The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Monday, January 03, 2005

The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire (Chapter III.)

Lucy Westenra's Diary 1 October. 4 a.m. — How ironic is it now that I am dead I feel healthier than ever? Tonight, I have learned much about myself. I can hear sounds beyond the range of human hearing. I see with keenness that I never thought imaginable. I have the strength of at least a dozen men. I know these things because Mr. Carnacki spent most of the evening tormenting me with his tests. I never really liked schoolwork and he annoyed me endlessly with question after question. I died and only thought I turned into a vampire. I am really in a schoolgirl’s version of hell. Of course, I should not joke considering I may be there soon enough. I humored him, but he did keep at it for ages. I hear the chime of two in the morning and Mr. Carnacki has just retired for the night. He has not yet accustomed himself to my hours. He is a very curious man. The questions began as soon as I left the coffin. Only the first questions were from me. "Where is Arthur?" I asked as Mr. Carnacki entered my room. I motioned for him to take his seat as I sat in the chair behind my writing desk. "Miss Westenra, I do not know where Lord Godalming is," Mr. Carnacki said. "He is not coming?" I could tell more from Mr. Carnacki’s uncomfortable grimace than I ever could from his words. It was a skill I learned long before I became a vampire. Arthur was never coming back. "Why? Am I a monster to him?" "I believe he would die with willing heart for you even if it meant being damned for eternity as long as he spent it with you," Mr. Carnacki said kindly. "His friends believe it best to keep him away. If you truly love him you will not let him risk his soul for you." "Say no more," I said. "I saw him in the cemetery and I have seen how he is. He had promised to love me until death parted us and it has." My answer surprised me. I wanted Arthur, to feel his throat under my lips, to taste him, to feel his warm blood in my mouth. I wanted to give in to the wickedness and to fly to him and coax him to let me enter his room. The desire was stronger than ever. But I am beginning to develop a will to resist the wanton desires, as well as the other, darker urges that I do not dare put down on paper. As if he read my thoughts, Mr. Carnacki asked, "Miss Westenra, do you know where Count Dracula is?" "No," I said. "Do you know why he is in England?" "He never told me," I said. I bowed my head. "We spoke little to each other." Mr. Carnacki paused, his face coloring. "I see," he said. "I have other questions if I may. Would you describe your death and awakening?" "Why?" "It will help me to better understand your transition into the Un-Dead," he said. I looked about the room where I had died. "As I lay dying," I told him, "I felt myself floating like in a warm tub of water, relaxed and soothed. I had fought for breath for so long and I was so tired. "Dr. Van Helsing and dear, sweet Jack were there by my bed and then Arthur came into my room. I wanted to hold him in my arms. I did not want to harm Arthur. I loved him. You may not understand this, Mr. Carnacki, I am not certain I do, but my teeth ached for him. "I called to Arthur so that I could satisfy my desire for his blood, but at the last moment Dr. Van Helsing pulled him away. It is just like now. The Professor feared what I would do to Arthur and kept him away from me. I remember feeling angry, but somehow I sensed the Professor had done the right thing and I kissed Dr. Van Helsing’s hand and called him friend. I told Dr. Van Helsing to protect Arthur and to take care of him. "I looked at Arthur. He is such a good man. He is kind and generous and strong. At that moment, all I could think of was how much I would miss him. "Breathing exhausted me and I closed my eyes. I felt light-headed and I could no longer hear the others speaking, just a gentle buzz in my ears, but it did not seem to matter. "I could hear my heart beat and I thought of my sweet mother and my long-dead father. I thought I would see them in heaven. I could feel my heart beating ever more slowly and then it stopped and there was blackness." I paused and swallowed. "How can I put into words the horror I felt when I woke in the narrow confines of a coffin, of my dismay at being in the cold stone crypt of my family, of the tormented crush in my chest when I realized I had been denied heaven?" I glanced over at Mr. Carnacki, who sat taking notes. I noticed a tear rolling down his right cheek. He wiped it away with his left hand, but he never stopped writing his notes with the pen in his right. I grew quiet and lowered my head. One should not have to grieve for one’s own death. Death saves others from this despair, but not the Un-Dead. My sadness moved Mr. Carnacki to stand and approach the chalk-drawn circle that serves as my cage. He began to reach his hand out to my shoulder to comfort me. As he did, either instinct or the sudden change in my demeanor stayed his hand. For at the sight of his exposed wrist, I forgot my grief over Mother, my fear of eternal damnation, my melancholy over my own death. All I could see was the bare skin of his wrist reaching towards me. My lips parted. I sensed the pulse beating within