The author of The Zombie Combat Manual Roger Ma is back with a new guidebook: The Vampire Combat Manual, which dispenses advice on how to battle vampires. In the excerpt below, Ma tackles misconceptions about the imagery beings—just in time for Halloween:
MISCONCEPTION #1: VAMPIRES ARE METAPHYSICAL BEINGS
Of all the falsehoods that exist regarding the vampire, this single misconception has caused more human deaths than all others combined. It is a natural inclination to believe a being that must travel in darkness, is helpless against sunlight, and drinks the blood of living beings in order to survive is demonic in nature—one summoned by the underworld to wreak havoc on Earth—and can be weakened by the powers of the sacred or the pious. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.
A myriad of analyses that have been conducted regarding this misconception have shown that the transformation from Homo sapiens into a member of the vampire species is strictly secular in nature, and has no connection to any particular religious or divine beliefs. Those who rely on any faith-related talismans to counter a vampire's onslaught will find their opponent completely unfazed. Countless stories abound of individuals trusting these methods to assist them in their encounter with the undead to their own detriment. Here is but one example:
Several people went missing from our small village, a woman and two young children. The police said it was the work of vagrants or bandits, but we all knew better. After two more went missing, my friend Eduardo and I took it upon ourselves to rid us of this menace. We were two of the strongest men in our village, and spent a month's worth of daylight searching the town and the neighboring valley. Finally, after weeks of exploration, we found its lair embedded in one of the many hillside caves surrounding the countryside.
Armed with flasks of holy water and two large wooden crucifixes blessed by the village priest, we approached the creature's den a few hours before sunset. We found a large, heavy crate deep within its dwelling. As I lifted the lid, Eduardo opened one of the flasks and doused the creature's face with the blessed liquid. It did not cause the reaction we had hoped.
The creature rose from its crate, dabbed the water from its face, and smashed the flask atop Eduardo's skull. With shards of glass embedded in his forehead and blood running down his face, Eduardo turned to me with a look of disbelief and horror. I raised one of the crosses directly into the creature's face, hoping it would reel back in fear. It laughed terribly, grabbed the crucifix, and snapped it in two. It then took the jagged end of the cross and thrust it into Eduardo's shoulder. He screamed in pain. I was near paralyzed with fright. It grabbed Eduardo, and before it came for me, I scurried out of the lair and ran back to the village, collapsing in an exhausted heap on my bed.
When I awoke the next morning, I nearly believed I had imagined the entire previous day. Then I heard a sound at my front door: a muffled, plaintive cry, as if coming from a wounded animal. When I opened my door, a large burlap sack sat on my doorstep. I pulled it into my home and cautiously opened it. Inside was Eduardo. He had been turned. All four of his limbs had also been severed at the joints. Eduardo looked into my eyes and, with his newly forming canines gnashing in his mouth, kept repeating the same phrase: "Matar a mí, por favor. Matar a mí."
I took the bag into my yard and let the sun turn him into dust. My family and I packed our belongings and left the country that same day, before the sun had set.
-Francisco, Baeza, Spain
To ascertain the validity of this misconception, IUCS* analysts conducted their own comprehensive study. It remains to this day one of the few research studies that involved an actual confined member of the vampire species (how the subject was obtained for the study still remains confidential). The research initiative was entitled "Project Deity."
Leaders representing various religious sects, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, were invited to confront the creature with whatever charms, amulets, and writings they believed would assist their efforts. No time limit was placed on the interaction, the only requirement being that no physical contact could be used as part of their interaction with the participant. The results of the project were, in the analysts' words, "tragic."
None of the representatives, regardless of origin of faith or artifact used, were successful in causing the slightest negative reaction in the participant. Worse still, two of the clergy renounced their faith entirely after extensive discourse with the subject; another assisted in the escape of the participant by sacrificing his own body to feed the subject, who regained the strength to neutralize the security personnel monitoring the session and successfully fled the research facility.
