This is a tale of vampiric propagation. We don’t want to sleep. We want to make you just like us. And we want to live forever.
In a hundred years, when most of what we know is gone and everyone we used to worry about is either dead or getting there, we’re going to look back at all this babylon and laugh. We’ll still be around. We won’t be a teenager-climbing-out-the-window kind of around or some vagrant-watching-you-from-the-porch-across-the-street kind of around. But we’ll be around nonetheless—like an ear worm, like the sock that’s been at large under the chaise lounge since before you moved in, like some colorless, odorless gas you might decide is there if you’d only take a moment to consider it.
But, of course, you don’t take a moment. You don’t consider. And, in the meantime, we’re still here, hovering up around your rafters, slipping down your hallways, drawing unflattering conclusions about the fish in your fish tank, promulgating cruel theories about the various states of your affairs. We’ve gone down through the night, through boredom, through obsession, like going down to the river to pray, and insomnia is the little god that answered. Insomnia has made us eternal.
Let’s be honest. Every vampire story is a story about love. And every story about love is a story about starvation. Privation. Domination. Lust. Hunger. Different kinds of rebellion. Violent symbiosis. A certain pervasive irony. We can admit this now that we’re eternal. We don’t have to prevaricate anymore. We don’t have to tidy up our emotions and sanitize them. Instead we can tell it true. It comes down to this: the less we sleep, the more we fall in love with the possibility that we are no longer human.
In 1965, Randy Gardner, age 17 and ostensibly healthy, stayed awake for 264 hours as part of a science fair project, simultaneously setting the world record for sleep deprivation and stupidity. We find such amateurism distasteful. The professional accepts insomnia as a lifelong commitment, as a calling, a cruel master, an over-soul that at all moments strives to make us less animal and more idea. Rather than depriving us of dreams (as most non-insomniacs believe), insomnia makes all life into a waking dream.
We find ourselves asking, did I actually say that? We hardly remember imprisoning Jonathan Harker, feeding on his blood to sustain our hideous undead existence. The Harkers of the world think we’re monsters. They know nothing. When Randy Gardner finally slipped into unconscious oblivion, we were still up, our firefly thoughts, our half-aware fugues, the open-eyed blackouts in which we wrote pages of rambling fiction on legal pads that went unremembered for weeks until we found them in a cabinet. The sudden memory of what we’d done made us cry.
No one said this vampire life would be easy. Still, you could be like us. Get obsessed. Get to work on a book. On three books. On three books and four scripts. Get a job. Get some coffee. Realize you don’t need caffeine to stay up. Your brain chemistry alone will punish you into perpetual wakefulness. And witches’ sabbats under the moon. And the sad beauty of the night. And the slow dissolution of who you think you are into who you will always be: while good society is asleep and all the world is quiet like the dead—that thing on the balcony staring wistfully at an unchanging sky.