Midnight Feast, or, An Uninvited Guest

10th June 1994

(2000 words)

Copyright (C) Mike Taylor, 10th June 1994
All rights reserved.

I woke suddenly at about a quarter to midnight. That's been happening to me a lot recently, what with all the stress at work. What was more surprising this time was that I woke standing up, just inside my open front door. The night air was warm and clear. The moon was full, and I could see the stars twinkle overhead. And there was a vampire standing on my doorstep.

At first I thought I was dreaming. I pinched myself a few times, slapped my face and touched my toes, while the vampire waited patiently. When I'd given up on my futile attempts to wake myself, he cleared his throat nervously, and spoke in a very normal voice -- not a trace of the traditional East European accent.

"May I come in?"

It was his ordinariness that persuaded me this was for real. If he'd worn a flowing red-lined black satin cloak, I'd have found it harder to accept. If he'd had the traditional Hammer Horror Christopher Lee pointy hairdo, or if his skin had been the ghastly pallid white that one comes to expect in vampire films, then I wouldn't have believed my eyes. But the man on my doorstep was a very ordinary chap, a little below average height, with blue eyes and brown hair. Mister Average, really. He was wearing a neatly cut business suit, though I didn't much care for his taste in ties.

The only thing that gave it away was the fangs.

"Is it urgent?" I asked. I was still half-asleep, and too drowsy to be properly afraid. I wanted to go back to bed.

"I'm afraid so. I must talk to you immediately."

I didn't like to seem rude, so I invited him in, showed him into the lounge and left him leafing idly through a magazine like any other casual visitor. I went through to the kitchen and fixed some coffee. I opened a packet of biscuits, then had second thoughts -- I wasn't at all sure that vampires ate biscuits, and I didn't know what else to offer. After all, I was no expert at entertaining supernaturally empowered blood-suckers. I didn't have a lot of experience.

I carried the coffee through and set it down on the table. I couldn't help noticing that my visitor had trodden mud from outside into a rather expensive rug that I'd bought the week before, but, ever the genial host, I pretended not to see it. I poured two large mugs and offered one to my visitor. "Here you are, Mister."

"Thanks but no thanks", he said. "I only drink decaff at this time of night, otherwise I just can't get to sleep during the day." He looked around in a distracted way. "Say, nice place you've got here."

This was all very well, but I had to get up early tomorrow morning for what I knew would be another busy day at work. I hadn't got up in the middle of the night to make small-talk with a passing stranger. Even if it was a passing stranger with unusual dental equipment. "Thanks", I said. "I hate to be rude, but I do want to get back to bed. What can I do for you?"

There was an embarrassed pause. My visitor looked around sheepishly, seemed on the verge of trying to change the subject, thought better of it, and decided to get to the point.

"I want to kill you and drink your blood."

I sprayed a mouthful of coffee all over my new rug in shock and amazement. "You want what?!"

"Please! There's no need to take offence. I mean nothing personal by it."

"Nothing personal?!"

"As you say, nothing personal. I am, however, very hungry. Very hungry indeed. If I do not feed soon ... it will be painful for me."

"If you do eat soon, it's going to be pretty painful for me, no?"

"Not at all. I know some very sophisticated methods of killing you, using only equipment that you probably have in your own kitchen. I assure you it will be quite painless."

I took a gulp of coffee. "No! Why am I supposed to care if going without food is painful for you? What difference does it make to me? What happens, are you going to die of starvation or something?"

An expression of regret flickered briefly across his face. "Oh no", he said. "If only it were that simple. Surely you know that vampires don't simply die as you do? Instead, the hunger grows and grows, past the point where a mortal would die -- not just from malnutrition, but from the sheer agony of craving. And then it goes on, and on, and on." Then the hunger was in his eyes, as he betrayed emotion for the first time, imploring me, "Please!"

To my horror, I found a seed of doubt growing inside me. "Why me?" I blurted out, "Why does it have to be me?"

"You have a rare blood group", replied my visitor. "The same as my own. I need blood of a type that matches mine. Nothing else will satisfy me." He spoke with a thrilling intensity. And suddenly, this ordinary little man who I'd invited unwillingly into my home seemed terribly alien. A shiver ran down my spine as the coffee did its work, I reached full wakefulness, and realised how serious he was.

"How do you know my blood type?" I asked. "I don't even know it myself."

"It has ..." He paused. "It has a distinctive odour, I think that's the best I can do at describing it. I can detect the, er, blood-signature from some distance away." He licked his lips nervously.

"Why are you asking me this? You're supposed to be a foul creature of the night, right? Untamed and untrammelled by the laws of man. Why didn't you just suck my blood while I slept? Shouldn't be too difficult for loathsome demon-spawn like you. Uh, no offence intended."

