Bloodsucking Freaks

Bloodsucking Freaks
Contemporary Immortality

Adam Gauntlett | 15 Feb 2011 12:49
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Now look at the G-Man again. Yes, he seems normal. His behavior's off, and you wonder whether he'd bleed if you scratched him, but he'd pass for a human. He never ages, though, no matter how many years go by. He can reach into your life and stop it dead. He can rearrange space and time if it pleases him, and though he never says it, it's heavily implied that he gets off on other people's pain. Oh, he might suggest it's all on a for-profit basis, but what do you think he gets paid in? Dollars? Gold bars? Just what is in that suitcase of his, anyway?

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As for "the blood is the life," he gets plenty of that. Oceans of the stuff. He can rely on you to supply it. He sends you in precisely because he knows you'll kill on command, and you cut through scores of bodies, many of them human.

The only thing he isn't is an overt sexual threat. That said, he does drag you away from Alyx in the final scenes of Half-Life 2, just at the moment when Gordon probably most wants to rush to her side.

He fulfils the psychological horror criteria. He even has the sense to do as Dracula did, and not hog the limelight. He's more effective as a character precisely because he doesn't pop up every ten minutes to remind you he exists.

Of course, the flip side to this is that there are plenty of non-frightening vampires in gaming. If anything they go for revulsion, that quick-and-dirty scare that comes with gallons of gore and probably a sharp upswing on the musical score. Flash a fang, strike a pose, and then back they go to the dressing room for a smoke and a coffee, waiting patiently for their next appearance on stage. They exist to be defeated. They provide a brief challenge, and that's it.

Meanwhile the Count and his brethren sit off in the shadows, awaiting their moment. Whether a rag, a bone, and a hank of hair or a rotten corruption that walks like a man; vinegar-soaked intestines dangling from a head or a suave aristocrat who never, ever drinks wine. They can afford to be patient. So long as we remain human, we're their prey.

They have all the time in the world.

Adam Gauntlett lives in sunny Bermuda, and is chained to a keyboard. He contributes The Bookshelf to Yog Radio, and has written for Chaosium, Pagan Publishing, Miskatonic River, and Pelgrane Press. When the stars come right, he'll be ready.

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