A vampire visits his old flame
|Let me make this clear: I'm a vampire. I wasn't always a vampire, although I was a rather monstrous boy. Honestly, if I hadn't been running around trashing a graveyard at midnight on Halloween when I was a teenager, I wouldn't have been attacked by a vampire and become one myself. So I guess I got what I deserved. But it's a miserable life.
Condemned to feed off of living blood for my existence, I had to spend the daylight hours holed up in a coffin in a Transylvanian castle – naturally. Where else would I live: in my old American hometown? No, of course not.
I avoided turning other people into vampires to get a square meal. Even if I went to the trouble of only selecting wicked people who deserved to die, still, would I really want bad blood? Yuck. I'm told innocent blood tastes best. But that would go against whatever humanity remained within me.
So I contented myself with trapping rodents. It wasn't healthy, and the other vampires mocked me, but whatever. I had no desire to thrive at the expense of others. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
I spent many long and dreary years in hiding, sleeping in my coffin by day, lurking about at night, reading books from the old castle's extensive library. Literature became my sole connection to society—no, I don't own a copy of Dracula. You would ask me that, wouldn't you?
It was a dark and stormy night—no, really, it was. Pouring rain and mighty thunder shook the rafters as I wandered the hollow halls of my castle, lined with flickering gas lamps. I was sick of being there, sick of reading books, sick of drinking rats' blood just to get through another empty day. Half of me wanted to melt away in a final sunrise. The other half longed to be human again, but that was impossible.
Childhood memories hung before my weary eyes. Oh, if only I'd been more well-behaved. I could have dated my sweetheart, Lenore. Her mother had probably warned her to stay away from me. I loved her from afar.
I was filled with a strong desire to teleport back to my hometown and try to find out what became of Lenore, maybe see her one last time before melting away. I didn't teleport often: cities were too dangerous, I wasn't interested in wilderness exploration, and the only people I could associate with were vampires—ugh!
I jumped inside the teleporting ring, closed my eyes and pictured the street where I used to live as clearly as possible while mumbling the magic words. The spell rarely worked properly. One more reason I avoided using it.
Instead of standing in front of my former home, I found myself in the lush backyard garden of an expensive house, filled with white flowering plants glowing under the moonlight. Good grief. I was trespassing in paradise. A swinging bench dangled under an arbor entwined with sweetly-scented jasmine.
I had hardly gotten my bearings when I heard a sharp, ferocious barking and a little schnauzer came bounding towards me. Lenore followed behind with a shovel. She was still as lovely as I remembered her. Long brown curls, hazel eyes that caught the moonlight, no-nonsense sweats. I held up my hands, cringing back as the dog advanced upon me.
"Stop, Fido!" She cried. "Leave him alone. I'll handle this." Lenore grabbed Fido by the collar and managed to prevent him from attacking me. He wasn't convinced, standing at attention, growling.
"I'm sorry, I—I think I'm in the wrong place..." I felt like melting into the ground.
She stared silently. I knew I was a terrifying sight. I expected her to run away screaming for help, or maybe take a swipe at me with her shovel. Instead she drew closer and studied my face.
"Alex, is that you?"
"How—you recognize me?!" I was stunned. We had barely spoken to each other, let alone become acquainted.
"You made national news when you disappeared that Halloween night. Your picture was everywhere."
"Oh, I became a missing persons case?"
"Indeed. I always wondered what happened to you. Everyone said how nice you were. I regretted never being able to know you."
"Eulogies get embellished. I wasn't that great."
"You volunteered at the animal shelter."
"I was a dunce in school."
"That doesn't mean anything. I always believed your heart was in the right place." She paused and looked down at the gravel path, adding bashfully, "I also thought you were the cutest boy in class."
I laughed bitterly.
"I'm not cute anymore. Look at me—can't you see I'm a vampire? Pointed ears, sharp fangs, red eyes, creepy old-fashioned clothes. I'm a monster now." I turned away. "Nice to see you again, Lenore. I didn't mean to show up like this. Goodbye."
"Wait! Don't go."
"Why not? Aren't you afraid of me?"
She held out her hand and came a little closer.
"I'd rather have a vampire Alex than no Alex at all."
"Seriously? You never knew I loved you."
"Now's a good time to learn," she smiled, dropping the shovel and reaching in to hug me. I couldn't believe it. I'd forgotten what a hug feels like. I started bawling my eyes out like a child. She took my hand and led me to the swing, and we sat down. Fido hopped up and settled comfortably in between us. I scratched behind his ears, and he wagged his tail. Lenore was right; I did love animals.
"If Fido's okay with you, then so am I. Tell me everything, Alex. I've wondered long enough."
There wasn't much to tell, certainly.
"Now it's your turn, Lenore."
She told me how she'd gotten married at seventeen, to a guy a few years older who became a successful doctor.
"How nice. You've done well for yourself." I tried to feel happy that she'd found someone who provided her a luxurious home. But when I looked into her eyes that had once been so free and innocent, I could see the years had left her burdened and careworn. Something was wrong. "He does love you, doesn't he?"
