by R L Tilley
It happened on
All Hallows Eve. The evening when the dead walk,
and the undead, not to mention the living.
It was late
evening and I was walkingthe dog. We were walking
along a road opposite some woodland where the
Local Authority had placed a wrought iron bench
to commemorate the advent of the Millenium.
A dark figure
was huddled on the bench and was illuminated
somewhat by the amber rays of the street lighting
that was situated nearby. As we drew closer I
perceived the figure to be that of a man. He was
wrapped in a black coat with a red lining that
showed in the unfurled folds that hung below the
bench. his face was extremely pale and as we were
in the act of passing he looked up at me and I
was startled to see that his eyes were red. The
let him bite me, the man cried, fearfully.
wont bite you, I said.
Youre more likely to bite him. You
are a vampire, arent you?
he replied. But I dont want to be.
Im fed up with being undead. Its a
damned nuisance and I wish Uncle Vlad had never
persuaded me to be bitten. Im sick to the
back teeth of going around biting people, young
women, mostly, and sucking their blood.
why dont you pack it up? I asked him.
said than done, he replied.
suppose its your lifes blood, I
like that. Why dont you sit with me a while
and Ill tell you all about Mona and me not
wanting to be a vampire?
Mona? I asked.
my girl friend, in a way, he said.
much relish sitting on a bench with a vampire and
would rather have carried on walking the dog.
However, this vampire looked so sad and lost (hes
probably a terrible bore, I thought) and I did
have some dog biscuits in my pocket to keep Henry
entertained. Henry is the name of my dog. He
doesnt like vampires but hell do
anything for a biscuit. I sat down.
dont have a crucifix, I told the
vampire. But I do have a clove of garlic.
old hat, he said. Anyway, I wont
He extended a
hand in greeting.
names Sandor, he told me, shaking my
warm hand with his cold one.
Jeremy, I told him.
Jeremy, he said. Im in love.
Oh no, here we
go, I thought. What have I got myself and Henry
a long story, he said.
Oh no, I
thought. It gets worse.
born in Transylvania, he told me. And
I grew up on a farm there. My Uncle Vlad would
come and stay. He would always arrive after dark
and we only saw him at night. I didnt know
he was a vampire. That was eight hundred years
ago. I used to have awful dreams of mortality and
I was morbid and fearful and one day, or should I
say night, I confided my terrors to Uncle Vlad -
The old impaler, my father used to
mutter, behind his back - and he told me that
with one bite he could put and end to my fears.
it hurt? I asked him.
just a little nip. Youll barely feel a
trusted him, mores the pity, and let him
seized me by the shoulders and bit my neck. He
stood back then, saying, Well, young Sandor,
now you are one of us.
of who? I asked.
vampire people, of course.
suppose I havent been a bad vampire when
all things are taken into consideration. Ive
done my fair share of biting and Ive left
quite a few undead roaming around, but I have
never properly killed anybody. You can, you know,
if you get too greedy about the blood.
father knew what Vlad had done. He told him he
was no longer welcome in our house. My mother was
very upset. Vlad was her brother.
be sorry, he told my father.
off and dont show your fangs around here
again, father shouted at him.
As I say,
all that was eight hundred years ago and my
parents are long dead.
put up with this vampire business over the years,
until about eighteen months ago.
prowling around one night, looking for someone to
bite and I began to follow this young woman ...
At this point,
sure he wont bite me? Sandor asked.
just wants to get on with his walk.
I gave Henry a
sorry, Sandor said. You see, I
dont often get a chance to chat with people,
to tell them my troubles.
Why pick on us,
I thought, somewhat uncharitably.
this young woman, she turned round.
you following me? she asked, in a
was when it happened. You know that old song
My Heart Stood Still?
that was it. I fell in love. Her eyes were wide
and grey. A wisp of ash blonde hair curled around
an eye. Remember Veronica Lake? Astounding. I
apologised and told her that I very much admired
be silly, she said, and walked away.
being a vampire I can shape shift. I turned
myself into a black cat and followed her home.
turn yourself into a black cat tonight, I
advised him. Henry will chase you.
followed her home and I heard her father say,
Mona, youre late. Where on earth have
heard an answer.
then I have inveigled myself into her affections.
She thinks I am a stray black cat.
this is all very interesting, I told him.
But we must get on with our walk.
he pleaded. Please hear me out. I
wont bother you again.
I said. Why dont you walk with us,
So here I was
walking in Knightwood Road with a love-struck
It was clear
to see that this passion an eight hundred year
old vampire had conceived for a modern young
woman was doomed. He could not see it. As we
walked he spoke of his attempts to free himself
of his vampiric destiny.
out a Transylvanian psychiatrist, he told
me. A Doctor Simion Petrescu. He
wasnt very helpful. He asked me to explain
the nature of the problem and when I did he
shrugged his shoulders, saying, Vat you
sink I should know of vampires? You sink I am Van
Helsing? I cannot help you.
think if you would rid yourself of your vampiric
destiny you would cease the black cat routine and
declare yourself to this Mona? I asked.
I could not
see how this would work. Why would a modern young
woman like Mona reciprocate the affections of an
eight hundred year old man, and, indeed, if he
was not undead, would he continue to exist? His
situation seemed impossible.
I am so
unhappy, he said. I climb into my
coffin at dawn and I am awake by the early hours
of the day. I lay there restlessly tossing and
turning and visiting all the past traumas of my
life. I dont know what to do. Whomsoever I
turn to says, I cannot help you.
can I, I told him.
realise that, he said. But you know
how it is. a problem shared is a problem halved
and all that ...
I said. But what are you going to do about
Mona? You could stay as a cat and drink milk. You
would still have nine lives and you could be her
a great idea, he said. She does like
me as a cat. Thinks I am a stray. Thank you.
Thank you so much.
need to overcome your fear of dogs, I told
just hiss and arch my back. Perhaps you will
allow me to practice on your dog?
I said, hastily. Not a good idea. Not a
good idea at all.
he said. Look, I am so glad I met you. You
may well have solved my problem. If there is
anything I can ever do for you, you have only to
thats all right, I told him.
Theres nothing you can do for me. I
am only too glad to have been of service.
Ill be saying goodnight then, he said,
and with a swish of his cloak he danced away down
the road singing, shouting, Freedom,
freedom ... no more blood lust. Love has redeemed
made half in jest, had truly transported him.
I took Henry
what about that? I said to him.
I have to say
that since that night I have seen a blonde young
woman walking with a black cat. The cat has
betrayed no sign of recognition. Perhaps you will
see them too. If you live in, or visit, Chandlers