>In order, perhaps, to calm my nerves as much as the rest of the staff, I escorted Montgomery James Levi to the nearby canteen. As we walked, he commented constantly on the “clean and proper” state of the hospital. He seemed not so much to walk as to glide. We got to the canteen and I gestured for him to sit at one of the bolted formica tables. A few people were scattered around the eating space, but were far too involved in utilising a precious meal break to worry about the suspicious cloaked figure that had just landed among them.
“Can I offer you anything to drink,” I said, “to eat?”
Montgomery James Levi very carefully smoothed down the hair at his temples, seeming lost in a sudden thought. “I do not suppose steak is on the menu?” he ventured.
“No,” I said. “Just sandwiches and jelly today, I think.”
“Alas,” he said. “As I had feared.”
I sat down at the table, directly across from him. “Now,” I said, “perhaps you can tell me what this is about?”
Montgomery James Levi steepled his fingers together. They were toothbrush-long, those fingers, bone white. “It is a matter of some delicacy,” he began.
I sighed audibly. I didn’t really know what I was doing here, except that this strange man had piqued my curiosity. But if he was going to keep on pretending to be in a Restoration drama, then he could keep talking in circles to himself. “I’m sorry,” I said, getting up from the table, “I’m actually quite busy.”
“I crave blood,” said Montgomery James Levi, so quietly and calmly that I almost didn’t register it.
Still half-out of my chair, I asked him to repeat himself.
He fixed me with his eyes, and they were so dark as to be crimson. “My apologies for being so crude, but the fact of the matter is I crave blood.”
“Like a vampire?”
Montgomery James Levi coughed gently into his hand. “Yes,” he said cooly. “If you insist on using that term, then yes, I suppose my predeliction is similar to, as you say, a vampire.”
Something in me knew I had hurt my new acquaintance, but for the most part I was just truly unsettled. Despite myself, I sat back down. “What,” I said, “may I ask, has this got to do with me?”
He leant forward in his chair. “Everything, Dr Atlie. Absolutely everything.” He smiled then, revealing all his teeth.