Castle Dracula, Transylvania, Four Months Earlier, January 1891:
The dungeon was dark and damp, illuminated only by candlelight from several sconces on each wall and a shaft of light shining through the cast iron bars on the window of the bolted door. The spider webs that hung from the ceiling glistened in the flickering light, casting weird shadows on the floor. A dozen ragged, young women were manacled by their wrists or ankles to iron rings lodged into the brick walls. The weeks of their insufferable durance had turned their initial agitation into melancholy torpor. Some were local townswomen; others merely unfortunate travelers waylaid as they had journeyed through the Carpathian Mountains. The tatterdemalions shivered and awaited their daily meal of gruel, as did the anxious rats scurrying across the floor. Scattered straw covered the prisoners’ excrement, but did little to mask its lingering miasma or discourage the buzzing flies from landing upon the human waste.
“It’s no use, Annabelle,” a forlorn girl said. “We’ll never escape. That madman and his insane friends will kill us, as he has the others.”
“Someone will rescue us, Antoinette,” her companion replied. “This horror cannot last forever.”
“They are not human. They are fiends from Hell. You’ve seen what they did to the other girls they kidnapped. They drink their blood and leave them to die, or worse, turn into creatures like themselves. They abduct innocent women and use them as food for their debauched parties.”
Annabelle arced her head, observing their bound cellmates. “Surely, someone will notice the rash of abductions and investigate.”
“But when, Annabelle? It might be too late for us, by then. The dungeon fills with new girls, but whenever the count hosts one of his soirees for his fellow fiends, our numbers are soon depleted. Who knows when we will be next to be chosen for their depraved gatherings?”
“When our family discovers we did not arrive at our destination as expected, they will realize our coach had been waylaid. Father will send out a search party. They might even be combing the Carpathian Mountains as we speak, and—”
The wooden dungeon door creaked open. A misshapen man entered the tenebrific chamber, pushing a cart containing chipped wooden bowls of gruel. He was charged with seeing the prisoners were well fed and cared for during their durance, until Dracula summoned them as refreshment for himself or his entourage of vampires living at the castle. The manservant had a slight hunchback, greasy hair, and warts dotting his face. He stopped, focusing his gaze on several flies sitting on a pile of excrement amid the stramineous floor. The rebarbative man stealthily approached the flies, and reached out with lightning fast reflexes, catching two between his gnarled fingers. “Dinnertime for you ladies, and dinnertime for Renfield as well.” He grinned and plopped the flies into his mouth. He smacked his lips and swallowed. Then, Renfield distributed the bowls of unappetizing gruel to the prisoners.
“What a disgusting man,” Antoinette said to Annabelle. “From the way he stinks, I doubt he’s ever bathed.”
Renfield overheard her and approached the two women. “Disgusting, am I? I’m not the one dressed in rags, flailing about in my own urine. You think you’re better than Renfield?” Antoinette flinched, as he ran his coarse finger down the captive woman’s soft cheek. “You’re a pretty bitch, I’ll give you that. You think you’re too good for me, don’t you? The women in the village think they’re too good for poor old Renfield, too. Until they end up here. Then, I can have any woman I choose. As long as your hearts are pumping blood, the master doesn’t care what happens to any of you.” He tugged the remnants of Antoinette’s dress from her, exposing her nude body. “If you’re nice to Renfield, maybe I’ll ask the master to let you become one of his vampires.”
“No!” Antoinette screamed. “Please, don’t!”
Renfield laughed, as he raped her. “Scream, if you wish. The master and his friends are asleep in their coffins and there is no one outside of this dungeon for miles who might hear your cries. I like fresh, virginal girls like you. As your reward, when we’re done, I’ll bring you some tasty spiders to snack on.”
He’s insane, Annabelle thought. She closed her eyes and tried to drown out the sound of her sister’s screams. She imagined they were back in the stagecoach from which they had been abducted, fast asleep, and that this was all merely a horrific nightmare.
The Vampires & Werewolves You Only Think You Know!
Fangs & Fur, Book One: Flashbacks