"Adopted"


Adopted
by Michelle B.

           It's been six years since I've come to live with wealthy European entrepreneur, Alexander Lucard. I guess I shouldn't say "come". Conscripted sounds more like it. Not that I don't like living with him. It's incredible. The man is rich beyond belief. I can get anything I could ever want. But I must confess, I didn't come here voluntarily. It happened six years ago, during summer vacation...
           I had just graduated from high school, although I didn't look it. I could have passed for a twelve year old. And from a distance, I looked like a boy. That's the way I like it. My parents had offered to send me to Europe for the summer. All by myself! I decided to take the train to visit a small country called Luxembourg. I went there for the sole purpose of going horseback riding. I had read that they give tours of the town on horseback. When I reached Luxembourg, I saw that it was almost thoroughly old fashioned. All except for one large business building that looked very modern. A sign on the road identified it as "Lucard Industries". I wandered around until I found a nice, cheap, little hotel that I could afford to spend the night at. I reached into my pocket to take out my wallet and froze. Standing before me was a short man with a dirty beard and an evil grin. In his hand was a small handgun. Pointed at my chest. That gun may have been small, but it still could have done some serious damage. I swallowed and looked around for help, but the sun had gone down and the streets were empty. I looked back at the mugger. With a cocky grin, he held out his hand to take my wallet.
           Suddenly, another hand appeared out of nowhere and grabbed his wrist. The mugger was abruptly picked up and hurled against a brick wall. I dropped my wallet in shock. My unseen rescuer walked up to the mugger and grabbed his collar, lifting him off his feet. The stranger's back was to me, so I couldn't see what he was doing but I probably didn't want too. The mugger went limp. His body fell to the ground.
           My rescuer turned and began walking toward me. As he reached me, I was able to clearly see his face. He was a tall man with an expensive black suit and trench coat. He had blonde hair which was neatly combed, shining grey eyes, and a charming smile. I let out a sigh of relief and tried to keep from shaking as he picked up my wallet and handed it to me.
           "W-who are you?" I questioned nervously. He smiled and bowed.
           "Alexander Lucard," he replied.
           "Of 'Lucard Industries'?!" I asked in amazement. He nodded.
           "And who might you be?" he asked.
           "B-Benjamin Collins," I stammered. That was a lie, but there was something about this man I did not trust.
           "Benjamin," he repeated thoughtfully. "A rather unusual name for a young girl."
           "I don't like sissy girl names. I like this one," I shot back firmly.
           "Tourist?" he asked. I nodded.
           "Well, one of the first things you must know about Luxembourg is that you should not be on the streets alone after sundown. Would you like to accompany me to my castle for dinner?" I hesitated. He placed his hand on my shoulder and, surprisingly, all my doubts disappeared. He turned his head and nodded slightly. From around the corner came an immense limousine. It was a spotless black colour, with flags showing the "Lucard Industries" logo fluttering from the antennae on either side of the hood. Lucard walked up to the limo and opened the back door. He stepped to one side and gestured for me to get in. Without pausing, I climbed in. He sat down beside me and the limo started off.

           The next thing I knew, we were pulling up to the front of an enormous, dark castle. I climbed out and stared in awe. I could not think of a single word to describe this establishment other than incredible. Lucard got out and stood beside me. After a moment he took my arm and escorted me to the door, which swung open seemingly under its own power. Naturally, I stopped short, but Lucard nudged me forward. The moment I stepped beyond the doorway, a rush of terror swept over me. I broke free of Lucard's grip and dashed out the door. I was running blindly and did not pay any attention to where I was going. I just felt an overwhelming urge to get away from the castle. Then I slammed facefirst into something and was ricocheted backwards, landing on my back. I looked up, dazed, and swallowed hard. Looking down on me with hard eyes was Alexander Lucard. I couldn't believe it! How in the empire had he gotten in front of me? Fly!?! Little did I know how precise I was. He reached down and picked me up by the collar of my jacket and held me up at eye level. I reached up and grabbed at his wrist with both hands, trying to pull myself loose. He locked eyes with me and I found I could not look away. The more he stared into my eyes, the heavier my limbs felt. Finally, I couldn't hold onto his wrists any longer, and my arms fell limply to my sides. I felt my willpower slowly disappear and my eyelids grow heavier by the moment. The last thing I remembered was his strong arms supporting me and carrying me back to the castle. Then everything went black.

