“Mystery at Castle Dracula,” Part Two
by Jeff Baker
Author’s Note: Armed with an heirloom Star of David which protects him against vampires (blessed from a lost book of the Kabballah) vampire-hunter Sean Rodriguez and his partner Jessie Skedderis have accepted an invitation to the legendary Castle Dracula. Arriving during the day, the huge castle front door swings mysteriously open.
We stepped in cautiously. The only pistol I had was in my suitcase, so were the silver bullets I’d planned to load it with. Jessie had quickly pulled his baseball bat out of his big overnight bag; God, I loved him!
“Hi,” the voice said as a skinny young man in a sweater stepped from behind the door. “You are the Americans.” His voice was accented, more like the mechanic Andy Kauffman had played on the old sitcom than any German. But he looked at us the way a lot of Europeans looked at Americans; with some expectation and a little wonder. I guess we must have seemed like a curiosity.
“I’m Shawn Rodriguez, I said, extending my hand.
“I’m Jessie Skedderis,” Jessie said. The young man had already grabbed our bags and pushed the door shut with his foot.
“I am Wilhelm,” he said. “Follow me upstairs, your rooms are waiting.”
“Room,” Jessie corrected. I smiled.
I’d imagined a scene like in the old movie; a big cobweb-covered staircase, dark and creepy. There was a staircase, but everything was clean; statues, paintings, ancient furniture. But we were following the servant up the stairs. All that was missing was Boris Karloff’s voice and somebody carrying an old oil lamp.
“The Master of the Castle is not here at the moment,” Wilhelm said as he plodded up the stairs. “He expresses his regrets and says he will be back sometime…”
“After sundown,” Jessie said, from a few paces behind Wilhelm.
Wilhelm turned around and smiled. “No, sometime around ten tomorrow morning. He is away on business. For the record, the Master’s family line is cousins to the famous Rumanian Dracula family. But he has a keen interest in the un-dead.”
“Which is why he called us here, I guess,” I said from further down the stairs.
“You have gained some fame in some circles, and being who he is, the current Count Dracula of Castle Dracula felt he should meet you.” Wilhelm said.
We came upon the upper floor. I stopped and stared at one of the framed pictures. A familiar figure, slick black hair, deep-set eyes, garbed in black and holding a wolf’s-head cane.
“Reproduction,” Wilhelm said. “I told you the Master had an interest. Ah, here is your room.” He balanced Jessie’s overnight bag on his shoulder and opened the door. Of course, the door creaked.
I had expected a shabby room with bare wooden floors, a fireplace and a for poster bed with worn curtains. Instead, it looked like a modern hotel room.
“Bathroom is down the hall. Dinner is at six.” Wilhelm grinned and closed the door.
Jessie plopped down on the bed. It had been a long trip.
“Which one of us takes the first watch?” Jessie asked. I didn’t blame him; I was reluctant to close my eyes at night in Castle Dracula. I fingered the protective Star of David through my shirtfront.
“Probably me,” I said. “You are all but grafted to that bed.”
I looked out the window. We were up higher than I’d thought; the castle was on the edge of a cliff.
“Careful not to sleepwalk,” I said.
Dinner was surprisingly ordinary. In honor of the Americans, Wilhelm had arranged for the cook to prepare hamburgers, which were surprisingly good. We actually “retired to the drawing-room” after dinner for cigars and some brandy and Wilhelm peppered us with questions about America. Jessie and I went upstairs to our room after another hour. After the long day of traveling, we were ready for bed.
“I’ll wake you up in about four hours,” I said, staring out the closed window.
“Should be about Midnight,” Jessie said with a yawn. “Vampire time.” He locked the door.
I heard a noise and turned. The window was sliding open.
There was a sudden choking gurgle behind me. I wheeled around.
Jessie had boxed in College and he kept himself in good shape. He was about six-foot-one, two hundred twenty pounds. Wilhelm had him by the throat and had twisted Jessie’s arms behind him, holding him effortlessly off the ground.
“Please stay where you are, Mister Rodriguez, and do not move or I will rip your friend open from his throat to his crotch. I will be able to drain most of the tasty blood in a matter of instants. With one hand, remove the Blessed Star of the Kabballah from your neck and toss it out the open window. Now.”
I fished around under my shirt, pulled the chain off with a painful yank and tossed it out the window.
End of Part Two