Pale Trash - the first of Pique's tormented tales 

Pique staff have penned three spooky stories for you this year. Curl up in front of the fire and read them by candlelight, or read them out loud to the kids. We hope you have a spooktacular night.

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The people of Pine Grove call him "Brad," but I know better. His real name is Radu Tepes (the "Third," if you can believe it) and he's about 577 years old.

You'd think that immortality is a secret you'd want to keep to yourself, but old B-Rad wasn't very careful about his history. He'd always drop little hints about his true identity, like comparing the sunset at Pine Grove to the ones he remembers from growing up in the Carpathian Mountains — "I mean, south Detroit... or wherever..." — or railing on about how the piles of dead termites rooted out of the gazebo by the fumigator reminded him of the horrors at "Tirgoviste." He called money "dinars." And when I came by his trailer with his census form, under "title" Brad scrawled the word "Pasha," before scratching it out and writing "Mister."

Then there's the fact that Brad had a bit of a drinking problem. He wasn't the only one at the trailer park with that affliction, and I've been known to lose the odd day or week to the bottle myself, but Brad was really strange when he went on his benders. He'd start screaming things in Romanian or Latin or Turkish, and one time I saw him chasing a raccoon into the woods with a ruby-encrusted scimitar. And he'd go off on rants about his brother Vlad, his father, also Vlad, or some guy named Ottoman Sipahi.

And I never saw him out and about during the day. Not once.

That's when I decided to look a few things up on Wikipedia...

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pretty soon I knew two things for sure about Brad. The first is that Brad Templeton's real name is Radu Tepes, younger brother to Vlad Tepes, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Count F-ing Dracula! The second is that he'll tell you pretty much anything after half a bottle of rye whiskey. And I mean anything...

Being between newspaper jobs, and living three trailers down from Brad's battered fifth wheel, I had an idea: I would interview a real-life vampire and sell it somewhere to get back on my feet.

There was nothing, I told myself at the time, that was particularly wrong with this plan.

At least until I discovered that Vlad only showed up as an amorphous blur on video cameras — so much for all that YouTube money I was hoping to get. His voice didn't even record properly, which also cut radio out of the big picture. That left me with writing an article, which pays less, and without much art to go with it because I can't seem to take Brad's picture either.

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