Wakey Wakey dear Draco! It’s half past midnight! Happy birthday you little fanged-devil-of-a-blood-sucking-parasite-you! Happy Birthday!
No, you can’t have the KFC-bucket-chomper’s blood tonight. That’s too sinfully rich.
I said no! Stop snivelling!
Oh! You stop with those little fangs of yours. You don’t scare me! You may be a monster in the Walachian neighborhood with a population of, like, twenty people and a dog. I’ll tell you of real monsters and we’ll see if you can keep those fangs from chattering.
And FYI, none of these monsters freak out when I say, ‘garlic’. They eat it.
Older than the headstone upon your great great grandmother’s grave. Younger than your sisters three. Fairer than the petals of Lashardia abloom under the moonlight. Darker than fear that lurks in the bosom of Althurian caves. And infinitely more deadly.
She comes when called, and sometimes by her own whim. She’ll grant you your deepest desires. And in return, all you need to do, is satiate her.
You think this a goodly barter, demon? I see it in your eyes. She will suck your life out through the very passion she stokes. Princes, paupers, many who think themselves men, and all who think themselves man enough for her, she has swallowed into her abyssal void.
They call her ‘Stoker’. She is one of the legends that birthed you.
Folklore across India is rife with stories of a seductress who accosts wayfarers in the dead of night, lures them to a graveyard and devours them. Village elders will tell you that the ‘Mohini’ is neither bound to graves nor to the night. They don’t consider it ‘female’, though it looks like one. The legend is occasionally seen as a cautionary tale against epicureanism. But to those who believe, the danger is clear and present, the moral, not so much.
Little satan, they call it. Neither man nor woman. It is a child. Neither good nor bad. It is evil. It will do your bidding. And it will ask of you abominable things. Yes, little Count, abominable even to you, for you are, but an insect, helpless against your own nature. You scare easy and die by a twelve inch wooden picket. Should you refuse, you will die a horrible, slow death.
Beware, the Saththan! When not bound by a master, he will keep you alive with his magicks for ten score years and fifty; only to burn you with torment and abuse and fire.
If you’re South Indian, at least one of your grandmothers would have told you that she has (a) seen one, (b) been affected by one or (c) thrashed one, depending on her power of will. My grandma is a badass, so she’s option c. I never asked her for bedtime stories after that. There’s detailed reference to these little devils in Kenneth Anderson’s memoir Jungles Long Ago. Fun read.
(aka Listickle Worm)
This, dear lanky-fangs, is deadlier than all the rest. It is the bane of all those who know to write. Eventually it will take over your speech and reduce you to a drooling, pale mess that speaks in short sentences. In other words; a post-it. By the time you hear of it or even consider its existence, it will have entered your brain. It will bore through endlessly.
And in the end, so will you.
The first listickle I encountered was my grandfather’s postcard. Even the pleasantries were numbered and sub-bulleted. Someday, I hope to be free of the listickle bug. But I fear I shall be out of place among my colleagues and alienated from at least 90% of humans.
Oh! Little Count Dracula! You have pooped your pants!
Images: Perfectly good images parboiled to horrific imperfection by Hardeep Singh, in his fermented imaginations.
GIFs: Listicle worm extracted from the fertile tracts of Tushar Banerjee’s brain.
(Vikram Venkateswaran is a freelance writer, TV producer and media consultant. Headings, titles and captions are his kryptonite. He just moved to Chennai and hopes the city likes him and is nice to him.)