Disclaimer - I don't own the rights to Dracula, the novel or the popular television show.
I stumbled along the poorly lit, cobblestoned, university lane, my head throbbing painfully. The building was backed by dense forest. This was one of the oldest buildings on campus, and it represented the outermost perimeter. The door to the library was almost imperceptibly propped ajar by a small rock. Had it not been my destination I would not have noticed it in my impaired state.
Sliding through the narrow opening found myself in a cavernous room, filled with mostly empty old shelves and the heaviness of neglect. I stumbled through the dingy, forgotten halls. Dust and cobwebs hung from the corner's of bookcases. The carpet was worn down by age and moth bites. This was the old library, home of the books that nobody cared to read anymore. Anything in good condition had been moved to the new building that had been resurrected across campus several months ago. There was no heat, nor air conditioning. The building was to undergo renovations in the spring. No one had been in the library in months, except for a handful of hoodlums who had desecrated the rotting wood of the shelves with spray paint obscenities and the like. And myself of course.
The old library was unique in the fact that it was too old to attract the upstanding citizens, but, being only a few decades old, too new to be surrounded by mystery. Everyone knew that it was just a building, decrepit and full of asbestos, condemned and forgotten. I was attracted to it because it was the only place in the entire free world where I could truly be alone.
I sat down ungracefully, legs sprawled out in either direction, on the cold floor between a pile of weather worn, aged books, and a cracked Tiffany knock-off lamp. I pulled at the string and dim yellow light illuminated the titles. The black leather of the words had been nearly effaced off of the spines, but I knew them all too well -
Monsters of Literature
I laid my head against the shelf and closed my eyes trying not to retch from the foul taste of booze on my breathe. Liquor didn't taste good going down, but it tasted worse coming up. I pushed my damp hair back into place. I wasn't sure if I was sweating from intoxication, the stuffiness of the library, or from illness.
I heard the shuffle of approaching feet. My eyes opened to slits.
There was a man before me, dressed in a black trench coat with an upturned collar, with a black fedora atop his head.
I rolled my head to the side and stared down intently at his patent leather, untarnished shoes. "If you're here to take advantage of me sir, I am obligated to tell you that I don't give a damn. I will not put up a fight so I won't be much of the conquest."
"What makes you think that I'm interested?" The voice rasped, sounding like a bemused Christian Bale as Batman. I squinted, trying to make out his features, but he was awash in shadows.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe it's the sketchy creeper get-up, or the fact that you're lurking in an abandoned university library, and you're clearly not a student. Also, it's well past a normal person's waking hours."
His silence smiled condescendingly at me.
"Well," I said at length. "This has been fun, but this is my street corner so go find your own."
"I find it amusing that you haven't managed to bring up anything besides sexual promiscuity thusfar in this conversation."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm drunk."
"You're depraved." He put a satisfactory emphasis on the last.
I coughed as bile rose up warming my cheeks. "Maybe." Was all I could manage to get out.
I wished he would go away. I'd came to the library with the intention of crashing in blissful, silent peace.
I shut my eyes wearily. "I mean, you don't see much action when your husband sends you away. Unfortunately for me, and the imaginary army of men busting down my door, I have always believed strongly in faithfulness."
There was the slightest pause before he replied. "Why do you not apply for divorce?" He rasped.
"Can't. After the most embarrassing moment of my life, my husband up and disappeared. The bastard. Don't know where he went. His house was completely empty the next week when I decided to go back."
"Why did you go back?"
"Why do you ask so many questions?" I countered.
"Why remain faithful?" He persisted. "Surely there must have been others you desired. Lovers."
I shivered at the memory. "There was one once. But he was before. Since, I've been cursed to feel nothing but revulsion for him now." A memory of rosy sunsets and carefree laughter fought to surface. I grabbed at the darkness and pulled it as a shroud around me, muffling the sounds of a bygone life.
"Besides," I coughed again. "It's the right thing to do. Being faithful."
I shrugged feebly. "My gut?" I ventured.
"Right and wrong are abstract concepts. Thirst is a measurable quantity, which is neither good nor bad."
My eyes opened in surprise. Suddenly I was awake, and aware of the strangeness of the conversation I was having. I couldn't think straight to identify specifically why, but I knew I should feel threatened by this guy. His whole bearing exuded danger. A faint feeling of deja vu prodded me, but my wits were severely dulled by the several shots I'd consumed in the last hour.
"It simply is," he continued. "And, as it stands, you are dehydrated."
"You're telling me." I moaned, wiping away a large drop of sweat as it trickled down the side of my face.
He didn't say anything. The silence grew stale.
"If you knew my husband," I croaked out. "You would understand. There are two possibilities. One is that my disloyalty would please him immensely, in which case, I'll be damned if I see him wring any happiness from me. The other is that his ire would be evoked by my actions, which would be deadly for all parties involved."
Though there was nothing inherently comical about the statement, he chuckled. "How would he know?"
"He watches me."
"Careful." The voice was teasing, though there was a hint of a lethal edge present. "You're verging on paranoia."
"I remember when they used to use words as nice as paranoia. Doesn't it sound less hopeless than 'unsound' and 'self-destructive'." I tried to sound mocking but it came out petulant.
