“The Food Truck”

People don’t know shit about vampires, because if they did, they would hold charity drives and bake sales to help us cope, because modern life is killing us.  We didn’t ask for this.  Through no fault of our own, we’re just creepy, blood-sucking victims of biology.  Those stuck-up Homo sapiens evolved from the earth worm, that helpful, soil perfecting show-off, and we branched off from the disgusting leech.  We’re pale, skinny, bug-eyed freaks, who have to stay hidden and moist, and people hate us.  If it sounds like we have self-esteem problems you’d be right.  We don’t like ourselves and can absolutely despise each other.  We are miserable to be around and if we didn’t need other vamps to survive, we’d kill each other.  Right now I’m stuck with that ass-hole Gary and a bunch of  whiny babies, and I’m ready to kill myself.

I don’t know how literature has gotten the story of vampires so wrong, but I want to set the record straight before I jump off a cliff.  So I guess the first false-hood to correct is that vampires don’t die.  We do.  We just don’t like it, because honestly, who does?  But when we throw in the towel, it causes a lot of problems.  There aren’t many of us around and since we live for centuries, we know each other pretty well.  I mean, we hate each other, but we’re still family, like it or not.  Once I kill myself, Gary’s in big trouble.  He needs me here so he can hunt, but at this point I don’t give a shit. I’m done.

In the beginning, vampires had a purpose.  Before modern medicine, we were the team that showed up to assist the dying with a swift and painless exit.  We evolved in tandem with the Homo sapiens when the earth was muggy, we all lived in caves and wore animal skins.  The sapiens owned the day and we owned the night.  We’re the superior species and are here to put Homo sapiens out of their misery.  Sure those agitated and emotional idiots totally freak out when they see us coming, but we do have a purpose.  We’re the original grim reaper and they should be grateful.  The hysteria is hurtful.  No wonder vampires have low-self esteem.

Vampires don’t pro-create like humans, but every once in a while an evolutionary anomaly will happen.  A few Homo sapien blood lines absorb our serum and morph into a vamp.  They don’t die, but emerge from a long, intense coma with no memory, no empathy, a terrible headache and no skills.  They’re like giant, addicted vampire babies we need to nurture, train and feed.  Sometimes we kill them, but if we’re low on numbers, we keep them alive.  They’re a huge pain in the ass for a decade or so until they figure it out, but if we need to keep our numbers up, we’re stuck with them.  All in all it was a good system and we managed.  But life was so easy for us we ceased to evolve.

The shark has stayed the same for 100 million years and is still a perfect predator, because a steady food source has lulled them into laziness.  We were lazy, too. Vampires are physically weak, so if we don’t stumble upon an injured and defenseless human, it takes a lot of vampires to subdue a meal. Back in the day, Homo sapiens were constantly breaking bones and hurting themselves. They were a stupid and clumsy species and we almost pitied them. There were injured sapiens writhing in pain everywhere and it was easy to drag them into a dark and cozy crevice, suckle them dry and keep their stuff.  We needed furs and tools, too.  We also need the buddy system.

When a vampire feeds it takes hours to drain a body.  When we latch on, we emit a serum that causes instant numbness and euphoria, for both the eater and the eaten. It’s like a drug and vampires are addicted.  Our suicide rate would be huge, if we didn’t constantly crave our next fix.  Our meal usually dies a quick and painless death, but we’re immobile and comatose in a blissful haze for days.  Plus, vampires can’t survive unless we stay out of the sun and stay wet, so when we’re digesting we need other vampires to keep watch.  We need a group to stay alive.  If sunlight hits us or we dry out, we have no way to re-hydrate since we don’t drink anything but blood.  We don’t burst into flames.  It’s nothing that dramatic.  But our skin is like rice paper and we’ll flake and crumble to the bone.  So we have to stick together, take turns keeping watch, and damping each other down while we hustle for our next fix.  No matter how much we despise our buddies, we’re stuck with them.

It used to be so easy for vampires.  Homo sapiens roamed the planet without a plan until 10,000 years ago.  When they started to organize into tribes, we could still descend silently under cover of darkness, and pick them off one by one.  They made things even easier when they crammed themselves into filthy big cities. Vampires don’t travel well and we’re great in a slum or a shanty town.  We thrive in filth and chaos.

So vampires thrived in a golden age of feeding with no end in sight.  Sleeping by day and hunting by night, we could smell a meal coming, and the more vulnerable our dinner, the better.  We’re immune to disease, and drugs in the blood is a bonus.  As long as it’s natural, like pot or a good cocaine, it just adds a kick to our high. It’s like hot sauce.  No meal was off-limits and we flourished, ruling the darkness and shrouded in rags.  Then the eighties happened and we were poisoned like never before.

You probably think I’m talking about crack.  That was never a problem because it was easy to spot a crack-head.  The real problem was the rise of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, food additives and heavy metals.  Our only source of nourishment is blood and you’re mistaken to think any blood will do. Animal blood affects us like full fat dairy to the lactose intolerant.  It leaves us in excruciating pain and gives us a condition worse than diarrhea.  And believe me when I say, vampire diarrhea is a smelly, bloody mess that seeps out of every pore. We evolved to live off Homo sapiens like a parasite and anything else is a killer. When humans got toxic with man-made chemicals it made them impossible to eat and stopped them from morphing.   It was the beginning of the end, and vampires were on the verge of extinction.  But then the soccer moms got crazy and went organic.  They don’t even like to vaccinate.  They’ve raised a generation of fussy, self-absorbed health freak millennials who track every step and have never tasted tap water.  Those meals were going to be amazing, if only you could catch them.  And then we stumbled on the food truck.

