Disclaimer: The rights for Hotel Transylvania belong to Sony Pictures Animation. The novel Dracula belongs to Bram Stoker. Original characters belong to the author.
"For a zing only happens once in your life. Your zing will come. Cherish it." – Martha Dracula
The hotel was quiet. The guests who had attended Mavis's birthday party were long gone, leaving only a few left in the hotel. Johnny and Mavis were part of those few.
"You're mum's, like, an awesome artist."
Mavis smiled. She was showing Johnny the book her mother had given her for her birthday. "I guess she is, but I would like to know the full story."
"Why don't you ask your dad?" asked the boy.
"He doesn't like to talk about Mum," Mavis explained.
Johnny understood. He remembered back to that night when Dracula had shown him Martha's coffin, and had told him the true story behind the Lady Laubode. I was stupid to tell him that "fairytale" version. But he didn't seem to mind. "There's still no harm in asking."
Mavis sighed. "But what do I ask him?"
"What do you want to know?"
Boyfriend and girlfriend turned to find Mavis's father, Dracula, standing in the doorway of her bedroom.
Mavis was unsure what she wanted to ask; there were so many questions in her head regarding her mother that she didn't know which to ask first. Thankfully Johnny asked his question first. "One thing that confused me was where she came from? The museum said it's a mystery. No family, no relatives; nothing."
Dracula entered the room and sat down next to the pair on the bed. "That's because 'Laubode' was her mother's maiden name. She used it when we met because...she and her father didn't exactly see eye to eye. His name was Abraham Van Helsing."
Johnny's ears perked in recognition. "I think I've heard of him. He was, like, this crazy science guy who vowed to track down and slaughter every single vampire in existence."
"Yes, he was the one who sent the mob to..." Dracula trailed off, unable to finish, but the others understood what he was referring to.
But something caught Mavis's attention. "Hold on a second. So you're saying that Mum's father was human. Does that mean...?"
Dracula sighed. "Yes. Your mother was once a human. Her turn was the reason her father vowed to hunt down vampires."
Mavis opened the book onto the page showing two bats bumping into each other. 'Two lonely bats crashed in the night'. "But that doesn't make any sense. It says here that the two of you crashed into each other while flying."
"Yes, well, she was a romantic. It's artistic licence," Dracula explained. "The real story is a lot more complicated than that."
There came a knock at the door.
"Martha? Are you ready yet? Lucy is waiting for you."
Martha gasped as the maid helping her get dressed pulled her corset too tight. "I'll be right there, Father. I just need to strangle the maid first."
"Martha Van Helsing, you shall do no such thing," said her father, Abraham. "You should not complain about your corset being too tight. All the young girls your age wear them tight these days."
The eighteen year old rolled her eyes at her father's words. It was always a common argument between them; corsets. "Yes, well, I prefer the ability to breathe over beauty."
"Just hurry it up." Her father's footsteps grew distant outside the door.
The maid finished with the corset and began to help Martha with the blue dress she was to wear for the garden party. Martha allowed the maid to do her job, struggling to breathe with the corset tight against her chest. After this was done, the maid silently bowed before leaving the room.
Martha waited for a few moments...before taking her dress back off and ripping the corset from her body. "If I'm to find the right man to zing with, it wouldn't matter whether I'm wearing a corset or not."
She heard a small chirp, and looking to her left, she saw a small black bat crawling across her dressing table with a silver necklace in its mouth. The necklace had a heart dangling from the chain; it had belonged to her mother, and the name 'Mina Laubode' was still written into it. Martha smiled at the small creature and walked over to take the jewellery. "Thank you, Mavis."
The bat chirped happily as the young girl stroked the fur along its back. Martha had rescued the bat when it had injured its wing, and when it had healed, the bat just wouldn't leave. Martha had let her stay around, so long as her father didn't see her; she found it was nice to have someone to talk to.
As Martha brushed aside her dark hair and placed the necklace around her she walked over to the window, looking out over the garden party that was taking place. Part of her dreaded the occasion filled with propriety and manners, but another part of her felt...excited. She was eighteen, after all, and her father told her that he expected her to find a husband. Martha was enchanted by the idea of romance and wanted to find the right man to 'zing' with, a word her father disapproved of.
"Do you think I'll find my zing, Mavis?" she asked the bat. Mavis just chirped, and when Martha turned her head, the bat was shrugging. She smiled. "You always say that." The bat chirped again.
There was another knock at the door. "Martha, hurry it up."
"I'm coming, Father." Martha quickly tied her hair up in a bun before opening out her dress pocket for Mavis. "Come on, I don't want you missing out on the fun. I need you to bite Mrs. Ascot if she bosses me about again."
