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Kids have gone missing, which is worrying since milk cartons haven't been invented yet.
And then the kids turn up dead, decomposing quickly (which is a sign of vampire attack).
At the ripe old age of sixteen, Abe is ready to kill more vampires. He's strong, fast, smart, and there are no vampires around. Which wouldn't ordinarily be a bummer, but, you know, the guy's a slayer.
He also has some special equipment, like a long coat to hide his ax. Life's purpose, he's comin' for ya.
Abe hears a rumor about some suspicious activity going down on a boat. Vampire?
He's all set to ambush the river-boating fiend when an old woman approaches, carrying a child with a bloody neck.
That's the proof Abe needs that the lady's a vamp, though we're not sure that would hold up in court.
Since he's a newbie at this whole staking business, Abe is no match for this old woman (ouch). Luckily, he's rescued by a mysterious figure.
Abe wakes up in a strange room, richly furnished with paintings. All his stuff is laid out neatly, including the ax he thought he lost in the fight. Phew. Also, he's tied to the bed. Uh oh.
Which is a good thing because the guy who saved Abe is a vampire, which makes Abe very stabby.
But this guy, Henry Sturges, eventually (meaning two whole days of being tied to a bed later) convinces Abe that not all vampires are evil and that Abe is prejudiced for thinking so.
Henry also says "Some people, Abraham, are just too interesting to kill" (79).
Abe and Henry eventually become friendly as Abe heals.
Plus (bonus!), this gives Abe the opportunity to ask Henry all kinds of questions about vampires. It's like having a friend of the opposite sex—what a great opportunity to ask about what boys and girls really think about. Answer: vampires.
Henry explains what it's like to be a vampire: it starts out fun, but then it keeps going on and on, like Lost.
Luckily, after these vampires have been undead for a while, they grow immune to sunlight, so they can go outside during the day, which is a vast improvement. It still bothers their eyes, though.
Henry also tells Abe how he came to America and became a vampire (in that order). Henry was a blacksmith who came over with the Roanoke colonists in 1587 with his wife Edeva.
The trip was okay, except for two mysterious deaths. (But only two mysterious deaths is pretty good, right, for a journey into the wild unknown?)
After they arrived on Roanoke, the colonists tried to make friends with the local Croatoan natives, which seemed fine until they found one of their colonists dead and bloodless and decomposing in a hurry. That made things not-so-friendly between the Brits and the locals.
On the bright side, the colony celebrated the first English baby born in the New World, Virginia Dare. (True story.)
Luckily, the colony has a doctor to help out, Thomas Crowley. (Not true fact. Thanks, Google.)
The guy who started the colony, John White, went back to England to get supplies, and then couldn't get back for three years. Hey, you try sailing across the Atlantic in a wooden ship.
When he finally did return to Roanoke, everyone had disappeared. Everything was in perfect order, and the only clues were the word "Croatoan" and the letters "Cro" carved into a tree.
In fact, the Roanoke disappearance is a well-known mystery in American history. Except that Henry is about to tell us what happened. So maybe it won't be a mystery anymore.
What happened is that Doctor Crowley turned out to be a vampire and, when the colonists discovered this, he killed everyone. Well, that was anticlimactic.
Henry Sturges, though, was still alive, and he tried to carve Crowley's name into a tree.
But he only got as far as "Cro" when Crowley interrupted him.
Inspired! thought Crowley. So he carved "Croatoan" into a tree (to shift the blame from vampires to natives), and then he made Henry a vampire so he has a friend to talk to.
Back to the present… well, back to 1825 actually.
Abe recovers in Henry's secret, underground house; and Henry teaches Abe to hunt vampires.
After that training montage, Henry tells Abe that he'll snitch to Abe about vampires that are evil and should be destroyed.