I'm Afraid Your Daughter is a Vampire
"I'm afraid your daughter is a vampire". The words still rang in Bob's ears. The content of the words were less shocking than the calm and straightforward manner the old man said them. Vampires are the fictitious villains of medieval fairy tales, yet the man used that word so casually, as if her were describing a case of the flu.
BANG BANG CRASH!
An hour earlier the noise came from Jill's bedroom followed by an angry yell that should never come out of a rational well fed 14 year old human girl. She seemed to be screeching about a Cindy. Or perhaps a Cody. Definitely a C-name.
Naming them Jack and Jill seemed amusing at the time, but now they'll both come tumbling down a hill of depression and neglect as the children of divorce. It's only been four weeks since I moved here, Bob thought. How can I get through a lifetime of separation and hopelessness. Could it every get better? Why is divorce such a final word. Deeeeee-vorce! Deeeeee
Bob looked up from his wandering stupor and realized the sound was coming from the front door, not Jill's presumably wrecked bedroom. Granted, in such a small apartment all doors were equidistant from the kitchen chair where Bob had spent most of the morning. A fellow could easily make such a mistake. A very common mistake. Easy. If only I hadn't made so many mistakes Carol might still be here.
Bob still remembered the good parts of Carol, like her calmness in times of crisis. Fortunately Jack expressed more of his mother tendencies, though obviously the divorce would put a strain on anyone. Perhaps Bob's own divorced parents created the rage he passed on to his daughter. Such endless anger.
"Dad it's me!"
Bob finally replied. "Of course you are. Who else would willingly enter this dump? Come in!"
"I can't. You locked the deadbolt." Jack shouted.
"Oh, right. For protection. For the good of humanity."
Bob strode across the three feet to the front door and turned the latch. Jack burst in with an unusually happy and determined look. "Dad! I brought someone who can help."
Bob exasperatedly exclaimed in strained tone only a parent can muster: "And just who could do that?!"
"Um. That would be me." Calmly a man revealed himself behind Jack's now moved frame.
Bob looked at the man with a squinty eye. Partly to express his concern about whoever else was interested in his family's misfortunes, and partly because the setting sun was blinding him. Bob blurted: "Who are you? A counselor? A therapist? I hope you have a degree in exorcism. That's about all that will help."
"I have experienced these troubles before, actually." the man again calmly replied. "May I ask, is she hungry?"
"Undoubtedly. She hasn't eaten for two days but refused to consume anything I have in the house. I've tried all her favorite foods but she still throws them against the wall. It's like she's two again. Maybe two and a half!"
"I have a plate of cookies. See if she'll eat one."
The man's calm demeanor disturbed Bob for some reason, but out of ideas he conceded and took the platter of cookies that suddenly appeared in the odd fellow's hand. Bob stared at Jill's door, knowing the horror that lay beyond, then slowly turned the knob.
The room was indeed wrecked. Every poster slashed. Books strewn across the floor. It also appeared that every ounce of clothing was piled in the corner like a giant nest with Jill crouching on top. With a shoe in her hand and a pile adjacent she was prepared for any assailant that might invade her hideout.
"Um... Honey?", Bob dared to whisper.
As Jill prepared to lob a sneaker towards her father's gleaming forehead she paused, staring at the tray of cookies, then leapt like a feral dog. It took all of Bob's willpower to stand still as his beloved daughter bounded across the room with a suddenly curious look.
Jill grabbed the tray from her father's hands and sniffed the cookies, investigating each one with cautious precision. Finally choosing one from the left side of the tray she consumed it like the greatest and most exceedingly delicious slice of chocolate cake every gifted to humanity by the angels above. A smile of pure bliss came over her face, as if she had never considered the existence of cookies before and now could only imagine a lifetime of such amazing morsels.
After savoring every bite of the cookie she once more scanned the tray, this time with a look of disgust, threw it to the floor and ran back to her laundry nest. The screaming began again. It was definitely about someone named Chad.
