Interviewed By A Vampire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
There's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses. — Elwood Blues

Submitted: July 31, 2017

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Submitted: July 31, 2017

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When the vampires from the Triangulum galaxy came through the time portal and landed in New York City, everyone freaked out.

 

It took a while before humans realized the vampires meant what they said.  They weren’t going to suck people’s blood.  They were here to stage a job fair.  The Triangulum vampires had picky tastes and were only interested in humans with a very specific blood type.

 

And they didn’t actually suck blood anymore.  They moved past that centuries ago.  Technology had made their lives much simpler.  Victims became paid employees who only had to show up at a clinic every few weeks to have blood drawn.  Vampire machinery could grow a few drops of  blood into gallons of what their kind thought of as gourmet food.

 

They’d studied our economy and were prepared to pay in gold, diamonds, or stock in blue chip vampire corporations.  There were a few catches.  Working for the vampires required moving to the Triangulum galaxy.  They would pay for the move.  And, there were only 1047 humans that had the kind of blood they were looking for.

 

When the vampire ambassador explained this at the United Nations, they uncloaked their satellites.  Earth was ringed by thousands of their devices, 1200 miles above the surface.  Their technology allowed them to identify humans with the desired blood type from the sky.  They’d been scanning us for decades.  We had no idea.

 

The 1047 humans with the rare blood type freaked out a second time, when a vampire delegation showed up at their door.  It didn’t help that the vampires had to conduct their business after dark.  That was one of the things human mythology got right.

 

Most people said no right away.  Who would want to uproot their life and put their fate in the hands of blood suckers from another galaxy?  Some people went into shock and were unable to speak.  The vampires left brochures along with cell numbers and email addresses.

 

They were prepared for a low success rate.  But one human said yes right away.  His name was Milton Barnes.  Why was he eager to embark on such a journey?  It might have had something to do with his location.  Barney, as his cellmates referred to him, was also known as inmate number 142570.  He had a 25 to 40 year lease on a lower bunk at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.  

 

His captors were quite willing to release Barney to the care of the vampires.  His first arrest came at age 12.  By the time he dropped out of school, he was an ace.  He’d been arrested five times.  To celebrate his 21st birthday, he went on an armed robbery spree.  Any business with a front door and a cash register became a target.  He wasn’t a particularly talented robber but he moved fast.  By the time the Logan county deputies took him down, he’d pulled off 41 jobs.

 

At his sentencing, the judge asked if he had anything to say in his defense.  He contributed this gem:  “Well, I didn’t shoot anyone, did I?”  Barney was not the sharpest tool in the shed.

 

So it happened that Barney became the first human being to visit another star.  The first to travel to another galaxy.  The first to be transported through time.  He was the most famous explorer in human history.  Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong had nothing on Milton Barnes.

 

=============

 

When Barney stepped through the time portal onto the surface of Jörd, it was early afternoon on the vampire planet.  They were all asleep.  He gaped at the creature who greeted him.  Mnizz was a walking, talking Saguaro cactus.

 

Mnizz didn’t have a mouth, but somehow, words were coming out of him.  He didn’t have legs, but was able to move around.  A trail of slime followed wherever he went.

 

He came from a planet called Iskni.  Quite a few Isknins worked on Jörd.  Their planet had harsh weather, excessive gravity, and food production didn’t always keep up with the population.  Jobs here were highly coveted.  The Isknins had an advantage.  Their blood was very bitter to the vampire palate.  Of all the species the vampires employed, the Isknins were the only ones who were safe at night, when the vampires were awake.

 

That was when Mnizz told Barney the vampires’ dirty little secret.  It was true that a human will be totally safe here during the day.  Barney would only encounter other Isknins, and the handful of other species the vampires have hired.  All well vetted, and from species having a long history of peaceful behavior.

 

However, things were different after dark.  While most vampires were civilized, and had given up blood sucking, the instinct remained just under the surface.  Some cannot resist temptation.  When non-Isknin aliens made the mistake of being outside after sunset, they rarely survived the experience.

 

To the corporation that hired Barney, he was worth the equivalent of billions of dollars.  Mnizz was the commander of a security detail that would guard him 24 hours a day.  The cactus explained how things would go down.