him. If he had continued, I do not know if I could have stopped myself from sinking my fangs into him. I do not think I would have wanted to stop myself. His hand stayed momentarily and then, blushing, he lowered it and returned to his seat. I closed my eyes and listened to his heart. When the beat had slowed to a more normal rhythm, I looked up. "Do you want me to continue?" I asked at last. "Please do." "Mr. Carnacki, I do not wish to talk about what happened next." "Why not?" "Because it proves how evil I have become and I am ashamed," I said. "How could someone evil be ashamed?" he asked. "You do not know what I have done." "I do. You played with children on the Hampstead Heath and you bit them and drank their blood." "How did you know?" "The newspapers reported the mystery of the children," Mr. Carnacki said. "A Scotland Yard inspector asked me to help investigate the case." "Therefore, you know I have become like the monster that cursed me," I said. "I do not believe you are like Count Dracula," Mr. Carnacki said. "Oh?" "You did not kill the children." "But I harmed them," I said. "Why did you?" "I wanted their blood," I answered. Their blood had tasted so pure and sweet and intoxicating. I thought it best not to tell Mr. Carnacki that drinking their blood made me want to dance with the children. But after I finished drinking from them, they always lay so quiet on the ground, so sleepy and adorable, but too weak to play further. "Did you feel as if you had a will of your own?" "I do not know," I said. "I kept thinking evil thoughts, to slay, to butcher people, to cause pain and revel in it." I also had wanted to make passionate love, to surrender to dark lustful urges, to take pleasure and give it, but something about Mr. Carnacki made me hesitate to reveal all that to him. "You did not do those things," said Mr. Carnacki, his pen racing across the paper. "No." "Do you still think evil thoughts?" I thought about lying, but did not. "Do you need to ask?" Mr. Carnacki flipped back through his notebook. "Last night you wrote in your diary, ‘I have been cast aside by my lover Dracula....’ What led you to conclude that?" "Because he is not here. He has abandoned me." Mr. Carnacki’s question annoyed me. Death heaps so many indignities upon a person. "You have been reading my diary, haven’t you? Just because a woman is dead you do not have the right to go through her things. I do not want you reading through my diary any more, Mr. Carnacki. A gentleman respects a lady’s privacy and does not read her papers." Mr. Carnacki continued on as if he had not heard the last. "Could you have reached the conclusion he had abandoned you because he severed a psychic connection with you?" "What do you mean?" He picked up another sheet of paper. "According to some legends, a vampire has an enchantment, a hypnotic bond, over any vampire he or she creates. Could Count Dracula have been controlling your thoughts?" I sat still. Dracula had been like a figure hiding in the shadows of my mind. "If he were responsible, would I have not killed the children?" "Perhaps your mind or soul resisted. Maybe that is why he abandoned you. He wants a vassal he can easily control to do his bidding, one that does not resist his commands. He may even turn to another. I noticed that you never mentioned the Count in your diary — only vague references — until now. It could be a sign that the hold he had over you is broken." I leaned forward. Mr. Carnacki’s words tempted me to hope, but he could not know my dark thoughts. "If you do not believe I am capable of evil, then why do you sit on that side of the barrier?" "Touché," he said. I looked into his brown eyes and whispered with yearning and sweetness, "Cross over to me, Thomas. Hold me in your arms. Your words give me a certain comfort. Now I want your body to succor me." He shifted uneasily in his chair and began to rise. He stopped and shook his head like an animal when waking. "Very good, Miss Westenra, I see you are developing your own hypnotic, vampire powers. I should let you know that the protective circle’s power would block anyone under your domination from erasing the barrier. Let us move on to some other experiment shall we? As you’ll notice, earlier in the day, I placed exercise weights into your portion of the room and I was hoping you would be so good as to — Wait, what was that? As I sit here writing in my diary, a feeling has come slowly upon me that I am not alone in my room. The clock chimed three a short time ago. I can hear Mr. Carnacki asleep in the guestroom down the hall. Did I hear a noise in here or only imagine I did? It is nothing. Why should I feel frightened at night? I am the monster to fear! Then why does the flesh creep up on my arms and the hair rise on the back of my neck? Has it grown darker in here? I can see in the night now as well as I could during the day when I lived. The candles! Did Mr. Carnacki put them out or did they just go out? I do not see anyone in the room. So why do I feel I am being watched? It is not the Count. Too well now I recall his many visitations upon me, of his coming to my window and bidding him to enter. I do not feel his thoughts in my mind. I am being silly and letting my imagination run away with me. If I keep this up, I shall become like Mr. Carnacki and begin to