I like vampire stories–even the bad ones–because I like the myth of it. I’ve read Dracula, and those vampires are nothing like the ones in paranormal romances. Generally, weaknesses include sun, holy places/symbols, wood stakes, fire, decapitation, and sometimes silver. (What doesn’t die from being decapitated? Really?)
When an author changes that myth, they have to explain why. Maybe vampires don’t burst into flames in sunlight because the stories are misinformation spread by the vampires. Or they’ve figured out a treatment, like sunscreen or medicine. Sometimes the author keeps part of the myth, but has a different explanation for why it exists. Maybe the vampires are so photosensitive because they’re aliens. Or vampires are created by nano-technology, which the sun forces to work overtime.
What makes “real” vampires? “Real” being a relative term for a mythical (as far as I know) creature. We can probably agree that some changes on the standard myth result in vampires that are a little more laughable than monstrous. What kind of paranormal creatures do you like to read about?
Myths, stories passed down through the ages, probably aren’t that accurate. I think Mythbusters has proved that. So perhaps vampire myths are really, really wrong.
* * * * *
“You have… fangs?” Ellie asked.
“What? No! I don’t!” Jon covered his mouth with his hand. Ellie could see all the little nicks and scars on his hand from his woodworking and engraving, and his dark brown eyes were a little panicked as they met hers. He lowered his hand slowly. “I mean, yeah, my canines are a little long. My mouth was overcrowded when I was a kid. Braces fixed it, but they still look kinda sharp.”
“Yeah, not buying it,” Ellie said, picking up a stand of her long auburn hair and examining it for split ends. “You have fangs some of the time. Not all the time. You better not be a vampire.”
“I’m not a vampire! I don’t have fangs!”
“Or a werewolf,” Ellie continued, ignoring his protests. “I don’t want to be in some teen paranormal romance. Way too much angst and drama. I’d like my life to be normal.”
“I don’t have fangs!” Jon roared, exposing his canines, which were definitely elongated. The teeth around them looked sharper than usual, too, Ellie noted. He saw where she was looking and clamped his mouth shut so quickly that the ends of his fangs dimpled his bottom lip, the right one drawing blood.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” Ellie began rummaging in the large, shapeless canvas tote she carried everywhere. A smaller girl would’ve been dwarfed by it, but Ellie had stopped growing an inch shy of six feet at sixteen and had what her mom called a ‘sturdy’ frame. “I have some tissues in here. You okay?”
Jon stared at her, and dropped his jaw a little so he wasn’t cutting himself. After a moment, his teeth shrunk, looking completely normal, or maybe just a little sharp. He licked the blood away from his lip, leaving behind a half-healed pink mark. “I’m fine. I don’t need a tissue. But… thanks.”
“So, not a vampire or a werewolf? And those fangs weren’t real?” Ellie asked, smiling at him.
“Not a vampire or a werewolf. The fangs…are real, though.” Jon admitted, running his hand through his sandy brown hair, making it stand up in little spikes. “But I don’t drink blood or howl at the moon. We…” He trailed off, staring at his feet.
Ellie looked at his feet, too. They were big feet, the right size for his six foot three frame, and shod in steel-toe boots. She’d stepped on his foot once, backed into him in high heels, and been in the middle of apologizing when he told her that it was okay, she’d hit the cap, and he was fine. He’d looked at her then like he was looking at her now, a little amused, and touched that she cared.
“Are you just the same as me? Well, a big guy like you… except for the fangs?” Ellie prompted after awhile.
“No. I’m stronger and faster. Better hearing, night vision. I heal quickly. And we’re carnivores. We can’t be vegetarians. It makes us sick.”
“So you’re the guy who orders a steak and barely touches his potatoes?” Ellie asked.
“Yeah. And we like our protein as rare as possible, so we mostly eat at home. And we go hunting a lot, because it’s best fresh.”
“Eww,” Ellie wrinkled her nose, reading between the lines. “Bloody deer, huh?”
Jon jerked, and looked up, meeting her gaze. Seeing no judgment in her bright blue eyes, he smiled. “Yeah, we don’t get sick from it like other people do. And it tastes better to us.”
“Carnivore, huh? I can live with that.”
“Hey, romance? You said paranormal romance?” Jon asked. remembering now that the crisis was past.
Ellie blushed, but didn’t look away from him. “Why do you think I noticed your teeth?”