There was a long pause as the estrie, the vampire, and the zombie child all stared at me. It was the vampire who started laughing first—a snort followed by poorly concealed snickers. The zombie child picked up his cue and giggled. Only Sarai gave me the respect of not laughing in my face, but her slight smirk suggested she was barely concealing the urge.
I glared around at all three of them. “I’m serious. What’s so funny about a vegan alternative to brains?”
“Margot,” Sarai began delicately, “don’t you think someone would have come up with a solution like that if it was possible?”
“It is impossible if no one bothers to try!” I retorted.
The vampire gave another loud snort. I glared at him, but he just continued to laugh.
“Maybe that’s because it’s just not practical,” Sarai suggested, her tone that of a person trying to talk someone off a ledge. “Imagine the knowledge and resources that would have to go into an experiment like that, with no guarantee of success.”
“Imagine how much more practical it would be if we didn’t have to harvest the dead bodies of the living side anymore.”
“That’s only if it works.” The vampire had stopped laughing, but he still wore a mocking smirk. “No one’s going to help you, and you’ll only have a couple weeks to work before you go brain crazy.”
“Why don’t you?” I crossed my arms and stared the vampire down. “You said you were vegetarian before you turned. Why haven’t you tried to find an alternative to blood?”
“Because it’s pointless! Do you know what it feels like to dry out and shrivel up? Vegetarianism is not worth that. And I’d bet veganism isn’t worth going brain crazy either.”
“So you’re weak,” I countered.
He slammed his fist into the counter, denting it. So vampire strength wasn’t a myth. “There is no point talking to you, is there? Just wait until you’ve gone a couple weeks. Then you’ll see.”
“Or maybe I’ll find a solution and I won’t have to eat your brains or go brain crazy.”
“If you found a solution, does that mean I wouldn’t have to drink the brains anymore?” the zombie child asked, her eyes wide.
“You wouldn’t have to drink brains ever again,” I confirmed.
“If you can figure it out,” the vampire sneered.
I rounded on him, but Sarai cut in before I could speak. “Think about it realistically. Would you even know where to start?”
“I’ll have you know I’ve studied both biology and nutrition.”
“Zombie nutrition?” the vampire asked with a snide smile.
I quelled him with a glare. “The first step would be to identify what about human brains prevents zombies from being overcome by the urge to consume them.”
“Maybe because it satisfies the urge,” the vampire suggested sarcastically.
“Funny,” I retorted. “But I somehow doubt there’s some special ingredient in brains that’s impossible to replicate.”
“You know, if she had the time and resources, she might succeed,” Sarai told the vampire.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself. Those things are huge roadblocks all by themselves,” the vampire muttered.
I chose to ignore his pessimism. I could do this. I could make this happen.