My imaginary journey continues with a visit to Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. After my friends left Russia, I hopped on a sailing vessel and crossed the Black Sea into Romania. I headed for medieval towns, mountains, and maybe even Dracula’s castle.
Would I meet up with a real, live vampire in Transylvania? Did they actually exist? Was it like F.W. Murnau’s 1922 movie, “Nosferatu” (and Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake, “Nosferatu the Vampyre”)? Maybe or maybe not.
Late at night, in Sibiu, Romania, I leaped out of bed, feeling foreboding. I wandered through the quiet city which had been built in the thirteenth century by German settlers. And soon, I found myself in the cemetery. I heard howling, and then, I saw something. Something scary. Something foreboding. Something like the movie.
Someone was shaking me awake. My father. I was back in my bed. How was that possible? I had walked to the cemetery. My father told me not to fear, and then he vanished. A rat scurried across the floor. A large gray rat. Not a mouse. It climbed on the bed and stared in my face.
The rat suddenly started speaking, with a hissing sort of voice, and the feeling of dread grew more and more powerful within me.
“Time is an abyss… profound as a thousand nights.”
A thousand nights? What does that mean? Why are one thousand nights profound? Unless you have insomnia and you’re awake, feeling dread and foreboding for a thousand nights.
“The absence of love is the most abject pain,” intoned the rat. Its teeth glistened like vampire fangs. I screamed. I was sitting in the graveyard, looking at the tombstones, which were centuries old. The words and the names were incomprehensible to me. In my head and outside of my head, I heard the words, “The children of the night make their music.” And suddenly, I was on a sailing ship, sailing over choppy waters, and I could hear from a distance the music made by the lost children of the night. It sounded otherworldly, the music of ghosts and dreamers, of horses snorting fire as they flew high in the sky, silhouetted by the full moon. I could hear hundreds of rats screaming and screeching and their ominous sound turned my heart to icy chill.
Suddenly, I was back in bed, rubbing my eyes, wondering if what had happened was real or was just a product of my feverish imagination. Because most terror really is just the imagination going into overdrive.