MISCONCEPTION #2: VAMPIRES ARE SHAPESHIFTERS
Another popular belief, reinforced by depictions in popular culture, is that vampires are able to alter their physical structure to mimic other nocturnal creatures—wolves, rodents, and, most notably, bats. Some also believe that the creature can morph into climatological apparitions such as mist, smoke, or fog. Neither is true. Were any of these the case, there would be nothing preventing such a creature from converting into one of these entities the moment its survival was in jeopardy. As you will learn during our discussion of anatomy, a vampire, while possessing a heightened set of physical characteristics, is still tethered by the limitations of the humanoid corporal form. This limitation is the creature's greatest weakness, and a critical factor in our ability to overcome this undead threat. Vampires are not able to change into other mammalian crea- tures, nor can they transform into vapor. They do, however, seem to possess some skill in manipulating the behaviors of these lower order creatures, which may have given rise to the rumor that the species is capable of mutating into these life-forms.
MISCONCEPTION #3: VAMPIRES CAN FLY
Another myth propagated by the species is that vampires, like the nocturnal mammals with which they are most frequently associated, can take flight or levitate at will. Despite the legend, no anatomical alteration occurs during the transformation of human into vampire that would enable the creature to glide, fly, or hover in the air, nor can they scuttle up the sides of sheer wall faces like arachnids. The only reasonable explanation why this is believed is that perhaps witnesses saw a vampire launch an attack on a victim by dropping down from an aerial position, or the creature's athleticism enabled it to leap across structures and obstacles that normal humans would have difficulty traversing, both providing the illusion of flight. Regardless of what you have heard or seen, vampires are unable to fly, even if wearing garments that would facilitate such an act.
MISCONCEPTION #4: VAMPIRES ARE SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO HUMANS
One of the most pervasive and insidious misconceptions of the vampire, second only to the idea that it is supernatural, is that it is a highly sexualized being, one capable of and interested in fornicating with the human species. Charming, sexy, erotic-these are common adjectives often used to describe the undead. The myth of the vampire as a titillating imp is as old as the creature itself, and with good reason. Through a deliberate and proactive crusade on the part of the species, this association has been allowed to develop in all forms of media. This disinformation has grown so accepted that there is a huge population of humans who lust after members of the species-precisely what this campaign of disinformation hoped to achieve. The truth of the matter is much different. Human beings engage in sexual intercourse with other humans for two reasons: pleasure or procreation. Let us address each of these directly when speaking in terms of the undead. In regard to pleasure, a vampire derives no physical satisfaction from copulating with a human victim. In fact, it is rumored that the genitalia of the vampire cease to function as they would in their human state, although this has not been corroborated by any certified laboratory examination. As far as procreation is concerned, although vampires are also capable of propagating their kind, they do so through very different means (see Misconception #5).
Some may wonder why creatures with such an effective ability to track and hunt prey would bother to vociferously promote such a misconception. Although the vampire's hunting prowess does enable it to secure victims with relative ease, there is always an inherent risk of injury every time the creature must feed. A simpler prospect is to have willing participants who offer no resistance in the hope of experiencing the intimacy they have been convinced exists. As you will read later in this work, this tactic has been used to great effectiveness by a specific sect within the vampire species. No hostility, no conflict, a simple and efficient meal. By embracing the myth of the provocative, sultry bloodsucker, many have played directly into the creatures' hands. As far as attraction to the human species is concerned, vampires are no more physically enticed to their prey than humans can be attracted to their evening meal.
MISCONCEPTION #5: VAMPIRE INFECTION IS INEVITABLE
As mentioned previously, the vampire's ability to propagate its species is markedly different from the method of procreation performed by Homo sapiens. The means by which these creatures multiply is via direct contact through their masticatory system, specifically the vampire bite. As a result, it is commonly believed that once a vampire has buried its fangs into your flesh, you will by default become a member of the undead, having been "infected" by its wound. While automatic conversion may be true for other types of undead creatures, it is not the case with the vampire.
