Okay, I'm going to start at the beginning.
Well actually not, I'm actually going to skip ahead, start with the most important stuff first. I figure that if you're reading this you already know the most important part about vampires and werewolves; they're real.

So yeah. They're real. Congratulate me, I just summarized the first half-dozen chapters of every vampire romance on the planet in one sentence. You can thank me later for sparing you.

Sorry, you're probably not in the mood for that flippant junk right now. Because if you got your hands on this journal of mine, it probably involved a lot of blood and screaming and running.

So okay, they're real. So there are probably some very important things you want to know about them. In particular right now you're thinking "okay, how much of all that stuff I remember from all those horror movies and comic books and bad novels is right, and will it keep me alive?" Well, good news and bad news: some of it is pretty accurate... but never the stuff that would make your life easiest. Most of the stuff in the movies is wrong; the stuff they got right probably isn't the stuff that will keep you alive.

Werewolves, they got most of the details pretty close. Most of the time they're normal-looking, real-live human beings who can transform into an inhumanly strong, nearly impossible to kill feral predator. Yes, they can turn into either an enormous wolf, or an enormous wolf-man. No, they do not need to be under a full moon to do it... but the more full the moon is that night, the bigger and badder they'll be when they DO change; and the faster they'll change. In fact the closer to the full moon you are, the harder it is for them to NOT change, unless they've got a lot of practice.

The change, it's really scary but it's your luckiest break you'll get. It takes a minute and it hurts like the dickens- not horrible hellish bone cracking screaming horror or anything, more like having a really bad leg cramp all over your body. Still, they're not gonna feel like hopping up and doing the macarena right away afterwards, so you've got a few extra seconds to either try and kill or subdue them or to run.

I suggest running.

Yes, silver hurts them- but not nearly bad enough to make use of it as a weapon, and never as bad as you wish. It's more like an allergic reaction. Some will go into anaphylactic shock from silver poisoning, but others will just get a rash or puffy feet. And there's no real way to tell ahead of time just HOW allergic they are. So you're not going to be fending off an eight foot tall ball of snarling claws and fury with your great grandma's dinner forks. Try it and you will die. Yes, a silver bullet will kill them, but then again bullets tend to do that, if you use enough of them. I dunno how well silver ones work, vs. regular bullets. Hunters tend to go for head shots anyway. At the very least they're not bulletproof, and the silver will hurt like hell in the wounds and slow their crazy fast healing, so if you can afford to load your gun with bullets averaging $20 apiece, hey, go for it. But don't let that stop you from giving lead poisoning a chance.

Oh, and another thing; being a wolf doesn't make them howling crazed berserkers. Wolves are normally shy, reclusive, pack oriented and territorial. (And did I mention monogamous? Weird stuff you learn on the nature channel) So they're not going to go crazy and attack everything in sight like in the movies just because they're wolves.

They might do that stuff because they're human, however.

Best approach is to deal with them like any really large dangerous carnivore with malevolent intelligence and tool-using abilities: Stay out of their territory. Run away. Shoot them lots. And if they corner you, go for their eyes and ears and nose. Mace and pepper spray will drop them like a sack of dirt. And fire will straight up wreck their night...

On to vampires: oh, lots more good news bad news here, too. So let's start off with the really really bad news first: sunlight does not kill them. Dang, I can almost hear your heart hit your boots. No, sunlight does not make them disappear in a cloud of mist, or crumble into dust, or burst into flame, or even(gag) sparkle. It doesn't even particularly bother them. Betcha thought the horror movie ended when the sun came up, dintcha, sports fan. Nope... you've probably seen real live vampires walking around in the middle of day and never known it.

But if you're running from one right now the sun still might save your butt... because they're little more than ordinary mortals in daytime. See, while werewolves' powers wax and wane with the moon, vampires' powers rise and fall with the sun. At midnight they are at their most powerful, and at high noon they are at their weakest... and direct sunlight shuts off all their powers like a lightswitch.

And they do have powers. While the werewolves got the whole physical end of the spectrum, most of a vampire's powers are on the mental end. Mesmerism, illusions, telekinesis... not to say they aren't physically dangerous. They can't turn into a bat, but when they go airborne you'll wish they did. they're pretty strong and agile, too, but I'm not sure how much of that comes from telekinesis. When someone throws a grand piano at your head, it's hard to be aware of whether they actually heaved it at you with their arms or they actually picked it up and tossed it with their brain.
They can control small animals (bats, rats, insects) with their mind, and see through their eyes and hear through their ears. That's probably where people got they idea they could turn INTO bats. Worse, they can cast illusions of themselves; you can see them, talk with them, even (with a little TK on their part) shake hands with them, and they won't even really be there. That's where most of the other myths started: illusions, for one thing, don't have reflections in mirrors. And more than one would-be Van Helsing has staked a vampire or torn open the curtains to let in the sun, watched his enemy vanish in a puff of mist, and all the while Count Ookula was still down in the sub-basement, safely tucked away in bed in his undead panic-room. (No, they don't sleep in coffins. They used to do that- under the assumption that noone would bother a dead body. Then various superstitious eastern europeans started marching into tombs and doing ugly things to bodies in boxes, and the vampires decided that coffins were a bit passe'...genre savviness is a double-edged sword.)

