Setting: John, an aged English vampire caring for a group of vampire children speaks with Byron Shaw, a human psychologist who is aware of, and seeks to understand, vampire kind.

“But why, I dare ask, do they call them ‘The Unfortunates?” He asked.

The men passed solemnly through the front courtyard. From the window on the highest of the school floors, Byron could see the pale brown and white faces pressed to the windowpane. No breath fog heated the glass. Dark eyes stared out as if they had never seen a human man. Can they smell me from here? He wondered. Do I make them hunger?

“It is a name derived by circumstance,” John told him. “Their existence has been deemed unfortunate. Image it: to never age, to never develop, to always be under the care of another; an eternity of helplessness.”

Byron clutched his coat tighter. He rubbed his gloved palms to generate what heat he could in the chilled, snowy night. Candle-lit posts lit the sidewalk pathway. He saw how John did not shiver. The cold did not flush his face. The dead man could stand out in that snow for days, Byron knew, and never feel the ache of heavy bones, nor illness in his chest, nor grumbling need for food and water: No, Byron thought. This man had one need, and one need alone: to drink blood.

“Why would any vampire turn a child?” Byron asked.

“Our kind have tried to set laws against it, but we are not a lawful society and obey only in smaller groupings,” John said. “Think clans, perhaps a small village. Often I have seen a vampire parent change their child. Older siblings, a relative of some sort, when the child has fallen ill or dying. I have seen it in desperation: that need of a man, a woman, to have something to care for, knowing their body can no longer seed or birth a child itself. They may change a child so it can be immortal as they are, and immortally their own.”

John paused before he added, “And then, there are others.”

“Others?” Byron asked.

“The spiteful,” John said.

The men carried themselves past the front doorway of the school. Even the lower levels had faces cluttering windows and rustling curtains for a passing glass at him. Byron had thought they were the wonder here, and yet now he felt like the spectacle, odd and unnatural, on display.

“I have seen men turn children out of curiosity; for jest, for enjoyment,” John said.

“What insanity,” Byron said.

“Insanity, yes,” John said. “But reality. This is our world. I have been told a many time that I should release these children, that death would be a much easier fate. But it is not death many of them ask for. They wish to be understood, Mr. Shaw. I ask that you listen to them. Try to understand them. Many of them are twice your senior, and many older yet. You may find yourself surprised at what you see.”

Writer, poet, and photographer from Oklahoma. IG: @sixfeetrooted. Twitter: @cassiuscorbin.

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