April 30, 1888 – Monday (10:15 P.M. Transylvania)
His fangs pressed, gently at first, against the side of her neck. He could feel the old familiar pressure, followed by the slight pop when his fangs broke through the skin. Once through the skin, with another slighter pop they entered the carotid artery. Like drinking from a straw, with every suck siphoning bright red oxygen-filled blood through his hollow fangs.
As the precious blood crept its way through the vascular system unique to his kind, the red cells of life flowed into Vlad’s carotids and entered his own vascular system – a system that had diminished over the past few days.
Moments later her body relaxed, and she lay limp in his arms. The following euphoric feeling from the fresh blood overcame him for a brief moment as he looked toward the ceiling. He closed his eyes and sighed. The vampire released his grasp; with a thud, the pretty blonde hit the cold stone floor.
Dark shadows danced on the ceiling, cast from the large fireplace and nearby candelabra, Vlad turned to the dark figure standing in the corner. He preferred speaking in English with a thick Romanian accent. “Take her and the other one and get rid of them. I feel it’s
almost time to move on. I’ll find some fresh ladies and continue my plans when we get to England.”
“Yes, Master,” Ivan the gypsy whispered, emerging from the darkness with his head submissively bowed. Although hunched over, Ivan was muscular; if standing, he was slightly taller, in fact, than Vlad. Almost imposing. But the spell he, his wife, and the rest of his family had succumbed to, forced them to come when summoned and to perform whatever tasks Vlad requested.
Vlad stood over the young lady that once resided with her twin sister in his castle. He found them just after dusk three weeks ago, while they were in the middle of packing up from enjoying a picnic by the lake. At first, he didn’t even have to use his spell on them. With his charm and good looks, they willingly returned with him to the castle for a visit.
Soon after arriving it was obvious to them they made a mistake. Once inside the castle the doors slammed shut behind them. The startled girls jumped and held hands while they turned to see Ivan standing between them and the exit. Their attention turned back to Vlad in time to see his eyes flash red. By then it was too late, and much like Ivan and his family, the girls were soon under Vlad’s hypnotic spell. Throughout the following weeks, whenever Vlad emerged from the mountain, he enjoyed hearing talk in the nearby town of the missing girls, and the search parties that proved to be futile.
He used the girls for their blood to replenish his own, and to satisfy his other desires. “Once I rid the castle of the unwanted guest that is due to arrive soon, I will procure travel and a place to stay in Whitechapel.”
Vlad licked a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth. Wearing his black trousers and black shirt made it hard to be seen him in the flickering candlelight.
The gypsy wrapped his large hands – which appeared capable enough to crush a boulder – around the young lady’s ankles. Vlad followed and watched nonchalantly as his servant dragged her lifeless body down some stairs, through a corridor to the new furnace that had been installed a few weeks earlier. The fangs she had begun to grow
since being bitten, slowly retracted into her mouth until they appeared to be her normal teeth once again. She would not need them.
Vlad had no intentions of taking the two of them with him when he moved on. Once in the furnace, her ashes would soon mingle with that of her sister’s.
Vlad watched with no remorse as the heat caused Ivan to retreat quickly from the furnace. The flames danced around the young lady for a few moments before grabbing onto her dress. The clothing and hair burned first. The pungent smell of burning flesh filled Vlad’s nostrils. After a few minutes, Vlad simply walked away.
“This castle has served us well,” Vlad wrung his hands together while he walked down a hallway, his cloak whipping in the air behind him. He entered one of his torture rooms from long ago, when he walked the earth as a mortal. This room in particular, damp and musty with some water dripping down one of the mossy walls, was in fact part of the mountain.
Vlad reached for an ornate gargoyle head sconce on the wall nearest him. A screeching sound echoed in the room as Vlad turned the sconce to the left opening a door to one of many secret tunnels. This one was hidden at the top of some stone stairs and exited behind a full-length mirror to the large living room or ‘Great Room’ as he liked to call it.
The castle stood nestled in the side of the Carpathian mountain range in Transylvania. Made of stone it blended in perfectly, making it hard for one to tell where the rugged beauty of the mountain ended and the castle began.
