Interview with a Vampire
You can see at first glance that Count Von Roo is no ordinary Blumaroo; the red eyes are a sure giveaway. Aside from that, whilst he has all the characteristic traits of his species, his manner and dress style mark him apart. His black cape with the red, silken lining shows him to have fine taste in clothes. He has obvious breeding and apparent money, also borne out by the fact that he has taken an island as his own.
As so often happens with the rich and famous, Count Von Roo’s reputation precedes him. He is known for his great age and evil nature, and his love of the darkness. The question is whether this is a true representation of this unique character, or whether these are just stories made up to scare children. The only way to find this out is through a face to face interview: a risky business, but one that would be a piece of cake for the right interviewer.
Red Starbright considered the risks involved in this undertaking to be minimal. She was a brave Cybunny who could stand her own ground in most situations. She felt that this could be an interesting assignment and decided that, provided certain conditions were met, she would be happy to conduct the interview on the Count’s home territory. She felt she was a Cybunny uniquely qualified to face the risks, with little or no threat to herself.
At the insistence of the Interviewee, this meeting was to be carried out in the dead of night. This was no problem to the Cybunny, as she could be a bit of a night owl herself. However, this was one of the first indicators that the stories about this unusual Blumaroo may hold some truth.
Further strict conditions were put in place, holding both parties to an agreement that would ensure their own, and each other’s well being. Red Starbright agreed to carry out no flash photography. She also willingly agreed to carry no garlic or any wooden sticks, either concealed or apparent. In return, Count Von Roo agreed that he would not drink any liquids whilst the Cybunny was in his Castle, and would not bite into anything, of a food nature or otherwise.
Happy with the set conditions, Red Starbright was given a date during the Month of Collecting to meet the Count. By the time the day of the interview arrived, she was very excited. She put on her best tuxedo and checked that her watch was in her side pocket. She adorned her top hat and checked her appearance in the mirror quickly. Happy that she looked her best, she set off for Roo Island, arriving just as the sun was setting.
Count Von Roo’s Castle was a landmark that was not hard to find. The once magnificent building stood slightly aside from the others on the Island, as if slightly shunned. The Cybunny hopped over to the doors, which opened as if by magic. Red Starbright confidently hopped up the stairs and into the dim and dingy entrance hall. She glanced over her shoulder and noticed that the moon was slowly rising into the darkening sky.
Count Von Roo was waiting in the doorway of one of the grand rooms that lead off the entrance hall. He smiled charmingly at his guest and ushered her into what turned out to be the Drawing Room. Red Starbright noted that the drapes were a little shabby, and the carpet a little threadbare, but in the dim light these were faults that would only have been apparent to a keen observer. She accepted the comfortable chair that was offered to her, and got out her notebook and pen, ready for the forthcoming interview.
Once seated, the Count started the conversation without being prompted. He appeared to be a Blumaroo used to being in control. With his first comments he immediately admitted to his love of the night time, as if pre-empting the question.
“Who in their right mind would want to walk around with the sun shining down on them?” he asked, quite reasonably. “Moonlight is such a soft, friendly light. There are so many places to hide when it is dark and no prying eyes watching your every move. Looking at you, I am sure you feel the same way.”
Red Starbright got the impression that Count Von Roo was trying to justify a view that he felt needed no validation. He spoke as if he thought that everyone should feel that same way. His comments came across as if he could not imagine why anyone would want to be awake during the day.
“I do not understand everyone’s desire to sleep in a soft, uncomfortable bed, either,” he continued. “I have my coffin, down in the cellar, and it is the only place where I want to sleep. I pull the lid across to ensure I am not disturbed and sleep soundly all day long.”
Red Starbright again felt that the Count was implying that she should hold this view too. Personally, she preferred the soft bed in her cosy new Neohome and could not see the attraction to sleeping in a dark, damp cellar, either by day or by night. She felt that the Blumaroo was judging her on appearances and driving the conversation in the direction he wished.
The Cybunny was eager to acquire the information that she was seeking, rather than just being fed the facts that Count Von Roo was willing to impart.
“Would you be willing to tell me, are the rumours true, that you slept for two hundred years?” she asked, confidently taking control of the interview.
