Count Duckula’s House Pest
by Doc Quantum
Count Duckula finds himself utterly bored this Howlloween, longing for the old days of hapless victims and torch-carrying mobs. But when young Billy Bearowitz stumbles into his castle, Duckula quickly discovers that his house guest might just be the worst kind of house pest!
Deep in the heart of darkest Pigpensylvania exists the Castle of Duckula. On this night, under a full moon, Count Duckula himself stood slumped against one of the castle turrets on the rooftop. He was bored.
“I am bored… so bored,” complained Duckula in a typical Pigpensylvanian accent (Old World Pigpensylvanian, that is). “This is Howlloveen veek, vhen all the ghosts and goblins are supposed to be out stirring up the locals. But I haven’t seen vun torch-carrying, pitchfork-vielding mob come by my castle in months! I tell you, Bearzanboltz, times are changing, and I’m afraid that I, Count Duckula, must soon change vith them!”
“Yeah,” replied his servant, the huge Frankenswine-like bear called Bearzanboltz, the usual dumb grin on his face. Bearzanboltz had been spawned by a freak explosion in a toy factory into a misshapen, patchwork creature made of bear parts and bolts keeping those parts together, as befitting his name. He was a hairy henchman of few words, and (except for when a punchline was called for) those few words tended to be along the same lines as “Yeah,” “Uh-huh,” and “Okey-doke.” (*) It was just as well; Count Duckula usually only liked hearing the sound of his own voice.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Scott Shaw’s “Duckula and His Hairy Henchman, Bearzanboltz,” Quack! #1 (July, 1976).]
“Vhat I vould give for just vun hapless visitor to darken my door and relieve my boredom… not to mention my constant thirst for blood.”
As if on cue, down the path outside the huge Duckula estate strolled a young bear cub, carrying a small suitcase and whistling a happy tune as if oblivious to all danger around him.
“Can it be, my frand?” said Count Duckula, peering eagerly from the castle rooftop. “Iss it too much to hope for? Could that be the very same hapless visitor I had vished for just moments ago?”
Turning, Duckula fondled his fangs and then pranced in eager anticipation. Shooing his repulsive lackey away, he said, “Qvick, B.B.! Go turn on the lights! Svitch on all the signs! We must make Castle Duckula as inviting as possible for that young cub! After all, he must enter freely and of his own vill, you know!”
Billy Bearowitz was having the time of his young life. He had just won an all-expenses-paid trip to Pigpensylvania for Howlloween, and boy, was he ready for it! His boss, Ducktor Quackum, had been yelling at him even more than usual lately back in his lab in the city of Albatross, where Billy worked as his assistant. (*) Duck Quackum was always yelling at him. Of course, although Billy always tried his best, he was kind of a klutz and tended to mess up the good Ducktor’s experiments most of the time. When he told his boss about winning this vacation thanks to a subscription to Newsqueak Magazine, Quackum basically pushed him out the door and even drove him to the airport. What a nice guy, that Ducktor Quackum; cranky, but nice.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: They Might Be Giants.]
Upon reaching Piggsburgh, however, Billy couldn’t find the hotel he was supposed to stay at, and started wandering in an effort to find it. Eventually, finding himself distracted as usual — this time by a roadside billboard advertising his favorite drink, Koala Cola — Billy ended up walking off through a forest path and got himself lost before he noticed. (He had a tendency to do that kind of thing; just go with it for the sake of the plot.)
Now, as Billy strolled whistling past the huge iron gates of Castle Duckula, he barely noticed as those same iron gates slowly swung inward, and a bevy of flashing neon lights along the driveway beckoned him to enter. There were even huge neon signs advertising free room and board for everyone who believes in a free lunch, no string attached!
But Billy Bearowitz was still too busy thinking about that tall, cool bottle of Koala Cola he’d seen on the billboard some twenty miles back, and was completely oblivious to all the flashing lights. He merely strolled on by.
“I do not understand, B.B.,” said Count Duckula, observing the cub through a telescope from a dark upper room. “He just valked on by! He didn’t even look up!”
Turning away from the telescope, Duckula began to pace. “Could he be that much of an idiot? Who doesn’t even look up at lights flashing right in his face?” Stopping, Duckula had a determined look on his fowlish face as he said, “Bearzanboltz, it iss time to play hardball, as they say. Get out there and TELL that young cub to come visit the castle at vunce! You must convince him, B.B.! Tell him about all the amenities he could look forward to! An underground pool! A continental breakfast! Room service! Now, GO!”
