The Books That Almost Weren’t

             “Looming over him was a childhood nightmare. The sort of thing that hid in closets and under beds and waited for parents to leave their children alone in the dark. Now he was alone and in the dark, and the monster was upon him.”

 

The original Das Vampir story was something completely unplanned. It was just one of those sudden inspirational moments when a few unusual phrases popped into my head and I had to write them down before I forgot them. I had no intention of doing anything else with it, was never going to finish it, and I certainly had no plans to publish it. As I wrote down my thoughts, the words just kept coming, and the concept and the story just kept growing. Having seen other authors publish short stories, I decided to give it a shot, but didn’t really expect much to come from it.

The reaction I got from readers was so amazing, I decided to write more of them.

The Das Vampir books are short stories with a different perspective on vampires. The first words were sort of artsy, almost poetic sentences about the world from the vampire’s perspective. They tell of the loneliness of being undead, the fear of the sun, the hiding in nasty places, and the uncontrollable need to feed on the living. They are dark, old-school monster stories; more akin to Bram Stoker or Nosferatu than the glitzy ‘not-so-scary’ vampires so common today. The books also give the perspective of the victims as the monster hunts them down, creating two stories in one.

The first thoughts that began the series went something like this;

“He awoke again to a tortured mind, the slow realization of consciousness the pathway of escape from torturous dreams. Half asleep, half awake, half alive. His eyes remained closed as he searched inside his mind; to remember who he was, and who he had been long ago. He couldn’t remember anymore, but his dreams would always remind him. During his slumber the visions whirled through his mind, like they always did, bringing brief fleeting glimpses of a life long ago, of a time no longer here. He saw faces; the endless parade of unknown faces whose lives he had taken to prolong his own. So much time, so many years, so many lives. He saw in the faces the fear and the death, and as he slowly awoke from his sleep his dreams became more real, until he could smell the faces; until he could taste them. The sounds of screams and blood and death grew louder in his ears, until only awakening could make them stop. As consciousness swept over him the dreams would fade, to be replaced with another night’s reality, as it had done for an eternity.

His eyes opened slowly, unwillingly, as the nightmares in his mind subsided. From the small narrow gap in the cliff ledge, he could see the last rays of reddish glow from the horrid setting sun slipping in through the moss blowing back and forth over the entry to his sanctuary. The sun had searched and hunted for him throughout the day, as it had for hundreds of years, but hadn’t found him. The ocean breeze gently wafted into his place of hiding, carrying with it the smell of sea salt and distant rain. He was awake now, his state of being leaving one set of nightmares only to enter into another. The old familiar hunger was there, permeating every aspect of his being. The desire to feed consumed him, his nostrils flaring to sniff the air, searching for the scent of blood. It was now, as it was yesterday, as it would be tomorrow, that full consciousness was reached. It was now that the dreams completely faded, and he had no memory of who he was, of who he had been.

It was now that he entered the realm of the living, to make them dead.

He shuffled along on the damp wind-blown sand inside his resting place, and slipping out through the crack in the cliff wall, took flight, carried aloft on a stiff ocean breeze. Darkness was enveloping the world, challenged only by distant lightning escaping from a late season nor’easter. He moved with a silent gracefulness that contradicted his grotesque appearance; the centuries of a decaying existence decaying his very form. Far above the ocean he glided, smelling the air, scanning the horizon. In the distance, several twinkling lights bobbing up and down on the water indicated a vessel. A vessel meant people, and people meant life-giving blood. Although it wasn’t a life, really. It was existence. An existence of endless torturous dreams, separated by endless feeding; a cycle that repeated day after day, night after night, for eternity.

Leaning into the wind, he angled himself towards the vessel, towards the people, towards the scent of blood. Like a shark does in the water, he could smell blood in the air for miles; its intoxicating aroma stirring something primal and instinctive within him. Carried silently on ever strengthening air currents, hidden against the dark clouds of the growing storm, he drove intently towards his target; ready to take what he needed, without feeling, without concern, without caring. There was no choice to be made, no moral dilemma. There was only need, only hunger, as there had been for hundreds of years.”

Those words sat around for several months until I felt they shouldn’t just go wasted, so I took the original concept and just played out the next natural sequence of events. The result became a semi-poetic introspective from the vampire’s mind, and part action movie from the perspective of his victims.

My deepest gratitude goes out to all the people that gave me tremendously positive feedback. At the moment I plan to write six short Das Vampir tales, and then probably release them under a single cover as a collection of short stories.

~ Tom Reinhart

 

“Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.” ~ Bram Stoker