"Dr. Philips?" a pleasant, silky voice, belonging to the blonde secretary in the lobby, asked through the intercom.
Looking up from his notes on a previous patient, Philips pressed the "send" button on the device. "Yes, Bernice," he asked tiredly, almost bored, after a day of analyzing patient after patient. Glancing at his Rolex watch, he saw that it was seventeen minutes to six o' clock. Barely enough time for another session, especially if it was a repeat patient.
"Um, you have one last patient," the young woman replied.
"Uh... No, I don't think so," she replied, unsure.
Philips sighed, pushing his small wire-frame glasses back up over the bridge of his nose. Glancing to the window, he could see snow falling from the bleak, gray clouds, which obliterated all traces of the sky above. The setting sun was bringing the little remaining light with it.
Leaning forward, Philips pressed the button again, trying his best not to sound irritated. He'd been told that, unlike his thin, unimpressive body, his voice could be intimidating, and this new secretary was nervous enough as it was. At least that meant she was doing her best. "Bernice, did you inform this patient that it is near closing time?"
"Yes, Dr. Philips," came the reply, "but he's really insistent. And he says he'd gladly settle for the last fifteen minutes of the day, until a better schedule could be worked out."
Philips leaned back, stroking his chin in consideration. But, finally, his exhaustion won out over his professionalism, and he pressed the button yet again. "Tell him I'm sorry, but it's too late. He can come back tomorrow, and I'll be sure to fit him in."
There was a moment before the reply, but Philips raised an eyebrow as Bernice responded in a rather surprised tone, "Um, he says he'd be willing to pay... Six hundred dollars for these last fifteen minutes."
Surprised, Philips blinked once or twice. Six hundred dollars, for one fifteen-minute session? Even his exhaustion had to respect something like that. Trying to keep from sounding surprised, or tired either, he pressed the button, and told his secretary, "Send him in, please, Bernice."
As the door opened, Philips turned his chair away, trying to gather back up the "professional psychiatrist" persona that he'd used the whole day, which he thought he'd used up. However, he believed he could scrounge up enough of it to last the rest of the session. Turning back to the door, he was surprised to find that his guest was no longer there. Turning more, he saw the man at the couch, already sitting down, his elbows resting on his knees, his forearms hanging down between his legs. With a quick, neutral glance, Philips examined the man, making snap judgments along the way.
Most obvious was his pale face, almost to the point of being white. Still, despite his pale countenance, he was quite handsome, with a noble nose, delicate eyebrows, eyelashes, thin lips, and a pointed chin. On the other hand, his hair was pure white, reaching down to his shoulders. His eyes, however, were hazel, instead of red, which was usual for an albino. So the skin and hair are intentional, not birth-related. A number of possible reasons for this ran through Philips' mind, but he didn't dwell on it, moving on to his clothing.
The man wore a white t-shirt, underneath a black leather jacket. Surprisingly, the jacket was devoid of anything like icons, or metal studs. It was simply leather, as if he was trying to make no statement at all. A leather belt held up his pants, which were also made of leather, but were cut to fit loosely. Finally, on his feet, he wore black leather turned-down boots, perhaps the only article of clothing he wore that was well-suited to the cold weather. He obviously thinks more of his style than he does of his health, dressing like that in the winter. Vain. And, judging by the amount of money he offered, probably rich, trying to rebel against his parents.
Relatively certain he'd figured out many of his patient's problems, he asked the first, obvious question. "Hello. I assume you know my name, so please tell me yours."
The man nodded. "Of course," he replied, in a deep, confident voice, with an indefinable accent. "My name is Alexander Tepes."
Philips nodded, trying to get a feel for his patient. "I see. Tepes... That sounds familiar... Isn't that a Romanian name?"
Alexander nodded. "Yes," he responded simply.
"I... see. Is it... royal?"
Once again, the young man nodded. "Yes. I am descended directly from Vlad Tepes Dracula, son of Vlad Dracul."
