Being The London Vampire
When Burton Mayers Books queried whether I could write a blog for the .com author page they were creating, I asked them what exactly they wanted me to blog about. After all, sharing my thoughts on the weather is a very British cliché and there are already several people who vehemently spout their mindless views on celebrity drivel and fashion fails, and I'm hardly reporting a new angle on tensions in the Middle East. In fact, I had to remind John and Richard that the book would be my only offering for the time being whilst projects and investigations developed elsewhere. But then they put it to me simply: just write about being me. Indeed, October’s Son was more revelatory about my past and less about me now, so I agreed to their request.
So, reader, welcome to my first blog post about being John Michaelson. The most common thing I get asked through my website, or on Twitter, is 'are you a real vampire?’ And whilst I usually ignore them for asking something that is quite explicit on my website - and written at the start of the book - I feel that I must answer it here . . . again. I do not see myself as mythical or monstrous in comparison to the vampiric stereotypes moulded in western ideology through our love of Slavic folklore; but on reflection, I must hold my hands up and apologise for catching so many people out, for my website was called The London Vampire, and the book has a sneaky sub title (publisher's idea) of The London Vampire Diaries, but this was purely for your benefit, to make sure you didn't get sucked in to all the fantasy and myth that pervades the web. I am not an overlord, I was simply like you, trying to survive and get by. And so I will share with you a snippet of my daily life.
Since my ordeal with Ed and Michael, I now physically act and behave like I did before infection. I rise at a sensible hour, eat well and spend my morning reading about the latest news developments across the world and regionally across London. Michael taught me how to look for signs of Ant activity through the types of events that affect certain people and organisations negatively, and should such a story crop up then I will investigate it further on that particular morning. And unless there is an event happening in town I need to prepare for, or I have an appointment to attend, I will start to come up with a plan of action for that day, week or month depending on the evidence presented.
There are days when I do not leave the house. I will exercise outside in the garden come rain or shine, drink tea like an Englishman and read articles or journals I find online or copies that I bring home from the British Library. I will also respond to emails from close allies and often sift through feeds through social media (if I get time). Then I eat lunch.
Okay, this sounds boring right? Well it's not, because I have an intrinsic motivation to get things done and to save innocent lives. My days are limited and if I am not actively following this routine then I fall behind – I learnt that the hard way. On a different note, people have asked me if I am actually an undercover policeman for the vice squad (one of my more interesting emails) because of my interest in raising awareness about human trafficking, especially in London. In many ways I wish I was, because I would have better resources and intelligence but I would have to operate within the law which, sadly for me, cannot work. Anyway, I am jumping ahead a little. Where was I? Ah yes, lunch.
In the afternoon I will prepare for the evening’s events and make sure that my camera is charged, my surveillance tech in order, blades clean, mobile charged, map learnt and faces/addresses memorised. Then I behave like an old man: I take an afternoon nap unless I am engaged in a meeting or engrossed in research.
By the evening I will eat and drink well before heading out into London. My route is similar each evening but never the same; I vary between train, tube, and bus, and sometimes a long, brisk walk depending on the weather. I usually head to one of the main hotspots in central London depending on whether I have received inside information about Ant activity, in which case I will travel to a fixed address or meeting point.
Assuming I have intelligence, I will stake out said location and make notes (sketches, pictures, timings, description). My knowledge of Central London has become quite extensive since my transformation, but is still far from perfect as the city is in a constant process of change. I often identify potential Ants and victims and either play the waiting game (good detective), make active investigation (behave like the amateur - which can get a bit frantic) or most commonly I get the police on the case (why make my life harder?) and keep an eye on what goes in and out. Afterwards I move on to the next hotspot (if there is one) and repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. But it's not always like that, there are times where I will visit the same spot or address night after night.
Assuming I don't have intelligence (that's not a joke), I will stake out one of the many hotspots; this includes: brothels, strip clubs, busy restaurants that employ high numbers of immigrants, and city parks and waterways. I sometimes take pictures but never blatantly; most of the time I am either in character or behaving like the opportunist. If I sense something untoward, I will intervene and deal with the situation there and then. Ant encounters are rare these days since the elimination of Ed and the removal of Veronica, but when they do happen they are bloody and messy. My job is made harder by the number of drug addicts, dealers and junior members of organised crime mobs (Chinese, Pakistani and Eastern European) which brings its own set of challenges – but more about them later. The days that I stake out busy hotspots tend to be the worst because you don’t know where the danger is going to come from.
In a typical week I may encounter several immigrants controlled by or being directed towards Ant colonies. I intervene where I can, and in some ways sanctioning their food and hunting chain makes them come out, and is a massive inconvenience to them and their kind. If there are large groups at danger then I tend to give a tip off to the police, but if there are one or two vulnerable immigrants (typically young women) then I will direct them away from danger, provide shelter, some money and then find them more comprehensive support*. There are a number of charities that offer support and guidance for those who have been trafficked but sadly too many of them do slip through the net and end up at feeding rooms across London. It's not a nice experience to see the aftermath of this.
In the early hours I will go home, usually combining night buses with an occasional sprint between stops. When I walk through my front door I pour myself a large glass of red wine and examine the photos taken from that evening; if it was a joint operation, I will look at everyone else's evidence also. I might make a few calls, reply to emails, or if it's a particularly quiet evening respond to social media - but that's quite rarity.
Then I go to bed and think about what the next day will bring.
And so that's my life in a day. Not quite the fang-induced, blood-frenzied orgy you might have hoped for, but it’s what I do. I guess I should elaborate on more of these ‘outings’, so keep a look out, I might just make some more videos.