Human Again begins with some irrelevancies that might come to fruition some time in the future. In particular there is the ‘magic door’ and its companion, the Chinese Cabinet. How these might be used in a story I still haven’t worked out a year later, but they might, yet.
The mirror that takes a piece of the person who looks into it was inspired by an artefact in a TV episode of the animation Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness that I happened to see one afternoon at somebody else’s house. In the cartoon, the mirror split Po, the Panda Dragon Master into two – a ‘Bad Po’ – a hard, ruthless tyrant and a ‘Good Po’ a fat, food loving adopted son of a noodle-chef goose. Ultimately the ‘good’, weaker side wins, of course, since that is the nature of the cartoon world.
The split personality is a storyline in itself that might be used some time, but for now back to the two-part story focussing on Darius. The mirror gives him back his humanity. He can breathe, he can feel pain, he can tire, he can bleed, but he can also go out in daylight and be with his daughter.
So is being Human again a blessing or a curse for Darius? The jury is still out by the time I close part one of the two parter. The truth will out in part two.
Part two begins with two bodies, victims of a vampire attack. Do they have ANYTHING to do with what happened to Darius? Well, of course they do. It is obvious, I suppose that the next person to look into the mirror is going to get HIS vampirism, and that was one of the muggers who stole the mirror from him. Quite why anyone would be so desperate as to steal the contents of a second-hand carrier bag it is probably best not to ask.
Obviously, there is going to be a sting in the tail. Every character who has lived beyond his natural time has trouble of some sort. Rapid aging is most usual. It happened to Oisin and the Children of Lir in Irish legend, to Dorian Gray, to Mel Gibson’s character in Forever Young, to name a few examples. Even Highlander has regrets in the sequel films, though they are a bit vaguer than that.
So Darius’s mortality is going to be brief. He either goes back to being a vampire or he dies. This means that the search for the vampire mugger isn’t the main point of the story. Lady Moira’s people do that in the background while Darius’s relationship with Shona and Gabrielle gets the focus. I don’t think anyone is surprised to learn that Shona loves her blood-sucking Lithuanian, even when he is merely a man.
Of course, I could have done that another way. I could have had her disappointed with the all too vulnerable mortal version of Darius and want the Vampire back. The soap opera version of events would then see her regretting that she had seen that side of him, and the relationship being tainted and slowly falling apart even after he returns to being unDead. But I really couldn’t be bothered with that kind of dragged out relationship issue. I would rather just leave them alone to be happy in their own peculiar way.
Many readers were amused and intrigued, and a few slightly repulsed by the inclusion of details of an ex-vampire having to go to the toilet. It was meant to be amusing and thought-provoking – of course, a vampire doesn’t normally need to defecate. Blood is a wholly digestible food. Mortality brings with it complications like that. As for being disgusted, well, the details weren’t THAT graphic. Those people need to clean up their own minds. Meanwhile I would point to the Torchwood story ‘Dead Man Walking’ in which the unDead Owen has to stand on his head and line up his oesophagus with his stomach in order to get rid of the alcohol he had drunk without realising he no longer had a working digestive system for a really gross image. I would also refer to both Austin Powers and Demolition Man for examples of people who have been in cryogenic sleep who need to evacuate their bodies afterwards. This detail of the story is in the same vein.
Two more locations in Glasgow are given prominence in this story. North Kelvinside is identified as the place where Shona lives. It is an area of mixed fortunes, with tenements and 1960s concrete developments as well as some good Georgian and Victorian architecture. It is a realistic place for somebody like Shona to live.
Pollokshaws Road, by the old St. Andrews Print Works is a more specific location. It is between the Torchwood HQ on Jamaica Street and Queen’s Gardens, the home of Lady Moira, matriarch of the Vampire community. With a large derelict and unused building and a lot of empty land it is exactly the sort of place where muggers might strike on a dark evening in winter. That was the main reason for choosing it. the print works has an industrial history of its own that would appeal to anyone interesting in that kind of thing, but it isn’t significant to the story, as such, except that Darius uses the long, high window alcoves during his fight with his attackers.