Creatures of the Night

The Ratpire

by Elizabeth McCoy

She woke up in the clearing, with him standing over her. He smiled, the light of a fanatic in his eyes. "And now you will join our glorious revolution!" he declaimed.

It was best to humor insane kidnappers. She made herself smile back, nodded, said, "Yes, I'm delighted."

And then she was shrinking, twisting, turning into something strange.

With a horrified squeak, the sleek brown rat skittered into a nearby rat-hole, while the man laughed behind her.

While there are many kinds of vampire, most of them drink blood. Despite being undead -- no pulse, no need to breathe, and all the other usual signs -- the "Ratpire" does not. It's not entirely clear what he feasts upon, except perhaps the psychic anguish of his "brood." His undead nature is transferred to his victims not by a bite or exchange of bodily fluids, but by securing their consent (forced, lying, or genuine) and transforming them into rats.

The Ratpire is also, apparently, ravingly insane. He believes himself to be a Robin Hood figure at the best of times, a Scarlet Pimpernel figure other times, and a noble revolutionary the rest of the time. At least once a month -- and often nightly -- he gathers his rat-brood and gives "ringing, rousing" speeches. In truth, they are incoherent yammerings against the establishment or some powerful business of the moment, but most of his brood are so traumatized and afraid of the Ratpire that they react as he expects.

He rarely leads his brood against any given enemy. . . .

This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.

Article publication date: March 19, 2004

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