believe in ghosts! I am glad I made Mr. Carnacki swear to no longer read my diary. If he should read this, I would die again, this time of embarrassment. I shall take this to my coffin and turn in early. Mr. Carnacki’s story – continued. "Throughout the evening I questioned her about her transformation into a vampire and then tested her physical abilities. She had incredible strength. I could not judge her upper limits because I did not have enough weights. "The hours passed quickly. So after I finished with my last test, an examination of her remarkably keen eyesight, I found I could no longer keep my own eyes open. Exhausted, I mumbled my apologies and went to bed. "I had not been asleep long when I woke to the sound of a piercing scream and I fairly jumped out of the bed. For a moment I thought I must have had a nightmare. Then I heard the scream again, coming from Miss Westenra’s room. I grabbed my revolver and my dagger and rushed out with my heart in my throat. "I raced down the hall and opened the door to her room. I had left a hall lamp burning low, but her room was pitch-blackness. ‘Miss Westenra?’ I called out. The silence that answered nearly unnerved me. ‘Miss Westenra?’ I called again. I fumbled in the dark until I reached my desk just inside the door. I set the weapons down, struck a match and lit the lamp and the candelabrum. Miss Westenra stood outside her coffin, a look of fright on her face. "‘Mr. Carnacki, there is something in the room!’ "I cannot tell you how those words gave me a fright! By Jove! it didn’t help to hear a dead woman speak them. I listened keenly with my body and soul like a hunter in the jungle on the trail of a wounded tiger. I heard not a sound. I picked up the revolver and held up the candelabrum and walked around the room, looking behind the drapes and furniture and into the shadowy corners. "I did not see anything, however. ‘What was it, Miss Westenra?’ I asked. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye as I continued to search. ‘Was it the Count?’ "‘No, Mr. Carnacki,’ she said, slumping into her chair. ‘It must have been my imagination.’ "‘What happened?’ I asked. "‘I thought I heard a noise shortly before I retired to my coffin. As I lay in there, I managed to convince myself that someone or something was in the room.’ "‘Something?’ I asked. ‘Like an apparition?’ "‘There are no such things as ghosts,’ she answered rather defensively. She sighed and said, ‘You must find me insufferable, a creature of the night frightened by the dark.’ "‘Not at all,’ I said, relaxing. ‘You have endured experiences that would have made the bravest soldiers blanched with terror.’ "‘That is kind of you to say,’ she said. "‘Miss Westenra, it is simply the truth.’ "I left momentarily to put on my smoking jacket and sat in the chair to keep her company despite her protestations that it was not necessary. "As a way to distract her from her fright and embarrassment, I began to talk about music. From the music by Spohr and Mackenzie we progressed to bicycling and to her friends Mina and Jonathan Harker. However, despite my best effort to keep watch over her, I began to nod off. The last I recall is she said, ‘Good morning, Mr. Carnacki.’ And then I fell asleep in the chair with my head leaning back. "I woke in the early afternoon. I was becoming a creature of the night with the hours I kept. "The Inspector came around once again to Hillingham with an invitation to an early supper. I believe my task fascinated him nearly as much as it did me. "I told him of what Miss Westenra had experienced during the night. I suspected a supernatural visitation had occurred in her room, but could not entirely eliminate the possibility of a more earthly explanation. Together, the Inspector and I searched Miss Westenra’s room with hammer and probe for any sign of a secret passage. We found nothing unusual. We minutely examined the windows, walls and floors for any trace of an intruder with the same result. "Famished, we departed for a restaurant to eat and to discuss the case. Inspector Johnstone apologized for not having been able to spend more time at Hillingham, but official duty kept him away. I told him I understood. When we finished, he departed to return to his work and I went back to Hillingham. When I arrived, I discovered additional equipment I had requested from Lord Godalming had been unloaded outside the front door. I carried the crates inside and waited for Miss Westenra to wake so I could resume my study of her. Lucy Westenra’s Diary. 