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Dracula's Book: The Journals Of Vlad Draculya: The Impaler
Blood of the Dragon
Blood of the Dragon Introduction
This is the beginning of my book: Blood of the Dragon: The journals of Vlad Draculya, the Impaler, which was first published by iUniverse (and can still be purchased there) in 2004. This is the revised version (without the font and formatting embellishments) which I am doing at the moment. I will be leaving out some sections of the book so that I can retain the copyright and not have it transcribed to someone's computer files without permission. So in the end you will have to buy the complete version from myself or hopefully my publisher. This then is a partial book. I'm putting it up to see who might be interested in the full version. This came out well before Mr. Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt's recent book: Dracula: The Undead. They should have read mine before producing theirs! (See my hubpage review on my Vampyre Society hubpage.)
Enjoy the read. Remember it IS copyrighted material. But feel free to share it or quote it or critique it given the proper references, etc.
David Pudelwitts-St. Albans AKA David Pudlevitcz PhD.
5/1/10 Scottsdale, Arizona
Blood of the Dragon
Being the only true
journals of Vladislaus
Bassarab Tsepes Draculya
Voivode of Wallachia,
Knight Order of the Dragon,
Defender of the Catholic Faith ,
Defender of the Orthodox Church ,
Prince of the Realm of the Holy
Count of Transylvania,
Protector of Moldavia,
Savior Of Serbia,
Bey of the Ottoman Sultans,
The Purported Journals of Vladislaus III Prince of Wallachia, called "The Impaler". As transcribed to audio tape by Professor Louise S. Johnston PhD, Archeologist, of the University of Cambridge, England, transcribed from the written translations from the original Romanian and French by Professor Emeritus, Peter M. Ralston PhD of the University of Arkham, MA. U.S.A. Transcribed onto disk with additions and illustrations and published in book form by Professor of Archaeology, David T. Pudlevitcz, PhD. 8 2003 (revised 2010)All rights reserved.
Dedicated to my wife Rosanne Allen-Hewlett
who has proved her dedication to me
and to my work with uncompromising
love and support throughout the years
of this work. Also dedicated to the
giants in whose footprints I follow:
Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft and Clark
Also a note of love and thanks to Patricia
Rogers-Denning, my good friend and
for use of her vast library of vampyr
legend and lore. And to Marion Holquin
artist, vampyr researcher, artist and friend.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction By The Editor
Prologue: Land of the Impaler
Chapter I: Blood of the Dragon
Chapter II: Boyhood
Chapter III: Blood of the Vampyr
Chapter IV: The Treason
Chapter V: Prisoner of the Turks
Chapter VI: Voivode Draculya
Chapter VII: Sorcery
Chapter VIII: Prisoner of The White Knight
Chapter IX: Reign of Terror
Chapter X Prisoner of The Raven
Chapter XI: The Scholomance
Chapter XII: Count Draculya
Chapter XIII: Path of the Vampyr
Chapter XIV: Draculya: Lord of the Un-Dead
Chapter XV: Draculya: To England and Beyond
Chapter XVI: Draculya Unbound
Epilogue By The Editor
Appendix 1. Vampires and their Ilk, Heretical Sects,
Appendix 2. Lexicon for Blood of the Dragon
Appendix3. Vampires, A Treatise. By Vlad Bassarab Draculya
Maps and Illustrations: Book Plate ii
Map of Wallachia and Environs VII
Map of Draculya’s World VIII
Map of Transylvania IX
“He controls the soul who controls the blood of another."
The Secret Teachings of All Ages
I was recently contacted via over-seas mail by my associate, Professor Peter M. Ralston PhD of the Massachusetts Miskatonic University Anthropology Dept. and his assistant Professor Louise Johnston PhD lately of Cambridge University, England. His letter came to me after a tragic death of a student at a dig Ralston was doing in Romania. Apparently there was more of a mystery surrounding this death than was previously reported in the press and his own reports from the field.
The messages I received from these two reputable scientists and the transcribed tapes which they provided later were, to say the least, astounding. The two professors believed they had in their possession the actual handwritten journals of the infamous "Vlad the Impaler" A war lord of Wallachia (present day Romania), from the 1450's to the 1470's. This same Vladislaus III Bassarab Tsepes (pronounced tsep-esh) was also known as "Draculya", or The Son of the Dragon. The historical Vlad Tsepes is now known to be the influence for the infamous antagonist in the famous Bram Stoker novel Dracula.
During the dig in Romania in 1999 there was an unfortunate incident where a young woman was killed. Some readers may have heard of the incident in the New York or London Times. The official story was that some sort of animal, a wolf or large dog, had savaged the girl. However Ralston who was leader at the site, had a different story, one so bizarre and outre' as to be nearly unbelievable. The murderer apparently met with Professor Ralston before he committed his horrendous crime and insisted that Ralston publish this journal material, which he gave him personally, or face being killed himself. The criminal then proceeded to kill the young woman in a most horrible manner to prove his threats were real. This murderer, according to Ralston and Johnston's statements was the writer of the journals they had in hand.
The journals are purported to be penned by Vladislaus Draculya himself. However they were begun in 1899, some four hundred years after the death of Prince Vlad the Impaler! Photocopies of the writings have been independently analyzed by several handwriting experts on our staff and compared to documents written and signed by Vlad the Impaler, (who was, it turns out, a prodigious writer in his day, having made correspondence with Popes and kings, as well as having left many edicts and treaties with which to make comparisons). Every expert determined that the writing in the documents Ralston had secured and shown them and those know to be written by the ancient Prince of Wallachia were penned by the same hand!
This of course was mind boggling. The Board of our university was called together and the facts presented. The ramifications of a major American university crediting and publishing the writings of an actual vampiric entity were considered. And although both Ralston and Johnston insisted their lives, perhaps even their immortal souls were in danger, the Board determined that the entire thing must be a hoax, or the work of people who had gone over the edge somehow, and permission to publish was denied.
This left me in an unenviable position. On one hand Peter Ralston and Louise Johnston trusted me to help them. On the other hand, any idea of publishing under the Miskatonic University Press' ancient and honorable banner was clearly not an option. There was one option left open to me. To put my own reputation (such as it is), on the line and publish the manuscript privately. Of course, if published as a true story or as the actual journals of a long dead inhuman monster who has lent his name to so many ghost stories and awful "B" movies might make me look completely mad, completely incompetent, or the producer of a vast hoax. Yet publish I must. The murderer was adamant that the document see book form, or he would kill Ralston himself! These present demands were odd indeed. Why a monster of nature, living a preternaturally long life based on murder and spiritual degradation would want his history published, in order as he put it himself, to defame and mock his own name, is beyond my understanding. However this murderous soul who claims to be the original Prince Vlad Draculya also told Ralston that he didn’t mind if the whole thing was thought of as a fiction. This became my "out" as it were. I decided I would publish the bloody thing as a novelization. I would write it so people could not tell one way or another whether it was real or not. When I put the idea past my associates they thought it was a good one. In this way my reputation is safe, my job is safe, and hopefully it will save two people whom I care for very much; though I have my doubts that such an entity as Draculya might keep his word. However, after reading the history and the journals, I find that this man, when he was a man, was honest to a fault. Called "Vlad the Just" by his own people and noted as being honest and forthright to the extreme, and he demanded the same from his people. Who knows what the centuries have done to this creature's mind? But perhaps, just perhaps, the sense of honor and dignity befitting a nobleman, of any century, will force this entity to keep his word and do no more harm to our associates, my friends, time will tell.
So there you have it. You possess now a book, the bulk of which was purportedly written by an entity beyond our understanding, one which has lead armies, destroyed millions of souls, driven empires to rise and ruination, who lives on human blood and calls himself "King of the Vampyrs", and "Lord of the Undead". Or perhaps it is just a story made up by an old professor near retirement to while away the hours and scare people all in good fun. You may be the judge. My job is done.
The book can now be handed to the filthy monster which threatens my friends . I'll send him a crate of the damned things if he likes. But it is time for Lord Draculya to be true to his word as once he was and release my friends. That is all I desire. And before I turn the reader over to the story, let me say this to Prince Vlad: You made an awful mistake and sold your soul for nothing. For if your journals are correct, you did what you did for all the wrong reasons. Mundane and Spiritual Power, thirst for knowledge beyond the realm of God and sanity has caused you to fall. You sold your soul over to forces that care not for you, nor anything else living! They want your destruction as much as they want our destruction. You will, in the end rule over nothing. Dust and dry bones and Hell will be your inheritance as it is with all those who war against God. You are old. But you are not wise.
Those of us who live natural lives and grow old with grace, knowing our fate, are given wisdom, and that wisdom says nothing lasts forever, especially the works of man. Take it from an old archaeologist, 500 years, a thousand years, two thousand, is nothing in the scheme of things. We are dust motes in the eye of the Universe. And you have conquered nothing. All you have done is degraded yourself and come to be nothing more than a predator; one which mankind cannot and will not tolerate, one who eventually will be hunted down and destroyed. The Thousand Year Reich is dust, as is Stalin's Communist Regime. These things did not stand the test of time and neither will you. You, like all historical artifacts are nothing but a relic of the past, interesting but useless, except as a warning to the future. You will be brought to justice, as God himself has warned you. So take no gratification in this book. It is not about you. It is about the self-destruction of one, minor human soul who could not rise above pride and hate. Be a real man, Vladislaus, go back to God and face your judgment!
With that being said dear reader I give you, Blood of the Dragon, the testament of Vlad Bassarab Tsepes Draculya.
Professor David T. Pudlevitcz PhD
Miskatonic, Massachusetts 2001
“Land of the Impaler”
The cold, unseasonable sleet slashed at the canvas tent like a million tiny razors threatening to shred the fabric into ribbons. Fortunately for archaeologist Peter Ralston, the only natural element which the stout canvas allowed in, was the damp, cold air of Romania’s rugged Carpathian Mountains. Summer storms at these higher elevations near the feet of the great Transylvanian mountain chain were on par with the storms the professor had experienced in New Mexico’s Rocky Mountains on digs there. The wind whistled one changeless, terrible cutting note, carrying it through the different octaves, sometimes overridden by a low, almost human moan, seldom changing in pitch, which gave it an eerie quality Ralston detested.
The professor was a tall man in his forties with a full head of graying, brown hair and the hard honed body of an athlete developed by his years of hiking and working outdoors digging up the remnants of ancient human civilization in some of the world’s most remote corners. The sun and wind of a dozen harsh, exotic climes had carved their own marks into his rough features, weathering his face a little beyond his years. Yet his sea-green eyes were clear and always seemed to be alight with kindness, intelligence and humor.
The professor put down his pen a moment to listen to the wind. It always astounded him that, no matter what his age or disposition towards a particular philosophy, that storms always bore, along with wind, rain and lightning, the emotion of a deep and preternatural dread. Since childhood he had felt that thunderstorms were mysterious and ominous. Such weather always bore secrets on the wind, secrets of his past and inner life which he was not always interested in having revealed to his conscious mind. So this storm bore with it an old familiar but unwelcome chill.
Ralston looked over at the pile of books near his computer. The face of the medieval prince staring up at him from one of the volumes gave rise to a sudden sensation of fear which he could not put off to the storm. He slapped a file folder on top of it as if that would somehow lay this particular ghost.
The sudden jolt of emotion, coupled with his feeling of ill-omen set Ralston up for the massive skip his heart beat took when Louise Johnston, his assistant at the Arges dig, burst under the tent flap like a confused bird flying into a strange and confining human habitat.