The confusion surrounding the conversion process is largely a result of misinterpreting the transmission of the transforming agent itself. It was previously believed the bio- logical agent that turns a human being into the bloodthirsty undead operates similar to a pathogen or retrovirus, transferred at the moment of salivary contact between the vector, the carrier of the agent, and its victim. In actuality, the transmission is comparable to the mating practices of certain invertebrates, such as Turbellaria (flatworms), Strepsiptera (twisted-winged parasites), and Cimicidae, commonly known as bedbugs, which coincidentally also feed upon human blood. Creatures such as these impregnate by means of "traumatic insemination," whereby one partner causes a laceration on the other partner's torso and ejaculates into the open wound. Interestingly, this method of transmission among these invertebrates is not limited to male/female couples nor to members of the same species—similar to the vampire's method of conversion.
Through traumatic insemination, a vampire is able to deliberately infuse a victim with the bacterium that transforms human beings into members of the undead. Although the specific chemical matrix has not yet been isolated, research has determined that these compounds are released into the victim's bloodstream during the feeding session to launch this turning process.
The vampire's motivation for initiating the conversion sequence is entirely subjective. In other words, it is the creature that decides who will or will not become a member of its species, with the vast majority of victims not selected for conversion. The vampire's complete decision criteria for species selection is, as of this writing, unknown. The assessment may have to do with physical features, characteristics, or a specific skill set possessed by the human target. Outside of this hypothesized rationale, the judgment to convert a human victim is yet undetermined.
Hopefully you can take solace in the fact that should you suffer a vampire's bite in combat, you will not necessarily be doomed to an undead existence.
MISCONCEPTION #6: VAMPIRES ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE
Another common myth that exists concerning the vampire is that it is virtually impossible to defeat in battle, and exerting any type of defensive technique against an attacking succubus is an effort in futility. This is exactly what the species would like you to believe. It is easy to think that creatures with such a long and formidable, if not always accurate, history are completely invulnerable to any threat posed by a normal human opponent.
It is the case that vampires are resilient organisms boasting a wide array of physiological strengths. Many conventional methods of neutralizing a human opponent will not apply in undead combat, and to use them would certainly mean your defeat. There are, however, significant and available vulnerabilities that, once exploited, make surviving a confrontation with a vampire not only possible, but very likely depending on your level of knowledge and training. The knowledge follows in these pages. The training is in your hands.
MISCONCEPTION #7: VAMPIRES LOVE BEING UNDEAD
"Sleep All Day. Party All Night. Never Grow Old. Never Die." In eleven words, this tag line from a popular eighties film summarized the appealing elements humans associate with the undead lifestyle. As there is a great deal of accuracy in the slogan, what is so negative about being a vampire? The truth is, a considerable amount. Although there are many aspects that humans may find appealing to being a member of this particular species, the reality is far from the perception. While it is true that some vampires fully embrace their new existence and will actively recruit others to join their ranks, the majority of converted humans experience tremendous negativity and depression in their new, undead lives. Loss of familial ties, unrelenting bloodlust, and the lack of exposure to sunlight all contribute to a literal and figurative dark existence for these creatures. Upward of 20 percent of the worldwide vampire population commit self-annihilation on an annual basis, typically via exposure to ultraviolet light. It is the reason the overall vampire population, despite conversions continually taking place and the species as a whole never succumbing to human means of death, has remained constant for hundreds of years.
Having reviewed all the above misconceptions, it may come as a surprise to you that many of the vampire traits that you believed to be true, perhaps since childhood, are in fact false. How is it possible then that these myths are believed by such a large majority of the population? This is the very definition of disinformation—falsehoods that are intentionally spread with the purpose of confusing the general public, often to generate fear and insecurity. The species has been very effec- tive in orchestrating this campaign of confusion within the human populace. Let the deceptions end with this text.
The Vampire Combat Manual [Official Site]