For LIS 7560: Vampires, Wizards and Superheroes with Professor Walster.
This story has been amended and expanded: An American Vampire in Europe
It’s complicated. Not my relationship status, but rather how I became a vampire. My story starts with my work as the lead researcher and curator at a prestigious American museum on the east coast. America was still recovering from the Depression which meant less people coming through our doors. With money being scarce, acquisitions slowed and I hadn’t an overseas adventure in some time. Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed caring for the museum’s artifacts and documents, but I would much rather be working on a foreign acquisition project tucked away in some far-off corner of the world.
It came as a complete surprise when a military official stepped into my office on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. A caller like this might make others feel faint, but I didn’t have any family serving overseas. What could he possibly want? After several moments, the purpose of his visit was quite clear: an obscure branch of the Army needed a specialist to help identify and rescue artifacts stolen by the Nazis in Germany and other occupied countries. My expertise was being solicited and didn’t I just say that I was keen on an adventure? Needless to say, within the week, my trunks were packed and I was soon abroad the USS Chateau Thierry en route to a stopover in Africa.
The ship was full of interesting characters and I soon found myself a perch in which I could comfortably read while taking in my surroundings. It wasn’t long and I soon noticed an intriguing and incredibly handsome gentleman who looked to be doing the very same thing. He would sit for hours reading and barely move – sometimes it looked as though he never blinked. At dinner, the next evening, the mysterious gentleman interrupted my solitary yet literary meal (I was reading Pride and Prejudice – my comfort read) by sitting directly across from me.
Through his thick German accent, I learned that he, Faramund Braun, immigrated to the States in 1933 shortly after the Deutsche Studentenschaft’s disgusting book burnings in Berlin and the Nazi’s ruling on what they deemed to be entartete Kunst – degenerate art, in our native tongue. By the end of the entrancing conversation, which lasted well beyond the few last stragglers left the mess deck, I was freshly acquainted with my partner for this artifact hunting expedition. I must admit that I was perturbed that he interrupted my meal, but I found his company to be strangely comforting. Upon turning in for the night, in my cramped quarters, I found myself pondering my next visit with Faramund.
Docking in Eritrea is the next time I saw Faramund – he looked tired with dark circles under his eyes. Rumors on the ship circulated that he wasn’t sleeping, but was found pacing the corridors or scribbling notes into what looked to be a leather-bound journal. When I boarded the ship that would take us to France, I looked for him in hopes that we could make plans for dinner together again. Unfortunately, we did not cross paths until two days out from France and when I did set eyes upon him, I couldn’t look away. For lack of a better description, he closely resembled Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but far more handsome with an angular face and the bluest of eyes. He both looked well-rested and groomed. The odd part was: he couldn’t look away, either.
The next few weeks and months were filled with adventures accompanying an elite group of soldiers. Faramund and I would enter the scene on the tail-end of the raids and scour the compounds for stolen artifacts while the soldiers secured enemy intelligence in hopes of ending the war. It was all brilliant. One night after celebrating the recovery of a long sought-after artifact and much too many schnapps, my life abruptly changed when I fell down a dark stairway in the newly captured grounds – a prominent home of a high-ranking Nazi officer. I must admit, my memory of the event is quite fuzzy, but I recall waking to a sense of peace with Faramund at my bedside looking relieved.
At first, I thought that I had died and must be in heaven because of his presence and my keen senses. I remember smelling freshly turned soil, the window was open, and I could see the blooms of das Edelweiß dancing in the Bavarian breeze – without my glasses. Surveying my body, which I thought would be sore and bruised, I found only a small but deep wound on my neck. Curious as the wound was, I was pleasantly surprised it did not hurt or look to be infected. After my well-wishers left the room, Faramund, without even batting an eyelash, proceeded to catch me up to speed.
Apparently, I hit my head quite hard and as with wounds to the head there was much blood. I was carried to my room and an Army nurse tended to me for the next few hours but was called away to care for wounded soldiers returning from the latest raid. It was then that Faramund laid something on me that felt like a ton of bricks to my curiously buoyant body: he was a vampire and he saved me. In all actuality, he killed me, but I save that line for when he comes home late. I told you that my story was complicated. Even more complicated is how we survived those years in a war zone without being discovered.
I might have looked exactly the same (5’10” with dark brown hair and green eyes), except slightly paler than the museum had previously rendered me, but my senses were hyper-sensitive and my reflexes like those of a jungle cat. In fact, just a few years ago, author Stephenie Meyer penned a book called Twilight that shed some light on our kind except, thankfully, we do not sparkle. Faramund, like the Cullen clan, deemed himself a “vegetarian” and would feed upon wildlife consisting primarily of deer and elk which made the transformation process for me much easier considering that my first few weeks were in the Bavarian Alps. However, that soon changed when Faramund enlightened me about a second, extremely covert mission, that he was commissioned for – hunting Nazis. As a vampire, the idea of hunting humans slightly repulsed me; however, putting into perspective the atrocities committed by the Nazis, I felt our mission was ethical.