In a modern world, they had become mere myth and legend - but no longer. From deep in the Carpathian Mountains in the mysterious land of Transylvania in the small village of Bramstoke, the Prince of Darkness has declared war for ownership of the night. And one night in particular. All Hallows Eve. Calling together all the monsters and creatures of the world, Dracula seeks to instill fear and terror in the hearts of the human race once more. One by one, he sends his dark army throughout the
Six days before All Hallows Eve - 2000 A.D.
Transylvania is an ancient land. Steeped in myth and legend, it is still truly a mysterious country. Less modern than the world at large but still marked with modernism, it is a land that refuses to give up its past. It clings to yesterday like an old man reliving memories, so desperate to remain in a time gone by.
Horace Moodrum was such a man. His steps were less mobile than in days past and his gate slower and his back lower. But he was far from being an old man. Older, to be sure, but not old. Still capable to serve - and serve he did. Serving was all he did, and he did it well. His Master never had a cause to complain and Moodrum was - now, finally, at last - content with his lot in life. He was enjoying his declining years like an old man tired of memories.
He loved his adopted home in this small town of Bramstoke, tucked away in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania. He loved his daily chores of shopping and preparing, and he loved the daytime. Bright and vibrate, he loved making his way through the small village streets and greeting all the people he met along the way. Horace Moodrum was content - even if his life wasn't his own.
The bell over the bakery door rang out in its tiny voice announcing Moodrum as he entered inside. Doamna Buscan greeted him as he held the door for her to leave, her arms wrapped around two brown bags of groceries from previous shops. He tipped his hat and smiled. Everyone knew Domnule Moodrum in Bramstoke. He loved his people and he tired his best to protect them.
"Good evening, Horace!" called Emil Dancescu from behind the counter as he finished serving another customer. "A beautiful morning, is it not?"
"Yes, Emil, it is, indeed," chirped Moodrum. "I could smell your fresh baked from down the corner and just had to stop by here first today!"
Emil Dancescu laughed as always. He was a staple in this town. At sixty-two years of age, he and his father and grandfather held this same bakery for over 100 years. Now his two sons positioned themselves to carry on the family business, as they did all the heavy tasks in the shop.
"That would be your usual rye you smell, Horace. Fresh from the oven! And the Danish are fresh up, as well!" The old man paused to say goodbye to Doamna Kisslinger. "So what do you say ... one of each?" Horace smiled as a man might smile to a wife who knows him too well.
"I think today I will, Emil, yes!" Doamna Kisslinger nodded to Moodrum and he in turn tipped his hat. He made his way up to the counter full of morning delights and cooling loafs and groaned as he rested his hand nest to them.
"Ah ... still trying to get the old body warmed up this morning, Horace? Ah, well - we are getting older, my friend, you and I. It takes me longer every morning to get this old and tired body going ... and a baker's morning begins early enough!" Moodrum smiled in his gentle way.
"Yes, Emil, I'm afraid we are getting older. But there is a peacefulness in old age - a promise of a rest to come. Release, my friend! Release from the struggles of life!"
"Oh, how you talk," came Domnule Dancescu. "As if you are close to death! But we have many good years to go, Horace! Many good years! Lots of blessings to come in those years, too, such as grandchildren!" Then the old baker paused in thought. "Ah - but even for a gentleman bachelor as yourself, there are many good blessings to look forward to receiving!"
Moodrum kept his gentle smile as his eyes softened. "Death is a blessing, my friend," he replied. "Life is ... good, but so is death. It is nothing to fear. Indeed, it is a guest to welcome." Domnule Dancescu shook his head to ward off such thoughts.
"No death for me, Horace! Too much to live for - such as yourself! You are a rich man, living in that beautiful castle on the hill that you fully restored!" Then the baker leaned in and gave Moodrum a sly look.
"You are still a handsome man that many of my customers have commented about!" The baker straightened his stance and wrapped a loaf of hot rye bread. "You could marry tomorrow! There is still plenty of life in you, Horace! You may be too old to have children, but not too old to practice - ah, my friend?"
At that remark, both men laughed out loud heartily as the widow Zeklos walked into the shop. Both men collected themselves as Emil again gave Moodrum a sly look and a knowning wink.
"Good morning, Alina! And how are you this fine morning?"
"Oh, I am terrible, Emil! Simply doing terrible!" replied the burdened widow, but upon seeing Domnule Moodrum also in the shop, she snapped to attention and her eyes brightened. "But I am not one to complain, Emil, as you well know," she laughed. "We all have our aches and pains - nothing I can't handle!" The old baker winked again to Moodrum, who with a smirk on his face quickly took his bread and paid the sum due.
"Thank you, Emil. I will see you tomorrow perhaps."
"But, Horace - don't you want your Danish? Perhaps Doamna Zeklos would like one, as well! It's a beautiful morning for coffee and a fresh Danish out in the courtyard ... wouldn't you agree, Alina?" The old widow actually blushed through her weathered cheeks.
"Oh, yes, Emil! A find day for Danish and company!" Moodrum felt a blush himself.
"No Danish for me today, Emil! Perhaps tomorrow ... or not!" He could feel the widow's longing eyes upon him. "That is, I mean to say, no more Danish for me at all! Must watch my weight, you know! I'm too old for Danish!"
He squirmed past the widow, tipping his hat not once, not twice - but three times!
"Good day, Doamna Zeklos," he managed to say with very little eye contact, and as the old baker nearly choked on suppressed laughter, Horace Moodrum made his escape.
End Chapter 1