Nineteen – Interviewing a Vampire, 1
Holding hands, we might have been any young couple partaking in a stroll along a tunnel off an underground cavern in a realm of vampires. But I could tell that even Perveen was nervous; I knew not how to break the ice, even though my brain was a turmoil of questions, especially as I now knew for certain that we were to married, putting a whole new spin on the vows that conclude ‘so long as ye both shall live’.
Thankfully, it was my new fiancée who broke the silence. Although, the fact that the entire conversation occurred entirely on the plain of telekinetic communication could hardly be said to have been ear-splitting. And I was still not altogether settled with the idea that Perveen had ways to block off parts of her mind, as if she had been taught the power of Occlumency by Severus Snape, yet my mind was still but an open book to her Leglimens capacity. But still, we pottered along, Perveen instigating this open floor session.
“Your head is so full of questions, Sebastian” she said, stating the blindingly obvious, “With which would you like to begin?”
I pondered, wondering how much time we had on this journey and, should it be short, which questions mattered to me the most. Strangely, the ones concerning sex on a totally different plain, which Perveen had hinted at in her vampire kiss, did not figure at all.
“You were obviously young when you were made. How did that come about?” I asked.
She shuddered, stopped, looked at me with a ‘why that one?’ type of frown, then resigned herself to the fact that she was probably best off unburdening everything before we were joined in unholy matrimony.
“Promise you won’t think ill of me?” she asked, swinging my hand in a nervous, exaggerated arc, and started walking with an almost schoolgirl skip to her step. I nodded to say that I was prepared, even though she could no doubt tell telepathically that I was most certainly not sure.
“Okay. Back in the mortal world, things were not great at home. My mom had found out that she couldn’t have any more children; I was the only child. My dad, Indian as he was, was bitter and resentful about never rearing a son. He almost felt shamed. That fact came out about halfway through my ‘A’ levels.”
She looked at me for reassurance, to check that I had grasped the gravity of what that meant to a Muslim family and that I was not just paying her lip service (or mind service) by looking thoughtfully into the ground as she communicated. I nodded, she continued.
“Things at home got worse, tears every night at tea-time, my parents never being seen socially out together, my father coming to hate the both of us. It was horrid and my studies suffered terribly as a result. But my mom was too wrapped up in her own guilt and my dad in his bitterness that no one seemed to notice, even when I started losing weight and blood-letting to try to oust some of the guilt that I was unwarranted for harbouring. But back then, I thought I was as much to blame as my mom, so dominant was my dad’s role as master of the house.”
“But surely the fact that your mom could not bear him a son was no fault of yours?” I asked, feeling hatred build for her father, even though I’d never met the man. And would never do, if the rest of the conversation was accurate.
“No, but he made me feel guilty about being a daughter when it was blatant that it was a son he wanted,” she said. My anger for this man grew tenfold, to which she said, “Don’t be, it’s just the way he was, that many Indian and Chinese men are.
“And anyway, things moved at a pace after my exam results came back, all failed.”
I looked at her incredulously – she was almost as bright as I at school and the thought of her failing her exams seemed even more implausible than her, both us, becoming two vampires shortly to be joined for all eternity in wedlock.
“I know,” she said, “but worse things happen at sea. My dad went back to India, my mom disappeared inside herself and I was inconsolable. Billy, as you know, has an Asian persona for when he travels in the mortal world. He befriended my mom, on the pretence that he was from the mosque and they had been missing her attendance. She invited him in.”
Cher-ching – folklore rules again – a vampire will never gain entrance to your dwelling as long as you do not invite him across the threshold.
Perveen simply nodded, then continued, “Billy showed my mom, I’m not sure how, but by some sorcery – he is a master when it comes to the black arts [didn’t I know it] – how everything that had happened had affected me; if she was miserable before, she was suicidal now, no doubt what Billy set out to achieve. Almost to the point where she would do anything to rectify the harm done to her daughter.
“And that was that. As Billy courted you, it was me he was after back then for the very purpose we walk this underground chamber, it has been fated so long hence’; but my mom and dad, they offered him access on a plate.
“Hang on,” she said, “let me get my breath – I have never told this next part of the tale of my making to anyone. Still promise you won’t hate me?” she asked.
I nodded, although I feared the worst.