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A Lugubrious Vampire
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 dog growled.

‘Don’t let him bite me,’ the man cried, fearfully.

‘He won’t bite you,’ I said. ‘You’re more likely to bite him. You are a vampire, aren’t you?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘But I don’t want to be. I’m fed up with being undead. It’s a damned nuisance and I wish Uncle Vlad had never persuaded me to be bitten. I’m sick to the back teeth of going around biting people, young women, mostly, and sucking their blood.’

‘Well, why don’t you pack it up?’ I asked him.

‘Easier said than done,’ he replied.

‘I suppose it’s your life’s blood,’ I said.

‘Something like that. Why don’t you sit with me a while and I’ll tell you all about Mona and me not wanting to be a vampire?’

‘Who’s Mona?’ I asked.

‘She’s my girl friend, in a way,’ he said.

I didn’t 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 (he’s 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 doesn’t like vampires but he’ll do anything for a biscuit. I sat down.

‘I don’t have a crucifix,’ I told the vampire. ‘But I do have a clove of garlic.’

‘That’s old hat,’ he said. ‘Anyway, I won’t hurt you.’

He extended a hand in greeting.

‘My name’s Sandor,’ he told me, shaking my warm hand with his cold one.

‘I’m Jeremy,’ I told him.

‘Well, Jeremy,’ he said. ‘I’m in love.’

Oh no, here we go, I thought. What have I got myself and Henry into?

‘It’s a long story,’ he said.

Oh no, I thought. It gets worse.

‘I was 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 didn’t 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.

‘”Will it hurt?” I asked him.

‘”No, just a little nip. You’ll barely feel a thing.”

‘I trusted him, more’s the pity, and let him proceed.

‘He seized me by the shoulders and bit my neck. He stood back then, saying, “Well, young Sandor, now you are one of us.”

‘”One of who?” I asked.

“The vampire people, of course.”

‘Well, I suppose I haven’t been a bad vampire when all things are taken into consideration. I’ve done my fair share of biting and I’ve 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.

‘My 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.

‘Vlad was angry.

‘”You’ll be sorry,” he told my father.

‘”Be off and don’t 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.

‘Well, I put up with this vampire business over the years, until about eighteen months ago.

‘I was prowling around one night, looking for someone to bite and I began to follow this young woman ...’

At this point, Henry growled.

‘Are you sure he won’t bite me?’ Sandor asked.

‘No, he just wants to get on with his walk.’

I gave Henry a biscuit.

‘I’m sorry,’ Sandor said. ‘You see, I don’t often get a chance to chat with people, to tell them my troubles.’

Why pick on us, I thought, somewhat uncharitably.

‘Anyway, this young woman, she turned round.

“’Are you following me?” she asked, in a challenging manner.

‘And that was when it happened. You know that old song “My Heart Stood Still?”

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Well, 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 her.

“’Don’t be silly,” she said, and walked away.

‘But being a vampire I can shape shift. I turned myself into a black cat and followed her home.’

‘Don’t turn yourself into a black cat tonight,’ I advised him. ‘Henry will chase you.’

‘I followed her home and I heard her father say, “Mona, you’re late. Where on earth have you been?”

‘I never heard an answer.

‘Since then I have inveigled myself into her affections. She thinks I am a stray black cat.’

‘Look, this is all very interesting,’ I told him. ‘But we must get on with our walk.’

‘No, wait,’ he pleaded. ‘Please hear me out. I won’t bother you again.’

‘Well,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you walk with us, then?’

‘I will,’ he replied.

So here I was walking in Knightwood Road with a love-struck vampire.

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.

‘I sought out a Transylvanian psychiatrist,’ he told me. ‘A Doctor Simion Petrescu. He wasn’t 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.”

‘So, 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 don’t know what to do. Whomsoever I turn to says, “I cannot help you.”

‘Neither can I,’ I told him.

‘I realise that,’ he said. ‘But you know how it is. a problem shared is a problem halved and all that ...”

‘Yes, yes,’ 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 cat.’

‘That’s a great idea,’ he said. ‘She does like me as a cat. Thinks I am a stray. Thank you. Thank you so much.’

‘You’ll need to overcome your fear of dogs,’ I told him.

‘I’ll just hiss and arch my back. Perhaps you will allow me to practice on your dog?’

‘No, no,’ I said, hastily. ‘Not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.’

Henry growled.

‘See what I mean?’

‘Yes,’ 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 ask.’

‘No. that’s all right,’ I told him. ‘There’s nothing you can do for me. I am only too glad to have been of service.’

‘Well, I’ll 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 me. Hooray!’

My suggestion, made half in jest, had truly transported him.

I took Henry home.

‘Well, what about that?’ I said to him.

He growled.

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 Ford.