“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…uh…so…uh help you…uhm, god?” Asked the bailiff, shifting his eyes away from the slender man in the witness stand. The slender man tucked a lock of thin, black hair behind his ear with a finger tipped with a long, cracked fingernail.
“You’ll understand if I didn’t, yes?” He bared big, sharp teeth. The bailiff shrugged and moved away.
“Now,” started the judge, “Mister Drakul…Ivan Drakul, really?”
“It’s pronounced EE-Vahn. And yes. I’ve found it a most valuable moniker for traveling through your simple human systems. And before we begin, thank you for accommodating my temporal requirements for these proceedings.” He waved a limp hand around the room. The judge and bailiff made brief eye contact.
“Uh huh. Well, Mister Drakul, you are filing a civil suit against your neighbor, Maria Rivera. You claim she has organized a, in your words, ‘malignant and sustained campaign of harassment’ against you. Is that accurate?” The judge peered over his glasses, catching a glimpse of the plaintiff’s teeth once more.
“It is, your honor,” Drakul responded. Across from him, staring into his red-flecked eyes was his opponent: a small woman gripping a rosary across both hands. Her hair was whitening under a floral bandana that tied off under her chin, all framing a vicious scowl directed at Drakul. The judge sighed deeply and settled into his chair.
“All right, Mister Drakul, you may proceed. How is this seventy-three year old woman harassing you?” Drakul rose out of his seat.
“Allow me to begin, your honor, with this thought: can one persecute a lion for hunting an antelope?
“Excuse me?” replied the judge.
“Bear with me, your honor – I am swiftly arriving at my point. Is it fair to persecute a lion for hunting an antelope? What about a bear hunting a salmon? A falcon searing through the sky to pluck an unsuspecting mouse from a field?
“Ah Dios mio. I am not a mouse, or a deer, or a salmon!” said Maria Rivera, swinging her rosary across her torso to confirm what she claimed.
“Objection, your honor! You see? Even here, she manages to find ways to harangue me!”
“Sustained, Ms. Rivera, if you can’t control your outbursts, I will ask that you be removed from the room and you will forfeit your right to provide your testimony. You will have your chance to speak in due course.” The judge turned back to Drakul, who was sneering at the old woman. “That being said, Mister Drakul, I assume you’re arriving at your point, as you had promised?”
“At once your honor. What I am saying is that you cannot prosecute someone or something for performing their natural function as a predator.” The bailiff shifted his weight and by instinct lowered his hand to his hip. All of this started, just because I gave in to my natural instinct to feed – I misspeak – not feed, my natural instinct to survive: to drink some of her blood. Not enough to kill her, or even harm her. At most, the impact on her would have been no worse than giving blood to check her cholesterol.” Drakul sat back down in his seat, looking pleased with himself. He had tracked the bailiff’s hands to his hip and noticed when they returned to their rest position, cupped in front of his groin.
“So, at which point does this campaign of harassment begin, Mister Drakul? You may be immortal, but that does not mean that the rest of us are. I’ve been patient with you and expect, if you’ll pardon the expression, some teeth to your argument now.”
“At once, your honor. She’s started setting traps for me.”
“Traps?” Said the judge and Maria Rivera at the same time. The judge shot her a look.
“Traps. She lives four houses down from mine, on the same side of the street. One day, she painted crosses onto the sidewalk. When I walked over them, my shoes melted. And my feet blistered.
“Couldn’t you just go around the crosses?” asked the judge.
“One would think, but she used ultraviolet paint. Hearing my screams of pain triggered the second half of the trap and ultraviolet lights came on, singeing my scalp and eyelids.” Maria Rivera brought the rosary up to her mouth, fighting the urge to snicker out loud.
The judge scribbled onto a pad he had on his desk. “Have there been any other instances? One incident hardly suggests a campaign.”
“There was one day she turned on sprinklers as I was walking past her house. She’d had a priest bless the heads of the sprinkler, so that any water that passed through them was holy. She ruined a lovely set of tails I was gifted by an aristocratic line that…expired soon after I met them.”
“I see…anything -”
“Of course there’s more! One week, she ran water through her pipes every time I tried to walk past her house. She exploited my inability to cross running water using her plumbing. She only stopped because of the cost of running water in that quantity. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my case clear.” Drakul levied a thin finger at Maria Rivera and concluded, “she’s a menace and needs to be stopped.”
“Objection, your honor!”
“What? Oh, yes – sustained. I apologize. It won’t happen again, Mister Drakul, I promise. Now, Miss Rivera, if you would please take the stand.”
The old woman rose from her seat and bore clearly her anger at Drakul as the two passed on the courtroom floor.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, so help you God?” Asked the bailiff.
“Si, of course. I have no reason not to.” She answered. She lowered herself into her seat and read a silent prayer as the judge looked her over.
“Well, Miss Rivera. That was quite the account Mister Drakul offered. Do you have anything to say?”
She licked her lips and said, “No. Everything he said is the truth. I did all those things.” The judge leaned back in his seat, pursing his lips. “But he did not say what he said to me the first time he saw me.” Her accent stilted the rhythm of her speech, but the clack of the stenographer’s machine punctuated each of her words. “I was in my garden and when I saw him coming down the street. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach and I went into my home. He came to my door and asked to come in. Of course, I know what he is and said ‘no.’ He said please and told me that he was very hungry. I said for him to go away, but he stood in my door and said that because I am una viejita, that my blood is very sweet, like old wine.”
“Your honor – this is hearsay, at best,” said Drakul.
“Mister Drakul, you’ve had your time. Miss Rivera, continue.” The judge was stern. The furrows in his brow had deepened
“There is nothing else. He said he would drink my blood and I am only protecting myself using the ways Dios gave to me. When I see him coming, I think he is coming to bite me and I only do what I can to stop him. When a lion roars, the antelopes always run away for a reason.” With that, the old woman rose from her seat and returned to her place on the floor, rosary now wrapped around the knuckles of her right hand.
“Hmm…this is difficult,” started the judge. “In a way this is a question of self-preservation, on both your parts. We’ll take a five-minute recess while I deliberate.” He got out of his chair and retired into his quarters in the belly of the courthouse. Maria Rivera and Ivan Drakul, both exiting to the lobby. Maria sat at a bench; head bowed; while Drakul excused himself to the restroom.
At the end of the five minutes, all the parties reconvened.
The judge sat down heavily, avoiding eye contact from the people around him. “After careful deliberation, it is my opinion that you. Ms. Rivera, have overstepped the bounds of an appropriate, proportionate response to the demands of Mr.Drakul’s condition.” Maria’s mouth dropped and Drakul’seyes flew open. “It is the opinion of this court that you owe Mr. Drakul for harm caused and will cease from the harassment you have inflicted on him. One pint of blood per month per incident as outlined in Mister Drakul’s filing. This is my ruling. Case closed.” Head still bowed, the judge gathered his papers and disappeared back into his chamber.
Drakul flew out of his seat with arms raised. “YES! SWEET, HUMAN JUSTICE! TAKE THAT YOU OLD BITCH!” He slipped out of the room, his steps drowned out by the clatter of rosary beads on the cold, marble ground.
Fahad Rahmat is a writer and performer aspiring to be the best Eldritch Monster he can be. His desires are unknowable and maddening to the mortal mind, but would otherwise be super reasonable – HE PROMISES