Bearzanboltz replied, “Okey-doke,” and quickly left the room.
Billy Bearowitz was still strolling down the path, the neon lights of Castle Duckula flashing on his back as he went on his way, dreaming about that bottle of Koala Cola. “Mmm…. so bubbly,” he muttered to himself, a bit of drool falling from the corner of his mouth.
He was so oblivious to his surroundings that he didn’t even notice the giant figure in front of him until he slammed right into him and fell to the ground, dropping his suitcase, which popped open.
Looking up, Billy saw a huge, fearsome-looking bear silhouetted against the full moon. A sudden flash of lightning briefly illuminated the face of Bearzanboltz, displaying stitches and scarred tissue, along with his usual dumb grin.
“Gosh, they sure do grow ’em BIG here in Pigpensylvania!” muttered Billy, eyes wide as saucers.
Momentarily startled, Billy looked down at the envelope in his paw, and pulled out the letter and brochure from within that he’d received from Newsqueak. “Say,” he said, squinting his eyes as he looked up at the huge bear, “are you from the hotel? I got kinda lost tryin’ ta find it.”
“Yeah,” growled Bearzanboltz.
“Wow, that’s great!” said Billy, standing himself up. “Where is the hotel, anyhoo?”
Bearzanboltz slowly lifted one huge paw and pointed toward Castle Duckula.
“Cool! Thanks, pal!” said Billy.
At that, Billy Bearowitz began strolling back down the path, whistling a happy tune. Count Duckula grinned as he watched Billy walk toward the gate through his telescope… but his face drooped when he saw that, instead of entering freely and of his own will through the gates, Billy just kept on strolling by.
“Vhat iss it vith this cub?” Duckula muttered. “Iss he a complete maroon?”
Luckily, Bearzanboltz was already on the job, and stopped him in his tracks the same way he had before.
Billy picked himself up off the ground once more and looked up to see Bearzanboltz pointing more urgently toward Castle Duckula and all the lit-up signs and lights to be seen there.
“OHHH!” Billy said, slapping his forehead. “You mean THAT hotel! OK, OK, I gotcha! Ya don’t haveta tell THIS cub anythin’ twice, no sirree!”
Bearzanboltz grabbed the small suitcase before Billy could do so, and motioned again toward the castle. Thus, finally, the young cub strolled right in through the huge iron gates and down the driveway toward the large front doorway of the castle. “Nice place ya got here!” he said. “Real spooky atmosphere, huh? Sure makes for a fun Howlloween destination, if ya ask me!”
“Yeah,” said Bearzanboltz, walking closely behind him now to ensure that the cub didn’t take any more detours. In the distance, a wolf howled.
As he approached the castle’s front door, Billy shivered suddenly. “Brrr! I’m a bit cold!” At that, he knocked on the door.
A loud creaking sound could be heard as the door opened, and out stepped Count Duckula, smiling like the cat who caught the canary. “Greetings, my frand! Ha-ha-ha. Please, enter freely and of your own vill!”
“Thanks, pal!” said Billy, and walked right in. “Ah, ya got the fireplace goin’, too! Nice and toasty in here, ain’t it?”
“Please, make yourself at home!” insisted Count Duckula. “You are my guest, after all!”
“Don’t mind if I do!” said Billy, and tried to make himself comfortable in the drawing room on a chair next to the fire, but couldn’t stop fidgeting. “Hmmm… something’s not right,” he said. “Ah, I got it!” Before anyone could stop him, the cub grabbed the side table, put it in front of his chair, and put his muddy boots on it.
“Eep!” cried Duckula as he watched the mud slide off the boots and onto the table. “That is an antique! B.B.!”
“Yeah, it does look pretty old,” agreed Billy, and leaned back in the chair. Bearzanboltz was there in an instant, removing Billy’s muddy boots and replacing the now-soiled antique side table with a cushioned footrest. “Gosh, that’s much better!”
“Anything… heh-heh… for our guest,” grumbled Count Duckula, looking sadly at the stained antique that had once been worth a fortune before giving a nod to his hairy henchman, who threw it in the pile of wood next to the fireplace; it was now worthless.
The uncomfortable silence that followed was ended by a loud grumbling. Duckula and Bearzanboltz looked around for the source of the sound, when Billy spoke up.
