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We are what we eat. Even we, the living dead, are finding it
increasingly difficult to locate a good meal. We do not eat a
variety of food, but we do take in the composition of our victims’
blood, so we must choose carefully. As the world becomes more
sophisticated, ethnic culinary delights are finding their way into
all cultures. Unusual restaurants are cropping up right around
the neighborhood corner. The average person is able to
experience a wide sample of rich and exotic foods, which
translates directly to their blood. These foods cause individuals
to vary in taste.

It wasn’t always like this. While big cities have a variety of
choices, the countryside is simple and stable. Rural folk can be
counted on for hardy meals. Their blood, less contaminated with
chemicals and unknown flavors, is more consistent, reliable and
satisfying. They have a saying: the more time you spend on this
earth, the more you appreciate the simple things.

 

Copyright 2002
Timshel Literature

“I’ll have a triple Café Mocha, Venti, please.” I know it is bad for me, but I’ve decided to indulge myself, which is a good thing once in a while. It isn’t the espresso that does the damage (though I definitely get the caffeine jitters); the sugar is the killer. My body is cursed. Whatever sugar I take in remains unprocessed in my blood. But my numbers have been good for the past month, rarely going above the danger zone of 120. In fact, it was 95 mg/dL when I woke up, and I need something to get me going. Especially since I had to get moving for work in the cold before sunrise.

I remove the lid from the cup and add cinnamon on top of the whipped cream. Using a coffee stirrer, I ladle the tasty layer into my mouth. Actually, this is the best part of the drink. I continue until all of the whipped cream is gone and add more cinnamon to the remaining brew. My doctor might think this is a little over the edge, but Hey, you only live once!

I take a sip, and an “Ummmm” involuntarily escapes my throat. I quickly look around the room to see if anyone noticed my utterance. Everyone seated in the coffee shop is reading newspapers or talking to each other. The people in line are staring impatiently at the girl behind the counter.

As I gaze toward my sweet concoction, my eye happens to look through the window, and I see a man staring directly at me. I know he couldn’t have heard me, so I decide not to give it any further thought.

I walk out of the coffee shop and take another sip of my brew. Yeah, it tastes good. I long ago weaned myself off sweet things, but the taste of the chocolate more than justifies my indulgence. My mind goes into a temporary relaxation. It is only a matter of time before the sugar and caffeine change that. I am enjoying the moment.

I stop to look in a shop window when I notice a faint earthy odor. It has an undertone of decay to it, but also a pleasant woody high note and a strong smell of moss. Breathing it in, I become a little light-headed, so I jump when I look to my side and see the man from outside the coffee bar standing nearby. I didn’t hear his approach. He turns in my direction and smiles, revealing perfect teeth. I nod toward him, turn, and walk away.

I continue to stroll at a leisurely pace, sipping my mocha. My head clears as the strong odor dissipates. I cast an occasional glance behind me. The stranger keeps pace at a discreet distance. Even in the darkness just before sunrise, I can see him. I realize I am being followed.

Having another man follow you on a nearly deserted street this early in the morning becomes disconcerting when you haven’t done anything to provoke contact. It can be a creepy sort of complimentÖ it can even be hazardous to your health. Not that I’m inclined to that sort of activity; there isn’t any chance of that from me. But you never know what someone else has in mind.

He isn’t very subtle about stalking me. In fact, he is rather cavalier, with a self-confidence that bothers me a great deal. I consider letting him catch up so I can reject him, but he isn’t afraid of being found out. As if I could do him any harm. Because we are in public, I determine that I’m not in much danger, so I continue my stroll.

 

I had my eye on a particular victim. He looked innocuous enough, promising a stable meal that would keep me from waking up hungry in the middle of the day. Having seen him in the coffee shop, I knew I was in for a special treat.

I needed to confirm a few things, however, and decided to follow him. After many lifetimes’ experience, I have come to a few conclusions that mortal doctors have only recently begun to appreciate: I have learned that blood directly reflects a person’s habits.

Blood is a very revealing medium in humans. It carries diseased cells, which have an unappealing taste, but we are immune to disease. It transfers sugar from foods, giving the body energy while retaining distinct flavors. For instance, the blood of Italians and Greeks is disagreeable because they flavor most of their food with garlic — and every schoolboy knows the effects of garlic.

