Twenty – Interviewing a Vampire, 2
It was with gravitas that Perveen imparted the next sorry chapter in the tale of her attaining the status of the powerful vampire she had become in so short a space and time. Before she started to ‘speak’ to me, she physically cleared all of her other thoughts, to give me a clear passage to those she was about to let me in on.
“Billy offered my mother a way out of our hopeless situation: a father and husband ashamed of us; a mother and daughter on opposing brinks of sanity. So she accepted, not just for herself, but for me, too. That exit door Billy had primed was nothing more than a gateway into this life.
“All he wanted in return was to share with her in this afterlife what I have shown you will be in store for us, soon. But it all went disastrously wrong. You will wonder why I tell you some of this, at times. It is vulgar and against a nature you have only recently left behind. I tell you only because I want us to have a chance. Understand?”
She composed herself, I held my tongue, but agreed all the same.
“We came here, to this very place, having been indoctrinated with similar rites of passage that you endured with Billy and his henchmen,” she said, looking up into my face to see if her meaning was clear. It was.
She continued, “The three of us walked along this very tunnel – at least I hope it was this one – in the expectation that Billy and my mother would rubber-stamp their allegiance and bring me across into the fold at the same time. I guess I was to be the token bridesmaid at my mother’s marriage to a vampire. Needless to say, there were no bouquets.
“All I can remember is that it was a long walk, my mother fretting over my well-being and Billy telling us both not to worry about a thing – everything was planned to put a seal on our mortal life so that we could begin our new one down here. Later, we would have the chance to return to the mortal world if we so chose, where we would be night stalkers and, largely, invisible and invincible. Like you, my dear Sebastian, I wasn’t entirely sure that that’s what I wanted, but what choice was there now that we had come this far? My mother had decided and he had saved us from ourselves on the other side of the grave, after all.”
I wanted to argue that I was sure, that I had never been more certain of anything, but she raised her hand to placate me. She had access to my entire mind; there was no way my lip-service or motorised actions could convince her that I had no misgivings.
She proceeded, “At the end of this tunnel, we will come to a chamber. The day Billy brought us down here, there was someone a lot more powerful than he awaiting to perform the ceremony. Just leave it at that, for the moment,” she said, pre-empting my next question.
“In the centre of an antechamber,” she went on, “was a stone altar, a High Priest with a hood covering his features stood hunched over it, awaiting his tiny congregation, the bride, the groom and the vampire bridesmaid – quite a hand. Upon the cold slab, a body lay beneath a crisp, white sheet. There were more corridors leading back past the altar itself, from whence emanated ghostly hymns, obscene in their tempo, haunting in their tone. Even with what I’d seen in this life so far, the whole set up had my nerves on edge.”
“What was a body doing beneath the sheet?” I asked, morbid curiosity gaining the upper hand over common sense.
“I’m coming to that,” she answered, no playful jape in her timbre now, “so if you’ll let me get on with it?”
I nodded acquiescence; I should have bid her keep her silence, instead.