Johnston stopped momentarily to wrestle with the wind, which sought to grab the wet canvas from her hands. Valiantly she persevered and was able to tie down the flap, which beat rather despondently against the tent pole now, stymied in its attempt to fly out into the storm.
Louise Johnston was the complete Englishwoman; tall and winnowy with tousled brown hair and a sharp, aquiline nose which could have given her a snobbish appearance if it wasn’t for her jovial, twinkling, blue eyes. She was a decade the junior of Professor Ralston, but because she was English she seemed equally as mature and confident as Ralston.
Still looking like a big, wet bird, Dr. Johnston flapped the wings of her rubberized
poncho, spraying freezing droplets in all directions. The professor quickly covered his writings with his arms and head.
“Hey! Hey! Jesus, Louise, be careful!” The professor shouted.
“Well damn! I'm sorry, Peter! Why aren't you using the lap-top? Why do you insist on pen and paper in this day and age? This isn’t Carter at the Valley of the Kings, y’know?”
“Really?! Well it doesn’t rain like this in Egypt either!” Ralston said loudly over the moaning wind.
“First of all I'm scared of frying myself and the computer with all this sleet and second of all, I like writing longhand, it settles the nerves, it always feels like a job well done.” Ralston spoke as he dabbed at the droplets of water on his pad.
“That lap-top doesn’t have enough juice to toast a piece of bread, let alone a professor emeritus. However, I'll give you a break and agree, water could fry the circuits. My fault, I should have thought . . .” Louise said. Taking a badly crumpled pack of Turkish cigarettes from her slicker pocket, she stuck one of the thick, white cylinders in her mouth and proceeded to light up.
“Uhm, Louise . . . this is a designated no smoking area, remember?” the professor said without much conviction.
“Look, Ralston, I gave you a break, now how about giving me one? I need it and I need it now. We've found something . . .” Johnston said blowing smoke from the side of her mouth, trying to direct the stream towards the door. She only succeeded to channel it back into the room as another gust of wind came through the flap.
“Damn! Sorry. It's a nasty habit, but somebody's got to do it.” Louise mumbled to herself and took a couple of drags, looking like a heroin addict who had just got her fix.
“All right, knock yourself out, Louise. Is it as bad out there as it sounds?” Ralston asked.
“Nastier than hell! What a blow. We’ve been trying to keep the tarps on the site but the damned wind keeps getting under them and lifting them off. While we’re battling over here, the whole damned mountain is coming down over there.” Johnston said, wiping her brow. Her hand was shaking.
“Mudslide?” The professor asked.
“Yeah . . . don’t worry, it didn't affect the site at all . . . in fact it kind of opened up another site. It looks like it might be a graveyard or something . . . we found some bones, I think . . .”
“Show me on the map.” Ralston said. His associate came over and put her finger down on one of the sectors.
“Right here.” She pointed at an unexplored eastern sector.
“Hmmm? That's odd; there shouldn’t be a cemetery there. That would place it on the other side of the defensive wall and on the other side of town from the church.” Ralston said, puzzled.
“Could be a mass grave . . . plague graves? Hmm, no they generally burned plague victims. The thing is that it's at the same level of the town site, so it can’t be recent.”
Johnston suddenly shuddered involuntarily.
“Yes, I see . . .” the professor nodded his head, but inwardly winced knowing all too well what the young woman was thinking. They had the occasion to have stumbled, unhappily, on mass graves twice before, each had been full of jumbled skeletons in one the bones had been shattered by withering machine gun fire. In the second the skulls of the dead featured a tidy, small caliber bullet hole in the back of the head. Romania was full of such places. They were the shallow graves where the Nazis and the Romanian “Arrow Cross,” “the WWII Romanian SS Ethnic Cleansing squad allied to the German efforts of genocide), had buried slaughtered Jews, cripples, political prisoners, unwanted elderly people, the mentally defective, as well as petty convicts and gypsies. These places were so long kept secret that they were essentially forgotten under the Communist regime which had come after WWII, which had its own shallow graves to hide. Now that the Eastern European nations had opened up their gates to Western historians and archeologists, there would have to be a certain number of unpalatable discoveries. If the discovery was too recent and too politically hot, Ralston knew the government would shut down the site.
“So . . . how many bodies?” Professor Ralston asked.
“That’s the thing, it looks like . . . like a lot, more than we’ve ever seen.” Johnston answered.
“They're heavily embedded in clay, but if the rain and sleet don’t slack off we’re going to have them all right down in our laps. The creek bed has changed course and it’s carving out the whole area . . . almost like, like somebody wanted us to find it so badly that they’re doing the digging for us.” Johnston said, taking another nervous drag from her cigarette.
“Waxing a bit poetic, aren’t we?” The professor asked, hoping to cut through, with an attitude of clinical cynicism, some of the same feeling of portent and omen that crawled up his spine at the moment.
“I suppose it’s a bit fanciful. But perhaps Mr. Scientific Method” himself would like to see this bit of tommy-rot, fairy story nonsense before it washes down into the Arges River?” Johnston said, crushing out the remainder of her awful smelling filterless cigarette with her muddy boot.
“I may be a little spooked, but damned if the site hasn’t been dug up by this infernal rain as nice as if we had taken months with brushes and dental picks!” Johnston said.
Ralston was already putting on his rain gear. When he was ready he clapped Johnston on the shoulder in a good natured way. He put on his best British accent.
“Now, now, stiff upper lip! There’s a good girl! Let's go for a stroll to your morbid little fairyland.” he said, grinning and trying to be cheery. He felt suddenly exhilarated by the mystery that seemed to have come to raise his previously oppressed his spirit.
Johnston heaved a sigh and followed the professor out into the slashing down-pour, the rain stung her face like needles of ice. She loved it when Ralston tried to imitate a British accent and she loved being with him like this. It felt right to her. If she were younger she could have called her feelings a girlish crush. But she knew it was more.
The two trudged through tufts of green grass and boggy, peat-like mire and reached the site of the nameless medieval town which they had been digging at for the past two months. Not much remained now but over-grown foundation walls, bits of wood, pottery and remnants of cloth. The town walls showed some signs of fire and possibly evidence of an attack by outside forces. Swords and spearheads had been dug up everywhere on the site. Yet they had never found one hint of the inhabitants. No bodies at all. Ralston’s theory was that the town had been looted and the townsfolk taken captive, to become slaves of the Sultans of Turkey. Still, even these barren ruins gave valuable information on the types of dwellings and structures common to medieval Romania, once called Wallachia, circa thirteen to fifteen hundred C.E. One thing was certain, the attack must have been complete, for no one had ever reclaimed the town or rebuilt upon the site. This in itself had initially caused a feeling of unease in Ralston’s mind.
Around the site stretched miles of fertile farmland and pasturage. Above the site, sweeping steeply upwards were the foothills of the glowering, pine covered Carpathians. The firs and pines were so deep green as to appear nearly black. The top of the mountain nearest them was lost in low, dense white clouds from the valley below, too burdened with water to ride over the mountain. The clouds crashed into it with thunderous might, releasing their heavy cache of icy rain with a vengeance. Wind borne water vapor and sleet smashed against impervious, immovable grey granite, producing the slashing rain and hail of the summer gale now flailing the land below.
As the two walked towards the far side of the digs to join the workers milling about the gully, the sleet began to abate, replaced by a mild drizzle as the clouds finally rose over the top of the mountain, drained of their power. Then the sun began to send shafts of light down into the valley between ragged tears in the cloud cover as it broke up. The beams appeared like search lights from heaven picking out the rain drenched handiwork of God and man. It was a beautiful sight reminding Peter of a Renaissance painting by Da Vinci. The air warmed perceptibly as the two scientists moved forward. As the sun burned off the rain clouds the atmosphere became muggy and steam rose from the ground.
The professor and his assistant stood on the opposite side of the milling diggers and camp attendants, cut off from them by a quickly flowing river which had plowed a swath down the mountain and through the field, gouging out a peculiar circular area about the size of a football field and about thirteen feet deep. As they stood there the rain let up completely and the flooded river subsided quickly to a trickling stream. What had at first appeared as a large pond was draining off quickly now down the mountainside to reveal a strange sight.
First there appeared what seemed to be the tops of trees, but they were somewhat sharpened on top, like defensive pikes. They were everywhere, like a forest that had been stripped bare of branches and ruggedly carved by human hands into spears. As the water
receded further the professor could see the ground was covered by other such pikes, some floating, some still embedded in muck. Among these objects seemed to be thousands of brown cobble stones and what appeared to be slender, curved branches, in ominously well arranged rows.
“Those are ribs. . . human ribs.” the professor said without emotion.
“And skulls. . . Jesus, God in heaven! Thousands of them!” Louise said.
As the water receded more and more it was evident that the cobble stones were indeed half buried human skulls carpeting the surface of the earth. Among these were jutting ribs, hip bones, arm and leg bones, browned from ages-long burial in the wet clay. Water now trickled in a thousand little rivulets around the hard bone, washing away mud from staring, empty eye sockets and grinning jaws. There must have been two thousand human heads exposed there.
“What are those things? Lances, pikes? It must have been a helluva fight!” Johnston turned to the professor, removing her poncho hood, her breath coming in puffs.
“They're neither. The proper term for them are pales.” Ralston said.
“As in the phrase to impale.” Ralston said, water from his felt hat dripping with fat plops onto his collar.
“To impale? To impale! Holy Christ! You mean they were all . . . oh God, but that’s insane, there must be . . .” Louise started.
“Approximately seven to eight thousand men, women and children; essentially the entire population of the town we’ve been digging up. Probably four or five thousand more people than have ever been found in the most rank and terrible Nazi mass grave we’ve ever
uncovered. Only these men and women and babies weren’t shot by unemotional Nazi monsters and left to rot in a secret grave. These people were left to struggle and die slowly
and hideously, with pales thrust through their bodies: Some from the rectum, some straight through the stomach, others . . . head first . . . through the mouth. It may have taken days or weeks for the last of them to go. Then they were left to feed the birds and animals, left to be buried by time and the elements . . . left as a sign,” Ralston seemed to muse to himself.
“A sign! Good God, what kind of insane army would leave a sign like this? I mean look at this! I . . . I feel sick . . .” Louise said, turning away from the site of the inhuman carnage.
“It's like discovering Buchenwald or Treblinka . . .” She said, lighting another Turkish cigarette, her hands jittery.
“It wasn't an insane Turkish army or barbarian hordes,” Ralston said, bowing his head as if in prayer.
“What?” Louise asked, flicking away a wooden match.
“It wasn’t an army, it was one man; one insane megalomaniac, one monster of nature, only one.”
“One man did all this? Who? Who was around in those days who was worse than Hitler or Stalin?”
“He was actually a nobleman . . . he had a nobleman’s name, Prince Vladislaus Bassarab, Vlad for short; Vlad III the son of Vlad II, Prince of Wallachia, circa 1452 BCE or so.”
“So . . . so why haven’t I heard of him?”
“You have. You haven’t got into these studies very deeply until recently, and it wasn’t as if I was looking for something like this. It’s more like I was afraid we might find this evidence. Maybe I was even secretly a little thrilled we might. Something about monsters is always thrilling. I’m sure you have heard of this monster, most everyone has.” Ralston said softly.
“They have?” Louise asked, surprised.
“Yes. Prince Vladislaus had another name once. One everyone’s heard.”
“All right, enough playing about . . . what was it?” She asked, looking back towards the canvas tents of the site, not wanting to gape like the others at the thousands of tortured souls buried for over five hundred years yet appearing as if they were still screaming in agony.
“He was called Dracula.” Professor Ralston said flatly. “Vlad the Impaler’s proper name was Dracula.”