We are able to ingest animal blood, but the taste of grass and hay is hardly appetizing. Carnivorous animals are becoming increasingly difficult to find. And you canít play the mental games with them that you can with humans. There’s the real challenge.

One thing in his favor — he did not smoke. Tobacco tends to give blood an acrid taste that is not very appealing. There are other traits I have observed.

Never prey on a politician; telling lies really is in their blood.

The blood of an actor induces a strong desire for recognition, and it is bad for me to stand out.

Modern philosophers, on the other hand, cause you to question everything, resulting in inaction.

Similarly, the blood of a teacher results in complacency, from having to recite the same information repeatedly. It is the hunt that drives me.

Poets’ blood is rich, literally, with emotion, but it is a bit syrupy and thick, hard to digest, hard to swallow, making it difficult to take.

Writers’ blood is thin and watery, not enough depth.

Artists have a lot of imagination but also a lot of confusion; they worry too much. They need to make a mark for themselves and are always trying things without conviction. The last thing I need is to question purpose. It becomes difficult to track future victims.

Some of my kind seek out drug addicts; they like the high.

Teenage girls are too emotional, up and down, causing vacillating indecision. I get confused and jittery. I lose my train of thought; my powers are diminished. This is why it is better to choose an adult male victim, less variable.

Teenage boys are not good victims. Too much testosterone in their blood — they also make me edgy and nervous. I do not need to take chances.

Taking the time to choose meals with care helps to break the tedium of living for so long. One thing I have in my favor is time. Patience and observation have served me well.

This one was walking slowly, he obviously noticed me following him. He felt secure for the moment, but given time everyone makes a mistake — a fatal mistake.

 

I continue to walk, drinking my half-finished coffee. I no longer look into shop windows when I stop. I look behind me to see if I am still being followed.

The clouds part, releasing captive moonlight, and I can clearly see him. His skin is translucent like fine alabaster, but lacking its warm red glow. Instead, blue and green veins insinuate themselves, barely visible. His lips are close to being red, but more of a burgundy color, as when a red rose has gone past its bloom and begun to fade into death.

The gap between us seems to be lessening. The rotted decaying odor increases from time to time. The air chills when he is near. Just as I realize that he is the source, my mind becomes confused, and I start to lose direction. Then a strong, crisp wind blows, clearing my head.

The cup of coffee in my hand becomes heavy, and I almost drop it a few times when he is near. The confusion caused by the odor is cumulative, and each breeze has less of a clearing effect on my mind. Whenever I get a jolt from the caffeine and sugar, his presence neutralizes it. I feel the sugar building up in my system, rushing along with my blood.

I find myself wandering off the main walk, not realizing why. I’m hearing thoughts that aren’t mine. Can a person think in a language they are unable to speak? In tongues that time has silenced, and know they are languages that nobody alive has ever heard? Meanings are universal, through time and language, carrying the same content from man’s earliest beginnings. Deep down I know these thoughts, experienced by countless others before me, are false. They have sinister connotations. I can also hear voices crying out to me to take care, to resist. Resist what? I donít have a clue.

 

He was weakening, his mind becoming supple, his will virtually non-existent. It is at this point that I am able to determine if a man is worthy of a meal. He seemed plain enough, dressed in denim jeans — the uniform of blandness. He wore a lot of jewelry, including bracelets, implying a layer of vanity.

People’s diets are reflected in their appearances. This one seemed to enjoy simple food but liked to accessorize — adding highlights of flavor. A plain base allows each additional individual flavor to be tasted and savored. He relished flavor. As do I.

 

I am in a part of the city where I have never been before. The shadows are my friends, my confidantes. He is close, very close — I can feel it. I involuntarily drop the empty coffee cup to the dry brown leaves at my feet. I am no longer alarmed by his presence; he fills my mind. The image of him has faded, his flesh forgotten. I remember only the color of his lips. I need to see him, to talk to him. I turn a corner to wait for him.

 

I stood next to him, sensing his warm skin. He moved toward me, and I instantly attacked his neck. A surprising “Ummmm” involuntarily escaped my throat. I quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed my utterance. Confirming we were unobserved, I continued to enjoy my dessert. He tasted sweet and sugary, more so than a normal human. Suddenly, I could feel the chocolate and caffeine jolt through my system, from his veins into mine. Too late, I realized my mistake.

Unable to rest, I’ve been lying awake in my coffin well into the morning, staring at the wood grain patterns on the lid.

Damn diabetics.