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Recently, I learned that Count Dratoc died. The cause of death was suicide. The way he went out was fairly fitting for the man. In death, as he was in life, strange, shocking, and most definitely unintentionally attention-grabbing. Count Dratoc is the nickname of Oskar Nyholm. He produced and sold music under that name. He always said he derived the name from the old legends about vampires. That it felt powerful and right to him. He had a small following of people who were genuinely interested in his stuff. Oskar used to be a friend of mine. We grew up together. He used to be my friend until he tried killing me. As strange as it may sound, I can understand why he did what he did, especially knowing what I know now.

Oskar wasn’t right in the head. He was a cold individual to those who couldn’t break past his walls. He was a strange and dark man. Many would say he found no joy in life and was depressed. I don’t know whether he had suffered from depression, but he found some pleasures in life, for sure. He would come off as a person who does not understand and is incapable of humor, however, I’d say that he had a sense of humor. His humor was just very dark, dry, and subtle. He was a peculiar man, but for fifteen years I thought he was just a little strange, maybe even a genius. He was insightful and certainly talented, just misunderstood.

His strange personality manifested itself after he nearly died in a skating accident. He suffered a serious fall, rupturing a few internal organs as a kid, and ended up clinically dead for a couple of minutes. After that, something went wrong, something probably broke in his head because his brain didn’t get enough oxygen.

After that accident, Oskar became increasingly isolationist, cold, broody, and somewhat obsessed with death. Specifically corpses. Not in the sense that he wanted to do anything with actual corpses. No, dead bodies repulsed and appalled him. He displayed his obsession with corpses in his frequent verbiage relating to the said word. He became extremely nihilistic and would equate people to rotting corpses crawling through their lives. Oskar would frequently use many such euphemisms. The count frequently said he saw most people as corpses strolling about, wasting away. He could tell you who was a corpse and who was not. It was completely arbitrary and senseless to anyone besides him.

For the longest time, I thought it was just the colorful language of a brooding young man. I guess he was more literal in his choice of words.

One of his peculiarities was telling everyone who knew him that there was ice in his veins. He'd also complain he's cold. This wouldn’t stop until his nagging forced someone to touch him and say he’s warm or something. I always assumed it was part of his humor. Another one of his shticks was saying he couldn't feel his pulse. Nobody bothered checking this one, though. This frequently resulted in him ranting for hours about how he’s a machine or a miracle of the devil or some other silly thing. It was entirely harmless like I said, so we, his few friends, just followed along with his oddities. Other than being a weird dude, he was a pretty stand-up guy. Oskar held a job at a local music shop. He was almost entirely normal around strangers, and you couldn’t tell he had a thing for covering himself in dirt and proclaiming to be a soldier in the army of the walking dead. He estranged himself from his family, but he loved the freedom of it all, I guess.

All of that started changing when we met Thorstein Ruud, the Outlaw, known so locally for being a man who lived in his car because he could. He was another type of strange. Something you’d call a corporate psychopath. He couldn’t physically hurt a fly, but he was an asshole and was dying to make money. The problem with this guy was that he was an absolute moron. He couldn’t do anything right. I remember in the early nineties he rented a shop, turned it into an entertainment place. He used part of the shop as a small-scale theatre and used the rest to sell music records and movie cassettes. The shop had to be closed down in a short time because the idiot couldn’t manage finances.

Oskar knew this guy was no good from the get-go. He called him a corpse right away. I remember he said he was riddled with maggots sprouting from an empty eye socket in a creepy low pitch. I remember to this day the visual of him placing a hand over his eye and wiggling his fingers while rolling his eyes.

Somehow Ruud convinced the Count they should work together on the Count’s music. I don’t know how or why. The two never seemed to go a single day without arguing. At some point, Ruud thought it was a good idea to promote Count Dratoc as his own project. Oskar found out and nearly lost his shit. He was turning red and blue with rage. His eyes got that creepy, unnerving stare. The stare of a lunatic, it’s a very obvious stare. Looking at the distance, unfocused, yet piercing. It sent chills down my spine when he chucked his beer bottle to the floor and then grabbed a piece of broken glass, swearing he'd kill Ruud.