Later in the day, after some initial photos and sketches had been done at the new site, Peter and Louise sat together at the professor’s desk, it was now piled with books and documents which seemed to mark Peter Ralston’s secret passion.
“So you’re saying this Dracula, the guy with the flapping black cape, the tuxedo and the fangs was a real person?” Louise said. “I can see you’ve done some research on the subject . . . In Search of Dracula, Dracula: A Biography of Vlad the Impaler, The Essential Dracula, The Dracula Tapes, Dracula: Prince of Many Faces, Lust for Blood, looks like fairly juvenile drivel to me!” She said, pawing carelessly through some of the volumes on the desk.
“Well, unfortunately there have been almost no scholarly, scientific or historical documents written about the man. It’s mostly just entertainment books, though Florescu’s work is pretty well researched.” Ralston explained.
“Except for the popular books here and these pamphlets in Romanian there’s hardly anything full of solid fact. They all dramatize the monstrous acts of Vlad and the Bram Stoker/Dracula book and movie tie-ins. To the Romanian government the Dracula phenomenon is simply a tourist gimmick, something they can make money on. There's a pile of rocks on a cliff up-river they call “Dracula's Castle” and there’s a couple of kiosks selling dirt from his grave, and little Vlad Dracula dolls, and that's about it. Some people are discussing turning that beautiful medieval walled town of Sighisoara into a “Dracula Land” amusement park. Sad,really. The last government tried to make him a national hero for awhile, but ever since that torturer Ceaucescu was thrown out . . . they called him a “reincarnation of Dracula,” by the way; Vlad the Prince of Wallachia got a bad name again. The fad of calling Dracula a national hero has died down. He is still a formidable, if somewhat enigmatic historical figure in some areas of the country, however. People either love him or despise him.” Ralston said but they know him as Vlad Tsepesh, not Dracula. The Draculesti family name died out two hundred years ago but the bloodline lives on in a lot of European nobility, the prince was . . . well placed.
“It's been a long time dream of mine to unearth a quality site that would document his life and times. However the university won’t give you a grant for locating the dwelling places and habitues of movie monsters. Like you, most people are unconvinced of the historical value of researching such a character. Yet in these juvenile” books you’re looking at, there is a wealth of information on the man, Prince Vlad the Impaler. He was real, he was the warlord of this land on three separate occasions and his children ruled after him as well. Once all of Romania was Dracula’s princedom and his name was both revered and feared. After uncovering the site you can see why.”
“Then all these woodcuts and illustrations from that period are true?” Louise asked, flipping through some of the books pages.
“I mean, here he sits eating a Sunday meal under a group of impaled Turks . . . Here’s another where he’s having the bodies of women and children cut up for his pleasure!” And yet, out there in that field of torture and death is the real story, real people, whole families put to the stake! Thousands and thousands of them! For what crimes? What could an entire town possibly have done to deserve this creature’s wrath? I call him a creature because such a thing couldn’t possibly have had the soul of a man.” She said, studying one of the books.
“A drop in the bucket, as we Americans say,” Ralston sighed. “This is only one of perhaps fifteen hundred towns he had torched and had the inhabitants put to the stake. He butchered and tormented entire armies of the Turk, Hungarians, Serbs, Saxons and Poles. According to some documents circulated during his lifetime, he killed and dismembered whole tribes of gypsies and made their relatives eat the remains! The poor, the sick and aged he eliminated from his kingdom without mercy. He was the progenitor of the prototype for The “Final Solution” five hundred years before Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazis. “Ralston said.
He was not smiling or excited now. He felt he had come face to face with a real nightmare. Before this, all the researchers of Dracula’s life were nothing more than gossip mongers telling third and fourth hand tales of gore. The tales were in the realm of folk tales. He had been sure the numbers of dead at Dracula’s hands had been expanded just to add to the story’s thrill. Now he knew that this indeed was the site of a massacre of unbelievable proportions.
“I guess he was like Hitler.” Louise said.
“I think not. Hitler was a madman and an inhuman monster, but he seldom bloodied his own hands with what American mobsters call ‘wet work’.” Peter said.
“No. . . Dracula was a hands-on master of death. He liked to be in the thick of it, he liked the smell of blood, the sounds of the dying and maimed. Rumor is that he even tasted human blood and flesh. In his own time he was considered an unnatural monster, and you have to remember that this was the time of the De Medicis, the Borgias, Catarine Sforza and the Inquisition. It would be hard to find more inveterate murderers and deviates.
Yet by every report Vlad Dracula was also considered the Primal Christian Warrior, the absolute scourge of all heretics, infidel Turks and Turcoman barbarians. He was proclaimed one of the most honest and forthright princes in Christendom by the Papal Legate himself. He was a living enigma, a human paradox.”
“Sort of like having Charles Manson as Commander and Chief of the U.S. Army?” She added, smiling, trying to lift his mood.
“Funny, but close . . . Look, Lou, this mad prince Vlad of Wallachia was the precursor of all modern political mass murderers. He was an inheritor of the madness and insane powers of Caligula and Nero before him. He out-did them, hell, Attila the Hun, pales in comparison, no pun intended. The nasty thing about Vlad is that all the Caesars I mentioned were pagans. Having no Christian virtues of mercy and compassion, we can almost understand, if not wholly forgive them. Vlad, on the other hand committed all of his crimes as a Christian crusader prince and Protector of the Faith in the name of God.
“Yet, for all my reading of his foul atrocities, I have to admit to a certain admiration. Few men in history have been so totally committed to bloodshed and murder in the name of the Church and in protection of his society and his nation. He never backed down from the accusations; He even allowed himself to be imprisoned by the King of Hungary and excommunicated by the Pope and yet defended his church and his king to the bitter end. Eventually losing his life in a suicidal battle against his own converted Muslim brother’s troops!” As he spoke Peter flipped through a book and showed Louise some illustrations.
“There seemed to be a method to his madness, if one could find the motive . . . the psychology, well then we might gain some understanding as to why our own modern world has dedicated itself to these same principles of bloodlust and mayhem, secretly dedicated, but dedicated nevertheless.” He continued.
“Why Treblinka? Why Buchenwald? Why the Siberian Gulags? Why the secret police and hidden torture chambers of Iraq, Argentina, of Ceaucescu’s Romania in our own time? Why, Louise, why? Why do we put up with it or buy into it? What is the human race's fascination with it’s own destruction? Why do men label one group of men evil, set out to destroy them by unleashing some avenging angel they call a general or a soldier, and then, in Vlad Dracula’s case, label the Avenger evil as well once he’s done their dirty work? If we were able to know the mind of one man such as Vlad Dracula, to be able to call him forth from the mists of time and question him, think of what we’d learn Louise, this wasn’t any slinking, ego-maniacal serial killer or ritual sex-murderer; he wasn’t hidden from public view. In fact he was brought out of prison like some terrible tool, like a nuclear device, to wreak havoc on the invading Turks again and again. He was like a human sword, a sword wielded by the angel of death himself. If only we could speak to such a person . . . I know we can’t, but isn’t this what archaeology is all about? Seeking answers to the riddles of the past?” He concluded.
“In a way I suppose it is.” Louise rebutted. “Then again maybe some aspects of Humanity’s past are better left unexposed. I think my point is that, by burying those darker aspects of ourselves we are free to uncover the good, the lighter aspects, we are able to evolve.” She said.
“Absolutely wrong!” Peter said loudly, suddenly pounding his fist on the desk for effect. Louise jumped with anxiety. Something was really eating at him. She’d never had seen him in such a state.
“Whenever we allow those dark things, so well acquainted with torture and suffering, corruption and murder, to multiply in the darkness of our souls, then, like worms, they undermine and burrow beneath our positive accomplishments. Like maggots they riddle the good with bad, eventually destroying the foundations of good, replacing them with such things as Nazism, Fascism, Totalitarianism and tyrannical Communism. Because each individual refuses to see and understand the darkness dwelling within himself he then allows such mechanisms of destruction and hatred to take over. If we continue to hide our evils eventually the light of humanity will go out, like a wick-end from which the candle has melted away.
“Right now we are being allowed to poke about in the kitchen middens and pot dumps of this ancient state because for an instant the light of democracy and freedom has flickered brightly but momentarily in the New Romania. Now we have unearthed one of her most intimate moments of shame. Believe me, once word of this new find gets out to the officials and we will be pleasantly and firmly asked to pack it in and leave. This little site, which reveals the true heart of darkness at the bottom of the Romanian . . . no, the human soul, will be buried, as you seem to want it to be . . . and mark me, Louise, it will lie there festering again and its power will fill some new monster’s heart; and the tortures, prison camps, murders and political intriguing will begin again. Back in the states or in England we will sit in our armchairs and say, Tsk tsk, isn’t it all just too sad?” Ralston said firmly.
“So what do you want to prove, Peter? She demanded. “What on earth do you want to do, save humanity from itself? It can't be done! History has proven that over and over!”
“Louise, I just want, for once in my life, to reveal the truth that’s all,” He said. “I’m tired of digging up the past so it can be reburied by petrified government bureaucrats and proper university officials! History is history, it can’t be changed. If we try to change it, bury it, make it secret again, it comes back to haunt us.
“Louise, look what has happened with the old German concentration camps. They’re all clean and sterilized now. Don’t you think the German people would like to pave them all over and build malls on top of them and forget? People barely believe in the horror that went on inside those places anymore. Some even think the old films and documents were staged! There are those in this world who actually think the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany never occurred and yet secretly reorganize Nazism in order to start it all over again! If it weren’t for the camp survivors, army witnesses and the war crimes trials, I believe the whole thing would have been forgotten by now and then reincarnated in an even worse form. As it is, no one knows all the secrets of the Stalin Regime. He may have killed and tortured even more people than Hitler. Yet everyone closes their mouths, turns away and forgets the past. Now Russia may be climbing that ladder down into the pit again. And what’s weird is it was Russia who first resurrected Vlad Tsepesh’s evil acts and documented them, so that Ivan the Terrible could become even more terrible than he had been! He used Vlad the Impaler as a role model!
“I know this truth we’ve discovered is just a fragment. Still, a fragment of light and flame adds to the light all around us. We need to learn, that’s all I'm saying. We need to bring the darkness out into the light and show it for what it is, corrupt and vile and a part of human history, like it or not.” He said forcefully.
“So, you think a piece of man’s dark, hidden nature, added to the puzzle of history, might reveal the whole form, something we might be able to study and combat?” His assistant queried.
“If I am to understand you correctly Peter, you think evil is like a seed, best left uncovered in the light of day and never replanted: I’m not so sure I’m totally in support of your theories concerning good and evil. It’s remarkable, really, this whole turn of events has shown me a side of you I didn’t know existed. Talk about waxing poetic” how about waxing philosophical?” She smiled wanly.
“But in another sense I’m with you, Peter. I want to save the site as well. After all I have something to gain from all this, possibly as much as you have. Imagine the funding we could get if we could link our site to a certified Romanian warlord who just happened to lend his name to an American movie monster? Unfortunately the news of this has already been sent to the officials in Belgrade and Bucharest; you can bet on that, the camp is lousy with Romanian government spies. What can we do? If they close us down, they close us down,” Louise said.
“I don’t know . . . I really don’t know. This is a staggering find. We need more information, more time! But I fear we won’t get it. This breaks my heart it really does, because in a way this seems to have almost been uncovered for a purpose as you said before. If we could only reveal this secret to the public . . . and yet I have to be realistic, I can see we won’t be allowed to reveal anything. Well, I shouldn’t say that. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Maybe Romania will let this one be published.” The energy for argument seemed to leave Ralston as quickly as it had come.
