I had travelled far and finally reached her estate in the late evening. The Countess lived in an old mansion. I noticed on my arrival that the grounds were unkempt. In the darkness I could see shadows of bushes and trees that were long in need for some pruning. Probably once elaborate gardens that had since fallen into disarray. Once the carriage had delivered me to the doorstep. I knocked on the large front door made of oak. A woman I took to be the maid opened the door. She was dressed on a long black gown and had blonde hair that fell beyond her shoulders. She carried a lantern in her left hand. She looked very pale.
“At last you’ve arrived!” She exclaimed.
“I’m here to see the Countess.” I told her.
“Yes I know. The servants are asleep. I am the Countess.” She replied. I was taken aback. I had been led to believe she was an old woman now, but she looked younger than I was.
“Oh.” I replied, somewhat dumbfounded.
“Come in.” She requested. I walked in with a couple of my bags and she closed the door behind me. “This way.” I followed her in the darkness with the lantern leading the way. We came to a door, and beyond it was a lit dining room. The table was mahogany and was huge, almost from one side of the wall to the other. At one end was a plate with cutlery, surrounded by some silver serving dishes.
“This is a wonderfully long table. You must hold exquisite dinner parties here.” I stated.
“I used to. It’s been a long time since I’ve had guests here, but please, you must be hungry. Help yourself to the fare.” She requested. I then noticed I was ravenous, and realised I hadn’t eaten anything since the morning, since I had spent most of the day traveling. I sat down and served myself some of the food out of the serving dishes. I also helped myself to the red wine in the carafe. The Countess sat down beside me and watched while I ate. She never ate or drank anything, telling me that she had already fed.
After I had eaten, we went to a spacious drawing room and both sat down on comfortable chairs that faced each other across the room. She asked me about where I came from, and wanted to know all sorts of details about where I lived, my family, my life growing up, and my relations with others. After so much talking I began to feel tired, and noticed the sky outside was beginning to lighten, we had talked all night.
“This has been fascinating.” The Countess remarked. “We’ll continue our talk this evening. Sorry, I seem to have kept you awake all night and you must be tired. I too need to rest now.” She stated.
When I went to my bedchambers, I found all my bags had been placed in the room, though I had neither seen nor heard any servants. I went to bed and fell into a dreamless sleep. I awoke late the next day. That night I was again in the drawing room talking to the Countess about events in the world outside. I had come here to attend to her library, as I had been told the Countess’s collections of books were in disarray, and she needed someone to sort them out and properly order them, which was my speciality, but the Countess didn’t seem too concerned about it. Maybe she just desired to have another learned woman here.
Every night was the same. After I had dined, I would talk with her until the dawn (and every time she would apologise for keeping me up so late), and then we would both go off to sleep. I began to sense that all she wanted was a companion to talk to, or play cards with (as we did some nights), rather than what I had been employed for. There were also supposed to be servants here, but I never saw them. Yet every day there were cooked meals for me and someone made my bed and changed the sheets when needed. I looked out for them and listened intently at times, but I never had proof that there was any life in this mansion, other than myself.
I was no fool, however. I was well-read and knew many things that other people had no idea of, much of it obscure and arcane lore. The Countess never ate or drank anything in my presence, nor did I ever see her in the daylight. She would always end our conversations precisely at dawn. She had lived for many years, but looked to be in her twenties. I guessed what she was, yet no harm had come to me during my stay here. Nor did I ever feel that I was in danger. She just seemed to want someone to talk with, so I decided to take no action. Besides, I too was alone the world now, and often craved company myself…
I was recently watching the 1977 BBC version of Dracula (one of my favourites) and was struck with the thought what if Dracula and Jonathan Harker characters were instead both women and the vampire just wanted a friend, rather than have someone to help them move to London? As a side note, the organise the library idea I got from the Hammer version of Dracula (1958)…
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