Silhouetted against the full moon, a bat flapped outside the closed bedroom window. Before Marie’s eyes, it dissolved into mist and oozed through the minute crack between the frame and the sill. Motionless on her bed, through slitted lids she watched the mist coalesce into a dark-haired, slender, young-looking man.

As he loomed over her, she thrust a silver cross on a chain around her neck into his face. He recoiled, hissing.

“How about that, I guessed right—you really are a vampire!” She couldn’t suppress the delight in her voice.

While he stood frozen in shock at her odd reaction, she sprang out of bed, dashed to the window, and hung a rosary from the latch to drape over the lower pane.

Whirling around, he snarled aloud at seeing his escape blocked.

“Don’t try to leave yet.” Marie plumped the pillows to lean against as she sat on the bed. After switching on the nightstand lamp, she donned her wire-rimmed bifocals and picked up a notepad and pen. “I have a ton of questions.”

He bared his teeth. “Foolish woman, why aren’t you afraid? I’m here to drink your blood.”

“Which you’ve already done at least three times.” She rubbed the tiny scabs on her throat. “You must not drain much at once, because I’m still in decent health. Wow, you have fangs just like in the movies.” No cape, though. He wore a black shirt and tight, black jeans. So he didn’t embrace popular culture cliches.

“Movies, bah!”

“Don’t hover like that. This could take a while.” She gestured toward the desk chair, and he grudgingly sat down. “As I said, I want to ask you some questions.”

“Why should I answer them? And how did you realize you were a vampire’s victim in this scientific age?” He spoke with a hint of a Spanish accent.

“I’m an anthropology professor. I teach a class in legends and superstitions, and I plan to include a unit on vampire lore.”

“You would expose me?” he growled.

Marie shook her head. “I’ll attribute anything you say to an anonymous informant.” She poised the pen over the notepad. “It’s the least you can do after stealing my blood.”

“Stealing? I take only what I need.”

“Do you need blood to survive? Would you die without it? And would animal blood work as well as human?”

“Yes, not exactly—fall into a state of suspended animation—and no. Animal blood serves in emergencies, but only as a stopgap.”

“Now, how many ounces do you drink per feeding?”

“How should I know? I don’t measure it.” He glanced at the window.

“You might as well cooperate. The sooner we finish the interview, the sooner I’ll remove the rosary. The door’s protected, too, by the way. Do all holy symbols repel you or only crosses?”

“That depends on the individual vampire’s background and beliefs. I was a Catholic in life.”

She jotted notes as he answered. “Do you sleep by day in a coffin lined with your native soil? And does sunlight kill you?’

He rubbed his forehead as if it pained him. “Please, one question at a time, woman. The sun only weakens us. As for native earth, I’m on it at all times. I’ve dwelt here since Spain ruled this land. And no need to lie in a coffin. That’s movie nonsense.”

“Can you change into other shapes besides bat and mist? How about a wolf? Does garlic affect you? Silver? Can you consume food or liquids other than blood?” She brightened up as a lesser known superstition occurred to her. “Do you have a compulsion to count small objects like grains or pebbles? If so, I could’ve saved myself some trouble and just trapped you by scattering rice on the floor.”

“Enough!” he roared, covering his ears.

“Come on, you owe me. What about your other powers? Do you have the strength of twenty men? If I weren’t wearing this cross, could you control my mind? How did you become a vampire? How does the transformation work? Does it hurt? How can a vampire be destroyed? Not that I would try.”

“No more questions! Let me out of this blasted room, and I swear I’ll never come near you again.”

“You promise?”

“My word of honor as a hidalgo. I’d rather be staked out under the desert sun at high noon than endure another minute of your blathering.”

Marie strode across the room, removed the cross, and opened the window. The vampire leaped into the air, transforming into a bat in the process, and soared into the night.

“Well, that clears up one issue—the pen is mightier than the stake.”