“Anyway, we’re both scientists, not evangelists,” Ralston said. “We’ll have to take whatever comes with a grin and bear it attitude,” as usual.” He concluded.
“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I’ve converted you!” Louise said with a smile. Ralston looked at her blankly for a moment then burst out laughing. Which is just what Louise was hoping he’s do. She liked to see him laugh. Now she understood why. She had finally seen a depth of character and commitment to a philosophy she’d never seen before. He was usually inscrutable. And for this she had fallen in love with him.
Dinner at the camp that night lacked the air of good natured levity and camaraderie that usually infused the atmosphere of Ralston’s archaeological digs. Digs were mostly looked upon as an extended camp-out. The young students and other camp attendants would talk about the discoveries made or not made that day, eat hardy meals and afterwards sing songs around campfires and generally have a joyful time. Living and eating near an open air torture garden had dampened everyone’s spirits. Professor Ralston had not told the students and staff that this was an authentic Vlad the Impaler/Dracula site. However it didn’t seem to matter, a cold and haunting gloom was casting its pall over the entire place.
Professor Ralston wondered to himself if Louise had not been right. Perhaps certain things should remain buried? Still he could not shake the feeling that something unheralded, something beyond science was about to occur in his life. It had come in on that damned storm wind, it was in the fog creeping up the mountains side . . . He berated himself for feeling so childish. Yet there was nothing he could do to stop the strange emotion. It was as if some unheard voice was whispering in his ear. It was eerie and totally unscientific. He had been on digs in Turkey, the Navajo lands of America, dug up witchcraft items in the Southern U.S. put under houses by African slaves. He’d handled Egyptian artifacts said to be cursed. He’d even glanced briefly at the Miskatonic University’s manuscript of the dreaded Necronomicon. But he did not ever feel such an overtly supernatural emotion as he had now. He was sure he was in the presence of something . . . but what? Outside the tent the rain had started again. It was only a high humidity drizzle really and the night had become warm. Much of the valley below them was covered in a deep, white mist. It seemed to cut the whole place off from the world, like an island in a sea of clouds.
Ralston and Johnston had dinner together and the subject had drifted away from the mad Prince Dracula without protest from either person. Both of them felt that mentioning that strange monster’s name in the darkness and fog of the Carpathian foothills was like speaking of the devil, what the Romanians called The Ordogh. The old “babushkas” had a saying: “Speak not of the ordogh at the dinner table, lest he sit at feast with you.” So they sat in silence, each one deep in their own thoughts.
Later the two scientists said their goodnights and went to their separate tents to await whatever the next day would bring. Ralston noticed a light in Louis’ eyes which he had never seen before. He was almost sure she was about ready to ask him to come to her tent, or to stay with him in his. But she gave him a slap on the back and said “Sleep tight, it will all be better in the morning!” Keeping her British stiff-upper-lip Louise walked away to her tent.
Ralston gave it no further thought. He knew he had some serious decisions to make about what to do concerning the new site. He did not like it that only a few yards from where he slept were the thousands of unburied bodies of the truly damned, whose ghosts were now beginning to haunt him. The poor souls seemed to call to him for some kind of explanation, begging for some shred of decent reasoning to answer their century’s old question of “Why?” Why were they persecuted and slaughtered? Why did the world or God allow such monstrous acts? Why wouldn’t the world be allowed to hear the truth? Worst of all, was the question of why here and why now?
Ralston had set many expectations and hopes on this particular dig. Now it would be a political nightmare. There would be police questions, people on the dig would be harassed, and all this work for the year would be a washout in the end. He’d been down this road before in the Urals and the Ukraine. It was becoming a standard and emotionally upsetting pattern in Ralston’s life.
With these thoughts in his mind, Ralston drifted off into a fitful sleep. He almost immediately fell into an unpleasant dream of a place peopled by smiling students, milling around, laughing and slapping one another on the back. They were watching a Christopher Lee Dracula film on a huge drive-in theater screen, before which were thousands of struggling bodies atop spears. Ralston ran around, frantic, yelling at the top of his lungs that Dracula was real and he was coming! He had bundles of strung garlic which he kept tripping over, behind him a fifty-foot-tall Christopher Lee laughed insidiously, blood dripping from the sides of his mouth; his cruel, red, bloodshot eyes staring down at the scene below.
Ralston lurched up from his cot. Sweat drenched his face, his heart pounded. He was wrapped up in his blankets struggling with them like a man trying to remove a straitjacket. When he finally had extricated himself he breathed a little easier. A dream, a simple, almost silly dream had held him in its grip. He chuckled a little at his own subconscious’ innocent gullibility. He lowered himself back onto the cot, rearranging the covers when something made him lurch up again. Adrenalin surged from the glands atop his kidneys directly into his blood stream. He could almost visualize the process. His mind raced. He could see/feel his own body’s natural ‘flight or fight’ drug pumping through him as if he were watching the episode on a television medical documentary. His rational mind was completely detached, begging his body to be calm and shake off this silly hypnogogic state. His scientific mind knew it was just a case of what is called ‘sleep paralysis.’ Yet his physical being lay stock and stony still, certainly paralyzed, as if he were facing a tiger about to pounce. Slowly he forced his eyes to move around the room.
“Anxiety attack.” He spoke softly, “Just an anxiety attack.” He whispered as if to convince himself. He looked at the floor of the tent and his breath went out of him in an involuntary gasp, as if He’d been hit hard in the solar plexus. A stream of mist snaked its way along the ground. It glowed softly with an unreal light. It moved silently and with a volition of its own akin to intelligence. His body knew this, feared it deeply; feared it to its very core. Ralston’s rational mind however, refused to accept it, even though he could not move his eyes away. He was truly entranced by the snaking, phosphorescent mist. He wondered if he was still dreaming. He actually hoped he was.
Quickly and with apparent purpose, the fog curled at the end of his cot and then rose up, swirling and forming itself into something like a pillar of cloud, which rotated about some unseen axis. From the cloud two red orbs glowed, like angry planets being consumed by celestial fire. Ralston had never seen or experienced anything like it. He knew one thing was absolutely true. He was not dreaming. His mind finally accepted the apparition as quite real and absolutely dangerous! He jumped involuntarily to his feet. Standing in only his pajama bottoms, Ralston’s lean, work hardened body stooped naturally in the position of a man ready to either fight or run for his life. His mind reeled with the bright fever of knowledge. He was going to have to do something and quickly or he would die, he was sure of it. His breath came in short, sharp huffs, like an animal facing its captors, needing to escape, yet cornered.
Before him was a congealing vision of horror. He didn’t want to face it, almost refused to see it. All he knew now was that he had to get away! This was nothing he could fight, therefore he had to run! The cloud of smoke was between him and the tent door. But it was only smoke! He made his decision. He leapt forward towards the door. It was a prodigious leap born of awesome, primordial fear.
Suddenly a hand, large and pale, shot forward from the cloud and slammed into Ralston’s chest, straight arming him backwards onto the cot. He rolled off. Breathless, his ribs shooting fire through his thorax, he began to whine involuntarily and back away shuffling on his hindquarters like an animal until his back was to the tent canvas. He felt at the edge of the canvas to lift it, but it was too well spiked into the ground. He had to get out the door. He tried to scramble up for another try at escape.
“Stop!” A voice boomed out. It had all the commanding qualities that men equate with the voice of a god. Ralston stopped his movements and slid back onto the cot, clutching his chest, he felt as helpless as a child.
Now a human form stepped from the mist, which quickly dissipated. The figure was tall, dressed entirely in black, akin to the garb of a Greek Orthodox priest. The being wore a long black cassock with a double row of black buttons and billowing black, silk pantaloons tucked into tall, black leather boots. From the sleeves of his cassock dangled death-pale hands, the finger tips of which ended in long, curved talons. Strangely, the fingers were all of an equal length, not like human hands at all. They looked like meat hooks.
The face which sprouted from the collar of the black frock was skeletal and gaunt. The visage had sharp, aquiline features made more animalistic by the bony underpinnings upon which the white skin was drawn tautly. It reminded Ralston of the face of an Egyptian mummy. The white eyebrows were thick and swept upward over slightly slanted, red eyes, which resembled two superheated ball bearings. The eyes were without pupils. Yet he knew he was being watched in a way that chilled his bones and made him ache inside to be left alone.
The man, for it at least had the face of a man, bore long, dangling white mustaches which hung down past the bony chin. The lips were thin as aged parchment and stretched over a mouth full of pointed teeth, very few of which corresponded to normal, human dentition. The ears were pointed and tufted with white, animal-like hairs. His long, white, full-head of hair was combed back from the forehead and hung in rank, stiff ringlets about his shoulders.
With a sudden blur of movement, the figure loomed over Ralston’s prostrate form. One moment he was four yards away the next he was hovering above the professor’s sweating face. Ralston cringed. His heart racing so fast he was sure it would burst through his chest. He felt as if the being’s eyes were pulling his heart out from his body. Still he noticed something very odd about his visitor. He did not breathe! He was as silent as a corpse. The thing’s mummified visage was not two inches from his face, and yet he could hear or feel no breath at all. He looked over the pale, stretched white skin and realized this was an animated dead person, a living corpse. The effect was somehow sickening to Ralston’s soul. He shuddered and groaned as if his very spirit was in pain.
In another instant Ralston found himself being lifted up and flung through the air as if he were a toy. He was thrown back against the tent wall, near his desk. Almost before he had landed, the figure was there again looming over him.
The thing raised its horrid face and let out a demonic hiss, looking heavenward, as if he alone could see the face of God and mocked it. In that one tortured emotional burst the creature seemed to brutishly vent its hatred for all things that God had created. A bluish, swollen and pointed tongue shot forth, licking greedily at its dead, white lips. The monstrous apparition glowered at Ralston again. Then it spoke.
“Just a warning, professor, that I could rip you apart with ease. Do not attempt to escape again. If you try, I will tear out your heart and its final beat will be the last thing you see in this mortal life! Believe me in this. In a single moment I could make it so that you would fall down upon your knees and beg me to do it. I could make you fall in love with the possibility of your own death, professor. Such is my power! Yet, you see I choose not to use such minor magician’s tricks with you. I have some need of you. I do not want a slave, I have enough of those. Rather I am in need of a free servant. Do you know of me?" the gaunt thing asked.
Ralston was in a state of shock. He was absolutely sure he was talking to a dead man. He knew the thing in front of him was a corpse, he could smell it. Something in his guts chilled with the knowledge of it. Yet he knew that this dead thing had the power to kill him or worse. Finally he blurted out an answer.
"No! No I don’t know you! Wh-who are you. . .What are you!?" He put his hand to his face as if to protect himself from another attack. Yet just speaking a simple word made him feel more calm and in control. His body and mind had immediately determined to try an ancient, wholly human tool for defense. He knew inherently that when all else fails, one might escape some dangerous threat to life from another intelligent life-form, by brainpower alone. He was still shaken but struggling to regain his composure. He had never in his life felt so determined to survive. If the thing was as intelligent as it seemed, then he felt he might be able to talk his way out of the situation. Although inside he was close to fainting with fright, his ribs ached so badly the pain kept him conscious. He determined to maintain an unaffected front. He tried to appear composed. He needed to act rationally now, even if all of his bones wanted to climb out of his skin and escape this monstrous entity.
“I think you broke my ribs,” Ralston said, trying to smile. “Was that entirely necessary?”
“Almost broken.” The thing said, standing with its arms folded, looking somehow royal in his stance even though he was a morbid caricature of humanity.
“They’re only badly bruised. However, do not toy with me, professor. If I liked, you would not escape this night with your life nor with your soul. If I wanted to dally with you, you would certainly escape with all but your sanity intact, and what would your associates think of that I wonder?” The creature grinned, showing the length of those awful fangs, lodged in its gumless jaws.
