Click here for Chapters 1 – 11
Before you scroll eagerly down to read the latest chapter of Count Harecula, let me propose an alternative 😉
Some of you might know that I´m a huge audiobook fan. I always listen to them when I´m painting or drawing or when my eyes are simply too tired to read after a long day. That´s why I have come up with the idea to “produce” my own audio version of My Slightly Different Count Dracula. (Let me assure you that by producing I simply mean dictating my story to my mobile 😉 )
So, if you´re interested and are not afraid of being confronted with a) a foreign accent, b) awful pronunciation mistakes or c) the cold I´m having the honor to tolerate at the moment, please feel free to listen to me reading this chapter. 🙂
Haven´t had enough yet? Then go on and listen to part 2!
As Count Harecula was sitting amongst the 12 other people attending the ASS-meeting (Anonymous (Blood-)Suckers) he couldn’t help wishing he was somewhere else entirely.
The only thing, or rather person who made this whole situation kind of bearable was his Lady – Lizzy he reminded himself to call her, not without feeling a tiny flutter of excitement in his stomach. She was sitting right beside him on one of those hideous orange plastic chairs.
He wasn’t sure why the seats had to be so uncomfortable. Maybe it had to do with an unspoken code of how best to make people feel bad that already felt like their life sucked – literally. Or maybe they were chosen because they were simply cheap (which in his mind was an even bigger crime).
The old woman he still held a grudge against for interrupting his conversation with Lizzy earlier, stood erect and silent, patiently waiting for everybody to fall silent too. Count Harecula noticed that nearly everyone held a full cup of coffee in his or her hands and he stared with regret at his empty one. He considered swiftly standing up and getting himself a refill but knew with certainty that the old woman wouldn’t approve of it right now. Under normal circumstances he couldn’t have cared less but as it was that old woman so far represented the only source of that mysteriously stimulating beverage to him and he really couldn’t risk loosing it, i.e. her. Not yet at least.
The only one who didn’t held a coffee mug in his hands was that annoyingly handsome guy sitting on Lizzy´s other side who kept nervously combing his bronze colored, tousled hair with his long pale fingers. Count Harecula would have happily sacrificed his coffee to pour it over this guy´s head if he´d still had it.
„Welcome to this week´s meeting of the Anonymous (Blood-)Suckers!“ boomed the old woman into the round, making little quoting gestures with her fingers as she said „Blood“.
„I am very pleased to see new faces here (here she cast a meaningful glance to Count Harecula and that stupid guy too) and I am sure you will find our little group a real heaven for troubled souls.“
Count Harecula doubted that but then he wasn’t a troubled soul, so what the heck? The only thing that really troubled him at the moment was how he could come up with a nonchalant way of asking Lizzy out for dinner afterwards, an especially difficult task since he assumed that she wouldn’t agree on his preferred source of nourishment, meaning the blood of tiny juicy rabbits. He wasn’t at all familiar with restaurants and worried about embarrassing himself by making the wrong choice. Maybe he could let her choose?
While Count Harecula was busy pondering over this question, he droned out what else the old woman had to say in terms of welcoming. Lost in his thoughts, he barely noticed that someone else took over after her and started complaining about how difficult it was for him and suckers in general to integrate themselves into the non-sucking society.
This went on and on and Count Harecula would have happily nodded off after half an hour if it weren’t for a sudden change of speakers.
The stupid guy next to Lizzy had abruptly stand up after the old woman had asked if anybody else wished to address the group, sending his chair nearly toppling over in his enthusiasm.
„Hi! My name is Edw …. Edmund“. He was clearly stating a false name but Count Harecula wondered why he had to chose such a cheesy one.
„Hi, Edmund!“ the group replied as one except for Count Harecula who knew of course nothing of ASS etiquette.
„Hi“ Edmund repeated and and added with a crooked grin Count Harecula just knew to be trained in front of the mirror for countless hours: „I am a Bloodsucker.“ The group responded with murmurs of approval and nodding heads to this statement.
Count Harecula couldn’t believe that he had to sit here and listen to that pathetic little prick. He looked around, searching for individuals who were just as appalled as he was but found to his astonishment only encouragingly smiling faces all around. If he hadn’t viewed it as extremely ungentlemanlike behavior, he would have thrown up immediately, and thus risking to stain his beautiful new brocade vest. Instead, after casting a quick glance at Lizzy who seemed fascinated by that scum, he hastily pasted a polite little smile on his features and hoped it would do the trick. (Also he didn´t really want to be confronted with Igor´s look of disappointment when presented with a bloodied vest. His butler had the scary ability to make Count Harecula feel sometimes guilty, though he never knew exactly what he could possibly be guilty of.)