"None taken, I assure you. You should know that if I suck your blood while you're still alive, you will become a vampire. I wouldn't wish that on anybody." He shuddered slightly. "I never even met the bastard who did it to me. There I was, a perfectly ordinary sixteenth century peasant, sleeping peacefully, minding my own business. I woke up one morning with two holes in my neck and a strange craving for raw meat. Next thing I know, I'm walking the streets at midnight, sniffing out people with rare blood. Do you think I like doing this? Hell, no! It's so humiliating! And so lonely ..."

Fascinating. I could see that he had my interests at heart. Well, up to a point. I didn't have a lot of interest in being killed, but I could see the attraction, given the alternative.

"Why didn't you kill me in my sleep?" I asked.

"It would not have been ... honourable. We vampires have a reputation to uphold, you know. Lords of darkness, masters of the pit of Hell, all that kind of thing." He waved a hand around airily. "We're supposed to be the upper crust. Death before dishonour." And then, suddenly, he choked off his words. Shocked, I realised that what I'd thought earlier was a look of hunger in his eyes was actually the tears beginning to form; and now they started to flow freely. "Oh, it's so lonely!" he cried. I saw that his tears were eating through my new rug, but I didn't like to draw attention to it under the circumstances. In any case, it was probably already ruined by the mud and coffee stains.

"The real reason I woke you ..." he managed to get out between sobs, "was just for the company. It's been more than thirty years since I had a sensible conversation." I knew exactly how he felt. It's a lot like that at the office on Monday mornings.

"So you're attempting to persuade me, willingly, of my own accord, to let you kill me so that you can drink my blood?"

"Initially, yes", he replied, blinking back the tears.

There was one of those pregnant pauses that you read about in P. G. Wodehouse. "Initially?" I asked.

"Well, yes", he replied. "Initially I'm trying to persuade you. Obviously if you won't co-operate, I'll have to kill you anyway. But I won't enjoy it."

This made me feel a lot better.

"What if I hadn't answered the door?"

"You had no choice. Being a foul creature of the night, as you rather indelicately put it, does have some consolations, and one of them is the Power to Command Those Who Sleep." He said it in such a way that I could hear the capital letters.

I glanced at my watch. It was two minutes to twelve. I had to play for time. "Let me get another coffee", I said, rising from my seat. "I still don't feel properly awake ..."

"No", he interrupted. "Time is short. I must have food, and I must have it soon. I must drink your blood and eat your liver."

"Huh?! You didn't say anything about my liver before."

"I don't like to mention that part. Somehow it lacks the glamour of drinking your blood, don't you think? But the fact remains, I must eat it."

"Are you quite sure you wouldn't rather just have a biscuit?"

"Quite sure", he said, with a little tight-lipped smile. I could see that I was running out of options fast. There was a hint of steel in his voice as he said, "Now would you please lie down on the floor and allow me to anaesthetise you?"

One minute to midnight. I started to sweat. "Hold it", I said. "Can't I just go to the toilet first? At least let a man die with the dignity of an empty bladder."

"Alright", he replied. "But be quick. And no tricks."

I walked through the door that led to the smallest room in house, and locked it firmly behind me. I looked through the window -- too small to climb through, alas -- at the full moon. And I looked at my watch again. Midnight. Perfect timing!

I waited ... And looked in the mirror ... And watched the moon ... And looked in the mirror ...

There was a knock on the toilet door, and I heard the vampire's muffled voice. "Come on", he said, "don't take all night. I'm hungry." I didn't reply. There was a short pause, and he spoke again. "Don't be unreasonable. Surely you know that a wooden door can't keep you safe from me?" Again, I said nothing.

Crunch! The door bent inwards at about head-height. Another crunch, and this time the vampire's fist appeared through the hole it had made. He wrenched his hand free, punched another two or three holes in the door, and soon had it smashed to smithereens. But it was now a minute past midnight, and the transformation was complete.

With a deep growl, I unfolded my massive, hairy body from the suddenly too-small bathroom. I grinned at my uninvited guest, showing my fangs -- bigger and sharper than his. He backed away, his pupils dilating, and I savoured the reversal of fortunes. Then I let out a howl, and sprang ...

It was all over very quickly. Vampires are much stronger than humans, it's true, but I was stronger still. What's more, he had only his fangs and fists to attack with. I have four paws, each with great curved claws, and a mouth designed for attacking live prey. He never stood a chance. They say vampires are hard to kill, but when you're half a ton of muscle, tooth and claw, it's a piece of cake. Just to be sure, I tore his body into fragments before settling down to eat.

It was the best midnight feast I've had in months.

But it was a shame about the blood all over my new rug.

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