“Imagine them waking up in the morning to find their leader a gibbering idiot lying in a pool of his own urine?” The creature seemed to thoroughly enjoy the idea.
“Look, I’m not about to do anything to provoke you! I still don’t know who you are! You asked the question, I’m just trying to answer you honestly.” Ralston said.
“If I didn’t hurt so bad I might even believe you don’t exist . . . However, for the time being you’ve made a believer out of me.” Ralston tried to sit up and ease the pressure on his rib cage. Each passing moment meant one more minute of life, one more minute of hope that there would be an end to this nightmare.
“Good.” The creature said, easily. The thing spoke almost flawless English with just the trace of some unknown accent. “It has been difficult within recent centuries to make believers out of members of the scientific community. Though I did once get a few National Socialist Party doctors to believe me, just before I drained them. However, now that I have your full attention, I ask you to extend your belief system a bit further when I tell you that I am the bearer of the wisdom and truth for which you so diligently seek. I am the one who has brought the storm and uncovered your most recent site. I am a master of storms, master of the mist and of the night. Once I was master of this place.” the thing said, waving a hand to indicate the entire area of the dig.
“But that was a long, long time ago. Yet you have even this day seen the sign of my power and might which I left, lo those many centuries ago. I cannot abide a traitor, and here are unearthed many thousands of such traitors, so remember to be loyal, professor.” The creature said almost nonchalantly. Then he continued.
“Your desk abounds with volumes bearing my true name.” the being said, pointing at the desk. Several volumes clattered to the floor and their pages turned as if by the wind, but the atmosphere of the room was deathly still.
“I have been watching your progress with some interest since you first arrived,” the creature said.
“You should feel honored. It is not every man who can say he has stood in the presence of a true Renaissance Prince. All others who have had such an honor are long since dead and some of their souls reside in me. Some I made the masters of men. Others I simply consumed after dallying with them awhile.
“I myself am in wonderment, for when I went to ground so long ago, few, if any, knew of my history or true nature. I was considered a macabre fantasy, a pasteboard character penned by a common novelist.” He spoke the word novelist as if it were a curse word).
“Later I became more of a shadow king, a director of sick, human puppets in Germany and elsewhere. No one knew who I was. I liked it that way. It is more a position of true power. Wouldn’t you agree? Never mind, that was a rhetorical question.” The creature seemed almost bored.
“Now I see that during a particularly lengthy sleep, that people have somehow become reacquainted with my noble name. I can gather by all these volumes, that interest in my lifetime has increased a thousand-fold. Once I might have considered that a kind of homage. It would have been a final justice awarded me by unjust mankind, a reinstatement of my good family name. Now it is really somewhat of an obstacle. You see, professor? I had hoped that when I returned to this plane that I would be all but forgotten. It would have made my plans that much easier. Still, for now I will see to it that only you yourself are confirmed as a true believer. For now you may duly note professor that the War-Lord of Vlachia has returned to his ancient haunts. I am rested and made whole again and I seek new conquests, new horizons. I have watched for the signs and portents. Indeed this may be the time heralded for my entering into the world as the true, firstborn Son of Satan, that which you call Anti-Christ. If it is so then I say woe unto you professor, woe unto you and your world.”
Ralston lay in shock. Was this who he thought it was? He decided to engage the creature further.
“You call yourself a Renaissance Prince, the First Born of Satan and War-Lord of Vlachia? It’s all very confusing! Are you an apparition, a ghost or some sort of demon? What are you? How can you even exist? And you still haven’t told me what you want!” Ralston said, growing a bit stronger and angry with frustration.
“Did I ask you to speak? No! Be quiet, dog! Let your elders and betters speak!” The thing roared. It made a gesture with its hand that seemed to put Ralston’s over-strained heart in a vice. He collapsed in a heap again. The thing stood over him grinning.
“True, much has changed in the world; that much I have seen in the past few weeks, yet I was always adept at entering into the habitues of you moderns.” It will cause me little effort to come into full physical restitution and once again infiltrate the camps of my enemies, and I will thereby reap great rewards. After all I am the great Lord of the Undead. I have walked the earth among mortal men now this past five hundred years. I have done as I pleased, supped on a hundred thousand souls, quickened myself with the blood of mankind as I have also quickened my wits.
“Allow me to introduce myself formally to you Professor Peter Ralston; I am Vladislaus Tsepesh Bassarab, called Draculya.” The hideous creature bowed at the waist and began to laugh. The sound that came forth was that of a thousand, thousand legions of damned souls.
Ralston shuddered with cold and fear. His soul knew now what had been beckoning to it. A form of reality for which there was no scientific explanation had imposed itself upon his world. Down deep his old word-view was shattered into a million fragments. Unless, he thought, he was absolutely gone stark, raving mad, he was in the presence of a true vampire; and not only that, but the archetypal vampire; the one which was at the basis of all the other modern legends. But Ralston did not intend to allow this alien presence in his life take full control. For all its powers and its prideful talk, it had vulnerabilities, or it wouldn’t need him for whatever it wanted to do. There was only one thing for it, try to find some weakness, some vulnerable aspect of the thing in order to fight it. But all Ralston could think of was to keep it talking.
“Are you trying to tell me that you consider yourself to be some incarnation of Vlad the Impaler? I mean really. I don’t know who or what you are, but I can’t believe . . .” He started. In a snap the creature’s hand was clenching Ralston’s throat and the blood began to drain from his face.
“I am not an incarnation, nor a re-incarnation of anyone professor, I am he, the very one, Warlord of Vlachia, prince and potentate, scourge of the Turks, Vladislaus Draculya, named Tsepesh, ‘The Impaler’ by all those who feared me! You have sought for the truth and like all men when the truth confronts thee, ye flee from it. Ah, the rational mind . . . it does not work so well when it is not fed by the life giving blood. Does it?” The creature asked, finally releasing his preternaturally cold, vice-like grip from the professor’s throat.
Ralston’s larynx felt like it had been doused in liquid nitrogen. He rubbed it vigorously and shivered. His skin literally crawled, he felt he had been touched by the angel of death itself. Now that same skeletal hand caressed his chin leaving a trail of cold, slimy stuff, like ectoplasm, evoking what can only be called a genetic cellular abhorrence in the very center of Ralston’s being. He desperately wanted to slap the cold, dead hand away but dared not.
“I like to watch it flow . . . the blood that is . . . it is always a beautiful thing.” The creature said almost lovingly.
“Now you know who I am but yet you long to understand what I am, what I was. Yesssss. Yes I know you do. My mind was once as yours is, so hopeful, so grasping for knowledge. Your lovely friend was correct however, some forms of knowledge whose powers are darkness made corporeal, are indeed better left unplumbed by men. I know. I plumbed those depths myself. I dived into the morass of filth and degeneracy that bubbles at the pit of the human soul. I was hand picked by the Dark Gods and was examined and not found wanting and so therefore they bestowed this upon me, living death, gnawing, constant hunger for sweet, red blood, an urgent, undying need for fear and panic and destruction. It is a long story my good professor and I am so hungry now that I dare not linger . . . or you yourself might serve to slake my thirst. You have no idea what a force of will it takes to keep from supping upon you, do you, professor?”
Ralston shook his head and let out a strained gagging sound that was all he could manage.
“I have been long hidden away from men, lo nearly fifty of your short years. To me they have passed like a moment. Your group, so rich with life, so lusty for each other, awakened me. Do you know that no man, woman, child or beggar has visited this accursed spot for more than half a century? I was entombed upon this ancient ground shortly after Joseph Stalin’s death by his personal bodyguards.
“Stalin, ah yes, now there was a man with iron will and determination. Mad as a proverbial hatter, mind you, but a willing and quick student! He eradicated nearly half his nation and no one ever knew! He was a more subtle and secretive man than Corporal Hitler. Be that as it may, I have need of food now. I know I must seem horrifying to you at this time, but such is the semblance of an unfed corpse. Perhaps, after awhile I will visit you again and you will see a vast difference in my guise. Yet before that time I am giving you a present. I have not been idle this past five hundred years. No, indeed, I have marked my progress from century to century. You have spoken out loud to others that you wish to know of me, of my lineage and my reign. I have listened to you for three nights now, as a shade flitting about your campfires, as a shadow cast upon your tent walls. I have watched you as I have manifested once again my corporeal form; which for you and your compatriots who have interrupted my long sleep, means some vessel must be broken and my thirst slaked. Since you have insisted upon knowing me, I will tell you more than will be believed. Yet disbelief is not offensive to me, not at all. Disbelief has its place.
“You are correct in one of your assumptions my dear professor. As long as men bury the truth within the bowels of darkness there will it fester and gain black powers which control men’s destinies. I am a past master of such arcane and secret powers; the Occult that which is hidden, such powers are branded. With such powers I have scourged the earth and her minions, the living, for half a thousand years. In that time I have been abused, imprisoned, betrayed, hounded and hunted unto death and beyond into Un-Death. I ran and ran escaping from the burdens of life and here in Un-Death I ceased my headlong flight and turned upon my adversaries and finally brought them low. I have consumed my enemy’s blood and possess their souls as my slaves. Yet even the Master of Un-Death has his Masters. Be thankful you have only met me and not those Others which wriggle and squirm beyond the boundaries of what you call the dimensions of Time and Space.” The being which claimed to be Vlad Draculya grinned again. The effect was grotesque. Whatever emotion etched the ancient visage was as close to godlike, inhuman madness as Professor Ralston ever wanted to see.
“You have met me and you shall serve me, but not abjectly. No, but of your own, free will shall you serve me. Nor shall ye serve me as a degenerate, half-insane, slavering pawn, though I could make you such in an instant. Of the many thousands of men whom I have controlled and subjugated you will not be one. Rather you will serve me by serving your own vain aspirations. You shall serve me by serving science, professor. Now, this is what you have yearned for. Take this and read it.” The thing hissed.
Ralston crawled away from the outstretched paw; it contained something he could not make out.
“It’s only a book, professor! Only a book! Poor child, I really have frightened you haven’t I? Here, I’ll leave it for you on your table, along with the others.”
Suddenly all the scattered books and papers had arranged themselves on his table again as if they had never been moved, except on the top of the stack was a heavy, thick leather bound volume so fat with paper it had to be bound with an array of leather cords and straps.
“It should make you happy, truth seeker.” The vampire said. “You may ask why I want to lend you something so precious from my personal library? It is because I want someone to know of what I have done, of what I am capable of doing, and what I will do in the future. I want you to publish the papers. In that way I will have given the world a book of truth, truer even than your so-called “Good Book.” Yet they will think it is all a total fabrication! You will be labeled a fool and a greedy fictioneer. As was my first biographer, Stoker, that social climbing little meddler! Thanks to you both I will be labeled again as a paste-board fantasy. People will say, ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night, what have we to fear from that?” As they did after that idiot Stoker published his so-called novel. His warning went unheeded. Even his precious upper-class friends totally disbelieved him and called it rubbish. All except the “band of heroes” who drove me out of England and had tried to slay me in my lair. They disowned him. He had betrayed their trust all in the name of vain-glory. Too bad he had published it at all really. But it served its purpose. He thought I was dead forever . . . how nice that would haven been for him, eh? He thought he was fully betraying me and my memory! Ha! Fool! All those who serve the truth are fools! Do you know, I let him read my journals as well? The little pissant put only a few sentences about my life in his damned book, made his awful tome read like some child’s ghost story! He wasn’t intelligent enough to understand most of what he read! I had him in the end you know, professor? They say the man died of exhaustion!”. . . I will say this; he was quite exhausted when I was through with him. You would do well, then, to learn by his mistakes. If you do publish, make certain it is my story and I will duly reward you. Otherwise . . .” the thing reached down and took Ralston’s head in his hands.