And so this „Edmund“ kept whining about how wonderful and at the same time awful his life had become after he had met a certain „Stella“ a couple of weeks ago (another obvious fake name if he´d ever heard one). How difficult it was for him to control his feelings and his bloodlust in order not to harm his little precious girlfriend that seemed to be fabricated out of sugar and unable to walk around without stumbling over her own two feet every five meters.
Count Harecula really had a hard time not to interrupt this preposterous love story by shouting out loud: „Boooring!“.
Everybody else seemed to be enthralled by this account of undying love however and so he decided to simply give into the pleasure of imagining how he would rip off „Edmund´s“ head as soon as the meeting was over. (Of course he knew that he wouldn’t really do that but one was entitled to dream from time to time, wasn’t one?)
After half an hour of more senseless debate Count Harecula noticed with relief, that the group seemed to become a bit restless and the shuffling of feet was clearly audible now. He eyed the old woman from the corner of his eyes to check if she showed any signs of ending the meeting for this night as he was sure the decision depended entirely on her.
When she got up from her chair, he nearly led out a loud sigh of relief that his misery was finally at an end. He had used the time to come up with a line, that in his mind at least, sounded quite acceptable in order to invite his Lady to dinner for the following evening.
„I am very glad that so many of you came to the meeting tonight and as always invite you to our next one taking place in a week. And since one of our new friends had the courage to speak up this evening, I wanted to ask if anybody would like to volunteer for being his sponsor?“
Count Harecula was still digesting the fact that the old woman had called the stupid guy courageous, when Lizzy, who was sitting beside him, held up one of her beautiful hands.
„Excellent!“ said the old woman delighted. „Edmund, from now on you can rely on Lizzy if you feel in need of a friend. She will guide you in your efforts to abstain from your bloodlust. Do not hesitate to call her no matter the time. We are all familiar with your problems and will do anything in our power to help you overcome them. Let us pray now for strength and guidance before we will part.“
While the group started speaking in unison, Count Harecula tried feebly to overcome his shock. Lizzy was Edmund´s sponsor? What did that exactly mean? What had the old woman done? What had Lizzy done? Why did she put up her hand?
Count Harecula felt suddenly sick and just wanted to leave. He barely noticed the end of the prayer. Then he saw how Edmund and Lizzy stood together and began talking to each other. Count Harecula couldn’t move and at the same time wanted to run away as fast as he could.
He gathered all his will to stand up when a small withered hand landed on one of his shoulders.
„So, my dear“ said the old woman with a smile that Count Harecula found suddenly terrifying. „I hope you liked your first meeting? I´d actually hoped that you would find it in you to speak tonight but don´t worry, I know that some people need more time than others to open up. In the meantime I want you to know that as soon as you´re ready, there will also be a sponsor for you of course. Maybe I´ll do it myself, who knows?“
Count Harecula thanked her automatically for her kindness though he doubted that he would ever be an ASS.
Lizzy and Edmund were still talking to each other and Count Harecula wondered if he should say good bye or just leave. He doubted she would notice it anyway. Not with all that bronze hair blinding her effectively. He´d just decided to go without a word as „Edmund“ called him over.
„Hey! Lizzy just told me that this has also been your first meeting. What do you think?“ he asked, his gold colored eyes shining brightly.
Count Harecula simply stared at him and his perverse halo of hair.
„Harecula?“ asked Lizzy. „Are you alright?“
He altered his gaze and looked at Lizzy who´d stopped smiling and was now slightly frowning. This somehow brought him back to his senses.
„Yes, thank you, I am fine. I just remembered that I have an urgent appointment. I bid you good night then.“
„Oh“ said Lizzy, „I´d hoped you would stay a little and talk? I mean, I´m Edmund´s sponsor but I really wouldn’t mind, you know?“
„Me neither“ added Edmund with a cheerful grin.
„That´s very kind of you both, but I really have to go now.“ With that Count Harecula turned around and walked stiffly to the door.
„Will you join us next week too?“ Lizzy called after him but he feigned not to have heard her and left the church.
He didn’t intend to ever set a foot into this building again.
To be continued…