I stiffened under the suspicion I'd said too much. Why was I telling him this? Why did he care?
But I kept talking. I was like a wind up doll - I wasn't going to be able to stop until the need to go forward had dissipated.
"My family. They attempted - and failed - to rescue me from my betrothed prior to our nuptials. They were literally lining out my funeral plans when I came home a few hours after we had said our vows. Imagine their elation at finding me 'home again, home again, lickety split." I heard my words slurring.
"I should've been relieved." I laughed mirthlessly and scrunched my nose. "I should have been able to forget."
"But you didn't." The voice had hardened gratingly.
"Nope." I shook my head sloppily. "Couldn't bring myself to it. I tried. Can't say I didn't try. I worked at mending my relationship with Alton, but it wasn't there for me anymore. Then I turned to academia. I did what I was supposed to. I got my degree, I studied harder than the rest, graduated with honors, etcetera, etcetera. Then I got the job my parent's always wanted me to have."
It got quiet. "I never drank, not until that night!" I said suddenly feeling very defensive and angry. My eyes flicked up to the stranger.
"I was walking home from my glamorous nine to five at a the poshest office in town, where I had my very own cubicle, and I was followed by some sniveling hulk. When I noticed his closeness, I started jogging to my car. When he started jogging, I took off. I reached my car door, flung it open, and looked back - but no one was there. I remember the parking lot. It was so silent. I couldn't hear the traffic, or the wind. It was like Somebody had turned off the world's ambiance."
"Then there was this low, throaty growl, like a lion, and it was followed by a scream." Unbidden tears mixed with sweat burned my cracked lips. "I hopped in the car, drove as far and as fast as I could. I eventually passed this bar and just turned in. There it was, neon lights and all. Full to bursting of normal failures, with typical issues and tragically suckish lives. The idea of company appealed to me, so I went in. When I got the bar I discovered, much to my chagrin, it wasn't people I wanted. I wanted distraction. So I ordered a cold tall one, and I haven't been sober since."
"You chose to wallow in pity." He disgust was painfully apparent. I wasn't sure why I winced, but I did.
"No. No. I don't want you or anyone else to pity me either. Pity would equate to defeat. I quit my other job, but I have a job at the new library across campus. I just want to be alone." I lightly stroked the cover of the book on top of the pile.
"How did you come to be here?" His tone told me he wasn't asking for his benefit.
I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of an answer, but my lips moved of their own accord. "Because I lost any hope of a real job in addition to my apartment because every penny I scrounged up goes to work enabling my addiction." Why did I volunteer all of that! He didn't need to know anything. I huffed in frustration as I found myself continuing. "I don't want to be alone with my thoughts, but I don't want to around anyone else. I feel like he was this black hole - opaque, infinite, daunting, paralyzing - magnetically drawing in the people in his orbit to their oblivion. He was like death, but the irony therein lay. His power made him more real, more alive than any sentient being I'd ever encountered. Everyone else in my life is a star, intangible, distant, characterized by their pretty dreams and the pretty dreams of others. They're too far away to be real. This is why I drink. When the memory of him pervades against my defenses" Aghast I realized I was reciting directly from my diary. An entry justifiable by the broken-heartedness of a newly-wed, but, in fact, the entry was less than three days old.
"Your planetary metaphors are inspiring." He remarked dryly.
"I didn't mean…" I began fiercely.
"Oh you mean every word." A coolness trickled down the warm skin of my back. "You're a masochist."
"I'm a victim."
He snorted. "You walked away. You went free."
"Don't make him sound so magnanimous. He didn't really let me go. Not out of kindness."
I faltered. "I'm not sure."
He intook sharply in vexation. "Nevertheless, your freedom eliminates victimization, except by your own hand."
I giggled slightly, and sighed. "Oh, I've been robbed sir."
"Really?" He was not amused. "Of what? Your heart." I didn't have to see his sneer to feel it.
"Worse." My smile actually reached my eyes. "My death."
He grew quiet for some time.
"I was going to be so damn noble." I whispered. "He had to go and ruin it."
"Before you never used profanities. You were so wide-eyed and innocent." He said softly. His voice had lost the rasp to it.
My breath hitched in my throat, causing me to hiccup. "People change."
"Not always for the better." I had to strain to hear him. When he spoke again, his voice had regained hardness and edge. "Not so much as to be disloyal. Even when the man you love is a monster."
The voice undisguised was a rumbling purr. "If he came back to spirit you away, would you go willingly?"
That's when I recognized his voice. That's when I saw the power in his posture as a familiar gesture. That's when the icy hand of terror began stroke along my spine.
Careful not to appear obvious, I slowly moved my hand to wrap my fingers around the lamp. "He still terrifies me, because he would as soon see me dead as not. I would run from him." I didn't sound very convincing, so I tried again. "I will always run from him."
"But you've no where else to run."
I stood to my feet as quick as I could, and as I lifted the lamp to throw it his hand was there just above mine on the lamp, calmly restraining me with the effortless strength he was known for. The light illuminated his features.
Black, hard eyes; pale, translucent skin; glistening red lips.
I backed away madly, stumbling over my feet, and hitting my head against the shelf. A burst of light blinded me. I retched down onto my books andomptly slumped over. Full of remorse, I dreamt of stars.