Extracts

The Case of The Deepdean Vampire by Robin Stevens

Read this extract from one of the short stories in Cream Buns and Crime. Daisy and Hazel have heard the rumours about fifth former Camilla Badescu being a vampire. But not content with idle gossip, The Detective Society are determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.

An illustration from The Case of the Deepdean Vampire
Illustration: Nina Tara | Cream Buns And Crime

I keep close watch on everyone at Deepdean as a matter of course, and so I already knew quite a lot about the fifth former, Camilla Badescu. She comes from Romania, and she is new this year – she went straight into the fifth form, which is unusual. She is tall and pale, with dark hair, and she is exceedingly haughty. She is rude to everyone, including the mistresses – everyone, that is, apart from her best friend, Amy Jessop. Camilla and Amy share a dorm with Eloise Delacroix (who happens to be Clementine’s sister) and two other girls, and they have become as close as anything since a few weeks after Camilla arrived.

‘Don’t be silly,’ said Kitty. ‘People don’t climb upside down. And anyway, there’s no such thing as vampires.’

‘Yes there is, Kitty Freebody, and Camilla is one,’ said Clementine. ‘She comes from Romania, doesn’t she? Well, Romania is next to Transylvania, and everyone knows that’s where vampires come from. It’s perfectly obvious as soon as you think about it. She never eats anything at dinner and her hair has one of those window’s peaks—’

‘Widow’s peaks,’ said Lavinia.

Clementine glared at her. ‘And how would you know, Lavinia? Are you a vampire too?’

Lavinia bared her teeth. Clementine rolled her eyes.

Beanie, eating her toast, looked alarmed. ‘You don’t really mean it?’ she asked.

‘Of course I do,’ said Clementine. ‘I tell you, I know what I saw!’

Kitty soothed Beanie, and I glanced at Hazel, to see how she was taking things. She looked rather worried – Hazel does not much enjoy ghost stories, and this sounded very much like a ghost story. But I was not quite so sure.

In my experience, people rarely do know what it is that they saw. Their minds are dreadfully lazy, always playing tricks on them. But all the same, there is a reason behind everything – and I wondered what the explanation for this story was.

‘Anyway, if you want proof Camilla’s a vampire, look at Amy Jessop,’ Clementine went on. ‘I know they’re supposed to be friends, but look how pale and thin she’s got since Camilla arrived in her dorm! My sister Eloise says that Amy’s even begun to sleepwalk. That’s why I was lying awake last night. I can sometimes hear the floor in their dorm creaking above our own, and I thought I might hear her doing it.’

‘Fourth form!’ said the prefect on duty, turning to us suddenly. ‘Eat up your breakfasts before the bell rings!’

We went silent and ate. I ate very quickly, to give myself more time to think. Most people are slow to do anything, which is foolish. If you do all of the boring things in life like meals and prep and getting dressed extremely quickly, you have more time to detect.

Once I had finished my toast, I thought about Camilla and Amy. It was true that they seemed to have become close very quickly – and that was odd. Amy herself is known for being very polite, and good at lessons – her essay on Macbeth even won a prize at the beginning of this term, and was featured in quite a prominent paper. Camilla, as I have already explained, is stand-offish and rude – that Amy picked her to be friends with was unusual. Amy had lost other friends because of it – she and Camilla spent almost all their time together now. I had noticed this, but I had not enquired further. I saw that I must do so now. Vampires are not real, but all the same, people do not simply imagine someone climbing past them, out of a window. I wanted to know what Camilla was really doing, and why.

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