Bob picked up the tray, turned, and closed the door again. "Well, she ate one. I guess you must be an exorcist after all".
"Tell me Bob. Was it the second one from the left?"
Bob noticed the man's accent for the first time. Not really an accent, he thought, perhaps more of a lisp or a speech impediment. It seemed vaguely familiar, but not worth the brain effort to remember. His mind was full with other thoughts right now. "Erm. Yes it was. Why?"
The man smiled and seemed comfortable for the first time. "Then that means I can help you."
The strange and now comfortable man plopped into a chair and opened his bag. He pulled out a reusable water bottle with the sports branding scratched off. "My name is Edward Sanders. Give her this."
"What's in it?" Bob asked.
"Something that will help." Edward replied.
Bob wasn't in the habit of feeding his children random foods from strangers but also he wasn't in any mood to argue. She did eat the cookie, after all, and enjoyed it far more than anything else in the past few weeks. Worth a shot.
Bob opened the bedroom door, this time with slightly less hesitation. Jill turned her glaring eyes towards the opening and leapt once more across the room, snatching the bottle from her father, ripping the top off as if her life depended on it. She chugged it as if she had been stranded in the desert without water for weeks, sucking every last drop from the bottle, licking every possible molecule out of the narrow opening.
After she was sure nothing was left in the bottle she casually tossed it out the window and returned to her nest of clothing, but this time calmer. Bob watched for a minute as she continued throwing shoes against the wall, each time a little slower. Finally she collapsed on the bed with a triumphant snore.
Bob walked back into the kitchen. "Well... that was interesting. What was in that bottle? Some sort of super Ny-quill?"
"Blood." Edward said matter of factly.
Bob looked incredulous. "Umm. excuse me Ed?! What hell does that mean."
The man held up his hands defensively, "Please allow me to explain."
"I think you should go now." Bob glared at the door.
Jack, finally piping up, tried to calm his father down. "Dad, just listen. He knows what he's talking about."
"Mr Johnston." Edward Sanders said with an odd mixture of excitement and pity, "I'm afraid your daughter is a vampire."
Bob examined the man and considered his options. He was sort of short and sort of round. Perhaps an accountant or something. Definitely not the type to have just escaped from the looney bin. Bob could probably punch him in the gut and shove him out the door before calling the cops.
"Mr Johnston." Edward began again. "I understand this is shocking news, but the word vampire really is the best way to describe what your daughter is."
"I would use the word teenager, but please go on".
Your daughter will probably wake up in twelve hours or so. Her body is exhausted from being without blood toxins for so long."
"What do you mean 'without blood'. All people have blood. "
"True, but not the toxins. Please give me the chance to explain."
Edward calmly explained, trying to ensure Bob understood his peculiar situation.
"Every human's blood contains a particular virus that will cause early death. Without removal and inoculation we would all die from painful sores, many as children. A vampire's saliva glands absorb these toxins and produce antibodies. These antibodies are transmitted back to the non-vampire humans when a vampire feeds, thus keeping the whole population safe. "
"Ummmm. Uh.." Bob stuttered; thinking of nothing else useful to say.
"We don't know where the virus came from, but samples from ancient DNA suggest it has been a part of humanity for at least ten thousand years. We suspect the virus became a problem when humans began living in larger groups. Without vampires humans would never have developed civilization."
"I don't understand. So are vampires humans or not?"
"Jill is your daughter. She is completely human. She merely has a genetic mutation which affects her saliva gland. And, as you may have noticed, slightly longer canine teeth. The result of a few thousand years of genetic pressure, most likely. But your daughter is definitely human. You or your wife must carry the mutation."
"Ex-wife, but yes. I think I understand." A though suddenly occurred to him. "Wait, what about Jack? Why doesn't he have the crazies like Jill? "
"It's a recessive gene. Being of the opposite sex they are fraternal twins, so Jack has no more likelihood of being a vampire than any random human. If he hasn't expressed by now he probably won't ever. This is also fortunate for your family line. Vampires are almost always sterile."