The bat chirped before hopping inside her pocket.
Thankfully her father was gone when Martha left her room; she knew that had he seen her without a corset he would have sent her straight back in again to put it on, regardless of how late she was. Martha walked down the large stairs and passed by servants carrying trays of food before stepping outside into the garden. It was never particularly warm in Holland, but today, the sun was out and set a beautiful scene for the guests.
But not for Martha. She hated the sun.
She was approached by a young blonde her age. "It's about time," said her friend, Lucy. "And no corset?"
"If I meet a man today I would like to be able to talk to him properly instead of barely being able to say my name," said Martha. "I don't know how you manage it."
"You just not let it bother you." Lucy waved her white fan in her face, and although masked well, Martha could see that her friend was struggling with her own breathing. "I would have preferred it if you had worn one, but then I suppose this gives me a better chance."
"A better chance for what?"
"To be noticed by Arthur." Lucy turned and nodded towards a well-dressed man standing in the shade with a few others; they were laughing together. "Arthur Holmwood; an English nobleman, they say. He's so handsome."
Martha watched him, waiting for something to happen; something to tell her that this was her zing. But nothing did, and she turned back to her friend. "Well, I don't feel anything for him. He's all yours."
Lucy rolled her eyes. "This 'zing' nonsense again. It isn't even a word."
"It is. My mother used it all the time," said Martha. "She hated how she could never find hers, so she wanted me to find mine instead of ending up married to a man who I don't love."
"Yes, I'm sure that is exactly what your father wants," said Lucy, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Martha was about to make a clever resort when someone cleared his throat behind them. "Ahem."
They turned to find their childhood friend standing a few short strides away; John Seward. "Martha, may I have a word?"
"Of course." Martha walked with him, and out of the corner of her eye, she swore she saw Lucy wink. She wondered what this meant.
The pair passed the patio, where many people were dancing slowly to some rather dull music. "Would you like to dance?" asked John politely.
"No, thank you," said Martha. From the expression on the man's face, she knew he was trying to make conversation. She wondered what had happened to him; usually John was rather chatty, and she could never get him to stop talking.
"I suppose it is a tad warm for it today." John stopped walking and turned to her. "Martha, ever since I was a young boy, you and I have known each other. Good friends, we have been. But the truth is... I have always found you beautiful."
Martha blinked in surprise. Is he saying what I think he's saying?
"I know this is fast, but..." Martha could see him beginning to sweat, and in an instant, she knew what he was going to ask. "Martha, I want you to marry me."
The girl froze, staring into John's brown eyes, and when the shock passed she began to concentrate. Her mother had always told her that if she ever found her zing, she would be able to feel it. She would look into the man's eyes and see something there that told her he was the one. But as she looked into John's eyes...she found that she could feel nothing. There was nothing there for her to find, and she gave up trying. John was just John; a childhood friend and nothing more.
"John...I...I mean, I...I don't..."
"Oh, what am I doing?" said John suddenly, interrupting her. For a moment Martha hoped he had reconsidered, until... "I should really be asking your father about this. I knew I forgot to do something. I shall be right back." He took off at a run.
Instantly Martha took off in the other direction, hoping to hide from John when he returned. Mavis poked her head out from the dress pocket and chirped.
"I know, I know," Martha told her. "But I don't have the heart to tell him. Hopefully disappearing will get the message across." Martha continued running, hurrying into the freshly cut maze of bushes; she turned a corner...
...and bumped right into another familiar face.
"Oh. Hey there, Martha."
Martha knew his Texas accent anywhere. "Hello, Quincey." She had met Quincey Morris a year before, when he had come over from America for a business agreement with her father. She had gotten on rather well with him.
"I was looking for you, actually," said Quincey. He took Martha's arm and led her further into the maze, and Martha was glad; it meant getting away from John. "I was just saying to some fellahs about life across the pound. About all the fun there is to have riding around, chasing them Indians, you know what I mean."
"I suppose." Martha wasn't really paying attention. She was busy thinking of the many ways she could break it to John that she didn't want to marry him.
Quincey smirked. "I knew you'd understand. That's what I was saying to those fellahs. Not many ladies over here like the idea of living over there. Say it's too barbaric and dirty. But I knew you'd understand. You're different from all those other ladies. That's why I have to ask you a question."
Martha was suddenly paying a lot more attention to the conversation. "What question?" This is not good.
"The usual." Quincey's smirk grew wider. "You ever think about marrying a man like me?"
Martha's eyes widened and her mouth dropped. "Quincey, I-"
He suddenly burst out laughing, and Martha hoped he'd asked her for a joke. But her hope fell with his following words. "I'm sorry; I forgot how you folks functioned over here. I'm supposed to ask you Daddy permission first, right? Well, how about I go ask him, and then you give me your answer? Wait right here." He turned and left.
