“The balloting is all over with at Princeton and the results are public. The favorite beverage of the senior class is whiskey. The favorite actress is Lynn Fontanne. The favorite artist is Arno, with Titian second and Leonardo third. The favorite poem is “If“. The greatest benefit derived from college is “contacts”.
“Having cast their votes, the seniors are all ready to go forth into the world of affairs, where, the way things look now, they will be temporarily immersed in a long green wave of unemployment.
“At New Haven this year, the results of the Yale senior balloting are not to be made public, so we understand. It seems that there is some question about the advisability of revealing undergraduate tastes. It must worry the mothers of prospective Princeton students to learn that the favorite beverage of the seniors is whiskey, and it also must worry the generous old grads to learn that the money they gave Alma Mater is just developing “contacts”.
“Personally we think college education, even in its present comical setting, mixed all up as it is with Titian, Fontanne, Whiskey, Arno, Kipling, and Contacts, is a good thing; but we often pause to think what fabulous sums of money would be turned loose on the world if ever it were discovered, suddenly, that the American system of education was really wrong, and didn’t actually work at all.”
She: “Three of a kind. Thanks for reminding me. Not. I am so sick of having to carry these things around. I feel like some sort of feeding station in an urban fantasy novel!”
He: “Vampire hummingbirds.”
She: “They only come out at night?”
He: “Didn’t work for them. They kept running into things in the dark, and when you’re buzzing around at high speed, that kinda hurts. The bats tried to teach them echolocation, but they were poor students and didn’t get it. Confrontational, and way short attention spans.”
She: “Too much blood sugar?”
He: “Something like that. So some of them started venturing out into the day. Suddenly found they could see where they were going, and they were going fast enough so that the sun didn’t bother them. Hummingbird traffic fatalities went way down. But the other vampires started murmuring. Jealous, y’know. ‘How come they can survive daylight when we can’t?‘, that sort of thing.
“And because they could see, they started dressing up really fancy, and – being hummingbirds, after all – they started boasting about it to the other vampires. Who, of course, couldn’t see what they were talking about in the dark. That was the last straw. The vampire hummingbirds were expelled from the guild, and banned forever from the twilight.”
He: “Yeah. And they almost went extinct. Not exactly easy to sneak up on creatures that can see you as well as you see them. And the vampire hummingbirds are at least as loud, and as obnoxious, as the flower-feeding kind. So they didn’t get a whole lot to eat. They were reduced to feeding on roadkill, and, of course, many of them became roadkill themselves. A bit of poetic justice, that. Trading one kind of traffic problem for another.”
She: “And they survived how?”
He: “They discovered surgery patients. Sympathetic ones. They became something of a fashion statement: a living cloud of gems decorating your space, and reducing the work of keeping your drains drained. The first groups were attached to humans who loved birds but had no particular connection to the supernatural. Really personal bird feeders.
“Then they came to the attention of Wicca, and now they’re mostly associated with the Crimson Sparkle Club, a blood cult. Mostly in the name of vanity. They’re poor familiars – flighty, self-centered, untrustworthy. But they are pretty, and if your colony’s large enough, they can drain the blood from enemies and gain you an advantage in single combat, physical or magical. Except against ghosts or spirits, or aliens with undigestible blood. Then, you’re on your own. You hope.”
She: “You hope?”
He: “They’re already used to drinking your blood. They don’t care whether it’s from your feeders or from your wounds.”
She: “Uh huh.”
He: “Enough plot complications for you to get started with?”