Blood. To some it is a metaphor for health and life. To others – like us – it is the embodiment of health and life. It is that which keeps sanguine feeders well, stable and able to continue. But like most precious things, it is hard to come by. For the South African community of Vampyres, a regular and reliable source is of paramount importance – rare and to be treasured. For many though, at least at times, a human donor is just out of reach.
In more developed Vampyre Communities around the world, there are thriving communities of Vampyres consisting of both psychic and sanguine feeders. In these communities there are well developed social networks which allow for Vampyres and their donors (Swans) to hook up. For Psi vamps it is much simpler to find sources for what they need. Nobody can prove against a psychic Vampyre that they have fed off someone, least of all in a court of law. Not so for sangs. For sanguine feeders it is much more complicated.
In South Africa we are only now emerging from the dark loneliness of the solitary practitioner, and donors are a scarce commodity. For the solitary practitioner who feeds via sanguine means, the pickings are slim. There are the close friends, the lovers who might be brought into the picture and who may consent to provide us with what we need. For those of us who from time to time find ourselves without this luxury, when the need becomes demanding and the hunger threatens to topple us from that illusion of sanity and self-control, we are forced to look elsewhere.
Culture is an interesting phenomenon, and nowhere are the differences between cultures more apparent than in the varied diet of the Mundane world. In some places, blood is very much a part of the human diet. In Africa certain tribes will extract an amount of blood from a living cow, and drink it mixed with milk. In eastern Europe, animal blood is a regular feature in soups and other dishes. In much of Europe, black pudding and blood-sausage feature on the menu to tickle the Mundane pallet. In South Africa we have biltong, a raw meat which is spiced and dried and devoured by connoisseurs who just can’t get enough. In many of these places it is a usual thing for sanguines to approach a butchery, usually a small family business, to obtain a small quantity of blood on the pretext of cooking purposes. While this is quite workable, and while this half-dead animal blood will sustain a Vampyre almost as well as human blood, it is not as pleasant or effective – and in South Africa it is not always as easy as that.
Most butcher departments in the kind of store you will find in a mall for example – such as Checkers or Shoprite, will refuse point blank to supply anyone with off-cast blood from meat they package. Some will say that this is for health reasons – others because they harbor religious taboos about blood consumption. Regardless, today the small family butcher is virtually a thing of the past. Kosher or Halaal butcheries are something you might find in a predominantly ethnic neighborhood, and they might sell you some – or even give it to you if they like you – without asking too many questions.
But if you are out of luck in this department, where do you go?
After the satisfaction of the last feed, the hunger rises gradually in us – and when we are a few days past feeding time, it starts to put the bite on. We begin to experience the familiar unpleasant symptoms – anything from aches and pains, coughs and sinusitis – to forgetfulness and depression. Pretty soon we become desperate, looking for ways to solve this frustrating logistical problem – sometimes desperate enough to try anything. Anything?
In my quest to find others of my kind in South Africa, I have come in contact with vamps of all kinds – and with each of these solitaries comes their unique personal stories and their often ingenious solutions to this problem. One told me of how he grew up with the knowledge of his nature – and under the guidance of his grandfather, who was a kindred soul. Under his grandfather’s guidance, he took up fishing – learning to catch fish, gut them – and to drain the blood into a container and to consume it. Prana is prana, he told me.
According to him, his symptoms of ill feeding – among them anemia, vanished a short time after he began this. I’ve never tried fish blood, but I suppose he had a point. In my experience, the best kind of animal blood is cow blood. It doesn’t have the pungent odor of lamb, and carries less risk of disease than pig. Chicken is just plain fowl.
One other possible solution is to extend the metaphor of the fisherman to another common pastime such as hunting. After the kill, the trophy animal needs cleaning and skinning. As the meat has it’s uses, so too does the blood. It does not need to go to waste.
Another way to satisfy the hunger is to eat out and order a steak – rare or even “blue” – which is basically raw, just introduced to the grill for a microsecond. Some say it’s nought but a placebo, but if it’s fresh and still contains some blood, it can help. Another friend confided in me her habit of liquidizing a raw fresh steak and drinking it as a “blood shake”. She claimed it was quite tasty, but I have yet to try that.
Another solution is to approach an abattoir or slaughter house directly. This is not ideal, as these are usually a little out of the way, outside a city, and their schedules are flexible so you might not be able to get what you want or need when you need it. Unreliable is the best word I can use to describe this source. Most of the time they won’t charge you for blood because they discard it. Perhaps they may even give you a tour of their facility while you are there – and if you can handle the odd looks and guarded questions when you pay the office a visit to ask them to keep you a 500ml bottle of moo-negative once a week or two, go for it.
The less troublesome route is to go to the store and buy a pack of fresh (I stress this part – FRESH) meat, a few hours old. Pick one with lots of blood in the packaging. From experience I can tell you that internal organs like liver and kidneys contain more residual blood. Kidneys taste bad raw, but the blood is palatable if you soak it up from the packaging with little bits of bread, or your fingers – or you could suck the little bits off. Whole internal organs may deliver more if squeezed over a glass. Try to avoid liver if you can, it pongs and the blood is heavy with iron, but it will do in a pinch. Lamb’s liver blood tastes and smells practically feral. I find it disgusting – in fact, it makes moo-negative seem like a fine red wine by comparison – but it works. If that isn’t enough to make you gag, then you’re home free.
Being a Vampyre has its good days and its bad. Being occasionally stuck without a donor and having to resort to survival tactics like this should tell us something. Some might consider us demented or mentally ill for calling ourselves Vampyres and for living like this. Most typically it would be those who believe we do this for the lifestyle or because we “enjoy” drinking blood, never actually considering we might actually need it.
To me these experiences affirm my condition, that this need is real and that I am not crazy – but afflicted with something not yet fully understood by science and medicine. Conferring with others confirms to me that I am not unique in this regard – and better still, that I am not alone.