When I last left you, it was stranded in Dracula’s castle – nighttime.
‘No hotel around, no internet, no mechanic. Only the large, looming shadow of the castle – and the shadow edging at the corner of your eyes….”
So let us continue:
You drag your feet as your parents, embarrassed, walk back into the castle. The receptionist smiles warmly – a little too fake for your taste – and she assures them that she can get a mechanic to come up from the village nearby by the morning. But you’d have to spend the night at the castle.
Your eyes wide as saucers, you tug on your mom’s hand to send a message. With a roll of the eyes, she pats your head gently, and assures you all will be well.
The shadows at the corners say another story.
You follow the receptionist down the old walls, hearing an echo of things past. You remember legends of Vlad Tepes, the real Dracula that inhabited the walls, and the trembling starts anew.
The receptionist brings you to a room. Large, oak doors open, to let you enter an old-fashioned chamber. Antique furniture decorates it – a large canopy bed, with two small nightstands; a rug the color of a bloody sun, dark hardwood floors underneath; a small closet, dressing with mirror and a stool; a smaller couch by the large windows overlooking the grounds.
The book draws your attention. On the left nightstand by the bed, it attracts your eye, and you freeze: it’s a Holy Bible.
The receptionist walks out, leaving you and your parents in the room. The smell is there again: musty, closed off. Your father opens the window – you have a mind to tell him not to, but your body, already overtired from the day’s events and emotions, pulls you to sleep. You join your mom on the large bed, while your father takes the couch.
As your eyes close, giving in, you see a shadow out of the corner of your eye and, you think, hear a whisper.
The hours go by, as you slumber away. Tick tock sounds the clock in the hallway. A noise wakes you up. You jump up in bed, gasping. Your parents are fast asleep, and the room is eerily quiet. You try to shake your mom awake, but she won’t budge – the steady breathing reassures you she is fine.
You slowly get out of bed, stepping around the rug, feet bare on the hardwood floor. You check on your father, and his soft snoring indicates he’s asleep, as well. No waking either of them up. Odd. They normally don’t take this long when you try at home.
Slightly sleepy, and curious despite your fear, you walk over to the door, and pull it open. A waft of air enters from the hall, and again, the musty smell. You walk out, leaving the door open behind you. There is only soft candlelight in the halls, decorated by artwork of a past long ago. Your feet take you in the direction to the right, where a large window overlooks the grounds, like the one in your room.
As you step closer, you notice the window is open. You glance out, at the quiet forest, the high moon, no clouds. A shiver runs down your spine, a foreboding sense you are in a place you shouldn’t be.
You glance behind, thinking you saw a shadow.
“Mom?” you whisper, voice a high pitch in your fear.
Then you gasp and whirl at another sound: a flutter of wings.
Right there, a few feet away, perched on the window sill of the bedroom window, is a bat, dark as night, staring back at you. You gasp at the intelligence shining through, and the shiver is punctuated by a tremor. You step back, and the bat flies closer, now perching on the window sill in front of you.
It tilts the tiny head, as though inspecting you. You stare back – frightened, yet curious, a child’s innocence – not realizing the danger.
Then, as though it had seen enough, the bat flies off in a flutter of wings. You step back to the window to look out, but cannot see it anymore. However, in the left periphery of the grounds, you see a shadow skulking off – it’s too large to be a bat, looking more like a human.
You realize your child’s eyes have seen something an adult would never comprehend – let alone believe. With a dejected sigh, you walk back into the room, and crawl in bed with your mom. As she hugs you closer, you look up to see if she’s awake – and notice the two puncture marks on her neck.
In the morning, you blink at the sun’s rays, and your father going about the room, tidying everything up. You’re about to open your mouth and disclose the entire night’s adventure… When you look at your mom, still sleeping, and notice there’s no marks on her neck.
The entire experience dissolves as a dream – but was it really one?
So there you have it, folks: the conclusion. Now, about whether this is real of fiction… I’ll tell, it’s a mix of both. I did visit the castle, and I did have some… experiences, let’s put it that way. It’s something I’ll never forget, a part of my childhood I carry with me. And that’s probably why the news of the sale hit me so hard.
Nowadays, the world is all about making money and turning a profit. Chances are, some rich person will buy the castle, and either turn it into a hotel, or “renovate” it and do… who knows what. Anything that will attract tourists and bring in cash.
I wish the castle could remain what it is: a heritage site, full of history, ghosts and untold stories. There for the new generation to explore, and connect with their roots.