Vday, p.1
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VDAY
V-DAY

  Cyma Rizwaan Khan

  If you thought Lestat and Eric Northman were the only vampires you need to know, think again. There’s a new dead guy in town. Oh and yeah, he doesn’t sparkle either.

  My name is Antaeus Keppocke.

  Yes, I wish that were a joke too, every damned day of my foredoomed life.

  And when you’re a vampire that’s a whole lot of days.

  My mother must have been high on some sixteenth century equivalent of Xanax when she titled me thus. When you name your child after a grotesque gigantic creature known for slaughtering hundreds of innocents for the sole purpose of entertainment (okay so they were illegal immigrants who entered his realm but still) you must have a slight idea how that would turn out.

  I never figured out whether my mother did it out of spite towards my absent father or to piss off her prissy parents. In truth, the details of my childhood are hazy. For one thing, vampire turning is like a Chernobyl incident. Your body feels like some kind of nuclear reactor and more often than not there are alterations in the process.

  For me it was memory loss. Another vampire friend I have lost his eyesight. Eternity as a blind bat is hardly construed as attractive. Women like it even less. In any case, I think I got off easy. People think they know about vampires but I bet there is a lot you still don’t know. For instance, have you ever met a vampire named Bob, or Johnny or Drew?

  No.

  It’s always something exotic-sounding and on the verge of being archaic: Lestat or Louis or Edward – have you never bothered to ask yourselves why? Why would someone in their right mind go around carrying a name like Count Dracula when the only purpose they have in life is to remain inconspicuous (so they can continue dining on Keanu Reeves’ blood)?

  Yes, I know who Keanu Reeves is.

  First thing I did when I came out of confinement in 1999 was watch The Matrix at the big screen. It was where I had my first real meal, an oily young girl with back acne sitting beside me with a bag of popcorn twice the size of her head. It wasn’t an accident that I had followed her inside the cinema but when I saw that the seat beside her was empty I took that as a sign.

  Soon though, I was dragged into confinement again – long story – so I never really had a chance to get to know that era much. The one other thing I remember doing was grabbing hold of all Keanu Reeves movies and having my very own movie marathon. I sat through Bram Stoker’s Dracula well enough but found myself asleep halfway through Speed.

  And then of course came the confinement part (again, some other time).

  Now, I have woken, for no apparent reason, my last memory that of a very bulky vampire hauling me to a grave and flinging me into a coffin. After that I don’t remember much. I’m pretty sure they must have drugged me. Not just any drug though. Over the course of the past few centuries, vampires have developed a kind of magic potion, something you can drink to fall into a deep sleep.

  There are ways to wake you but when you go to sleep there is really no telling when you would wake and that was exactly what was happening to me. Two days, two years or two centuries? That was the question. You wonder why vampires would need such a potion? Well that’s because being a vampire is no more fun than being a human I assure you.

  At times, you want eternal life, and other times, you want to just give it all up and quit. Vampire suicides are so rare because vampires now have a way to go to sleep, with a substance we call ‘potion’. Yes, I know that’s not very creative but you know how it is. I am not in the manufacturing business.

  I would have to acquaint myself with the nomenclature of magical compounds to have a say in something like that and I never quite had time for all that, being the busy vampire that I always was. Anyway, as I was saying, every once in a while when it becomes too much, vampires hibernate in a coffin.

  But in my case it was different.

  I had been potioned without my consent. That’s the only conclusion I can come up with. But the question now is how long have I been sleeping this time? And yeah, as I was saying (I have a tendency to sway from the topic at hand so you’ll have to pardon my inconsistency), why do you think you’ve never met a vampire named Drew?

  Well, there is this law.

  Turning into a vampire is like signing a supernatural contract and like any contract, there are clauses.

  And then there is fine print.

  And one of those fine print clauses asserts that no matter what happens vampires cannot change the name given to them by their birth parents. So if you’re stuck with a name like Antaeus Keppocke, well, tough. It’s just regulation, along with many other rules that one has to follow. In any case, I was just trying to get back to my senses, nerves hungry and pounding with lack of sustenance.

  I barely had enough strength to stick my hand through the wood of the coffin and cause it to split, and when I did, dank earth filled my mouth. All those centuries and I still get dirt in my mouth every time I break open a coffin from inside. I almost retched, spit the earth that reeked of uric acid and made my way through the structure.

  Fresh breeze greeted me on my way out and even though I just had a taste of what I’m pretty sure was dog urine (vampire sense of smell and all that), I found myself feeling enthralled by the simplest thing nature had to offer: air. I raised my arms to the sky (us vampires have a flair for theatrics), closed my eyes and just breathed.

  Breathing for vampires isn’t the same as it is for humans but the feeling of relief is quite mutual I must say.

  I think I was laughing, when I heard from a corner a kind of squeal. Thinking it must be a rat, which would be a start at this moment to fill my hunger, I turned in the direction of the sound. Instead of a rat, what I saw made me embarrassed and happy at the same time.

  Embarrassed, because it was a human; a sorry, junkie excuse of a human but a human nonetheless, and I remembered the entirety of the over-the-top histrionics he must have had to witness just now.

