June 16, 2010 – Vampire Physiology 102

(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post.)

While reproductive hormones are turned off, adrenaline is turned way up.  That is what makes vampires so strong and fast.  Whereas a human has to be in a certain sort of stressful situation to make maximum use of adrenaline, vampires have immediate access to it anytime they exert themselves.  

The other thing that’s turned off is the digestive tract.  While the stomach can absorb blood which is ingested, that is all it can do.  Any food or other liquids which are consumed are regurgitated fairly quickly.  When a vampire drinks human blood, and it is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is quickly and efficiently broken down into useable parts—like thieves stripping down a car.  This is how vampires get water, vitamins, calories (energy), etc.  

My vampires have a heartbeat and they breathe, albeit it very slowly.  They do not sweat, nor produce body oils.  They have a lower than normal body temperature and are not as affected by cold or heat as humans are.  These “symptoms,” coupled with the non-functioning digestive tract, are actually very similar to those of animals in hibernation.  Lower body temperature, inactive digestive tract, and slowed heart rate and respiration are all common in hibernating animals because it helps conserve energy—kind of like turning down the heater at night when you go to bed under a nice warm blanket.  Because vampires get all of their energy from other people, it’s best if they use it as efficiently as possible. 

Vampires are taught, when they are young, that it is always best to drink from an artery.  Arteries contain blood which is taking oxygen and nutrients through the body; veins contain blood which is going back into the trunk of the body to pick up more stuff.  While vampires can live on blood from veins, they can develop some health problems if they do it very long term.  In short, they can develop vitamin deficiencies. 

Vampires can also develop deficiencies if they take blood from an animal.  While blood from an animal will do in a pinch, it cannot sustain a vampire’s health for any length of time (and actually, among my vampires, there is a religious proscription against drinking the blood of an animal; ironically, it’s thought to be un-kosher).  Deficiencies can also occur if they are taking blood from a person who has a deficiency already, and that is one of the reasons why they avoid taking blood from people who are sick, if they can help it (the other reason they avoid it is they don’t want to further weaken a person who is already unwell).

While vampires can’t catch diseases from other people (vampires have an immune system which is super lethal to anything foreign), they can be affected by things in a human’s bloodstream—namely alcohol or drugs.  If a vampire wants to get drunk, he or she merely has to drink blood from someone who is drunk, because alcohol is contained in the blood.  This gets into the vampire’s blood and makes him or her drunk.  Unfortunately for a vampire, though, it takes their body 2-3 days to break down the alcohol so that it no longer has any effect, which is why most vampires avoid getting themselves drunk.  Vampires can smoke, but the effect is similar, with nicotine or cannabis staying in the blood for a much longer period of time.  Again, most vampires do not want to be buzzed for that long.  Also, vampires have an increased sense of smell, and the smell of smoke is usually enough to turn them off before they get started.   

Vampires’ saliva contains a healing agent, which promotes rapid healing.  In fact, it’s so rapid, that it’s hard for a vampire to feed from anywhere other than a major artery.  The blood in arteries is under a lot of pressure, and it takes a while for a puncture wound in an artery to close back up, which allows them enough time to get what they need.  But it also creates something of a built-in safety switch: a normal-sized wound will close up on its own before most humans can bleed to death (this is especially true if the human is kept standing; taking from a prone position is considered more dangerous because humans can bleed out if left that way, and underage vampires are not allowed to feed in that position, except in emergencies). 

When vampires are done feeding, they lick the wound once or twice.  This not only removes any blood on the skin, but it will stop most bleeding immediately and further healing.  In fact, to not do that is considered ban manners; kind of like eating and not using a napkin.  Their saliva also contains a numbing agent, similar to that which is found in leeches.  It doesn’t keep a bite from being painful, but it does help after the fact, keeping the wound area from being sore afterwards. 

The last trait which vampires have, but which cannot be explained readily by medical science, is their mental abilities.  They have the ability to control people’s minds, in much the same way that a hypnotist can get people to impersonate chickens or ballerinas through suggestion.  They can also read human’s emotions without trying and read their minds with a little effort.  Some vampires—depending on their relationship to one another—can speak to one another through telepathy, and vampires can do that with humans as well, if they have tasted their blood. 

The reason why the tasting of blood—human or vampire—is so important to a vampire’s mental powers is because concentration is vital.  A vampire can take over any human’s mind by making eye contact.  It’s not that the eyes are hypnotic, but rather that two people can’t look each other in the eyes and not have their full attention on the other person.  When a human looks a vampire in the eyes, it opens them up immediately to the hypnotic suggestion, because their attention is completely on the vampire.  Some older vampires, who are very, very experienced, can take over someone’s mind without first making eye contact, but it’s very difficult and requires a great deal of effort.  A vampire must have his or her complete attention on the other person, and if they allow their own mind to wander just a little, it will not work.

Tasting someone’s blood makes everything easier.  All vampires have photographic memory, and once they taste someone’s blood, they never forget that taste for as long as they live.  This aids the vampire’s ability to concentrate, because they can perfectly recall the taste of blood, and this remembrance, like eye contact, creates perfect concentration.  With perfect concentration, telepathy can take place.

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2 comments on “June 16, 2010 – Vampire Physiology 102

  1. Julia Scott says:

    I like that you’ve thought out the physiology of your vampires so completely — if takes your book to an almost sf level. Especially like the part about the DNA. Clever.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Thanks. Wait until I start explaining the the vampire langugage. I briefly touched on it in an earlier posts, but I only covered the three most commonly-used words; I have grammar, syntax, rules–the whole nine yards. The dictionary is still rather small, because I don’t really invent more words than I have to, but it’s pretty sensible, I think.

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