Sally urged the train to go faster. It was – miracle of miracles – running to schedule but she was impatient to get to her destination. She couldn’t believe that after all these years she was going to see him! In person! She was going to be in the same room, breathing the same air. It was like a dream come true.
She couldn’t concentrate during the performance. She’d seen reviews, unkind ones, saying the one-man version of Dracula was turgid and overlong, but his name on the posters had ensured a sell-out run. There was even talk of a transfer to the West End as soon as this month in Whitby was done. She let the verbose script wash over her. She was hypnotised by his slender figure in a spotlight. It was all about him. She drank in the sight of him, feasting her eyes. It made her tingle all over.
He didn’t look a day older. Of course, that might be thanks to make-up and stage lighting, but he looked exactly as he had done in the last photograph taken of him: his departure from Heathrow for that ill-fated tour of Romania. Nothing had been heard of him for a decade. Rumours abounded. He had been kidnapped – he had been killed! He had merely retired without a word to his legion of adoring fans…
It all added to his glamour, of course, his cachet.
Sally was the first to her feet to give his curtain call an unwarranted ovation. She shoved her way out to the stage door, eager to meet him. She clutched her autograph book tightly in her fist. Surely he’d spare a couple of seconds for her. Perhaps there would even be eye contact.
There was no one else waiting to see him. Sally found that puzzling. Did no one share her obsession? What was wrong with these people? They’d clamoured to buy up all the tickets. Perhaps they had only shown up to gawp and sneer. He’s lost it, they must be saying. Perhaps he never had it…
The stage crew left the theatre in dribs and drabs. Sally stepped aside to let them pass. She muttered a couple of ‘well done’s and received in return some muttered thanks.
At last, when she had been on the verge of giving up, he emerged.
Sally gasped. He was as tall and gaunt as ever, although he seemed drained and stooped with fatigue. The pallor of his face seemed natural and not painted on. His eyes were large and unblinking.
“Excuse me?” Sally stepped into his path. “Could we…?”
She linked her arm into his bony one and held up her phone for a picture. He let out a gasp and sent the device flying. It smashed against the wall. Before Sally could register what had happened, he seized her by the throat and backed her against a skip. A pointed fingernail – not a fake, Sally realised at the last minute – opened a vein in her throat.
As he drained her dry, his back straightened and a flush of colour returned to his cheeks. Rejuvenated, he dropped the husk that had been Sally into the skip. He smacked his lips and laughed at the full moon.
He always could rely on his fans.