Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Astonishment of Mike Costello

Mike Costello slammed his pint glass down on the table and consulted his watch for about the fifteenth time. Vlad had always had a hazy notion of time, but this time he was really taking the biscuit. He was short of cash, as usual, and had been relying on Vlad to get the drinks in. He sighed heavily and fished around in his pocket to see if he had enough money for another pint. His search produced a 50p, a 20p and a button. He really needed Vlad to show and get the round in.

He wasn't the nervous type, but for some reason this evening he just felt wired. It was about warm enough for him to sit at a table outside; Vlad didn't deal real well with the flashing lights on the one-armed bandits and felt more at home skulking in the shadows outside. But Costello felt spooked and was jumping at the slightest movement and the loud guffaws of laughter that suddenly floated out of the pub doors.

He had just started investigating the pockets on the front of his shirt to see if he still had a stray fag, when a hand fell heavily onto his shoulder and gave him the fright of his life. Shaking like a leaf and already chiding himself for being soft, he turned his head expecting to see Vlad standing there.

It wasn't Vlad he saw; but the tall elegantly dressed stranger looking down on him was definitely a vampire. It's vibration was just not human and Costello could feel the hairs on the back of his neck start to rise. It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the courtyard garden and that the vampire was standing in a vortex.

'I'm sorry to have startled you' said the stranger in a low, patrician drawl 'You are Michael Patrick Costello, are you not?'

'Depends who's asking' stuttered Costello getting shakily to his feet and backing away as best he could until his back was up against the courtyard wall.

The stranger put his hand into his breast pocket, withdrew a heavily embossed business card with a crest on it and presented it to him.

'Lord Kingsteington, at your service' said the vampire silkily as Costello took hold of the card with suddenly heavy, clumsy fingers.

'May I get you a drink?' the vampire continued 'Your glass appears to be empty and I myself am in need of refreshment'.

Costello gulped nervously as he was well aware of what constituted refreshment for a vampire; he was also shaken to the core at the vampire naming himself as Kingsteignton.

'Thanks' he managed to squeak 'Mine's a pint of bitter'.

'Wouldn't you rather sample some of the superb brandy that they serve in this establishment?' queried Kingsteignton clicking his fingers, and to Costello's total astonishment summoning one of the barstaff instantly to his side at the table.

'Two large brandies and a couple of those Cuban cigars' snapped Kingsteignton premptorily and the barman scurried off to do his bidding.

'Wouldn't you be more comfortable sitting' asked Kingsteignton courteously as he himself sank elegantly down onto one of the vacant seats.

Mike shuffled himself back into his seat, still clutching the business card. He found that he couldn't stop staring into the deep, dark pools that were Kingsteignton's eyes, it felt that he was being spun in a big, warm tub of melted caramel and he was drowning.....

Kingsteignton's laugh shattered the spell and Costello found himself snapping back into full reality.

'You may be a psychic, human, but you can be played just as easily as any of them. Did your friend Vladimirescu not warn you about the glamour of a vampire; about how we can seduce our prey into submission?'

Costello rubbed his eyes with his knuckles to clear them and looked cautiously back at the vampire.

'How do you know about me' he asked belligerently 'And why are you here instead of Vlad; I thought they had gone off to sort you out!'

'Two Romanian vampires and a werewolf? How you do underestimate me, my boy! Let us just say that young Vladimirescu has been regretfully detained this evening, which gives me the chance to spend some time with you and get to know you better'.

The barman came out of the pub and put a round silver tray with a decanter, two glasses, two cigars, a lighter and an ashtray on it down on the table.

Costello suddenly felt his ears buzzing. 'Whatever you do, do not drink from the decanter' came a firm, female voice in his head.

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