 

“My employers have made it clear, if you escape or suffer any injury, I will lose my job and be sent back to Iskni.  I am not going to let that happen.  Here’s the problem.  I move around on a muscular pad.  My top speed is about how fast you walk.  If you run from me, there is no way I can keep up.”

 

Mnizz pointed his cactus arm at the ground a few feet in front of him.  The tip of his arm glowed red.

 

“Which is why I’ll do this if you try to get away.  It is self-guided, all I have to do is launch it.”

 

What looked like a tiny lightning bolt shot out of the glowing tip and hit the ground.  It made a tiny hole and a puff of smoke wafted into the air.

 

“It won’t cause permanent damage but you’ll lose consciousness and pee and crap all over yourself.”

 

Barney asked, “How did you do that?”

 

“You have no idea how advanced vampire technology is.  You’ll see.  This is what they call a biomechatronic implant.”

 

Mnizz continued.  “On the other hand, my instructions are to meet any need you have, within reason.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying your culture.  No matter what kind of food you like, you can have it.  Beer, whiskey, tobacco, weed, yours for the asking.  But all in moderation.  I will require that you remain healthy enough to be able to lose and regenerate a pint of blood every six weeks.”

 

“There is one strict, unbending rule.  Your blood must be clean when it is drawn.  For a week beforehand, I will allow you no vices, and only healthy food.”

 

“I’ve read your police record.  The reasons for your incarceration are well documented.  So you won’t be surprised by how I intend to insure your safety and the cleanliness of your blood.”

 

“You will live in an suite on the 104th floor of Jörd’s finest hotel.  During the day, you will be free to come and go, as long as you do not attempt to evade your security detail.  One or more of us will always be with you, any time you go out.  By no later than an hour before sundown, I expect you to be in the apartment.  The door will be locked from the outside.  During the week before your blood is drawn, you will remain in your apartment continuously.  

 

“This is the bottom line.  At night, and one week out of every six, you will essentially be my prisoner.”

 

A self driving taxi showed up and Mnizz motioned for Barney to get in.  “I’ll take you to your new residence.  I’ve seen an image of your prison cell.  You’re going to like the bedroom.  No lower bunk.”

 

When he walked through the door, Barney was mesmerized by the view from the tall windows in the living room.  This wasn’t like any prison he’d occupied.

 

“As I said, vampire technology is extremely advanced.  To make your transition easier, everything here has been set up to function as if it were a modern apartment in New York City.”

 

“You’ll be particularly interested in the device on the table.”  The cactus arm pointed at what looked like a Samsung phone.  “The very finest vampire communication device, with a user interface that mimics what a human would use on Earth.”

 

“The Amazon app is how you will do your shopping.  Anything you want, if it exists on Jörd, can be ordered.  The cost is deducted from your checking account and you won’t be allowed to spend more than you earn.  You’ve been advanced a month’s pay.”

 

“The other apps should be familiar to you.  If not, there is a customer support app.  Do you have any questions?”

 

“No.”

 

“It will be dark soon.  I’m going to lock you in.  I’ll be back in the morning and we’ll go on a tour of the city.”

 

“By the way, if you set the apartment on fire or need medical attention, push one of the red buttons, you’ll find them in each room.  That will notify the security team next door.”

 

The cactus left.  Barney heard multiple locks click after the door closed.  He picked up the phone.  

 

As he watched his first sunset on the vampire planet, Barney munched on a piping hot pepperoni pizza.  Which got washed down with ice cold draft beer.  The cigarettes looked, smelled and tasted like his favorites, Benson and Hedges Deluxe Ultralight 100s.

 

When Barney laid down on the most comfortable mattress he’d ever known, his last thought before he dozed off was, “These vampires really know how to do prison right.”

 

===============

 

He didn’t want to get out of bed the next morning but the cactus arm wouldn’t stop prodding him.  At least Mnizz was patient while Barney wolfed down a Denver omelet, hash browns, and three cups of coffee.  

 

The city was as Mnizz described it.  Automated buses and taxis drove down narrow streets.  Impossibly tall buildings towered overhead.  Everything was clean.  The skyscrapers looked like they’d been built yesterday.  The city was deserted.

 

Except for the Isknins, and the handful of other odd creatures Barney and Mnizz encountered.  There seemed to be Isknins everywhere.

