We can all recall certain moments in our favorite television shows. Something that excited us to our very core. We wanted nothing more than to share that moment with someone. Anyone. We wanted…
by Stephen S Benjamin (Steve Beny)
The year is 2020. The Count is sleeping in his coffin for the last 3 centuries. Right now not in his castle in Transylvania but in a basement of a New York mansion. HIs castle has been bought by a Chinese investor a couple of years ago and all antiques according to the Oriental millionaire ( which included the Teakwood coffin of Lord Dracul) has been shifted to his New York house to be sold in an auction after lockdown.
The house is in a posh locality in Manhattan and is well gated. But it is old , probably built just after WW1 with plumbing dating back almost a century. A call had gone to “Joe the plumber” a week ago to get a pipe leaking in the basement fixed, by the house keeper but it was only today that he found the time to come over as things were not at their best in New York. The coronavirus pandemic was at its peak in the city detroying lives and livelihood. People were in masks everywhere and social distancing was the norm. During these times Joe was finding it difficult to keep himself safe and employed simultaneously. Joe was one of those school dropouts who had never read fiction, forget any books by Bram Stroker. He was busy playing basketball in downtown NY as a child and then had to take up a job as a plumber as he finished teenage. It was not the star job he dreamt when he was a kid but then not everyoone gets to become an Astronaut. An abusive father and alcoholic mother didn’t really help dreams become reality.
He stood at the monstrous door of the mansion and rang the bell. After the tintinnabulation was a pause, followed by the door being opened by the old latin housekeeper Aida. ‘I am Joe the plumber” said Joe . “What took you so long ?” frowned Aida. “We have a sewage problem in the basement since weeks !” .Sensing that the old export from Mexico will go on mumbling Joe quickly got inside and asked for the basement entry. It was a flight of stairs down and dark, just like the horror movies, as well as wet and stinky. Apparently the housekeeper had no idea that the main valve could have been closed to prevent making matters worse and since her Master was rarely at home she had taken the liberty to just keep the problem ignored till help arrived. Joe pulled up his pants and entered the waterlogged basement. He started inspecting the pipes. Apparently some of them had eroded with age and had developed leaks at the joints. He needed to get up on a stool and see closely. But there were none there. He saw lots of antiques and a table with a coffin that could be just the right height. He pushed the table with the coffin below the pipeline and climbed on the coffin. The weeks of humidity had made moss grow all over the place and as Joe was trying to work on the leaks he slipped over the coffin on which he was standing and it tumbled down from the table with a bang causing its lid to open and threw a pale body from it. Joe gasped and shrieked in horror. But the housekeeper couldn’t hear him from the kitchen. Joe steadied himself and stood at a corner closely observing the content that had come out of the coffin. It was skinny, pale and not moving, but not quite dead. The body was well dressed with no signs of decay. The blue veins ran from its forehead down to the neck. It looked like a man in his sixties, in a suit which looked like a hallowen costume. The thud had shook him and he was…..breathing! Joe ran to the house to Aida and told her what he had seen. She didnt believe him and said “ All you people are always high! If you control your green you will see less and work more.” Joe held Aida’s hand and dragged her down to the basement to show what he had seen. There was no body next to the coffin now. Joe was astonished. He did take a little weed before coming but that never had such an effect on him. Of course he dreamt of beautiful angels sometimes but that was even without the hash. Aida gave him a weird look and started walking upstairs when her eyes fell on something hanging from the roof. It was the same body upside down but now its eyes were open and red, staring down at her. She shrieked and fainted instantly, her plump body rolling down the stairs into a lump. Joe stood there frozen. Slowly the body came down and straightened itself. He was atleast a feet taller than Joe, with sharp european features and looking dapper. He stared down at Joe and said “ I am Count Dracula. Where am I ? “ Apparently he had got used to waking up at different centuries and so bored with the characters he saw everytime that he was not really intersted in Joe. So he did not start with the phrase “ Good evening, Who are you?” which is considered basic etiquette, even for someone who has just woken up in a new world. “York, New York. You are in New York” mumbled Joe, pretty sure by now that he was not dreaming. “Hmm. I have been here before, many years ago. So what’s new?” said the Count appearing visibly bored. “Well, its the same city since I grew up. Just that people are down with a new flu! “ Ignoring what he said the Count told Joe to follow him if he wanted to remain alive and walked up and out of the mansion into the street,doggedly followed by Joe. It was getting dark outside. “You are going to be my accomplice for now till i get used to the new NY. The last time I visited it was in 1897. “ said the Count to Joe dropping a few gold nuggets in his palm.
