Actually most of the boys in the class were bad, except Freddy Märchen. Freddy was sweet-natured and had a loving heart, which is why the other boys used to set on him in the boys’ toilet, push his head into the toilet bowl and pull the chain.
As for Zigmond, or Ziggy to his friends, he was the worst bad boy and he barely deigned to notice Myrtle’s existence. Unlike some of the bad boys, he didn’t wear a wide silk cravat round his neck. This might turn out to be a significant plot detail, then again, it might not.
Ziggy had a nonchalant grin that was calculated to send a frisson through any girl, starting with her toes and travelling towards her head via various other anatomical sites en route. He used it on Cynthia Moonbreath and she got the frisson right in the pit of her stomach. A less steely-hearted girl would have imagined she was in love. Since Cynthia was beautiful and knew it, she did not fall in love, but merely dived into her desk for an antacid tablet which she kept there for just such eventualities. On emerging again she flicked her raven hair behind her strangely luminous face and smiled at him ambiguously. Ziggy’s grin faded because he knew he wasn’t the boss any more.
“I want you to beg me,” he thought. “I know you want me to beg you,” she thought. “Too bad.”
Myrtle looked on in anguish, wanting him so badly. Clearly to attract a boy you have to be nonchalant like that, and then ambiguous.
“Or if not him then I would settle for one of the other bad boys,” she thought, “or in fact any boy, except Freddy, who is not a bad boy at all.” What was it about bad boys that made them attractive?
“What should I do?” Myrtle asked her best friend Felicity. Felicity was black and comely, as it says in the Good Book (Song of Solomon 1:5). She loved Myrtle for who she was, neither because of nor despite her freckles and pebble lenses.
“Boys like a challenge,” Felicity said. “You have to be nonchalant and then ambiguous.”
Myrtle tried being nonchalant for several days and Ziggy didn’t notice her at all, so she never got to the ambiguous part.
In the corridor on the way to maths class Freddy asked her about the diagonal in a square homework question, but she was so busy being nonchalant that she just said, “Square root of two.” She didn’t see his eyes full of wonder. Felicity saw Freddy’s eyes full of wonder, but she thought it was because he was awed by Myrtle’s grasp of surds.
“Did you see Freddy’s eyes full of wonder?” she asked Myrtle.
“Freddy is sweet,” was all Myrtle replied.
‘But what was Myrtle’s terrible secret?’ I hear you ask. As it happens Felicity was to find it out the very next day.
“You know of course that every young teenager is either a vampire or a werewolf these days?” Myrtle said.
Felicity nodded in apparent agreement, her lips pursed. It was a sunny day and they were sitting on the lawn at the back of the school, out of earshot of anyone else. In the distance two figures were in a furtive embrace, and a keen eye might have thought it was Cynthia and Ziggy. A keener eye might have seen Cynthia love-biting Ziggy’s neck in a reversal of the time-honoured vampire tradition, and Ziggy looking pale with two streaks of blood running down from Cynthia’s kiss.
Let us not dwell on the question of whether Ziggy was a virgin, nor speculate on what might happen to Cynthia if he wasn’t. There was a school sick room and we shall leave all that unpleasantness to the school nurse to sort out if the occasion arises. She is paid to do that.
“Well…” Myrtle faltered.
Felicity looked with a mixture of anxiety and hope at Myrtle, not daring to guess what Myrtle might say next, because in her heart she sensed something of what it might be. Myrtle turned to make eye-contact with her friend and held both of Felicity’s hands.
“Promise never to tell?”
“I promise.” Felicity did not blink. Myrtle squeezed her hands.
“I… I’m not a vampire and I’m not a werewolf.” She stopped, scanning her friend’s face for a reaction.
Felicity said nothing at first. There was a moment’s hesitation then she flung her arms around her friend’s neck and hugged her. With her mouth close to Myrtle’s ear she whispered, “I’m not a vampire or a werewolf either. I’m actually a wood-nymph. Don’t tell anyone.”
Myrtle pulled back, her eyes wide. “No, I mean, I’m not anything. I’m not even a dryad. I’m not magic at all.”
