Airbnb is offering a contest to see who gets to spend a night in Dracula's castle. In celebration of this event and the upcoming All Hallows' Eve, here is a story for your entertainment:
A Man's Fanged Friend
by James William Peercy
Bark. Bark. Bark.
The cover pulled further over his head. Refusing to open his eyes, Colby squeezed them tightly shut.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
The morning sun had already done its worst. The open blinds had caught its glow the moment it peeked above the horizon. A cool breeze fluttered the curtains through the half-open window.
He sluggishly remembered the night's event. Not only had his car broken down, but no one had picked him up along the road. Each time headlights had been directed his way they had either turned off or sped by.
Without the moon, it had been just short of liquid blackness. No water had fallen, but the clouds had continued to build. Short of a tow truck agreeing to haul the car back to his temporary residence, he would probably be fixing it in the rain.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
And Fido's persistent bark, that was driving him crazy. Okay, the name wasn't original. But could he help that his girlfriend had shown up with the animal and asked him to watch it for a day or two, three months ago? Yeah, he sure could pick them.
Maybe that's why she was his ex now? She never showed back up. Then again, he had received a note saying she really couldn't keep the dog any longer, and he was so sweet to volunteer. Any ordinary guy might have headed to the pound right there and then. But nope, when he looked down into those little brown eyes, he knew he had been taken by both of them.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
"Fido, please. Not yet." His eyes shot open as his mind cleared. Fido had followed him out of the car. Fido had spotted a shuffling in the bushes. Fido had run off.
Throwing the covers back, he grabbed his robe as he stood and flung it around him. The sunlight warmed his skin, whenever it cut through the clouds, only to vanish a moment later. With slippers on, he rushed out the bedroom door.
He had searched in vain for the dog. Fido's small size and quick reflexes gave Colby no chance at catching the creature in time. By the time he called out commands, the dog had already sped out of hearing. With only the car headlights to see by, the darkness swallowed the animal up.
Passing through the hallway into the living room, his eyes searched for the direction of the noise. It was tricky. The angles of the walls obscured a clear detection. But if he didn't know better, he could have sworn it was coming from the garage.
His hand turned the doorknob. The button lock clicked as it ejected an eighth of an inch. The barking continued but this time with a metallic ring.
Light filtered in from the open garage door. It highlighted a dual-stacked red tool box. That's right. He had left the garage door open just in case Fido should make it home. The metallic bark grew louder than before. But why in the heck was the dog in the toolbox?
Colby stepped closer. "Fido?"
The creature in the toolbox went into a frenzy of activity. It's barks and playful growls, its thumps against the inside of the metal box, told Colby the dog was ecstatic to be home. What didn't make sense was why the dog was in the box to begin with. The bottom doors were normally open, but somehow, they had been closed just enough to block the light.
Colby squatted down. "Fido, what are you doing in there?" He pulled open the bottom metal doors.
The dog shrieked back from the light that filled one side of the box. It whimpered, thrusting its body into the darkest corner. It began to shake.
"What's wrong with you?"
Colby reached forward. Fido received his pets with a warm assurance, but when his hands started to pull the dog forward. It snapped at his hands but did not bite him. It was then he saw the dogs extended fangs. He released the dog and pulled back to stare.
He had heard of this in stories. In Romania, the legend of vampires was rampant, not just because of the myths like Dracula, but also the actual history of Vlad the Impaler. He had come here to write a story on that history. Sometimes, there was more truth to legends than people spoke.
Fido whimpered. The higher the sun rose above the horizon, the less darkness the toolbox gave.
Fear, concern, and indecision hit him all at once. He had to do something, and it had to be fast. "Fido?"
The dog's whine felt like a plea.
He thrust the fear away. "Wait right here."
Colby closed the metal door and hurried into the house. He grabbed up a shirt he had left on the sofa and rushed back to the garage. Fido's tail thumped against the inside wall.
Opening the door carefully, Colby reached in and wrapped the shirt around the dog covering every place on his body. In anticipation, the dog barked. He lifted the creature from the toolbox and into the light of the garage.
Fido shook but did not whimper. Somehow, even through the shirt, it could tell the presence of the sunlight. Colby mentally noted down the reaction. Curiosity overcame his caution. This was an opportunity he could use to its fullest.