  What must have gone through his mind to watch a six foot three dead person climb out of a grave, and put his hands to the sky in an overzealous gesture of jubilation? But I was happy too, because beyond his skin I could feel the warmth of his blood, and flowing inside him was my food for the day, food that I hadn’t touched for who knew how many years. He was looking at me with eyes wide and dilated, skin translucent under the delightful glow of the moon.

  He was pale and looked as if he hadn’t eaten for days. But it would not be safe to go out in the open without knowing where I was or what time it was, or without having my meal first. I needed the strength. As much as I hated feeding in the graveyard (I am really more of a wine and dine person), I had to do it. I went up to him and his body was locked and trembling in fear. Then he tried to touch me. I think he wanted to see if he was hallucinating.

  I cleared my throat to speak my first words after such a long time. “Hello.”

  He just stared at me, speechless. I think he started drooling a little from one side of his mouth as his jaw dropped even further. Not a pretty sight but then, not most humans are.

  “I am a vampire,” I said. And then wondered why I said it.

  Vampires, I suppose, are no less narcissistic than humans.

  “Can you tell me what year this is?” I asked out of sheer curiosity.

  “You don’t know what year it is?”

  “Kind of a dull question to ask someone if I did, isn’t it?”

  He seemed to understand. “2013.”

  From 1999 right down to 2013; it felt a lot like time traveling.

  “I suppose you also want to know the exact date?”

  I smiled one of my sheepish smiles at him. “If it’s not too much trouble–”

  “January 15.”

  So the year had just begun.


  “Are you going to drink my blood?” he wanted to know.

  I think I had expected him to be a little more afraid of me and his casual tone was a tad bit frustrating to my ego.

  “Well, I was planning on it, yes.”

  He wouldn’t stop with the staring and it was making me nervous.

  “Are you going to glamour me and do it?”

  “Glamour you?”

  “Yeah, you know, mind control?”

  “I’m a vampire. Why the hell would I need to mind control you when I can do this!” I grabbed him by the shoulders and sank my teeth into his flesh, right around the artery in his neck.

  Even in my most unfed state I was more strength than he could take. And a little anger never hurt. He wasn’t much of a chase. He wouldn’t even flinch as I went ahead and drained the blood out of him. I couldn’t tell if it was shock or the Dilaudid. For those of you who don’t know, draining blood happens to be a very tedious procedure and takes longer than most people would think. Since this was my first feed after a while I think I went a little overboard. We stood in this awkward posture for a long fifteen minutes at least.

  When I finally broke away he was already dead so I dumped him into the same grave from which I had just climbed out of and proceeded to move into a new world: 2013.

  ***

  If you think the hangover from tequila shots is bad, wait till you’ve had junkie blood. It was as if someone was playing a very annoying guitar riff in my head and the amplifier was blaring right inside my eardrum. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid. But then how could I have known, I’d never had a junkie before this. If only someone would write a damn manual on vampire feeding, but they won’t.

  There are endless works of so-called fiction, talking about whether or not vampires exist but nothing to just cut the crap and come right down to the point. Why can’t people write books for vampires for once? I mean, what they don’t deserve to be target demographic just because they feed on people? That’s kind of racist don’t you think?

  In any case, I had so much to do, so much to figure out and now this hammering wouldn’t go away. I tried to drink coffee in an attempt to appeal to my human side, but nothing. Now I was going to have to live with this for the rest of the day. So much for all the plans, all the excited rampages I had planned through the new universe I had only just discovered. And now instead it was sit-inside-the-house-with-a-headache day.

  Then I got my hands on what you people call a remote control. Pardon me for sounding naïve but I was very much awake around the eighties. I just couldn’t stand the stink and decided to go underground only to come out in 1999. So my only view to the world was a black and white television set in a dingy apartment of the person I had just fed on.

  I knew there had to be color television in the world of course, I had seen enough color screens in the video store. But obviously the poor chap I had fed on was actually poor. All he had was that television set and a worn out toaster oven serving as a kitchen.

  Anyway, the point is if there is one invention that humans have truly excelled at it is the remote. I mean that’s what technology is supposed to do right, make you a slob? Well no one knows that vampires actually prefer dining on slobs. They eat all the time and they have the tastiest blood – it’s like feeding on the juiciest meat burger.

  You may be tempted to inquire how I know what a meat burger tastes like.

  Well vampires CAN eat, contrary to popular belief. And they can find the taste in food. They just can’t rely on it for nourishment. I realize this is becoming more like an information manual than a memoir isn’t it? It’s just I feel these little bits of information can be helpful to humans and vampires both.

  Humans, because they learn more about their predator and vampires because they wouldn’t have to go into lengthy speeches about their kind when they are doing their predator bit. They would no longer have to be all sensational before devouring someone’s blood. Anyway you must know I wasn’t planning on staying here.

  I just needed enough time to get the junk out of my system. I have to get to the Swiss Alps or something, this normal city life just isn’t for me. But first there is something very important that I must accomplish. And that has a lot to do with why I was in the coffin in the first place.

