A creature that lives off the blood of man and other mammals, which can leap one hundred times it's own height, and is largely invisible? Well, that's an accurate description of a flea, but could there be actual humanoid parasites such as vampires roaming the world today? Parasites are found everywhere in nature, and there is no such thing as a truly independent organism, for in all ecosystems, every life-form, from the micro-organism to the largest mammal interacts and lives off another life-form in a diverse range of ways. There are two areas which concern our study of vampires, parasitism and symbiosis. Symbiosis is a sort of close relationship between two organisms of a different species, where both members benefit from the association; for example a bee feeding off a flower's nectar carries pollen from one flower to the next, thus pollinating the plants. Bats, incidentally, pollinate flowers that smell of garlic, rotting vegetation or fungus. The other area concerning our analysis of the vampire is parasitism, where one species – the parasite – lives in or on another species, termed the host. A vampire, sinking its pointed canines into a host and sucking out the blood, would be technically termed an endoparasite, as it derives its sustenance from the inside of its host, unlike an ectoparasite, which feeds off the surface of its victim.
How does a vampire come into being? A vampire traditionally has four possible ways of coming into existence: The genesis of the first type is when an evil spirit enters a corpse before rigor mortis has set in, and once it is established in the cerebellum of the apparently neurologically-inactive brain, the malevolent spirit takes over the corpse through gradual reanimation. If the corpse has been buried – which is unlikely to happen before the onset of rigor mortis – the possessed body will claw its way from the grave after smashing through the coffin until it comes within a few feet of the surface. The vampire will then claw away earth, clay and plant roots until it creates a small breathing hole, usually about the size of a rat hole. The vampire then listens until the coast is clear, and under nightfall, leaves its grave for good. The vampire then goes in search of a host on which to sustain itself. This type of vampire, the somatic variety, is said to be deficient in erythrocytes (red blood cells), leucocytes (white blood cells) and lymphocytes to maintain a souped-up immune system. Red blood cells in a healthy human die at a rate of 200 billion a day, but the body produces new red blood cells at an average rate of 9,000 million an hour. In the vampire, this rate is much slower, and the vampiric somatic being needs to constantly seek new blood to replenish the daily loss of blood cells. Because hormones such as oestrogen are transported from glands into the bloodstream, the vampire can, over a length of time, become androgynous. The somatic vampire may be able to retrieve information from the memory cortex of the brain it has possessed, enabling it to impersonate the dead person in order to befriend people who knew the deceased person when he or she was alive, and thus place itself in a position to attack them.
The second type of vampire can come about when the soul of a dead person is so evil and wicked, it cannot be allowed onto the Astral Planes, and is prevented from transmigrating or passing over to the afterlife. Instead, the soul becomes trapped in its decaying body and returns to life in the guise of a vampire, which then has to sustain itself by bloodsucking in much the same way as the aforementioned somatic vampire that is possessed.
The third type of vampire is said to come into being when a human is bitten by a vampire. A complex virus- a degenerate form of life - is transferred into the host's bloodstream, and eventually the infectious particle of nucleic acid neutralises the antiviral defence protein interferon. The virus then transforms firstly the brain, and then the blood, over the course of a fortnight. The victim becomes lethargic by day and hyperactive at dusk. The infected person has an increased sex drive, will hunger for red meat, and ultimately – blood. The stamina increases, as well as strength, and sight and hearing become as sensitive as that of a feline. Like the previous two types of vampire, the new vampire can attain life-spans of centuries as long as it obtains new blood regularly.
The fourth type of vampire is the most mysterious, and possibly the oldest. This is the vampire of the life-force. In this case the vampire can be solid or phantom-like and ethereal, and it will draw sustenance from siphoning off 'prana' – life force energy – from its host, typically leaving the victim drained and run-down with symptoms of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) – a mysterious debilitating condition also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
I remember taking calls at BBC Radio Merseyside after a programme I’d broadcast on vampires, and I talked to about a dozen callers who claimed they had been bitten in the neck during the night, and had awakened with bloodstained pillows and bedclothes. A majority of these people lived close to one another off Earle Road, and I visited a few of these ‘victims’ and found them all apparently sane enough. I took photographs of the neck wounds for my own records and could not see any evidence of self-harm. These night-bites continued for thirteen weeks and then ceased as mysteriously as they had started. Around that time, there was a strange rumour about a vampire named “Manilu” being on the prowl in the area around Lodge Lane. People claimed to have actually seen him, and described him as a bald-headed man with a pale, foreign-looking face, dressed in black. A student named Penny possibly bumped into this alarming figure one wintry evening in February 1999 as she was returning to her flat on Hartington Road, Toxteth, at 9.50pm. Penny was taking her keys from her coat pocket when an abnormally tall man, at least six-feet five inches in height, suddenly appeared out of nowhere and barred her way. He was bald, and his eyes were black and full of menace. Penny felt numb with fear, and then suddenly discovered she couldn't move. The stranger maintained eye contact for what felt like ten minutes, and during that time Penny could not feel the glacial February cold, and experienced strange rhythmic sensations of warmth that coursed from her head to her thighs and back. The stranger then leaned forward and down, and his nose nuzzled the left side of Penny's neck, from below the ear to her collar bone. She also felt the man's lips caress her throat. After that, Penny found herself on the doorstep of her flat with her keys on the top step, and the man was nowhere to be seen. Penny later suffered excruciating pain in the left side of her neck, and subsequently visited a doctor who told her a lymph gland was swollen at the site of the pain. Penny then had a series of dreams about the sinister stranger, and they were always erotic ones. Penny never told anyone about the weird man who had probably put her in some hypnotic trance, and yet when the young woman's friend Emma stayed over at Penny's flat, she experienced two dreams in which a tall bald-headed man with dark staring made love to her. Penny made a sketch of the man she had encountered on Hartington Road, and when Emma saw it she was deeply shocked yet intrigued, because it was the face of the same man who haunted her dreams.
In 1997 a 67-year-old woman told me how she had been walking along Hartington Road with her Jack Russell dog Simon one summer evening at 10pm when a weird-looking man picked up the dog with both hands and sunk his teeth into it. The dog yelped and almost died from blood loss. That same week in 1997, the same man, who matched the aforementioned description of Manilu, was seen prowling Toxteth Park Cemetery on Smithdown Road. A heroin-user who often injected in the cemetery during twilight, saw a tall bald “ghoul” creeping among the gravestones, muttering to himself in a foreign language. A gang of children were roaming the cemetery several nights later when the tall peculiar stranger chased them, and allegedly grabbed one young lad by his ankle and threw him perilously high into the air as if he was a doll. On another occasion the heroin addict was spotted by the graveyard prowler, but he did nothing, as if he realised the drug user was not a threat, and simply walked off into the darkness. The reports of Manilu date back at least to the 1940s, and may simply be urban legends, but I feel there is much more to him than that. I'll be writing more about my research in Manilu on this site in future.
Copyright Tom Slemen 2010. All rights reserved