But that man who captured the gaze of many a woman has changed.  The color has faded from my skin, and wrinkled lines have burrowed deeply into my cheeks. Looking into a mirror would reveal thinner appendages and angled bones. The all-too-confident youngster has grown to an old and often weary soul that longs for a final rest, away from a world that no longer requires his aid.  But that sleep would not come until Coveton was no more.

The path ended at the main gate of the manor. The iron portcullis was impenetrable and held in place by stone pillars with gargoyle statues stationed on each edifice beaming down at me with a mocking glare. Had I the strength of Coveton, I’d leap over the gates in a single effort. It is natural to be envious of his extraordinary abilities, but without such vitality, I had to seek other means. As mentioned previously, this was not my first time on the border of his manor, and preparation and research would lead to my success when raw physicality would not.

Staying along the wall, I moved belly to the ground around the perimeter. The air grew leaden, and shadows cast from the trees wrapped around my body as if aiding in my obfuscation. The atmosphere turned thick. The rustling of leaves from the brush projected against my eardrums and carried the faintest hint of words.

“Leave this place.”

These syllables crawled over me like a swarm of insects. Were the woods warning me?

The voice of the trees was silenced by the sudden torrent of rain. My hands and knees planted more firmly into the ground as I pushed ahead. Bits of dirt flung against my face, biting into the flesh. I wondered if somehow Coveton had summoned this storm!

Vampires are not simple. While some stereotypes are accurate, such as their repulsion by crucifixes, they can dwell among us as neighbors, friends, even lovers. They are not the wild-eyed beasts of black and white cinema that scared children in the front rows of old movie theaters. They are clever, handsome, witty, treacherous, exotic, and enticing. And Coveton was extremely powerful, more so than his evil contemporaries. He kept fresh flowers in his home and hung decorations to fit the season. Somehow, he walked about in the daytime, holding a position with a local bank in customer service. In the small town near his manor, I would follow him on daily walks, as he shook hands and made small talk with townsfolk who were unaware of the evil in the creature before them.  He was an anomaly among his kind, and luckily I was able to detect his curse where others were easily swayed by his lies.