By: Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz
“All that remained was dust. The body upon which I had stumbled disintegrated at my touch. What strange manner of death brought this poor soul to this end? When first I had chanced upon the body, it seemed as though the old man was merely in repose. Now all evidence is gone.
“I pulled my cloak tighter around my body as the night mists stole up from the nearby river. A shiver coursed down my spine when an eerie howl pierced the night. I pulled my flask from my pocket and took a deep swallow. The coarse liquid burned as it slid down my throat.
“A twig snapped to my right. By all that was holy, I should have bolted for my carriage. Instead, the mystery drew me on.
“I stooped to see if there were some clue to help me decipher my find. I drew my magnifying glass from my pocket and noticed black hairs on the ground. Light footprints, unlike animal or human, led away from the scene. Knowing I must record my findings, I jotted notes in my journal.
“With all my senses alert to danger, I tracked what I believed to be a murderer through the woods. A blanket of night settled quickly over the area. I thought to return in the morning, but knew if I left, I would lose what little evidence I had of this creature’s existence. For creature I had determined it to be. No man could have drained that poor soul’s body so completely of life.
“Still, despite the deepening night, I fought on through the brush, looking for signs of the missing beast. A tuft of black hair snagged on a bramble caught my eye. On the path, a purple sticky substance covered a small rock. I touched it, but brought my hand back in pain. My skin bubbled and split as if my finger had been dipped in acid. Another swallow from my flask eased the burning.
“Screaming in the distance drew me onward. The sound left my palms sweaty and my breath ragged. Still onward I pushed. I wished for a weapon of some kind, but all I carried were my pen, journal and flask.
“I stumbled into a meadow. A full moon overhead lit the area as though surrounded by gas lamps. The contents of my flask had left my brain sluggish and blurred. My hand flew to my mouth as I stifled the scream which threatened to burst from my lungs.
“There before my unbelieving eyes was the beast. Its mouth wide, its three inch fangs dripping blood, the creature crushed a hunter to his breast. The wretched man screamed, but blood bubbling from a gaping wound in his neck, made it sound less like a scream and more like coffee percolating over a hot fire. The creature’s fur gleamed black as if I beheld a void. Were it not for those gleaming fangs which held my full attention, I might not have seen him.
“I recognized I could do nothing to save the poor hunter. I hoped only to save myself as I stepped back from the edge of the meadow into the cover of the trees. My heart leapt to my throat when I stepped on a twig, and the creature’s face turned to look directly where I hid. I froze, holding my breath. It turned back to its meal, and I turned and fled. I knew I witnessed a vampire feeding.” Geoffrey Wolson took a deep breath. His hands trembled, but he gripped his journal.
The constable held out his hand. “That’s enough, Mr. Wolson. You say you have it all written in your journal? We will need that for evidence.”
Geoffrey sat on the edge of the hard wooden chair and stared at the constable. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“Mr. Wolson, you smell like a spirits shop, and you tell me you saw a vampire. Sgt., please escort Mr. Wolson to the drunk tank. In the morning, we’ll send someone out to investigate, but I doubt we’ll find anything.” He rubbed his eyes and sighed. It was going to be a very long night. “Next case, please.”