Vampires are so old. Fresh blood is needed

Halloween is Sunday, Oct. 31, which gives us the perfect opportunity to dream not only about monsters and candy, but about a meeting.

A meeting that goes something like this.

Publishing/Moviemaking Honcho: (addressing a room full of Creative Types) Hey, folks, thanks for coming today. I hope you’re all comfortable. There are Danish and bagels in the back — writers don’t mind carbs, am I right?

Anyway, Halloween’s in two days, so it seems like the perfect time to talk about something that’s been on my mind: vampires. Specifically, enough already. They shine or they don’t. They can go out in the daytime or they can’t. They live in Louisiana or Virginia or Washington or France. They’re mean or they’re nice. They want to kill you or they don’t. They want sex or they want crazy orangutan sex. Or they just want to watch you sleep. Whatever.

I mean, I’ve made a ton of money off vampires, so I’m not complaining about that, necessarily, but a) I’m kind of over them and b) they can’t last forever — and I’ve got the wooden stake to prove it!

Creative Types: (polite laughter).

Honcho: Anyhoodle, what I want from you all today is the Next Big Supernatural Being. When vampires are just some dusty Dracula memory in our blink-and-it’s-gone attention spans [to assistant: Write that down. That’s a good line.], what’s going to replace them? What team will people join? What’s going to fuel daydreams? What’s going to look good shirtless? What will inspire the fan fiction? What will make us lots and lots of money? I need your ideas, folks!

Creative Type: (raises hand).

Honcho: Yes, you, Creative Type.

Creative Type: Kraken.

Honcho: Kraken.

Creative Type: Yes. Kraken.

Honcho: Isn’t that, like, a giant squid?

Creative Type: Well, I mean, sorta. But we’re talking Norse mythology here! And you know that Tennyson poem: “Below the thunders of the upper deep;/Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,/ His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep/The Kraken sleepeth…”

Honcho: (crickets chirping).

Creative Type: So, what I’m thinking is this: A melancholy kraken, the lone pacifist in a family of killers, longs to see what life is like on shore. He (or she) meets up with a sea witch who, in exchange for his/her soul, grants the kraken human form and…

Honcho: Let me guess: There’s a helpful, singing crab involved.

Creative Type: Whatever. I’m out. I’ve got novels to write. (Creative Type huffs out.)

Honcho: OK! Anyone else?

Other Creative Type: I’m thinking selkies.

Honcho: What are those?

Other Creative Type: They’re seals that can take off their skin and become human. They’re all over Irish and Scottish mythology. And the stories are usually super depressing. Teenage girls will love it.

Honcho: Explain.

Other Creative Type: Well, I’ve actually got two chapters written already. Here, I’ll read some:

“At that moment, I was absolutely sure of three things: 1. Walter always smelled like fish and was really good at playing horns with his nose; 2. If it meant leaving my family and taking up permanent residence at that underwater hotel, I think it’s in Key West, just so I could be near him, I’d do it because I love him so much; and 3. I just wish he’d wear a bathing suit under his clothes if he’s going to rip them off and run into the surf. I had a hard time explaining it to those cops on Catalina that time.”

Honcho: You might be onto something there. Keep writing! Anyone else?

Different Creative Type: How about skin walkers?

Honcho: I don’t know, man. I’d prefer to keep it on the righteous side of NC-17, though there’s always HBO, I guess…

Different Creative Type: No, I’m talking about the Native American legend. You know, a fearsome being (formerly human) that commits a terrible act and becomes a creature that can transform into an animal. They’re straight-up killers. And they’re the reason I can’t drive through Shiprock alone at night anymore. This one time…

Honcho: (interrupting) So, what are you thinking?

Different Creative Type: (with haunted look) I’m thinking a skin walker who commits a terrible act, yes, but doesn’t lose all conscience. He (or she) maintains a spark of humanity, and thus guilt, and devotes the rest of his/her eternal, doomed existence to fighting crime. There also might be some in-fighting with other skin walkers and stuff. And they’re all really good-looking.

Honcho: It sounds like “Angel.”

