In order to survive undetected, vampires are forced to ‘adopt’ mortals on a regular basis who will swear on a stack of bibles that the woman in question is my daughter, sister, cousin or spouse. Contrary to popular belief, the relationship is a reciprocal agreement and while getting involved with a vampire might seem romantic, there are very practical benefits for mortals. A vampire son for example, will provide for his ‘parents’ financial well being, as well as bringing other fringe benefits to the relationship. The saying, money changes everything, is never more true than in this situation and thus vampires choose their families very carefully to avoid the chance of blackmail.
Recently I was invited by Dr. Catriona MacGregor’s parents, Iain and Margaret Ross, to discuss their relationship with a seven hundred year old vampire. Iain and Margaret live in Camelon, a few miles from Falkirk in Central Scotland and the meeting was arranged by Cat.
You’re both in your late sixties but have a seven hundred year old foster daughter. Does that make you feel older or younger?
Iain: (laughs) I should say definitely younger. I’m not sure there’ll be much left of me in seven hundred years time.
Margaret: I agree, but Cat makes us feel younger with her general outlook on life. When she was staying here for a few months I felt as if I’d gotten younger. She taught me how to use a computer at a time when most people my age were still viewing them with suspicion. Every night she’d sit down with me and we’d work through her lesson plans. She’s quite the teacher, almost puts me to shame in some ways.
How does she manage that?
Margaret: I suppose because she’s got an infinite amount of patience, which is necessary when you’re teaching an older person computers. I can’t count the number of times I cursed that daft wee cursor or thumped the mouse because it wouldn’t do what I wanted but she’d just smile and say let’s have a cup of tea and wait till it stops doing its thing.
So how did you first meet Cat?
Iain: It was in Switzerland. I’d been diagnosed with a rare lung condition along with a few pals and our employer sent us to a specialist unit in Zurich for treatment. For some reason it was cheaper to send us all the way to Switzerland rather than treat us here. She was one of the doctors at the hospital who had expertise in that area.
Margaret: We actually met her the day before at the hotel, remember?
Iain: Of course, I was going to mention that. We booked into that hotel next to the theatre but we were having trouble with the booking, the guy who organised it had forgotten to give the hotel our details so we weren’t actually booked in. While we were trying to explain our situation, Cat came downstairs, she’d been visiting a friend apparently and while she was on the phone to someone else I was trying to explain in my useless German that I had been booked into the hotel. She started talking to my wife and before I knew it, Cat was taking over. She spoke French and German fluently and after a few minutes she explained that there really was no room to spare but if I’d permit her, she’d take us to another hotel closer to the hospital. I was a bit peed off by then and just said, ‘fine.’ Along the way she told me she’d been born in Tillicoultry and we made some kind of a connection there but it was only as she finished booking us in that I realised she was a doctor because she said something like, ‘I’ll see you soon.’ When I asked what she meant, she merely smiled and said she would the doctor I’d be seeing tomorrow.
A happy coincidence perhaps?
Margaret: We certainly thought so at the time. Not only had she lived a few miles from us and was going to be Iain’s doctor, but she happened to be in the hotel at the very moment we turned up. She’s always said it was just coincidence and I have no cause to doubt her. Iain thought she she was very professional and knowledgeable, she explained his condition in simple terms. Our doctor here had tried to explain but it was lost on me, Cat used simple language we could both understand.
So when did you find out she was a vampire?
Margaret: Not for another six weeks, it was Iain who found out first and when he told me I thought he was having a reaction to the drugs but when I realised he’d cut back his medication I got really quite worried and actually called Cat in Switzerland. She’d left me her office number and I nearly left a message on her machine asking if she really was a vampire but instead I just asked her to call me back as soon as she got the message. When she did call a few hours later I did blurt it out then but made it seem as if Iain was having some kind of mental breakdown. No one was more surprised than me when she actually confirmed she was a vampire , although she preferred the term, immortal. Cat was able to explain the blood addiction as being like medication. I remember thinking after I finished the call that no one would believe a word I’d just heard so I kept it to myself. When Iain asked if I’d spoken to her I said, that I had but ‘what do we do now?’ Iain mentioned she was looking for an older couple to pose as her parents. We had talked about that aspect over the phone, the need to stay under the radar and change identities on a regular basis. I suppose the rest is history.
Can you talk me through that aspect? What’s involved in fostering a vampire?
Iain: It’s a business arrangement. At least that’s the way it was explained to me. She met us in Amsterdam the following month and explained it all to us. We agreed to become her foster parents for the purposes of providing a kind of cover story if she had to introduce other people to her parents. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, we had quite a number of stories we’d come out with whenever she brought friends to visit. There was also a financial benefit as well. Enough money was paid into our joint account to enable us to retire quite comfortably and regular instalments came in from a trust account in her name. While she was staying with us she arranged to have a few pictures of her so called mother and grandmother sent over from America. We kept those hidden from John and Samantha when they were here on holiday, but when Samantha came for a holiday by herself years later we brought out the pictures and started earning our money, so to speak.
Margaret: The general plan was to sprinkle enough clues about so that Samantha would learn a little of Cat’s history but hopefully begin to suspect that there was something else going on, especially when she came here to study. By then Cat had decided to out herself to Samantha and we just played along. It was quite cloak and dagger for a while. We were in regular contact with her all along, right from the time her plane disappeared and we’d meet at her house in Glasgow every month for those last twelve months. Apparently we did quite well as secret agents!
