There’s a coyote living at the bottom of our garden.

I’ve not seen it, though my wife has while walking our dog. She described it as surprisingly large, and disconcertingly bold. It started walking toward them, and she immediately began to wonder: what should she do? Should she yell, stand still, run away? Our dog finally noticed and started to bark, and the coyote slipped away.

Every now and again the dogs will leap up from where they lie in the kitchen and race toward the sliding door that looks out over the garden and start barking ferociously. I’ll amble up and peer outside and see nothing, but wonder: did they hear something? Did they pick up on some coyote smell?

Which means when I go out at night I now take a flashlight and scan the bushes and trees. When I walk the dogs at night I constantly look behind me down the road. I’m not scared, but I’m definitely more cautious. Grace prefers that I go to the mint bushes to collect leaves after dark, not wanting to go out across the garden by herself.

And that’s just a coyote. Imagine if it were vampires out there.

I’ve read some books where vampires exist in the world, yet people go about their daily lives as if nothing untoward were lurking in the night. No extra security. No curfews. Nothing but the frisson of fear as they go about their lives and think about the dangers out in the dark.

And you know what? That kind of ruins the book for me. If my family knew there were vampires out there, real vampires, I would:

  1. Move to a big city
  2. Spend a lot of money on extra security
  3. Do serious research on anti-vampire means of defense
  4. Not go out past 7pm
  5. Watch the news constantly to learn of outbreaks, sightings, and the discovery of exsanguinated bodies
Think about how humans have killed off all the large predators in Europe and North America. You know that vigilante groups would start up to hunt vampires down. That people would be intolerant of this menace. That the government would get proactive about wiping them out, searching for vaccines to make our blood toxic to them, and so forth.
Does this make for a good story though? It all depends. What kind of story do you want? A dark, gritty, realistic story? Sure. A light romance with a vampire boyfriend? You know, that could be great too, in a strange, twisted way. It would be like Romeo and Juliette, but in this case the vampire is risking his very existence by exposing himself to a world that is so hell bent to on killing him.
Personally, I don’t dig books where people don’t act like rational people. And any world where vampires are a known menace but nobody seems unduly worried? I’m probably not going to enjoy it.
What about you guys? Where do you fall on this spectrum?