I lived in Seoul for a couple of years. I lived in a house that looked like a modern-ish take on the Addams Family mansion. It’s the house in the picture.

As a westerner in the bustling streets of the city, I felt almost invisible. It wasn’t that people would bump into me or rudely barge past but they didn’t seem to notice me; they didn’t make eye contact. They didn’t see me; the gaijin. The white ghost.

And that made me wonder whether a vampyre fleeing the pandemic in Europe might move to Seoul in the hope of being gifted with invisibility; left free to walk unwatched.

Around these thoughts I wove a story.

I understand your fear of the virus. I myself was infected but not by Covid-19, indeed, not by a respiratory virus at all but by a blood-borne infection and that, a very long time ago but its affects have been life changing.

I drank the blood of my maker. I infected myself of my own volition. We exchanged blood even as we exchanged lives. The contagion affected different people in different ways. The majority who were infected, I later discovered, died. For others the virus made them weak and susceptible to the influence of others. On rare occasion the virus altered its new host in quite remarkable ways and that is what happened in my case.

I became a vampyre.

The cellular clock that tells my body to grow old and eventually die has been stopped. The number of fast-twitch muscle fibers I have compared to slow-twitch fibers has changed; I am quicker and stronger. I need to fuel these changes with a rich source of energy. I need a transfusion of plasma and red and white cells. I need to drink blood. But surely it’s not right that I am defined by my food, is it? Is that how you see me and my brothers and sisters, like un-dead vegans continually obsessed with our dietary fads?

From VISCERA, a collection of imaginative short fiction published by Climbing Tree Books