1, 511 words
By David Perlmutter
Candace, the teenage vampire, was asleep in her coffin. This was not unusual for girls her age, especially this early in the night, since many her age could easily sleep until well after that. However, Candace was, as I said, a vampire, albeit one only recently bitten, and therefore her hair (flaming red) and face had not yet become pale, blanched and dark like that of other vampires. And, as a newbie vampy, she still hadn’t adjusted to some of the requirements of the job- such as being awake at night and sleeping during the day.
Thus, when her alarm clock rang, she considered, with profane thoughts, simply destroying it to begin her day- or night- later than usual. But she couldn’t do that. She had an internal schedule she had to abide by, so she turned off the clock and, with a blue heart, headed off to begin her vampire night shift.
The internal schedule was something that had become doubly reinforced after she had become a vampire. Because, even before then, she had been afflicted with a disorder just as demanding and debilitating as vampirism: Asperger’s Syndrome.
In case you don’t know about this disorder, let me explain it briefly. Discovered by the German scientist for which it was named in the 1940s, but not fully identified until the 1970s, Asperger’s is a syndrome that is entirely mental, with few physical symptoms. While those afflicted with it are often mentally gifted and able to function with some success in society, they have certain flaws in their makeup that get them characterized as “eccentrics” and “freaks”, especially in social and physical warfare settings- like high school. They cannot understand jokes unless it is obvious that they are jokes, so humor with a more cerebral component to it is often beyond them. They become easily obsessed with little things, things the average “normal” person can do without thinking about for long periods (like forever), and feel estranged from the rest of the community for what they see as their inability to understand why those things are so important to them. Most of all, many of them have a great deal of fear about talking and even approaching others for fear of being ridiculed for displaying their “eccentricities”. As a consequence, many “aspies” are incorrectly labeled as “shy” or “anti-social”, and are isolated from their peers even more than before for that reason.
As a consequence of her Asperger’s, diagnosed at the age of six, Candace was not exactly the most sociable of people, and was certainly classifiable as an “eccentric” for her obsessions. Chief of these, now that a supposedly “friendly” boy had turned her into a vampire with a bite on the neck only a few weeks ago, was the one and only thing vampires happened to be obsessed with:
Jolted awake by the alarm, Candace got into her clothes in a mad rush of activity. She was asking herself a myriad number of questions at once, as is common among the more easily stressed out aspies. Naturally, they were things she and she alone was willing and able to obsess about in her condition:
Is my hair all right?
Are my clothes on straight?
Do I look UGLY?
Would anyone really care about me? EVER?
DOES anyone care about me? EVER?
Will I ever get a good job?
Will I ever own a good house?
Will anyone want to hire me for a good job? And pay me well for it?
Can I ever get my peers to like me? And what about the older people?
And last, but certainly not least:
Can I get somebody to let me suck their blood tonight? ANYONE?
This last question was a bit more of a concern for Candace, for she would be the first to admit that, through her lack of experience and other factors, she was totally incompetent at luring others to their doom the way vampires were supposed to do. She’d already brought shame and disgrace on herself by becoming a vamp in the first place! Was that not bad enough? Did she have to be the worst vampire in the history of vampires besides that?
“Focus, Candace!” she said as she saw her dressed self in the mirror, adopting the proper menacing vampire mask on her face, or, at least, what she imagined it was. “You can do this! What man, whatever his age, can resist a cutie like you? You just go out of here and down to the park and bag yourself a BOY! Then you’ll feel better!”
“I suppose so,” she said to herself out loud, reluctantly. “Nothing else to do here at night!” And so she walked, with the measured pace of a vampire and the impersonal mask of same on hers, down to the park to fetch herself some blood.
Happily, there were people hanging around the park, specifically boys, even at this late hour. Candace sighed with relief while maintaining her mask-like exterior. Now all she needed to do was find one.
Spotting a sizeable target, she zoomed in on him. For the kill.
“I want to suck your blood!” she purred in a Bela Lugosi accent to get his attention after forcing him to look at her by turning him around. He wasn’t buying it, though.
“TAKE OFF, bitch!” he shouted at her. “Ain’t got time for none of your mind games!”
“I’m not playing around here!” Candace warned him, or, at least, she tried to. “I really am a vampire! And I really need your blood! Give me some of your blood, please! PLEASE! I need it to LIVE!”
“You gonna die if you don’t back AWAY from me!” he said, hustling a switchblade out of his pocket to show her he meant business. She let him go, reluctantly and sadly.
Near a fountain, she found a whole parcel of boys lounging there. Surely, there would be enough blood in them to sustain her! Or would there be? Would any of them notice her enough to CARE about her and her predicament? She had to TRY, at least. And so she did.
“Hey, fellas,” she said flirtatiously. “Care to give up some BLOOD?”
They did-and said-nothing.
“You doofuses!” Candace retorted angrily to their indifference. “I’m a pretty girl– and a VAMPIRE, to boot! Don’t you even CARE about that? Can’t any of you give me blood?”
Silence. At least towards her.
“Look at me!” she finally commanded, in desperation. “LOOK AT ME, YOU ASSHOLES! Don’t you have any respect for a lady?” She began crying, tears running down her face and ruining her perfectly prepared makeup. “I need some blood here, and, if you don’t want to GIVE it to me, I’ll TAKE IT FROM YOU!”
“Shut up!” said a Mexican guy in the darkness, who threw dirt at her. “You bitches is all alike! You got charnel breath anyway- putrid STINK! You a VAMPIRE, man- we don’t hang with no vampires! You get outta here!”
He and his friends threw more dirt at Candace, and she ran away. Sobbing hard, she collapsed under a tree.
“What the hell’s the use?” she bawled. “I’m not a damn VAMPIRE! I can’t even get a single guy to give me his blood! I might as well eat garlic or drive a stake through my heart or something, ‘cause I can’t….”
“Pardon me, miss,” a new voice said. “Did you say you’re a vampire?” This new voice was accompanied by a silhouette of a boy about her age. A handsome boy, yet. Candace took notice.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m a vampire. Just been for a couple of weeks or so, though. What of it?”
“I’m a vampire, too,” he said. He proved it by stepping out of the shadows and into the moonlight, revealing blond haired, blue eyed good looks- and vampire fangs. “I got lots of experience at it, though. About two years worth. You think maybe I could help you out?”
“YES!” she said desperately. Then, checking herself, she added in a more subdued voice: “I mean: certainly you can.”
“You need blood,” he said, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. “Let’s get you to the blood bank.”
“Wait a minute!” she said. “You can get blood from a BANK now? I was trying to do it the hard way!”
“Boy! You don’t seem to know a lot about being a vampire, do you?”
“Well, like I said, I’ve only been one for a couple of weeks now!”
“I should definitely help you out, then.”
“Sure. Only let’s go somewhere isolated where we can talk.”
“Definitely the blood bank, then.”
As they walked off together, Candace decided that maybe she could handle being both an aspie and a vampire. As long as she kept her ducks in a row, anyway. But she had help for that now, and because of that, she felt more secure. It was the kind of security that only people with Asperger’s-unlike vampires-need.