by Susan R.
Alexander Lucard paced back and forth in his office. He hated the
press. It was the only industry he could not control. He hated not
being able to be photographed and interviewed on television. It was the
only thing holding him back from buying several companies from which he could
make a fortune. After all, in order to run the world's economy, he
needed the media. He used his vampire powers to destroy countless films,
but now people had begun to wonder why they had never seen such a
powerful man on TV.
He glanced at the television. The news was on, talking about a gunman in Moscow.
"The gunman claimed that he was a descendant of Stalin and began firing on several people on a street not far from the Kremlin. Although no one was killed, seven were injured, and one is in critical condition in a nearby hospital," said the newslady as the camera showed a photo of a young man smiling.
Alexander stopped as he looked at the screen. He was looking at his own self. The man had the same blond hair, grey eyes, smile. "What the hell?" he asked as he turned up the TV.
"Dimitri Stradvosky was shot in the chest and doctors are trying to get the bullet out."
"Dimitri Stradvosky?" said Alexander quietly. "He looks just like me--well, almost like me. But how? I've got to get to Moscow."
Alexander called his pilot and asked him to fuel up the Lucard Industries jet. He knew he had to get to Moscow and save this young man. He'd pay him a great deal of money to work for him. This 'twin' could pose for him at press conferences. Be interviewed on TV. "I can finally take over the business world once and for all!" laughed Alexander as he walked out his office. "Nothing can stop me."
The small hospital was filled with people so Alexander had no trouble
slipping past doctors and nurses to reach Stradvosky's room. He walked
in and told the nurse to leave. She did so without asking any
questions. He walked over to the bed and looked at this strange man.
Alexander bent down and touched the man's face. Never before had he
seen such resemblance to himself. He had almost the same build to him,
although Alexander suspected that the man was almost an inch shorter
He walked over and looked at the name on his chart. "Dimitri Alexander Stradvosky." Lucard had to hold back his laughter. So, his middle name is Alexander. Could this get any better? He called out for the nurse and she returned to the room.
"This is my twin," said Lucard in Russian. "I need to know if he will live."
"Sir, he will do fine. The doctor did not think he had any family. A co-worker came in and said he had been orphaned while a boy."
"Yes, sad, but I was given up by my family to live in Germany." A perfect lie. "I would like to take Dimitri home with me," he said looking directly into her eyes.
"Yes, sir, I can sign the papers as soon as he wakes up."
"Now. I have my private jet waiting."
"And, nurse, I think you should come with me. I'll pay you to take care of him back at my estate."
"Yes, I'll come."
Lucard had no trouble getting Dimitri out of the hospital and on his plane. He had called his staff at the castle to have a room ready for his new guest. The sun began to rise as the car reached the castle. Lucard told the nurse to go and sleep while he put Dimitri in his new home.
Lucard sat by the man's side all morning and he began to stir around noon. Lucard stood next to him and held his hand. "Dimitri, welcome to my home," he said in Russian.
The stranger looked up at him and stared in disbelief. "Who are you?"
"My name is Alexander Lucard, and I believe you are my lost twin."
"Twin, I have no twin."
During Dimitri's sleep, Alexander had read his thoughts and discovered that the man's mother had died a week after giving birth, and the father had worked in a factory until he died from a heart attack when Dimitri was eleven. "Ahh, our mother died after giving birth to us. I was given to a German family to be raised."
"Our mother was German, wasn't she? She wanted us all to return to Germany, but only succeeded in giving me to a close friend of the family."
"I don't believe you, but there is great resemblance."
"I want you to stay here, with me. I can give you a job at my company."
"A sort of press secretary. I've had a hard time dealing with the press because I'm too afraid of cameras. Stupid fear, I know, but it is very hard to run a corporation when you can't be on TV or photographed."
"Afraid of the camera? Yah, that is stupid."
"Do you speak English?"
"Yes," he said in English. "Learned it a few years ago. Do I get to travel?"