“Say, I’m kinda hungry! Got anythin’ to eat around here?”
“But of course!” assured the Count. Pointing to a doorway, he said, “There is the bathroom. Once you have refreshed yourself, you vill find supper prepared for you in the dining room.” At that, Duckula and his servant left the cub to himself in the drawing room.
“B.B., I have a feeling ve might haff made a mistake vith this vun,” said Count Duckula. “Ah, but ve haff made our bed and now must sleep in it, as they say. Bring out the meal as promised.”
“Okey-doke,” said Bearzanboltz.
A few minutes later, the doors to the dining room swung open, and in walked Billy Bearowitz, dripping wet and wearing only a towel around his waist.
“I couldn’t find th’ bath in the bathroom, so I just washed myself with that little wash basin next to th’ toilet!”
Duckula raised one eyebrow. “You mean… the bidet?” Shaking his head, he exclaimed, “You’re soaked! Dripping water all over the mahogany floor I just had installed last year!”
“Oh, sorry about that! Should’a shook off first,” Billy said, and before the Count could stop him, the young cub had already begun shaking his water-soaked fur like a dog.
Count Duckula looked unimpressed as every square inch of the dining room, including himself and Bearzanboltz, was now covered with droplets of water. “B.B., a mop if you please…”
“Okey-doke.” The hairy henchman left and came back with a mop and bucket, then cleaned the floor as quickly as possible.
With a deep sigh, Duckula motioned the young cub to take his seat at the dining table, then took the cover off the first dish. “Please help yourself to your supper — some roast chicken, cheese, a salad, and a bottle of Koala Cola!”
“Don’t mind if I do!” Billy said eagerly, and started gobbling down everything in sight. His eyes widened as he saw the bottle of Koala Cola he’d been dreaming about all evening. Downing it, he burped loudly and said, “Ahh… now that hits the spot!”
Count Duckula sniffed with repulsion as he saw that the cub had now made an even bigger mess than before, and had left the cutlery untouched, having eaten everything entirely with his paws. “B.B., a mop?”
After supper, Count Duckula invited Billy Bearowitz back to the drawing room to enjoy some more Koala Cola by the fireplace, after the cub had gotten into his single-piece pyjamas.
“Ah, now that hits the spot,” said Billy, finishing up another bottle. He tossed the bottle into a pile of several others he’d already drank. “Can I have one more, please?”
“Uh, are you sure you vouldn’t like to drink something else?” suggest Duckula. “Perhaps a glass of vater, or–?”
“Nah, I’m good,” said Billy, and gleefully accepted another Koala Cola from Bearzanboltz. Looking around at the shelves full of books, Billy pulled out a little black book that had the word CONTACTS printed on its cover, and started flipping through it. “Hey, so these are your pals, huh? Frankenswine, Wuz-Wolf, Mudd the muck monster…”
“Give me that!” cried Count Duckula indignantly as he grabbed it out of the cub’s hands. “Now, iff you please, just sit down and enjoy your colas.”
In the awkward silence that followed, broken only by the sound of Billy gulping down cola and burping occasionally, the sound of wolves howling could be heard in the distance.
“Listen to them!” said Count Duckula excitedly. “The children of the night! Vhat music they make!”
Billy nodded and said knowingly, “Don’t worry, I’ll handle this.”
“Vhat…?” replied Duckula with confusion.
Billy walked over to the nearby window and shouted, “HEY, YOU GUYS! SHADDUP!”
“Hey, pal, why don’t YOU shut up?!” yelled one of the wolves, Rusty Wolfberg, a long-haul trucker who lived in the house next door. “We pay our taxes! We can howl if we wanna!”
“Yeah!” agreed one of his buddies, drinking a tall cool one. “Owooo!”
“WE’RE TRYIN’ TA ENJOY A NICE, PEACEFUL EVENING OVER HERE, SO SHADDUP!” cried Billy.
“Ahh, why don’t you come here an’ MAKE me?” cried Wolfberg.
Billy turned around, a smile on his face, and said, “Those guys! Such jokers! I’ll just close yer window so’s we don’t hafta listen to them anymore.”
Count Duckula’s beak had grown even paler than its usual pale yellow, while his white feathers looked frazzled from the noise.
“Cheee, y’know, boss,” whispered Bearzanboltz, “I could just hold ‘im down fer ya while you do your bizness — y’know, yer vampire stuff?”
