Nonstandard Vampires

You know, if you plumb the lore on vampires, you come up with some interesting abilities that they can have. Most of which Hollywood either ignores or never really exploits. Well, this story plans to poke a few of them.

Lee Cheong knows these wrecks are a trap. He’s taken steps….

I closed my eyes, the better to follow the dizzying flickers of vision. There were the three main wrecks as our falcons had spied them, two smaller hulls half-sunk flanking a large junk half on its side….

Too large a junk, and that had been one of our first clues that it was a trap. No treasure ship, but at least a second-class. To sink such a ship in shallow marsh waters would be impossible without the driving waves of a typhoon, or water magic.

There had been no typhoon here for the past year. That ship had been placed. The question was, why?

Flickers from sparrows on the smaller hulls. Bird eyes might not see anything amiss, but even a sparrow’s ears were enough to catch splashes from inside wrecked wood. Something – many somethings – moved in the waters inside the ships. And they were far too large to be fish.

No voices. No way to be sure what moved was cursed or a hapless prisoner. And yet one would think that even in the darkest despair a prisoner would cry out, sob, something

Bird noses were not so keen as a cat’s. Yet a new scent touched the wind. A hint of rusted metal… and dry wood dust.


The boldest of my sparrows flitted over to the wrecked junk, where a trickle of sawdust spilled golden motes into the wind.

I barely needed to nudge it to hop closer. This was different.

A glimmer of blue among dry-shrunk planks; a deck prism, meant to cast light below into the hold, now only catching sun half the day. The dust was not near the glass, but three or four planks away-

Far enough away for the underside of the deck to be in shadow. I drew in a breath; slowly released it, before the thread of blood-magic could be broken.

A plank was being pried at, a rusty tip of iron poking through where caulking no longer held. Slowly. Determined. Deliberate, working its way along the whole of one edge before returning along the other. Pausing only to move to the next plank over, loosening that one in turn.


23 thoughts on “Nonstandard Vampires

  1. Spooky…

    I didn’t know vampires could control birds. Or are they constructs made to look like birds?

    It’s short, but you can feel the tension as Lee is trying to figure out what the trap is.

    At least he isn’t invoking the jedi policy of traps. Why spring it when you can break it?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Depends on the vampire.

      Did you know that one way to become a vampire is to become a werewolf while alive? Presuming people don’t dispose of your corpse properly.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. It was; one of my grandparents was born on Christmas Day, which in some folklore meant you were doomed to be a vampire and/or werewolf, because your birth was stealing glory from That Birth. Which makes absolutely no sense to blame on a kid, but… people.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I’m guessing Protestant, so didn’t do fasting for Lent (40 days before Easter) anymore?

        The issue with being born on Christmas is that it meant your parents had sex during the time that’s supposed to be a spiritual wandering in the desert- which would curse the child to be born (whatever the local folk tradition of horribly cursed kids is).

        ….and now I’m picturing being a werewolf or vampire as the spiritual version of fetal alcohol syndrome…..

        Liked by 5 people

      3. There were arguments about the Feast of the Annunciation in the Church because — we interrupt your Lent to give you another Feast?

        Eventually they did, unless it falls in Holy Week or Easter Week in which case it gets bumped to the Monday of the Second Week of Easter.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh!

    Just what I needed today, thanks!

    I would love to have more of Jason with Lee too, please?

    Loving the traditional Vampire imagery. I hate that Hollywood overlooks these powers, they make for interesting storytelling.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Ooooh, interesting. I have gotten so confused about what “traditional” vampire powers were/are. On top of that, they can vastly change depending on who you are talking to, and I don’t mean just in different countries. The amount of different versions of powers just for DRACULA is stupid

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Don’t remind me.

      I searched for a list of traditional vampire powers earlier…

      And what powers were considered traditional depended on where in the world, who you ask, and when in history.

      *headdesk* Why can’t these things be consistent?

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Stupid but understandable if you read Stoker’s work, which makes clear he’s also drawing off the rumors of Dracula knowing the local sorcery.

      I am actually looking at one specific folkloric vampire as the basis, because my backstory is that an upir who originally died in childbirth fled the black plague to areas with more prey and eventually ended up in the Yuan Empire. Where she (a very pretty she) had an almost lethal encounter with a young Goryeo keshig in Dadu… which we now know as Beijing.

      (Because Goryeo Korean nobles got mandatory time in the guard there, along with being encouraged to marry Mongol ladies, in the interests of keeping the Yuan together. It… had varying degrees of effect.)

      Note, almost lethal. Choe Ryu-Cha didn’t quite die. He was infected, and likely out of his head for a while. But he was never as badly off as the original upir, whose body had been dead before magical symbionts revived her along the lines of the fearful stories.

      And one “medicine” Mongols apply in an emergency? Feed someone horse blood.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. One of the (gazillions of) Dracula movies actually used the “obsessive counting” thing. “Dracula 2000”? I don’t recall. But it was a team of unethical scientists doing medical experiments on a person they’d obtained who checked all the boxes for VAMPIRE, but only one of the researchers was Genre Savvy and took precautions.

        Unfortunately, once Dracula got bored and broke out of the straps holding him to the the lab bench, the Savvy tech threw a bag of birdseed at the floor in front of him… Dracula glances down casually, says “37,598” and kept on going.

        The fun part was wondering if Instant Counting was a Vampire thing, or just a Vlad Tepes thing that turned out to be Really Handy once he became a Vampire….

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Apropos of that particular fellow, I loved the exchange my wife found on Reddit a few months ago (if I find the original source I’ll add a link):

        OP: “Who’s your favorite fictional vampire?”
        First commenter: “The Count from Sesame Street.”
        Second commenter: “No, he doesn’t count.”
        Third commenter: “I can assure you that he does…”

        Liked by 3 people

  4. The Count from Sesame Street has an extremely low level of established malice and/or evil for a fictional vampire.

    Thus an argument for him as the best fictional vampire.

    Maple from Bofuri is technically not a vampire.

    Alucard and the police girl from Hellsing are very definitely more violent than the Count.


    1. Arguably the Count has found himself a very comfortable home and lair, and therefore can afford to be extremely nonviolent and a good neighbor. (Apparently he’s supposed to live in Central Park at Belvedere Castle, which is awfully inside-baseball for us non-New Yorkers.)

      He does have hypnotism powers, although these are seldom used anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

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