In this interview, a vampire named “Anubis” describes his initiation into the world of necro-romance,
and the day his mentor crossed the line.
remember as a boy going to funeral homes with my father. I was five, and
my job was to hand him the tools he needed to repair things before he asked
for them. I prided myself on my ability to anticipate his needs, but it
wasn’t long before I would wander off into the casket rooms, running my
fingers against the linings. I used to imagine how it would feel to sleep in
there I always wanted to try it out.
After visiting the staff and charming my way into their hearts, I’d
slip into the prep room to see Frank. He would let me watch him embalm, even
asking for instruments, like my dad. I learned a lot about the business,
about the arteries and veins and how to access them. I loved the sights,
the sounds, even the smells of the prep room. I remember the first time I
saw the rich flow of dark, almost black blood creeping down the shiny,
stainless steel table. Watching the blood of a dead girl ease towards the
sink drain and disappear was the saddest and most beautiful
thing I had ever seen. I wanted to taste it because I thought that if I could sip a little before it was all gone I could save her memory.
Frank encouraged me to learn all that I could about everything in life.
He was patient with me, answering all of my questions no matter how
complex. Dad had told him that I was intelligent and he could discuss
anything with me that he thought I could handle. I was afraid to ask Frank
if I could taste that girl’s blood. I thought he wouldn’t understand my
belief in its power, so I didn’t ask him.
In another funeral home, there was a guy named Don. He was more in tune
with the the blood force. I was older by now, eight or nine, and I asked if
he would let me taste the blood of a teenage male we were working on at the
time. Don said it would be dangerous to taste microbial blood, so he
sterilized some for me in a beaker and said I could taste all I wanted. He
warned me that I probably shouldn’t tell anyone because people wouldn’t
understand the natural curiosity. He said something like: “It’s not wrong to
be curious and to want to understand everything. It’s just that in our world
there are things that are supposed to be right and wrong and people think
that everyone should stick to those things.” He was very open-minded.
Everyone at the funeral home liked me. I was thrilled to have adults
encouraging my intellect, stimulating my curiosities. I felt grown up. When
I could read, I scoured journals of dying prisoners and embalming procedure
manuals, medical books and nursing books; I read theology journals and spent
all of my free time in cemeteries and funeral homes.
There were other funeral directors. People who really loved their work and
who wanted me to join them in their enthusiasm for it. I’ll tell you about
John. He was a fanatic. Once, he actually met the very person he was going
to embalm. Her name was Laurie. She was only twenty-four, very beautiful. I
was twenty at the time. John arranged her appointment for a time when he
knew the other directors would be busy: he wanted her all to himself. Laurie
had an advanced case of leukemia. Two weeks before, she had been fine,
laughing and playing tennis with her boyfriend. She had just won her match
when she fainted, falling face forward into the grass court. She was rushed
to a hospital and the diagnosis came quickly. Her case was rare and too
advanced for any reasonable therapy, so she came to us. “I went right from
the doctor’s office to my grandma’s house to inquire what funeral home
handled papa’s arrangements,” she said, her eyes nervously darting between
John and me. John shot me a look. I knew what it meant.
John was a real pro. His performances with the clients were legendary, but he
reminded me of the Grinch. John’s lips curled up with delight at the thought
of Laurie’s helpless, naked body lying flat against the cold steel of his
embalming table. He already knew what I was only beginning to understand
dead men tell no tales. Neither do dead girls.
John sealed the arrangements with the customary handshake and escorted
Laurie to the car. He played the sensitive gentleman, opening her door and
gently closing it. She opened her window and thanked him for his kindness.
John patted her arm in mock consolation. All the while he was transferring
these mental images to the holding tank in his brain. He would use these
I arrived late the night Laurie’s body came in. Mostly, I cleaned up the
place, you know, a little vacuuming, dusting and emptying of the trash. I
had to inspect all the doors and windows for security, then go to the Ready
Room. The Ready Room is where all removals are stored upon arrival. This
room is marked by brilliant white tiled floors and walls, stainless steel
tables and instruments, and lots of shelved bottles filled with red, blue
and brown chemicals. There were glass bottles and jars of specimens: toes,
intestines, a nipple or two. John was working late. My job was to sterilize
the instruments he used in embalming procedures, so I went in and started
working. He looked up at me and appeared startled at my presence, but then
he told me he was glad I was there.
John scared me. He taught me some basics of embalming procedure, explaining
every possibility in painful detail. In the beginning, I thought it was
normal for an embalmer to palpate cold flesh, searching vaginal and anal
cavities for abnormalities that could obstruct arterial flow. He noted the
importance of assessing each body to eradicate impediments to the
centrifuge. After doing my own research, it became clear to me that, while
John was an exceptional craftsman, he was taking unauthorized luxuries with
the dead. At first, I thought his indiscretions were an aberration, a fluke
restricted to a select few professionals. I was wrong. I later discovered
that John’s erotic desecration was shared with an elite club of
That night John directed my attention to the tabled remains. Rules of
conduct require that sheets completely cover all arrivals. His hands
caressed the body through the sheet, predicting difficulties with
preservation before even glimpsing the flesh. Then he yanked the sheet down
dramatically, revealing the raw materials for his work-of-art: Laurie.
Her body was ashen gray. There were a variety of black and blue marks
dispersed over the surface of her swollen form. Her facial tissue was
unusually clear with only a couple of depressions. Her eyes were open, a
stunt coordinated by John to enhance his dramatic unveiling. (The eyes of
the deceased are typically closed by the time they reach a funeral home, a
fact unknown to me then.) John had planned for me to be present at Laurie’s
debut. He had already initiated the preparation of her remains and had been
waiting for me to come in.
As I watched, he ran his fingers around her blue lips, giving special
attention to the area just below her nostrils. He stroked her arm and gazed
into her empty eyes. I backed away but watched closely as John spooled his
“life-pictures” of Laurie onto his hard drive, reenacting the moments
between them two weeks earlier. Although I felt guilty, I took a seat in the
corner to watch.
John leaned down and pressed his lips against Laurie’s cold flesh. His kiss
was passionate, suggestive of some response. I surmised that this
interactive play was imaginary, but set in John’s head so vividly that his
body was behaving as though Laurie were really alive, as though she were
kissing him back. He spoke to her softly, nibbling her blue ear lobes and
smiling. He fondled her breasts and ran his hands across her belly, while
his fingers slid in and out of her navel. He became increasingly aroused,
removing his shoes, then his clothing. When fully naked, he leapt upon the
table and straddled the corpse, with feet and hands ceremoniously placed on
her thighs and shoulders. He was like a mosquito positioning itself for the
insertion of its stinger, psychically linking himself with Laurie’s spirit.
John was trying to pass some of his own energy into her cold body, a stab at
jump-starting his lifeless lover.
After a few moments of this silent ceremony, he lowered himself into Laurie
and began moving his sweaty body against her cold frame. I was appalled.
Never had I imagined that any man could be turned on enough to do this. But
here it was right in front of me.
John was adept at keeping himself balanced on the precarious embalming
table. As he slammed into this lifeless body I began to feel
horrible about watching them. I felt sorry for Laurie, to see her remains so
desecrated. John’s orgasm was violent, a blast from his groin into this dry,
non-responsive receptacle. He then dismounted, kissing her sweetly, and said
He turned to me, drenched in sweat, and said, “Well, what did we learn
This was excerpted from Katherine Ramsland’s
tonight?” Too stunned to reply, I swallowed hard and shrugged. After calmly
dressing, John walked over and whispered in my ear, “We learned that there
is so much more to be learned.”
Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today.