.
Some of the set up could be seen in any number of church basements and community centers, where people congregated to find solace for something they all had in common. There was coffee and cookies and other assorted baked goods.
But, in a addition to the usual fare, a tall nondescript man was setting up bags of blood. He worked as a veterinarian, and his services were greatly appreciated. He brought vials and bags of animal blood that he discreetly took from his veterinary practice. He shared them with those that had trouble finding non human sources of the red stuff.
For a while, I considered selling a powdered version. I would put it next to Tang, and call it Sang, naturally. No one liked my joke. We aren’t a particularly jocular species.
We took our seats, as the meeting began.
John, the oldest of us, old even by our standards, started. He asked the usual questions, and asked if there were any newcomers. Occasionally we got newly turned vampires desperate to figure out what was happening to them. But it was only the regulars today.
I went first.
“Hello, My name is Vlad, and I’m a vampire.”
I was greeted with a chorus of “Hi, Vlad.”
I continued, “I’ve been off human blood for 212 years. I still remember my last meal. I was wreaking havoc in a small town in Massachusetts. It was so much easier then. We stalked them in the night. It was before flashlights, and modern weapons. Just farmers and pitchforks.”
“But I got careless, the new man in town was always suspect. And I took one too many people. They didn’t find me, but they found my family. They killed them. Burned our small house down around them. I took my revenge but the blood tasted sour after that. I remember the last one. A boy, a teenager. He was walking home. His father was one of them men that burned my family. I drank his blood slowly, but it tasted awful. It was the day I switched to animals.”
I kept going, “It’s not the same though is it?” I was met with approving nods, and murmurs of agreement.
“It’s hard gentleman. I know. Just the other day, I walked by a young woman, O-negative. Thirty years vintage. It was all I could do it keep walking. For a moment, just a moment, I felt like returning to the old ways. To stalk the nights once again.”
My words found a home in the people there. Several nodding. Some remembering how it used to be.
“But I resisted. Trust me. I know, it tastes sweet for a moment. But now, within minutes, the world would know about us. We’d be hunted again. Our families gone. They’d kill us, or worse we’d spend an eternity trapped in some lab.”
“That’s my story.”
John stood once more, “Thank you Vlad. Anyone else?”
A younger vampire named Kyle stood. “I need to talk,” he said.
He was paler than normal and sweating. Vampires never sweat. Then I realized it before he said so.
“I fell off the wagon,” he said, “I just couldn’t keep going. I was just so…so…hungry. I could hear their hearts pumping three blocks away. I turned the corner, and there he was. Just a small guy, a vegan.”
Ahhh that explains it, I thought to myself. Vegans are the grass fed beef of people. No wonder he indulged.
“He tasted so good. There was blood everywhere. I did the best I could to hide it, but…”
“It’s okay Kyle,” John said, “we’ll take care of it. We just need to get you out of the city for while.”
And, because sometimes the world likes to play jokes, a man burst through the doors, clearly not a vampire.
“Am I too early for trivia night?” he asked, starting to take a donut.
Kyle’s eyes locked onto the man. it was all we could do to hold him back. There’s almost nothing one can do once a vampire decides on his prey.
I looked at the man, “I suggest you run.”