He took off his stark white gloves and dipped the mug into the bucket. Guzzled cupful after cupful like a starving man tearing into a banquet.
Mesi watched, amazed. So very little of the blood was allowed to spill. Not one drop reached his crisp, grey waistcoat or fancy, wide tie. And none of it marred his tailored white shirt.
It wasn’t her imagination. Those manicured fingers were growing sharper as he fiercely gripped the bucket.
“So… were you planning on using me for a snack?”
He stopped for breath. “Only… with your kind… permission,” he admitted.
“You live above a butcher’s!”
He hung his head. Spoke in a voice less than two feet tall. “…beentooembaressedtogetanymore…”
“I get the distinct impression that I was never in any danger,” she said. If he was too embarrassed to ask for blood, he was definitely not going to be taking any samples from her veins. “What did you have in mind for me, if it wasn’t eating me alive?”
“I planned… to be… your sponsor… Your patron.” Another cupful of blood. “If you’d let me.”
Good grief, he was blushing. That had to break several of the vampire rules, or something. If he was blushing over that… Mesi checked out the windows so that she would have something to occupy her mind rather than laughing her socks off over him.
There was a very strange character lurking in the opposite alleyway. He was dressed… almost like a ridiculous stage version of a mediaeval plague doctor.
“That’s odd,” she said.
“There’s a fellow in the alley opposite dressed like a plague doctor. He looks like he’s waiting for someone or something…”
“He is?” M'seur D'raigun paused in his imbibing, delicately licking any spare dribs of blood from his face and fingers. He rose to join her at the window and peer out…
…forgetting that it was currently daytime.
He collapsed in a smoking heap, clutching his forehead in agony, falling headfirst into the bed and making repetitive little “aie!” noises.
“Are you… new at this?” Mesi guessed.
“…ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow…” gaaaaaaaaassssp “…ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow…”
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” she sighed. Twitched the curtains so that no light could come in and harm him. Next on her agenda was to make sure her erstwhile patron had not come to any lasting harm. “It’s all right, now. The sun can’t come in any more. Let’s see you now.” Despite all his efforts at topping up, he was still as skinny as a rake and half that weight… and as she watched the burn on his forehead healed and faded into nothing before her eyes.
…and he was looking rather spellbound into hers…
Mesi cleared her throat and let him go. “Do you -ah- need more? Before it curdles… or… whatever blood does…”
Right. “Um. Do you know that guy?”
“…yes… and no…”
Arthur woke in the seedier side of the underbelly of town.
“Rise, underling,” said the hooded figure above him. “Join the cavalcade of darkn–*”
The figure above him howled briefly as an oaken stake pierced his chest, and then dissolved into nothing more than dry ash.
The Plague Doctor, behind where the figure had once stood, gave a muffled cry of victory. “Two in one night,” he growled.
Arthur learned many things about vampires, that night. The first one was, in times of distress and panic, a vampire can play tricks with gravity and scrabble across any relatively level surface with ease.
The second was that vampires really shouldn’t remind themselves of what was physically impossible whilst halfway up a slum wall and escaping from a masked madman.
By sheer luck and good fortune, he landed on The Plague Doctor, knocking the madman’s breath out of his body.
Arthur had the wisdom to abscond with all due speed.
He found his home by reading the address in his wallet. And also found that he made some of his money by renting it out to the less advantaged.
All in all, being undead hadn’t made that many changes in him. There were no girlfriends to confess to. No friends of any other nature. Little in the way of family who remembered him.
And an amounting pile of money that he had little practical use for.
And a growing, visceral hunger from the pits of hades.
“And in all the books, your kind are supposed to seduce young actresses and drink their blood,” Mesi concluded. “It worked for all the others, why not you, right?”
A shame-faced nod.
Then Mesi spoke the words that would begin an interesting relationship. “Have you ever thought about biting the people who deserve it? The police blotters are full of people they want dead or alive…”
A crooked smile began to dawn on his pallid face.