So, I was sort of trapped between the devil and a hard place, as the saying goes. Or between a vampire and a brick wall, which is what I literally was. I'd have to remember that one in the future. I like to make up my own cliches. Anyhow, that's what it was, and I didn't have anything religious on me, either, which of course made matters even worse. But for whatever reason, I didn't think she really meant me any harm. I was getting some non-life-threatening vibes from her.
"So," I said in a friendly tone of voice, trying to defuse the situation, as they say. "What are you exactly?"
"I," she said in a very dramatic way, "am one of the undead."
I thought about that for a second, then said, "So... you're alive?"
She shook her head. "Of course not, you silly girl."
I thought some more. "Okay, but if you say you're undead, that means 'not dead,' right? Technically? If you're un-something, that means you're not that thing, right?"
"Uh... I guess so."
"Okay. Then if you're not dead, that means you're alive!"
"No, no," she said crossly. "I died. That makes me dead."
"You just said you were undead."
She made a face. "Listen to me. I died, which makes me dead, see? Then I came back. So now I'm undead. Do you follow?"
"Sure," I said. "You came back from being dead. That makes you alive."
"That isn't what I mean! It isn't the same thing!"
"Why not? You can walk and talk, can't you? Those are symptoms of being alive. Dead people don't do those things, right? I do them, and I'm not dead. So I'm undead, too, right?"
"No, no, dammit! You're just plain alive! You're not undead!"
"If I wasn't undead, I'd be dead," I pointed out. "That's what's called a double negative, I believe. It means the exact opposite of what it started out to mean."
She shook her head again, like she was trying to get rid of something, rather than just saying no. "What? What are you saying? That doesn't make any sense."
"It certainly does," I replied. "It makes perfect sense. If you're not un-whatever, that means you are whatever. That's just pure logic. I'm undead. If you were dead, you'd be unalive, wouldn't you? You should say that, instead of undead, which makes no sense at all."
She glared at me for about fifteen seconds, then turned on her heel and marched away.
"Now, wait a minute," I said, following her down the hallway. "I want to get this straightened out."
I was serious, too. I figured she must know what she was talking about-- she was the one who was the vampire, after all-- but I couldn't make sense of it. I was very curious.
"Leave me alone," she said, without looking back at me.
"Come on now," I said. "That's not fair. You started it. I'm just trying to understand!"
She stopped so abruptly, I almost ran right into her.
"You're trying my patience," she said. "How about I kill you? Is that what you'd like?"
"Of course not," I said, moving around in front of her so I could look her in the eye. "But you would have done that already if you were going to. Me and you are not personal enemies, you know. And if you're going to say something crazy and insist it makes sense, the least you could do is explain it."
"I tried!" she snapped at me. "Nothing I say can possibly get through to you!"
"That's just because you haven't said the right thing yet!"
She gave me a look that I couldn't decipher, but I sensed that she was weakening, so I just jumped right into it.
"According to you," I said, "you died and you came back. That ought to make you alive. You could say you were formerly dead, but 'undead' just means not dead, which means alive."
"No," she said flatly, shaking her head. "I'm not alive, not in the same way you are."
I frowned and said, "That's what I don't get. In what way are you not the same kind of alive as me?"
"Well, for one thing, I don't need to breathe."
"Okay. You don't need to. But you can, right? I mean, you're talking. You have to move air in and out of your lungs to do that. So you're breathing."
"Yes, but I don't HAVE to, that's the whole point," she said, like she was trying to explain something to an idiot. But I'm not stupid, and I had a valid point, and I wasn't going to concede anything.
"Okay," I said, "but that doesn't necessarily make you dead. Because the thing about dead people is, they don't just not have to breathe, they can't breathe, even if they wanted to, which they wouldn't, because dead people can't even want anything. You can breathe if you want to, so that makes you not dead."
"I didn't say I was dead," she said slowly. "I told you I'm undead."
"Right. You're alive. Listen, you have to drink blood, right? So, that's nourishment. Only living creatures need nourishment."
"That's not how it is. It's totally different."
"Well, what would happen to you if you didn't get any blood to drink?"
"Well, of course, I would... Ah, that is to say, it would be unpleasant."
"Ha! You were about to say you'd die, weren't you? Admit it!" My trump card!
The whites of her eyes turned red, and I started thinking maybe I'd pushed it too far. She took a deep breath, and was about to say something, but she stopped before it came out, looking kind of startled. She was silent for a few seconds, then she said, "I'll be damned. I mean, I already am, of course, but... You know, you're right. I never thought of it that way, but you do have a point."
This surprised me. I had expected her to stick to her story, no matter what. And, to be honest, by this time I had pretty much figured out what the whole "undead" thing meant, and I was just trying to get her goat. I often feel compelled to do things like that in situations where common sense ought to forbid it.
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