When he was out of sight, Martha did the same.
She hurried through the twists and turns of the maze, her mind trying to comprehend what had happened. "Can you believe this, Mavis?" The bat in her pocket chirped. "Two men! Two men! And neither feels right!" She had felt nothing for Quincey, either. "This day couldn't get any worse."
She hurried out of the exit...and bumped into someone else.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry," she apologized, looking up. Her mouth dropped when she realized it was the nobleman who Lucy had pointed out before.
"No need to apologize," said Arthur. "I should have been looking where I was going." He was trying to be polite, but Martha could see in his eyes that he was a little put out by her collision with him, and the fact that a young lady like her was running. "Perhaps you would like to keep me company?"
He extended an arm out to her. Martha took it hesitantly, knowing she shouldn't decline a man like him, but she felt uneasy about it. The last two men she had walked with had asked her to marry them.
"You are the lovely Martha Van Helsing, are you not?" the man asked.
Martha nodded. "Yes, that's right."
"I am attempting to make a business agreement with your father," Arthur continued. "Of course, he feels that some sort of business alliance must be made. Looking at you, I cannot disagree with him."
Martha froze mid-stride. She didn't like where this topic was going. "What do you mean by that?" Please not let this be the third...I already know this one isn't my zing...
Arthur chuckled. "Now do not tell me you do not know how some business alliances are formed these days; marriage. I have yet to discuss this with your father, but I am sure he will agree."
I have to get him away from me... "I'm not sure about that. Two men have already asked for my hand."
It worked. Arthur's face narrowed and he turned to stroll away, without another word given to Martha. The girl shook her head distastefully as he did. What a creep. She began to hurry away, determined to find a quiet place to hide until the party was over...
...but was grabbed by the hand. If this is a fourth suitor, I swear...! But when she turned, she sighed with relief to see Lucy.
"I've been looking for you," said her friend. "Where have you been?"
Martha tried to pull away from her. "Lucy, I'll talk to you later. I need to go before-"
A glass was then tapped three times, and the party fell silent. Martha and Lucy turned to see Abraham standing at the top of the garden by the house, and to his left, the three men stood waiting; John, Quincey and Arthur. Martha felt the dread pass through her.
"Firstly I would like to thank you all for coming," Abraham began, "and secondly I would like to inform you... Oh, I am not sure whether to feel embarrassed or proud. Three young men have come to me and asked for my daughter's hand." There was a bit of laughter in the crowd. "Of course, I am not the one to be choosing which gentleman is right, so I would like to ask my daughter to step up here and make the choice for herself. After all, she's the one getting married."
The crowd looked around, trying to find any signs of Martha.
Lucy didn't know what to say. "Fancy that. Three men! I would eat a horse for that-" She turned to find Martha gone.
Martha struggled to climb over the fence separating the garden from the fields where her father kept his horses. When she finally touched the messy ground, her favourite horse came to investigate; Renfield, a bay coloured stallion.
"Hello, Ren," Martha greeted him, giving him a pat.
"Martha!" The girl turned to see her father hurrying towards her. "Are you trying to purposely embarrass me? Most girls would go around without corsets to have three men propose to them." He then looked her up and down. "Although I see you are not wearing yours."
Martha turned back to Renfield. "I hate the things. And those men aren't right for me."
"Martha, if you say that word in front of me-"
But Martha said it. "They're not my zing!"
A look of anger crossed her father's face. "That is it. I will be dragging you back if you do not come willingly!" He began to climb the fence.
Thinking fast, Martha clambered onto Renfield and grabbed his mane, before kicking and clicking him on. "Come on, Ren! Go!" The horse let out a whinny and began to canter across the field, which soon turned into a gallop as Martha kicked harder.
Behind her Martha could hear her father shouting, but she didn't worry. Her father would never be caught dead riding a horse bare back, especially in the suit he was dressed in; he would go through the trouble of getting a stable boy to bring a horse in, saddle it up, while he got changed into the proper riding gear before going after her.
Martha continued to gallop Renfield across the field, and spotting part of the fence which had half fallen, she rode him towards it. Renfield jumped the broken fence easily, and the two continued onwards into the thick woods which surrounded the manor.
As they rode, tears began to fill Martha's dark eyes and she buried her face into Renfield's neck, trusting that the horse would not head into danger. She cried; she cried for her mother, and how she never found her zing; she cried for Lucy, who had watched as the man she liked picked her friend over her; and she cried for herself, realizing that she may never find her zing before her father grew tired with the wait and married her off to the first man who asked.