“If I haff told you once, I haff told you a thousand times, B.B.,” retorted Count Duckula, holding one feathery finger up in the air, “there iss a PROCEDURE for these things! One does not simply attack his guest vithout following the proper procedure!”
“Whatchu guys talkin’ about?” asked Billy, standing right between them and unnoticed until this moment.
“Oh… er… nothing, nothing, my frand,” assured Count Duckula. “Ah, but the hour iss getting late. You must be tired. Your bedroom iss all ready, and you may sleep in for as long as you like! B.B., please show our guest to hiss room!”
“Hey, you mind if I take a few more o’ these colas with me?” asked Billy.
Count Duckula squinted his eyes and chuckled uncomfortably. “Y-you vill not… ah, pee in the bed, vill you, after drinking all those colas?”
Billy Bearowitz laughed. “Hee-hee! No, I haven’t done that since I was in diapers! I’ll just take another visit to the bathroom first, and I should be all set!”
“Ah-heh… yes, yes,” said Duckula. “Vell, right this vay.”
After Billy was finished his business, Bearzanboltz led him the rest of the way to his chambers, while Count Duckula began breathing long, deep breaths in an effort to calm himself. “Just a few hours more, just a few hours more…” he muttered as he paced the floor. “Just follow the usual procedure for house guests, and then I can feast on hiss blood at last… after all, vhat more trouble could he get into vhile sleeping in hiss room?”
After brushing his teeth, Billy tucked himself in the huge bed in the chambers that were provided for him, a basket full of Koala Colas at his bedside table. And Castle Duckula was at peace once again.
A few hours passed that night, and Count Duckula went back to his alchemical laboratory, where he worked on forbidden science, his usual nightly pursuit. He had just created a bubbling green formula and was cackling with glee with the entire castle shook.
“V-vhat in the vorld vas that?!” said an astonished Duckula.
“Dunno,” replied Bearzanboltz.
“Vell, go and see vhat it vas!” shouted Count Duckula.
The castle shook again, this time even worse, causing pieces of stone between the masonry to fall down.
“Iss it an earthquake?” cried Duckula. “In Pigpensylvania?!”
“Dunno,” replied Bearzanboltz, already on the stone staircase leading from the laboratory in the crypts to the main floor. “I’ll find out.”
“I vill come vith you,” replied Duckula.
To no one’s surprise, Billy Bearowitz was the source of the castle being shaken. Count Duckula was beside himself as he realized that most of the top floor and the roof itself in this part of the castle was nearly destroyed. “VHAT ISS GOING ON?!?” he cried, clutching his head so tightly that he pulled out a few feathers.
“S-SORRY!” said Billy, who was already a fifty-foot-tall giant and growing larger every moment. His voice boomed as he spoke. “I SHOULD’VE WARNED YA! EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, IF I DRINK TOO MUCH KOALA COLA, I TURN INTO A GIANT!”
Suddenly, Billy started looking a bit sickly as he reached up one massive paw to put in front of his mouth.
Panicking, Bearzanboltz shouted, “INCOMING!” and tackled Duckula to the ground, moments before a huge belch was emitted from the giant bear that shook the castle even worse than it had the previous two times.
“AAAARGHHH!” shouted Count Duckula, picking himself up off the dusty castle floor. “GET OUT!” he cried, pointing toward the door. “Get out of here this INSTANT! I haff had ENOUGH of you!”
“GEE, I’M SORRY, MISTER!” said Billy sadly. “I REALLY DIDN’T MEAN TO RUIN YOUR CASTLE! I-I GUESS I’LL BE GOING NOW.”
At that, the now-sixty-foot-tall Billy Bearowitz fully stood up (destroying more of the castle as he did) and stepped over the front door before walking away back down the path he’d come from. A chilly draft passed through the castle, one that Duckula feared could never be fixed.
“That iss it, B.B.,” said Duckula. “Ve are moving back to Transplant-sylvania! I haff had enough of the New Vorld!”
After tasking Bearzanboltz with doing whatever little he could to restore whatever wasn’t fully destroyed in the castle, Count Duckula retreated into the crypts below to sleep for the day, completely defeated. The next evening would be Howlloween, but he no longer cared about it. His castle was destroyed, and the quiet evening with his would-be victim had been ruined by the antics of an incredibly ridiculous young bear cub. As far as he was concerned, Howlloween was ruined.