“This was a nice homecoming,” Vlad continued, “and I am sure I will return one day. But it is almost time now to move on.”
Constantine Noapte – small town reporter – stood in the foyer of the castle, summoning courage for the task at hand. “I’m coming for you,” he whispered to himself. They’ll believe me when I find my precious Elana. His sweaty hands shook a little as he took a moment to
light a torch. I know you have them hidden away under your spell. Yes, they’ll all believe me when I bring those girls back and have your head in a sack.
With a torch in one hand and his large kukri knife in the other, he surveyed the somewhat familiar surroundings. Distant memories filled his head. As a young boy he would spend two weeks in a nearby village every summer with his mom; until his dad died and she moved there for good. Back then they would visit her old aunts and uncles. With Bram and his other friends in Scotland, he quickly made several friends of his own in the nearby villages.
Constantine and his summer friends would always end up spending the weeks exploring this same castle on those summer vacations. Back when it sat vacant. The stories of vampires and werewolves would cause the young explorers to run screaming whenever a raven or other animal would make a noise in the dark creepy compound.
The castle appeared much nicer since Vlad moved in three years ago. The molding dampness had been replaced with a warm feeling. The candles and torches lit some of the pathways and corridors that were once dark and filled with make believe monsters. Those times were innocent fun, but knowing what he was there for made the hair on the back of Constantine’s neck rise with each creaking sound. The determined young man pressed on past a winding staircase. The rotten wooden railing he remembered as a child had been replaced with fine mahogany.
As he walked toward the opposite side of the large foyer, he could see the rocky stairway leading down to the bowels of the castle. The steps appeared to be carved from stone, and they led into the mountain itself. Constantine remembered the stairs before him led to the dungeon. He also remembered being too scared to go down there as a kid.
With the very first step he kicked a loose piece of stone from the stairway. The pebble bounced and rolled down the stairs. With each loud noise he could feel his presence being announced as if he were entering one of the charity events he covered as a journalist, or the
recent Grand Ball. In his head he could hear the announcer saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Constantine Noapte.”
Still at the top of the stairs, he froze in place trying to plan his next move. Suddenly, a noise filled Constantine’s ears. It originated from another area altogether. Not down in the bowels of the castle where Constantine thought Vlad to be. The noise, soft at first slowly increased in volume. Constantine moved away from the stairs with his back against the wall, unsure of what to make of it.
He noticed a light from the great room. He knows I’m here, Constantine thought before taking a step back to the top of the stairs. It wasn’t noise, he realized, the closer he crept to the great room; he could make out Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor. The beautiful but somewhat dreary music filled the air. Each note Vlad played, he played precisely as it was written. Just as Constantine’s mother, who taught piano for years, used to play it. It was her favorite piece.
Constantine stood in the doorway to the great room. He watched Vlad, the man he came to kill, sitting at a grand piano, playing as if he hadn’t a care in the world.
Vlad swayed with the music he played. Without turning to face Constantine, he commented, “Most thoughtful people wait for a proper invitation. It’s good for you the dogs have been put up. Much like me, they don’t like unannounced visitors.”
Vlad sat with his back to the man who came to kill him. He continued to play the last section of his song, humming the melody as he played.
“I do hope this is the last cold snap of the spring,” Vlad grinned as if he knew a secret. “Although I do enjoy seeing the fire dance across the logs.” Vlad paused for a moment before continuing, “and whatever else Ivan places in there to burn. Were you here at my last gathering? You know some of the well-to-do from town made it. I believe everyone had a good time. What was it, three weeks ago?” he asked. “I remember having a good impression of you, Constantine.”
The experienced reporter felt scared and exposed. His eyes darted around the room searching for any of Vlad’s men. The sweat started to bead around his forehead. His knees got weak for a moment as he
played out in his mind if he could rush Vlad and behead him before Vlad could rise from his piano bench.
With a torch and knife as his only weapons, he stood stoically, “Yes, I remember talking at length with you and a Mr. Malone, owner of one of the pubs in town. And if my memory does not deceive me, he has been missing now for a little more than a week.”
