The heart, a drummer to whose beat we are all forced to march. When the beat stops, so do we stop marching, well, stop everything really. The importance of the heart is demonstrated time and again in culture and history, often placed aloft upon a pedestal. With vampires, a stake of wood (or perhaps silver to your tastes), through the heart is capable of destroying our favourite immortals. The ancient Egyptians considered the heart to be the seat of one’s soul, and post-mortem, the organ would be placed in a canopic jar part of an ancient ritual in which the organ is weighed upon the scale of truth at the end. What if there was a creature which bonded with such a seemingly important organ; creating a symbiotic relationship with the organ’s owner, granting it gifts and abilities of a supernatural nature?
Despite the significant differences found within various types of vampires, three things have remained a common thread throughout the centuries, connecting these monstrous predators in an undeniable way: they all drink blood, they exist in a state of undeath, and they are nocturnal (at least they hunt nocturnally). That being understood, I suggest for you now, a new twist on the old myth, the vampire blood symbiote. Picture an organism that has been on this planet since vampire folklore first sprang into being, or perhaps even longer. It could have crash landed on an asteroid; perhaps it was a primordial life form that is reminiscent of an amoeba, or as old as the trilobite. The mystery of their origin could be as bleak, deep, or mysterious as any other vampire myth, so long as it is understood that somehow, some way, the vampiric symbiote managed to bond itself to a suitable host organism, theoretically, the first human it encountered. This first symbiotic bonding would have resulted in the first vampire. The exact method by which this process occurred lost in time and shrouded in the same cloud of wonder that obfuscates its origin.
Becoming one with the symbiote would immediately ingratiate the new vampire with a strange number of quirks and alterations necessary for the now single organism to exist and survive. It perhaps prevents the vampire from aging by feeding on the blood of its prey instead of that of its host, ensuring their mutual survival. When a new vampire is created, and the progenitor feeds the new host its blood, the symbiote might undergo a form of mitosis, in which it splits to replicate itself and create the next generation of blood suckers. As it requires blood to live and a heart to begin the metamorphosis into a full-fledged vampire, it therefore dwells within the heart of the host human, which explains why a stake puncturing it brings an end to its existence and possibly further explains other traditional weaknesses. Garlic, and its known effect on blood and blood pressure, might explain the vampire’s aversion to the substance. The symbiote is nocturnal; light destroys or tremendously weakens it, and the formerly human vessel now takes on this quality. In return, however, the symbiote would perhaps grant tremendous strength and super natural abilities to the host at night, to greater ensure its own survival.
When all of these theories are considered, the creation of a new kind of vampire, or simply, a variation on the old one, is not hard to imagine… and could breathe some new (un)life into a genre filled with clichés and retold stories. Often authors, game designers and film makers look for the one thing that will make their vampires stand out, this is merely one possibility.