Two Vampire Tales

On the Sunday evening of 10 May 1959, temperatures across the North West suddenly rose to 70 degrees, and a rare phenomenon known as ‘vapour lock’ took place; petrol in the fuel delivery systems of cars changed from liquid to gas and the vehicles stalled. 

Hundreds of cars - including many in Liverpool - came to a halt on the roads. David Avery’s Ford Anglia conked out on Huyton’s Stanley Road, and when he and his friend Alan Holt - both aged 18 – tried to bump-start the vehicle, they noticed a wild party in full swing at a nearby terraced house.  

The lads could hear ‘Great Balls of Fire’ on a record player and the shadows of people jiving on the blinds, and then two girls came out onto the doorstep, smoking with bottles of beer in their hands. 

They giggled at David and Alan, and David gave up trying to start the car and went to chat to the teenaged girls. 

The party was being thrown by a popular girl named Sylvia, and her parties always went on till the milkman arrived, the girls explained. David and Alan went into the house and joined the wild party. 

Sylvia was aged about 19, and was very beautiful with shoulder length black hair. She was dancing barefoot in a white dress and all the young men encircled her, seemingly mesmerized by her beauty and sex appeal. 

David and Alan fell for her immediately. There was an endless supply of bottled beer and food, and by 3am, David realised his friend was missing. Guests told him he was upstairs with Sylvia. 

At 3.15am two policemen arrived because neighbours were complaining about the racket, and there was a scream upstairs - a male scream. 

Alan Holt appeared at the top of the stairs in his underpants, clutching his neck. Blood was pouring from between his fingers. 

David and the policemen rushed to the teen’s aid, and he told them Sylvia had bit his neck and left wrist. The police went into the bedroom of the hostess and saw her throw open the window before fearlessly jumping clean out of it. 

She landed in the street and ran off through a hailstorm at an incredible speed towards St Michael’s Church. 

Years later I interviewed one of the policemen who chased Sylvia, and he told me how she jumped clean over an 8-foot wall in the church cemetery to escape, and how he found what looked like contact lenses and blood near a grave. 

The landlord Sylvia had rented the house from recalled her ‘strange eyes’ but whoever - and whatever - she was remains a mystery, for she was never seen again.

It’s a basic fact of nature’s food chain that higher life forms eat lower ones. The human race have walked on the moon and unravelled their own genetic code but a majority of them still eat the flesh of ‘lower animals’ and likewise the vampire (mentioned by every religion on earth) is said to live off the blood of the human. 

Vampires are mentioned many times in the Bible, most graphically in Proverbs 30:14: “There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives” and the Bible categorically forbids the drinking of blood, “for the blood is the life”. 

In October 1888, at the height of the Jack the Ripper scare, 40-year-old Louisa Johnson, a Roby widow who was staying at the North Western Hotel on Lime Street, sensed there was something very eerie about a tall foreign-speaking man who had recently booked into the hotel. 

He wore a velvet mask because he was said to be disfigured, and was supposedly a wine expert, but when one of the cases being transported to his room (on the top floor) opened by accident, the porter said he had seen bottles of what looked like blood. 

Mrs Johnson told the hotel manager that the foreign guest could possibly be the Ripper, but was assured that ‘Mr Zigismund’ was a respected Hungarian vintner on business in the city and that the bottles had probably contained a rich red burgundy. 

That evening, Louisa Johnson caught a fleeting glimpse of Zigismund in the corner of her room. She screamed and he vanished. 

Louisa ran into the corridor and met an American guest named William Powell who calmed her down. 

She told him what she had just witnessed and about the porter’s story of the bottles of blood. Powell said something odd which frightened the widow. “If it was blood in the bottles, and if you did see him appear and vanish in your room, is this Hungarian fellow a vampire?”’

The next morning, Powell called at Louisa’s room and told her he had purchased a silver crucifix which she should wear - just in case Zigismund was a bloodsucker. 

That evening - 31 October - the city was visited by a thick fog, and at midnight the screams of a prostitute named Lizzie Stewart echoed along Lime Street. 

She told police constables Barr and Byrne a man in a cloak had swooped down on her from one of the windows of the North Western Hotel and had tried to grab her. The policemen later encountered the man - who had the face of a devil - outside the hotel but he bounded off into the fog like Spring-Heeled Jack. 

Mr Zigismund vanished from his room that same night and was never heard from again.

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