           When I woke up, I couldn't for the life of me figure out where I was. I looked around. I was in a lavishly furnished room with a TV in the corner, a fancy computer on what looked like an extremely expensive desk, and a bathroom off to one side. I was lying on a king sized bed with gorgeous royal blue sheets. In fact, the whole room was done up in royal blue. Royal blue. My favourite colour. Weird. I climbed out of bed and saw I was still in my old clothes. Looking around, I saw a freshly pressed pair of black pants with a white shirt and royal blue sweater sitting on a chair.
           "What the heck," I thought and quickly changed into the clothes. I spotted my black Darth Vader cap hanging on a coat rack and quickly donned it. I then wandered into the bathroom and stood there with my mouth gaping. This bathroom was at least three times the size of my bathroom back home. Home! Then I realized where I was. Luxembourg!
           "I must be in the castle of that lunatic, Lucard!" I thought.
           "I beg your pardon," came a voice, "but I am not a lunatic." I started and spun around. Standing in the doorway was Alexander Lucard, leaning lazily against the door frame. I backed away instinctively.
           "Come now," he coaxed, "Is that any way to treat your host?"
           "What am I doing here?" I asked.
           "Come," he said, ignoring my question. "Your breakfast is ready." I came forward haltingly. He took hold of my shoulder and gently herded me to the door.
           "I'm glad to see the outfit I selected for you fits," he said, adjusting my hat. "It seemed to match your headgear and I had a feeling you would not be willing to part with it." I gazed up at him and couldn't help noticing how friendly his eyes looked. Yesterday they had looked like they were on fire but they were now that strange grey colour again. He straightened up and took me by the elbow, gently nudging me out into the hallway. The size of the interior of the castle was incredible. The width of the hallway was about the size of a monster truck. A person could easily get lost in a castle this big and complicated. There were doors everywhere and stairways and hallways that seemed to go on forever.
           Lost in my thoughts, I didn't notice we had reached what was apparently the dining room. The room was at least twice the size of my bedroom here. Against one wall was an grand stone fireplace. There were three exits from the room--the door we had come through, and doors on either side of the fireplace. In the centre of the room was a long table, the kind you would see in a movie with a rich family, where the table was almost the length of the room. In the middle of the table was a candelabra that abruptly lit, seemingly under its own power. I paused, staring at the shape of the table. Was it my imagination or was that table in the shape of a coffin? Not the modern style, but the old ones where the box was wider at the head. I shook my head and dismissed the thought.
           Lucard escorted me to one end of the table and sat down at the other end. He glanced at the door nearest him and nodded slightly. A servant came in, carrying a covered dish. I stared at him. He was deathly pale and his hair was in total disarray. He appeared to have great difficulty standing and teetered from side to side. His eyes looked completely blank, like a zombie's. A zombie. If only I knew how accurate my assessment was. The minion set the plate down in front of me and made a slight bow. He then walked out and returned with a plate for Lucard. Lucard made a nearly indistinguishable motion with his wrist. The servant left.

