Writing Prompt #30 — The Vampiric Origins of the Black Plague

Prompt: After vampires are discovered and start explaining additional details of history, they reveal the true story of the bubonic plague.

“Sit here? Very well then,” he said, placing himself on a stool near the table. The chandelier hanging above blanketed the room in a soft, warm glow. The walls creaked under the weight of the downpour, and the wind howled against the window

“So you want me to explain how, what you humans considered, the Black Death was caused? That’s a dark period in our life, not for the obvious reasons, but because a fool of a vampire caused it all. It brought shame to just about every Night Walker from the shores of Ireland to the mountains of Colorado.” He sighed, pushing back his silvery hair away from his eyes, tucking them behind his ear.

“It’s not accepted to feed on sick things, especially not animals who’re ill. It hasn’t yet been explained scientifically, but from hundreds of years of experience and retelling the old tale, we — vampires, Night Walkers, the Undead — accept it as truth.

“Somewhere in Europe in 1328 there was a vampire named Matthieu — he must have been French with a name like that — who stalked the streets of some town — there’s holes in the story, if you couldn’t already tell. It’s been over six-hundred years, so that’s bound to happen — one night and came upon a herd of rats in an alley. Large ones with large, sharp teeth and grimy, grubby paws and slimy fur. The streets of this unknown town must have been empty, for he attacked these creatures, devouring one after another until he came to last one, lying in the center of the herd. The rat was sick with something, no one knows what, but in spite of this, Matthieu bit into it like a ripe fruit.

“Instead of being torn a part like the others, this peculiar rat took to the venom injected from Matthieu’s fags — we all have this venom, it’s why those who’re bitten hardly fight back. It’s a numbing substance. — and started acting wildly. Matthieu backed away from the creature and watched as it came back to life. Its beady eyes became a dull garnet, its fur had gone gray, and the tiny teeth had sharpened into fangs.

“Before Matthieu realized what he had done, the creature had taken off down the alley and disappeared into the fog drifting in from the sea. He was a fool for not chasing after it,” he sighed, “but nonetheless, he turned away, apparently satisfied with meal, and returned to the streets.

“It was a week later, walking the same street, creeping through the same alleys, that he realized the rats he saw amongst the garbage and sewers were odd. Though their appearance hadn’t changed, their demeanor had. There was intelligence in their eyes, the way they followed him as he passed, the clacking of teeth against each other. If it wasn’t for the fog, he might have noticed each one had bite marks near their necks, coagulated with blackened blood. The passing of the substance from our venom into the sick rat, then after it had — what’s a good word? — malformed, and passed again into a healthy creature must have created the disease that you call the Black Death.

“After a while, Matthieu moved from one town to another, then another, but in each place he noticed that the rats were all the same, then soon came to realize that he must have started the queerness entirely that one, dreadful night. Then, in 1320, the Black Death came upon Europe like the hand of the Devil, wiping out villages, towns, even cities. No matter how high the stone walls the people built, no matter how much they fortified their kingdom, it came upon them and devoured them whole.

“The stories of Matthieu are no longer told after 1321. Some say he died from the disease — though that’s unlikely, for diseases that affect humans do not affect our kind —, and others say he was killed by a stake to the heart. I, personally, believe that he found himself one night in a dark alley, rummaging around in the trash for something to eat, when the same rat he affected all those years ago appeared out of the gloom, and it fed upon him, like he did it.”

Read my previous prompt, “Incredible Man and the Eldritch Villain.”

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