The next evening, Count Duckula awoke from sleep in his crypt to strangely find that there was no draft at all. Frowning in confusion, Duckula passed through his alchemical laboratory (which was also in perfect condition) and slowly made his way up the stone staircase to the top floor.
Expecting the castle to be nothing but ruins, Count Duckula’s eyes widened in surprise as he found the old castle not only not destroyed, but in better condition than it ever was! “Bearzanboltz?” he called. “B.B., my frand, vhere are you?”
Duckula wandered around the old castle in a state of happy confusion, unable to understand how any of this could be. Had it all been a bad dream? Furthermore, where was his trusty hairy henchman, Bearzanboltz?
As he walked into a particularly darkened room that had once been used as a ballroom in happier times, he fumbled around in the dark to find the switch to turn on the gas-lights. “Now vhere iss that blasted svitch? Ah, there it iss. Now to turn on the lights…”
Count Duckula was dumbstruck. Before him stood all his friends, here in his restored castle on Howlloween. The whole ballroom had been decorated for the occasion, with fake cobwebs, bats, ghosts, and goblins strewn about. A huge banner above the windows read: WELCOME TO THE MONSTER BASH!
Searching the faces he saw many friends he hadn’t seen in years: the Wuz-Wolf, the Frankenswine Monster and his Bride, the swamp creature Mudd, and any number of ghosts, goblins, mummies, and zombies galore. Finally, he found Bearzanboltz as well.
“B.B.! Vhat iss all this?” asked Duckula. “How did you fix the castle? And who put together this monster bash?”
Instead of his faithful henchman answered a newcomer, an old duck mad scientist wearing goggles who strangely fit in very well with this Howlloween crowd.
“It was the least I could do after my young assistant wrecked your castle,” said Ducktor Quackum, the famous mystery-mammal from Weird War II and leader of the Farm Team, the Zoo Crew’s stand-ins whenever they were unavailable for emergencies. Behind him stood Billy Bearowitz himself, back to his normal small size and looking chagrined.
“I-I’m really sorry, Count,” said Billy.
“His hotel contacted me last night after he never checked in,” explained Quackum. “So I was already in Piggsburgh by the time the news reported on a certain giant traipsing through the neighborhood. It’s not the first time Billy’s turned back into a giant, but I’m working on getting it out of his system as quickly as I can. Anyway, when I returned Billy back to normal, he told me all about your… ‘hospitality’ and how badly he felt for causing so much damage. I’m sure you only had the best intentions in mind when you invited him to spend the night here at Castle Duckula, right?” Ducktor Quackum looked at him sternly.
“Ah… yes,” said Duckula. “Best intentions, of course! And nothing but! I certainly vasn’t planning to fatten him up and feast on him later on! Nothing of the kind! Heh-heh-heh.”
“I didn’t think so,” Quackum replied evenly. “Well, anyway, after I put two and two together, I realized you were quite the victim of circumstances, and put all my scientific efforts together to rebuild your castle in record time, while you were sleeping! Bearzanboltz helped, as well as an army of robots I have on hand for this kind of job, of course.”
“Of course,” replied Duckula. “Vell, I must thank you. Vhat it also you who brought together all my frands for this monster bash?”
“No, that would be Billy’s work,” replied Ducktor Quackum.
“I felt really bad about everything,” explained Billy. “So I swiped your little black contact book while the robots were rebuilding the castle, and used it to make a few phone calls. Some of the guys were a bit harder to get ahold of than others, but when I told ’em what I was doin’, they were all eager to help find the rest!”
Count Duckula wiped one tear from his eye. “I-I am deeply touched, my frand. Th-thank you.”
“You’ll also find that we’ve restocked your… uh… ‘wine’ cellar with a certain withdrawal from the blood bank,” said Ducktor Quackum, looking at the old vampire meaningfully. “So you won’t have any need to invited any OTHER hapless wanderers who pass by any longer.”
“Oh! Ah, thank you! That is very much appreciated!” replied Duckula, looking chagrined himself. “And no, I won’t have need to do such a thing again.”
“Well, that’s that,” replied Quackum, grinning as he shook the Count’s hand. “And now, if there’s nothing else, let’s all enjoy ourselves this fine Howlloween evening!”
“Happy Howlloween to one and all!” cried Count Duckula as the music began playing. And for years to come, this would be remembered as the best Monster Bash these ghosts, goblins, vampires, zombies, mummies, and mad scientists had ever had.