Thursday, October 18, 2012

"The Few for the Many"

Author's note: Here's a short story from my collection LETTING THE DEMONS OUT that deals with the sacrifices people have to make, whether they want to or not, in the face of a widespread threat against humankind...

Testing, one, two, three…

Testing…

Is this thing on?

Oh, okay, there we go...

Hello. I’d like to welcome everybody who came out tonight. And what a turnout it is! Good thing we held this meeting down here at the Convention Center. Looks like it’s standing room only out there. As well it should be, considering the magnitude of the crisis faced by each and every one of us.

I stand before you as your mayor, as your publicly elected official in these troubled times. Believe me when I tell you that we will soon be forced to make some hard decisions, that I have, in fact, already made a few. I feel it is your right to know what those decisions are and the seriousness of our current situation. So I guess I’ll just get down to business.

We’re all here for one reason and one reason only.

Vampires.

That’s right, the awful bloodsuckers are practically overrunning the city. Why, every night when you turn on the news there’s a report of another attack. Usually more than one. People drained of blood, left dead in the streets. It’s an ugly situation, no doubt about it.

Yes, I know, there have been plenty of rumors circulating concerning these “creatures of darkness.” First of all, I’d like to dispel some of those rumors. The vampires are not space aliens. They are not demons from Hell. Nor are they a recent phenomenon brought about by some man-made virus.

The truth is that the vampires have been around a long time according to the experts I’ve talked with. Nearly as long as the human race has. It is now believed that they are a product of evolution, much as we or any other lifeform on this planet are. That they are, in fact, the result of a random mutation among an isolated tribe of human beings which occurred many thousands of years ago, which then adapted to its surroundings and flourished. They are extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light, their one major weakness. This is why they shun daylight, are only seen at night. They are very strong, very fast, and very long lived. And they find sustenance in the blood that runs through each and every being who calls him-or-herself human. We now knowas recent events have made painfully obvious—that much of the vampire myth which has been passed down throughout history is no myth at all. The vampires are real. They have been here for many centuries. And throughout that time we have been their prey.

I know what you’re thinking: Why wait until now to make their presence known? Why, if they’ve hidden so effectively from us for so long, would they now choose to make themselves so glaringly visible? Suddenly, over the past few months, it seems they are everywhere. Why do they now roam the streets with such reckless abandon, attacking anyone they please?

Well, the answer to all those questions is the same and it is a simple one: Because now they can.

You see, vampires are by nature a fiercely independent race. The only time they normally come together is to breed. And when a child is born he is left to fend for himself shortly after he learns to walk. Many of these vampire children perish from hunger or are killed. The ones that make it are strong, though, are prepared to survive the many human lifetimes ahead of them. Simple Darwinism. The strong flourish, the weak… You get the picture.

Just over a hundred years ago there was one, a leader, a messiah, who came along and decided to change things. He traveled the world seeking out others of his kind, telling them that things could not continue as they had. He was sick of hiding, living in fear of the humans who killed his kind at every opportunity, who took full advantage of the strength of their numbers. What if the vampires increased their numbers? It would then be easy, according to this messiah, to dominate the physically inferior human race. The vampires would inherit the Earth.

So they changed their ways, ignored their instincts. They came together and formed families. They prospered and multiplied. With modern cosmetics it was all too easy to pass themselves off as human, to blend in among us without fear of detection or persecution until the time was right. Now they are many. And they have no more reason to hide. The vampires have come forth to claim their place in the world. War is imminent. A war that, even should we emerge victorious, could very well prove to be the end of civilization as we know it.

Quiet, now! Quiet!...

This is not simply my opinion. This is the word coming down from the highest branches of government, from the President himself! The vampires are fierce, vicious creatures, incredibly resilient. Their ability to withstand pain and trauma is… well… inhuman. And they are united. The spate of recent attacks perpetrated upon our fellow citizens is just a taste—no pun intended—of things to come. The vampires have been playing with us, giving us a demonstration of their capabilities. If we choose to fight them the casualties will be immense, possibly catastrophic. We may see the beginning of a new dark age or, God forbid, the enslavement of the human race.

I can see the disbelief in your faces. I know how you feel. It took a while for me to accept the truth too. But trust me, I would not have called this meeting, would not be up here on this stage if the situation was not dire. Something must be done. Something drastic.
A sacrifice has to be made.

Those of you near the exit doors will notice that they are now closed. Don’t bother trying to open them, they are barred from the outside. As are any windows. These rows of men standing to either side of me are well armed. Believe me when I tell you that anyone attempting to climb onto this stage will be shot.

Quiet! I said quiet down!!...

We had to make a deal. Understand? In exchange for our cooperation and a steady supply of blood, the vampires have agreed to spare the city. At least for a while. Their leaders say that they do not wish to rush headlong into war. We have decided to take them at their word. At the very least we hope to buy enough time to plan our next course of action. We have been told that a few thousand donors will satisfy them.

Any minute now you will smell a medicinal odor in the air. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous. Just a little something pumped in through the building’s ventilation system that will give you a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. You will wake in a place—I would tell you where if I knew but I am not privy to that information—in which you will more than likely spend the rest of your lives, hooked up to an IV through which your blood will be slowly drained. Drugs have been developed that will help you rapidly regenerate your lost fluids. We need you to be strong. The longer you live the more time you buy us. Your blood will keep the vampires satiated which will in turn keep our city safe, will hopefully prevent the loss of countless lives.

What we have here is a simple matter of the sacrifice of the few for the many. You are all martyrs for the highest of causes and you will be remembered, I assure you.

I assume that many of you are wondering why I am telling you all this. Because I am your elected official and as such feel that you, as American citizens, have a right to know the truth. As many of you who voted for me can well attest to, this has always been a steadfast belief of mine.

One last thing. None of you must give up hope! If there is any way that we can bring all of this to an end in our favor then we will do everything within our power to do so. You may one day be rescued! And, do not fear, you have my personal guarantee that your loved ones will be well provided for...

Alright. I’ve been informed that they are ready to disperse the gas. Apparently there will be no time for questions. I’ve told you all that I can anyway. If I say any more they’d probably hand me over to the vampires.

Now I really must be going.

And so I will now say goodbye, and from the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you for your sacrifice.

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