This is a longer short story than my usual ones, which I will be reading out at a Halloween Spoken Word event next weekend.

 

“Mum, that vampire is real,” said Terry.

His mother was baking, and her hands were covered in flour. She looked round absent-mindedly and said, “eh? What are you talking about? There are no such things as vampires.”

“But Mum, I’ve seen him in the house. He walks up and down the stairs in the evening after dark, and sometimes he stands around in the bathroom as if he’s waiting for someone to come in.”

“Don’t be daft, Terry. It’s all that watching ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer.’ Those episodes are over twenty years old- and isn’t it for girls anyway?”

“There are lots of other boys in the fan club.”

“Maybe there are,” said his mother, “But you’re fourteen now, too old to sit writing vampire stories all the time. Isn’t that what you do in your club, sit at home every night writing your own episodes? Just give it up and do your homework instead, then you won’t see vampires anymore.”

Terry walked away. She didn’t understand about the fan fiction, and in his case,  it was even more important because the Big Red Journal had become his diary. He never meant to put his mother in it, or himself and his younger brother and sister, but somehow, they had all ended up in there. His Dad wasn’t around much, always away at sea, so Mum and Gary and Bianca had become the pegs that Terry hung his life around. He had to write about them every day to protect them from the vampires.

Terry had always believed in the alternative world that you can see inside the mirror. There were no vampires there because vampires don’t have a reflection, and that’s why his family had to live there, in the reflection world, where they would be safe. The Buffy episodes took place in the real world which was full of vampires and was becoming more dangerous every day because the fan club were writing more and more new episodes. He had to keep writing the diary about his family in the reflection world, so they wouldn’t be exposed to the vampires.

But now a vampire had crossed over to the reflection world, and Terry kept seeing him walking about the house. How had he managed to do that, when he didn’t have a reflection?

The next day when Terry was on his way home from school he saw the vampire following him on the other side of the road, dodging behind trees. It was winter and already dark, so there was no hope that he would be burnt up by the sun. Terry noticed that the vampire had spiky yellow hair and was wearing an evening suit. It must be Spike from those old Buffy shows, dressed smartly for once.

As he approached his own house Terry saw a figure standing in his bedroom. He started to walk more quickly; maybe this was another  vampire. But when he got closer he could see that the person in his bedroom was Mum. She was searching through the drawers in his desk and she was crying. She didn’t notice him watching her.

Terry realised what it must be. “She’s looking for the Journal. She thinks I’ve gone mad. I can’t bear to see Mum upset- she’s got no-one else but me to look after her when Dad’s away. Gary and Bianca are too young. I’ll have to stop this.”

Terry rang the doorbell, and when his mother let him in she had composed herself and dried her eyes. He told her to take no notice of what he had said yesterday. “I must have imagined it,” he said. “I can’t see it any more- I’m going upstairs to do my homework.”

She hugged him closely and said, “good boy,” and the tears came into her eyes again. Terry pretended not to see them and went upstairs.

It was good that Mum hadn’t found the Big Red Journal, and after he had finished his homework he got it out from the secret compartment in his desk and wrote an entry in it. “I’ve nearly finished the new episode to take to Buffy Club. Of course, there are really two Buffy Clubs, one in the real world and the other in the reflection world where we have to live. I like my friends at school in the real world, but I can never trust them the way I trust the reflection people.”

Later the family sat together in the kitchen having dinner, and to Terry’s dismay he found that he could still see the vampire. There he was, loitering just outside the kitchen door and watching them eat. He was taunting them, implying that his meal would be next, and this time they would be dinner. Terry told himself the vampire wasn’t there, couldn’t be there; but it was no use. He would never be able to keep up this charade, and if he ignored the danger it could result in the whole family being bitten.

He would have to drive the vampire away from the house, and he had everything that he needed to do it. He had gathered the equipment a long time ago in preparation for just such an event as this. But he couldn’t worry Mum anymore, so it would have to wait until later, when she was asleep.

It was a quarter to midnight when Terry dressed quickly and went downstairs, holding a stake made from a jagged piece of wood. It had two items tied to it: a gold cross necklace and a slice of garlic.

He strode towards the downstairs hallway, outwardly confidant although he was quaking inside.  The vampire was outside the lounge, and he raised the stake aloft.

“Hey, you- Spike or whoever, get out of the house. Leave, or I’ll put this stake through your heart.”

The vampire looked at him hard, turned and began to run along the hallway. Terry chased him out into the street. It was lucky the streets and gardens were deserted, because the neighbours would have been sure to tell his Mum.

He pursued the vampire along the street, calling out, “I’ll get you! I’ll get you!” It was so exciting that it was real, not just an episode that he was writing, and he was winning.

Then, just past the wall at the corner of the street, Terry saw the strangest structure. It was like a red totem pole rooted in the pavement with black ropes laced around it, stretching miles up into the sky. He had never seen anything like that in the neighbourhood.

The vampire stopped running, turned around to face him and exclaimed, “You young idiot! This isn’t the real world and it isn’t the reflection world either. See what you’ve done to yourself!”

Terry reached the pole and came to a stop. He was unable to go any further. He reached out and touched it, and suddenly he recognised what it was. It was the binding of his Big Red Journal.