"Of course, anywhere you want to go. But, now, you must rest. We will have dinner tonight after sunset. Until then, I must return to work."
"Yes, Alexander is it?"
"Strange, because that is my middle name."
"Yes, it is strange. The family who raised me said they got it from the Russian Czar."
Lucard closed the door and returned to his office to catch up on work. He was determined in three weeks to turn Dimitri Stradvosky into the spitting image of himself. With his Russian accent, he almost sounded like Lucard. He just had to work on his manners, to act like Lucard in public. And, he would pay his new "brother" plenty of money.
First thing, tonight, he would have to have a little appetizer with the Russian nurse. After all, he needed to get rid of anyone who could tell where Dimitri had really come from. Then, he'd give Dimitri a little vampire blood to heal his wounds. He would never know.
THREE WEEKS LATER...
Dimitri was nervously pacing Lucard's office. He thought his brother
was very strange to ask him to pretend to be him in front of the
cameras. He could not understand how such a powerful man could be so
camera shy. Dimitri had always loved getting his photograph taken. He
read over the lines prepared for him to read about the newest company
added to Lucard Industries. He wondered if he could really pull off
being his twin? It was like that book about the two kings in France.
"Hello, my name is Alexander Lucard," he said to the wall.
"Perfect," said Alexander dressed in a hat and sunglasses. "I am so lucky to have been blessed with such a handsome twin."
"I am ready to meet the press," said Dimitri as he walked out of the office and over to the press room downstairs. Lucard stayed in the shadows as his brother talked to the cameras and smiled at the reporters. When the began to ask questions, Lucard barely had to nod to Dimitri because he had answered them so well. Dimitri felt great, although a little strange to be pretending to be someone else.
Max Townsend began to flip channels as he got bored with the
commercials. "Turn on the news, Max. I hear there is a story about
Lucard's latest takeover," said Gustav as he walked behind the couch.
Max changed channels until he reached the news.
"For the first time, Alexander Lucard held a press conference at his office building," said the newscaster.
"Lucard and press?" asked Max.
"Lucard Industries will be expanding even more as the millennium approaches," said Alexander Lucard to the TV cameras.
"Uncle Gustav, LOOK!!!!" he yelled pointing to the screen. "It's Lucard, on TV!"
"It can't be Max, but I'll be damned. How in the world could he pull that off?"
"Some sort of trick? Maybe he cloned himself."
"I don't think vampires can be cloned. Start taping this, Max. I want to watch it more closely."
Max hit the record button and watched as Lucard talked about his plans for the future. After the news, both Max and Gustav watched the tape several times looking for some clue on how Lucard could pull off such an image. Sophie and Chris had returned from the movies, and after being shocked, watched it too.
The next day, they saw his photo in the paper along with several others. "If I didn't know better, I'd think he was mortal," said Chris. "Look at him! He loves the camera!"
"Maybe Max is right," said Sophie. "Maybe he cloned himself. After all, he's got a lot of crazy scientists working for him."
"You'd think, biologically, vampires couldn't be cloned," said Gustav.
"Don't vampries have DNA?" asked Chris.
"Possibly, but their blood is different."
"Maybe he's paying some actor from Hollywood. There was a Canadian guy I saw on a TV show once who resembled him a little," said Max.
"They say everyone has a twin," said Sophie. "But this guy would be a damn good twin!"
"Hey, I saw an episode of the X-Files where a guy could transform himself to look like different people," said Chris.
Sophie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, Lucard met the guy from the X-Files. Get real!
"Just a suggestion," said Chris.
"I think we should visit the castle."
"Max, we haven't been to the castle in months. You know why?" asked Sophie.
"Oh yeah, Lucard seriously upgraded his security system. We'd have better luck trying to steal the President's dog then to sneak into his castle."
After days of press conferences and televised interviews, Dimitri was
getting tired of posing as his brother. "Alexander, why won't you let
me tell them who I really am?"
