An old man sat on an uncomfortable chair before a desk behind which sat his interrogator and a key to his future. Yet he was not excited or anticipating. He had outlived caring anymore and that was why he was there; sitting before an oversized desk in an oversized room of an oversized quasi-castle, situated in the middle of large, semi-remote piece of land, surrounded by high walls and fences. It had taken a considerable amount of effort just to get to that chair. They both awaited the arrival of the owner of the estate, Katarina, a known but secretive vampire. After what seemed an inordinately long wait, a tall, pale, slender woman entered. She was attired entirely in black with black jewelry.
“What do you have for me that couldn't wait?”
“This gentleman, Mistress. He seeks assisted suicide but... he's a history professor, Ma'am.” It should be noted that virtually no one dared use Katarina’s name. To all around her she was The Mistress of the estate.
She turned her gaze on the man. “What time period?”
“Very nearly yours, Mistress. His area of specialty overlaps a large portion of your own past.”
The man sat quietly, unsure of what this development meant for him but being careful not to accidentally spoil the outcome he sought - to be bled out by a vampire and his unhappy life extinguished.
“You've done well to summon me. Leave us. I'll continue the interview. Find Adelaide and have her assemble the others. We will meet them in room 312.” The interrogator departed, quietly closing the heavy door behind her. The Mistress settled herself on the edge of the desk looking down at the man. She was centuries old. The man was deep into his first, and only, century.
“Your case interests me, Professor. How is it that you seek our services?”
“I'm old. I'm tired. My former colleagues are either dead or senile. As good as dead. No one pays any attention to my work. I'm obsolete and I'm alone and there's nothing that I care about anymore. I'd have cut my own wrists but I discovered I lack the courage. It was all I could muster to find out about this place and come here. I believe in my mind that being quietly bled out is the least painful and frightening way to die.”
She regarded him for a while without speaking or moving. The Professor thought that this was not a good sign. Perhaps he was right. “Suppose I could show you somewhere you were needed, your work appreciated; might you reconsider your request to die?”
“Stop! I'm not asking you to decide now. Hear my proposition first. Only then will we discuss your desires.”
There seemed to be no alternative but to follow her wishes if he wanted to achieve his own. “Very well.”
“I am in some ways as you are. Though I don’t look it, I'm old. Obsolete. I've even been a legend in places.” She smiled briefly but it did not seem warm. “I’m increasingly lonely and losing interest. I believe I need someone like you with your memories and your knowledge. I could use someone to talk to, Professor. But I need more, too.”
“I'm afraid your problem is insufficient to convince me to change my plans.”
“Let me show you the rest of my problem. Walk with me.”