Oh yeah... Stakes. Thing to keep in mind, it doesn't kill them- it just incapacitates them. Vampires are all about blood; in this case, blood flow between the heart and brain. Rupturing the heart stops the blood from being pumped to the brain, which almost entirely paralyzes them. But if that stake gets wiggled out of the hole, the heart will start patching itself together, and in a few minutes you'll have an awake, active and very angry vampire on your hands looking to replenish its depleted reserves of blood, and there you are, a nice big bag of fresh type AB negative. Stick a straw in you, you're done. Universal rule for monsters: take off the head, immediately. Burn it. Or blow it off with a shotgun.

More bad news. If you survive, and the vampire dies, your problems are not over. If you DO kill a vampire, be ready with a shovel, a few bags of quicklime, and a nice deep hole in an out of the way place. They do NOT disappear in a puff of dust; at most they just shrivel up a bit, maybe crumble around the edges if they're really ancient. The only thing that's saved a couple of vampire hunters' necks is the fact that the jury couldn't believe that the half-mummified corpse had been alive five minutes prior to the police arriving.

You're probably wondering why any half-competent coroner couldn't blow the whole World of Darkness thing open at the seams with one autopsy. You might want to wonder about who most half-competent coroners really work for...

As to the other "weaknesses/vulnerabilities..." quick rundown of the myths. Crossing moving water, entering houses without permission, holy symbols, holy water, garlic... Get this. Some do, some don't. And you will never know which do and don't beforehand. Because nearly all "Vampire weaknesses" have one identical cause.

I present to you the vampire's true bane: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Probably a consequence of having all those "psychic" powers, but every vampire has OCD, to some degree or other, and they vary a lot from vampire to vampire. So don't count on any of those old tricks working on every sucker. The vampire who can't bring himself to cross a threshold without an express invitation may not have any problem at all with counting obsessions (Ah, ah, ah *thunderclap*), and while another might have a fixation on holy symbols, that might mean he's fixated on never touching them, or it might mean he's fixated on destroying or even collecting them.

(Or he might even be fixated on iconic symbols in general. One seriously OCD vampire was electrocuted trying to steal the golden arches off a highway McDonald's sign. True story.)

Good news, vampires and werewolves aren't liable to devour you. Bad news, that won't save your life. If it's any comfort at this point, neither werewolves nor vampires tend to devour humans/suck them dry. Bodies with enormous wolf-bite-shaped chunks missing or no blood in them tend to attract the attention of the authorities. And for Vampires, consider that the human body contains about a gallon of blood... and even a vampire's stomach only holds, what, a quart at most? Anyway, their usual feeding habit is to either feed off of animals, or if they are "hooked" on human blood, to find a likely donor, and steal a half-pint or so while they sleep... assuming that they haven't made other more convenient arrangements ( Yes, insert "blood bank" joke here...)
Of course, if you're AT this point, this is not going to be a comfort to you. Because if you know about the Strigoi, and they know you know- which would be why you're reading this book- they're not going to let you walk away alive.

By now you're asking: if Strigoi are real, then why aren't we all up to our butts in bloodsuckers and wolfmen? Don't they turn people by biting them?

The answer is "Yes. But not always."

The way the Docs put it, both curses are diseases... mutagenic germs. And vampires and werewolves are just a means for those germs to make more germs. By all rights they should be the most successful human diseases on the planet- they genetically alter the host, make their host into a faster, stronger, BETTER carrier of the disease.
But not everyone can carry it. Most human beings are immune; the curse doesn't even affect them. And nearly all of those left get the vampire or werewolf plague, get infected, and die of it.
That tiny, vanishing remainder get bit, and the curse does a cut and paste job on their DNA, turning them into a vampire or werewolf... and making them an immune carrier of the disease as well.
That's why vampires and werewolves tend to prowl around the forest outside tiny little villages out in the European mountains, or lord it over some small hamlet from a crumbling castle. They're staking out breeding turf. Guarding the bloodlines of people who can carry their "legacy," pruning and tending the family trees that carry that rare genetic quirk that lets people become weres or vampires.

So if vampires or wolfmen have started showing up in your neighborhood, bad news: it means they've found a person, a group, heck, maybe a whole extended family, that can be turned... maybe yours. There's also a good chance this "extended family" is in the know.
And if they're both there, real trouble's about to start. The two curses are mutually exclusive- a vampire cannot turn a werewolf; a werewolf cannot turn a vampire. And they REALLY don't like to share.

So who am I? How do I know this? It's pretty simple; I'm somebody who shouldn't even exist. I shouldn't even have been born, much less be alive right now. My name is Marko Martinov. I'm seventeen years old, I'm of Romanian descent, I'm living in Cedar Springs, Ohio, and I'm the only vampire-werewolf halfbreed alive.

Well I've given you all the warning that I can. At least in this journal. If you've gotten this far you've already gotten all the useful stuff, right there in the first few pages. So save the recreational reading that comes after this chapter for when you're in a safe place with your back to a concrete wall and a few friends pointing guns at the doorway. There's nothing else I can really tell you that will be much use in dealing with either the weres or the vamps. At this point you know pretty much all that I do, and now you're just reading to find out more about myself. So I guess I should start telling you my own story... but if I think of anything else useful to you I promise I'll stop and write it down.

Now before you turn the page, take whatever gun you're holding and shoot over your shoulder. 'Cause this is the part of the movie where the monster was behind you all along.

Good luck.