Once upon a time, when she’s still young and still human, Lenore Harris gives up on fairytales for scary stories. Her sisters don’t understand it, and her mother doesn’t either, but she loves reading them, all the old legends about monsters, all the novels… She’s thirteen when it starts, and she keeps it up, even when the Market crashes and money gets tight, even when she has to work because her father’s dead, Mother can only do so much, and her little sisters need to eat.
Vampires are, by far, her favorites. They’re poetic creatures, in a way — they get to live forever but only out of a dark curse that makes them less than human. Makes them into horrifying, undead monsters, shadows of their former selves. She can’t imagine what that kind of life would be like. It’s one thing that she and Mother have to scrape and make sure that the girls have food and water, that they keep the house; it’s entirely another to need something for sustenance and have to live with the knowledge that it kills someone else.
When she’s twenty-one and, by all means, should be thinking about marriage and about children, instead, Lenore keeps thinking about vampires. It’s 1931, and she saves her nickels for ages just to take herself out to the cinema. Some Hungarian called Bela Lugosi is playing Count Dracula, and Lenore’s never been so excited for anything before. She takes her copy of Bram Stoker’s book with her to the theatre — it’s battered and falling apart from being read so often, but she manages not to lose any pages, stroking her fingers up and down the spine, over the heavy pages, every time Lugosi’s count speaks.
She walks herself home, or tries to do so. It’s a lovely night in upstate New York, and she’s jumping at the shadows, wondering if any of them are her monsters, telling herself to just breathe slowly and keep calm because vampires aren’t real — and even if they were, what would they be doing in Poughkeepsie? A couple blocks off from her church, she stops walking, pauses a moment — there’s a rustle in the bushes by her, but she can’t see anything when she looks. Lenore starts walking again, and faster. It’s probably not a monster, much less a vampire, but other people can be just as bad and she should get home.
She doesn’t stand a chance. Something grabs her from behind — she doesn’t have time to notice anything, much less the fangs that dig into her neck.