Neither undead nor alive.


Hattie aka the former pharaoh Hatshepsut was kneeling before the statue of Re in her room wearing nothing but an ankh pendant, her black hair, grown out full and luxuriant since her reincarnation, was loose around her shoulders. She had been beseeching the sun god for help with a particular problem. When Dr Dee had performed the opening of the mouth ceremony on her mummy he had forgotten to do something, something that was illegal in modern times but without which she would slowly return to her desiccated state.

Re had seemed particularly deaf to her entreaties so she would have to find the solution herself and the best candidate was the first person she had befriended upon returning to the world but she loathed even considering such a thing. The ex-mummy looked in horror at the patch of dry leathery skin on her forearm and sighed, something would have to be done very soon!

The music was loud and pounding in “Liquid” a venue that boasted of being the most happening nightclub in Exford where Gwennie Poole was out with Della and Caitlin, two of her old school friends. It wasn’t a hard thing to boast as it had few rivals in the small university town.

“So what’s it like being back at school then, Gwennie?” asked Della who had become a hairdresser.

“I’m not back at school, Del. I work at the university and take tuition most evenings.” She replied.

“Tuition is that what they call it now?” asked Caitlin with a grin. “You were always keen for a bit of “tuition” behind the bike sheds.”

“Hey that was just the once with Tommy Stout.” Complained Gwennie, since her involvement in several thaumaturgic occurrences, Professor Armstrong had noticed her aptitude for magic and invited her along with Derek to his extra-curricular sessions.

“You only got caught the once you mean?” joked Della.

Gwennie stuck her tongue out then furrowed her brow. “That bloke from the “Limping Dog” is here!”

The two girls turned to see a handsome man look quickly to the bar. “Yeah, and he was in the “King Charles III” before that?” remarked Caitlin. “He fancies one of us, I bet.”

“Could be a coincidence, anyway we’ve embarrassed him now.” Della thought he reminded her of someone. “He looks like that bloke from that programme in Cornwall about a tin miner.”

“Now you mention it he does, shall we invite him over?” asked Caitlin.

“No leave it, he’s probably not interested,” said Gwennie. He didn’t look anything like a TV actor to her, just a fairly nondescript man with shoulder length dark hair but it was already too late. Caitlin was striding over to the bar, her long legs attracting attention from some of the male customers.

He came over and joined them. “Hello ladies, I do not normally follow girls around but this is my first time in Exford and I could not help noticing you, you all look so fun and full of life.” He spoke perfect English with an eastern European accent.

“This is Della and this is Gwennie,” explained Caitlin, having already introduced herself at the bar.

“And I am Piotr,” said the man.

“Where are you from then Peter?” asked Gwennie, something didn’t seem right about him.

“I come from distant Bohemia,” he related and her two friends sighed, the conversation went along the usual lines with Caitlin and Della fawning over the (to them) handsome stranger. Gwennie, for her part, remained aloof to his charms which seemed, to the chagrin of her colleagues, to make him all the more interested in her. “So Gwennie what do you do?” he asked.

“She’s a waitress at the university, doesn’t work in an office like me,” said Caitlin spitefully.

“To serve people is a fine thing to do,” said Piotr in response.

“She’s got a boyfriend called Derek you know?” interjected Della.

“Girls please do not quarrel, you are all such beautiful ladies,” he was charm incarnate.

Yeah what’s got into you two? Wondered Gwennie, it was as if this man had enchanted them, was it magic? But she seemed immune, is it because of my exposure to thaumaturgic wotsit?

Gwennie remembered a spell of exposure which would strip away any false mask from the eyes of the caster. “Discede ab oculis mendacem,” she muttered under her breath then she had to hold herself back from screaming out loud. The rather nondescript man was now bald as a coot with corpse-pale skin and ears as pointed as his front teeth, no Hollywood canine fangs for this all too real vampire, a Nosferatu! She realised with horror.

He regarded her with his cold black eyes. “Are you alright my dear, you’ve gone quite pale?”

“He’s right Gwen, you do look peaky?” asked Della.

Caitlin looked at her friend with concern. “I told you to hold back on the raspberry gin in the Dog.”

Neither of them had noticed, I must get to the university, he won’t get past the gate golem and the professors will be able to deal with him! Aloud she said. “I feel a bit sick I’ve got to go to the ladies.” She almost ran to the toilets, which were at the entrance, then casting a glance over her shoulder left to look for a taxi. Of course, there were none at the rank so Gwennie walked quickly in the direction of the city gate, hoping to find one on the way.

“Lovely Gwen, where are you going so urgently?”

It was his voice, she turned. “I’m going home I don’t feel so well.”

He was still some distance away. “I know you can see me as I am, my dear Gwennie, and you know I can’t let you go home to where all those magic users are. Come to me dear, I promise it won’t hurt. You have so much vitality in your blood, Gwennie, and when you have given it I will let you join me in eternity.”

“Bugger that!” she retorted, kicking off her heels and running down an alleyway, Gwennie Poole was an Exford girl and knew the streets and jitties like the back of her hand.  Piotr, however, had been telling the truth about being a stranger to the bijou city and she lost him easily then doubled back in the direction she had come. The old gate was just around the corner, once out she would run to the Mackintosh and raise the alarm.

Suddenly a hand grabbed her pulling her into a shop doorway but she struggled as a reassuring voice whispered into her ear. “Shh, Gwendolen, it’s me Miss Shepsut.”

“What are you doing here Miss?” she asked in relief.

“I came to the town looking for something, first I see you and then I see it!” explained Hattie.

“The vampire?” asked Gwennie.

Nosferatu, we knew of them in my times. Run to the university, I will deal with it!” asserted the former pharaoh.

Piotr, was sniffing the air, he had caught his prey’s scent. She had tricked him and was heading back to the gate, it was no matter he would outpace her quickly on the open road. A figure stood before him in the alleyway and in the dim light he could see a young woman of middle-eastern appearance, wearing a long white dress, with raven black hair tied in a ponytail, new prey?

“Hello my dear…” he managed to say before the young woman grabbed him with one hand and threw him against the wall. “You are undead too!” he cried in shocked realisation.

“No, just not yet fully alive!” she corrected him before hoisting Piotr to his feet and put her mouth on his as if to place a kiss then sucked out his thaumaturgic energy to leave a desiccated husk that would crumble to ash in the daylight.

The final part of the ceremony had been completed! Feeling invigorated Hattie looked at her forearm to see the skin smooth and clear once again. She had sought out Gwennie with great reluctance, intending to absorb her vitality but it seemed Re had listened to her after all and put the magical creature into her path.