Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vlad: XIII.

Candy was supposed to be studying, but of course she couldn't concentrate. She lay on her bed staring at the ceiling. It was three days earlier that she had met Vlad in the mall, and she’d felt ever since as if she were drifting in a dream world. Now a light fever was pulsing in her head, and it seemed to be getting slowly worse. Even the familiar things in her room looked strange, as if she’d never seen them before. What was happening to her? Had he played some trick on her? Candy continued to wonder about this. Maybe it really was just a trick. But there was always the bat on the balcony. She always returned to thinking about that. She knew there was no way to explain the bat: it was the one thing that seemed to prove he wasn't lying. But how could it be true? Why was it that she felt it was all just a dream but felt at the same time that before that afternoon at the food court she hadn't known what real life was? Why did she feel it was only at her meeting with Vlad that afternoon that she’d had her first encounter with real life? She looked round her room at her stuffed animals and her desk and her bookshelf, and they all seemed to be looking back at her in a strange way. They seemed to be saying: "Now you understand."

It was her fever and her confusion and her fear of Vlad that made her go to the phone. She finally needed to tell someone else. She needed to tell someone older who also knew Vlad. She had to tell someone right away before she became more confused, for she felt her fear was becoming too much for her. She decided to call Eric, the teacher of her English class. He had seen Vlad every day that she had. He had sympathized with her when Vlad had stared at her all those times. Maybe her teacher would believe her, maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he’d convince her it was all impossible, that Vlad couldn't be a vampire, that it was all just a prank. But she knew he couldn't convince her. And what’s more: it was she who had to convince him. Why would he ever believe what she had to tell?

When she got Eric on the phone, he in fact began to laugh at her. "Now, Candy, you know yourself that . . . ." But she’d done it, she’d said the most important words almost at the very first: "Vlad is a vampire." And as she went on to explain, as she told Eric everything that had happened, she felt that it was not really her voice that was saying these strange things, that the words she was saying were being spoken by someone else, someone who was certain of the truth of what she was saying, even though she herself, Candy Shu, could never be certain of such strange words, for they were all such obvious nonsense. Her teacher listened to her. Then something happened that she somehow knew would happen. He wasn't laughing at her any more. He was asking her to repeat things, asking her to slow down, asking her about the bat especially, telling her to get the poem and read it over the phone to him. Then he told her about how the class had changed during the past month, how he’d wondered what was behind all the violent drawings in the homework books--didn't she too notice how different the class had become?--and he said if her story were true, then there was certainly more than one vampire in the class: there were "at least six." Eric laughed again after saying this, but his laughter was different now. Candy knew he was taking her seriously. He admitted to her that he had suspected there was some serious problem in the class, that he even thought it had something to do with Vlad, but that he didn't know what it was. Candy asked him which of the students he was talking about.

"They are all drawing very strange things in their homework books," said Eric. "The only ones who haven't started doing it are Annie, Alice, and Judy. And Karen too. Karen seems alright."

Candy asked him if she could talk with him after the next English class. She told him she worried Vlad would try to do something during the next class. Would he watch Vlad carefully while he was teaching?

"Yes," said Eric. "Yes. I think it's a good idea if we have a meeting."

Candy felt she’d convinced him of the impossible. Maybe he even believed her. As she hung up the phone she felt she was already winning her case. She went back to her bed to lie down. She looked round the room at her stuffed animals, her desk, her bookcase. The room she had grown up in looked more solid, more real again. Maybe she wasn't going crazy.

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