Thea had always been fascinated by vampires. Not the overly sexualized creatures in movies like Twilight or Interview With A Vampire, but the dark, dangerous blood sucking creatures of the night that haunted her dreams. At the moment, she sat in the bowels of an old library reading through handwritten notes in a journal that was more than a hundred years old. Most of her friends were spending the Saturday night out dancing and drinking while she was tucked away in a dusty room with books that smelled of time and stale air.
She finished reading a page of cramped writing and leaned back to give both her eyes and neck a moment to relax. A glance at the antique watch on her wrist had her letting a sigh escape her lips. It was nearly ten o’clock and the library would close soon. She closed the books she had been using for research and stacked them neatly on the returns cart. Gathering the rest of her notebooks and personal items, Thea tucked all of it into her leather backpack and headed toward the side door of the building, hoping it would still be unlocked.
She didn’t make it to door, a sound caught her attention, and she spun around to face whatever was coming. Her heart raced as she looked back toward the tables she had been sitting at. A man dressed in all black stood behind the chair she had been using. He smiled, the slight movement of his lips bringing no comfort with them.
Thea sucked in a breath. He was familiar. She didn’t know his name, but had seen him around over the last few weeks since she had started reading the older journals. Squaring her shoulders, she spoke, “hello.”
“Miss Thea, I am sorry if I frightened you. That was not my intent. I only wish to speak with you about your research,” he said, his tone reminding her of the British actors she enjoyed watching on television. It fit his aesthetic perfectly, giving him a creepy vibe.
“Who are you and what do you want with me?” She asked, gripping her bag tighter against her side.
He rested a hand on the back of the chair. “My name is Winston. Winston Kettlemore,” he said.
The sound of his name did nothing to soothe her nerves. “And that means what to me? I’ve never heard the name before. What do you want with me?” She said, her temper getting the better of her.
He let out a laugh that echoed through the room. “How long have you been doing research on vampires?” He asked.
Thea looked at him over the distance between them. “All my life. But what does that have to do with you?” She asked.
Winston moved from behind the chair, walking the length of the table and stopping at the end. “Well, that depends on how much you believe in what you have read and how open your mind is,” he said.
“I believe little of it. There’s too much fiction wrapped around what minor legends I can find,” she said.
Winston nodded. “So, you don’t think there is anything real hiding in the fiction?”
Thea shook her head. “Not really. I think it’s all stories from the minds of people who are fascinated by the idea of supernatural creatures. Bram Stroker, Anne Rice, and like have made vampires into something more than actually lived.” She said, unwilling to let the worry creeping up on her slip into her voice.
Winston tipped his head back and laughed a second time. Clearing his throat, he spoke, “You are correct. The writers have done their best to make a joke out of supernatural beings. However, there are a few things in those stories that are close to correct, or more to the point they are correct but tucked into the fiction in such a way few people notice them,” he said.
Fear wrapped around her, and her thoughts went to some of the older journals she had read. “I’m willing to listen to what you have to say.”
He nodded. “Then would you be willing to spare me the time it would take to have a cup of tea with me at the shop across the street?” He asked, still sounding foreign to her.
“Since it’s a public place and I could use a drink, sure.” She turned her back to him and walked out of the room. Thea could hear him following behind her as she left the library with a wave to the older woman sitting behind the information desk.
The woman waved back and called out to her. “See you tomorrow Thea,” she said.
“Five o’clock,” Thea said, walking on out of the building. She crossed the street with the man following her just a couple of respectful steps behind her.
Pushing through the door of the coffee shop, she waved to the man behind the counter. “The usual.” She said, turning to look at the man who should have been behind to ask what he wanted. The man wasn’t there. He was sitting at the corner table, leaning back against the wall. She shook her head and waited for her drink.
A couple of seconds later, the man behind the counter handed her a cup of sweet smelling tea. She walked over and sat down across from Winston at the table. He smiled and glanced at the cup in her hand. “Smells interesting,” he said.
“Thanks. It’s a chai mix,” she said. Taking a sip, she continued, “what did you want to talk to me about?”
He sat there for a few moments, looking at the people milling around the coffee shop. Then he spoke with a distracted tone. “The legend of the first vampire.”
Thea blinked. “You mean Vlad the Impaler?”
Winston chuckled. “No, he wasn’t a vampire. He was just a cruel man who became the heart of a legend bigger than he had ever been. I mean the real original vampire. The first man who lived longer than anyone else in the world. A man who needed the blood of humans to live,” he said. He smiled, showing the tips of fangs over his lower lips. “Me.”