His thumb pushed the button lock as the inside door closed behind him. He went to every window, closed the blinds and pulled the curtains tight. Thinking back to the movies he had seen, he was sure candlelight would not hurt his pet. However, Colby had no candles, and he needed to see. The living room light had a dimmer. That would have to do. Setting the brightness to its lowest notch, he unwrapped his bundle and watched the dog's reaction.
Fido's head ducked as the shirt came completely off. Gradually, the little dog looked up at its master until it leaped into his lap and began to lick his face.
Thinking vampire, Colby shifted it further from his neck although tension did ease from him. "I've missed you too," Colby laughed. After a moment's petting, he picked it up and sat it on the sofa.
"But now, we need to run a few tests. Stay."
Fido wagged his tail enthusiastically. Colby headed to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. Ham would work. He picked out a clove of garlic and hid it in his hand. Pulling two saucers from a cupboard, Colby placed a slice of ham on each. Beneath one, he concealed the garlic as he carried the two saucers into the living room.
His eyes caught Fido's. The dog watched him intently. Lowering both plates to the floor, he moved away and sat in a chair to watch.
The dog placed both front paws to the front of the sofa and jumped. Its feet touched lightly with almost no sound at all. It sniffed the air as if in confusion, backing away from the plate that had the garlic under it. Each step took it further from the smell and closer to the saucer without the herb. It gobbled down the ham that had no garlic near it.
"Good," Colby nodded. "But I need more tests."
He spent the rest of the day running different scenarios. Fido loved the attention. A checklist of things formed. His pencil clicked against the top of the coffee table when he finally laid down his notepad. Colby read the details out loud.
"No sunlight, but electric lighting is fine. Fido can definitely smell garlic, but it must be close. Fido feels lighter than I remember. It is an odd fact, but I can't be certain that it is because of what happened or just because he stayed out overnight without supper. Appetite seems good though he appears to do it more like a habit than being hungry."
Fido whined. A cold breeze swirled into the living room from the short hall. Colby glanced at the wall clock. Where had the day gone? Twilight was passing as evening took full hold. The phone rang.
"Colby, I'd like to pick up my dog tonight."
Colby removed the phone from his ear and stared at it.
The female voice from the top sounded very tiny now. "Colby, are you there?"
His eyes darted to Fido while bringing the phone back to his ear. "Jess?"
His mind swirled. "Couldn't this wait until tomorrow at least?" What was he going to tell her?
Oops, your dog got lost, and now he's a vampire? He needed time to think.
"I'm heading to Latvia early tomorrow morning. It has to be tonight."
Colby swallowed. "Uh, maybe," he sighed, "maybe you could just leave him here till you get back. I certainly wouldn't mind."
Her voice exuded appreciation. "That's what I liked about you: such a giving spirit. But I'm sorry. I've played upon your good nature far too long. Is nine okay?"
Panic started at his toes and worked its way up. "9 p.m.?"
She laughed. "Certainly not a.m."
He cleared his throat. "Certainly."
"Thank you! You're such a sweetie!" The other end hung up.
"Not so sweet that you'd stick around, huh?" The handset slammed down. He focused on his breathing taking deep inhales, holding them, and slowly letting them out. "It's not that bad," he looked at Fido. Fido wagged his tail. "We can figure out a plan."
What was he saying? It wasn't like he could take a file and sand down the teeth. He blinked. Could he? No, what was he thinking? His eyes caught the dog's cheerful grin. What about pulling them? Maybe?
This was dumb. He didn't make the dog run into the woods. He didn't turn the dog into a vampire. She would just have to face the fangs. He meant facts. That's it. And since she hadn't seen him in three months, maybe she wouldn't notice the difference.
He turned toward the bedroom. Fido followed after him at a trot. With the sun completely down, there was no reason to close the blinds. The cold wind helped to calm him. He decided to leave the window open for the moment. After all, it had a screen.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Now who was it? Colby turned to Fido. "Stay."
The dog dropped its rear end and gazed up cheerfully. Its tongue hung out between the two long pointed teeth making it fold in the middle. Jess not noticing the difference was probably out of the question. He walked back to the living room.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Coming," Colby raised his voice. He peered out the side blinds but could not see who it was. With the press of a button, he brought the lights up full. Since it didn't bother Fido, there was no reason to keep them down. Making sure the security chain was in place, he cracked the door. "Who is it?"
"Colby?" Jess' brilliant smile flashed in his direction.
"Jess?" He threw a glance at the clock. It was nowhere close to nine. "But you said--"
Her voice bubbled with excitement. "I just couldn't wait. it is such a great opportunity, and I wanted to tell you about it first!"
