“So, you don’t believe in vampires?”
I shrugged nonchalantly: did he really expect me to believe in vampires? This was the 21st century.
“And do you believe in God?”
The old man was getting tiresome. This job was going to be more tedious than I’d anticipated.
“No I don’t believe in God and I don’t believe in vampires.”
“Yet you seek them out?”
He turned and patted one of the two bloodhounds sitting by his side.
“I’m interested in contemporary cultural phenomena. I’m a journalist, doing a story on cult groups, hence my interest in your Primave Society, Mr Faust.”
I took out my notebook and pencil. “Does Primave have a meaning? Is there some Italian connection?”
“All things have meaning, young man.”
“And is Nero Faust a pseudonym? It’s not your real name, is it?”
“Names are just convenient labels. And all names are chosen, the only question is by whom. Take your name, for example. A famous, dare I say, notorious one: Mr William Van Helsing.”
“I inherited my name, Mr Faust. It’s useful: my editor lets me write about all things spooky, weird and wonderful.”
“Yes, the name intrigued me and I must confess it is why I accepted your request: we do not in normal circumstances allow outsiders to partake in the gatherings of the Primave.”
He paused a moment.
“So, are you the grandchild of the famed Professor Abraham Van Helsing?”
“Grandchild? A great, great, great grandchild, I think. He’s been dead a hundred years.”
And then Nero Faust did something strange: he leant towards me and with a long fingernail moved the hair that hung down over my forehead to one side, and started at me intensely.
“Yes, I see the resemblance...”