Different Creative Type: Do you think we could get David Boreanz?

Honcho: Moving on!

Another Creative Type: (waving hand eagerly) Ooh! Ooh! Cerberus! The three-headed hound who guards the gates of Hades!

Honcho: OK…

Another Creative Type: This one’s for the younger market. I’m seeing a modern-day Lassie kind of thing, say, or “Beautiful Joe” without the depressing ending. It’s a kid and his (or her) three-headed, immortal dog, and they solve mysteries, but the dog’s heads can’t get along. Like, one’s the sassy, ethnic side-kick and another one’s the moody brooder and the third one’s normal and grounded. One head’s all, “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout?” and the other’s like, “I’d cut myself if I had opposable thumbs” and then the normal one’s all, “Guys! Let’s just find out who stole the diamonds and help Johnny out of the well, ‘K?”

Honcho: That has possibilities.

Other Creative Type: (snorts)

Another Creative Type: You got a problem, seal boy?

Other Creative Type: Um, yeah I do. If we’re going Greek mythology, then $50 says a Minotaur could take your Cerberus with one horn tied behind its back.

Honcho: Minotaurs could be good.

Yet Another Creative Type: How about Cthulu?

Honcho: Didn’t H.P. Lovecraft pretty much say everything there is to say about Cthulu? And Metallica?

Yet Another Creative Type: (bitterly) Oh, so now it’s not OK to milk the same cow ‘til it’s practically dead? Since when?

Honcho: We at least have to make a great pretense of originality.

Yet Another Creative Type: Whatever.

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: I’m really feeling kelpies.

Honcho: (sighs) Why do I get the feeling we’re heading back to weird mythological territory?

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: Celtic this time! See, kelpies are water horses who traditionally lead people to water so they’d drown, but I’m thinking a reverse kelpie!

Honcho: I can’t even begin to imagine what you mean by that.

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: I mean a kelpie who leads people away from water. Like, if someone’s lost at sea, or their boat capsizes, or they jump off the high dive even though they’re not ready but their mean “friends” goaded them into it, along comes a kelpie! Or, we could expand it to include, like, fire water, say. So, if someone’s drinking too much, the kelpie leads him/her from the bar.

Honcho: Is the kelpie always a horse, or does it turn human? Because it might be a little weird to have a horse swimming out in the middle of the Atlantic to rescue some fishermen. Or serving as a sponsor.

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: Maybe it could fly, too.

Honcho: Like Pegasus.

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: Yes! Awesome!

Honcho: I just think it if turned human — or human-like — at some point, we might get a little more interest. You know, we could have kissing scenes and stuff.

Creative Type Who Likes Horses: (not listening, positioning several plastic horses in a scene of bucolic repose on the tabletop).

Slightly More Sane Creative Type: You know, I see potential in yetis.

Honcho: Abominable snowmen?

Slightly More Sane Creative Type: That’s the stereotype. But what if it was really a secret race of super-beings who live high in the Himalayas and only wear these hairy costumes (or maybe they’re genetically modified and burst out the hair suit when they’re angry?)  to scare away mountain climbers and Sherpas, on account of they have some really important… secrets.

Honcho: Like what?

Slightly More Sane Creative Type: The meaning of life, maybe? Or contact with other worlds? Details. The point is, they’re all really good-looking, but some of them harbor some megalomaniacal tendencies that threaten to destroy the close-knit community, and another one of them falls in love with a mountain climber he/she spies one day and leads him/her into their secret community. That alone is good for three seasons, and I’m talking 22 episodes per.

Honcho: I like it.

Creative Type Who Just Went on Vacation to Israel: Well, then, how about replacing yetis with golem? Lower overhead without all that fake snow, and you can film on location in Burbank.

Honcho: I like that, too.

Mandarin-Speaking Creative Type: How about yeren?

Homer-Reading Creative Type: How about cyclops?

Egyptian Creative Type: Don’t forget sphinxes!

(Cacophony of shouts from various Creative Types: Bigfoot! Wild Man of Borneo! Angha! Gyuki!)

Honcho: Maybe I’m not so tired of vampires after all.


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