The Freshie Gospel According to (Mick) St

The Freshie Gospel According to (Mick) St. John

(or, How I Fell Off the Wagon, and Onto a Pile of Freshies)

So you want to know everything about freshies? Wow. I may not be the right person to ask. I've got a friend who could tell you a lot more. If you could talk him into it. But I'll tell you what I know.

I just thought that my life—my relationships—were complicated. Then I got stupid. I got caught in the desert. I was thirsty. I was delirious. As Beth has pointed out to me, forcefully, I was dying. So against my better judgment, I bit her. I drank her blood, and what I thought was complicated—I didn't even know complicated.

Putting aside the whole question of my relationship with Beth—blood started being a hot topic with me again. For a long time--decades, in fact—I'd stuck to the bottled stuff. Blood taken with a needle from some anonymous do-gooder, or drained from a corpse in the morgue. Sure, it'll keep you undead, but it's not exactly what anyone would call fine dining.

My friend Josef kept warning me that sooner or later my inner vampire would surface and make demands. He's 400 years old, and he didn't get there by being stupid. Turns out he was right about this, too. I didn't realize it that terrible afternoon in the desert, but once I tasted Beth, once I'd had living blood, freely given, there was no going back.

Josef talks about the reality of fang on flesh, but there's more to it than that. The bite is one thing—that indescribable feeling of your teeth piercing the skin, sliding toward the veins—but it's nothing compared to what follows. Taking living blood engages all your senses. The taste of it, the smell. To a vampire's eyes, there is no color so beautiful as the red of fresh blood on a background of human skin. The sound of a racing heart, knowing that each beat is literally pushing the blood into your mouth, and the silken feel of it on your lips, your tongue…

Blood is sustaining, sure, however it's acquired. But taken from a living source, the immediacy of it provides more than nourishment, it gives a comfort that is difficult to explain.

And yes, some of that can be obtained by the vamp equivalent of rape instead of seduction. Some vamps get hooked on taking their blood by force, just like some humans do with sex. Personally, I always find that something about taking it that way—maybe it's the adrenaline—gives the blood a bad taste.

So anyway, after the desert—and forgive me, Beth, for ever lying to you, but yeah, it was a huge deal, bigger than you can possibly imagine—I found myself with a problem. The bottled and bagged stuff I'd been getting by on started tasting like, well, nothing. Like cardboard, or the way people have told me institutional food tastes to humans. Keeps you alive, but only just. Force was out, too. Among other things, picture all of L.A.'s resident vamp population—several hundred of us—out attacking mortals every night. That wouldn't only be impractical, it'd be suicidal. Multiply that by every major city in the world, and—well, you get the picture.

So what's the solution? What we vamps call willing freshies. From what Josef tells me, there have always been a certain number of humans who are eager to find out what its like to be on the receiving end of a vampire's bite. I'm not a psychologist, and I'm not sure I completely understand the motivation. The only time as a human that I was bitten, it was without my consent, and while it's a little hazy at this remove, I don't recall taking any pleasure in it. Looking back, it seems to me that Coraline was nervous that night, and hurried, and sloppy.

But as I said, some people enjoy it. Some even become addicted. Either way, freshies serve a purpose. They feed us, and we take some blood bank blood, or work out a deal with morgues and mortuaries for what would otherwise be discarded, and most mortals never have to know we exist outside of books and movies and television.

It's a deal that works for everyone. Win…win.