the many faces of annika (2021)

My name is Annika. But it was not always so. I was born in Safavid Persia in the Gregorian year 1620 and was made vampyr some twenty years later. In those days they called me Anna Khanum. As you can see, I was a great and very dangerous beauty. That is why Mother chose me for what we call, hediyehyeh sia, the Dark Gift.

Soon after I was made vampyr, Mother moved us to The Holy Roman Empire. I spent the first fifty years of my tender vampling life there, swimming, riding horses and hunting tiny Germans along the River Rhine. From the very beginning, it was clear I was a natural huntress, with a sharp nose for human blood and a mean Parthian shot. I earned the epithet, Annika die Persische Großnase, Annika the Persian Big-Nose.

In 1690, Mother and I hijacked a ship off the coast of Spain and set sail for the New World. Vampirophobia was already on the rise in Europe and Mother had had a vision that it was time for us to move on. (Mother was always having visions.) One heard so many promising things about the New World in those days. ‘You can get away with murder there, the streets are paved with blood,’ and so on and so forth. Most importantly, the simpleton colonists still blamed every small oddity on witches. Of course, this was all very convenient for us vampires. There is nothing quite as tasty as the small unburdened brain of a simpleton.

Decades turned into centuries and I slowly grew accustomed to my life as a walking dead person. Adapting to life in America was considerably more difficult. Mother and I traveled back to Europe every ten years or so – Rome, Paris, London – mainly for the fashion, but also to reacquire some of the torture devices the European museums had pilfered from Mother’s numerous estates along the Silk Road.

My heart longed for the East. I had very few memories left of my birthplace by this time. I remembered hiding under the table as a child during the Annual Self-Flagellation Parades, sure, but the rest of my human life was more or less a blur.

After years of begging and pleading with Mother, in 1840, she finally agreed to take me on a Grand Tour of the Orient. We spent half the 19th century traveling to some of the most ancient and wondrous cities in the world – Damascus, Cairo, Constantinople – but in the end Mother refused to return to our beloved Persia, for what reason I still do not know. We ended up settling in Athens, where I made a name for myself in vampire circles as an Oriental danseuse/serial murderer. Our Greek friends called me, skouliki, Little Worm, because I danced like a beautiful fat little worm.

In 1890, Mother chopped me into three uneven pieces, stuffed me inside a steamer trunk and sent me west on the Orient Express. Two coaches and one ferry ride later, I was in London, completely alone for the very first time in my life. I lived in Britain and Ireland for nearly a century, traveling, studying vampire history, writing books, and dining on the cold, damp alabaster flesh of delicious young Irishmen. Unfortunately, one of the not so delicious ones left me with a ten-foot parasite inside my intestines that nearly finished me off completely. The only cure for this horrible, double-headed monstrosity – whiskey.

There is a reason why the Irish vampires named whiskey, uisce beatha, ‘the water of life.’ What most do not know is that this magical elixir was actually an ancient Celtic vampire remedy that was later appropriated by humans. We vampires drink it to rid ourselves of a parasite that grows inside human beings and is then passed on to us. You call it ‘depression.’ We call it marmahiyeh-dokaleyeh-angaleh-khuneh-ensani, which roughly translates to ‘the double-headed snake-fish parasite of human blood.’ Whiskey is the only thing that will force it out of us, and it is a very long and painful process. A lot of vomiting, a lot of blood. Mostly from…well, a lot of blood. Of course, for humans whiskey does not have this effect. It only makes them cry on stairs and pick fights with their relatives.

About thirty years ago, Mother and I reunited in glamorous Tehrangeles. You must understand I was still very ill at the time. And poor Mother too. She didn’t have a parasite, of course. With her, it was the ghosts of a few of her victims, who had banded together and decided to haunt her, making her life a general misery. (Those Mamluks never give up.) At first it was only silly, trifling things like tracing crosses on her steamed-up mirrors while she was bathing and leaving strings of garlic inside her coffin. But when they began to draw back the drapes to let the sunshine in during the day, I knew it was time for me to come home.

In the end, we had no choice but to burn down Mother’s turquoise-tiled Persian palace on the hill. We moved into a humble townhouse in the Kardashian-infested countryside, where we knew no respectable ghost would possibly show his face. And it is here where you can still find us today, living among the peasants and mortals, a mother and daughter, like so many other mothers and daughters, eating people and yelling at one another to change lanes on the congested highways of the Greater Los Angeles area.

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