Saturday, 9 July 2011

Ooooooo! Tales from the crypt! Oooooooo!

The old castle stood on the edge of the mountain, overlooking a deep ravine. I arrived at the door in darkness, where I was greeted by the manservant, Piles.

'Welcome, sir,' he said. 'I'll show you to your quarters.'

'How many quarters are there?' I asked.

'Two,' replied the old man.

'Then that's a half. You're showing me to my half.'

'Very good sir,' he said as he picked up my bag and led the way along the corridor.

There was something unusual about his manner. It may have been the slow, laboured way he walked, or it may have been the way that he tried to diguise his baldness by strapping a side of beef to his head, but something wasn't quite right.

'Your half, sir,' he said as he opened the door.

It was a grand half, I had to give it to him; a grand, ornate fireplace loomed over the opposite wall, with a stuffed owl, its wings spread stared down from above as if to say, 'Look at these wings I've got here.'

'Dinner will be served in the great hall in an hour, my master will wait for you there,' said Piles. 'In the meantime, I shall leave you to relax, sir.'

'Thank you, Piles,' I said, taking about a pound note and stuffing it in his g-string.

As the old man servant shuffled back down the corridor, I took out my correspondence and looked at it again. I still wasn't sure about this.

A month previously I had received a telegram from a Count Pigboot, a wealthy aristocrat living in isolation in a castle deep within the Transylvanian mountains. He had heard of my reputation as an accountant for the rich and powerful of London and was requesting my services. Normally, I wouldn't undertake such a journey for a client, but the Count was offering such a bountiful wage that I couldn't afford not to.

I bid my darling Isabella goodbye and began the journey into Transylvania, the last leg of which was completed in a horse-drawn carriage. When I went to pay the driver at the end of the trip, I noticed that he had hooks for hands and rawl plugs for ears, and I knew from then that this was a dark and disturbing place.

After composing a letter to Isabella I went to the grand hall, where Count Pigboot was already sitting at the head of a large, oak table. He was a most frightful creature; with white hair that sprouted wildly from his temples and long bony hands that sprouted wildly from his sleeves.

'Ah, Mr Rathbone, welcome,' he said with a dastardly smile. 'I trust Piles made you feel comfortable.'

'Quite the opposite,' I said. 'I usually have to sit on a doughnut for weeks.' Always start with a joke.

I sat at the table and looked at Pigboot. He fixed me with a steely glare, his mouth still fixed into a rigid grin.

'Now Mr Rathbone, down to business,' he said. 'I want you to be the lifeblood of my organisation.'

'OK,' I said.

'Because previous employees didn't have enough bite,' he continued.

'OK,' I said.

'In fact, you might say they... sucked,' he said, grinning at me through his sharp teeth.

'Are you a vampire?' I asked.

'Yes,' he replied.

'I don't think I'll bother then,' I said.

'Really?' he replied. 'Why not?'

'Well, you seem like a nice man, but I'd be too busy worrying about whether you were going to bite me or not and you really wouldn't get my best work for that reason,' I explained.

'Fair enough,' he said sounding disappointed. 'Will you stay tonight, before you head back?'

'I'd better not,' I said. 'I'll just go to the Travelodge down the road.' And with that, I left and checked in at said Travelodge. The room was adequate but the staff could have been a bit more friendly. I was also quite disappointed with the breakfast selection, and felt it wasn't worth what I paid. Overall, I'd give it a 3/5.

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