His hand reached up and slide off the security chain. "You're talking about Latvia, right?"
Her eyes glowed brighter than before. She seemed to know the exact moment the chain was free. Even as he swung the door back to allow her entry, she did not step in through.
"Can I come in?"
Colby's brows furrowed. "Yes."
Almost too fast for him to see, she stepped across the threshold. "Thank you. I knew I could count on you."
His thoughts went to Fido. "Yeah, about that--"
She sat at one end of the sofa. Rather than take the center, he took the other end. She spoke so quickly. It was as if she had never heard his last statement. Her voice kicked out details of the planned trip: where she was going, how long it would take to get there, and the type of business she would set up. The details held his attention, but for some reason, he could not quite remember what they were even though they had just been spoken.
His eyes drew to hers. The sound of her voice soothed him. All at once he found himself nose to nose with those mesmerizing eyes.
"Colby," her eyes bore into his, "I want you to come with me."
He lurched back feeling disoriented. He had no idea how she had gotten so close. His back struck part of the sofa as his arm whipped out. A lamp tilted. Before he could react, it fell to the floor. Fido barked.
She pressed closer to him. "Colby, I need you. We were good together." Her long hair fell toward him as their lips met. They were tender and giving but--cold.
He fought for air as their embrace released. Her cheek rubbed against his as she whispered into his ear. "Don't you remember the night we met?"
A whimper came from the other room. He could hear Fido pawing at the floor. Something about it brought him back to reality.
"Jess," he tried to put some space between them, but her hold would not budge. "Jess, please. I am very happy for you, but--but isn't this a little fast?"
She purred in his ear. "I know what will change your mind." She nibbled his ear, pressing more tightly against him.
"Really? Jess?" Again he tried to shift away, but her grip was like steel. "Please, this isn't doing anything for me." It was a white lie, but he wasn't about to let her know that.
"Wait for it." Her tongue found its way to his neck.
"That's enough," he gasped trying to thrust her back. Her steel grip held him like shackles. Pinpricks touched the side of his neck.
Her voice cooed, "I can feel the beat of your heart. I hear the blood running through your veins. The first time must be slow to be enjoyed."
Colby panicked. What in the world was she doing? He grabbed for anything that might be a distraction. "Fido!"
A growl erupted behind the sofa as a brown fur ball bounded up behind him. Jess shrieked, leaping back. To Colby's surprise, she cleared the coffee table without a hitch. Fido landed on the sofa beside him. The dog's lips pulled back in a vicious grin as he bared his vampiric teeth.
Jess hissed at him. Before Colby's eyes, her fingernails grew. The beautiful smile changed into a frightful glare. "How dare you! He is not yours but mine!"
Fido remained at his post. As each second ticked by, his growl grew louder.
Jess hissed again. "Traitor! I'll be back!" With speed Colby had never seen before, she fled past the coffee table and out into the night. Fido leaped after, and the chase was on.
Colby rose quickly and closed the door. Bolt locks slammed into place. Security chains rattled. As the events with Jess sank in, his whole body shivered. His left hand rubbed the side of his head and down to his neck. Eyes wide, he raced into the bathroom.
As the restroom light flipped on, he searched from every angle. Two red indentations had been pressed into his neck. He used soap and water. He patted it dry with a towel. Had the skin been broken? If it had, how quickly did it heal up? He didn't feel any different. Had she bit him or was she playing with her food?
Just to be sure, he cleaned the area again looking for any tiny spots of blood. He had felt the teeth, but had she bitten down?
Distant barks came from his bedroom. He slipped out and peered cautiously into his sleeping quarters. The sounds came from the open window. Was a metal screen enough to keep a vampire out?
Stepping into the darkness of the room, the moon had begun to rise above the trees. An unreal landscape opened up before him as he shifted to the window and peered out.
Fido's bark was unmistakable. It came from the woods just beyond the house. Something raced away before it. He had no doubt what that was.
Exhausted, unnerved, and completely overwhelmed by the day’s events, he lay back on the bed and fell into a fitful sleep.
Colby stepped up to the counter. A cute receptionist with short dark hair gave him a pleasant smile. With research done and his story complete, it was time to go back to America.
He handed her two tickets. "Sir, you know your pet can fit under the seat. There is no need to buy a second ticket."
Colby glanced fondly at Fido. "He deserves his own."
I hope you liked the story! To check out the contest go to
Castle website: bran-castle.com