Vampires are not always asleep in their coffins during the daytime. Take me for instance. Before becoming one of the many of the legion of undead, I’d suffered during much of my life from insomnia; tossing and turning my way through sleepless nights, usually losing consciousness as the sun was coming up, and rolling out of my former bed feeling like death warmed over most mornings to do things I had little to no interest in. My life sucked!
Then I became a vampire. “Well how did that happen?” most would ask. And I, Charlie Althea, would reply, “I’d been dating this girl named Linda for around a week or two when one night while we were making out, she bit me on my neck. At first, I just thought she was either trying to give me a hickey or that it was just one of those sexy, playful love-bites when I felt two tiny pricks where my jugular vein was located as her fangs broke the skin, entered the vein, and began sucking the blood and my life right out of me before I knew what was really happening and had passed out. When I came to, I had a feeling there was something quite different about me. I was hungry for blood.”
When something like that happens, you’re pretty much all on your own. I mean it’s not like you can go to school, enroll in online courses, or even get a user’s manual on how to be a vampire. You’re just kind of left to your own devices on how to figure it out. So, we do, and the majority of us that I’ve met do it pretty quickly. I mean it’s not that hard: stay out of the sun, avoid mirrors, protect yourself from people with wooden stakes, and drink blood. That’s really all there is to it for most of us, and the ones who make it more complicated than that, like the cringe-worthy crucifix cringers, are usually the ones who bear the sole responsibility for doing so. As a whole, a vampire’s life can be pretty much a piece of Red Velvet cake, if you know what I mean.
I’m certain most of you have heard that after someone’s been turned and then awakes as the undead that any ailments that plagued them during their lives were miraculously and mercifully gone. In most cases that was true. But in my case, most days in the coffin were sleepless fits of Hell. As in life, I squandered away my sleepy-time time rolling about uncomfortably in my bunk and rarely getting any shuteye. You see, even though when I’d joined this blood-sucking and unliving legion of neck biters, while I no longer was bothered by seasonal allergies, colds, flu, or much else for that matter, to my surprise I still had to endure endless bouts of insomnia. Even as a vampire, if I hadn’t had at least 8 hours of rest I’d be as knackered as an overworked hooker on the Monday morning after a big convention weekend.
Oh my God (yeah, all sanguisuges are allowed to say that name, and there’s even an interesting and a quite funny back-story regarding the why’s and how’s that I’d be happy to share with you another time), sleeplessness when you really want to sleep really sucks! You want to know what the only thing that gets me through my dreamless naptimes? It’s technology. Thank God for WIFI, the internet, and cell phones. If it wasn’t for that I think I would’ve killed my undead self by this time. Do you know why I didn’t, I mean besides the whole cell phone thing? It’s because vampires can’t commit suicide for the obvious reason; we’re all already dead.
It was during one of those coffin-contained bouts of un-somnolence I came upon a solution. How did I stumble upon that discovery you may ask? I was reminded that I still had my cell phone on me one wakeful day when I felt the vibration from an incoming call in my pants pocket. The call? It was from some telemarketer asking if I was happy with my current health insurance plan. Now is that ironic, or is that ironic? We spoke for a long time. Him asking me questions about my current healthcare coverage (sure, I had to lie a bit, but what else could I have done to keep the conversation going for as long as it could to avoid the resumption of my boring bier bound attempt at restless repose?), and I in return inquired into all the insurance plans the telemarketer had to offer, their options, cost, and coverage. By the end of the call, I pretty much knew everything there was to know about health insurance plans, deductions, co-pays, and compliance.
Since then, I always made sure my phone was on me when I hit the sack. Although there were some bumps along the way in the beginning. One time I had neglected to check that it was fully charged and before halfway toward trying to get a full forty winks the phone died out, and let me tell you, by the time I climbed out of my casket that late evening I was in one foul mood—even for a vampire—and took my anger and frustration out on everyone I encountered the rest of that night.
After that, I not only made sure the battery was fully charged, I even took it another step further. You see, when I was alive, I had this knack for how to handle electrical wiring (hey—I even use to wire my own DJ equipment at the shows I was booked to spin—and set up my home entertainment system center when I was still had to earn a living among the living, so who the Hell needs to pay an electrician?). So, after the second time when my cell inadvertently ran out of juice because I had drunk the blood of some wasted wino down on Bowery Street which had gotten me a bit tipsy (yes, vampires do feel the effects of alcohol and other intoxicating substances regardless of how they were ingested), and I had forgotten to do my then routine battery level check, I thought of a solution.
Thus, before the end of the night that followed the second uncharged battery snafu, I came up with an idea. Why not just install a charger in my crate? I could run the wall plugged thin wire of it between the lid and the upper side-lip of my sarcophagus, so pretty much outside of any electrical blackouts, my fully charged phone would eternally be with me. This way I could call and talk to whomever I wanted to during those bouts of bothersome insomnia, surf the web, maintain and post/comment on my social media platforms, and even check the clock to see if it was finally time to pop out of the old pine box for another night’s meals and parties (and we vampires do like to party a lot after eating—it’s kind of our thing).
But today when I couldn’t catch some Zs and was still in the middle of updating my Facebook status the power grid went down in the area where I keep my cozy catafalque so that I lost not only the electricity but my WIFI router too. My life sucks! Here it is with hours to go when I can’t sleep, have only my own thoughts for company, and have absolutely nothing to do. Which sucks likes a Hoover vacuum cleaner souped-up with a Ferrari V12 engine. Today the sun can’t set fast enough for this snooze-less, soulless, spiritless S.O.B... And counting sheep doesn’t work (and yes, I have tried that) since I always lose count when I get distracted imagining how good it’d be to drink their blood, that gives me a bad case of the munchies which make my stomach growl hungrily until my next dining opportunity.
It sucks, I tell you. Come on, where’s that good old Sandman when you need him the most? Oh my God, if you’re not going to let me nod off then at least give me back a jolt of that alternating current along with a bit of that internet access so I can see some bars on my phone and be a happy little camper again. Because today, it really, really, really sucks to be me in this lightless, lifeless little box!
*Special thanks to fellow Reedsy writer Ruth Porritt who was responsible for planting the seed of experimentation in my mind regarding horror genres.*