Baron Olshevri Vampires

In the year 1912 Russian vampire literature saw the arrival of a mysterious author known only as Baron Olshevri. The book has never been translated into English before and the copyright has long expired. It is the story where Aztec and Indian gods vie for power, where pearl necklaces come to live in the night and where the most dangerous creature on earth is a beautiful woman.

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6. Letters to Alf

Fourth Letter

Alf, my Dear Friend!

She loves me!

We had a chance to talk and explain everything. She had deliberately walked past me on that day; she wanted me to follow her! I am so happy! She and my home, what else can I ask for?

Goodbye, I am off to buy the roses,

D.

 

Fifth Letter

 

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Sixth Letter

 

As I have written, even if my mother was upset by the sudden death of the gardener’s little girl, she was still well physically.

 

“What death?” interrupted James.

 

 “It appears we are missing a letter”, replied Karl Ivanovich

 

 “Carry on” said Harry

 

 ...still well, until that fateful night.

Though I was never able to understand them fully, the events of that night are forever carved onto my memory.

Lucy and I were sleeping one bedroom away from our mother, under the watchful eye of Caterina, our nurse.

In the middle of the night I was awaken by a terrifying scream, where it came from I could not tell. I sat up on the bed and listened. There was a commotion in the house; I heard the doors opening and closing, footsteps and loud voices.

I called Caterina and realised that she was not in the room.

Suddenly scared, I ran out, barefoot and clad only in my nightshirt. I found my way to my mother’s bedroom and saw that the door was open.

The room was filled with people.

My mother, her face as white as her nightdress and sheets, lay unconscious on propped up pillows. On her chest, on the white fabric, I noticed bright red spots of blood. My father was bending over her and our old family doctor was pouring medicine in her mouth.

 

Frightened servants crowded the room.

 

Few minutes later, my mother regained consciousness. I saw her eyes, wide with fear, dart around the room, but then she saw my father and clutched at his arm:

 

 “Freddie, is it you Freddie, did you chase him away?”

 

 “Whom, my darling?”

 

 “Him, the Grandfather, don’t let him in!”

 

“Calm down, dear, Grandfather is dead and you’ve had a bad dream.”

 

“Dream...yes a dream, but how vivid”, mumbled mother. She was quiet for a moment, but when she spoke again, her voice was firm with conviction:

 

 “No! It was not a dream”

 

 “It is true, I was asleep, but soon I sensed another presence in my room... The votive light in front of the holy image hissed and died...

No... Maybe it had died earlier and I heard the hissing of the snake...I don’t know...The room was dark...” she paused as if trying to remember.

 

She resumed after a brief silence:

 

 

 “I recognised him, Grandfather. The same velvet dress and the gold chain, and, the most importantly, the same evil eyes, shining with red flecks in them, like blood. Aquiline nose and thin lips. It was him, and yet, not him at all!”

 

 “Enough, you must rest,” interrupter father

 

 “No, listen. He bent over me-“Why don’t you want to wear my gift?” he asked softly. “Try”. He had the serpent necklace in his hands. He put it around my neck, kissing my lips” my mother wiped her mouth with back of her hand, “his lips were wet and cold, like frogs and he smelled bad, of mould and decay. And then I felt it. Instead of the necklace, a real snake was winding around my neck and it bit me...I fainted and after that, I remember nothing....

 

I couldn’t remain silent:

 “Where is the snake, Mama?” I asked.

 

At that very moment, two very familiar arms lifted me and carried me out of the room.

 

 “Where have you seen little boys running around barefoot at night?” grumbled Caterina

 

 “Where is the snake, nanny?” I kept pestering.

 

 “What snake? The Lady had a dream and screamed”

 

 “And blood on her shirt, I saw blood?”

 

That I don’t know. Must ask the Doctor. Sleep now, sleep” she grumbled, covering me with a blanket.

 

In the morning, the sun was so bright in our room and Lucy was laughing so joyously that I forgot both my fear and the snake. Once we were ready, Caterina, as usual, took us to greet our parents, warning us beforehand not to make too much noise, because mummy wasn’t well.

My mother was lying on her chaise lounge, propped up on a pile of cushions,

Even my child’s eyes noticed just how pale and thin her face was looking.

Barely giving us any notice, she addressed the footman:

 

 “Where is Nettie, why haven’t you brought her here? I have been waiting for her for half an hour already.”

 

 “Nettie isn’t here,” answered the footman, stammering, “We have been looking for her since early morning and still haven’t been able to find her”

 

 “Where can she be? What could have happened to her?” worried mother.