Ralston felt that he had been given high voltage electro-shock therapy. The inside of his brain exploded in a vision of monstrousness and depravity unlike anything he could imagine. It was not, in fact his own imagination, but the true deeds of a thousand corrupt and evil souls that now writhed in a hell without end and without description all sending their ghastly message through the creature’s hands into Ralston’s brain. As quickly as it had come, it was over. The thing that had called itself the Impaler seemed to be gone. But an ungodly hollow voice rang out in the tent.
“Publish my work, professor, or you and your loved ones shall suffer excruciating agonies, of which you know I am fully capable! Publish professor. And I will be back again to see you and retrieve my work! Do not lose it. Do not seek escape. I will find you and destroy all you love first . . . then, well that will be my pleasure and your endless agony! Goodnight, professor! Sweet dreams!” There was a subtle hiss and the feeling of oppressive gloom lifted. The thing was truly gone. But the stench of death was still in the room and on his clothes.
The apparition gone, Ralston promptly threw up his dinner and lunch and then his breakfast in a fit of projectile vomiting he had only experienced once before after taking Peyote with the Native American Church. Afterwards, he cried for a long time and he felt feelings he had forgotten since childhood. Feelings of abandonment and fear of the dark, now he knew he had every right to have had such feelings. There was something fearsome in the dark, some clawing and abhorrent evil that mankind had fled from for a thousand centuries, and he had just let the thing itself touch him! This had been no tuxedo wearing, “handsome Count of Transylvania,” this had been a thing with power over the human mind that defied description. It was god-like, awesome and yet depraved, inhuman, somehow alien. What it had meant by “Dark Gods” Ralston did not know, did not want to know. He was already burdened with more knowledge than he wanted. His world and his being had been changed in a few moments.
Slowly his strength returned. He wanted to believe it had been a dream, but the burning ring of corruption on his exposed throat told him different. Suddenly he jumped up. The thing had said it was hungry . . . Hungry!! He thought of Louise whom he had called his ‘delicious friend!’He had to warn the camp! They would say he was insane, but he had to get them all together in a safe place!
Throwing on a coat he was outside running through the mist. But there seemed to already be some commotion brewing. Flashlight beams pierced the fog here and there. There was shouting which was mostly drowned out by the mad wailing of a man obviously in dire straits. Somehow in the dense vapor, Louise found professor Ralston. Ralston grabbed her and hugged her saying “Thank God!”
“What’s going on?” Ralston shouted.
“Hell if I know! Christ, Peter! The whole camp is in an uproar!”
“We’re too late!” He said, suddenly despondent.
“What? What? Wait a moment. Look, over there, they’ve found something. C’mon!” Louise shouted and sprinted over the mist shrouded tussocks, Ralston followed nearly spraining his ankle on something sticking up from the ground.
“Shit!” he barked. “What the devil is going on!”
“Over here, Peter!” Louise said. Ralston followed along, limping a bit until he came to the circle of students wielding flashlights.
“Holy God!” Louise gasped.
There in the circle of lights sat a young man covered in a camp blanket. He blubbered and whimpered like a whipped dog, at times reaching out for the form next to him, at other times seeking to get away like a frightened animal until someone held him.
Next to him lay a half naked girl, or what was left of her. Her head was gone. Her bowels torn open, she lay in a pool of filthy gore composed of her vital organs. Ralston felt like vomiting but had nothing left. Louise could not contain herself either and ran away to empty the contents of her own stomach in some bushes.
“Cover her up!” Ralston snapped. He had a sudden jolt of anger which brought back some of his courage and determination. Quickly someone threw a camp blanket over the ravaged torso.
“Bring him over to the tent and put some coffee in him. I want some questions answered, right now. Somebody call the authorities.” Four or five people got out cell phones.
“Wait!” It was Louise she was several yards away almost lost in darkness. The professor ran to his associate. “Look!” She said, pointing her flashlight towards the open pit where they had discovered the thousands of ancient dead. On the edge of the pit stood one of the long, nearly fossilized pales, sitting atop the implement of torment was a fresh horror.
Ralston immediately dry heaved. A perfectly natural reaction to the sight of the girl’s blonde haired head, streaming blood from the neck down the muddy pike, her eyes staring desperately heavenward as if in supplication to a God who had quickly and definitely abandoned all mankind to hell.
Ralston wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his coat. With a roar of rage he ran towards the ancient pale and wrenched it from the ground. It broke in pieces and the terrible fruit it bore dropped to the grass with a thud. Gingerly, almost lovingly he placed the gory trophy in his coat, wrapping it protectively. Then he placed the girl’s covered head next to her blanketed body.
Louise was at his side in a moment, matching his strides as he walked back to his tent, the path lit by several stunned students with their flashlights, each huddled against the other, protecting themselves as best they could from a night filled with unnatural terror.
“What’s going on? Professor, just tell us what’s going on?” Louise asked, childlike, looking for some kind of rational support from her friend.
“Hell, Louise, I don’t know any better than you do. We’ve uncovered something hideous, something malignant. You were right, it’ll all have to be re-buried.
“Telephone for a medical examiner, the police and a priest; I want the dozers out there burying that in the morning . . . first thing, understand?”
“But what about the scientific examination, the find of a century . . .” Louise muttered.
“There’s science, Louise and then there’s sanity, sometimes the two just don’t mix. I was wrong, that’s all. We won’t find any answers here, just death, that’s all . . . death. He wanted us to find it. It’s a sign.” Ralston said to himself more than to his companion.
“A sign? Of what?” Louise asked as they walked. Peter would not answer. Shortly they got to Ralston’s tent. She lifted the tent flap to allow them access. She winced, she could smell the vomit, and something else, something worse. Peter now seemed to be ranting.
“The Apocalypse maybe . . . I don’t fucking know. There’s worse things than dying, much worse. And I won’t be responsible! Hear me? I won’t be made responsible just because I wanted to know something!” He said, nearly in tears.
“Are, are you sick, Peter? Did you throw up? It smells awful in here . . .” Louise said softly, patting Peter gently on the back.
“I’ll tell you later, when I get some backbone . . . maybe in the morning, for now I want the dig shut down. Please see to my requests. Now, let me get some clothes on and we’ll go see what is what around here.”
Inside the tent near the freshly lit camp stove, the young man in the blanket shivered, a steaming mug of coffee in his hands. A few other students were stroking his hair and hands and uttering platitudes. It was obvious that they believed the young man had no part in the gruesome murder. Ralston knew it too. The girl had been torn apart and there was not a speck of blood on the boy.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Ralston asked the young man. “Ted . . . Ted Downing, from Surrey, isn’t it?”
“Y. . . Yes, sir. Ted Downing. I’ve been helping out on level one.” The boy smiled wanly, thankful the professor knew him.
“I know that. You found all those coins. That was good work, have I told you that Ted? You’re a good man and I need you to be brave now. Now, can you tell me what happened out there?” Ralston queried again.
“We . . . we were just out for a walk. Getting to know one another . . . you see? All excited about the find. Theorizing. I thought maybe . . . maybe . . . she . . . Sally . . . Oh my God!” Ted tried valiantly to keep his British stoicism together but he failed at the mention of the girl’s name. He began sobbing and moaning. They forced him to concentrate on the coffee, bringing him back to the world.
“Sorry . . . sorry . . . I thought we’d uhm, get together, you know? I liked her, I think she liked me. Just walking and talking that’s all, near the pit. She . . . she was laughing at something I said. Then I got scared, for no reason really. It was like a sudden thing, a punch in the gut, you know? I turned around and . . . some sort of animal! It was some sort of huge dog or maybe a wolf, but not . . . well sort of normal, y’see? It leapt from the fog, this huge beast, knocking me over. I thought, what the hell is this? Y’know? What in bloody hell is this!? Then it was on her, except it wasn’t a dog at all, it was a man, a big man with white skin. He had her lifted up in the air quick as anything! I screamed then for him to let her go. Then . . . then he . . . he just tore her apart . . . Oh my Lord in heaven! I swear to you! It was like a nightmare! I thought I was dreaming. He just tore her up and . . . and he . . .” the boy was starting to go into shock again.
“He what, what did the man do?” Louise asked quietly, rubbing the boy’s hands vigorously. He seemed to respond well to Louise’s voice and touch, soft but commanding.
“He drank her blood . . . from her neck! Like he was guzzling tea from a thermos! Then I began to come apart . . . I was screaming and screaming! The last I remember is the big dog, big black thing running off. Oh my God . . . it’s unbelievable, no one will believe that, I don’t even believe it! They’ll blame me . . . I’ll go to jail!!” The young man began to get hysterical. Ralston grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him back to reality.
“No one blames you, do you hear, Ted? No one blames you! What happened couldn’t have been done by a man, you’ve no reason to worry. It was some animal, you went into shock, that’s all. A rabid animal, a big dog you said. You went into shock and your mind played a trick in the fog, that’s all. It wasn’t your fault. We’ll all stick by you on that. Right?” Ralston said, turning to the others. They all nodded and muttered assurances.
Ted Downing looked around seeing friendly faces, and like some shell-shocked WW I veteran he began nodding.
“That’s right, a big dog, maybe a wolf, obviously mad! That’s right. Do you think? I . . . I’ll be fine! Oh my God, poor, poor Sally! I should have done something! But, it was like I was paralyzed!” He started sobbing again. Ralston knew what the boy was feeling. He dug out some Valium from his kit bag, which he had the sense to grab from his tent, and handed them to one of the female students.
“Dora, right? Yes, you give him these, put him to bed, watch over him. You others, get some sleep. We’ve already sent for help. Louise?”
“Right, professor, I’m on it now.” She said and went to make the necessary calls. The others began filing out and took Ted Downing with them, giving what comfort they could. One student stayed behind, he was a big man and he looked angry.
“Look, professor, I’m not going to go against you on this, it’s been a bad shock for all of us . . . but really, a dog? A dog doesn’t tear off a person’s head and impale it on a stick! The others didn’t see it, but I did. I nearly ran into it in the dark when we were searching for Ted and Sally. Sally Bosdon, that was her name, fine girl, from London. We all liked her.
“No sir, there’s a murderer, a human murderer, somewhere in or near the camp. I’ve got a pistol and there’s a couple of stout lads I can depend on. You don’t mind if we stand guard for awhile? I don’t want this to happen again.” The young man said.
“All right, let’s see, you’re John . . . uhm, Trumbull, right?” Ralston asked.
“That’s right. If I might say, it’s been a pleasure working with you, sir, up until now that is. I feel I need to do something positive to help.”
“I’d rather you didn’t play the hero right now, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop you from the look on your face. So you do what you think is best. But the authorities will be here soon. It’s nearly dawn now. Lightening up. I’m sure you’ll be safe, but go in pairs. Just make sure they don’t see any guns, or we’ll have more explaining to do. And one more thing, John . . .” Ralston said.
“You ever use that pistol?” Ralston asked.
“Two years in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, medals for shooting, sir.” The man said seriously.
“Nevertheless, take care, John.”
“Right!” The young man said. He looked like he might almost snap a salute, then thought better of it. He let himself out of the tent.
