Count Down

The village has a vampire living in the castle that rests on the cliff that overlooks the valley, but no one has seen it, because it has depressive episodes.

Even now, as bats swirl about the parapets, it is inside, face down in the master bedroom, where it has been unable to convince itself to get up for 103 years.

“There’s probably not even anyone living in that village anymore. What would be the point of going down there.”

A timber creaks as the castle settles.

“Last time I went to the village they made fun of my accent, but MY ACCENT IS THEIR ACCENT, from only THREE generations ago! EVERYONE sounded like me!”

The fluttering of a bat wing outside.

“I just can’t. Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow.”

A real estate agent leads a rich couple through the castle.

“It’s going to take some cleaning up, sure, but I think you’ll find–”

And the three of them find the vampire, face down in bed. It doesn’t acknowledge their entrance.

“Huh. My grandfather told me this place had a vampire, but that was so long ago… I figured it would be gone by now.”

“Does it come with the castle?” asks the man, clutching a trifold pamphlet with the castle printed on its face.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” responds the agent.

“S’my castle,” comes a voice, muffled by the blankets it’s speaking directly into, the vampire unwilling to even turn its face towards the intruders.

They answered the knock at the door and found the vampire standing there, a gift-wrapped box in its pale hands. The wrapping was lightly scratched by the vampire’s long nails, which picked at the corners of the box nervously.

“Hello,” said the vampire. “Is Andolf around? It’s his birthday, and…”

The vampire moved the box up slightly in explanation, then let it sink again.

“Andolf?” said the man at the door. He looked to his wife. “Was ‘Andolf’ the name of the old man who lived here before us? ‘Andolf’?”

“I think maybe it was Andolf,” answered his wife, who looked over the vampire’s shoulder to see if any of the neighbors had noticed it standing on their porch.

“We bought this house 8 years ago,” continued the man, “after the previous owner passed away.”

“Ah,” said the vampire. A sad breath of acknowledgement. “Ah,” it said again, then let the box fall to the ground. “I’m late.”

The wife asked, “Today was Andolf’s birthday?” as the vampire slumped and abruptly sat down on their porch. The vampire rubbed its eyes and started to curl over, its head dropping to rest on its knees.

“I’ve been busy,” muttered the vampire, its lips pressed against the fabric covering its legs. “I’ve– there’s been a lot going on.”

“Okay,” said the man, slowly closing the door. “It happens,” he said just before the door clicked shut.

The vampire sat quietly on the porch for a long while. A dog ran down the dark street, intent on its own private errand. As the moon sunk behind the trees, the vampire muttered, mockingly, “‘Was Andolf the old man?’ Feh.”

It scratched at a paving stone at its feet.

“He was young.”