Relative Strangers: Helen Treharne Excerpts and Soundbites
On being attacked by a vampire
“The searing pain ripped through my body. I couldn’t tell what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good. At first all I could feel was an ice cold stabbing sensation in my neck. Then came the burning, a river of heat surging through my veins. I’d never felt anything like it before. Coherence was terminated the instant I felt my flesh tear open. Blood poured down my neck. I wasn’t sure what weapon he could be using but I could feel his nose resting on the side of my chin, his mouth manoeuvring itself around my neck, moving in a circular gnawing motion. Oh my God, I’m being bitten. Someone is actually biting me. What next? This cannot be happening? This can’t be real. What the fuck? I can’t die like this. Then everything went black.”
“When I opened my eyes, it was like that scene at the end of the Wizard of Oz, when Judy Garland wakes up to be comforted by her Auntie Em and with all her favourite faces sat around the bed. Yes, it was exactly like that. That is if you mean a bunch of practical strangers staring at me as I lay prostrate, crashed out on a wooden pub bench and caked in blood.”
On Being a Vampire
“Ferrer’s looked on, intrigued. This was not the typical response that a human had when confronted with a real, salivating, hungry vampire, fangs bare and ready to kill. She seemed to know exactly what Rachel, his young protégé, was and she appeared to be quite confidently attempting to defend herself. It was interesting. In the past three centuries, he'd seen humans demonstrate a range of responses when they realise a vampire may kill them. They ranged from debilitating shock, to the shaking of charms and prayers for help. Whatever the words spoken, or actions taken, they were always wrapped up in fear and confusion. Even when a potential victim was begging to be saved from the pains and troubles of their human existence, they reeked of insecurity and uncertainty. Mr Ferrers found the whole thing rather unseemly. Over the years he had been able to moderate his impulses and preferred to take his victims when they least expected it, and ensuring they were left with little more than a mild sense of confusion, if any discernible effect at all. His powers of persuasion had been honed to an art form, so much so that he could have been mistaken for being telepathic or having an aptitude for hypnosis. Neither was true. He'd spent centuries travelling the world, watching people, observing their behaviour, decades before that listening to the prayers and disclosures of his flock through the confessional window. The only sixth sense he had was observation – the ability to see and note the minutiae of someone's life, recognise the wealth of minor tells they gave away, and making a series of deductions. Rather than telepathy, he had excellent eyesight, a quick mind and years of watching human behaviour. Vampirism had increased these, but was not solely responsible. Of course, he did consume blood and that meant he could often detect if there was something fundamentally wrong with someone's health. It might taste thin to him, or have an unusual aftertaste. The most common problem was iron deficiency. The irony that he probably contributed to that was not lost on him.
On Killing Vampires
“You don’t need to stake them in the heart to kill them, although it’s quite possible that would work too, I’ve not tried it. Daylight definitely doesn’t kill them, or at least not the ones I’ve met. You don’t have to decapitate them either, but my philosophy is that if you cut anything’s head off it will probably cease to function in its usual way, whether it’s living or undead. I’m not a trained fighter, I’m basically about survival, and I’ve found that whacking just about anything with force and frequency will stop it. Either that or blow its brains out. It seems to have worked for me so far. When you kill a vampire they don’t just go "poof" and turn into cinders either. A well timed breeze doesn’t come along and blow their ashes far and wide. There’s no sudden mound of dust, which you can suck up in your vacuum cleaner, more convenient though it would be. Maybe they disintegrate given enough time, I don’t know for certain, but they definitely leave a carcass behind, which at least leaves you with a problem in the short term. I can’t say that I’m an expert on slaying vampires, or that I knew exactly what to expect when I woke up the following morning, but at the top of my list of chores was scrubbing my kitchen and disposing of the remains.”