The sun sank, the clock struck 6, and Francis Blythe rose from his coffin.
“Feeding time, at last!” He whispered into the night.
He stood up, dusting off the English soil that lined the inside of his coffin. It was an additional security measure. Should his ancestral land ever stop existing, at least there would be a small corner of a foreign field that would be forever England.
He strolled through his ancestral manor, towards the den, towards the night. The furnishings could do with some replacement, he thought, but he considered modern styles too gauche. Better to wait another few decades for the antique market to improve. That was one of the key benefits of immortality: long-term style decisions could be made with confidence.
Blythe settled in an armchair, snapping his fingers to ignite the fireplace. It was necessary to wait some time before leaving. So he read, largely works of Victorian fiction and histories of old Kings. Blythe had noticed a change in the local population. A couple of centuries before, they had woken with the sunrise and gone to bed soon after the day’s end. Gradually this had been replaced with alarms that woke them unnaturally at 7 every morning, the people worked till 6 or later, then they fell asleep beyond the witching hour. Their days had grown harder, their leisure time had shrunk. If he could’ve converted more to his way of living he might’ve considered it, but he had to consider the strength of his family.
Many of his previous converts had flown from him. They were making their own lives, their own lines. They were in the New World, and the antipodes. Some of them had made good during the Empire and were living on the subcontinent. But Francis stayed where he was. There were risks away from home.
In England, he was just viewed as a bit of an eccentric. He was rarely seen. He left his house only to find books to occupy his waiting hours. Fortunately, the style in suits had not changed substantially in almost a hundred years so he could still get by without shopping. His voice sounded a bit dated but not enough to cause concern. Most importantly, he knew the customs well enough to avoid detection. He had to occasionally feast, but Francis covered his tracks. He picked on people who wouldn’t be missed.
Francis Blythe glided into the streets, the twelfth bell having been met. Tonight he had his eye on a small blocks of flats on the periphery of the town. The area had been dubbed Little Warsaw due to the Polish population there. Francis’ feeding times were rarer now, blood these days often richer in nutrients, but when he needed sustinence he used his other abilities.
“43, London road.” The postman had told him under hypnosis, “A single one, was living with a bunch of ‘em but he’s earning good money now. Ball, or something.”
That would suffice, and so he released the postman back into the neighbourhood.
He found the block of flats without a problem, one of those run down post-War concrete nightmares in a horrible state of disrepair. Francis scoffed, he wouldn’t keep his animals in such a place. This would be a mercy killing. He found the name ‘Balan’ on the intercom and reasoned it was correct.
Every now and then he’d found it necessary to lie. Though vampires traditionally like to be invited in, and he would be touched by the trust, these days everyone was much more closed off. So he roughed himself up a little before using the intercom.
“Hej,” came Balan’s voice, “Who is it ringing?”
“‘scuse me, mate,” Francis started, “eh’ve left me keys insoide, goin let us in?”
It was a mishmash of accents, but over the intercom it sounded more approachable and friendly.
“Ne problem, pal,” and the buzzer rang. In the grand court of vampiric rules and regulations, this would constitute an invitation.
Francis became mist and flew up the stairs. When he had first changed that was always one of his favourite powers to use. The misty flight. He had to stop on each floor and see if he could find the right flat. At the third level he saw it. Balan. He was getting hungry now. He was going to devour this man as soon as he saw him. Francis knocked politely, three times, with the knuckles.
Balan opened the door and found himself thrust backwards immediately. This thing had a hold on him and was pushing him backwards into the wall. The flag of his home country, a blue, yellow, and red tricolour, fell down as the beast stabbed his throat with its teeth. He died and it continued sucking his life force to the last drop.
Francis felt incredible! This was some of the finest blood he’d ever sampled and it coursed through his veins as a sprinting horse over an open field. The familiar rush and pleasure was unreserved. It sated him as nothing else could. With a kick of spice too.
But the spice was too much. What had moments ago thrilled him suddenly turned hot and bitter. It hurt his exhalations. He could feel his inner self twisting. He threw up. But it did no good. Francis tore the fallen flag off his head, stood up with himself last ounce of strength and looked around the room. He saw bread, next to a bowl containing a white spread. And the room smelt of garlic. His blood was now garlic.
Several weeks later police would be confused to find a Romanian man drained of blood and a weird, dead, ulcerated mess of a man in an Edwardian suit.
The writer of this piece has a sore neck. Not from a vampire, but sleeping on too many pillows. Happy Halloween!