How to Kill a Vampire (Try Wood, Ultraviolet Ammo)

As the vampire flick Twilight tops the U.S. charts and opens in Britain, female viewers are swooning over the impossible romance between mortal and immortal. But many of their male companions will be pondering the age-old question: "Just what kind of hardware do I need to take down that sucker?" 

Exactly how you kill a vampire is the subject of much learned debate. According to folklore it may require decapitation, burning, or the placing of communion wafer in the mouth. However, a wooden stake driven through the heart is favored in many Eastern European traditions.

Staking by hand is a perilous business, but maybe all you need are wooden bullets. Such bullets do exist, and were around during World War II. Here one soldier describes finding some German bullets:

I found the wooden bullets in this mat on the floor of the foxhole. The 7mm slug was bright purple made of some hardwood... [It] was designed to split into splinters and go in every direction as it passes through the body. It creates a wound that could not be operated on and left the man to slowly die of pain.

But in spite of many gruesome tales like this about both German and Japanese forces, the truth is rather different; the bullets were actually training rounds.

These days, wooden bullets are used for re-enactments using Gatling guns. While they could be used to shoot someone — much like the 5.56mm PVC training ammunition used by the Israelis as a less-lethal weapon for crowd control — they don't seem very effective. A load of splinters is no substitute for a stake, and you don’t want to get this one wrong.

What you need is something a bit more solid, like the original baton rounds made of teak, used by the British in Hong Kong. (1958 or 1967, depending on which source you use.) A modern version, fired from a 40mm grenade launcher, spits out three wooden batons — short cylinders like hockey pucks. Replace them with a single baton, sharpened to a point, and you have something that might do the job. (Note: it might be smart to use a multishot grenade launcher like the six-round M32 MGL, as bloodsuckers are fast and might not let you reload if you miss with the first one.)

Or, if you want to go really high-tech, you might work with vampires' vulnerability to daylight. Some people assert that this is down to the ultraviolet content; in which case you might like a ultraviolet laser weapon, such as the Veiling Glare Laser I wrote about awhile back.

When ultraviolet light strikes the it causes the lens to fluoresce, producing a glare right in your eyeball that makes it impossible to see anything. The idea was that it is safer than other lasers which go through to the retina, and it's impossible to see the direction of the laser. (The veiling glare laser has either been canceled or just become secret, it has not been heard of lately.)

Taking this idea even further was a project related to Nanohmic's electronic flash-bang grenade. Rather than pyrotechnics, this uses LEDs to produce the flash — an early project involved using UV LEDs to create a veiling glare effects. Unfortunately the power levels were not high enough. But it would still be quite a handy anti-vampire weapon.

On the other hand, if it's brightness, rather than UV, which makes sunshine deadly, then you could arm yourself with a Maxa Beam. It's a handheld searchlight, popular with the military, which delivers an impressive 7.5 million candlepower. That should be enough to vaporize the undead from a few hundred meters away… turning twilight into daylight, so to speak.

 

Source: written, with tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, by David Hambling

 

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From the Library

Elizabeth Miller is a well-known member of the vampire community. In addition to being a former Professor of English at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, she is President of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula - Canadian Chapter as well as Baroness of the House of Dracula. What was your first exposure to Dracula?
The Bat in NatureIndigenous to Central and South America, vampire bats live in a very strong social culture. The develop bonds with other bats in the colony, and learn to recognize each other through sound and scent. Vampire bats tend to live in caves, trees, or buildings. Their colonies can reach numbers of up to 2000 bats, but most colonies tend to house approximately 100 bats.

Drawn to Vamps?

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