by Sarah T.
1990--as if "Klaus Encounters" never happened
It was a cold evening a few days before Christmas, and the colorful lights strung all over the Helsing home cast a cheerful glow on Maximilian Townsend, doing his own share of the decorating in the front yard. He frowned in concentration, making a few small changes with his fingers. Then he brushed the snow off his hands and stepped back to look at his work.
"Cool!" he exclaimed, grinning with satisfaction. The snow-vampire he'd made in Uncle Gustav's front yard was the best one he'd done yet! It had awesome yellow marbles for eyes and carrots for fangs. For a cape, it wore a short dark coat Max had found at the back of a closet, hung on its shoulders the way Dracula wore his. The stick arms reached forward just like a real vampire about to grab you. It was probably the scariest snowman ever. He couldn't wait for Uncle Gustav to get home from shopping and see it. He'd been sort of sad lately--way too sad for Christmastime. This would crack him up.
"The composition has a vigorous primitive charm and shows a mastery of the possibilities of the medium," came an appraising voice from behind him, "but the lack of verisimilitude hampers its effect."
Max spun around. Lucard was standing behind him on the sidewalk, arms folded, head tilted. Max slid a hand into his coat pocket to touch the squirt-gun of holy water he kept there. Safe. "Huh?"
"Really, Maximilian, the fangs," Lucard explained patiently. "Do you actually believe vampires have orange teeth? Not even Nosferatu had that problem."
"Oh. Yeah." Max looked back at the snowman. "I couldn't find anything else shaped right."
"What about icicles? There are quite a few on your eaves."
Max shrugged. "I can't reach 'em."
"Ah. Well, I can. If you will excuse me?" Lucard crossed the yard and rose into the air directly in front of the house, shading his eyes from the brilliance of the many-hued blinking lights as he chose two icicles from the several hanging from the roof and broke them free easily.
"Whoa," Max breathed, watching, envious. "Get really big ones!" he called.
"But of course," Lucard replied, settling a moment later to the snow and coming over to hand him the icicles.
It only took Max a couple of minutes to replace the carrots. Lucard was right. The snowman was definitely scarier without the orange. "Thanks," he said to Lucard, who was looking thoughtfully at the snowman's cape.
He glanced up. "Think nothing of it. That was an aesthetic emergency."
"Yeah, I guess so." Max suddenly remembered that he was supposed to be suspicious of Lucard. "So, what are you doing here? You didn't come to bring us presents!"
"It has been many years since the Helsing house has been so full of life," Lucard said, looking up at it. "I couldn't resist dropping by to see it. Lights, candles, children playing in the yard once more...."
"Oh." That didn't sound very exciting to Max, but adults sometimes liked weird things. As he considered it, though, a thought struck him. "Hey! Children? What children? Uncle Gustav doesn't have any kids."
"You mean he hasn't told you about...?" Lucard looked faintly dismayed. "Ah, how indiscreet of me. Never mind."
"Told me about what?" Max demanded, now full of curiosity.
"I'm sorry, Maximilian, I would love to tell you, but my hands are tied. You'll have to ask your uncle yourself."
"Aw, come on! I won't tell him you told me, I promise."
Lucard hesitated. "Well--"
"All right, Maximilian, you win. I'll tell you one part of the secret. You'll have to find out the rest from Gustav." Lucard lowered his voice conspiratorially and Max leaned closer, eager to hear. "This isn't Gustav's coat the snowman is wearing. It belonged to someone else."
"Someone related to you. Someone who lived in this house before you." Lucard stepped away. "--And now, I must fly."
Before Max could protest that he wanted to know more, Lucard had vanished. Max ran up to the corner of the street to see if he could spot the bat flying away towards the castle, without any luck. He walked slowly back to the yard, wondering. A kid related to him? Who had lived in the house before? Uncle Gustav had never said anything about anybody like that. It was a mystery he had to solve.
Now he really couldn't wait for Uncle Gustav to get home.
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