BLOODY MARY

Maybe I had been watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I had this dream in June 2001. The atmosphere was dark and chilling and my dream hid the final twist even from me, the dreamer.

"Welcome," said young man, letting me into the apartment, "You're just in time, we're just about to eat."

He hovered in the dim hallway, closing the door behind me. The lighting in the apartment was subdued, but he was a deeper shadow, silhouetted against the poor illumination.

"Please, go through," he said courteously, ushering me towards the living room, "May I take you coat?"

He helped me shrug out of my coat and I felt his face disconcertingly near to my right ear as though sniffing me. I could hear noises from the bedroom at the end of the hallway and the door was cracked open just wide enough for me to two women and a man around what looked like a slaughterhouse carcass. They were ripping raw flesh from it and shoving great gobbets of dripping meat into their mouths. I could smell the tang of fresh meat, so fresh that it had still been living when they had started to devour it.

"May I get you a drink? Some bulls blood maybe?" he asked as he followed me into the living room. He gestured at a bottle of the dark red Spanish wine on the side table.

"Perhaps a Bloody Mary," I asked; a twist of wry humour in the circumstances.

As he busied himself mixing the drink, I had time to study him. A hint perhaps of a European accent, but barely discernible unless you were listening out for it. It was that vague hint which remained if a person had learnt English late in childhood.

I mentally assessed him against the many descriptions which were in circulation. He was moderately tall, five eight or five ten perhaps and slender rather than gaunt. Too many portrayals showed a tall, gaunt figure looming over others. High cheekbones, but the face was not hollow or cadaverous. Piercing dark blue eyes rather than the popular deep-socketed images where the eyes looked black.

"Your drink," he said, offering my the Bloody Mary, seemingly unaware of the scrutiny.

Perhaps he was aware that I was studying him, many impressionable young women must have studied those handsome features in the past. I shivered.

"Shall I reduce the air-conditioning?" he asked, "Myself, I find it unseasonably hot."

"No, no," I said, baring my teeth in a little laugh, "It is hot outside, it just takes a few moments to get used an air-conditioned room after the sticky heat."

In truth the room was cool enough to feel like a tomb and the air-conditioning gave it a damp masonry smell akin to a crypt. He sprawled elegantly in a deep leather chair, his long elegant fingers playing with the stem of his wine glass. With his other hand he picked up a remote control and classical music began to play softly - Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I drank cautiously and continued my assessment of him over the rim of my glass. Fugue - a state of forgetfulness - I thought.

His hair was mid to dark brown, fine textured and brushed his shirt collar - not at all the short dark slicked back black hair. His face was not the pallid white of popular imagination, but pale as though a suntan had faded not so long ago. Dark trousers, open-collared deep red shirt and black waistcoat. No tie or bow tie. He looked more like an aspiring thirty something city lawyer than, well than what he was supposed to be. He was, however, quite dangerous.

We made small talk for a while. The coolness of the apartment kept the stink of fresh dead flesh more or less at bay and those in the other room were silent. My host seemed unaware that I had seen the gory feast. I have a rather acute sense of smell and could still perceive the iron tang of spilt haemoglobin over the fragrance of jasmine and incense sticks gently smouldering in the corner of the room. The incense added to the crypt-like atmosphere.

"To business?" I asked, draining my glass, "You know my fees. "

"Aaah, to business. How can did an elegant, intelligent woman like yourself enter such a sordid trade?"

"Please don't confuse my trade with that of the common whore. I am trained in many techniques to satisfy the more discerning customer - hence my price."

"You are right, for sex I could hire any street-walker. I desire the illusion of a seduction, not just physical sensation. I desire more than " he waved his hand dismissively " more than simply fucking like animals. I wish to make love to a beautiful woman, but with no strings attached."

He stood, offering me his hand. I took it and stood also. He curved one arm around my back, pulling me closer to him. He smelt of old fashioned male cologne - the heaviness of rose attar, the spiciness of sandalwood and the cleanness of cedar. All scents of the tomb or monastery. All disguising the curious lack of spicy male pheromones.

Standing close up against him, I nuzzled his neck. He smelt rich with anticipation, a meaty richness. I peeled back my upper lip, running my tongue over my own elongated canine teeth which I had kept safely retracted until now. I remembered the group of people tearing apart their victim's carcass in the other bedroom. Delicately I licked his neck as though teasing him, then I sank my own fangs into his vein before he even realised what was happening.

I went down with him when he stumbled, still drinking his rich blood. How many naive young women had Dracul lured to his nest to sate his appetite? Did Dracul think we would overlook his activities in our city? I would deal with his feasting minions later - gorged with blood and flesh, dulled by the almost orgasmic release of the kill and the blood-feast, they would be slow and easy prey.

For I am the elder vampire who feeds on vampires. They call me Bloody Mary.

DRAGONQUEEN'S LAIR

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