Claude Hooper-Bukowski sat in the quiet of an old cinema. On the screen flickered images from George Romero’s Season of the Witch dubbed in French and subtitled in English. Sigrid walked down the aisle of the near-empty theatre as quietly as she could. While Claude was known to be the peaceful sort, his pet project was a psychopath, and he was out of sight.
“Belief. That is the core of this movie, you know. She thinks, therefore she is. There’s so much about ourselves that we construct inside of the restrictions that we set for ourselves. What you believe you are is what you are. Within reason, of course,” said Claude, still entranced by the images flashing on the screen. He rested his bare feet, crossed, on the back of the seat in front of him.
“Of course,” agreed Sigrid, sheepishly sitting next to him. “Should I take this to mean more than just reflection on an old movie?” Vampires always made her uncomfortable. They always had a way of knowing more than they should; Sigrid attributed it to their expansive life experiences.
“You can take it how you want it. It does mean more, if you need it to. I knew George, you know. He had a way of showing people the truth in a way that they thought was crafty. ‘Subtext!’ they shout, but it isn’t subtext. It is theme. People that say it is subtext are just desperate to think they are smarter than they are,” replied Claude long-windedly. He still hadn’t turned away from the screen.
“Claude, I know about Shelia,” said Sigrid, playing the best card she had in her hand first. Claude responded by looking away from the screen; he gazed at Sigrid, his eyes faintly luminescent in the darkness. “And I know about the one that made her.”
“Okay,” responded Claude.
“I know about where they are now.”
It wasn’t the response that Sigrid was hoping for. She would have to think of an alternate plan quickly.
“I met with Camille. I dropped your name, and he had a lot to say about you. My maker’s maker taught you about our kind. You fell in love with Thorkell. Too bad Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in hadn’t been written earlier. You could have taken it as a warning. With vampires always comes murder. It is really sad. Vampires, in general, could contribute so much more if they didn’t have such lethal tendencies.” Claude turned from the screen, looking at Sigrid full in the face. She steeled herself for the worst; she knew that the Vampire’s strongest weapon was hidden in their gaze.
“Please. I need help,” said Sigrid, trying to casually avert her eyes. In the corner of her vision, she could see a dark shape in the dim light. It stood by the exit. She knew if she turned around, another one would be standing near the other exit.
“We just want to live in peace. I came here to do something good, you dig?” Sigrid glanced around, looking for a way to escape. “But people like you can’t let that happen, can you? You need to see the worst where only the best is thriving. You want to draw me and my kin into your quest. Well, I’m not going to bite!”
Sigrid felt that this could be the end. Dead in a cinema showing B-movies, drained of blood. During the conversation, she furtively slipped her feet out of her high heels. Now, she planted the soles of her feet firmly on the ground. She worried that she wouldn’t be able to move as fast as the vampire.
Claude began to laugh lightly.
“I just realized how this all must look to you,” he said, apologetically waving his hands. “A Vampire at the rear exit, one next to you, the darkness, the emotion. You misunderstand.” Claude glanced back at the screen, smiling slightly. “Of course you don‘t understand. I just said why myself. I might disapprove of what you do, but I won’t hurt you for it. Nor will my protégés. You can’t make peace. Peace is there all ready. You dig?”
“So, you want peace, but you won’t help bring a Vampire to justice?” asked Sigrid, snatching her shoes off the floor.
“Not the lynching that you are looking for. That nonsense just makes no sense. His death won‘t do any good.”
“It will keep him from doing it again,” responded Sigrid as she stood.
“He can keep himself from doing it again, if it is his desire. If it isn’t, it sure isn’t my place to stop him,” said Claude. “If you are intent on following this path, I will have to tell him. I can‘t let him go through life with you hiding in the shadows with a stake.”
Sigrid considered her options, and put on her softest smile.
“You’ve helped me a great deal. It’s just like you said. We are what we believe we are. I want to be someone better. I really should just let this go, shouldn’t I?” she lied, and she hoped it was effective.
“Yes, you should,” said Claude.
Sigrid left, not knowing whether her lie was effective or not. She thought about Thorkell. He was tall, handsome, and charismatic. She was only thirteen, and she was in a rebellious phase. He had the sweetest words; he had convinced her that he would turn her. But first, she’d have to prove herself to him. His words, his promises, put a knife in her hand. He watched approvingly as she did it. He watched, smiling like a joker as she murdered her family in their sleep.