KEVIN OF THE DEAD
The Strand Magazine|Issue 60, 2020
KEVIN OF THE DEAD
PEOPLE often say to me, “Kevin, what’s it like being undead and all that?” And I say, “It’s a job, you know?” You get up at sunset, brush off the dirt and slugs, climb out of the box, and off you go into the night looking for some poor unfortunate to siphon a pint from.
Eoin Colfer

My resting place is nothing to write home about, just a plywood pauper’s coffin that has seen better days. I suppose it could be worse. If my coffin had been carved from ebony—a lesser-known weakness for my kind—it would burn me just to touch it. But some nights it’s tough to keep my chin up because there’s a rat that lives in the drains who seems to have developed a taste for plywood. He tunnels over when I’m out feeding and gnaws at the wood. I didn’t even know rats could tunnel. Surprising what you learn being a vampire.

The long and the short of it is that if I can’t catch that rat, I’ll be left freezing all winter without a coffin. Maybe I could turn the rat and he could guard the coffin for me. But creating a familiar is tricky business. You have to get the blood draining just right or the subject dies and then you’re back to square one.

It’s a much easier job to make a new vampire than a familiar. Just give your victims a sip of your own blood and three days later they’re kicking their way out of the dirt all angry and confused. In my opinion there’s a real market for vampire counsellors. Someone to guide you through the process. It’s very traumatic waking up dead, I can tell you. Not as traumatic as high school but pretty close. I could really have used a friendly face, someone like Miss Quan, our language arts teacher from Hillfield High, to take me through the change step by step and help me process my emotions. Miss Quan was lovely and wore old-fashioned blouses with a brooch at the throat, and I wouldn’t ever bite her even if I was in the middle of a dry spell, though that brooch did draw attention to her neck.

But Rule #1 of being a vampire is don’t make more vampires. If we were all skulking around reproducing willy-nilly, where would we be? Overrun with vampires, that’s where. Not that I don’t like vampires, seeing as I am one, but if there were more biters than necks then we’d be forced to drink dog’s blood, which I am allergic to, something I found out the hard way.

Time was, nobody wanted to be a vampire. We were frowned upon generally and scorned by humankind and represented really negatively in the press. But now, thanks to all those books and films that have been coming out recently, people think vampires are cool. They reckon you get all pale and intense the second you’re bitten, and your aura is so amazing it stops people dead in their tracks. So now we have teenagers literally queueing up to get turned. The far-off hills are green, I suppose, which is an adage Miss Quan taught us. Except in this case the far-off hills are underground, and the only green bits are the blooms of mould in the eye sockets of other corpses. So, be careful what you wish for.

Living forever is all well and good if you have a crypt with a bit of shade, or if you were all cool and stuff when you were alive, but all I have is plywood and the same silly face I already had, only paler.

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Issue 60, 2020