Constantine continued surveying the room noticing several stuffed animal heads on the wall as well as a Van Gogh, and Da Vinci painting. To the left of a large fireplace was displayed an ancient looking suit of armor, perhaps one Vlad actually used in battle. It appeared everything he owned was of the highest quality or very rare. Items that take most collectors a lifetime to acquire, Vlad already owned.
Constantine felt more than ever his need to be there. This was the man he knew in his heart was behind the disappearances of some of the townsfolk, and Elana whom he had planned to propose to. His knuckles popped as he gripped his knife.
As if ignoring the last statement, Vlad continued playing the end of the classical piece. “Ahh, the dresses the ladies had on, and the men in their suits...I do believe a good time was had by all. Don’t you agree?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “I am planning on having another gathering for my friends soon. Maybe you can help get the word out with that paper you write for. You know I read it religiously?” Vlad gave a slight grin with this last remark, the hint of a fang showing.
He finished playing the piano and finally turned to face Constantine. “You know, you look like you could use a drink. If I had known you were coming, I would have summoned one of my servants to have a meal prepared for us.” Vlad stood slowly as the grin left his face.
Constantine mustered up the ability to talk; he tried to find the courage that he had built up earlier...the same courage that fled his body the instant he saw Vlad at the piano. “I’m looking for Elana. I know she is here in your grasp, and for some reason she is either unable to leave or you have something on her ridding her and her sister Ana the ability to depart your presence.”
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Vlad simply continued as if Constantine was there as a friend and not holding a torch and knife. “You are right, my literary friend.”
“I’m not your friend.” Constantine rose his voice.
Vlad started walking away. “As I was saying,” he stopped, pausing for a moment. “Elana and Ana were here, but they have left, possibly to a better place. Maybe I can tell you about it over a drink. Would you like to freshen up and meet me in the dining room? I can have something prepared for us, although it is a bit late in the evening.”
Before Constantine could answer, Vlad had moved into a dark area of the great room, just under a large rhinoceros head, one he probably killed on a safari sometime in the far past, perhaps back when he could walk the earth in the light of day.
Constantine moved cautiously across the large Persian rug. He passed two hand-carved wooden chairs that sat in front of the six-foot tall fireplace. Above the rising embers the lion head appeared to watch intently as his prey crossed the room in front of him.
Constantine slowly moved his torch from side to side inching his way toward the area he last saw Vlad. Shadows grew and shrunk as he searched about the room for the vampire. There was a washroom off to the left of the great room, and in the dark part of the room to the right where Vlad had walked, there was nothing save a full-length mirror.
The young man looked intently in the mirror. In the room behind him stood nothing. I know you just walked over here. Constantine studied the room behind him while looking in the mirror. He thought of his situation for a moment. Knowing the stakes at hand, he didn’t want to make a rash decision. I know you came this way; you simply can’t walk through walls. Or can you? He reached for the mirror; upon touching it, the thick golden frame popped open a bit.
Constantine slowly opened the mirror doorway that led downstairs. Has to be another entrance to the dungeon area.
A voice startled him. “I really was hoping you would go to the washroom so we could talk this over.”
The mirrored door made another popping noise when Constantine closed it in front of him. The frightened news reporter instinctively looked in the mirror again expecting to see Vlad’s reflection behind
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his. He guessed Vlad had circled around and was behind him. Somewhat confused, his reflection was all that he could see. Puzzled, he turned around only to be face to face with the vampire he had come to extinguish.
In an instant, Vlad grasped Constantine around the neck with one hand, while he used his left to knock the torch from Constantine’s grasp and push him against the mirrored door. “You know, the legends are a bit wrong,” Vlad said as he grabbed the knife Constantine was holding. “I enjoy having mirrors in my house.” The vampire turned his attention beyond Constantine, looked in the mirrored door. This mirror, like all the others, refused to cast an image of the vampire.