"Dimitri, I have many enemies. If they knew I had a brother they could come after you. I would hate to lose you just after I found you. You're my brother."
"How did you find out about me?"
"I found a letter written about you from my family. I was in Moscow when you were shot and heard your name on the news."
"Why won't you let me leave this castle? I feel like I'm a prisoner. You won't let me sit in on any of your meetings either. You brief me on them before I go on TV."
"I'm sorry, but you're not ready to learn everything so quickly. Be patient, my brother. Now, I have a busy day so I must retire for the evening. Good night."
"Good night." Dimitri sat in front of the fireplace and looked at the flames. He wanted to go out for once and see the town. Have a drink at a local tavern. He quietly got up and walked down the hallway to the passage leading to the garage. He was about to open the door when he noticed that the alarm system would go off. Damn, Lucard and only one servant had the key to turn it off.
Damn, where is that driver, asked Dimitri as he walked through the halls. He couldn't figure out how, but it appeared as if Lucard could control his servants without even speaking to them. As hard as Dimitri tried to act like Alexander, he still could not convince the servants that he was Lucard. They knew he was just Dimitri Stradvosky.
He ran down the hallways and pushed open to door to Lucard's suite of rooms. His twin was nowhere to be found. He saw an open window and looked out at the night. The ground was too far to jump.
Dimitri turned around and went back to his bedroom. He knew tomorrow afternoon he had to be photographed in front of Lucard Industries for some publicity photos. It would be his chance to get away from his brother.
Max rode his bicycle down to the front of Lucard Industries. He had
heard a rumor from a lady at the local news paper that one of the
photographers had been assigned to do a photo shoot at Lucard
Industries. Max was determined to get to the bottom of Lucard's newest
scheme. He waited behind some cars and watched as Lucard was followed
by a body guard and the cameraman to the sign reading Lucard Industries.
Max had noticed a strange man in a black hat and dark sunglasses
standing near the Mercedes-Benz parked close by. At he end of the
shoot, the man walked over and talked to Lucard, giving Max the
opportunity to sneak into the car.
Max hid in the front as Lucard and the strange man got in the back seat. Max covered himself in the large black jacket belonging to the driver and felt the car move. Neither men spoke until the car reached the castle. "Time to get out," Max heard Lucard say.
"I don't want to, Alexander," said the other, but Max thought it sounded like Lucard, too. The driver got out and opened the door. Both men got out and began to argue. Max peeked up from under the jacket to see two Lucards. One of them spotted him and opened the door.
"Hello there," he said.
"Maximilian," said the other, angrily.
"Alexander, is this your son?" asked the first one.
"Son?" said Max. "What is going on?"
Alexander grabbed Max by the arm and pulled him over to him. "No, he's just a noisy little brat. Come, let's get inside before the others come looking for him."
Alexander dragged Max to a small closet and locked him inside. "I hope you know when sunset is, Maximilian," said Lucard with a smile as he shut the door.
Dimitri looked at him. "What are you going to do to that kid?"
"He'll be punished properly. I've got to go. I wouldn't even speak to that boy if I were you. He's got a lot of crazy ideas about me."
"I won't talk to him. Good-bye brother."
Dimitri ate lunch and then returned to the closet door where behind it
he could hear the boy crying. He knocked lightly on the door and asked
if he was hungry.
Max whispered, "Don't talk to me. Lucard warned you. I heard him."
"Who are you? Why were you following us today?"
"The question is, who are you?"
"My name is Dimitri Stradvosky. I'm from Russia."
"Russia? Why do you look so much like Lucard?"
"He is my twin brother. He found me in Moscow after I was shot several weeks ago."
Max laughed. "You are mortal?"
"Of course I'm mortal. That gun shot almost killed me."
"I heard about that on the news. And, you can't be Lucard's twin brother. It's impossible."
"Why do you say that?"
"His family has been dead for centuries."
"What do you mean, for centuries?"
"Lucard's several hundred years old. He's a vampire."