It was Gary’s idea.  He’s always been good at figuring things out, and I think he was a scientist or a teacher in his pre-life.  When vampires morph, we retain some of our human qualities.  We just don’t give a shit.  We’re so addicted to the high of the feed, we don’t have time to grieve our past.  Gary calls me ‘the princess’.  He says I’m lazy, prissy and expect a lot compliments.  I don’t remember much about before, but sometimes I imagine waltzing in a candlelit ballroom.  I have to admit I’m sick of the filth, but that’s not my biggest problem right now.  It’s the bunch of new babies that need constant attention.

The problem with a health nut is they don’t really party.  It’s impossible to find them out and at risk after dark.  They sometimes go for a run before dawn, but vampires don’t and more importantly can’t, chase down a meal.  Plus, the new youth fight back when attacked, and vampires don’t brawl.  The only good blood was tucked into bed before midnight, protected by motion detectors and yappy little dogs.  We needed to find a way to get the millennials to come to us.

Gary and I were nesting in a storage shed in the warehouse district.  We were surviving on rats which made us so sickly we could barely function and the gentrification and real estate prices had us really nervous.  We were constantly on edge, listening for sounds of attention to the grimy lot our shed was on.  We were so weak and vulnerable that fleeing and finding another den would probably mean the end for us. We knew there was gourmet blood to be had, but it was just out of reach. Sometimes we’d smell it nearby, but it was always during the day.  Prime blood these days is a mover and a shaker.  It’s hard to catch.

I’d given up, but Gary can be great in a crisis and he used to be a really good guy. Once in San Francisco in 1851, we were the victims of arson.  There were about ten of us, and we were living off the gold rushers who drank themselves into a stupor and passed out in the mud.  We’d been nesting in the basement of a store and my guess is the sapiens suspected we were there, and tried to burn us out.  I had just fed and was out of my mind in delirium, but Gary found a wheelbarrow and carted me to safety before sunrise.  Fires used to happen to us a lot in San Francisco back then. They were always trying to burn us to death.

But now it was just the two of us and we were starving.  We could barely move, but lured by the scent of prime blood one night, we crawled out and huddled in the sewage behind a dumpster.  And there they were.  Healthy, juicy sapiens wandering around a food truck in the middle of the night.  It was well-lit, packed and absolute torture. We watched them eat for hours, until they slowly dispersed and it was just the cook, alone in his headphones.  We seeped through the gutter, slithered inside and pulled the door behind us.  Before the guy even knew we were there, I latched on to his ankle and he crumbled to the floor.  The last thing I remember thinking before I succumbed to my high was that I never knew Gary could drive.

When I came to it was three days later.  Gary had driven us to safety and kept me wet with bottled water.  It was glorious and I felt reborn.  Lucky for Gary, the cook was that rare breed of sapien that morphs into a vamp, because he didn’t die.  He had enough juice in him for Gary to feed, and the three of us stayed cocooned in that locked down and pitch black truck for a week, Gary and I getting stronger, the cook mewing and morphing.

Turns out the millennials can’t resist a food truck.  You can park that thing anywhere in the middle of the night and at least one of them will knock on the door demanding attention.  And they’re so distracted with their phones and their music that it’s easy to sneak up from behind and pull them inside.  We may never go hungry again and we’re stronger than ever.  We even found an abandoned warehouse with a loading dock, so we have darkness, safety and secrecy.  Things would be fine, if we could only agree on the babies.  We’ve morphed so many millennials that the baby vamps are everywhere.

Gary wants to raise them all.  He wants to grow an empire and bring us back from the brink of extinction.  He loves the idea of having them around but doesn’t do shit to take care of them.  And millennials are the most demanding morphs I’ve ever seen.  No matter how many bottles of blood I shove in their mouths or how much water I dump on their heads, it’s never enough.  They never stop crying.

Gary and I fight all the time now.  He goes out all the time and sometimes doesn’t come back for days.  When he does show up, he always brings food, but other than that, he’s no help at all.  He’s either drinking blood and making more work for me while I help him recover or he’s hiding in the rafters.  And there are so many baby vamps that we can’t leave them alone.  I’m dying to get out for a night, but Gary won’t teach me to drive.  He says it’s too dangerous, but I think he worries I wouldn’t come back.  He’s keeping me trapped and isolated.  He does step in when I need to eat, but even then he’s a huge disappointment.  He wakes me up too soon and barely gets me wet anymore.  So I’m stuck here alone with the babies while Gary lives it up and ignores me.  I never wanted this.  I never asked to be a mother.  So the next time one of those detestable, selfish and underdeveloped baby vamps cries, I’m going to kill it. Then I’m going to kill that ass-hole Gary.  Then I’ll kill myself.

Written by Kris K. Quinn