A Conversation About Vampires

"Vampires are immensely strong" he said, "at least three times as strong as most of us. They never give up and they never give in. If there's something they really want they will risk their lives to get it. They are tough; they are fighters. "

"Vampires are seductive" she replied. "They seem charming but they are ruthless. They will do anything to get their own way. They are devious and cunning. "

"They relish the company of other vampires as much as they despise the poor fools on whom they prey," he said. "They love to hunt in a pack."

"They hunt alone" she said, looking bored.

"It doesn't help to lock your door," he said, "they can break down almost any door and if the door is strong enough to keep them out they will climb up to the window - they can climb any building - and smash it open!"

"They can fly" the elegant woman said calmly, "up to any window and no lock can last for long against their skill and sorcery."

The man stood up and paced to the window. He was tall and broad-shouldered and wore a dark suit.

"It is getting dark now" he said. "this is when they come out to hunt. But they are not afraid of the light, as most people seem to think."

" In the night they are stronger and more powerful. They are dangerous at any time." The woman's voice sank to a whisper. "If you ever find yourself alone in a room with a vampire, even in the daytime, don't let her close the curtains."

The man pulled down the blind in front of the window, blocking out the dull orange light. A small table lamp threw the woman's shadow against the wall, a magnified reflection of her silhouette. She was tall and thin and always wore black; her height was not apparent as she sat, leaning slightly forward, on the low divan.

"Where do vampires meet?" he asked. "Do they find each other in ruined castles, unafraid in the dark of decaying oak beams and collapsing brickwork? Or in the gloomy libraries of secret clubs that have remained unnoticed for centuries at the heart of busy cities? In the deep crypts under empty churches surrounded by the skulls of the long since dead, or in damp basements or cellars curtained by cobwebs?"

"In all those places," she replied, "and in night clubs and at cocktail parties and in cafes, or even in quiet little bookshops between shelves filled with dusty old second-hand books." She smiled as he took a step towards her.

"As we met" he said.

She picked up her glass of red wine and took a sip without lowering her eyes from his face. It was impossible to guess his age. He was a strong willed man, accustomed to getting what he wanted. His flat was modern in style, expensively decorated without being ostentatious, in an area that was just about to become the centre of a property boom. The wine was excellent, obviously old and expensive, yet he hadn't tried to impress her by showing her the label. He was looking at her very seriously now, almost without blinking, but she did not feel discomforted by his attention.

She was perhaps too tall and too thin, he thought, to be considered a beauty, yet she had a natural elegance and it was hard not to look at her face. She was looking up at him over the top of her glass of wine, her eyes dark in the dim light against the paleness of her skin. It was impossible to guess her age. For a few moments silence stretched between them.

"Last time I was in London, I met a vampire" she said, "an old, old man who lived next to a cemetery in North London. Someone took me to a party at his house. He kissed my hand and told me that my blood would taste like strong wine. Everybody treated him with great respect. I didn't need to be told what he was, somehow I knew at once. He wasn't trying to hide his strength."

"Yes," he said, "I think I may know who you mean, I've heard of him. One of the very strong ones, the old ones. You are fortunate to have met him."

For a moment she was uneasy, feeling she had said too much. She put down her glass and got up, smoothing down her skirt with her hands. She walked across the room slowly, not looking at him. There was a mirror on the wall, she stood so that she could see her reflection in it. She appeared to herself as a shadow, the dim light behind her blurring her outline. He took a few steps, his grey reflection appeared beside her and she could sense his closeness to her body as distinctly as if they were touching.

"Don't go now" he said "or you will never know what might have happened."

She turned to face him. "If I go," she said softly, "then it's you who will never know what might have happened. But I won't go yet." In the mirror their reflections flickered and grew pale, merging into one translucent shadow.

She stood very close to him. "Are you a vampire?" she whispered, her tongue almost touching his ear.

"Yes. Are you?" he replied, lowering his lips to her neck.