 

The footman stood silent.

 

“Find out who was the last to see her” ordered mother.

 

The footman bowed and left.

 

The dog’s absence surprised me, as I was used to seeing her at my mother’s feet, but the snake’s fate interested me even more and with the impatience of a spoiled child, I interrupted:

 

 “Mama, have you found the snake?”

 

At the same moment my father angrily pulled on my arm and hissed:”Be quiet”.

 

Confused, I looked up at my parents. My father’s eyebrows were knotted together in anger, and my mother sighed and fell back on the pillows.

Before I could react, father asked me in a normal voice if I wanted to ride down to the village, a treat that has been promised to me long ago.

My joy at the promise of a ride overshadowed everything, and with a cry of delight, I flung myself on my father’s neck.

 

 “Order for Carago to be saddled and for Petro to accompany you. Once the horses are ready, come in, I have an instruction for Petro”, he said.

 

I was already halfway out of the room.

 

-“and ride carefully, no galloping down the slope” finished father.

 

One hour later, we were leaving the castle. The gate watchman stopped Petro and asked him to find out in the village if anyone had seen Nettie.

 

 “We still haven’t found her and the Countess is getting angry”.

 

Petro mumbled something that sounded like the ‘Old Devil’ and we made our way carefully down the slope.

I am tired, Alf. Till tomorrow,

Yours,

D

 

 

Seventh Letter

 

Memories, like swarms of angry bees assail me and I know that the only way to escape them is to write.

 

All right, Petro and I went to the village.

Petro, our old servant, adored our family, especially my father and me.  I remember him as a kind, cheerful old man, always ready to help me with all of my pranks and pursuits, whether it was bringing down a bird’s nest, making a fishing rod or finding a live rabbit. I could always find ready helper in Petro.

 

But, lately, strange change came over Petro. He was no longer interested in our rabbits, or fishing, or even in the young crow with a broken wing given to me by the coachman.

Petro wouldn’t speak for hours on end, only his eyes darted right and left and glowed with pure hatred whenever he saw the old servant who came with the grandfather’s coffin,

He would always mumble curses under his breath and the words “Old Devil” would leave his lips more often than not.

All of the servants knew of Petro’s hatred for the “American” and were puzzled by it because Petro was usually very helpful and polite.

 

What provoked such hatred was hard to tell; the ‘American’ was very quiet and unobtrusive. He spent his days in the old guardhouse, which he repaired, or down in the family crypt near his master’s coffin. On rare occasions, he walked quietly in that part of the garden that was closest to his quarters.

He never ate with the servants or spent any time in their common room. He also refused my father’s offer of allowance.

 

“My Master left me enough money not to starve” he explained to my father.

 

Some of our higher-ranking servants tried to make friends with the old man, but were rebuffed by his cold and proud answers.

His refusal to share the common table was seen as an insult by some and the phrase “Left me enough not to starve” became butt of many jokes.

 

“Look at him! Arrived here all grey and dry, and now? So fat, soon he wouldn’t even fit through the doorway! And his lips! Red as your blood!” giggled Marina, our young floor-scrubber.

 

Petro chided her:

 

“Don’t you squeal!” he scolded, “Once he‘d mauled you he will get even fatter!”

 

“He will choke first!” laughed Marina.

 

Enough for today, Alf.

 

You are asking, how are things with Rita... wonderful, once I put down my pen, I live the past behind and belong only to my wonderful fiancé.

 

Sometimes I think, is this the right time to bother with the past? I should enjoy the present.

But sometimes, in the silence of the night, after passionate kisses, I feel the pull of my memories and, with it, the call to write.

What is it, Alf?

I think that, after lifetime spend in exile; I have a need to talk.

And even love itself cannot silence that need.

Till next time. Tomorrow I will try to find a present deserving of my beloved.

D

 

 “Gentlemen, speaking of dreams...” said the host as soon as Karl Ivanovich paused for a moment.

 

The younger guests protested:

 

 “What, sleep? It is still early!”

 

 “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am leaving,” said Captain Wright, getting up, “You can spent the rest of the night reading and still be no wiser in the morning. And to be honest, I have no idea what all of this nonsense is about.”

 

The younger guests had no choice but to obey.

Karl Ivanovich carefully folded the old yellow letters and bowed before leaving the room.

 

 “Tomorrow, at the Hunting Lodge!” shouted one of the youths.

 

 “As you wish,” replied the old man.

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