 

“As Earthlings would say, we Isknins wear many hats.  During the day, we repair and maintain the city’s infrastructure.  There are always broken pipes and an endless stream of garbage must be processed.  But we work much harder at night.  Here’s another vampire secret.”

 

“No matter how intelligent they are, no matter how advanced their technology is, when vampires consume alcohol, they can be as violent and destructive as any human.  At night, we stay busy protecting the vampires from each other, and themselves.”

 

Barney thought, “I’m starting to like this place a lot.”

 

The vehicle stopped in front of one of the skyscrapers.  The windows on the ground floor were covered with signs, most in alphabets Barney had never seen.  Mnizz pointed to one that had recently been added.  It was written in English.

 

“Do you know what a phlebotomy station is?  You’ll be visiting here once every six weeks.  This is where your blood will be removed.”

 

“Just so you’ll know, your first bloodletting will be two weeks from today.  Which means you’ve got a week to enjoy yourself, before I put you in solitary lockdown.  Then there will be no beer or cigarettes.  Pizza is okay in moderation.”

 

Barney resolved to do a lot of living in the next week.  Then, Mnizz told Barney something really interesting about vampires. 

 

“My employers have been discovering alien species in distant galaxies for centuries.  Most of the time, they do not find the quality of blood they desire and they move on.  When a species shows promise, they study it.  If the species is sentient, they study its culture.  But something unexpected happened when the vampires started watching human television and movies.  Their society changed forever.”

 

“Even after being exposed to thousands of alien cultures, the vampires were caught off guard.  Overnight, they became addicted to Earth style entertainment.  The economy sagged as vampires called in sick to work in order to binge watch.  Their own entertainment industry collapsed.”

 

“Over time they adapted to their new obsession.  The end result is that much of their popular culture will be familiar to you.  In fact, you might already know what they will be obsessed with next.”

 

“Movement through a time portal is essentially instantaneous.  But it uses a tremendous amount of energy.  It is not practical to use a portal to transmit non-essential data such as movies and TV shows.  The method the vampires use to do that requires much less energy, but causes a 37 year delay.”

 

“The most popular movie on Jörd right now is Animal House.  The most popular TV show, for many years, has been The Tonight Show.  Before you showed up, Johnny Carson was the most famous human here.  

 

In fact, the most well known vampire on Jörd is an entertainer and a talk show host.  He became even more successful after he changed his name to Johnny Carson.  Then he had surgery, to make himself look just like his human counterpart.”

 

“There is a reason I’ve explained all of this to you.  Mr. Carson would like to interview you.  If you are interested, you can be on his show tonight.  I’ll make exceptions to the lockdown rule on special occasions.”

 

Back at the apartment, Barney had an idea.  This time, it wasn’t a bad one.  In the fifth grade, he was an aspiring comedian and a John Belushi fan.  While his classmates studied math, science and grammar, he perfected his impressions of Samurai Futuba, Bluto, and Joliet Jake.

 

It was easy for Barney to remember which Belushi movie was released in the summer of 1980.  He and his brother had snuck into a theater and watched it two days before his first arrest.  Barney asked his phone, “What was the date on Earth, 37 years ago?”

 

The screen displayed May 3rd, 1980.  A few weeks before his first arrest, and the premier of The Blues Brothers.  Barney looked at himself in the mirror.  Belushi was short and chubby.  He was short and chubby.  He practiced raising one eyebrow.  Barney decided to set a trend.  He punched in an order on Amazon.  He paid extra for the express 30 minute delivery.

 

==============

 

Barney walked on the stage of The Tonight Show and shook hands with the vampire known as Johnny Carson.  The crowd gasped when they saw him, then murmured and started to applaud and cheer.

 

He was wearing a Salvatore Sharkskin 2-Button black suit, a fedora, and a pair of Wayfarer sunglasses.  Just like Joliet Jake.  Barney debuted the look that would soon be famous on Jörd.

 

The human settled into the chair his vampire host was pointing at.  Close up, Barney could see the sharp, protruding fangs.  Other than that, the creature looked exactly like Johnny Carson.

 

“So tell us, Mr. Barnes, what was your motivation for leaving Earth and traveling to our fair planet?”

 

That was the opening Barney was looking for.  He arched an eyebrow.  “Well Johnny, it’s like my brother Elwood often says.  I’m on a mission from God…”


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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