"Nah." Dill shook his head again. "Even if I believed in these angels and demons and whatnot, which I'm not sure I do but that gizmo on your shoulder is pretty life-like if not, you can't tell me vampires exist. They're just a literary invention."
"One that goes back thousands of years." Julie winked with her good eye. "Most kids your age would be happy to find out vampires are real."
"Oh please!" Dill shook his head again, smiling with one side of his mouth. "I'm not a thirteen year old girl. You'll be telling me werewolves exist next."
Julie raised an eyebrow. "Those two guys over there eating their breakfast?" She nodded. "Don't ask to borrow their hairbrush. My sister, too, as it happens, though she doesn't generally run with a pack."
"Time to go." The creature on her shoulder looked toward the door. "We're late already."
"Yes, sorry." Julie patted its foot. "His boyfriend works where I do. Stay out of trouble boys and perhaps I'll see you again."
"Wait." Dill stumbled after her. "Can I have your number?"
She paused at the door to the lobby and pulled out her mobile. "What's yours?"
Dill reeled out a string of numbers and she typed them in, saved the number then sent him a text message. His phone bleeped and his trouser pocket lit up.
He pulled it out, noting the 'one new message' on the screen."Cheers."
"Stay out of trouble." She pushed the door open and was gone.
He ambled back to Sam. "I got her number."
"You've got less chance with her than with a damp sock." Sam grinned. "I bet she's got blokes lining up for her.
"Not likely. You saw her face."
"I saw her cleavage, too." Sam gave him a nudge. "Who looks up, eh?"
"You're a pig, mate." Dill picked up his pint. "What are we drinking?"
"Sam looked down into his almost-empty glass. "Dunno mate but I reckon its the opposite of beer."
"I haven't thought this clearly since I designed that organic computer for my college entrance exam. I feel like I could beat the MENSA boys at Trivial Pursuit."
"That's funny, 'cause I've never even seen you get a cheese before. Not even when we altered all the cards to read 'which bird has bigger tits?'"
"I always get the green ones mate."
Dill laughed. "Only when you cheated."
Sam leaned forward to look along the bar to where Bernard was casually flicking through the paper. "Bartender? What's this beer we're drinking?"
"Shh!" Dill clouted him across the ear. "You don't want to piss him off, do you? Lesson number one in going to pubs: Never piss off the barman."
"That's when you're fourteen." Sam waved his arm. "Oy! Barman dude!"
"Fourteen or still alive only by his sufferance." Dill put pressure on his friend's arm to lower it. Let me try." he cleared his throat. "Excuse me sir?"
Bernard looked up from his paper and used one hand to rub his eyes, fingers on one side and thumb on the other, pulling them together until the met at the bridge of his nose. He ambled along the bar to the two students. "What is it lads? Can't you see I'm busy?"
"Yes. Sorry." Dill forced a smile. "My friend was wondering what it was we were drinking."
"Why? Don't you like it?"
"On the contrary. It's delicious. We merely wondered what it was so that we could ask for it again."
"Ah." Bernard nodded. "You won't find it anywhere else. It's custom made, see? A bit of Wheatstone's Ancient Weird for body, Whatever's in the slops bucket and half a pint of fresh blood." He paused. "Fairly fresh, anyway."