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Chapter 21: MORE TICKETS

The invitations were hand-delivered next day. Scrolling across a printed butcher’s apron were the words:


A Killer Time Will Be Had By All!

I guarantee it.

No need to RSVP.

Attendance is a course requirement.

Enclosed with each invitation was a train ticket – one-way – to Benton. Leaving tomorrow afternoon.

No way, thought Keith. That could not have been real. And yet … there it was in the Baker’s Hill Herald. Too much of a coincidence?

He thought back over the “game” they had played in St. Sebastian’s last night concerning dead, dismembered Mother Mildred. And reread the article in the paper reporting in vague detail that a grave had been robbed and the corpse “disarrayed.”

Notes on Dracula from TFM’s Journal

Abraham (Bram) Stoker - Irish – born 8 November, 1847.

A sickly child – weren’t they all? – he did not go to school until age seven. “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful in later years.”

While a student, he became interested in theatre, and as critic for the Dublin Evening Mail his reviews were better written and more respected than most; one favourable notice caught the eye of Henry Irving, who was appearing in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal. Irving asked to meet Stoker, and they became friends.

Later, Stoker worked for Irving (whom he worshipped) while director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, mixing with the rich and titled, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, while continuing to write in his spare time. Drawing on European folklore and the history of Vlad Tepes, a Romanian prince who impaled his victims and dined among the dying, Stoker started to weave a tale of the undead that would become a classic.

1890 – published first novel, The Snake’s Pass.

1897 – published Dracula, an epistolary novel. Original title: The Un-dead.

When Irving, who seemed perfect to play the count onstage, called the story “dreadful,” he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Having travelled widely, Stoker loved to explore ruined abbeys and the like, but had not been to eastern Europe where his vampire tale is mostly set (and would later be banned in communist Romania). His journalistic approach gave the story an air of credibility, no mean feat considering the subject matter.

Circa 1980 – original manuscript with numerous corrections found in a Pennsylvania barn. Believed to be authentic.

Has been the basis for many films, dramatic and comedic, and in the ’70s Hammer seemed to produce a new incarnation every six months; but most notable is pre-Universal and pre-Bela Lugosi (who became so identified with the count, he demanded to be buried in his trademark cape) – the early silent bootleg version, Nosferatu, starring Max Shreck, who portrayed the anti-hero not as a sinister leading man but a rat-faced creature (referenced by Ian McKellen in Pet Shop Boys’ “Heartbeat” video). Those were the days – long live, rat-faced freaks!

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