"I see. " said Bob. The impact of this knowledge was starting to sink in. "So... How did you find us?"
Edward smiled. "I really try to I keep tabs on all teenagers in the area. Your daughter's incident, while initially recorded into her private school file, was also widely reported on Facebook. Normally it takes me a while to follow the thread of evidence leading to a newly exhibiting vampire but in this case the thread was rather short. The initial post was from your son."
Bob cast a disapproving look towards Jack.
"Um.. YOLO?" Jack stepped back to a safe distance from the pending parental explosion.
Edward continued. "Your daughter needs help. A vampire must feed on blood or the hunger will drive them crazy. In the days before the guild most vampires would eventually commit a crime and be executed or committed. Others would simply be so driven by the hunger for the toxin that they forget to eat normal food and die of starvation. We are still humans, after all. We gotta eat. "
"A good vampire is like a diabetic. They can live long normal lives as long as they take care of themselves and watch their levels. But this requires training and help from others. And that's why I'm here."
Bob thought a moment. "So your like some sort of vampire therapist?"
"In a manner of speaking. I am also a vampire, with years of experience. I was found at the age of thirteen by a guild member who taught me to be aware of my body chemistry and keep things in balance. I am here to do the same for your daughter."
Bob would have worn an expression of shock and disbelief if he wasn't already so tired. Instead he slumped in his chair and shook his head. First a divorce, then moving apartments, and now this? Not good timing.
Bob pushed back. "No. This... This is insane. If vampires are real how would you remain undetected for millions of years?"
"Thousands of years, not millions; and honestly we haven't been undetected. Countless vampires were executed in the middle ages as witches and the like. And when our numbers grow low the herd immunity suffers. The Black Death was just one of the many plagues that resulted. That's why we have the guild now. To ensure we remain below the surface, rarely a topic of discussion, and keeping the human blood system safe. If you think about it, we're really just a natural vaccine."
"And why are you telling me this? Won't I just go tell the world?", Bob retorted.
"Most people don't want to believe vampires are real, so they don't. Climate change is far easier to see in comparison, and yet many don't believe that either. As far as most people are concerned we are just a collection of unrelated people who occasionally get into trouble. By keeping our profile low humanity remains protected."
"And as for why I'm telling you.. because you are her loving father. If anyone in the world wants to make sure Jill remains a compliant vampire, it's you. She needs training and love. I'm sure you care about your daughter and would rather deal with her condition than die from it.
Bob's expression became more sober.
"Right. Of course. She'd be arrested or committed or something if she can't control herself."
"Exactly. Your daughter needs help before she does something far worse. Those witches weren't burned at the stake without good cause, you know."
Bob still didn't know what to believe.
Ed stood up and said in a finalizing tone. "Here is my number. When you are ready, please call me. Your daughter needs training. But please don't wait more than a week or Jill will be back to the pile of laundry."
Ed left and Jack went to pick up some pizza, leaving Bob alone in a kitchen filled with bizarre questions and impossible answers.
So this is it. I have a crazy daughter with an ancient disea-- um... mutation. If I choose option A she's a supernatural creature trained by a random guru who just showed up at my door. If I go option B she remains my human daughter with no talk of vampires and other mystical nonsense, and I can probably visit her in prison.
One way or another Jill is going to wake up soon and I'll have to decide what to do. Is my daughter a supernatural freak or a horrible, but human, attacker.
If Carol were here what would she say? She was a Scully. She hated anything messy or unexplainable. She'd also say not to listen to random people who offer advice at your front door. They're probably selling something.
A solution has come to kitchen offering peace at a price: believing in impossible things. Training to control Jill's violent urges. Learning to filter human blood. What will Carol say when she returns from Europe? I have to tell her. She'll find out eventually.
Bob smiled. Carol would hate it.
When Jill finally awoke and stumbled out her bedroom door Bob was ready. "Honey. There's someone you need to meet."