To this day, I have no clue about how Ruud got himself in the newspaper. He was worthless, a pathetic scum. Anyway, he mentioned Oskar as the weird dude who inspired his music. Someone somewhere contacted Oskar, who then buried the project as deep as he could in the eyes of the public out of spite. He didn’t care about the money or being famous. It was a hobby for him. He used to hand out records with his music to his closest friends, never accepting money for them. So, he sold himself as this absolute maniac who performs satanic rituals in the woods and practices demonic necromancy and all this other silly shit. Whoever was in charge of that interview was an idiot who took him too seriously, and that caused a local outrage. The project went to shit and as a result, Outlaw made death threats towards Oskar. Over the fucking phone.

He never bothered showing his face again in town. That was the end of that. Granted, Oskar got himself in trouble for his behavior in the interview. The circumstances forced him to admit that the whole thing was nothing more than a promotional joke for his music project. Soon enough, life returned to normal. As normal as my life could be when one of my closest friends was Oskar. The man who could show up at my apartment at 4 am to talk to me about his doomed nihilism, as he called it.

I came home one night from work, and I remember him sitting on the steps at our apartment complex. He was just sitting there, giggling to himself. Nothing unusual for him. I remember his head was facing the floor with his long blond hair covering his face. I placed my hand on his back and greeted him as “King of the beggars, Dratoc.” He just turned his head upwards and giggled.

Staring at me with that insane look on his face again, his eyes were so fucking weird. Something about this whole situation made my skin crawl. I remember how time kind of slowed down as we looked at each other and he just stared at the street behind me while directly looking into my eyes. My heart rose to my throat, and I clearly remember it pounding in my ears.

I just bolted past him and started climbing toward my apartment. Something about him felt wrong, entirely wrong. This wasn’t the usual weirdness of Oskar Nyholm. This was something completely different. I just remember the stairwell being completely dark and silent. I was consumed by thoughts about the strange man sitting below, and I felt this gut-twisting, sharp pain pulsating next to my collarbone. My right arm went numb, and the pain reverberated through my entire body. Shooting little arrows of agony across my shoulder and into my chest. I reached for my hurting shoulder, and I felt a chilly hand beneath mine.

At that moment, my head went blank. Every thought flew out of the window. The primal part of my psyche took over, and I screamed. Only then I noticed an elongated substance protruding from the base of my neck and something warm flowing under my shirt.

He giggled, and my heart sank.

Oskar Nyholm, Count Dratoc, I heard him giggling behind my back.

I turned around, and I saw his hand grasping my shirt. The pain was still bombarding my brain, and the adrenaline was overriding my judgment. I saw his fist flying towards me. Everything turned dark for a quarter of a moment, and my jaw felt sore. The blow refocused my mind. I saw Oskar attempting to punch me again, that sick stare in his eyes, a determined scowl on his mouth. Barely evading his punch, I pushed him with my bad hand. He stumbled a couple of steps back. My whole body was burning with pain, and I resorted to head-butt my assailant as hard as I could. He recoiled backward, nearly falling down the stairs, but was able to grasp the rail. Not even thinking, I kicked him as hard as I could in the chest, sending him down the flight of stairs with sickening thumps.

Those few moments felt like an hour. I didn’t even think about what had just happened. I ran up the stairs to my apartment, locking the door behind me. My body was hurting, my head was ringing, I was shaking and sick. The adrenaline was making me tremble, and I felt my stomach knotting. I ran to the bathroom to throw up. Only after I had thrown up, I noticed the screwdriver still lodged in the base of my neck. The adrenaline rush resumed, and my mind went ballistic with all sorts of insane thoughts. I didn’t feel the pain at all. I didn’t risk pulling out the screwdriver.

I called the police and forced myself to be coherent enough to explain to them what happened. Only after that, I remembered I might’ve crippled Oskar. So many thoughts and emotions swirled in my mind at that moment, ranging from anger to guilt. Even then, when I did not know why he did what he did, I didn’t want him to die or be a cripple. It was so chaotic in my mind. When the cops and medics arrived, I was kneeling over the toilet, vomiting my guts out.

They questioned me, and I ended up in the hospital. The stabbing caused permanent nerve damage to my right arm. I was lucky to be alive, as the screwdriver didn’t hit any important blood vessels. I couldn’t sleep right for a few months. A cocktail of pain and the nightmares riddled with Dratoc’s demonic face haunted me in the dark.

Speaking of Oskar, he wasn’t seriously hurt in his fall. The authorities found him six days later, hiding in the forest, covered in blood and dirt, groaning and moaning while he crawled all over the ground. After searching his apartment, the authorities had found the remains of Thorstein Ruud. His corpse was the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen. Stab wounds and lacerations all over. Oskar destroyed his face. It was completely unrecognizable. He left Ruud a pile of rotten meat and broken bones.

