‘Of course, no one really knows why he chose to base his main character on Vlad the Impaler’ – from a treatise on Successful Authors of the 19th Century, section on Bram Stoker
His army was destroyed and his war-horse had foundered at the base of the hill. His breath ragged in his chest, he ran desperately up more than a thousand steps, ignoring the macabre remains of the dead soldiers and prisoners staked out along the path leading to the high castle.
His chosen few were manning the gates and the castle walls, but they would not be enough to ward off his brother’s black guard – the army that had crushed his own dragons.
Exhausted and gasping with each breath, he stumbled up the last hundred steps. His brother’s guard was getting close. Arrows were falling all around him and he could hear their angry shouts close behind. Someone opened the gate and he stumbled through. The gate slammed behind him, but he knew it would only be a matter of minutes before it was broken through, or burned. There was no one left to defend and protect him.
“Vladimir!” a female voice cried out. His wife raced down the precarious steps as though she was running on flat ground, mindless of the fact that she could fall and break a limb.
“Elsa!” he gasped, falling and picking himself up again. “We must flee! Radu will be here in moments.” A loud striking sound came from the gate to emphasize his words.
“Come, my love!” Elsa cried, half dragging him into the darkened main hall.
They were alone – the last of his loyal men gone to defend the failing gate and the walls. Elsa pressed herself against him, lust radiating through her body and igniting lust in his. Danger and the threat of painful death always filled her with need. The fact that they would both most likely die this next hour made it that much more exciting.
“Quickly, take me now!” she exclaimed, her voice low, but strained with passion.
The power of her will was, as usual, irresistible. He would die in a few minutes, probably impaled or cut into pieces while still alive like he had done to so many others. Elsa would surely die, too, but she intended, as was her nature, to get one last orgiastic thrill out of life before she did.
Vlad was amazed that, as exhausted as he was, he could still be aroused under these circumstances, even though he’d never been able to resist this siren of a wife he had. He entered her hot womb, still standing and pressing her against the wall with his hardness. As he did, he could hear her speaking to herself in the common Aramaic tongue of the ancient Romans.
Elsa was Hungarian, but she’d told him once that she was the sister of the blessed one, and was much older than anyone would believe. She was drawn to Vlad and the darkness in his mind even as he lay imprisoned, eventually convincing her foster brother Matthias to free him and offer her as a gift for Vlad to wed.
“Feed, my darling!” she cried out softly, offering her neck and throat.
It was a fetish they had. She would often permit him to feed from an impaled victim. Then, when he was covered in the victim’s blood, they would make rough and passionate love in front of the staked-out and dying. This, however, was the first time she ever offered her own blood for him to feed upon.
Vlad hesitated, and Elsa bit into his neck and shoulders with a savage ferocity, drawing fresh blood that he didn’t feel he could spare. Angrily, he bit into her neck in retaliation and sucked hot, red nectar from her throat. His tongue and mouth tingled and became alive with sensation. As he swallowed, he could feel his lungs and heart become stronger. His many cuts and bruises from the earlier battle faded away as if they had never existed. He felt invincible! He felt… young!
He could feel her orgasm as she gifted him with her life-blood, then he was coming, his cock jerking and spurting with more power than he had felt in many years.
“This is incredible!” Vlad exclaimed in amazement. “How is this possible?”
“It is a gift!” Elsa whispered hurriedly. “I carry the blood of the blessed one in my veins. We were siblings, he and I.”
“Now I can fight!” Vlad exclaimed heartily. “I can kill the Black Guards by the thousands with only my sword and your precious gift, the blood of the blessed one, will protect me!”
“No!” Elsa exclaimed. There was fear in her voice – fear for him! “You are no longer Prince Vladimir! Look into the mirror and you will see.”
She led him, their clothes half-falling off from their tumultuous, hurried tryst, to the great mirror in the dining hall. Even in the darkness, he could see the change.
“You are young again!” Elsa exclaimed. “Use your new life to escape and begin anew! None will recognize you now!”
“But what of you, my love?” Vlad asked, anxious that she would still be in danger if he deserted her.
“I will do what I must to give you time to escape!” she exclaimed fervently. “But you must go through the tunnel behind the fireplace and get as far from here as you can. Vladimir Tepes is dead! Long live whoever you will become, and perhaps in the centuries ahead, we shall meet again, my dearest love!”
“Centuries?” Vlad cried out in anguish. “Perhaps in heaven, or hell, but surely not on Earth?”
“Yes! Here! On Earth!” Elsa exclaimed, pushing him toward the smoldering fireplace. “That is my gift to you! A future! Now go!”
She kissed him fervently on the lips, then fled the room. The sounds of war were loud outside, the Turks having broke through the poorly defended gate.
After fifteen minutes of crawling through the damp, pitch black tunnel, he emerged on the hillside away from the thousand steps. In the bright moonlight, he could see the castle towering up behind him. Elsa was standing on the parapet, having led the invaders away from her husband’s escape tunnel. Her bare body glistened in the moonlight and the raging fires behind her.
