Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have Stake, Will Travel

The road is little more than a strip of mud and weeds winding its way through a deep, primeval Romanian forest. The wind and rain are lashing you as if determined to leech your life, and your cloak is already too sodden to provide protection. All you can see is darkness layered on darkness, and it brings to mind the folk tales you've heard every night since Prague. A chill ghosts up your spine, and then another as a low, mournful howl begins somewhere to your left—or is it your right? Your horse shies to the side of the road, under the fingerlike branches, and as you're guiding it back to the center of the track, you see movement along the trees on the other side of the road. In all honesty, you should think "wolf", but instead you're reminded again of the tales of the strigoi, the animated, bloodthirsty corpses said to haunt this country. Your heart pounding, you carefully reach into your saddlebag and draw out a stake…

What does this have to do with science, you ask? Absolutely nothing, unless you want to get into the medical conditions which may or may not have provoked the stories. But technology? Oh yes. There is technology.

See, if you were a wealthy person planning a trip through Eastern Europe in the mid-1800s, you'd be able to buy a vampire killing kit* before you left. Not only could you get stakes, Bibles, and crosses in the things, but (judging by the photos) guns, vials of liquids, syringes, scalpels, and knives were also available.** With your trusty box of supplies, there would be no way that a vampire could ever get one over on you. (Does it surprise you that a number of these were hoaxes and cons?)

There's a story there, or maybe several, ranging from The Kit That Worked Spectacularly to The Kit That, Um, Really Kind Of Didn't.

Go on. Write it. You know you want to.

* via io9
** Of course, if you were going to Italy instead, you just needed to pack a brick.

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