Dimitri began to laugh. "He wasn't joking when he said you would say crazy things. Good-bye, strange little boy."
"Wait, don't go!" cried Max.
"You're the one who's been on TV and photographed, right?"
"Have you seen a single mirror or crucifix in this entire castle?"
Dimitri was silent for a second. "No, but vampires?"
"Yes. Lucard's one weakness is that he can't be photographed. Lately, the papers were starting to say nasty things about him and he needs the press in order to appear as a mortal. Businesses were beginning to suspect that there was something strange about him. I only heard the news about that gunman in Moscow, but what if they showed you on TV? If Lucard saw it, that is how he could have discovered someone who looks like him."
"You are a crazy little boy, but it does make sense."
"You're in danger, Dimitri. Lucard is using you for his own means. Once you've served your purpose, he'll get rid of you very fast. Here, put this on," said Max and Dimitri saw a small silver cross slide under the door way.
Dimitri began to think the boy was telling the truth. It would explain why Alexander kept him locked up within the castle. He grabbed one of the axes hanging on the wall and told Max to back away from the door. He hit it several times until a hole was big enough for Max to climb out. "Come, Max, we both must leave."
They ran down the hall to the garage and opened the door, setting off the alarm. As the alarm buzzed, an iron door closed before them and the garage doors were sealed shut. "We're trapped,' said Max. "If we try and drive one of the cars, we'll only crash into the doors."
"We've got to try and get out before sunset," said Dimitri as he searched for a window.
"I'm sorry Max. I'm afraid we're both doomed."
Max looked at him. "I can't get over the resemblance between the two of you. And your accent almost sounds like him. You even have grey, almost blue eyes."
"Yes, it was strange how we do look so much alike. I actually believed he was my twin."
"Did you have any other family?"
"No. They all died years ago. Alexander found out a lot about me before I woke up in his castle."
"Being a vampire, he could get into your mind while you slept."
"You know what my middle name is?"
Max laughed. "Well, it is a popular name. Especially in Russia."
They turned as they heard the iron door go up and saw Lucard standing in the doorway. "Dimitri, I see you met Max. What a pity. You had such a good job working for me."
"You really did use me, didn't you?"
"Yes, and, sadly, you weren't perfect. You messed up my accent every now and then. You don't have my smirk, nor my ability to charm people."
"Let the boy go, Alexander. You want to get rid of me--fine, do so. I should have died in that hospital bed in Moscow."
"I know. Hmmm, let Max go. Sorry, I already have plans for a new photogenic Lucard. I heard about some Canadian actor who has played a vampire before."
"So, you really are a vampire," said Dimitri.
In less then a second, Lucard's eyes had turned yellow. "Oh, yes, so you see, we could never be brothers."
Dimitri pulled out the small cross. Lucard didn't advance but hissed at the two. "Run, Max, you can escape through the garage doors."
"No, I can't leave you with him."
Max began to run past the cars and pushed the button to open one of the garage doors. He ran out into the night and felt himself hit someone. "Uncle Gustav!" he said.
"Max, I knew you had to be here. Thank god you are safe."
"We've got to go back and save Dimitri," said Max. "Please, he saved me."
"Who is Dimitri?" asked Chris.
"He looks just like Lucard. He's from Russia."
They ran back to the garage and Max saw Lucard pick up Dimitri. Max grabbed the cross from Sophie to try and save his friend. Lucard paused, smiled, and then let the man go. He transformed into a bat and flew off. Max ran up and hugged Dimitri.
"Thank you," he said in Russian, then in English.
"Wow, you really do look like Lucard," said Sophie.
"No kidding," said Chris.
"Come, Dimitri, stay with us tonight,' said Gustav.
"Thank you. Max, you must introduce me," he said as they got into the car.
Lucard stood by and watched the car drive off. "I'm so glad I did not kill you, my dear Russian twin. After all, a friend of the Helsings who looks just like me." He began to laugh. Imitating Dimitri, in Russian he said, "Good afternoon Max, may I come in?"