Interview with a Monster - The Dracula File
First seen in Suspense Magazine April 2013
In January 2013, I found myself staring at a blank computer screen. It wasn’t writer’s block and there were many, as of yet, unfinished projects to complete, including a first full length novel (chapter 1 is teasingly included in the back of this book), a number of tales that were basically written and only needed a good edit, the weekly blog posting at stayingscared.blogspot.com, and I had just embarked on writing a column for Horror News Net entitled Land of Shadow and Substance (more on that later).
Regardless, this idea, a rather unorthodox, yet interesting series of interviews featuring some of filmdom’s classic fictional monsters had been clawing to get out for some time now and I ran with it.
As these yet to be written unconventional pieces swam in my mind, another aspect struck and I doubted whether any publications would view them with equal fascination. Regardless, I easily tackled the first, Frankenstein, and along with a pitch to write more, sent it off to the very first place I had ever been published, Suspense Magazine.
Well, lo and behold, the appeal was there and the Interview with a Monster series was born.
Five of these interviews were eventually published; Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Phantom of the Opera and the Salem Witch; and all included an enticement or hint as to who the subsequent piece would surround.
I’ve since taken a hiatus from the concept, but can say without hesitation that someday I will revisit this concept, probably with a more modern twist. Mwhahahahahaha!
Dracula is probably the most famous of all the classic monsters and (sic) tracking him down was rather tough. I should probably also mention that he despises the Twilight tales. Heh heh.
(Author’s Note) After an exhausting search consisting of many friends of friends, each subsequent connection growing more and more gothic, I finally tracked down someone close enough to the Count that could get a message to him. All I am at liberty to say is that she too had pointed fangs along with a look of hunger in her eyes, making me feel that I was certain to end up a few quarts short. Gladly, my neck remained unscathed as she, through a hissing voice, promised to deliver my request and get back to me with an answer by week’s end. What I didn’t expect was to awaken during the small hours with those same famished eyes leering down at me in my bed...two days later. While she continued to gaze at me as though I was a meal, she simply handed me a rolled up parchment tied with a red ribbon before going to the open window and disappearing into the night.
My inquiry was really nothing more than your average, everyday request for a personal interview and included a potential location and time. The location selected was at the end of a long wooden pier, at a bench overlooking the ocean; a place that, at 11:00 p.m., typically had fishermen, lovers strolling hand in hand, the occasional wino carrying a tilted bottle of ripple in a stained and rumpled paper bag sporadically milling about. Usually, and I’ve written many an article there, the people avoided interference, except for maybe the drunks, who chronically begged for loose change.
However, I hadn’t selected this location simply due to the mingling people. While I wasn’t completely sure that the Hollywood cliché of vampires having a fear of water held any truth, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared. With the bench being only a few feet from the pier’s edge, if the need arose, the opportunity to quickly clamber over the railing and land in the safety of the choppy surf below was an added security measure.
His reply, personally written in wonderfully detailed and painstakingly meticulous old English lettering, was just as cordial. He accepted both the location and time and had only one stipulation; that the questioning refrained from mentioning Bella and Edward. This seemed reasonable enough and to tell you the truth, I hadn’t considered any such questions (at least not until he had mentioned it, and those were limited to that baby thing).
A week before excitement still sustained, but gradually tapered off and two days prior I started feeling more and more apprehensive, entertaining thoughts of garlic necklaces and wooden stakes; even pondering whether or not to try and pass the scent off as just having eaten Italian. On second thought, the word eaten would probably be a bad choice and I decided to just wear a cross necklace on a short chain instead. That always worked…at least in the movies.
The night came and it was darker than usual, with an overcast hiding all but a small portion of the full moon’s light from passing through. I was early, assuring that the bench would be ours, and waited in the damp stillness, watching a thick mist floating over the water and listening to the crashing waves underneath. To say the night’s weather was miserable would be an understatement. There were no lovers or fishermen or drunks and I found myself completely alone; vulnerable.
Through fear laced jerky movements, my head and eyes hunted the darkness for this elusive vampire. I peered up at the hazy moon, just for a moment, and when my eyes lowered he was sitting beside me. That notion of elusion by water suddenly seemed all for naught; for he had just proven that I probably wouldn’t have even make it to the edge. Grinning at me, with eyes offering a quick red flash before going back to some sense of normalcy and glistening fangs digging into his lower lip…
It took me a few terror filled moments to regain composure before being able to speak and he was kind enough to wait. Subsequently, through a thick accent, but with distinguishable wording, it was clear that this undead person was most intelligent. He was acutely aware, with ego vividly beaming through. Oh, I might add that contrary to what you may have seen in Hollywood depictions of the king bloodsucker, there was no black cape involved either.Allow me to put you at ease. While I must admit you look tantalizing, I will not drain you; leave you lie like some deflated balloon left behind by a bored child. The world would be deprived of our conversation. Frankly, you are the first to have such an inquiry and I admire that. Fortunately for you, only that alone is what will save your life this fine evening. When I originally read your letter, I viewed it as a jest, a trick if you will, concocted by an ancestor of Van Helsing as a ploy to bring me into the open. However, Lacy, that was her name, assured me that you had quite serious intent. Only then did I decide to converse. Being the first time I had actually written in centuries, for that I convey deepest gratitude.