So you were well aware that she was about to fake her own death?
Iain: Absolutely. She called us from New Orleans after that burglary and warned us to leave town for a few weeks. We booked a vacation in Australia and one of her friends stayed in the house until she could vanish. She was worried that the Frat boys might have tracked down our address but as it turns out they were quite confident they’d got her trapped. Even so, we had several boarders staying with us for the next few years. They were all vampires and studying at university but their other reason for staying with us was to provide security because we knew her real location.
So she provided for you after she supposedly died.
Margaret: Aye, that’s part of the arrangement. A vampire looks after those who shelter and aid her, it’s apparently always been the way of things in the vampire world.
Iain, how did you find out about Cat?
Iain: Purely by accident as a matter of fact. She had just finished a test and we got to talking about the hospital building and she mentioned she used to love sitting under an English oak tree that was apparently outside. It was only when I was outside with a cup of tea that I mentioned it to an older man who spoke quite good English. He looked at me kind of strangely and said something about that tree had been struck by lightning in the thirties, he complimented me on staying so young looking as a matter of fact. I mentioned that to Cat later on and she actually looked worried but I was just wanting to know how she knew about the tree, let alone get to sit under it. She gave me an explanation that didn’t seem to be quite right and it was only when I was heading back to the hotel a couple of hours later that she offered me a lift back.
On the way back she told me that she knew about the tree because she was actually in this city during the thirties. At the time she didn’t say the dread ‘v’ word but inferred she’d been alive for quite a bit longer than thirty years. It was when we were outside our hotel that she looked at me and outed herself. “Vampires aren’t what you think, Iain. If we were to go around biting people’s necks every night we would never have survived as a species. You’ve just travelled a few miles in a car with a vampire and I can assure you that I would never think of biting you or anyone you knew, we’re not like that,” she looked at me and I mind that I had a chill going down my back.
“So, what are you going to do? Tell all your friends? I’m a doctor, it’s what I’ve been in one form or another for nearly seven hundred years. I fix people and when they die I’m the last one to hold their hand and tell them it’s not the end.”
The blood thing wasn’t an issue for you?
Iain: It was the next question I asked. She explained that they got their blood from animals and a synthetic source. I admit I was a shocked at the time, I didn’t think vampires existed but something about the way she explained it made me realise it was entirely possible that an entire subculture of people had existed alongside humanity all this time. It made sense when you hear stories of angels, elves and other mythical creatures.
How do you feel a few years down the track?
Iain: I’m proud of the way we handled it. When faced with something outside the boundaries of human understanding we didn’t back away. We wanted to know more and taking her into our lives, so to speak has opened my eyes to the world about me, you begin to peel back the layers of shite put about by the media and see things in a new and different light. Spin doctors aren’t unique to our time, they’ve always been there, spouting nonsense and trying to convince the rest of us that we’re better off just doing as we’re told. I’ve learned a lot about history, not the things we read in books but real stories about life as it was back then and I’d like to believe I’ve become a better man because of her influence.
Margaret: I’d agree with everything my husband just said and with me she certainly had a positive influence. I was a very traditional woman in many ways but she had a view on femininity and the role of women in society that actually brought me out of my shell. She’s seen the horror of the Inquisition and witch hunts. We women did encourage these aberrations and while we can’t excuse the church, they did have the covert encouragement of women who were often trying to dispose of other women who might pose a threat. I was shocked when she told me what she’d seen and like my husband, I’d like to think she’s made me a better woman. Iain and I would sometimes cross swords in the past over minor issues but now I like to think our relationship is actually stronger. I understand sometimes he needs to go into his cave and think something through, and I need to just carry on and let him make up his own mind.
Iain: Aye, every man needs his shed and women need their kitchen, although I’m quite a good cook and she can fix things around the house.
Margaret: You’ll keep, you see.
Have either of you ever considered becoming vampires?
Iain: For me, I’m not sure. I’m old and retired. If I was to be turned I’d be the same age, granted I’d be stronger and be a lot more alert but I’m not sure I want that for me. Having said that, neither of us have ruled it out and our foster daughter has said more than once that if we want to go down that path she’ll put us forward as candidates for a turning. I’m not sure if that’s much of an answer.
Margaret: I agree, it’s no’ something I’ve actively thought about but as you get closer and closer to the hole in the ground you do wonder. Like Iain, I’ll answer that question another day.
What would you like people to take away from this interview?
Margaret: That vampires are decent people. I’ve taken on a new lease of life since agreeing to become Cat’s foster mother. She’s stayed with us for a few months quite a few times over the years. She’s eaten with us, met our friends and on more than one occasion she’s helped out financially and not once has she asked for anything except silence and respect. I know there are rogues out there who do kill people but Cat’s not one of those vampires. Whenever I go around to see her I feel secure and much calmer as a result.
Iain: And that’s got to be a good thing for any man.
Margaret: You’ll keep.
When my stepmom’s plane went down a part of me died, Cat was my world. In her place she left us to her friends, the Grey Ravens. Over the years I slowly came to realise her death was a mere facade. When we were reunited I learned the truth about Clan Grey Raven and her remarkable history. Some people will always love. Some people never lose hope. Some people never die… Smashwords Amazon.com Amazon UK