Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!
Dear Dr. Eldritch,
I want to study whether vampires are subject to evolutionary pressure, but I need your help!
I've been trying to find an original topic for my doctoral thesis in genomic biology, but you know how hard that is! All the good ideas have been taken for sure, and it's not like I can just sprout a potato in a dark closet, like I did for my sixth-grade Science Fair, and then write about it. I've been looking for months and months, but it wasn't until I was watching "Bloodlines of the Vampire," last Saturday's late-night Monster Madness Movie (it's local, but you should watch it, it's very good) that I figured out what I should do! Vampire evolution!
I talked to my thesis advisor about it. He was really skeptical at first, but now he's saying it might not be so bad. We wrote up the protocols, and I'm thinking it will work. We'll set up similar populations of vampire and non-vampire test subjects. The control group will be left alone, and several other groups will be exposed to... well, I probably shouldn't say what we'll do, in case some other grad student is looking for their thesis idea, if you know what I mean.
Which leads me to my questions. First, what critters should I test with? I was thinking of mice, because they're mammals, but my advisor is pressuring me to use fruit flies, what with their shorter lifecycles and all. Whichever way I go, I need a "Vampire Zero" to get the ball rolling; how do I make a vampire? It's not like I can order "Vampire Starter" from the scientific-supply catalog (I checked). A vampire has to bite them, right? So how do I get a vampire to bite a gosh-darned mouse or fruit fly?
Please let me know as soon as possible, the fate of my degree rests with you.
-- Gary Mendelson, University of the Upper Midwest
p.s. - Do mosquitoes that bite vampires become vampire mosquitoes? Couldn't they spread vampirism that way? Maybe I can use this instead...
Like so many of the people who write to me, especially those with a science background, you're asking the wrong question. You should be wondering "Is this anything but A VERY BAD IDEA?" Seriously, what are you thinking? Oh sure, you SAY you can contain your tiny vampires so they'll only feed on their helpless mortal companions, but we all know what will happen, don't we? Scientific experiments tend to go horribly wrong, and when they involve the undead... I shudder to think of how awful it could be. Imagine legions of blood-seeking rodents overwhelming an unsuspecting city at night! Do you want to be known as "The Guy Who Started the Plague of Vampire Rats?"
Fortunately, it takes more than a bite to make another vampire. It doesn't just happen accidentally. (That's why mosquitoes don't become undead, by the way.) You do need an existing bloodsucker to get you going, but I advise against seeking one out. I imagine a scenario where you ask a vampire to turn your test subject. The vamp might agree, but only as a means of luring you somewhere private where you can be bitten and drained of blood. And it's well within the Undead sense of humor to also turn you into one of them! Ha, ha! Funny joke, right? The only upside would be that you'd then be able to start your vampiric lab rats yourself. However, I doubt that you'd have much interest in your thesis at that point; a vampire on a college campus isn't going to roam the dorms looking for educational opportunities, if you know what I mean.
Don't feel bad, something good did come of your letter. I got plenty of amusement from the image of vampire mice dyeing their hair black, wearing little Goth outfits and nonchalantly lounging about in hopes that someone will notice how glamorous and disaffected they look. The fruit flies would probably do that too, but I doubt they can get tiny cigarettes.
I recommend something safer, like investigating the levels of mutation in peas when exposed to violent video games. Perhaps you could even try growing vampire potatoes in a dark closet, but it's best to not mix Science and the Undead. The unsuspecting world will be grateful!
Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!
-- Dr. Eldritch