In the early 2000’s a yellow-paged book came into my possession. “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike slipped itself over the backseat of a traveling bus. I retrieved the soft cover novel and started reading about a five-thousand year old vampire, called Sita. In a matter of days the story came to an end. I passed the book back over the seat and waited for the next one to come through.
Jackie, my dealer, supplied the novels to several people in class. A small group that used the books as inspiration for their own novels. We traded composition books full of vampires that lived in Egypt during a time before pharaohs, similar to Sita’s background. She lived in India where an evil spirit inhabited her dead friend and started the vampire lineage.
My version mirrored this heritage as the protagonist summons a spirit to revive her dead friend. This started the lineage of vampires to encroach the human world but without the promise of eternal life. A vampire would live the expected lifespan of a human but with superhuman powers, like telekinesis. I gave these stories to friends that gave them back with confused looks.
“If they don’t live forever then how are they still alive?” they asked, flipping to the front page of my story. I saw that it began in modern day times with the same character that lived a thousand years ago. Somehow this plot-hole never occurred to me. I needed to revise the story.
I changed my vampires to infinite creatures of the night in exchange for their telekinesis. This allowed my protagonist to flourish with also a goal in mind. She needed to keep her life eternal while recovering her superpowers. I found something new and interesting about the story that kept me writing and reading stories.
Christopher Pike continued to inspire me as his characters often dealt with deadly matters. In the “Chain Letter” series, a group of friends submitted themselves to a mysterious contract that forced them to commit embarrassing acts in exchange for the send’s silence. This deal stretched over the length of three novels. I finished the last one in my dad’s car while on the way to high school.
At this point all my friends found different clicks of people to engage with. I ventured into the art department where I found the terror of commitment. Turning in a disfigured still-life embarrassed me more than an incomplete one. I turned in sketches of men with only half a face or two-legged elephants. Although earning a passing-grade they left me feeling ashamed of my inability to complete things, similar to Pike’s characters.
The unknown meant the unwillingness to find out the mysteries ahead. I needed to charge ahead through the gray between contoured lines and blank paper. I needed to stop fear with perseverance. This allotted my imagination to find a balance between the real and the unreal as projects completed themselves. Because the thing about art is that it only exists as it is made.
I still struggle with the ability to sometimes follow a professor’s instructions to finish a story. Sometimes my projects amount to nothing except fine detail and little character growth. These things matter little and a lot. Art needs time to grow , and I’m willing to make more deals with myself and others, in order to see that happen. After all, writers need readers as much as I want the next vampire installment from Christopher Pike.