My name is Count Dracula, and I am dead. But far from being undead or anything of the kind, I am the victim of a criminal conspiracy and a cover-up. Let me tell you my story.
Many years ago, my ancestors, Vlad the Impaler and his father, Dracul, were cruel tyrants, but they successfully held on to power, resisted the depredations of the Muslim hordes, and built a nice life for themselves. Since then, Transylvania has fallen under the sway of German, Hungarian, and then Romanian princes, and as the last of my line, I had a castle and a title but no power and very little money. What I did have was a way with the ladies. But Transylvania being what it is, there were few ladies to be had, and the hostility among the men in the area had gotten to the point where I thought it was time to be moving on.
England at that point was growing in power and influence around the world, and was just far enough away and exotic enough to fill my head with romantic notions. One of my tutors when I was young was an English woman who had taught me to read and write, and speak with a terrible accent, she informed me, in her own language. So with a bit of diffidence, I looked up the name of an estate agent in England and wrote to him, using all the power and prestige I could summon, emphasizing my title as Count, and promising rich rewards, though in truth the castle was as much as I had left to my name. But I supposed that I could sell it for a great deal and purchase something of acceptable status in England.
Jonathan Harker was the name of the man who came to see me. The poor man was rather frail and timid, and the voyage left him rather sickly. I saw at once that he was in bad health and that our business should be delayed, but he insisted that he could handle the business even in the state he was in. So we made arrangements, whereby he agreed to sell me a rundown, drafty, ancient castle in England, and I would sell the rundown, drafty, ancient castle in Romania. Harker managed to get a substantial fee for this arrangement, which always struck me as suspect in some way. But no sooner was everything arranged than Harker lapsed into a deep illness, which took him months to recover from.
During this illness, I went about my business, packing up what little I had left, showing potential buyers the castle, and of course, bedding beautiful women. It was this last that drove Harker into the homicidal fury that would later cost me my life. I was having a foursome one night, when the three ladies, whose names I wouldn't mention even if I could remember them, decided to check in on my unwilling house guest. What they failed to reckon with was that he should be awake, and in a delirium. Seeing the three of them in negligees and wearing ruby red lipstick drove him mad with desire, but when he understood that they were with me, he became frantic with jealousy and rage. He called me the devil and damned me to hell (contradictory as that is), and that night, at great risk to his life, I must say, he crawled out a window and climbed several stories down the side of the castle to make his way back to England. I, of course, knew nothing of the latter, only finding him missing the next day.
It took several more months to get the castle sold in Transylvania, and I could finally close the deal on the castle in England. Trying to save as much money as I could, since I didn't know what the cost of living was going to be in England, I booked passage on the most unsavory cargo ship you ever saw. Unbeknownst to me, a madman named Renfield had also booked passage on the same ship, and we hadn't been at sea more than two days before he began murdering the crew. I could lock myself in my stateroom and thereby avoid his predations, but with the crew frantic to get their hands on him and the number of crew dwindling daily, I could see that staying on board ship was a risky affair. So when I judged we were sufficiently close to England, I bundled my cases into a lifeboat and let it down into the water. The captain had had his hands tied to the wheel and his body propped up so that the ship would steer straight for England even if someone knifed him in the back, but he either didn't see me or decided I had a good idea and let me go.
It took longer than I expected to row to the English shore. The ship, with a good wind, flew on before me and reached England the next day. When I arrived a few days later, the whole country was a-buzz with the news that a ship had come into dock with its entire crew dead and a raving madman in the hold. Why they didn't jump to the conclusion that the raving madman was the murderer, I can't explain.
I reached the castle I had purchased, found it adequate if rather small and rundown, and proceeded to establish myself. To my great joy, I found English women to be beautiful, abundant, and more than susceptible to my natural charm. My exotic looks and accent, plus the title, seemed to increase my sway. And I had the habit of wearing a cape, from the cold climate of mountainous Transylvania. I thought nothing of it myself, but several women complimented me on it, saying how ravishing it made me look.
Here's where the story as promulgated by Harker and Dr. Van Helsing veers furthest from the truth. This was Victorian England, remember, and the moral atmosphere was extremely uncongenial to my type of activities. And I will confess to making two serious mistakes: one, I was bedding society women, married and unmarried, rather than keeping my tastes to the lower classes, which, if frowned upon, at least would have spared my life; and two, I bedded the wife of the local chief of police. Not doing that wouldn't have spared my life, but at least it would have prevented the foolish story which has since become the standard account from being accepted as the truth. More on that later.
