Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vintage vampire, Sheila Gale

When I drank the blood of my first victim, the night was gentle, like silk against my skin. My crimson taffeta gown rustled as I followed a servant into the private dining room to sup with the handsome Prince Igor. As I neared the table, our eyes met. Desire flamed in his eyes, and I knew that, after we had enjoyed the tender venison and the rich claret, he would do my bidding…

Later, he led me to the castle ramparts, where we gazed at the stars as they twinkled in the inky sky, like fireflies. “I am a creature of the night,” I whispered. Our fingers entwined. “I believe that you, too, like the dark.”

I made the mistake of smiling. When he saw my fangs glitter in the moonlight, he let out the most blood-curdling cry. Even though he struggled to free himself, he couldn’t resist the delightful sensations that coursed through his veins. He saw my eyes no longer a soft green but red and wild. He felt my powerful grip as I pulled him towards me and sank my incisors into his throat.

For many years after that evening, I fantasized about the Russian prince. In my mind’s eye, I saw him swathed in a long black cloak as he roamed the dark alleys of St. Petersburg searching for victims. Then I found out from an old friend of Igor’s that the prince seldom ventured out at night, preferring to drink pig’s blood rather than hunt down a human victim.

I rushed around the house looking for Uncle Vladamir and found him in his blood cellar, relabelling some bottles. I told him about Prince Igor.

“So what is your problem, my dear Luna?”

“What kind of vampire drinks pig’s blood?” I raved. My uncle had been a vampire since medieval times, so he should know.

A smile played on his lips. “Becoming a vampire isn’t everyone’s cup of blood.”
“What do you mean, uncle?.”

“He didn’t choose to become vampire, remember.” He patted my hand. “I’m sure he has other strengths. Perhaps he’s a good coffin maker.”

“A coffin maker?” I couldn’t imagine the sensuous Prince Igor spending his nights hammering nails into coffins. With a heavy heart, I returned to my room. How could I respect a vampire who would rather drink animal blood than search for a human victim?

That was a long time ago. 250 years, to be precise. Today, I am launching my first book, Feast of Blood – Memoirs of the World’s Most Famous Vampires. Being of a practical nature, I’ve included a list of questions asked by aspiring vampires. Here are some sample questions from the book. To simplify things, I’ve avoided the awkward "he/she" reference and refer to all vampires as "she."

How do you know if you are changing into a vampire?

Count Dracula, the great, great, great grandson of the Count Dracula urges you to see a vampire doctor if you develop one of the following symptoms:

1. You find hair growing on the palms of your hands
2. Your index finger has grown as long as your middle finger
3. You develop a lust for blood - be warned - this is a sure sign of vampirism.

How does a vampire occupy her time?

During the day, most vampires sleep in a coffin. You must be sure the coffin is well hidden in a swamp or cave. After sunset, the vampire opens the coffin and climbs out. She searches for sustenance, but not all vampires are fussy. If human flesh can’t be found, an animal will do.

How does a vampire attack?

She hypnotizes her victim, instilling a sense of peace, well being and/or sexual desire, then attacks the jugular vein. If the vampire kills the victim, the victim in turn becomes a vampire.
She doesn’t always kill but may take sufficient blood to cause extreme lethargy, and keep the victim alive. This is known as the "store cupboard" method. It’s a bit like stocking up your freezer or pantry for future meals.

Two Disadvantages of becoming a vampire:

- She can operate only at night
- If traveling, she has to take her coffin with her so she can climb into it before dawn. In Victorian times, when Count Dracula arrived for a vacation in England, he had several specially prepared coffins in various parts of London. He could therefore expand his area of operation without fear of destruction at sunrise. These days, with baggage restrictions on flights, it’s difficult to take anything bulky like a coffin. However, you can pay extra and have it transported by cargo.

How did I acquire enough knowledge to fill 13,000 pages, you may ask? 300 years of vampirism didn’t hurt, and dear Uncle Vladamir with his centuries of experience was a tremendous source of information.

My vampire teaching certificate helped as well. I studied for the certificate so I could teach Vampirism 101. It bothered me that so many new vampires didn’t have a clue about their rich history, and their general vampire knowledge was abysmal. As I studied for the certificate, I learned many interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that some people believe vampire blood improves their sex life? There have been documented cases of vampires being drained of their blood – or V-juice as humans call it. Currently, V-juice sells on the black market for something like $1,000 a pint!

The extensive research needed for such a lengthy book couldn’t have been completed without the help of my partner, Prince Igor. We had met up again at a three-day vampire conference in Moscow and became good friends. When I told him of my plans to write the book, he tracked down and interviewed fellow vampires in various parts of Europe and Africa. He did the Transylvania portion himself. I concentrated on the Americas, including the US and Canada.
Unlike most vampires, Igor doesn’t like spending his nights in dark alleys, but he sure knows how to do research.

The book’s publisher had turned down J.K. Rowlings’ first Harry Potter book. When I submitted my manuscript, they were so pleased that they practically grabbed it out of my hands and offered me a 200-year contract. Not bad for a first book.

As for me and Prince Igor, living in the 21st century means we see a lot of each other, even though we live in two different countries. I don’t have to worry about bringing my coffin with me when I fly to Russia because he keeps spare ones for guests. We stay in a private apartment in his castle. The rest of the castle has been turned into a luxury five-star hotel. He in turn, enjoys his visits to Canada, where we take canoe trips in Algonquin Park after sunset during the summer and night ski Whistler in the winter.

These days, I seldom go searching for human victims. It’s such hard work and, over the centuries, Igor’s lack of enthusiasm for the task has rubbed off on me. Now, in the evenings, we relax by a roaring fire with a goblet of blood.

Speaking of blood, when Igor is in Canada, we like to root around Uncle Vladamir’s blood cellar. We eyeball each bottle, having learned from Uncle Vladamir that the darker the color, the more concentrated and intense the flavour. The one we usually select for special occasions is True Blood, a medieval blend of royal and peasant blood. Full-bodied, it has an earthy texture and an aroma of oxen roasted over an open fire.

This evening, we are celebrating the night that Igor became a vampire. He makes a toast in Russian. Although I don’t understand the language, his sensuous voice arouses me. My body floods with desire as he lifts my hand to his lips and runs his tongue over the fingertips. He takes me in his arms. His lips close over mine, sucking at my mouth, teasing it. With a low moan, I surrender. The goblet falls out of my hand, splattering dregs of blood over the stone floor.

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