Joe had never seen anyone like him and it was curiosity, the golden bribe and lack of any interest left now to fix the plumbing, that made him walk with him. Afterall it has been weeks that someone has spoken with him in person due to the social distancing norms. Also there was a big diamond pendant hanging from the tall man’s neck towards which Joe had taken a sudden liking. Afterall if this man has really been back from the dead he will definitely be a rich Aristrocrat with hidden treasures of last century. All he needed was to befriend him and win his trust, thought Joe schemingly. “ So, where are you from? “ asked Joe trying to strike a conversation. “Transylvania. Its in Europe, before you ask where” replied the Vampire. “So what brings you here?. “ “ I dont know , you tell me who brought me here. I hate New York. Its the people from this place who killed me last time.” grumped Dracula. “ I am a Vampire. I need human blood to survive. You as my assistant need to find me a prey soon, otherwise you wil be my first prey. Why cant i see anyone and why are you wearing that funny mask? “asked Dracula. “ Thats because we are going through a pandemic, Boss. “ replied Joe. “ Pandemic ! what pandemic. Is it the plague, again ?. Please No! And you call me Master, not Boss” shouted Dracul throwing a few more gold nuggets at him. “Its not plague, its coronavirus. “ said Joe doggedly collecting the nuggets that had fallen on the cobbled path.
“Corona? you mean the crown.” “ No, I mean the virus.” “ Hmm, So what does it do? Swellings , pain ?” “No Master. Fever, cough, breathlesness and sudden death” “ Sudden Death! thats too dangerous. How do I make sure I dont get it from you humans.” “ You need to stay away from them and wear a mask.” “ Stay away from humans. Then how do I suck blood from their necks ?” “ Well, this is not exactly the time to suck blood from them or even go on a dine-out date”. “ Then why did you wake me up now, you imbecile!” “It was an accident of sorts. Plus you never put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your coffin. “ “ Stop arguing and figure out a way to feed me.” “ I can order from McDonald’s” “Do they serve blood” “ No, but the burgers are good” smiled Joe. The Count hit his head on the wall. “I need human blood you moron!.” “ I can take you to the hospital and we will see what can be done about your cuisine at the Blood Bank.” Both of them booked an Uber which the Count found too lowly than a horse carriage and went to the NY Methodist Hospital. They went to the Blood Bank and stood at the counter. The count asked the big African American lady sitting at the counter “I need some blood. “ “ What for?” asked the lady without lifting her head. “ I need to drink it” said Dracula. Now the lady lifted her eyes from her glasses and stared at the Count. Now, for a European dead-white man who has never confronted a black lady bred up in NY city in the 21st century it can be called quite a first experience. But without going into the details of whatever transpired next, it pretty much made the Count and his newly employed assistant to leave the hospital premises as quickly as they came. “ What to do now” “ You need to find a living walking human being, Master” “ But how do I know that she or he does not have the corona virus. I dont want any new infections from you young generation. My body’s immunity is from the 19th century. I barely survived the plague and slept over the spanish flu. I cannot take any risks from this virus.” “ Hmm . thats correct. Apparently the virus has come from the bats to humans and that makes you even more vulnerable” “ Egads!! Is it so. I am not going close to any of you lesser mortals. “ There was silence for a moment. “ But then how am I going to drink blood. And soon it will be dawn. I haven’t had anything for centuries. “ frowned the Vampire. “Can you take animal blood? “ “No”. “Blood from dead body?” “No”. “Ketchup?” “No,No, No!” shouted Dracula. “Can’t I put you back in the coffin to sleep and you wake up again in the next century or decade atleast. 2020 is not exactly the year to be reborn” “That can be done but after I had atleast one blood meal.”
Joe started thinking about how to get the Count his first and last meal of the century. “He surely has no plans to wake up anytime sooner, the agony he has been through in this episode. Getting witch hunted by medieval villagers was probably better than dying of hunger. Heh” thought he. Suddenly a thunderstorm started and with the flash of lightning came an idea in Joe’s mind. Joe was a covid survivor who was now asymptomatic. He could donate some blood to Dracula’s fangs if he was ready to part with his diamond on his neck . Clearing his throat Joe told the idea to the Count to which the Count half heartedly agreed. Afterall that diamond was worth millions of dollars in today’s market. Dracula dug his fangs into his neck and had his fill. While Joe laid him to rest in his coffin after pocketing the diamond. He kept the coffin in his own house’s basement for the rest of his life , lest someone wakes him up again and he comes back for his diamond.
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#dracula #covid-19 #covid #coronavirus #short story #fiction
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