I have no idea precisely where this is going – this is just playing with some ideas for a vampire story that would invert Dracula, by featuring a Western European vampire moving to Romania and buying real estate there a century after the events of Stoker’s novel. Not at all sure that it can work, but the ideas deserve some investigation, which now follows in a short dialogue with no decent conclusion or much resembling a plot that almost certainly won’t appear at all in the finished work.
The title, by the way, is just something that seemed appropriate for a vampire story – it doesn’t actually go that well with this particular story, alas, but I liked it too much to pass it by.
The tavern was crowded. It was Oktoberfest, and it seemed like all of Munich had decided to go out for a beer or six. Nevertheless, there was something about the Nipponese man that made the crowds part for him. Perhaps it was his height, unusually tall for one of his race, or his movements, which were as measured as those of a stalking panther. Or perhaps it was something else. An air surrounding him that suggested that messing with him would be extremely ill-advised.
Minyama made his way to the bar, and sat down next to a blonde man in a long black leather coat. The man half-turned, and nodded to him. Minyama nodded back.
“Been a few years, mate,” said the man, his accent immediately betraying his British origins.
“That it has,” replied Minyama.
“You been well, then?”
“As well as can be expected, under the circumstances.” The blonde man chuckled, and ordered drinks for the two of them. They sat in silence until the drinks arrived.
“Are you east or west bound?” asked Minyanma.
“West, I think. At least, that’s what it says on our Orient Express tickets. But you know what my lady’s like for moods.” Minyama nodded. “You?”
“East. I have an urge to see what it was that was concealed behind the Iron Curtain for so long.”
“You been to Eastern Europe lately, mate?”
“Not in a long time. But I don’t imagine it’s changed much.”
“Imagine again, then. It’s completely different now.”
“Surely you’re not talking about mortal politics. I know you’re younger than me, but you know as well as I that that’s just a charade.” The first speaker shook his head.
“Not this. The fall of Communism was a real change.”
“Oh come,” snorted the other. “Eastern Europe is still as full of superstitious peasants as it was a hundred years ago. It may be the only thing that Stoker got right in Dracula.”
“He got more than that right, Minyama.”
“Don’t tell me you’re one of those Hollywood fans who believe Dracula’s real?”
“Oh, he’s real alright. Sod owes me eleven quid.” The Nipponese vampire paused, his drink halfway to his mouth, to regard his companion. The Englishman wasn’t lying, he was sure of that. But Dracula? Real? What was next, the Tooth Fairy? “Have you ever read the book?”
“I always liked the subtext of it, myself.”
“Which one?” asked Minyama, and both men laughed.
“My particular favourite is the assimilation narrative.”
“I don’t think I know that one.”
“Maybe you had to be there. Victorian England had an absolute terror of the foreigner, unless there was some way to assimilate them. We loved silk and fine bone china and the like.”
“But not the cultures or the peoples.”
“Never them. But Drac, well, he’s assimilation as a nightmare. He actually assimilates your own body and blood.”
“And you still say he’s real? This isn’t some Bela Lugosi fanboy thing is it?”
“I saw Lugosi on stage once. He was a better Dracula than Dracula was.”
“So he’s real. What does that have to do with Communism?”
“Under the commies, the state religion was atheism.”
“Ever gone up against an atheist?”
“Can’t say I have. Why?”
“Okay. You know the cross thing?”
“I never really understood why you lot are so vulnerable to that.” The Brit shrugged.
“It’s a matter of belief. I was raised to be a good C of E boy, and so it gets me. You were raised, what? Shinto? Buddhist?”
“Ever tried touching a torii since you were turned?”
“Shame. It would prove my point.”
“That it’s about belief, yours and theirs.”
“I don’t understand why that’s an issue with atheists – they don’t believe in God.”
“They don’t believe in the supernatural. Which means they don’t believe in us.”
“So, get enough of them together, and you might as well be glued to the floor. And forget about your strength or even your fangs.”
“On my mother’s grave.”
“Your mother’s grave is empty,” said Minyama with a smile. The Brit smiled back.
“True. But you take my point, I hope.”
“What became of our kind?”
“Lenin never really cared for us – he saw nature red in tooth and claw as the primitive state of capitalism, beyond which we should evolve. And Stalin was just a stone paranoid, and the Stalingrad outbreak during the war only made him worse.”
“We’re on his list of enemies of the State.”
“Do none of us survive?”
“Damned few. And those mostly beasts out in the wilderness or what you’d get if you made a serial killer one of us.” Minyama stared meditatively at his drink, then abruptly drained it all in a single long draught.
“Well, I thank you for the information, my friend.” The Brit shrugged.
“Least I can do,” he said. Besides, I owe you from that business in Mukden back in ’05”
“Until we meet again,” said Minyama, and the two shook hands.