           "Eat, eat," said Lucard, gesturing at my plate. I hesitated. He stared hard at me. Suddenly I realized that I was completely famished. I lifted off the cover and simply gaped. On my plate was an immense T-bone steak. Beside it was a heaping pile of scrambled eggs, cooked to perfection. There were also three sausages, five strips of bacon, and a small stack of fried potatoes. I glanced up and saw a basket with a large pile of steaming hot breakfast rolls. Boy, I could get used to this. I dug in. Lucard watched me for a while and then lifted the cover off his own plate. I noticed his portion was a great deal smaller than mine, and that he only ate a small portion of it. I polished off everything on my plate although, I could not believe it. There had been enough food to feed a family of four, yet there was nothing left. And I didn't even feel stuffed. Oh I was full, but I didn't feel like I had stuffed myself.
           "Full?" Lucard inquired. I nodded.
           "Good," he said, with a strange smile on his lips. He rang the little bell at his side and the servant reappeared. The servant gathered up all the dishes and left. Lucard rose and walked toward me. I suddenly felt very nervous but I was unable to move. Lucard stopped in front of me and smiled, showing his glistening white teeth. I stared at the two canine teeth which appeared to be growing longer and sharper by the moment. I looked up at his eyes and jerked back. Gone were the friendly grey eyes. In their place was a pair of evil gleaming yellow eyes that looked as though they could see right through me. He stared at me for a few seconds, then lunged.
           "Mr. Lucard!" I yelled, leaping out of the way.
           "Please," he said, "Dracula."
           "Dracula!" I said in astonishment, then stopped short. There was something about his name and the name 'Dracula' that seemed somehow connected. I stood there and tried to figure it out, oblivious to the fact that Lucard was steadily advancing on me.
           "Hmmm," I murmured, "Dracula, Lucard." I couldn't figure it out. Finally, I looked to him for help. Lucard gave a little impatient sigh.
           "A. Lucard spelled backwards is Dracula. Alexander Lucard, Dracula. Okay?"
           "Ooh," I said, "Okay."
           "Any further questions?" he asked suspiciously.
           "Nope," I said cheerfully.
           "Good," he said, stepping forward. "Now if I may continue?"
           "Oops," I thought and stepped backwards. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I looked to see what had tripped me and groaned. When I had jumped out of the way of Lucard's first attack, I had accidentally knocked my chair to the ground. I guess it wanted to exact vengeance. I looked up fearfully at Lucard glaring down at me. Then I had a thought.
           "Wait," I said.
           "What now?" he asked a little angrily.
           "Well, I was wondering, why did you bring me here? I mean, you could have easily bit me on the street like you did that mugger? Why here?"
           Lucard gazed hard at me. "Very good question," he answered. "I'm not sure if I have an answer."
           I stared at him, incredulous, and got to my feet. "You save me from a mugger, you snatch me off the street, you bring me to your castle, you give me new clothes which I really like--thank you--and you feed me a huge breakfast. You go to all this trouble, just for a snack, and you don't know why?!" Grownups! I would never understand them, and I hoped I would never become one.
           "That can be arranged," he said in response to my unspoken thoughts. OK, this was too much. The guy was reading my mind. I backed up with my hands in front of me.
           "Now listen, Mr Lucard or Dracula or whoever you are, I know what you're thinking but I don't think it's a very good idea. I mean, I'd be a terrible zombie. I'd be an even worse servant. Maybe you should pick someone else." I looked around for an escape.
           He stopped and looked thoughtful. "You know, you're right. I really don't need another zombie around here." I perked up, thinking that things might be improving. He continued, "Which is why I think I would prefer to make you a vampire." If I had been a dog, my ears would have drooped all the way on to the floor.
           "Eep," I thought as he advanced on me again. "You know, I don't think I would make a very good vampire. I'm real squeamish and stuff--can't stand the sight of blood."
           He stopped and sighed, his eyes returning to that strange grey, his canines retracting. "You asked me why I went to all this trouble. Well, I'll tell you."
           "I thought you said you didn't know," I muttered. His eyes blazed yellow at my comment, then faded. I swallowed.
           "If I may continue?" he asked.
           "Sure, sure, go ahead. My apologies for the interruption," I stammered.
           "Thank you. Now as I was saying, I brought you here for a purpose."
           "What kind of purpose?" I asked, a bit suspiciously. He sat down in a chair, a rather tired expression on his face.
           "I have led a rather lonely life for almost five hundred years. My only companions have been the zombies I have created. No doubt you noticed that they are not very good company."
           "No kidding," I thought, remembering the zombie that had brought the meal. No stimulating conversation there.
           "I have tried creating vampire companions," he continued, "but they always seemed to want to take over my empire. One day, I realized what my mistake was. I was trying to make companions out of adults--people already troubled by life and dreaming about world conquest. Oh, they never admit as much, but I know what goes on in all men's and women's minds. And I ended up giving them the perfect opportunity to achieve their goal. Needless to say, they have all been disposed of. I then decided that what I needed was a child companion. Someone who would not be interested in taking over, at least not right away. Someone relatively untouched by the foulness of life." He looked at me. "Someone I could control."
           "But why me?!" I protested.
           "Well, now the choice of you was purely by chance. I happened to see that you were in a bit of trouble, I could immediately tell you were a foreigner and that you were alone here. A perfect choice. You just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
           "Yeah, lucky me," I muttered. My family always did have wonderfully rotten timing. I sighed, realizing I didn't have much choice. Either become a vampire and be Dracula's daughter, or be his midnight snack. I opted for the former. He took my sigh to mean consent. Taking me firmly by the shoulder, he turned me away from him and bared my throat.
           "I advise closing your eyes," he whispered against my neck. I shuddered. I could feel the breath of the words, but no warmth.
           "Don't worry, I already did," I said nervously, my eyes closed as tightly as they possibly be. Lucard had both hands placed on my shoulders, so I knew trying to escape would be a wasted effort. I stood, trembling lightly as he placed his lips against my throat. I could feel the sharp tips of his canines on my jugular vein. Then I felt a sharp pinprick as his fangs sank into my flesh. I winced. I felt my strength begin to weaken, as he took more and more of my life giving fluid into himself. My heart began pounding madly, pumping the blood faster and faster towards him, killing me faster. I slumped weakly against him. He supported me easily and drank even more deeply. I was starting to see spots before my eyes, everything was going dark. Then abruptly, he released me. Too weak to stand, I sank down to the floor, almost completely drained. My heart pumped furiously, trying to drive what little bit of blood I had left through my system. I knew it was a futile effort. I was dying. Keeping my eyes open took a great deal of effort, but I managed. I could see Lucard standing over me, biting into his own wrist. Blood dripped from the cut he made. He placed his bleeding wrist in front of me, but I was too weak to lift my head. He sat down and pulled me into his lap, supporting me. He then pressed the wound to my mouth. I had just enough strength to open my mouth, allowing the liquid to flow into my mouth, down my throat. After a few sips, he took his wrist away. I did not protest, which was odd, because when a person is being turned into a vampire, the body does anything to keep from dying and desperately tries to get some blood back. I should have been desperately hanging on to his wrist, trying to get just one more sip. Instead I just lay there quietly, not hungering for blood at all. Lucard had apparently noticed this, because just before my eyes closed, I saw a look of confusion and concern on his face. Then blackness. I could still hear. I could hear my heart beat, getting slower and slower. My breathing, getting shallower and shallower. The heart beat stopped, and I exhaled my last breath. Then nothing.

