Establishing a Lair
Part of being a successful vampire requires a well-honed survival instinct, and where residence is concerned, the same principles that apply to humans apply to vampires: location, location, location. That, and trusted servants, proper lodging that traditionally includes native soil stuffed in a comfy coffin or crate, and a top-of-the-line security system that would make Fort Knox seem like a Circle K. Of course, that elaborate setup is for the more affluent bloodsucker. For the average vampire, one who's always on the move (or in case of emergency) a decrepit old crypt, mausoleum, cemetery, or abandoned building would surely do. In the television series Forever Knight, for example, detective Nick Knight made ample use of the trunk of his car if the coming dawn found him far from home.
Servants and Security
By their very nature, vampires require a certain measure of privacy and security. Being in possession of a creepy remote castle is obviously ideal, or in the case of the modern vampire, a mansion or luxury apartment that affords easy access, maximum security, and foolproof escape routes when the pesky vampire hunters come calling. In Dracula, Stoker used Renfield as a tool, his lunatic persona giving valuable insight to Dracula's London pursuers. Only when the evil fiend arrives in England does Renfield begin to show servitude to the “master.” In the decades that followed Dracula's publication, the character of Renfield has alternately been downplayed or highlighted. Quite often in cinema, it's Renfield rather than Harker who travels to Castle Dracula and becomes Dracula's servant, and the one who brings him to London on the Demeter (see Chapter 4).
The tricky bit with having servants who are unaware of one's vampiric condition is the necessity of cloaking the basics of normal existence, namely the lack of conventional food consumption, sleeping during daylight hours, victims being dispatched at one's home and the disposal of said victims, and the inevitable trickles of blood running down one's chin after a meal or leftovers dried on the face during sleep. Of course, much of this can be remedied by putting servants under hypnosis or, in some cases, using them as an occasional midnight snack so as to retain their zombielike state.
Now, that isn't to say that all servants and friends of a vampire are placed under the fiend's spell. Many vampires in both fiction and film have human companions who are well aware of their condition. In the case of most vampire romance novels, like Stephenie Meyer's young-adult tales, you often find human/vampire romantic connections. Meyer's Bella is a young human in love with the immortal Edward (see Chapter 13). In the aforementioned Forever Knight, Nick's coroner friend Natalie was in the know, and despite the fact his second partner Tracey didn't know, she was actually in love with one of Nick's undead compatriots and was well aware her paramour was a vampire (see Chapter 18). From a writing or filmmaking point of view, the complications and love stories that arise from having the two species intermingle makes for a more interesting storyline — one that usually ends brilliantly or very bloody.
A vampire's need for sustenance is both inevitable and obsessive, and like most creatures in need of food, there must be accessibility, be it the bar down the block, or in the case of a traditional bloodsucker, bleeding dry the inhabitants of a nearby village, town, or city where those feasted upon are unlikely to be missed. In folklore, many of the creatures, such as the Indian bhuta, feed on corpses and therefore spend their time foraging graveyards and cremation sites. Many others, like the Greek lamia and other so-called birth demons, focus their undead revenge on newborn children or pregnant women (see Chapter 2). For the average vampire, meaning those who don't fall into the reluctant vampire category, blood is the life and must therefore be procured no matter the risk of exposure. Modern-day vampires have a much better chance of their killings going unnoticed if victims are properly chosen and disposed of. It also helps if vampire slayers and various medical personnel and detectives and the like remain blissfully unaware that an immortal bad boy or girl is on the prowl.
In the majority of fictional works and film, a vampire's servants are nothing more than a vehicle for accomplishing the tasks one expects of hired help: arranging travel, monitoring security, and, in some cases, helping to lure the unwary fly to the web of a famished fiend. Travel is, of course, of grave concern to the traditional vampire as many, such as Dracula, are hindered by the confines of traveling with earth or native soil packed into a crate or coffin.