Felicity recoiled. How could such a thing happen? How could a girl who was not magic in any way have got into school undetected, living all this time unsuspected among teenage vampires and werewolves?
There had always been talk of some dark secret in Nosferatu Academy, something or someone who did not belong and whose presence threatened everything the Academy stood for. Could it be that behind Myrtle’s strange appearance lurked a being horribly, insatiably normal?
“Perhaps you are a mermaid?” Felicity suggested. “I know you are very shy about being seen in the shower after games.”
“Not even that.” Myrtle spoke in a barely audible whisper.
Now Felicity knew the truth. An ordinary person in their midst, and it was her own best friend. She turned her head away and started to gag, at first uncontrollably, but with an effort mastered herself and turned back to face Myrtle, her face a strange colour. “You…” she faltered.
“I… I can’t help being me!” Myrtle cried, rivers of tears coursing down her cheeks. “I didn’t choose not to be magic!” She buried her face in her hands and sat motionless, occasional sobs shaking her body.
Felicity sat there, stunned, for what seemed an hour but must have been less. Somewhere a long way off a cry was heard, and a girl could be seen running from the bushes clutching her neck. Then emerged a girl with a luminous face and raven hair sauntering across the lawn with a strange smile playing about her lips, which seemed unusually red. Cynthia could accomplish a lot in one break-time.
At last Felicity’s hand stretched towards Myrtle and tentatively touched Myrtle’s shoulder.
“We’ve always been friends,” she said. “Perhaps… perhaps something can be done. I could take you to Dr Frankenstein. He might be able to help.”
Myrtle looked up and saw Felicity’s face through a haze of tears. “No,” she said emphatically. “Accept me as I am, or go away.”
Felicity said nothing. Perhaps she understood what it was to be the odd one out. After all, most vampires are pale and she was accepted only on sufferance. What might happen if they found out she was only a wood-nymph she dreaded to think.
The bell went and the girls stood up. As they walked back to class, Felicity reached out for Myrtle’s hand and held it. There ahead of them was Freddy. He turned and smiled at Myrtle. For the first time she didn’t inwardly recoil. Freddy was sweet, not exciting like the other boys. But there was one thing special about him, and that was that he smiled at her, today. Somehow that mattered, right now. She didn’t even care that his hair was wet.
“Square root of two,” Freddy said. “I like surds, don’t you?”
“Not really,” Myrtle replied, and then wished she’d said something else. Freddy blushed, turned and walked on, gazing at the floor.
As they entered the classroom Myrtle could see Ziggy sitting at his desk, tilting his chair on its back legs and trying to look cool. But there was something lacking. His grin was more forced and he looked pale. His eyes looked empty. And unlike earlier in the day a wide silk cravat concealed his neck.
Even in her state of anguish Myrtle noticed this detail. She looked around and saw that quite a lot of the boys and some of the girls wore silk scarves too. More than she remembered. But not Freddy. Cynthia turned to smile at Freddy, who looked confused but tried to smile back. Cynthia continued to stare at him and locked her gaze into his. Then she pointed to him and back to herself, slowly and deliberately. “After school,” she mouthed.
“Cynthia is running out of victims,” Felicity whispered into Myrtle’s ear. If it was possible for Myrtle’s face to look more anguished than before, it did.
All eyes were to the front as Dr Finsternis rapped his knuckles on the teacher’s desk for the start of the lesson on the construction of pentagrams for nefarious purposes. “The theoretical appreciation of pentagrams involves surds,” he said. “You all know how much you enjoy surds.” And he gave an amused grimace as the class groaned.
After class Freddy was first to leave since his desk was nearest the door, and Myrtle and Felicity got stuck behind a crowd of other students all pushing and shoving. That’s what happens if you are not a naturally pushy person. Somewhere in the middle of the crowd was Cynthia, looking serene in a disturbing way as was her wont. She would certainly make it through the door before they did.
Myrtle grabbed Felicity’s wrist. “What shall we do?” she asked. Felicity needed no further explanation, and she pulled Myrtle into the crowd, pushing forward as best as she could. However it made no difference in this bestial melee and they were the last to leave the classroom. Cynthia was a long way ahead of them, almost floating down the corridor as if in no hurry, and Freddy was nowhere to be seen.
