Big Vamp on Campus - Molly Harper
For all the readers who asked,
“But what about Jamie and Ophelia?”
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Vampires are solitary creatures, trained over the centuries to survive by secrecy and isolation. Expecting them to live in a dormitory situation is a recipe for bloodshed and disaster.
—Big Vamp on Campus: Strategies to Successfully Integrate the Undead into Postsecondary Education
Four hundred years spent sowing terror and discord across the globe, and now I was forced to use a communal shower.
This was what happened when you got overconfident. Ophelia Lambert, acknowledged teen queen of vampires in the western Kentucky region, humbled by hubris. Since my time as a simple precolonial schoolgirl, I’d built up my personal empire of secrets kept and favors owed. I’d developed a perfectly respectable network of lackeys and informants. I’d developed skills that made experts in the none-too-gentle arts of torture twitch with envy, even while they cowered in fear. I rose to power in the infancy of the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead, when it was a ragtag group of vampires meeting in secret dungeons by torchlight. I remembered it being a hell of a lot more fun back then, before we had to play “domesticated” for the humans.
Despite my body’s permanent adolescence and slight stature, I was seen as death incarnate. I’d been called the Terror of Amsterdam as an endearment. And then I lost it all. Because I’d filed inappropriate expense reports.
The Council’s financial department was incredibly unforgiving when it came to undeserved reimbursements.
The Terror of Amsterdam was now the Al Capone of vampires. A terrifically violent logistical genius brought down by pencil pushers. Personally, I thought this was unfair on both counts, as poor Alphonse had been a bit of a softy—particularly generous with women and children—and had trusted his taxes to his accountants. I’d done my own paperwork. Let that be a lesson to me. Never leave a paper trail.
Paper trails led directly to shared shower facilities.
I shuddered as I stepped into the chamber of horrors just a few doors down from my own (again, shared) bedroom. The slap of my rubber flip-flops echoed off the beige tiles, making the room seem much larger than the eight shower stalls provided for the thirty female vampire students living in the wing. I didn’t necessarily need the flip-flops. Vampires couldn’t contract athlete’s foot, but honestly, it was the principle of the thing.
New Dawn Hall, a recently completed residence hall added to the far side of the University of Kentucky campus, had been built with coed, commingled living in mind. The college was eager to be one of the first in the country to prove that all students, pulsed and nonpulsed alike, could coexist peacefully in an environment that nurtured such relationships, attracting the growing undead student population and their generously distributed federal loans.
I supposed New Dawn was a pleasant enough place to sleep between classes. The building was unique in that only three floors showed aboveground, containing a special cafeteria catering to dead and undead tastes, a study room including soundproof pods, and the administrative offices required by the people who “supervised” us on campus.
Below ground level, the floors alternated between living and undead students, male and female, like a layer cake of “living” space. My undead floormates tried not to take it personally that the doors leading to the human floors were made of silver-reinforced steel three times the thickness of the vampires’ doors. They tried to see it as a protection for the humans, much as the carefully crafted HVAC system (funneling the human students’ rather pungent odors out of the building) were a protection for the vampires. Living belowground was supposed to make the humans appreciate how it felt for us vampires to be without the sun. Of course, they could walk out into the sun anytime they wanted, but being without windows certainly seemed to make them edgy.
There were some perks. Every window on the aboveground floors was equipped with light-tight shutters that activated at the slightest hint of ultraviolet light. A barista in the lobby prepared all the donor or bottled blood a vampire could need before night classes. The main lounge on the second sublevel featured board games from every decade since 1850 to encourage play among the various age groups.
I hated it. I hated it all so much. I’d lived on my own for nearly four centuries, going and doing as I pleased, sharing my space with no one but my little sister, Georgie. The only things that