Ralston did not even try to go back to sleep. Instead he poured himself some coffee and cleared his desk; he grimaced slightly as he saw the book that had been left there. The thing looked old and worn. It was bound in various leather cording and straps. The leather of the cover itself was old and cracked in many places. Something didn’t look right about it. It looked like thin pig skin, but the pores were smaller and grouped in a familiar way. He realized with disgust that the leather was human skin. Ralston didn’t want to touch it. He shoved it to one side with the back of his hand to reveal the face of Vlad the Impaler on the cover of Florescu’s Dracula: Prince of Many Faces, it looked suddenly very familiar. He shuddered.
What would he tell Louise, what would he tell the police and government officials? No. That no longer mattered. What mattered was to break camp and send these people packing for their own safety. No one would remain even one more night. A deep sense of shame came over him. He felt his obsession with this maniac Draculya had somehow brought him forth. Yet how can the dead come forth from five hundred year old tombs? How can they change shapes and slaughter innocents in the night? It was a scientific impossibility. He would have entertained the idea that he had gone mad and was seeing things save for the facts of the book, and ted Downing having watched that girl Sally pulled apart like a cooked chicken!
It occurred to Ralston that from this day forward, he was no longer a scientist, because he had just experienced something beyond the scientific realm and well beyond his or anyone’s scientific understanding; but he would have to deal with it in as scientific a manner as he could muster. He grabbed the book which the evil thing had left and he hefted it. He was no longer an archaeologist; he was a hunter, which is what all archaeologists and anthropologists were in reality. They stalked the past and captured it to show the public like old time Great White Hunters caught gorillas and lions. A hunter must understand his prey, and the patterns of its habits, its preferences, its environs and territories and its methods of stalking and killing. The Prince had left his spoor in the form of a book. In that book must be the secret of how to defend oneself from him, and perhaps, how to kill him.
At dawn the camp was inundated by police; searching the grass for foot prints, shreds of cloth, anything vaguely resembling a clue. A series of large animal prints were discovered. One older policeman claimed it was the print of a wolf which he, being from a shepherd’s family, was well acquainted with. However he kept arguing in Romanian with his captain that no wolf had ever savaged a human being in such a way. His captain dismissed him as an old fart, it was too big to be a wolf, it had to be a mastiff or a Great Dane. They exchanged a short burst of insults and parted, still friends.
Later in the day, when things began to calm down, a local priest said a blessing over the open mass grave the floods had uncovered and sprinkled holy water over the site as the camp dozers began to re-inter the bodies and bury the hellish spot, but not until it was well documented by both camp and police photographers. The police wanted the student’s photos; the students would not give up their cameras. There were a few harsh words and a minor altercation until Professor Ralston assured the police captain the film would be kept under lock and key. He forced the students to give him all their film. He showed the documents which said that all photographs taken were to remain the property of the university. The captain acquiesced; then thought better of it and grabbed the bag of film from Ralston’s hands. He tossed the bag into his police car. He would not listen to Ralston’s pleas. Ralston realized he was helpless to do anything. The officer however did not know about Ralston’s stash of photos from the day before. The evidence was enough to prove his story.
The students were questioned. Downing stood by his story of the wolf as did the others. Sally’s body was taken away for shipment back home. Ralston was handed papers by the police informing him, as he expected, that his expedition was at a close. He began the task of turning over his finds to the government bureaucrats who arrived around noon. The situation was a bit tense and formal but not unfriendly. Apologies were made. By four-o-clock the camps were being struck. No word of the discoveries or the murder would ever reach the Romanian press. However by the next day the English and American press would pick it up and have interviews with many of the students.
Ralston and Johnston were informed the Romanians that the government would not seek to investigate the matter further since the situation looked like an animal attack and they were given permission to continue their studies at the University of Bucharest; although, in the end as Ralston had feared, the whole site was to be closed until further notice.
Before the police had finished packing up their gear, the older officer who was the son of a shepherd and knew wolves came up to Peter and Louise.
“A wolf, that is what killed her. A wolf, my captain says. That’s why I did no tell him, it was a man that run like the wolf. Yes?” he smiled wanly. Yet his demeanor was grave.
“Speak no word of it. Say nothing. Only get away from this place. This spot always was made evil, because of the Impaler. My family always has known this. So, no one live here forever more. Now something come awake. Now something which is wampyr, eh? Noseferatu? It kill the girl. Officially we no longer believe. You are scientists, you no believe. Still, someone is dead and very badly this thing is done. Whether you believe or not, go; go far, far away and maybe this thing no bother you and we will take care of this thing, this problem, Da? Good. Thank you. As you say, Have a nice day!” The police officer smiled briefly and turned to leave.
“I believe.” Ralston said low.
“Vhat? You believe vhat?” The officer turned back towards him.
“I believe. That is all I will say for now. Give me your card though. I might need to contact you later this week.” Ralston said. The officer gave him his card.
“Get far from this place before the falling of night, please. This is my advice.” he said. Then he made some sort of odd sign and spat behind himself three times. He walked towards his car.
In the late afternoon a last camp dinner was held. Goodbyes were said and the students left for other venues. Ralston promised he would keep in touch with all of them. He also promised meetings and lectures in London later in the year. But in reality he had no idea of what to do next. Or even if he would be alive to give any lectures.
By evening there was no one left at the site but Peter and Louise. The two loaded up the professor’s old four wheel drive Jeep and headed for the nearest town. They drove on in silence until they arrived at a small public house in Vestra, a small farming community. Ralston invited Louise to join him in a much needed drink. Inside the tavern she began to try and make conversation.
“Hell of a mess, eh, Peter? A shame too . . . about the girl I mean.”
“Yes, a shame.” Ralston said, noncommittal.
“You think the boy, Ted will be all right?” Louise prodded.
“Oh, I’m sure he will. This is the 1990's after all, he’ll have therapy, Elevil and Prozac and by next year he’ll have comfortably forgotten everything except there was an animal attack.” Ralston said, sipping his beer.
“Meaning?” Louise said.
“Meaning that no one believes in the supernatural anymore, it’s all movie stuff to the kids. I mean vampires and all that.” He said, staring out into space.
“Meaning vampires and all that!? What on God’s green earth are you talking about? You told that police man you believed. Believed in what?” She asked angrily.
“I believe in this . . .” He had been wearing an ascot under his camp shirt which covered his neck. He pulled it down. There were livid purple marks in the perfect impression of a large hand around his throat. Near the finger tips were the pin prick imprints of long nails.
“Jeezus, Peter! You look as though you’ve been throttled!” She said, examining the marks.
“You should get attention for that. Who did that to you?”
“They’re just bruises, they’ll heal, or maybe they won’t. Try to understand me Louise, you’re the only friend I’ve got right now. You heard what the police officer told us. It was a wolf, but not a wolf; it was a man who ran like a wolf. The point is he was with me . . . the murderer I mean.” Ralston said, swigging down another cold draft of beer.
“You don’t say so?! Look Peter. . . I’m a bit puzzled.”
“I don’t doubt it. Anyway, you know how I was expounding on seeking the truth about Dracula?” He asked, finally making eye contact with his associate.
“I know who the murderer is.”
“So who is the murderer? Was he one of us? Was it the boy?” Louise begged.
“No. It wasn’t even a man, but he was a man once. Not anymore. Look, I’m not trying to hide anything. You see these marks on my neck, they’re real. So are the bruises on my ribs. So is the murderer. It’s just I need you to believe me when I reveal who and what he is. It’ll be a leap of faith for you. You will probably think I’m nuts. That’s all right, I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Let me tell you what happened and you be the judge; if you don’t want to be with me afterwards then that’s O.K. too. I just need to tell someone.” He said, draining off his beer and ordering two more.
When the next round appeared he began to tell Louise his story. He had not forgotten one iota of it and he knew all too well it had been no dream. It was all still vivid in his mind, though he wanted so badly to forget.
When he finished his story he tapped the side of his beer stein to some unheard melody, waiting for his friend to give her answer.
“Good Lord. Good Lord! If it wasn’t for the fact that I saw that poor girl’s body, well I would have said you were daft. However logic applies here, certainly. We’re dealing with something beyond our ken. Whether or not this creature is truly a vampire and more importantly, whether or not he is your Dracula, is really beside the point for now. Whatever it is, it isn’t fully human, it’s something else, something science will absolutely refuse to believe; which means if we pursue this, we’re on our own, Peter.”
“And so, I suppose we should find a comfortable spot as far from his territory as we can get, and read this journal the thing gave you. I’d like to see it, just to have a little more evidence. I think we need to transcribe it to tape as well. Damn me! I would almost believe you made this up as a damnable hoax if I hadn’t seen the horrors with my own eyes. I saw the girl’s head, and worse the final look in her eyes! I saw the wolf paw prints, and the shoe prints which came right after them. I heard the boy’s story and saw what that monster did. But hell, Peter, your friend Dracula,”
“He’s not my friend, he’s a killer!” Ralston said angrily.
“Sorry . . . this thing calling itself Dracula is right. If we publish this journal of his everyone will think it’s a hoax linked to the digs, just a publicity stunt to gain the university and ourselves some notoriety because we failed to make a profitable dig. The blasted police won’t help. We’ve got photographs but someone will simply accuse us of doctoring them.
“Now I’m involved I have to say this, my career and yours will both be ruined if we publish. If we do publish the university will lose face as well. That is if we try to publish the damned thing as scientific truth. Hell, it may not even be publishable or even translatable.”
“I thumbed through it, it’s mostly in English. Very erudite English.”
“Still if it’s published as a fiction no one will ever take it seriously and if we publish it under our scientific auspices we’ll be totally destroyed in our profession. But if we don’t publish I believe this freakish thing will attempt to kill us. It’s as you Yanks say, 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.” She concluded.
“As you say, damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Sorry you’ve been dragged into this, Louise. I could simply publish it myself and take the flak. Or simply not publish it and hope to escape back to the States. I don’t know what Vlad’s range is or what his powers are.” Peter said as he swigged down the rest of his beer.
“This thing really knows how to wield evil doesn’t he?” Louise spoke softly, as if to herself. “Nothing it touches is uncorrupted. That’s his way, isn’t it? His modus operandi? He destroys everything around him. This is no well dressed European count bending over some busty woman as if he were going to kiss her. He was a mass murderer and an insane raver in life, and in death he’s a thousand times more powerful!” Louise said.
“Then we certainly can’t do as he said. We can’t publish it. Not as scientists. We can’t involve the university. Yet if we don’t, I have a suspicion that we will be worse off by far than that girl.” Ralston said. “He may be here right now, gloating, waiting for our decision. He seemed to have known everything we did and spoke about in my tent!
“What he did to me, to my mind and body was wholly outside the realm of anyone’s experience. He could drive us mad, murder our families and friends, and destroy everything we cherish. Yet there is one thing we might be able to do. . .” The professor took another swig of beer.
“What’s that?” Louise asked. Peter drew her close and whispered in her ear.
“I could try to destroy him first. I’d have to turn the tables on him somehow. That’s why I want to read this awful book he gave me. I think it might hold a key to how to rid the world of him for good and all. I have to hunt him down and destroy him. Yet I cannot
let on that those are my intentions. I have to fool him into thinking I will do as he says. Between now and the time I find him I will be totally vulnerable. He could use me against you or vice versa. I will have to protect myself as best I can. My best defense is to thoroughly study the texts he left me.”
“Look, Peter, you are not alone in this. I will not allow you to do this on your own. I am your friend. . . You said He’d kill all of your friends and family. I wouldn’t be spared, So It’s my fight as well. Louise said closely into Peter’s ear. It thrilled her to be this close and conspiratorial with him. Peter whispered back.
“You’re right. But I didn’t want to drag you into this. It’s just that I am so scared right now. . . I think we might be able to outwit him. But it will be two modern brains against one that has been a successful predator for five hundred years! We have to understand these motives of his. The book he gave me may give us the clue.” Peter then leaned back and simply spoke in a low tone.
