Star Vampire illustrations by Christopher Burdett (2012 Fantasy Flight Games)
On Earth larger animals that are composed of millions of cells need a way to get nutrient and oxygen supplies to all of these cells, while at the same time transport waste products away from these cells. This is the purpose of a circulation system. Most multicellular animals have some sort of circulation system. There are exceptions such as rotifers, which are freshwater microscopic animals that are composed of only a few thousand cells, but for the most part most animals – insects, mammals, reptiles, mollusks, echinoderms – all have some sort of circulation system. Even the Elder Things (also known as the Q’Hrell), based on the anatomical investigations of the doomed Lake Party, have been confirmed to possess some type of circulation system.
For a circulation system to function, that is to supply cells with nutrients and oxygen and remove waste products and carbon dioxide, some type of conveyance system is required. That conveyance system is blood. Blood is a type of tissue (specialized collection of cells that performs a specific function) that performs these necessary physiology functions. Blood itself is composed of red and white blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Blood also contains proteins, glucose, mineral ion and hormones. Given how rich blood is in proteins and lipids, it’s not surprising that many animals have adapted to feeding on the blood of other animals as a form of predation or parasitism.
Ticks feed exclusively on blood as ectoparasites (www.tickapp.tamu.edu)
Some of the more commonly known haematophagic (that is, blood feeders) animals include lampreys (feeding on fish), leeches, mosquitoes, ticks and vampire bats. However, there are other blood-feeding animals that we normally do not think of as being haematophagic such as some birds (hood mockingbirds and oxpeckers) and insects (Gatekeeper butterflies). Given the nutritional value of blood, more animals probably feed on this fluid tissue that we realize. While some haematophagic animals pose a real and substantial threat to the health of humans, such as mosquitoes and ticks, this is not due to their feeding but as a result of them being vectors for microbial diseases such as the Zika virus, the West Nile virus and the Lyme disease bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Also the many of the haematophagic species are more parasitic in nature; quietly and carefully taking a blood meal before the victim realizes what is being done.
Mosquito before and after feeding on a blood meal (www.jcehrlich.com)
True predatory haematophagic species are somewhat rare in nature. If you are predator and want to consume your prey, why just go for the blood? There are plenty of other parts and organs that are highly nutritious as well. Thus, true vampires, species that feed exclusively on the blood in a predatory nature (resulting in the immediate death of the prey), are not well known in Terran biology. This certainly does not mean it is not possible to have a highly specialized predator that feeds exclusively on blood. Probably the closest thing on Earth that functions in that capacity are spiders.
Spiders are a specialized group of terrestrial arthropods that inject venom to kill or incapacitate their prey and then inject digestive enzymes into their prey to liquefy their tissues. Thus, in this case, the spiders are feeding on all of the tissues and organs not just the blood. However, there are a few jumping spiders found in East Africa that specialize in hunting and feeding on mosquitoes filled with human blood (www.iflscience.com).
Star Vampire by Butttornado (www.deivantart.com)
In the case of “The Shambler from the Stars,” the star vampires appear to feed exclusively on the blood of its victims. In this tale the unnamed victim is raised into the air and attacked, his neck torn and the blood was “…spraying like a ruby fountain.” However, as the blood fell it stopped and disappeared in mid-air, which was coupled with a sucking noise. The body of the victim was quickly drained of blood – it “became shrunken, wizened, lifeless” and then dropped to the floor.
Attack of the Start Vampire by Jb Lee
As the invisible star vampire was draining the blood of its victim, it started to become visible. It was described as “…red and dripping; an immensity of pulsing, moving jelly; a scarlet blob with myriad tentacular trunks that waved and waved. There were suckers on the tips of the appendages, and these were opening and closing with ghoulish lust…The thing was bloated and obscene; a headless, faceless, eyeless bulk with the ravenous maw and titanic talons of a star-born monster. The human blood on which it had fed revealed the hitherto invisible outlines of the feaster.”
Once filled with its blood meal the thing immediately departed, apparently with the book as well. Unlike Terran life the star vampire appears to feed exclusively on blood in a very aggressive manner. It did not appear to feed on another other part of the body. This may be an evolutionary advantage. If the star vampire is part of the inter-dimensional plankton (i.e. “From Beyond”) as previously hypothesized, summoning it with the book may only give it a short period of time to feed before it must return to its own dimension or Space-Time. This would explain its immediate appearance and disappearance and why did it not bother to attack the other person in the room. Digesting organs and bone takes time; even with the most powerful digestive enzymes. Thus, draining the blood would be the quickest way of obtaining sustenance before you had to return to your own Space-Time.
Star Vampire by Nick Gucker (www.nickthehat.com)
What is almost as scary as the star vampire’s extremely aggressive, predatory nature is that it appears to be sentient, cruel and malevolent. It could be heard cruelly laughing when it appeared and after it was done feeding. Additionally, taking the book indicates that while it may enjoy someone reading from the book and summoning it so it can feed, this tome was not meant for humans. So some unknown reason, in spite of getting a quick meal, the star vampire did not want humans to have access to Ludvig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis.
De Vermis Mysteriis by Herbertw (www.deivantart.com)
Next time we dive into the second part of the Bloch – Lovecraft – Bloch trilogy, “The Haunter of the Dark.” Thank you – Fred.