At some point, Renfield slowed down to a halt and just remained standing, and even after this Martha continued to cry for some time. Mavis crawled out of her pocket and climbed up Martha's body, nudging the girl's face with her own. Martha looked down, her face swollen from the tears and her eyes red. "Sorry, Mavis; I forgot you were in there."
Mavis chirped and gestured around them. Martha looked around, too; it had grown dark, and it made her wonder how long she'd been out for. The party must be long over, and I can't stay out here all night. She sighed. "Come on, let's go home."
She climbed off Renfield and looked around...and only then did she realize that she had no idea where they were. "Um...you don't happen to know the way back, do you Ren?"
The horse appeared to roll his eyes and then shook his head. Martha deflated, letting out another sigh.
"This is just great."
The sound of a door opening was heard, and Martha whirled around to find a small cottage behind them with an old lady standing in the doorway. "Why, hello there, young lady. What are you doing out so late?"
Martha didn't know what to say. I could have sworn that wasn't there before... "I... I mean we... We got lost."
The woman chuckled lightly. "Yes, you can easily get lost in these woods. Why don't you come in and warm yourself up by the fire? You won't find your way back in the dark. Everything looks the same."
Martha looked around her, and then back at the cottage. Her father had always warned her about talking to strangers who lived on their own in the middle of nowhere; he used to scare her with stories about witches and werewolves when she was a little girl. But looking around her, she realized that the woman was right; there was no way she was finding her way back in the dark, and she was already feeling cold from the night air.
"Alright," she said. "But are you sure? I really don't want to be a bother..."
"No bother at all!" said the woman. "I haven't had company in years! It's better than talking to my broom!"
Martha blinked. "Your broom?"
The woman coughed, looking scared for a moment. "I mean... Never mind. Come on in! But your horse will have to stay outside."
"Ren doesn't mind." Renfield made a noise suggesting that he did mind, but Martha ignored him. He wouldn't have been able to fit through the door, anyway.
Martha walked inside and found the place to be rather unusual. There wasn't any of the usual furniture one would find in a cottage; instead there was a large pot in the centre of the room, and on the shelves surrounding it, there were many glasses and vials of different coloured liquids. A black cat was sleeping on an empty shelf, and then there was a broom...sweeping itself.
The girl blinked, then closed her eyes and gave them a rub. When she opened them, the broom was still sweeping on its own.
"BROOM!" the old lady screeched. "We have company!"
The broom froze, and noticing Martha for the first time, it leapt in fright before clattering lifelessly to the floor.
"Your broom..." Martha couldn't believe what she had just seen. It's like the stories Mother used to tell me... She turned to the old woman wearily. "Are...are you a witch?"
"A witch? Why would you think such a thing?" Martha wordlessly pointed to the broom, and the lady sighed. "All right, I am. But please don't tell anyone!" she begged. "I've moved around so many times, and do you know how many property opportunities there are in the middle of nowhere? None! Ugh! Things used to be so much more peaceful in medieval times. No angry mobs coming to kill you."
She passed Martha and walked over to her cat, before stroking it. The cat woke up and purred.
As Martha watched, she realized this woman seemed pretty harmless. Martha was a girl who had a good judge of character; it had saved her many times before. "I won't tell anyone. Don't worry. But can I ask you something?"
"Do you solve problems?"
The witch gave her a puzzled look. "What kind of problems?"
"Well..." Martha sighed. "I was at a garden party, and three men asked me to marry them. The problem is that I've been waiting for the right man to come along; one who's my zing. I didn't feel anything for either of them, but... I've never felt a zing before."
"So you want to know which one to marry?"
"Well, not exactly..." Martha shrugged. "I just want to find the right man for me." She knew that when she got back home, her father would demand she marry one of the three men. One of them could be my zing and I just don't know it.
The old lady thought for a second, before moving a stool across the room and standing upon it, reaching for one of the many glass vials. "I have a spell here which takes you to where your true love resides – or as you phrase it, your 'zing'. Kids these days; always making up their own words."
She handed the vial to Martha. The liquid inside was a mixture of pink and purple, and Martha was hesitant to drink it – if that's what she was supposed to do. "I drink it?"
"Half the vial will do," said the witch. "But remember; your zing could be anywhere in the world. You just may not know it."
Knowing this could be her only chance, she took off the lid and raised it to her lips. Then, closing her eyes, she gulped down half the liquid.
She felt a weird sensation flow through her. She kept her eyes screwed tightly shut, not wanting to know what was happening; it felt like she was flying, the air rushing past her so fast that her ears popped. Her head was beginning to spin, and when she thought she would pass out from what was happening to her, she landed on what felt like sand.
When Martha opened her eyes, she was lying on a beach in the middle of nowhere.