The Count's eyes closed and the door to his nightmare opened. His pointed collar glowed like a black star beneath the streetlights. His fuzzy purple fingers pointed to the sign above Leela's Laundromat. A grimace creased his face, highlighting his fangs.
Two bodies dangled from the sign. He recognized his friends Abby Cadabby and Telly. Abby's wand protruded from her chest and out between her wings. Telly's magenta coat was slick from blood as hundreds of cardboard triangles slashed his fur.
The Count gasped. His friends, dead. His two friends...dead. "Two...bodies, ah ah ah. Two bodies...ah, ah, ah" he said, his voice cracking.
Then there was an echoing crash followed by a gruff cry. The Count ran to the noise and stopped mid stride at Oscar the Grouch's trashcan. Loud clamoring erupted from within; screams of help screeched from beneath the dented lid. Words formed on the Count's lips but before he could scream out a thunderous boom roared deep in the Grouch's home...then Oscar's broken body climbed out of the can.
The Grouch spotted the Count. Scraggly green fur bounced as Oscar's mouth moved; words choked as blood drowned his friend. The Count patted his hand, gripped it, and leaned close.
Oscar's lips parted and he said "I...hate...you."
Then the Grouch slumped against the can and died. Grief ballooned in the Count's chest. What was happening? Why...had three of his friends been murdered?
"Three...dead...friends, ah...ah...ah." He said, the last word trailing off into the night.
Then the streetlights went dark. A soft whisper of children's voices filled his ears. A lonely xylophone played and the Count smiled. He knew this song. He loved this song.
"...can you show me how to get, how to get..." He sang but then swallowed back his words.
The voices turned shrill. The xylophone broke rhythm; became a melancholic dirge. Shadow figures of children glowed down the alleys and streets, lit by an unholy light. Then their haunting voices sang out.
"One, two, he's coming for you..."
"No," the Count said.
"Three, four better lock your door..."
"No, stop." The Count said, his voice cracking.
"Five, six, grab a crucifix..."
Another sound joined the singing, distant, like a chorus but high pitched.
"...nine, ten...he is back again."
The sound intensified until the Count recognized it. It
was laughter; high pitched maniacal laughter. He backed away, begged to wake up, but the sound grew louder.
Suddenly he heard "Elmo wants to play. Do you want to play with Elmo?"
The voice came from everywhere and nowhere. The Count fell to his knees. He glanced up and saw his tormentor. Red fur singed with patches of black. A leather fedora covered most of the face but patches of burnt fuzz glowed like embers in the dark. A sweater of green and red stripes dotted with holes covered most of the body but the hands...leathery gloves with sharpened knives on fingerpoints.
The thing laughed. "Welcome to Elmo's world" it said.
The Count shook his head. Mumbles spilled from his mouth. It wasn't possible. Not like this. He whimpered a prayer to Jim Henson; begged to awaken.
Then in a blur of motion the nightmare moved. It danced around him, laughing, and singing. Finally it stopped and grinned before sliding the fingerblades through the Count's chest.
Blood poured from his body. Darkness blanketed his eyes. Purple fingers grabbed his chest. Fuzzy hands grew sticky from blood. Six holes in his chest...six...ah...ah...ah.
Then the Count's eyes closed as his life oozed to the street.
The world would wake up to a darker reality as beloved characters were found slaughtered. Nobody knew the cause or culprit but everybody knew there would be no more rest...for now there was a Nightmare on Sesame Street.