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My face is so white and smooth, you would think it was a china doll's face-- a doll's face superimposed over that of a man, a young man, with ice-blue eyes from the doll factory, and hair as black and shining as to have been made from ashes pressed together and shined and moistened and burned into wavy strips of shimmery black glass to cover my head. That is what I look like. Now.
I wanted to be a historian this time around, because by now I figured, why not? I do think I have enough information to make it seem acceptable, yet not too much-- I would not want to be found out... That is, I would not want other people to know more about me than I do. I would not want them to study me with their paranormal scales and such. and anyway, those paranormal hunting Collies do not like me. As such, I do not question that there is something inhuman here to dislike.
How is my accent? It is hard for me to tell. Given my face, and the intensity of my eyes, and my evident toughness outdoors in the winter despite a singularly unweathered appearance, I settled in Canada this time, and I am trying to approximate French-Canadian. Fortunately, what I have found is that most people do not question these sorts of things. "Oh, he has an accent, now where is that accent from?" I say that I am a folklore historian from Canada and they put it out of their minds. Immediately they say, "What do you do?"
"I hunt Dracula," I say with the smile that they all say is so slight and thoughtful that it makes me mysterious and charming, to which I smile a little more. That is all they want to hear about, anyway, unless their particular region has a certain legend to it that I may know something about-- then they decide the course of the talk. Oh, and I do not mention Dracula to the natives of his land. Never. Vlad was, heh, too sacred to them. Well... I don't know what to think, he was-- he was unusual. But they believe Bram Stoker defiled their national hero.
Sacred. Yes. A hero, keeping the country free from harm, safe and clean of all thieves and beggars who were dirty and evil and would bring down the good, clean folk. Vlad was-- extreme. I would rather not be a historian, other than a folklore historian, thank you. Let's not talk about the... Slaughter of a whole-- well, my ice eyes cloud, and we go on. I look for _real_ vampires.
By real, I mean the ones that frightened the populace of many a small village into taking action, both back across the ocean and in New England. They have their own folklore. When Bram wrote _Dracula_, he popularized and built up aspects of the legends that had never applied to the traditional, the "real" vampire, as well as making up some of his own for the novel.
It was a wonderful piece, really, and spread a new vampire as far as Hollywood and angered Vlad's admirerers, nigh worshippers, to no end. If you _must_ see Hollywood's renditions of the vampire tale, by the way, do avoid any and all that are supposed to have been based on Bram Stoker's novel. Those are not vampire movies. _Lost Boys_, heh, now there is a vampire movie. Right back to the book, far more sound than the gothic romances (gothic romances do have their place, just not when learning the vampire's ways and history) that moviemakers have convoluted the legends with.
Oh, yes, _Lost Boys_ has its idiosyncracies, but still, certain things show through... The childishness of the vampire, juxtaposed with extraordinary strength. Would that I, in another life-- or was it not really _another_ life? What has molded me? Death and relife, or shaping from some unseen... Anyway, would that I had the strength of the gothic vampire, in a time that I often remember.
Also in the vampire descended from the Count (not the Prince, Vlad Tepitch, whom I so professionally discuss) we will find a head vampire, a leader, if you will, for these creatures seem to be clannish, and the head vampire (usually the oldest) may even have some mental control over the other vampires in the area. It is certainly so in the novel _Dracula_.
The idea of a vampire being remorseful has only surfaced in recent times, with the sexual attraction much of our society has to the pallid, ancient, lost and dark... Vampires of the new mythology have white, smooth skins until they drink, when they gain the rosy cheeks and red lips of the truly living... This excites some individuals to no end. And so it has been in the movies that vampires can feel love, that they are remorseful for what they have done, that they are in possession of an individual soul which decides their responses to the blooddraining instinct. Outside of the movies, it is not so. Only those who are not fully vampire can partially think for themselves and fight the draw of the power of undeath. I have a life. You have a life. A vampire is empty, has nothing. It feeds on the living and, as much as it can enjoy anything, enjoys it. If a vampire were to feel the horrid depths of sorrow brought about by such compulsions for a living human, it would certainly trap itself out in the sun to die. For, yes, both the traditional and the gothic vampires' powers end at dawn.
In the television interviews I have done, I have had some nice little shots where I walk along outside in the Canadian morning, trailing the fine fingers of my right hand along a fence somewhere and emphasizing the mystery of the landscape in rural North America, the better to make my point about fear and desperation when it came to stopping a vampire... Sometimes, people would go out and dig up a family member and mutilate the body, hoping to make the killings stop. For, yes, there are two distinct types of vampire, but some details seem to always hold true.
