Alberto was sitting on a hillside overlooking the west coast of Ireland, admiring his fine lace cuffs, when he spotted a young man on the path below.
He was beside him in an instant, “Do you mind if I walk with you, this dark night?”
“No worries mate,” the young man replied, adjusting his backpack, “Are you going to Ballymorren?”
“Indeed I am going that way. My name is Alberto Federico d’Oro de Cervantes.”
“My name’s Darren. My mates back home in Australia call me Dazza.”
“Dazza,” Alberto said with some distaste, “And were the locals happy for you to walk this path alone?”
“To be honest, they told me to take the main road. But this is the quickest route on the map.”
“Indeed. And the most scenic. Although these coves were once treacherous. Did you know many ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked along this very coast, almost five hundred years ago?”
“Yeah?” Darren raised his eyebrows.
“Many of the Spanish met a watery grave,” Alberto said, as the road dipped and the night grew darker, “But an even greater disaster followed. For it was said among the survivors that waded ashore was an immortal vampire,” Alberto let the word buzz on his lips.
“Oh yeah?” Darren said with interest.
“This vampire escaped and hid for many years in the green hills above Ballymorren. It was only when shepherds and farm girls began to disappear, that the people realised what lived among them.”
They had walked over a crest. The clouds parted and a moonbeam glittered over the ocean, as Alberto continued, “The townsfolk sent out groups to hunt the vampire. Many failed to return and the fear of the vampire grew. At last, it is said, the vampire, a very elegant and refined fellow -” Alberto shook out his gleaming dark hair, “made a pact with the local people. A pact to stay away from the villages and hunt only those unwise enough to travel the cliff top paths alone.”
“Indeed, when the vampire sees his prey, he moves quickly to their side, charming them with his tale, sending a chill through their bones, awakening their deepest fears. They realise then that no ordinary being has accompanied them on their nocturnal walk, but a true fiend, who will shortly end their life.”
Darren turned his head a little.
Alberto smiled and his voice fell to a whisper, “Fear is what the vampire thrives on. Fear is what he craves most, more than the life force, more than the blood. For when he senses fear, the moment has come, he has won over the mortal and they are powerless to resist.”
Alberto frowned. This had never happened before! Did this Australian have any fear or imagination at all?
They had reached the main road.
“Thanks for keeping me company mate. You coming any further?”
“Indeed not,” Alberto was frozen at the edge of his hunting ground.
Darren waved and walked on toward the town, oblivious to the danger he had been in. Without the mortal’s fear, without the mortal’s belief in him, Alberto was powerless. The vampire slumped his shoulders and returned to his hilltop look-out.