Oskar Nyholm would serve ten years in prison, initially sentenced to fifteen. They had let him out early thanks to his exemplary behavior behind the bars. Of course, he apologized for what he did to me. We remained on speaking terms. He claimed in court that his murder of Ruud resulted from a drunken dispute that had turned violent. He blamed the influence of what he called bad alcohol on the assault on me as well. I guess he convinced the judge enough to avoid life in prison with his display of remorse. I doubted it was sincere at first, but now I think he was honestly regretting his actions. He would later tell me he did what he did because he was curious to find out what it felt like to kill a person. A sick thought experiment he devised for himself. Turns out, he enjoyed the experience I provided and decided it was worth it to kill Ruud, just to feel that thrill again and get back at the asshole.

That was also the first time he admitted something wasn’t right in his head. He repeatedly apologized for not being able to control his urge and that I wasn’t an intended target, just a casualty of lost control.

It didn’t help him. I never allowed him to get close again. The guy creeped me out more often than not after that incident. Society forgave him and embraced him. He improved his overall behavior with people and also spent most of his time in prison producing some strange yet beautiful music. Once out of prison, he started volunteering at a psychiatric center, perhaps to help himself.

Sadly, it didn’t pan out as he might’ve intended.

Not too long ago, I scrolled through my emails. In a sea of spam and useless messages, I found an email from Oskar. He emailed this same message to all of his acquaintances. Oskar had never emailed me before. He’d call or text me. This was a first-time thing, so it piqued my curiosity. I opened the email and there was a video. The title was Project-O. "Strange and artistic, how typical of Count Dratoc," I thought.

Opening the video, I expected something either fucked up or some trippy music video. I didn’t expect to see the face of despair staring at me. Oskar sat in front of his camera, pale and exhausted, completely drained of all life. He looked like a patient of oncology. A completely hollow husk made of skin and bone parodying the man he once was. He was never a big man, but he was not as skinny as he’d been in this video.

Something felt off, a feeling that would only get worse when he started speaking.

He spoke about corpses and pain and suffering and hell and heaven and the longer he spoke, the sicker I felt.

I remember him admitting he did what he did because he saw most people as walking, decaying lumps of flesh, forever locked in their infernal agony. Untold suffering etched into their decomposing expressions.

He spoke about how he couldn’t look at the mirror because a corpse was staring back at him.

About realizing that this world is hell in the form of a nightmare we’re all stuck in. About how he figured out that the only way to wake up is to die.

He said he knew his time had come, that he had turned to decaying monstrosity drowning in its own unimaginable pain. Of how his blood froze in his veins and his heart petrified and turned into a stone. About how he would wake up to the real world, after he blows his brains out.

I just sat there, sickened and confused by this whole spiel of his.

He apologized for the hurt he’d caused throughout the years and urged no one to mourn for him. Saying he will be gone to a better place by the time they found his false remains.

I felt the temperature drop in my room as I watched the video. Everything slowed down and turned kind of dim for the duration of the viewing. I found it hard to breathe, as if something was forcing cold and heavy hair into my lungs, making it hard to inhale properly. I had to re-watch the video a few times because of how surreal it all seemed.

Every time I replayed the thing, every single time I re-watched the video, I could feel the cold, hateful touch under my skin. The dead man’s hand was crawling up my chest and clutching my heart, attempting to crush it within its grip.

I spent more than an hour re-watching that video until I could no longer watch it. Only stopping when the urge to vomit surfaced. I only stopped when it all started making sense to me.

Oskar Nyholm was a deeply disturbed man. He must’ve convinced himself everyone around him was an anguished soul trapped inside a rotten carcass deprived of rest because he perceived himself to be dead. He probably saw himself as the thing he claimed to view everyone else as. A tortured soul stuck in an ever-decaying body that is bereft of rest.

I still re-watch the video sometimes, even though it all makes sense. Just to see if the morbid sensation will return, and it always does. I still feel the dead man’s hand reach for my heart. It’s like something anchors Oskar’s lonely spirit to that video file and is still incapable of peaceful rest.

Oskar Nyholm had committed suicide aged 41. Count Dratoc blew his brains out with a shotgun, just as he promised.

May he live forever in the memories of those who knew him. This is the story of Count Dratoc, the strange man who once tried to kill me. He believed me to be a living corpse trapped in eternal agony, unable to escape its own torment. He thought killing me would save me.

May his memory live in the subconsciousness of all, as he does in my nightmares.

Written by WilsonDKiller
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