One of the society women I bedded not too long after my arrival was one Lucy Westenra. She was very prim and proper and a perfect Victorian lady, who had three suitors for her hand in marriage, none of whom stood out as more perfect than the other. It didn't take much for me to lure her to my bedchamber. What I didn't count on and couldn't know was that she was the best friend of the fiancee of Jonathan Harker.
Well, after one visit to my bedchamber, Lucy seemed to blossom into womanhood in a way few females do. I have taken my share of virgins, naturally, but Lucy's awakening to her own sexuality was remarkable. She came to visit me of her own accord for rounds two and three in the bedroom, and the change in her was profound. She started walking, talking, and even dressing like a woman of the world rather than a prim Victorian society woman, and the effect on the city was startling. It didn't take long for my name to start being associated with this change in Lucy, and the other names they mentioned in association with me tended to the infernal regions.
On her third visit to me, Lucy had mentioned her friend Mina Murray, and seemed eager to introduce her to me. Mina turned out to be even more prim and proper than Lucy had been, but soon succumbed to my charms. But rather than be awakened to her own sexuality, Mina decided to bury the experience in her mind. She returned home, told Jonathan Harker about a dark sorcerer who had turned Lucy's head and had tried (unsuccessfully, which was a lie) to seduce her. I learned all this later, of course, but Harker was infuriated and called in a recluse and charlatan who professed to be an expert in all things demonic to assist him in finding out who this monster was. This was Professor Van Helsing. Unsurprisingly, he informed Harker that I was demonic, one of the undead, who drank blood, shunned the daylight, and had no reflection in a mirror. Nonsense, of course. I confess to being something of a night owl, but most society parties start after sunset, and I always liked to look my best, so I rose late and spent a good deal of time getting ready.
Harker swallowed Van Helsing's line of malarkey hook, line, and sinker. Van Helsing told Harker that he would assist him in getting rid of me in exchange for a hefty fee, which Harker agreed to on the spot. Van Helsing probably didn't know that his "client" was capable of murder, but telling him that vampires could only be removed by having a stake driven through their hearts makes him equally guilty of murder, in my opinion. At this point, though, Harker still hadn't associated the mystery man with the Count Dracula to whom he had sold a castle.
Lucy sent me a note that night asking me to come over, telling me to come through the garden, and Mina and Lucy were both there. Lucy ran out to kiss me, and just as she did, Harker burst into the room. This was completely unexpected, as no proper Victorian gentleman would enter a lady's room unannounced to whom he was not married. Naturally, I was startled to see him, but what happened next was truly stunning. Recognizing me from Transylvania, and realizing that I was the man who had both transformed Lucy and attempted to seduce Mina, he now came at me with a murderous rage in his eyes. I avoided his blow and he crashed into a concrete fountain. I made my escape forthwith.
Lucy, however, was not so fortunate. She swooned, from which she could not be awakened with smelling salts, and was laid out in a coffin. Of course, she wasn't dead, but when she came to and opened the coffin lid, Harker, under the hypnotic spell of Van Helsing's stories, drove a stake through her heart. Poor Lucy died on the spot. The chief of police didn't believe a word of it, but because Harker and Mina were respectable citizens, he did not arrest Harker immediately.
After the police left, Harker sought out Van Helsing and came after me. Having sold me the castle, he knew where it was and how it was laid out, and anticipated that I would take refuge in the catacombs beneath. When I heard them breaking down the door, that's exactly what I did. Thinking myself clever, I dumped the bones out of an old coffin and hid myself in it, but Van Helsing had suggested that's exactly where a vampire would be, in his coffin. It didn't take long for Harker to find me and this time, I couldn't avoid his blows. Once again, the chief of police was called in and was told the same story. He didn't believe in vampires, and he was pretty sure Harker was a murderer, but when he discovered that it was the man who had bedded his own wife that Harker had killed, the chief figured I had gotten my just deserts and didn't bother having Harker hanged. And so the ludicrous story everyone knows became the accepted version of events.
And that's the TRUE story of Count Dracula.