Back in 1976, Neville reads about the chemical composition of garlic, and guesses that the chemical found in garlic that vampires hate is allyl sulphide. He reads about how to prepare allyl sulphide, and goes outside to make some. He takes a syringe and fills it with allyl sulphide. Then, he drives to a nearby house, goes inside, and finds a sleeping female vampire. Neville injects the allyl sulphide into the vampire’s “soft, fleshy buttock,” and waits. Nothing happens. Frustrated, Neville leaves and returns to his house, determined to continue learning about vampires in order to protect himself and distract himself from drinking.
Neville, a working-class man, gradually morphs into a sophisticated scientist. Some readers find it implausible that Neville would be able to conduct so many complex experiments with the vampires—and indeed, in most of the film versions of Matheson’s book, Neville is a scientist, not a worker at a “plant,” as he is here. Notice also the phallic, highly sexualized language with which Matheson describes Neville’s experiments on the female vampire, again suggesting Neville’s frustrated desire for any sexual contact.
The next morning, Neville tries to understand the power of the cross over vampires. He returns to the female vampire whom he injected with allyl sulphide, carries her back to his car, and drives her back to his house. As he drives, it occurs to Neville that he only experiments on female vampires. Feeling guilty, he tells himself, “I’m not going to rape the woman!” Back in his house, Neville ties the vampire to a chair and waits for sun to set.
Neville vehemently denies that he experiments exclusively on female vampires because of some sexual attraction to them, but Matheson clearly implies that Neville is, in fact, sexually attracted to them, at least on some level (both because of the sexualized language and because he offers no other explanation for why Neville chooses females).
After sundown, the vampire wakes up, and Neville dangles a cross in front of her face. The vampire looks repulsed, and Neville asks, “why are you afraid of it?” The vampire does not answer, but continues to look repulsed. Neville grabs her shoulder, and she bites his hand. Neville carries the vampire outside, still tied up, and goes back inside. He pours alcohol on the bite-marks, and enjoys the “burning pain in his flesh.”
Neville seems to enjoy—on an almost sexual level—the way the vampire bites him, or at least the experience of pain that the alcohol causes, as if pain is a reminder of his humanity and aliveness. The passage also reminds us that Neville is immune to the vampire plague (so he isn’t concerned about a vampire biting his skin).