Disclaimer: why do we do this over and over? Erik is in public domain. alas, I'm sure a lot of the others arent...so I disclaim!


Erik, the famed, the feared, the doomed Phantom of the Opera was reading the paper in his favorite armchair. He had a little trouble reading the big words, but he was really working on that (along with his penmanship) and he was improving. Not drastically, but improving. On another note, he still had trouble with base ten, but that was indeed a difficult concept, and there wasn't much in Italian operas about it. German operas had tons of stuff about base ten, but Erik didn't speak German so it didn't matter much. It didn't make much difference, but it would have helped to be able to calculate the mathematical probability that Lance Armstrong would once again win the Tour de France. Erik had asked Santa for a TV this year so that he could watch the Tour de France, but Santa wrote him a nice letter back explaining that the reception would be terrible underneath the Opera House, and Erik wasn't supposed to know that electricity had been invented anyways. So tragically, for everything in Erik's life ended tragically, Erik had been left to follow the Tour de France using only newspapers and seismographs, which he had his minion, a fellow named Darius who had been given to him by a woman named Susan Kay, plant strategically along the racing route. If the sentences were choppy, the ideas slightly disjointed, it was Sue's fault, because she had gotten Erik hooked on heroin too.

Erik turned the page and sighed.

There was a knock on the door.

Erik sighed again, "Go away Meg."

"Psssst!"

Erik put the paper down, unclenched his fists from the thrill of it all, and got up. "Meg, you know what your mom has told you. I'll get you with my magical lasso." Right about now, Meg usually giggled, but the door was silent. "Come on Meg, you know I'm good with that lasso," Erik said. "I got third place in the Pro Rodeo Goat Tying Competition last fall."

Erik stood frowning at the door. No giggling Meg. Maybe it was someone from the ballet who had baked him brownies.

"Pssst!" the door said again.

Erik jumped, remembered that you were supposed to open doors when someone knocked, and….opened the door.

At first Erik thought he was looking at a floating head, but then he realized that it was just an abnormally pale person dressed in a black cape that happened to be lined with red satin.

Erik hitched up his pants and hoped he looked reasonably fashionable today. "Who are you?"
The pale man seemed to have been waiting for this. "I am…Dracula." He said in a very stentorian, manly testosterone-filled-but-not-quite-Clint-Eastwood voice.

Erik waited.

"Who are you?" Dracula said, by way of conversation.

"Erik the Phantom of the Opera."

"That would explain the mask." Dracula said, giving a jolly impression of Santa Claus.

They laughed together for a second.

Then they waited some more.

"Aren't you going to invite me in?" Dracula asked halfheartedly.

Erik thought about it. "Why?"

"Well I was hoping that we could discuss it over tea." Dracula shrugged his shoulders.

"But don't vampires do vampire things to people who invite them in?"

Dracula pinched his lips down to try to hide his fangs. "Sometimes."

Erik scratched his chin. "I'm suicidal anyways. Why don't you come in?"

Dracula didn't move.

Erik waited.

"You have to say 'Please do come in.'" Dracula explained, "Or it doesn't work. Rhetorical questions don't count."

"Is a rhetorical question grammar?" Erik pondered this.

Dracula shrugged again.

"If I let you in, could you teach me grammar?" Erik asked.

Dracula nodded for a while, and then shook his head.

Erik let out a pathetic, tragic sob. "Please do come in anyways."

Dracula grinned and ducked inside the door. He was very tall in Erik's little living room. Erik himself was generally considered very tall, but Dracula must have had something wrong with his pituitary gland, because he made Erik look like Napoleon. Erik wouldn't have minded being Napoleon, even with all the difficulty getting into chairs, and the Empress, because Napoleon invented a very famous strawberry dessert.

Dracula sat down in Erik's second-favorite armchair.

Erik went to the kitchen to make tea. He did not get the double entendre in the third preceding paragraph because he didn't know what a paragraph was.

"I never drink…wine." Dracula said by way of explanation.

Erik didn't think that this was a necessary comment to make, and that it didn't explain anything really, but he made the tea anyways. He even got out his best Westwood Rose pattern tea set.

Eventually he sat down and handed Dracula his teacup.

"Milk? Sugar?" he asked.

Dracula waved them both aside and proceeded to not drink his tea. Erik found this very insulting.

"Mr. Erik." Dracula began, with a practiced teacup-drinking flourish that didn't actually put any tea into his mouth. "I came to see you about a very grave matter. By the way, I must have this recipe."

Erik slurped his tea just to prove to Dracula that he was drinking it and that it tasted very good, as teas go.

Dracula set his teacup down, "I've been watching TV lately—"

"Well I haven't." Erik complained.

"—And I have noticed that I'm murdered in every single movie I've ever been in."

"It's all Santa's fault." Erik grumbled and wiped some tea off of his mustache. It wasn't a mustache yet, but Erik had been trying for months now, and it deserved to be called a mustache.

Dracula raised an eyebrow. "Well, to make a long story short, I've also noticed that your life ends tragically in all of your movies. And I have a list," He reached into his pants pocket, "Of a bunch of other guys who Hollywood really has it in for. I was thinking that we should start some kind of support network, emotional bolstering, that kind of stuff."

Erik shook his head. "I'm a loner."

"How about a round robin?"

"I poke myself with needles on purpose. I'm a cutter. I'd bleed to death." Erik knew exactly what a round robin was, even though most everyone else in the world under the age of forty was completely clueless. Suffice to say that it was an exceedingly dangerous venture that only those with endurance, fortitude, and thimbles would embark on.

"Well." Dracula stared glumly at his list. "That only leaves the last idea I had. We could barricade ourselves in a fortress, design a super-weapon, kill everyone, and take over the world. Then we could have reunions and stuff to congratulate ourselves."

Erik looked into his tea for inspiration. People actually did this, Erik knew. He'd been in the circus, and the navy. "Ok, sure."

Dracula clapped his hands together. "Oh good. I was hoping that someone would be my friend."

"Ok."

"Well let's go get the others then." Dracula suggested.

"Who are they?"

"Oh all kinds of people." Dracula grabbed Erik's hand in both his own and shook it like a grandmother. Because Dracula would be the type of person to shake your grandmother. "From great books of all times, faraway lands, and mostly London."

"Will we have to time travel?" Erik asked.

"No, most of them are alive right now, and the ones from the future already know how to time travel. A couple are immortal like me."

Erik pulled his hand away and shook the nasty grandmother-ness off of it.

"Don't worry, I have the next meeting all set up." Dracula stood and impressively wrapped his cape around him. Just as impressively he turned himself into a half-pound squeaky mammal that was blind and shaped like a dinner roll.

Erik felt the sudden urge to follow Dracula, and as his brain was putting it, 'vocalize strangely.' Erik began 'vocalizing strangely' and Dracula didn't mind because it was mostly out of his hearing, but when Erik got to the higher notes, Dracula pooped on his head to make him cut it out. Erik reasoned that this was because bats couldn't talk.

They journeyed on in silence until they came to a dark and stormy night.