She gazed down at the ground again.
"I think he does," she said in a small voice. "He has a terrible temper…"
No. I could see where this was going.
"Lenore, is he abusive?"
"He's under a lot of stress…"
"That's no excuse. How does he treat you?"
She fidgeted and leaned down to pull a weed away from the base of a white iris. When she stretched her arm, her sweatshirt sleeve slid upwards, revealing the dark stain of a hand grip above her wrist.
"If he did that to you…" I fumed.
"It's not a big deal, really, Alex."
"Of course it is! Where is he? Why are you out here at night?"
"He's out of town. He has an important medical conference in Nashville…"
"Baloney. He's probably cheating on you."
"You have no evidence to say that." She drew herself up haughtily. "I enjoy night gardening. That's why all the flowers are white."
"You should take this opportunity to move out, file for divorce. He doesn't love you."
She glared at me.
"I'm not leaving behind my garden and my dog to be a vampire! How dare you—”
"Lenore, I'm not asking you to have an affair with a vampire. I'm asking you to dump an abuser. You don't have to be with me if you don't want. I didn't come here to hunt you down or pick you up. I just wanted to know if you were happy."
"I'm quite happy, thank you."
She stood up, walking away towards the sundial ringed with white petunias. Fido left to follow her. I sat by myself in awkward, disbelieving silence.
"I would like to be left alone, please." Lenore's voice was cold and distant.
Meekly I drew a circle around myself and teleported back to my castle, which now seemed even bleaker and more awful than before.
I shouldn't have meddled in her personal life. It wasn't my business. We'd barely spoken for ten minutes and I'd bungled it. The same compassion that led her to embrace a vampire was keeping her trapped in a bad marriage, but who was I to say so? Maybe it only appeared that way.
Her sorrowful eyes and the bruises on her arm haunted me. I cried myself to sleep in my coffin.
The next night I decided to go back. It was all I could do. This time I teleported properly, hiding myself behind the white clematis hedge.
I heard a man shouting angrily over the whimpering of a dog. Carefully I parted the vines and saw him standing in front of the swing. Lenore sat on it in tears, holding a limp Fido.
"You tried to kill him," she sobbed.
"I told you to keep it from chewing on my shoes! It's all your fault!" I saw a knife gleaming in his hand. He raised it and moved closer to Lenore. "I've had all I can take of you and your stupid dog!"
"Noooo!" I yelled. I burst through the hedge and tackled him to the ground. He did not drop the knife. Instead we rolled about, locked in combat. I wasn't prepared for a fight. My wimpy diet left me much weaker than I should have been. Yes, I could have had his blood, but he was too nasty. And besides, turning him into a vampire wouldn't have solved anything.
He stabbed me many times before I could grab the knife. There was no time to be squeamish as I plunged it into his chest and pulled myself away.
Being undead didn't mean I couldn't feel any pain. I tried to get up, but collapsed in agony under a white rosebush. Lenore rushed to my side and got down on her hands and knees. Even poor injured Fido licked my hand.
"Alex! You saved me!" She wrapped her arms around me. "What will become of you?"
"I'm afraid I can't get back to my coffin before daylight in this condition," I wheezed. "The teleporting magic barely works when I'm okay. By default, I'll cease to exist at sunrise. It's alright, really. You're safe now."
"It isn't alright!" Lenore squeezed me tighter and laid her head on my shoulder. "I must save you!"
I gazed into her tearful hazel eyes.
"Would you be willing to spend eternity with me as a vampire?"
"You were willing to die for me," she responded. "Nothing is too much."
"You're sure you want that life?"
"A vampire life with Alex is better than no Alex at all."
I hugged her close.
"I swear I'll do my best to make you happy," I promised. "Hold still. This will hurt."
They were right: the blood of a pure soul was the best thing I'd ever tasted as a vampire. As her life flowed into mine, I could feel myself recovering my former strength and then some.
When it was over, she was transformed into the most stunning lady vampire I'd ever seen. Her gardening sweats became a lacy black Victorian gown.
"How do you feel?" We asked simultaneously, laughing and hugging. I was all better. She was hungry. We looked at Fido, who clearly wouldn't survive alone. I patted her shoulder.
"Go ahead, he can come with us."
She overcame her revulsion and bit Fido's neck. As a vampire dog, he was just as sweet as he'd been before.
I drew the teleportation circle, inviting them in with solemn ceremony. Lenore paused to tear up a handful of iris rhizomes.
"I'm not leaving without my Immortality irises," she said with a smile.
Those irises were the start of a splendid moon garden on our castle grounds. My undead life became a dark paradise, with my precious loved one at my side and Fido our loyal guardian, evermore.
Word count: 1996
Prompt: Write a story about a classic horror villain
(vampire, werewolf, invisible man, mummy, Frankenstein, etc.)
who's not a villain at all ... just misunderstood.
Inspired by the Alec Benjamin song "Devil Doesn't Bargain", for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.