“Well, yes, I was very tired,” responded the Count, quite reasonably. “I had been travelling for many years, moving from place to place, and when I found this Castle, it felt like home.”
“I had only intended to take a short nap, but I guess I must have been more tired than I had realised,” he continued. “It was so quiet and peaceful on this Island at that time, and the dark, friendly basement was so welcoming.”
“Why did it take you so long before you settled anywhere?” Red Starbright prompted. “Rumours have it that you roamed Neopia for a long time before settling here.”
“Well, most of the people in Neopia seemed to distrust me for some reason,” the Blumaroo answered innocently. “They hounded me and chased me, and I did not get any real rest until I found this deserted island. Only then could I really relax.”
The Cybunny thought about this response before posing her next question. The moon was rising in the sky but its faint light did nothing to warm her. She began to feel a chill creeping into her toes and moving up her paws. This cold may have just been the result of the coldness of the crumbling, stone castle, but she had her doubts.
“You say that Roo Island was deserted when you arrived?” she continued hesitantly. “How do you feel about it now that it is quite densely inhabited?”
The Count considered the question for a moment and Red Starbright got the impression that he had mixed views about the end of his isolation. He looked down and smoothed out a crease that had formed in his cape. This gesture appeared to be more a ploy to gain thinking time than a concern for perfect presentation.
“On the whole I am not too much affected by the islanders,” he responded eventually. “I tend to stay in my castle, and away from the tourist attractions. The most annoying place is the Merry Go Round, but the castle walls are thick, so the noise does not disturb me too much.”
Red Starbright thought about her next question carefully before asking it. She was aware that she was moving into dangerous territory, but having established this interview, it seemed a waste not to ask the question that was on the minds of so many people.
“Do you know anything about the missing children, Karan and Sara?” the Cybunny asked tentatively, the cold feeling now creeping up her back. When the two Blumaroos had disappeared there were rumours that they had lost their blumaball in the castle grounds and had gone looking for it. Nobody knew for sure what had happened, but the children were never seen again. Many seemed to suspect Count Von Roo of some evil deed.
“I do not remember any two children with those names,” answered the Count innocently, although something in his voice gave away the lie. “I sleep very soundly in my basement, and, knowing of my reputation, I doubt anyone would willingly come into my castle, missing blumaball or not.”
A slight annoyance had crept into the Count’s voice. He looked less composed and a little annoyed. He gave the appearance of being thirsty for something more than conversation.
At this point Red Starbright was uncertain how to proceed with the interview. It seemed apparent that the Count had not been totally honest in his response to this question. He may have heard the rumours about the missing children and their lost blumaball. However, this knowledge could just as easily be an admission of guilt.
Red Starbright was increasingly realising that she had entered the domain of a Count with a dark and dangerous past. Suddenly she was anxious for the interview to be at an end. She was starting to feel that she would not feel relaxed and warm again until she was back in her neohome, writing up her story. She realised, all too late, that she should not have agreed to carry out this interview of the 31st day of this month.
During this pause in the conversation, Count Von Roo looked up, a slight glow coming into his red eyes. He smiled slightly. The full moon was now high in the sky and as it cast its light through the window it gleamed on his sharp, pointed teeth. In the distance the chimes of a clock can be heard striking the midnight hour.
Red Starbright nervously took out her pocket watch to confirm the time. She glanced down at her notebook to see whether she had enough information in which to compile her article. She felt an urgent need to get away from the Castle and Roo Island and be back in Meridell.
All too late she realised that this Blumaroo had a reputation based on fact, not fiction. She knew with a cold certainty that no ordinary Halloween pet would be a match for Count Von Roo. The dangers he posed were real and she, in her hunger for a story, had walked into his territory unprotected. Halloween suddenly seemed a very bad day to carry out an interview with a vampire.
Count Von Roo looked directly into Red Starbright’s eyes, his own gleaming brightly in the light of the full moon. There was a pause, and the anxious Cybunny could feel the Count’s penetrating gaze burning into her. He spoke his next words quietly and precisely.
“Fancy a game of dice?” he asked, a wicked grin appearing on his face.