Mr Dracula was very unhappy. He was beginning to regret his decision two hours ago to become a vegetarian.
If had all started when he had watched a television show earlier, about factory farmed chickens. By the end of the programme, large tears were coursing down his pale cheeks, turning the front of his black dinner jacket even blacker.
''Oh, those poor, wretched birds,'' he wept. ''I shall never, ever again eat chicken. Or beef. Or any other meat.'' He looked up, his eyes sad. ''Or drink blood.''
He had walked into his bathroom and looked in the mirror. He saw nothing, of course. But he could imagine that his red eyes looked redder than usual, from the weeping, and he wiped his face.
Pacing back to the bedroom, he had looked at Smeralda, his Bride, who was coating her face with whitest white unblusher, ready for a night on the town. A mother-of-pearl handled file lay beside her on the bed, his wedding gift to her. She picked it up, ready to begin sharpening her incisors. She stretched her lips and he admired them anew, wondering at their beauty. They were her most beautiful feature, the thing which had attracted him to her.
He sat heavily beside her, his head in his hands, and sighed a deep, mournful sigh.
She looked at him. ''Vladdy, sweetie.'' she said. ''Whatever is wrong. You look as if you've seen a garlic bulb.''
''Dear one. Ralda. I....I can't do this anymore.'' he took her hand in his, smoothing the blue-white flesh. ''I need to become a Mortal.''
The fang-file clattered to the floor as she leapt up from the bed.
''You can't. Vladdy, this is madness. Your family has been Undead for thousands of years. You will bring shame on them. On us all.'' She fled to the bathroom, her howling rivalling that of a werewolf.
He stared after her, too weary and desolate to follow. He knew he had to do what his heart dictated. He thought again of the chickens, the unhappy sound of their clucking still in his head.
He climbed the stairs from the crypt, looking at his watch. Plenty of time yet until sunrise. He started walking in the direction of the all-night superstore. All the way there he heard distressed clucking and saw flapping wings.
He grabbed a basket, and looked at the produce spread before him. Potatoes, carrots, cabbages. He looked across the aisle. Lettuce, tomatoes, Cucumber. He had a problem. He had never eaten any of this stuff. He doubted Smeralda would even know how to prepare it. He very much doubted if she would agree to do so. It would be up to him.
He turned his head, and spotted a stand filled with books. Scanning the titles, his eyes flitted past the bestsellers and lit on a small section towards the end. Cookery books. He went over, and after a second or two, selected one entitled, ''Veggie Heaven.''
He would take this one and learn all about it; cook Smeralda a vegetarian feast. With any luck she would come around to the idea in time.
He placed the book in his basket, then grabbed a bag of potatoes and one of carrots, to be going on with, averting his eyes from the little net bags of garlic not many inches away, his stomach churning a little. He paid at the checkout and went home.
On his return he sat in the kitchen, thumbing through the recipes. There were so many options available. He hadn't realised. Not just fruit and vegetables. There were such delights as pasta, bread, rice. Something featured in here quite a lot. The mysterious substance called tofu. It didn't look much in the photographs but the writer was raving about its properties. He sighed. So much to learn.
He was hungry. His mind filled with the vision of the herd of cattle just down the road, their neck veins prominent and inviting. His fangs itched, maddeningly. He forced the chickens back into his head, forcing the cows out of the way.
He took one of the bags from the supermarket and pulled out a potato. He opened his mouth, sank his fangs into the brownish lump and sucked. And immediately gagged. He threw the vegetable to the floor and rushed to the sink. This was not going to be easy.