A vampire lives at number 84
It’s not immediately obvious, it’s not the most likely place to expect that one of the creatures of the night would choose to live out his endless immortal existence in a 3 bedroomed ( bathroom downstairs option) mid terraced house, but there you are and more pressingly, there he is and the local cats don’t like it at all.
Cats are not renowned for possessing club able, hangin out with the honeys, mi casa es si casa personalities, but, the cats on this street often congregate in small friendship or family groups to soak up sunshine, hurl insults at those considered deadly foes and to do to death any delicate and ideally expensive planting that the human dwellers labour over.
But, but, but, there is one garden that no cat, not even the least experienced, just out of the pet shop, never been through the cat flap before kitten ever steps into.
Even the most brazen, most vocal, bad boys on the block find good reasons to drop down from walls that band all the gardens together just as they reach the vampires back yard and continue that few feet of the journey along the alley floor itself before nonchalantly springing back onto the wall and heading down to investigate which cats flaps can be entered by the appliance of a good hearty head butt.
The cats’ objections are twofold really.
It’s not as though they are actually anti the dark arts and things that go bump in the night, they have no issues with witches and warlocks and actively like Mrs Prosser the White witch at number 56, particularly as her own cat, black of course, is a generous host, always happy to share his oversized bowl of kitty kibble, but vampires, well that’s just a step too far and besides, for delicate feline noses, vampires smell, well, wrong, rank, lower the tone of the neighbourhood.
And of course, there’s the issue of resources, in this mostly tidy inner city area, well, resources are scarce. There’s a real lack of rats, mice and baby birds.
The cats , although rarely ever really hungry, still enjoy a occasional al fresco snack, like to get in touch with their inner big cat and brutally, the street can’t support his feeding needs alongside theirs.
Their best hope is to wait, cross their paws and hope that sometime soon, he gives up his diet light and falls back on the bad old, blood red, neck chewing days of yesteryear.
And quite frankly, it can’t happen too soon.
The humans, of course, are in denial, even when most of the cats and some of the more public spirited dogs have gone out of their way to give warning after warning.
The house is always in darkness, blinds firmly drawn at all times, so well fitting that no chink of light is getting in there. The windows are not just closed, but closed with a finality that suggests that they will never ,ever open again.
There is never a single sound, no television, no radio, not even the hum of a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner. It’s as though the house is beyond empty,but, if you know where and when to stand peering up at the back bedroom window as dusk falls and the street lights flicker on, then you will see something, a movement, the shape of a man stretching, bending and at this point, the cat loitering on the next door’s wall usually remembers a vital errand 3 doors away and slides gracefully, but very purposefully away.
The vampire notices the cat of course, wonders for a moment what cat tastes like in the 21st century, more processed, higher fat content and more crucially, more noticed,likely to result in sad badly photocopied flyers tied to lampposts and a lack of cats allowed out late at night, let out to put themselves at any risk at all.
A slew of missing cats will draw attention and attention is not what he seeks at this point in his very long life.
It will have to be rabbit again, there are still two bucks, crouched together as far back in the hutch as they can be. Their bodies one quiver of fear,eyes focussed on what is beyond the wire, what has come each day for the does that filled this hutch to capacity a few days ago, what has shunk their already small lives to piss and fear and the stench of other rabbit death.
The rabbits have plenty of space now, but try and make themselves as small as possible, wriggling away in terror when his hand lifts the latch and gently stretches out to gather a bunny to his chest.
He thinks about real flesh, real food in the same way that a dieter dreams of cakes and chocolate and icecream. His mouth waters at the memories of previous feasts, when gorged on the blood of victims, some willing, some perhaps less so, he would lie replete, a small moan of pleasure escaping his mouth.
His tongue and elegant white fingers licking and dabbing at droplets and splashes.
The rabbit will nourish him, keep body and something other than soul together and the rabbits are easy to come by, although he is having to travel farther and farther to farmers markets, old fashioned pet shops and even domestic breeders over-run by unwanted bunnies.
But it is real blood he want, not the mud blood of rabbits and rats and the occasional shabby city fox, he knows that times have changed. This century is not kind to him.
Leave one blood drained corpse in an alley way and all hell breaks loose and as for living in Eastern European splendour, well, even the vampires think that the future is more EU than gothic.
And so, he continues living here at number 84, he doesn’t have a plan as such. When you have lived as long as he has, well, times change, things come and go and eventually his time will come again and then he will hunt.
Eyes reflecting the full moon, blood red lips drawn back, his every sense more than alive and in front of him, running even though she know that there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide is the maiden or more accurately, because this is what he is focussed on, the maidens neck, pale skin,, veins beating dark against the white flesh and the hunger growing in him as bears down on her.
He stops, blows his nose, takes a deep breath, he is getting too old for this much excitement, needs to pace himself, stay patient.
He removes a morsel of rabbit fur from between his front teeth, hefts the two little corpses into a bin liner and is pleased when he remembers that tomorrow is bin day.
Opening the back door, he looks up into the sky, the moon is there competing with the street lights and the glow for the shopping centre and the huge floodlights from the football stadium across the river, but the moon is still there and he basks for just a second before jumping onto the wall and then down and along the alley footpath and away.
He can taste young fox cub in the air.
As he passes them, two cats, tortoiseshell, mother and son, flatten their bodies against the ground, ears tucked down into their skulls.
They stay there far longer than they need to, still and silent and scared.
Waiting until they are quite sure that he far enough away before they move quickly together.
Over the walls.
Up the tiny garden path and into the kitchen with a definitive bang of the cat flap.
Then,a pause, a regrouping and then sleep, curled around each other for comfort.
Neither choosing to leave the warmth of the sofa tonight.