They ran on. Somehow, although Cynthia did not run, it was impossible to catch up with her. Myrtle felt as if she were in one of those dreams in which your legs seem to move but you cannot run, and whatever fate is about to engulf you gets closer and closer until you wake up. There was something not quite right going on, something a wood-nymph’s magic was insufficient to deal with.
Felicity turned and dragged Myrtle with her. “Round the back!” she hissed. The two friends ran back down the corridor, out through the little gap in the gothic stonework and into the herb garden, making a short cut through mandrakes, henbane and black hellebores. Here was where the school kept its garden of venomous vegetables. Over in the corner weeds had established themselves too - a clump of tall stems with little globes of white flowers that exploded like fireworks. Someone had been in there and picked a few. Then on through the back entrance to the alchemy laboratory, past luminous blue retorts and bubbling amber liquids and out the other side. Panting in the doorway, they could see the tall clipped hedges that formed the school’s maze of yew battlements, places where moonstruck girls had sometimes been hunted by werewolves. The sun was setting and the place was falling into twilight. There, glimpsed somewhere behind a leafy wall were two figures in a topiary arch. One was tall with raven hair framing a luminous face with bright red lips, and the other was shorter, a boy. The boy was holding a bunch of flowers - tall stems with little globes of white flowers that exploded like fireworks. The girl was bending towards the boy’s neck.
“Freddy!” Myrtle shouted.
At first nothing happened. The girl’s face hovered next to Freddy’s neck unmoving. Then slowly she straightened up and turned towards where Myrtle’s voice had come from. The boy hardly moved at all. Then the girl walked away and disappeared somewhere inside the maze. In the distance they heard a strangled gurgling sound like someone being sick.
“Freddy!” Myrtle half cried, half sobbed.
Freddy turned and smiled. He made his way through paths this way and that until he was once again outside the maze. Slowly he walked towards the two friends. Myrtle smiled a little too, then her smile disappeared. Freddy’s neck was concealed under a silk cravat.
Still smiling, although now with a tinge of worry, Freddy handed the flowers to Myrtle. “For you,” he said, a little doubtfully. Myrtle took them, her face a blank. The flowers had a kind of jubilant beauty, she thought distractedly. She gave one to Felicity to look at. Freddy stood there like a statue, not sure what to do next.
How long they would have stood there in silence I do not know. Suddenly Felicity could stand it no longer. “Freddy!” she said, “Why are you wearing a cravat?”
“Oh that!” Freddy said. “I knew Cynthia was up to no good so I dug up a piece of garlic from the herb garden and wrapped it in a cravat round my neck. Cynthia hates garlic, you know.”
“So… so she didn’t bite you?” Myrtle asked.
With that Freddy pulled the cravat from his neck. His neck was unmarked.
“Oh!” Myrtle exclaimed.
“Now I know something about you,” Freddy said, and this time his eyes twinkled mischievously.
“What?” Myrtle asked nervously.
He lowered his voice to a whisper. “You are not a vampire. Neither of you are vampires.”
“How… how do you know?” both girls talked at once.
“Because you’ve been holding that bunch of garlic flowers for the last several minutes and neither of you got ill.”
“But…” Myrtle began.
“And another thing.” Here he faltered. “Myrtle I…” He waited nervously and said nothing more. All the time he gazed into Myrtle’s eyes.
It was getting dark and Felicity wanted to go home. “Please get it over with,” she said. She went round to Freddy’s back and gave him a shove, causing him to fall onto Myrtle, who instinctively grabbed him round the chest. Her glasses steamed up. Gently, Freddy took them off. “You are the most magical person I know,” he said.
“I do like surds really,” Mytle said, and with that they kissed. Not a bite on the neck with two little dribbles of blood, but a proper kiss, a long kiss with lips.
Well there you are, a totally free story. Don't steal it unless you also include the information that it is by Milton Marmalade © 2017 and can be found in Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups, available from all good bookstores and from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and other Amazon stores worldwide.