Arielle Tipa is a writer and poet based in New York. She is currently working on her first novel as well as a collection of short stories. Presently, she runs Fair Folk – a journal of the fantastic. You can find out more about her on arielletipa.com.
The discussion of vampyres arose following a smattering of rain against the corridor. Mr. Polidori either knew precisely, naturally rather, that it came from the corridor of the chalet, or it was the wine that told him. He elaborated on his attempts to study vampyres, saying that such creatures ought to be understood, checked intimately for any trace of romantic affiliations – which ultimately meant they belonged in books. Percy sat silently on a bench in the lounge, hunched over and swirling his glass of green elixir, forcing a smile while his friend spoke of such macabre things. Lord Byron, on the other hand, was lying on a damask sofa with a fez on his face, making his belches sound hollow. A lady stood near a fogged window with her hands behind her back. Two flickering candelabras, the scent of intoxication, a dying fire, and toppled glasses decorated this scene making it a small party worth observing.
“Now…now, really, Percy. Your lady is staring out that window with no intention of joining us,” said Polidori, his eyes waxed with candlelit inebriation.
The lady turned, and before she even attempted at an insightful response, Percy withdrew from his seat, gently placing his hand upon the woman’s nape. Byron cleared his throat as he took the fez off his face.
“You really ought to write it, you know,” Percy whispered. “Dreams and nightmares often make the best companions in situations like yours.” The lady could smell the absinthe reeking from his breath. His dark blue eyes looked black in the scant light.
“George!” the lady exclaimed. Spilling his drink, Byron woke from his reverie, huffing and clenching his chest, sending Polidori into hysterics.
“For God’s sake, Mary! How now? And…and do not call me that! No one’s called me George since, well since your stepsister–”
“My stepsister is asleep down the hall, surely exhausted after you’ve lectured and demonstrated the bodily art of military tactics in the bedroom. For hours, this talk of vampyres and other creatures of the occult has been maddening, and yet inspiring, to say the least. I suppose I’ll retire, since you three gentlemen have no intentions of actually recording your conversations for further writing.”
The rain continued as thunder struck outside, making the men jump. Mary felt Percy’s hand tense and release from her waist. He returned to his bench, and said not a word.
With a shaking hand, Polidori raised his spilled glass to his lips, unaware of its emptiness. “Clearly she’s mad, like the lot of womankind. I’ll drink to that.”
“Like a hound lapping his master’s spillage. A dog,” Mary whispered. She gave Polidori a menacing glare, and left the room.
Mary began to wander the dark corridors, no candle at hand. She faintly heard Polidori bellow: “A toast to Geneva!” and “…electrocution!” She thought she heard Byron mention galvanism. Lightning struck, illuminating the hall. The portraits all seemed to follow her with their unblinking, immortal eyes. The storm raged heavier, as the ceilings began to leak, leaving Mary’s scalp colder with each step, her face baptized with fresh, domesticated rain. For a moment, she thought she might have died.
“I’m alive,” Mary said. “I’m alive.”
Trembling, Mary touched the doorknob to Claire’s bedroom, only to be greeted by static electricity. She released a cry of pleasure, startling herself.
I will write a story, she decided.
Mary danced unblinkingly into her and Percy’s bedroom and opened the window. She sat at the desk and began to write amid the calm of the subsiding storm. The moon was her only companion.