“Frankly, in acting out his eternal habits of murder on a massive scale, I believe he is also looking for a worthy opponent or group of opponents which will give him access to rule over others. He mentioned both Hitler and Stalin as if he knew them personally! I believe he did. I believe he may be the actual seed from which such despotic evil grows. The books say Ivan the Terrible took actual lessons from Vlad Draculya’s life history. If Dracula was really existent then, even after his purported death, he may have even been in league with Ivan somehow. Vlad mentioned “the Anti-Christ” as if he himself were the one prophesied in the Bible. His megalomania knows no bounds. He lives to rule and corrupt. But because of what he is, how he needs to survive, he most likely does this from behind the scenes. Do you know that Hitler used to whisper about seeing a “dark shadowy figure, a man,” in his room at night, who continually prodded him to do terrible things? What if Dracula was right there? What if he turns simple, even well meaning people into monsters, just like the novel tells us? Look what happened to Jonathan Harker, to his wife, to Lucy Westenra and to poor Renfield. The character Draculya turned them against one another, made slaves of them. This is what he did in life. And as you say, now he is a thousand times more powerful and cunning. He didn’t die in his castle. He went to ground. And each time he is awakened his plans become bolder, more awesomely evil. I think he feeds on the excitement of it.” Peter said, waving over the waiter and ordering two more drinks. Louise declined and asked for a soda water.
“Somehow, on some unconscious level, he needs us.” Peter continued. “Think of it in this way, he’s dead. He is a discorporate entity, and don’t ask me what that means! But he is dead. He just thinks he is alive because the fear and destruction make him feel alive. Just like people emotionally dead inside, sometimes turn to destructive acts, degenerate sexuality or violence to feel alive, to feel a purpose. Whatever horrors this man experienced in life, he took with him to his grave and this helped reanimate him. What we have here is a ghost, a poltergeist if you will, but stronger, more powerful, whose will is so strong he was actually able to leave some information and history of himself in this plane! Just as some ghosts have done to a lesser extent. I’ve read of poltergeists who left written messages. Draculya is of that type, I think. He has stalked the earth causing terror, death and ruin for five hundred years. Some part of him may want to be stopped. He feels he is beyond the judgment of God and man. He may be. So I believe he is looking for a worthy adversary as he did with Van Helsing in the book! He is dead inside. He’s bored to death. I saw it in him! He is an egotist. He wants us to believe in him, to make him somebody in the world again; because in essence he is dead and forgotten. Sure, he pretends that publishing his journals will help aid him in his campaign to remain a “pasteboard character.” But I saw how he looked at those books about him. I believe he may think that finally, his time has come and the world will bend to his will, after it understands him fully. Put it this way. He has a love-hate relationship with the world. It feeds him, keeps him alive to himself. But he also wants to destroy it, because he can’t destroy himself. He can’t die, so he kills to feel and feed off the death of others.” Peter said.
He paused briefly as the beer and soda water arrived. He was looser than Louise had ever seen him. He seemed different in other ways as well. She thought he was actually warming to the idea of trying to destroy this creature. She was right. This Peter was no longer a scientist. Like Abraham Van Helsing in the Stoker novel, he was on a mission. Pure science had crossed the line into occultism and dark mysteries. Evidently Peter Ralston had trained his mind in many of these areas but held himself out to be ever the pure scientist and skeptic. Now skepticism wouldn’t help him. Science was powerless. Peter Ralston had experienced a vast sea-change the evening before. Louise hoped it would not change him so much that her love for him could not keep up.
Peter continued.”As far as killing him, we may fail miserably. But we are alive, it’s our moral duty to try to destroy this thing, exorcize it, eliminate it somehow from this plane. He knows it. This is a battle between good and evil, life and death. If we lose, he will consider himself our conqueror; his nature will propel him on to acts too hideous to contemplate. All I can say is, if he wins, we won’t be here to see it or care anymore. If we do what he asks we will become his servants and from what I told you. . .”
“Please! Peter, you’ve convinced me! God in heaven help us but you are right! We’ve got to fight him and we will have to do it alone, to drag any other person into this would be a grievous sin. I agree, he’s egotistical enough and self destructive enough that the text he gave us might contain clues to how to fight him. I still say however we need to read this text through and we need to transcribe it and get copies out to the university. So others might be able to fight him if we can’t. I don’t believe the manuscript will be in our hands long if he finds out what we’re up to. From what you’ve told me he seemed to know everything that went on in our camp. He must have visited it several times. Now he may have some sort of mental link to you so that he can follow you. So, if he doesn’t come and kill us this very night, we will be lucky. What we need to do is drive to Budapest tonight and catch a flight to Paris. I know of a little inn we can stay at outside the city. He couldn’t possibly follow us that far. He needs human help. He must have human servants to move him. He has to plan these things in advance as he is doing right now. So I think we are O.K. for the present. Even if he has the powers they say vampires have, it should take him several days to locate us. By then we’ll have an understanding of him and have formulated some better plan.
“As for me, I am with you in this one hundred and ten percent. I couldn’t let someone I cared for face this alone. And as you said, he already has me in his sights.” Louise said. “Anyway, Peter, old bean, here’s to the truth. You asked for it, you got it!” She said, raising her glass.
“To the truth.” Ralston said, clinking his stein against Louise’s. Around them was the clank and clatter of a well attended tavern. It seemed warm and comforting. Yet at the center of Peter Ralston’s heart was a cold, unmoving glacier of fear. He didn’t know what He’d do if Louise was hurt. He suddenly began to realize that he had fallen for her. She was not his lover yet, but he wanted her to be, almost desperately. She was his best and only friend in his darkest hour and she was willing to put her life on the line and back him up. He had always cared for her. And now he saw how deep her concern and commitment to him really was. Yet she did not know, could not know the terror this nightmarish being Draculya could produce . . . the powers he possessed. He wanted to bolt from the table and leave her, keep her safe forever. But he was too afraid to do that. He needed someone now and he was ashamed of his own fear and lack of courage. Still, he had to put up a good front. What else could he do? They could both be slaughtered by morning, simply because he had told her the truth. He shuddered but she did not notice.
“I have to put a call in to that girl’s parents tonight Louise, and make arrangements to have her . . . remains, shipped back to the states tomorrow. We’ll get that done and be on our way. I have plenty of cash and the university’s Platinum VisaCard. So we shouldn’t have any financial worries. So, if we survive this night, we’ll make good our escape” as you Brits say.
“Or run like a big-assed bird!” As you yanks say!” Louise grinned.
For the first time in what seemed like ages Professor Ralston let out a bellowing laugh.
“You’ve got that right!” He laughed. “Run like a BIG ass-fucking bird!”
For a moment the customers of the small inn stopped their chatter and clinking of glasses looked at the two as if they were aliens. Then they too began laughing and making unmistakable signs which when translated would read; ”Crazy fucking Westerners.”
Peter got up to use the facilities. Then he put in a call Sally’s parents. That was a terrible experience. The phone call lasted nearly two hours. There were tears from both parties and accusations, threats of law suits, and finally healthy grief from the parents and Peter’s assurance that he would further explain the situation and help the family as best he could. Peter had that way with people, he could make friends with just about anyone, even people who wanted to hate him. It was his honesty and sincerity of course. He was a genuine caring human being, and he hurt when others hurt. And they could sense this in him. If they only knew what he was up against, the family might come and try to hunt this thing down themselves. They kept asking if the animal had been caught and killed. “Put down” they said. That was a good a word as any for it. This creature Vlad had to be put down, for the good of humanity. But Peter would not involve anyone else further. Afterwards he left a brief message with his boss, Professor Pudlevitcz at Miskatonic University telling him he would be calling him later with more information mentioning the girl’s murder only as “a tragic death”.
In the meantime, Louise used her cell phone to call for reservations at the airport in Budapest. After freshening up, the two got in the car and headed east into Hungary. They got safely to the international airport. A plane for France was leaving that very hour. They both slept fitfully on the plane, but soon enough had arrived in Paris. Peter rented another vehicle and they found their way to the “Paris Sensasional” Inn which was about three miles from the City of Light. It was a comfortable place, and both were happy to be alive and well away from Romania.
They had rented separate rooms, but decided quickly that they would share a room because neither wanted to be alone. And both wanted to fall sleep in each other’s arms. It all happened naturally and they slept comfortably through the night, there was no sense of being watched or the oppressive emotions Peter had earlier experienced. In the morning when they awoke, they made love. It happened very naturally and it refreshed their spirits and made them feel that together, they would be safe.
They ate a sparing breakfast compliments of the Inn and then set to the task of transcribing the huge journal. Louise went out and bought paper, pencils and cassette tapes for her personal recorder. And poor Peter fretted the whole time she was gone.
While Louise was gone shopping for supplies Peter recalled how he had first become interested in tales of vampires and had been lead to a study of ancient Transylvania. Having read Stoker’s famous book as a boy, he never could have believed that most of the tale had probably been true. Somehow a dead Transylvanian prince had indeed transported himself to England in the late 1800's. Stoker had possibly been involved in trying to drive the beast out. Trying to tell his tale made him into a brief star, but only as a writer of fiction. His other fiction fell far short of his Dracula novel. And now Peter understood, because who could have actually made up such a story? It made no logical sense, the characters were too well written, the places too well known, especially Romania, which Bram Stoker swore he had never visited. Evidently Stoker had changed some of the place names and scenes in order that no one else would find the lair of the beast Draculya. Prior to its publication the book had simply been titled “The Un-Dead.” Suddenly Stoker had it changed to Dracula. The antagonist was no ordinary nobleman or count but a dread prince who was well known in his own time as a blood-maniac, but who was absolutely unknown to Victorian British readers. Suddenly the vampire in his novel became the Lord of all vampires. No one knew why. But it sold the book; a name which had not been heard in the common language anywhere in Europe for over two hundred years. In the end, according to what the creature had told him, he had somehow returned to Ireland and finally settled the score with his erstwhile biographer. The journals would possibly tell even a stranger tale. Imagine, five hundred years of European history in one being’s mind? He was actually eager to read the work. So was Louise. When she arrived they held each other and kissed, but only briefly. Then they set to work.
It took three weeks to put onto tape the entire contents of the massive journal. At the end of each day’s recording session Louise went out personally to mail off the transcripts, photocopies and tapes to Professor Pudlevitcz in Massachusetts as well as to experts in Budapest, Bucharest, France and Austria. Peter felt he could trust his old mentor at the University. They had been long time friends, and Professor Pudlevitcz had a noted penchant for studies of the macabre and weird. Ralston felt his mentor would understand what was going on.
The entire journal was written in English except for a few ancient Romanian and French stanzas and quotes. Draculya had been an expert in languages in life and had become even more so in his present state. Apparently he had learned to read and write English for his campaign against that island, and knowing it would be the language of choice in coming centuries, he wrote in it as easily as his native Romanian. Perhaps he felt a need to compete with Bram Stoker on that level as well. Peter was impressed with the writing itself, the sweep and epic effect of it was undeniable. And it was horribly chilling as well.
Now the reader can become the judge of this work. It bears testimony to a strange, alternative world and beings which few have ever heard tell of. This is the transcript received by myself Professor David Telesfoe Pudlevitcz. And as of the present date of this introduction, nothing has been heard of from my friends, Louise Johnston and Peter Ralston since I last spoke to Ralston when he sent the final chapters. I pray God that they are safe.
What follows then is the transcription of the Journals of Vlad Bassarab Tsepes Draculya as it was read by Peter Ralston and recorded by Louise Johnston during that three week period.