Recognize Fascism, edited by Crystal M. Huff

Book Cover for The Death of All Things

The Death of All Things, edited by Laura Anne Gilman and Kat Richardson


Climbing Lightly Through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by R. B. Lemberg and Lisa M. Bradley

“Drain on Society” and Disability

My short story, “Drain on Society”, will be appearing in the We Cryptids anthology that releases this autumn and I wanted to say a few things about it.

First of all, this story would not exist without the influence of original World of Darkness writer Bruce Baugh. Their take on the effects of vampirism in the WoD are heavily influenced by disability, and we had a wonderful conversation on Twitter about it a while back that went into the deep stew in my brain. They talked about how much time and effort a WoD vampire spends on just maintaining unlife, how much orbits around seeing basic needs for food and security met.

When I saw the call for We Cryptids, with its comments about how marginalized people often see themselves in the monsters and the creatures that exist around the edges of folklore, I eventually settled on writing about a vampire.

Because one of the things that people with various disabilities have to deal with routinely is being told that our existence is a drain on society, that we take up more than our fair share of resources, that we demand too much of others. And that’s the sort of thing that’s easy to allegorize into an actual, literal vampire.

A vampire like my character Pat.

I gave Pat my symptoms.

In me, those symptoms are of a couple of different things, but they add up rather nicely to a plausible vampirism: the light sensitivity, the off-kilter sleep cycle, the way my brain shuts down if I don’t get enough rare red meat, weird food sensitivities, the fatigue, the sensory issues, the cognitive dysfunction and brain fog.

What’s it like being a vampire who takes pills instead of risking being a ‘drain on society’ by actually biting people?

Pat’s symptoms (medicated) are my symptoms (unmedicated).

And then I threw in a bit of the cultural rhetoric about strong painkillers and attached it to blood feeding, just to add a cherry on top.

“Drain on Society” is the story of a cranky vampire finding someone who is willing to laugh at their vampire jokes and even make some back, and maybe learning that their existence isn’t, intrinsically, a drag on everyone around them.

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