  Looks like you all are in for yet another story. And this one is going to be a flashback so bear with me.

  ***

  It was 1999.

  People were still dressed like idiots.

  Come on, the puffy sleeves, the whorey make up and the space hair didn’t tip you off? So there I was, thousands of years old, high on human blood and looking for a way to make my life better. And how do I decide to do that? I join the vampire government. Well politics may be right for some people but I should have stayed away from it.

  I think in the beginning I was amazed by all the importance I seemed to have all of a sudden. People were respecting me and they were curious about what I was doing, what I was going to do. And I, sparked by the adrenaline of my new found vampire morals, started thinking about the impact I had on my society.

  I realized vampires don’t have to be the monsters that they are. So what if they have to feed on people once in a while? That doesn’t mean they can’t be respected. I started thinking of ways to make things better. I started talking about using blood bags and death row inmates as food instead of average human beings.

  What I didn’t realize, was that the vampire government wasn’t looking for a change. They wanted conformity. I had mistakenly assumed that no one before me had thought of all that. Suffice it to say I got kicked right in my undead face. It was disturbing and it was annoying. But I was so high on principles I decided I would go against whoever tried to go dark side.

  I think I may have become something of a resistance leader. I had followers: vampires who believed in what I was trying to achieve.

  And then they put me in a dark dungeon of sorts and tortured me. Yes, vampires can be tortured. You just need to know how. Perhaps we’ll talk more on that in the next memoir. And yes this is a marketing gimmick, for those of you still in their diapers. I want you to be so engrossed in reading this memoir that you are bound to read my other books.

  And judging from all the bookstands I passed on the way to here, vampire fiction is selling like cinnamon rolls. Well I know it used to be hotcakes but cinnamon rolls seem more appropriate now.

  Anyway as it turned out the vampire government who had thrown me into an eternal torture cell didn’t want to get slowed down by keeping a vampire holding cell for too long. Eventually they got tired and wanted to get rid of me. They didn’t kill me – killing a fellow vampire is serious business and even vampire governments cannot do that.

  Only The Council can do something like that, an hierarchy of original vampires. The first-borns – ones from whose loins the entire vampire population came forth – okay so perhaps the loin bit was a tad extreme but you get the gist. In any case when they got tired of me they decided to dig me a grave.

  In retrospect that wonderful berry tea could have been a distraction for potion and I realize I should have been more guarded but naiveté is my middle name.

  No Kidding.

  It’s Antaeus Naiveté Keppocke.

  And for the last time I DON’T know what my mother was smoking.

  ***

  It’s when you see sparkling vampires on television, that you realize just how much the world has changed, how truly pathetic it has become. I rather like the fact that women are so into vampires though. I suppose if it wasn’t for Sparkly the neighborhood vampire that would not have been possible and I have to send out my regards to whoever made that sorry excuse of a movie.

  Also, I must say I like the new ‘woman’ better than the old one.

  Say what you will about ‘decency’ but I happen to be a fan of skimpy tube tops and really short skirts. Womankind is the true essence of beauty and what is more wonderful than to be
able to experience that magnificent beauty wherever you go. I mean how amazing is it that you could be in Wal-Mart and your eyes could be feasting on a particularly heaving bosom or an incredibly meaty thigh and no one would care.

  In our time, it was all perversion and stay indoors and have unscrupulous sex with concubines or promiscuous women but that’s all changed now. Even good honest women will have sex with you now which is great. One small step for man one giant leap for mankind.

  I was browsing through the horror fiction section of the bookstore, minding my own business, looking for a light read, just to – you know – entertain me along the way.

  And that’s when I saw her.

  Hovering over at the Self Help section, there she was – legs long and lean in a lovely sundress, holding a copy of EAT, PRAY, LOVE in one hand and awkwardly browsing through something titled “KNOW YOUR CHAKRAS”. There was a window right next to her that spilled sunlight on her beautiful skin making it look radiant.

  I just remembered – did I tell you vampires can now walk in the sun? It’s true.

  We have a kind of tattoo – well okay it’s more like brand than a tattoo but tattoo just seems cooler whereas brand just makes me feel like I was gang-raped by several Dothraki warlords. If you don’t know who they are, well shame on you. In any case, it is a kind of magical brand, keeps us from that whole Ash to Ashes thing. As long as that mark is on us and we have blood in our veins we can stroll in the sun as much as we want.

  Again with my tendency to waver from the point at hand–

  She looked beautiful, that’s what I was trying to say earlier. You just have to take my word for it without my having to express how truly blue her eyes were or exactly how much heaving her bosom did or how she bit her lip(She didn’t. No one does outside of clichéd romance novels). I am new to being an author so cut me some slack. So while I was only realizing the height of her exquisiteness, she had walked off towards another part of the store while I was left there, holding something called a Sookie Stackhouse novel in my hand.

  I stashed the novel inside my jacket (Eric Northman sounds like a catch and I don’t have money to pay for it) and went after her.

  ***

  Valentine’s Day is all about finding the right window of opportunity.

 
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