1. A Scare in the Bathtub A Scare in the Bathtub
Tony was lying in the bathtub reading In the House of Count Dracula when the doorbell rang. Hopefully it’s not for me, he thought, and looked up from his book. He heard his mother go to the front door and open it. Then she came down the hallway and knocked on the bathroom door.
“There’s someone at the door for you,” she said.
“I’m reading,” Tony grumbled. “Who is it?”
“A vampire?” Tony cried in horror. He nearly dropped his book into the water. But actually his mother had to have been teasing him, because, after all, she didn’t believe in vampires—even if she had actually met two of them recently. But, like Tony’s father, she believed that Tony’s two friends, with their musty-smelling vampire capes, were nothing more than two normal children who simply enjoyed dressing up in clothes they found in their grandmother’s attic.
“Which vampire is it?” Tony asked cautiously.
“Rudolph,” she replied.
That worried Tony. If Rudolph had come to his apartment door—rather than just flying in through Tony’s bedroom window—something terrible must have happened. “Just a second, I’m coming!” he shouted. He quickly got out of the tub and wrapped his robe around himself.
Tony opened the door and found the little vampire standing in the hallway. He looked ashen, his cheeks hollow and his red eyes flickering feverishly.
“I need to talk to you,” he whispered.
Tony swallowed. “Here?” he said, looking over toward the living room, where his parents were sitting.
The vampire gave him an imploring look. “You have to help me,” he whispered.
“Me?” asked Tony.
“Yes. You’re my only friend.”
“Oh. But—what do you need?”
“Just come to the bike room in the basement as soon as you can,” Rudolph said. “I’ll tell you there.” With that, the vampire turned and disappeared.
“Has he already left?” called his mother. “I prepared some juice for the two of you.”
“He doesn’t like juice,” said Tony, who had other worries now. How was he going to go down to the bicycle room at seven o’clock at night without arousing any suspicion?
After he’d gotten dressed, he casually said to his parents, “I have to go downstairs.”
“Now?” asked his mother, suddenly suspicious. “Your hair is soaking wet. Does this have something to do with your strange friend?”
“No,” Tony lied.
“So, why do you need to go downstairs?”
“To put my bike into the basement.”
“Your new bike?” That came from his father. “Do you mean it’s been outside all this time while you were relaxing in the bath, reading?”
“Yes,” Tony admitted with a guilty tone. But actually he was smiling to himself because he had locked it up safely in the bike room two hours ago.
“I’ll be quick,” said Tony.
Grinning, he headed out of the apartment, pulled the door closed behind him, and then pushed the button for the elevator. Why all that drama about a bike? It wouldn’t surprise him if his father came out after him to remind him to lock it up. The elevator came, and Tony got in. As he rode it down, he thought how exhausted the little vampire had looked and how depressed he had sounded. He was suddenly very concerned about Rudolph. What could have happened?
Had the cemetery caretaker found the vampires’ crypt and Rudolph was the only survivor? With this thought, Tony’s heart began to beat faster. That would mean that Anna, Rudolph’s sister… No! He stopped that thought before it could go any further. The vampires were not that easy to find, especially not by Ravenhood, the cemetery caretaker. Although, it had to be something serious, Tony thought.
Tony arrived in the basement. He stepped out of the elevator and listened. Nothing. He took a few careful steps forward and turned on the lights. The basement hallway was empty and the door to the bicycle room was closed. He took a few more slow steps forward, stopped in front of the bicycle room door, and listened. He still couldn’t hear anything. He took a deep breath and slowly turned the knob. As the door opened, a familiar smell struck him—the musty smell of vampire and coffin.
“Rudolph?” he asked hesitantly.
“Psst,” came a voice out of the darkness. “Come in and close the door.”