2 October, 4 a.m. — Not long ago, when I lived, young men wanted my company for my beauty and charm. I know it sounds vain, but it is true. Since this diary is for my private thoughts I may write with candor. Now Mr. Carnacki is even more eager for my presence, but my appearance is irrelevant to him. His only desire is to study the supernatural. "More tests?" I asked with dread after leaving my coffin at sunset. "Yes, Miss Westenra," he said, standing. He had me lift a barbell repeatedly over my head, asking me to add weights to it until no more could fit. I cannot recall the last time I did such a menial task. Satisfied at last, he pulled out a small mechanical device and used a turnscrew to tinker with it. "What is that?" I asked. "I call it a spectermeter," he said with pride. "It is of my own invention." He adjusted a spring inside. "What does it do?" I asked. "If it works as I hope, it will measure the intensity of apparitions." He launched into a long monologue on how a colleague’s paper on the number of vibrations per second in the atmosphere gave him the idea for his device to detect spectral energy. "By Jove! I have spent many an evening in a supposedly haunted house trying to determine if this will work," he said. "Why do you say that?" I asked. "Because I am uncertain if there really were ghosts for the device to detect," he replied with a smile. "No, why do you say ‘By Jove’? You say it quite frequently," I said, a wicked glow warming me. His cheeks flushed scarlet and his smile vanished. He shrugged and said, "It is just an expression." "It is an expression that is as strange as you are," I said with a malevolent delight. He glanced up. His face flushed scarlet. Then he returned wordlessly to his device. As I watched him work, I thought of how my words had successfully struck home and I considered other ways to cause mischief. "There," he said at last. "Now, if you do not mind, Miss Westenra, please turn noncorporeal." "Why should I? I tire of being trapped here. I tire of your mad experiments." Mr. Carnacki raised a brow. "Do what I ask and you’ll be given blood." He allowed the implication to hang there unspoken. How dare he threaten to deny me the very blood that I should be free to seek on my own? I thought. The guttural growl of a wolf came from me. I looked at Mr. Carnacki through a red haze, imagining my canines puncturing the throbbing skin of his throat. I rose and paced back and forth, my hands clinched tightly. The sharp points of my nails dug into my palms. The rage within me flared to a white-hot fury. I had never felt such anger! At that moment, I trembled with the desire to destroy life, to smash the living, to take away from them that which I had been denied! I wanted to be free to hunt down those that dared to live! I wanted to kill them all and damn them to hell, beginning with Mr. Carnacki and his infernal tests! I turned my back to him and in doing so I stared toward the window where Count Dracula had entered my boudoir. In my anger, I had wanted to become the evil, twisted fiend that the Count wanted me to be. The thought stopped me cold. If I killed as wantonly as I desired, the Count’s victory over me would be complete. He would possess the last part of myself I had not surrendered to him. Long minutes passed. Mr. Carnacki did not speak. I heard his breathing and pulse race. He could not entirely hide his terror of me. I straightened a fold of my shroud before I sat down. Mr. Carnacki nodded slightly to me as our eyes met. I did as he requested and transformed as shapeless as fog. The apparatus to gauge spectral energy on his spectermeter did not move. He stared at his invention in puzzlement, his brow furrowed in concentration. He leaned forward with his head propped up by his elbows on the table. "The supernatural is unexplored territory and I am trying to navigate without a compass," he said. He turned to me. "May we continue?" I resigned myself to making the best of the situation. My desire to be malicious could not over come my desire for blood. I nodded to him. He asked me questions about my ability to see in my mist-like state, about how I directed my immaterial form, about how I knew when the sun had set. To many of his questions, I had no answer. My actions now were as natural and unconscious to me as breathing had been in life. When the clock struck four in the morning, I noticed him yawning. Yet he stayed awake as long as he could, conversing with me in a friendly way, until, at last, he nodded off sitting in his chair. I sat thinking of Mr. Carnacki. I had wanted to kill him and he had known it. But after he finished with his questioning, he stayed to keep me company so I would not feel lonely and frightened like last night. We did not speak of our earlier disagreement, but I suspect he regretted the suggestion of withholding blood from me. We are both compelled by circumstances to act against our natures: he inferred a threat to not provide me with the sustenance I need to survive; I suppressed my cruelty and desire to kill. I confess, evil though I may be, I found myself preferring our more pleasant hours together than my earlier cruelty to him. I opened my diary to write tonight’s entry with the hope that I could understand my internal conflicts. Instead, an eerie occurrence distracted me. As I wrote, I sensed someone watching me and I began to speak to Mr. Carnacki, assuming he had woken. But when I glanced up he was still fast asleep. I heard a whirling sound and the noise gave me such a shock that if I had a beating heart, it would have stopped from fright. The temperature in the room grew cold. Though I could not feel a breeze, a draft must have set Mr. Carnacki’s device into motion. The apparatus on the spectermeter spun faster and faster and as I watched, surprised by its speed and unable to take my eyes off it, the device toppled over and landed on the floor. Mr. Carnacki stirred, but the noise did not wake him.


Anonymous theparallaxview said...

The story is starting to find its rhythm.

7/29/2005 12:24:00 PM  

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