           When I awoke, I was again in the royal blue room. I was beginning to think of it as my room. That was probably the whole idea. This time I remembered where I was. And what I had been through. Was I now a vampire? I looked around. I didn't feel any different. Then I spotted a mirror in the far corner. I hopped out of the bed and trotted over to see if I still had a reflection. I did. Darn. Maybe it hadn't worked. I didn't feel an overwhelming hunger for blood. I didn't feel hungry at all. This didn't make any sense. Then I stared at the mirror again. At the height of its placement. I should have been able to see myself from the waist up. All I could see was my head. Barely. I looked down. The ground seemed much closer than it usually did. I touched my clothes. They still fit perfectly.
           "What the...," I muttered. Just then, the door opened. In stepped Alexander Lucard. He stopped short, looking at me. The look at his face was priceless. Absolute shock. I stared back. He seemed a lot taller than I remembered. He walked over to me, still looking shocked. When he stopped beside me, I only came up to about his waist. I had shrunk! I was only about a meter tall now.
           "What the heck happened?!" I demanded. Lucard opened his mouth as though to say something, then closed it without making a sound. I could feel myself getting angry. After all, I was short as it is. Now, I was the height of a nine year old. Actually less. I narrowed my eyes at him. I was mad. Then I noticed a strange pressure on my bottom lip. I ran my tongue over my teeth and found that my canines had sharpened considerably. I turned back to the mirror. Whoa! I had the same glowing eyes that Lucard had. My vision seemed the same, though. I was afraid everything would look yellow. I opened my mouth and saw that I did indeed have fangs. I grinned. This was too neat. I decided to test whether or not I could control this transformation. I willed my eyes to return to their normal colour and my fangs to retract back into my gums. They did.
           "Cool!" I exclaimed. I turned back to him. "What am I, some kind of half vampire hybrid?"
           "It would seem so." he replied. Abruptly he threw back his head and laughed.
           "What's so funny?" I asked, indignantly.
           "My apologies, it's just the situation. I had been concerned about how to disguise you in case the police came looking for you. It seems that has been taken care of. I doubt anyone will recognize you now." I looked back at the mirror. He was right. I looked a lot younger than before and I was considerably shorter. I doubted my parents would recognize me.
           "You may as well keep the name Benjamin, since you're so used to it." He eyed me steadily, letting me know that he knew the name was a lie, but he was not going to pursue the matter. I shrugged and nodded. It was fine by me. I had never liked my real name. I felt Benjamin fit me better. No girl name seemed to work. I knew, I'd read them all. I'd stick with Benjamin.
           "How did this happen? Did you do this on purpose?" I finally asked.
           He hesitated. "To be perfectly honest, I really don't know how this happened. It has never occurred before." He paused. "Perhaps it was your nature that prevented the vampire from taking over completely."
           "Neat," I said, "I have all the perks of being a vampire, without all blood sucking. Incredible. Do you think I still have immortality? And why on earth did I shrink?!"
           "I see no reason why you should not have immortality. As for you reverting to the form of a child, it may have been a subconscious thing."
           "Subconscious?" I repeated.
           "Yes," he replied, "Somewhere deep inside your brain, you had the urge to remain a child forever. When my blood altered your body chemistry, it must have picked up on that signal and carried it out. In a sense, your most hidden desire came true."
           "Unbelievable! This is great! I can be a little kid for all eternity. No getting a job, no growing up, no having to support myself. Easy street!"
           He looked at me disapprovingly. "Indeed," he sighed. "Perhaps I should have given my idea a little more thought. This may have been a mistake."
           "No way! You made the perfect choice! I never liked my parents anyway. You won't have to worry about me taking off. I'm too 'young' to drive now, so you don't have to worry about me totalling your car. It's perfect!" With that I jumped into his arms. "Dad," I said with a grin. Then I jumped from his arms and raced out the door, eager to explore my new home. I glanced over my shoulder and saw my new father, standing in the doorway, watching after me.
           "What have I done?" he asked, shaking his head.

           THE END


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