Another crazed rambling- Night School

This is a piece of work that came about by accident this weekend. I was chatting with some friends from Sanctuary, the Morecamber Goth/Pagan/Alternative group, and they said that they were looking for suitably vampy contributions to the Sanctuary magazine……this was the result.

Night School

There is no Careers Service for vampires, which is remarkably inconvenient. Given our particular problems in the employment area, not to mention the exceptional length of our careers, you would think that someone would have come up with something by now. They’ve had enough time. Be honest, what would you do in my position?

Of course, you do hear on the grapevine about more or less successful vampire career paths. There is the itsy-bitsy daylight problem to deal with. This means of course that we are confined to evening posts, not necessarily the most profitable, nor those that lead to the best victims. Would you fancy spending eternity cleaning offices at night? I’d say that was purgatory rather than eternity.

There have been rumours about nightclub impresarios (though I can tell you that Peter Stringfellow is definitely not among them, any decent vampire would be ashamed to look like that). Showbusiness counts many, though alas we can’t do matinées. There have of course been a few celebrated rock singers, now long ‘retired’, though occasionally spotted and splashed across the pages of the ‘National Enquirer’. We may not have much of a reflection, but we still photograph quite well. They really need to be more careful, can you imagine the effect on a mortal when they bump into Jim Morrison in Asda?

I prefer a quieter life, none of this high-profile nonsense for me. Of course, when I was younger, it was good fun, but these days it’s just too tedious having to disappear for decades. It took me a while to decide, of course, but with several hundred years work experience behind you, it gets easier.

I decided that the academic life was for me. University lecturers have a quiet life, and I could quite simply teach in the evenings. The twenty-first century is so convenient for the children of the night. Evening classes, for those too busy to study in the day, and online classes, where the only place my students see me is in cyberspace. The paranoia of this century also serves us well, all the allergies and intolerances are so convenient. Hence my ‘transformation’, into poor light-sensitive Miss _______. No daytime meetings for me, and employment legislation obliges them to schedule my classes after dark. A few bogus medical reports, change the century on a few of my qualifications, and there you are.

It gives me wonderful opportunities for trying fresh foreign ‘dishes’ when I go to Istanbul or Athens for sabbaticals and lecture tours. Some of those European students make a refreshing change to the taste-buds from my usual fare. I do still have to move from time to time, but I have been in this quiet northern city for quite a few years now. You could say I have a captive audience of juicy prey. Students disappear so easily. Some might ‘go to India to discover themselves’, some might ‘fall’ from their accommodation, some simply vanish without trace. It’s all quite easy to achieve, if you plan it well. Teaching staff that become a little too interested in my pursuits sometimes join them.

You must be wondering by now what I teach? Quite easy, Literature. It’s so much easier to talk about the motivation of the authors when you hung around with them in the 18th Century. My speciality? Gothic Literature, of course, perfect to cover any of my little eccentricites. Shelley, Mary and Byron were particular favourites of mine, we had some wild times telling ghost stories up at the Villa Diodati. But that Polidori was a real nuisance, I don’t think I need to explain to you what I was obliged to do with him. ‘The Vampyre’, indeed, telling my life to the world and his best friend.

Poe was, on the other hand, an absolute gentleman. he knew enough of the truth to spin a good tale, but had manners enough to veil it in the telling. You might just recognise some of my little details though, enough to be intriguing but not enough to be too informative. He was one who I wished had stayed around a little longer. I tried to persuade him of course, but the only thing he wanted to do was resurrect his mother, which as you know is beyond even my powers. Wouldn’t let me save him. Silly Edgar.

Paris at that time was much more fun. At least they had a great nightlife. I drank absinthe and danced around Montmartre with Baudelaire and Rimbaud, and you can spot me in a few of the paintings of the time. Toulouse-Lautrec had a bit of a passion for me. That’s why I had to go in the end, too much absinthe and opium in the air and Van Gogh, Lautrec and Gauguin slugging it out over me. They say I was the reason Vincent went over the edge in the end. He was never good at handling the truth, I was only trying to give him the chance to carry on painting. He had promise, such a pity.

Bram Stoker, on the other hand, just wanted to know too much. That man was the reason that I had to spend the first years of the last century lying low. I don’t know why I trusted him, I really don’t. I think that it was the Irish charm really. That foolish man nearly blew it all apart, I am sure that the demise of my kind can be traced back to that awful book. His sticky end though, was honestly nothing to do with me. Not really.

Luckily, I planted enough red herrings to ensure our survival. I love garlic, and can pass any number of crucifixes without a second glance. I’m not that naïve.

These days, I very rarely encounter another of my kind. Those of us still around are those tactful enough to be virtually undetectable. There are far too many people writing about ‘typical vampires’ to be too flamboyant. You don’t meet many Lestats these days. I hope that Anne Rice is watching her back, New Orleans never was a good place to upset the undead.

Tonight is Wednesday, and the start of the new academic year. I meet my new students tonight. Most of those who choose to study my course are sufficiently ‘alternative’ that my eccentricities are commonplace to them. Black clothes, flowing black hair and silver jewellery are the staples of my students, as they are mine. These are not people who would willingly study Wordsworth, and I don’t blame them. He was such a boring little man that I wouldn’t have offered him eternal life. His reality was tedious enough to resemble eternity already, but with none of the fun. I digress.

Here they come now, my band of misfits, Gothic Literature 432, 2005-6. It’s funny how fashion turns around. The boys have hair as long as the girls again these days. They file in, in their flowing dark clothes, with their New Rocks and dyed hair. I keep abreast of fashion, of course. Have you any idea what a boon the net is to the average vampire’s wardrobe?

They awkwardly shuffle into their seats, and look towards me for inspiration. Having taken the register, I begin to tell them in the usual fashion my particular programme for the year. Then the door crashes open. In walks a tall young man with flowing black hair, followed by a diminutive girl in a black cloak. Nothing unusual in here. I ask them to see me after the class.

I really don’t know how I continued to teach for the next hour. I was so cross. Sometimes an hour can seem like eternity, even to a three hundred-year old vampire. Finally, I dismissed the students, and closed the door behind them. I took up my register, trying not to laugh.

“So- exactly why were you late, Gary and Melanie?” I said, finally looking them in the face.
“Gary? Melanie? Oh for goodness’ sake.” I couldn’t stifle my laughter any longer. “ Gary Byron and Melanie Shelley? Couldn’t you do any better than that, after three hundred years practice?”

We hugged, still laughing. The joke is that history has recorded it’s suspicions about Lord George Byron and vampirism. But they got it all wrong. It was Mary Shelley, or Melanie as I suppose I must now call her. She was the founder of our little colony, she brought back her little secret from a trip to the east with Percy Shelley. Poor Percy just annoyed her that little bit too much to be saved. Polidori was just jealous that he was the only one never asked to join. Byron had to pull that stunt of pretending to be drowned in the Hellespont, as usual he was putting it about too much already that he had eternal life. Mary was never as careless as George, she covered her tracks with Frankenstein, who would suspect someone of the two sins? Creating monsters and vampirism, and from such a lady? Clever girl. I learned much from her.

Though I do suppose it will be really hard to teach Frankenstein this year, with the author staring me in the face over the top of her Penguin paperback every Wednesday night. Though if ‘Gary’ Byron thinks I am studying any of his appalling poetry, he must be joking. Always too full of his own sexiness and self-importance. It might do him good to learn from someone else for a change, after three hundred years.

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