Vlad perseveres

    He dry-heaved into the sink for several minutes, feeling very sorry for himself, then peeked in the bag again. Possibly he was going about this in the wrong way.

    Donning an apron with a pink piggy on the front, left behind by a former housekeeper, he checked out the shelf of cookbooks. The previous inhabitant of the castle had been a gourmet. The Count recalled the rich taste of his blood and his stomach rumbled pathetically. Pity he couldn't bring the man back to life and order him to cook a nourishing meal. Shortsighted, he thought.

    He took down one of the books, blew the dust away and brushed off the cobwebs as several large and indignant spiders ran for their lives. The Count wasn't keen on spiders. He froze them with a glare of his red eyes and they dropped to the floor, dead. Ooops. Not very in keeping with his new humanitarian outlook. He looked around shiftily, in case any animal welfare activists happened to be about. You never knew. There'd been leaflets through the door before now.

    Beetroot soup. Hmmm. Well it was the right color at least, looked almost appetizing. He didn't have a bowl like that, or a ladle - was that important?

    The oven was also thick with cobwebs. A family of mice scurried in a panic when he opened the door. Quick as a flash he grabbed one and was just lifting to his mouth when he remembered. Oh dammmit all! He let the mouse go, very regretfully, and spent several minutes trying to light the oven before he remembered it was electric.

    What next? Pan on the heat. Add the stock and simmer slowly. Chop up the onions...Which are the onions? The brown things or the green things? Come to that which ones are the beetroots? And what in hell is parsley?

    Just then the doorbell intoned its deep, forbidding chime. Vlad, glad of the distraction, bustled to the door. It was Igor's night off. No one knew where he went on his nights off, but there was usually a thunderstorm involved.

    He opened the doors to find two plump women in peach and mauve respectively. They had large cameras, even larger cases, and huge pairs of glasses encrusted with sequins. One of them smiled kind of sheepishly. Yummy! he thought. No hang on, that's not me any more. I'm a good guy now. I love fluffy bunnies, kittens and all of that crap. He eyed them with polite interest and tried to ignore his growling stomach.

    "Hey ladies, how can I help?"

    "My sister Delilah and I are lost travelers," The fattest one said. "Aren't we such sillies! All the way from Piscataway, New Jersey, and we get lost in the very first dark and spooky forest we find!"

    "My fault," the not quite so fat one said cheerfully. "If I could only read a map. Do you know, I had it upside down! Well, I coulda died with the embarrassment. But then Berenice spotted this lovely authentic old castle right here, just the kinda thing we hoped to see. And we thought, maybe there's some nice, kind gentleman such as yourself, will put us up for the evening."

    "We've got pots of money," the fattest one informed him. "So we can pay, don't worry about that. Her husband's in the restaurant business."

    "Well isn't that a coincidence," Vlad grinned. "I don't suppose either of you two lovely ladies can cook?"










The End

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