Philips blinked. "Descended from Dracula? Oh, I'm sorry. I suppose you get that reaction a lot, don't you? After all, the myth is so well known, even if it doesn't reflect on the man."
The man didn't react. "You'd be surprised."
"I... see," Philips replied, a little unsure about his patient. He wasn't quite so certain about this young man's motives any more. "So. I believe I've wasted enough time. After all, you're paying a good deal for my time, and I don't want it to go to waste."
"I was under the impression that we'd already started," was all the man said.
"So your ancestry is related to your... problem," Philips asked, making a note on his pad. At a nod from his patient, he asked, "So, are you bothered by the fact that you are descended from someone with such an unfair reputation?"
"Yes and no," the man replied. At Philips' apparent lack of understanding, he continued, "Yes, I detest my blood, but no, the reputation isn't unfair. Buy a biography of him some time. Even if you don't believe the vampire... myth, he was still quite a ruthless man. I shall spare you the details."
Philips made another note on the pad. "I see... So, when you say that you detest your blood, does that mean that that you dislike your family?"
For the first time, the man made a movement. Shaking his head, he replied, "No. I do not hate my family. I care deeply for them all. However, I am here to seek advice on how to... deal with my younger brother."
" 'Deal' with him?" Philips asked. "There is a problem between the two of you, then?"
Alexander shook his head yet again. "No. He has done nothing to me. However, he is... dangerous. I fear that he may hurt someone."
"I see," Philips replied. "Has he hurt anyone before?"
The man, his jaw clenched, nodded once. "Yes. He killed our mother and father."
Philips, shocked, sat upright. "Really? Are you certain?"
"Quite certain," Alexander replied, his face expressionless. "My father was... powerful. I doubt it could have been any but my brother."
"Have you... called the authorities?" Philips asked, regaining his control.
For the first time, the man smiled, very slightly, not even showing any teeth. "I doubt it would do any good. My brother has inherited our father's strength. Furthermore, he is very good at hiding. It has taken my sister Annabelle and I many years to find him, here in this 'Chicago'."
"Well, do you know whom your brother plans to harm?" Philips asked, trying to stay in control of his reactions.
"I fear," Alexander replied, "that he plans to harm the entire world. My brother believes it his birthright to rule the world, following in the footsteps of his grand-father."
"Your grand-father was... disturbed similarly, then," Philips asked, intrigued.
"An understatement, perhaps." Alexander paused. "Still, I have revealed too many of my problems, only expecting an answer to one: What should I do about my brother?"
"If... If you think he's truly dangerous, and you don't think that the police can help, then... I suppose you must do whatever you can to stop him," Philips replied, a bit flustered about the whole situation.
"Even if it means... killing him?" Alexander asked, almost fearfully.
"I'm afraid that's up to you. Only you can decide what is necessary. Though I would still recommend contacting the police." At just that moment, Philips' Rolex beeped several times, signaling the coming of the hour.
Alexander stood. "I suppose my session is over, doctor. Thank you for your help. Perhaps I will return."
Philips stood, dropping his pad on the floor in the process. "But, you didn't tell me the name of your grand-father. If I can find information on his case, perhaps I could give you insight into your brother's mind."
Alexander turned to the doctor. "I have already told you of my cursed bloodline. I am far, far older than I appear, Doctor, and I have already said my grandfather's name. If you choose not to believe me, that is your prerogative. I must go."
With this, the pale man reached into his pocket, and pulled out three bundles of money. Still looking into Philips' eyes, he dropped the cash onto the doctor's desk. Then, turning, he pushed open a window and jumped up onto the window sill. Without even a look back, he jumped out into the falling snow, his jacket flapping behind him until he disappeared in the endless whiteness.
Ignoring the cold, Doctor Philips placed his hands on the windowsill, and looked out, through his twentieth-story window, as the snow pelted his face.
"The evil that men do lives on after them..."
-Marcus Antonius, from Julius Caesar