Vampire Draculino and the fearfully delightful costume festival

High up, on top of a steep and rocky mountain, stands the spooky Castle Terrortor. This is the home of little vampire Draculino and his parents. Broken shutters, a leaky roof and an ancient, moldering entrance gate lend the castle a forbidding air, daring even the most courageous visitor to enter. And that’s how Draculino’s parents want it to be, particularly during the day when the entire vampire family is slumbering in their coffins. They are hardly fond of sunlight! They rise when the sun has already set and go to bed before the sun rises. Just as the little bat Bela, who also lives in Castle Terrortor, flutters only throughout the night. She and Draculino spend every night playing together, having many adventures. But sometimes Draculino is very sad. He would so much like to play with the other children who live in the town at the foot of the mountain. But these children go to bed just as Draculino is waking up. This night, the moon is shining more brightly than usual through the window, tickling Draculino’s nose. The little vampire slowly opens his eyes, yawns broadly and stretches his limbs. Time to get up! He listens closely to see if his parents are already awake, but not a sound disturbs the silence. It looks like it will be while before breakfast. To keep from getting bored, Draculino flutters to the window and begins to count stars. But what is that? At the foot of the mountain he discovers many colorful lights! “Bela, look there!” Draculino whispers, pushing his nose flat on the window pane. The little bat flies sleepily over to her friend. She has just woken up, too. “Come, let’s go find out what those lights are all about!” Draculino suggests. And before Bela can say a word, the little vampire has already slipped out of the window and is flying high over the tree tops on his way down the mountain. Bela must hurry to keep up with him. Arriving at the edge of the forest, Draculino slows down and lands on an old tree stump. Bela takes her place next to him. The two of them can inspect the lights much better from here. The large meadow behind the village shines brightly under the many colorful lights and lanterns. The enticing aroma of delicious foods comes from several stands and a music ensemble is playing loudly. “Oh, how wonderful! A festival!” Bela shouts enthusiastically. “Yes,” Draculino sighs, “but we can’t celebrate with them, Bela, because the people are afraid of vampires like me.” Yet, to his amazement, he notices that the people look very different tonight. They are all wearing colorful costumes and big hats! He can see bandits and witches, clowns and princesses dancing together, and the little vampire understands. Tonight is the costume festival that the village people celebrate every year! “Look,” Bela whispers and points with her wingtip towards a brightly-lit sweets stand, “the people there are dressed up as vampires!” “You’re right,” Draculino murmurs. “If that’s the way it is we really can celebrate with them for a while. No one will notice that I am a real vampire.” Happily, Draculino and Bela make their way to the festival meadow. The colorful lanterns are much more beautiful up close! In no time at all, a little boy dressed up as a pirate comes over to Draculino. “Hello! You are wearing a really gruesome vampire costume,” the boy laughs. “Thank you! Your pirate costume is really good, too,” Draculino replies. “Yes, I am the notorious Pirate Tom,” the boy introduces himself, adjusting his eyepatch. “Hey, would you like to play tag with me?” “Sure!” Draculino shouts, and the two boys shoot off across the festival meadow. First Tom catches Draculino, then Draculino catches Tom. After a while, they are both out of breath and need a short break. “It’s great that so many children are still awake to play with!” Draculino exclaims happily. “Yes, every year at the festival we’re allowed to stay up as late as we want,” Tom explains proudly. Then Tom’s sister Anna approaches them. She is dressed as a witch and is carrying something white and fluffy that smells wonderfully. Taking turns, Tom and Anna tear off pieces of the cloud-like substance and blissfully put it in their mouths. “Would you like some cotton candy, too?” Anna asks the little vampire. Draculino is surprised. Cotton candy? He has never heard of it. Carefully, he removes a piece of the fluffy stuff. Yummy! He has never eaten anything like it. Suddenly, the clock tower begins to chime. Draculino counts… nine, ten, eleven, twelve strokes. “Oh dear, it is already so late,” the little vampire murmurs. They have completely lost track of time! His parents are certainly up and preparing breakfast. But in only a few minutes the best costume will be awarded a prize, and Draculino does not want to miss that! “I’ll just wait to see who won,” Draculino whispers to Bela, “and then we’ll fly home quickly.” The music ensemble plays a loud fanfare and a man comes up on the stage, to announce the winner. It is…Draculino! The little vampire can hardly believe his luck! The villagers clap loudly as Draculino goes up on stage to accept his trophy. With all the excitement, his cheeks become quite rosy. Bela pecks impatiently at his cape; it is really time they went home! As soon as no one is looking, the two of them slip away from the festival meadow and fly up to the castle as fast as they can. Whew, just in the nick of time! Draculino and Bela have barely whizzed through the window and hidden the trophy, when Draculino’s mother comes in to wake her son. After breakfast, it’s time for flying lessons. Of course, no one knows just how much Draculino has already practiced flying tonight. A few hours later, at dinner, Draculino can barely keep his eyes open. This was the most exciting night in his entire, short vampire life. Exhausted, Draculino snuggles down into his blankets and his mother gives him a gentle good-night kiss. When she is gone, Draculino takes another long look at his trophy, glittering in the dwindling moon light. Next year, he will certainly go to the costume festival again! “Nighty-night, Bela,” Draculino whispers towards the ceiling where the little bat is sleeping upside down. But all he can hear is a squeaky little snore. And then Draculino falls asleep, too, and dreams of colorful lights and sweet cotton candy.