Suddenly, I was thinking this hadn’t been such a bad idea after all. And, as fear fled, the questions began to flow.
Well Mr. Count, Hollywood has depicted you in various ways. How accurate would you say these accounts are?
For the largest part, most come close. I do subsist on blood, but rarely will I rip or shred a neck apart. To do so is much loss and waste; shall leave that aspect to the werewolves. I do prefer the jugular vein. It offers easy access and until the person’s heart stops, continues to pump enough to be fulfilling. While I will not divulge my weaknesses, rest assured, Hollywood only has part of it right. The stake is one of them, which lends to the inquiry as to how you might fair in such an onslaught. Understand? (I nodded in agreement. After all, never having considered anything other than emotion impaling my heart, I couldn’t deny that death would be the outcome had it been a physical object instead). As far as that Lee or Lugosi fellows are concerned, Lee’s eyes are more accurate while Lugosi’s gothic appearance are more appropriate.
Since you’ve mentioned werewolves, is there actually a feud between them and vampires?
Ah…the werewolves. They have been around almost as long as we vampires have and most of my kind view them as despicable; a scourge of the underworld. This view is primarily due to their vicious disposition. They appear unsophisticated, having no class, especially when they kill simply for the sake of killing. We vampires hold that with the utmost disregard. Typically, we avoid one another. However, much like your egotistical, fabled old west gunfighters harnessing their perceived invincibility by entering a town looking for the fastest draw, one tends to oversteps their bounds and one of my own will be killed. While tending to lean more toward a vendetta as opposed to a feud, their elders are fully aware of consequences for the rogue, with each side remaining clear until resolution…or death if you will. But, to simply answer your question, as far as any ongoing feud is concerned, there is typically none to speak of and upon meeting, we tend to avoid and go our separate ways.
I often wondered about the mirrors. Is it true that you cast no reflection?Yes, with mirrors, that much is true. But a camera would still capture my portrait...if I allowed it. Technological advances in the advent of street cameras force awareness, attempting to limit prowling grounds. Of course, is anyone truly attentive enough or concerned with the occasional cluster of fog or mist passing through? I should say not.
For security reasons I won’t ask where you live, but I would like to know whether you actually sleep in a coffin or not?
The coffin, eh? That too is another Hollywood misconception, but one I fully comprehend. Death, in all reality, is a terrifying prospect for you humans, wouldn’t you say? Basically, Hollywood horror tales are made with intent to scare. What better way to terrify than to include associated items? When it comes to my rest, I am quite content anywhere, provided the prospect at being caught is nil and it is out of direct sunlight. A cave or mine; an old deserted house; plenty of damp basements; I’ve slept in them all. The oddest was a rotted shell of a van left to fade away in the desert. Fortunately, both rear windows were heavily tinted and still intact.
Do you really fly?
Without a word and with eyes piercing mine, remaining cross legged and maintaining the seated position, he floated up off the bench, hovered for a few moments and slowly came back down. Obviously this answered my question.
Have you always had a penchant for human blood?
Not always, but it is the tastiest. My appetite is considerable. Small animals, while I don’t condemn their nourishment, leave me lingering for more and force me to hunt over and over again. As far as deer are concerned, and let me reiterate my stance that this is the nearest I’ll get to that Bella movie thing, leave a lot to be desired. While fully nourishing, they tend to taste like a blend of stale nature. Of course, I’m not beyond snatching a doe from time to time, when I have to, but I prefer human as opposed.
While I suppose I should have considered whether or not his evening meal had been completed before asking that question, it appeared far too late now, as hungry eyes took on a deep redness that was nothing less than horrifying. Suddenly, I found myself wondering whether his need for blood was comparable to that of an alcoholic needing a drink or a drug addict needing a fix. Regardless of his earlier assurances, worry invaded as he increasingly looked at me much like the coyote does the roadrunner, without the plate of course, and I cut the interview short using the same excuse that I had with Frankenstein; that my editor was unforgiving and expecting the piece by dawn’s light.
Thanking him, I abruptly stood up, turned and began walking away. As pace unconsciously sped up, I had that undeniable feeling of being swooped down upon. I glanced back at the bench and he was gone. But, that did little to eliminate the sudden fear.
On the way home, remaining diligently under the streetlights and repeatedly glancing above, I found myself wishing that the interview had been longer and that I had the forethought to ask better questions.
By the time I was plopped down in front of the computer ready to bang away, I had already considered and taken into advisement his subtle, yet warning words concerning the werewolves. But, I still didn’t think it would stop me from seeking one out. It did however, cause a pondering of whether or not to have a freshly harvested, bloody beef heart on my person if and when I did.
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