He cried out in mortal terror as she dove gracefully off the tower and disappeared into the shadows beneath the magnificent structure. He strained to see where she had fallen, but the base of the castle was shrouded in darkness. As he stood there, tears streaming down his face, a large winged creature flew overhead. Was it his imagination, or did he really hear her laughing in her violent death?
Tommy woke up, his mind functioning at full capacity.
'Of course!' he suddenly realized. 'She DID fly! And Hethemtima flew, as well! The Praetor must have taken Elsa before she could arrange for us to reunite! Of the three vampires I knew, only the Lady Melinda didn’t seem to know how to fly!'
He thought back, his mind crossing centuries of memories.
'The darkness in your mind attracted me to you,' the Princess Elsa had told him. And the Lady Melinda was attracted to him when he joined Ferdinand’s army and eventually became the bloodthirsty Inquisitor-General.
'The letting of innocent blood attracts them to me,' he realized with glee, not remembering the centuries he’d spent hunting for Béla.
If he was going to renew his youth again in a few hundred years, he was going to have to find, or rather, lure, another vampire to him. The easiest way to do that was simply to start butchering people. However, the last two vampires, Melinda and Hethemtima, or rather, Béla, had each believed they were the last of their kind.
'That simply means there aren’t very many of them, and they don’t appear to socialize amongst themselves,' Tommy thought to himself. 'Probably some sort of territorial thing since Elsa didn’t follow me to Lady Melinda’s castle. If there is even one left, it may take quite a spectacle to get her attention…'
Over the next several weeks, he sat in his San Francisco apartment and watched TV. There were several reality programs that fascinated him – mostly the Miller programs about extreme sports and travel programs about the Rocky Mountain wildernesses.
There was a fascinating breed of people who insisted on going out in summer or winter and exploring whatever mountain they could drive to the base of. Many of these people, totally unprepared for living in the wild, got lost and died in the wilderness, having no idea how their ancestors had survived. As the weeks progressed and spring returned to the northern world, Tommy began to form a plan.
Almost any time of the year, but especially during the summer months, hundreds of people would hike, camp or go prospecting for gold in the Superstition Mountains. They were the most adventurous of the weak, lackluster creatures who now infested the planet, and an excess of missing people and bizarre deaths would be sure to draw ‘media’ attention. Perhaps it would also draw the attention of someone to replace Béla. He might even get a new mate out of this. Hopefully, she would be more tractable than the last one.
It infuriated him that this last vampire girl had been killed just after he’d found her. He had spent centuries hunting her down and her ability to blend was so natural that he had actually met her twice and not known what she was. It never occurred to him that he was responsible for creating the unlikely series of catastrophic events that led to her death. If mental ‘institutions’ were anything like those he had created when he was ‘Tomas’ rather than ‘Tommy’, then placing this Blacker fellow in one for killing what could be his last hope for immortality was right and proper punishment.
With a tenacious plan in mind, he walked out of his hotel room and disappeared. A week later, he was in Palm Springs, driving his last Good Samaritan’s car. After leaving it at a used car lot to be altered and sold, he checked in to a rather unassuming older hotel in town to watch the stir he had created.
“Another victim of the Hitchhiking Butcher was found at the bottom of a gorge early this morning by sightseers who stopped at a scenic overview to take pictures. The slain motorist’s name is being withheld pending family notification. This is the sixth victim in the last four days to be discovered.”
Tommy liked his room in the old hotel. It had satellite TV so he could watch all the major news feeds. His favorite was the seven a.m. newswatch with Kitty Craters. She had her prose down perfectly and could report on the cutest kitten being rescued from a tree, then go directly on to report his latest beheaded motorist without batting an eye.
In addition, she was so sincere and apologetic in her interviews as she sucked the deepest and most painful emotions out of the family members ‘left behind’, that the interviewees always forgave her her morbid intrusion into their grief. Tommy Torque truly admired her. She was a bloodsucker of the rarest sort. Even her televised victims loved her.
After a couple of days, Tommy offered his services as a janitor to the elderly couple who ran the hotel. In that fashion, he acquired singular access to the dank, large rooms where the furnace and air conditioner were located. It was also easy to talk the old couple into letting him keep his new freezer in the basement…
He stayed in Palm Springs for two weeks, going out at night to various parties and clubs, cheerfully helping pretty, young women vanish into the darkness. During that time, various body parts of the missing girls would turn up – an arm, a breast, then an entire torso. Every two or three days, some unlucky denizen of Palm Springs would make another grisly discovery. The news media loved it and he was certain that, with Kitty Craters' help, he had worldwide attention.
After two weeks, he rented a truck and had the full-size freezer he’d purchased when he’d arrived loaded into the back. He drove north into the desert toward the mountains, leaving a trail of body parts every few miles. When the truck ran out of gas, he abandoned it and continued on foot, leaving his defrosting freezer full of rotting body parts behind. If there were any vampires left, they would know where to look for him – the Superstition Mountains.