Dare I read Dracula again?

It has been almost thirty years… but am I brave enough?

I guess memories that leave the most forceful imprint are the ones created in a context that could not be ignored. Something that left me with a shuddering fear of the story of Dracula.

I know the plot of the book (as do most people who haven’t read it?) but can I remember the precise details of what chilled me to the bone? I’m not sure I can, although I can recall exactly where I was sitting when I chanced upon it.

Temp job, for two days at a small company whilst all the staff were at an exhibition. My task was to answer any phone calls, which since all their clients were also attending the same exhibition, were going to be few and far between.

So there I sat, me and my lunch and the mute telephone in one of the oldest buildings in the village. A low ceiling of misaligned beams reducing the penetration of external light to pitiful levels of gothic gloom. Deep fireplaces beneath the mocking jackdaw’s call and locked doors to airless cellars.

There wasn’t much to do as I waited, hoping the phone wouldn’t ring, and being a trendy, young company they had very little in the way of stuff to have a nose through. All except for a couple of books resting in the in tray on the desk.

Disturbing the minimalist organisation of someone else was resisted for half the morning but the boredom finally defeated me. I reached for a book. I started to read.

And then the fear began.