Garlic. Put it outside the doors and windows of your house, lots of it, and the undead will be less apt to be able to enter your abode. Not that it helped any against the only monster _my_ people and I ever-- but, as I said, that is a sensitive subject.
Mutilation of the body. Country to country, legend to legend, it has been maintained that the only way to make the undead die better is to keep the body from rising from its grave to go on its nightly forays. The idea, altruistically, is to free the soul so the dead can die and no longer be held to this hideous existence, but I might say that many people would not care about the soul of the vampire, who was a loved one, were it not for the lives currently in danger. Anyway, the effect is the same-- the soul goes away, now free and itself again, and the killings stop.
Here is how it is done: Cut off the head and lay it on top of the body, perhaps crossing the limbs underneath so that the effect is of a skull-and-crossbones, the idea being that the vampire cannot sort itself out and will cease to roam at night.
Place garlic in the mouth of the deceased, also either cutting off the head or placing a crucifix on a chain around the deceased's neck. Beheading and the crucifix may also be used at the same time.
Drive a wooden stake, some say hawthorne, though again the stories vary, through the chest of the vampire and _leave it in_. Anything done to stop the vampire must be permanent.
Of course, there have always been ways to _stop_ a vampire; humans do not like to build up a body of information about anything that they cannot somehow believe may come under their power. However, in recent times, there have also surfaced some ways to _recognize_ the vampire, just as for centuries there have been listed the characteristics of the wereanimal or the fairy.
Some vampires may be known for having hair on the palms of their hands. It has been said, since _Dracula_ made a dramatic point of it, that vampires cast no reflection in mirrors. This would all have been moot to the victims and hunters of the traditional vampires: Their vampires were obvious... Members of the family, recently or long dead, whose appearance in the village or home heralded death for others. These were walking corpses, plain and simple, and they did not drink blood-- they killed by force, laid their hands on the victim's chest to cause disease, or simply by power of their appearance indicated the coming death of a loved one. But they, like all vampires up to the new romantic stories, were empty and evil.
So how to stop them... If pursued by a vampire, one ought to make some headway by putting knotted ropes, scattered rice, or running water between oneself and the monster. However, not all monsters are so easily stopped... Anyway, the vampire often had a power that went beyond attacking and killing-- it had to be mutilated, and the villagers given power over the thing. So it was the villagers who would drink the blood of the vampire, digging up the grave and making a potion of body parts, rather than the undead drinking anything.
The tale of the vampire has never faded, although at times other fears have overshadowed it. During the Black Plague, for example, we buried our dead in mass pits or burned them, and there was no time nor inclination for thoughts of the individual relative coming back physically to claim the rest of the unfortunate family... Then when the more common diseases were things like consumption, slowly degenerating one member of a family at a time, the stories and graveraidings resumed in force, here on this side of the Atlantic as well.
Bram's vampire was the one most people think of, now. It is not as interesting for the study of folklore history, as it is not as tied to the people and their religions, but it has a legendary life all its own.
Dracula could control wild animals and horses as he controlled the gypsies and other vampires under him. He could turn into a massive wolf, himself. But, though powerful and ancient, he was childish, and therefore in some ways obvious. And he had to sleep on consecrated ground, leaving him open to attack... _If_ the box of earth where he lay could be found.
I am not a vampire. The sun backlights me slightly through a window, serving only to enhance my features of this century.
I am not a vampire... I think. Where does it come from? The power to change and shape my face, my hands, my self... I have practiced scores of accents, lived and worked many, many ways. No one knows a thing. They all want to hear about Dracula. And sometimes I think, what am I? If this power is not being drawn from others, where does it arise from? For I do not think I even control the ebb and flow of the aging and deaging of my body. It is as a natural cycle, all my own. And there may have been more of such people; many more. I may have not travelled eternally alone.
Vlad Tepitch, hero or no, slaughtered an entire people-- save one. I often wonder...
Well, this half-century or more, I shall try my hand at being a historian, for I do believe I am now distant enough from the place and the time to be... objective in my speaking. But I do wonder. Am I the only one? There may have been more survivors. But I have not met any.
Vlad was not Dracula as Bram Stoker portrayed him, certainly not. And Bram never claimed so. But the people who honor Vlad Dracul will ever be outraged at the insult, as they say, the dishonor that the new vampire legends have brought upon their noble prince.
He was violent when it was the only way, when it was best for the country, say the people. So, every chance I get I move a little further away. It becomes a little more of a legend, to me, just another legend.
That is why I am a _folklore_ historian.