“You know I passed by this very mirror many times during my party and no one noticed at all that their reflections showed and mine did not.” He laughed at the observation. “Not only that, but this does indeed lead to my favorite part of the house.”
He pressed the reporter’s head against the glass this time until the mirror began to crack. Vlad took the knife and placed it by Constantine’s left cheek. He slowly ran it across the man’s face causing a sliver of a cut. The blood began to trickle out.
Constantine struggled, “You have my bride-to-be in that dungeon of yours. Can you not find it in you to return her, and her sister, to me, and we will never speak of this-or you-again? I swear to it we will move to another place and you will never hear of us again.”
“My dear friend, you see, if you had chosen to talk to me, then we may have come to that conclusion. But now, I am not so sure,” Vlad watched the newsman’s face as the blood trickled down Constantine’s cheek around his chin, collecting until a drop fell to the floor.
Vlad tilted his head to the right, his neck popped. “I suppose you think you know all about me?” Vlad licked the blood from the frightened man’s face.
Constantine gasped for air as Vlad slowly tightened his grip. His feet began to shake as he was slowly lifted from the floor a few inches. He replaced the wide-eyed expression as his nostrils flared and his eyebrows drew together, he replied, “I know enough about vampires,” he reached up, pulling his shirt straight upward until the buttons
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snapped to reveal his crucifix necklace. He quickly broke the necklace from its weak chain and thrust the crucifix toward Vlad’s face.
The vampire let his prey go and stepped back, covering his face from the cross. “No!”
Constantine took in a deep breath when his feet landed on the ground, somewhat surprised that the cross had actually worked.
Vlad covered his eyes and wailed. The scream turned to a laugh once he removed his hands from his face. “Silly man, I do not like your little crucifix, but it will take more than that little trinket to ward me off.” Vlad’s eyes filled with hate as he snarled. His fangs glistened from the light the torch gave off. “I’ve been around a few hundred years, and you thought you could actually come into my house and kill me? Maybe you will take solace in knowing you will soon be with your dear Elana.”
“I’ll have you know,” Constantine relinquished the fact he was not getting away, “if anything happens to me, I have mailed a letter to a cousin of mine, revealing everything that has transpired here tonight. Rest assured, he will come for you. Yes, you wicked creature, he will most indeed come for you.” Constantine’s voice rose with each statement. “I may have made a grave error in my attempt to vanquish you, but he will know all about you and your kind. You will indeed meet your match...and his name is Bram!”
Vlad rushed toward Constantine, slamming his weight into the man, knocking the golden cross from his outstretched hand. He grabbed Constantine again and forced his head toward the left as he sank his fangs into his neck. Constantine could only force out a few muffled sounds while Vlad held his mouth shut as he drank his blood.
Minutes later, Constantine’s pale lifeless body crumpled to the ground. When Vlad finished, he closed his eyes and sighed. After composing himself, he reached down and simply picked up the torch and walked over to the fireplace, tossing it in to burn with the wood.
He stood, watching the fire dance around the logs as Ivan entered the room. “Master, this one is to go to the furnace also?” Ivan asked.
Vlad wiped a drop of blood from his lips. “Yes, my servant. Take him to the furnace to be with his love.”
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Ivan grabbed Constantine by the ankle. He opened the mirrored door and dragged him toward the passageway.
Vlad watched as the reporter’s blank stare appeared to look right through him. “Love makes men do drastic things. I can surely attest to that. I almost envy you, Mr. Constantine.” Vlad directed his attention toward the fire. “I do look forward to meeting this relative of yours. Maybe he will prove to be more of a challenge than you, my friend. Or any of the others that have dared come for me throughout the centuries.”
Vlad grabbed his black cloak from one of the chairs and he walked over to the mirror. He looked intently upon it, with no reflection he could only rub his fingers across his face. Feeling the slight wrinkles around his eyes and forehead. His fingers slid across the bridge of his nose and cheekbones.
Having not seen himself in hundreds of years Vlad had all but forgotten what he actually looked like. He stood wondering If only I could see myself once more. If only I could be with my true love instead of here alone. “If only...” Vlad threw the cloak over the mirror in disgust.