The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire (Chapter XVI.)

Lucy Westenra’s Diary. 18 October. Osmotherley. — Tonight, Thomas made it clear he would wipe out all the vampires of London if he could. I stormed out of the room terribly angry with him. Yet when I thought about it, surrounded by my friends cheering me as I shot like a champion marksman (how Mother would be amazed and shocked by that!) I could understand his reasoning. Vampires are evil. I know I am. In my vivid, often erotic, dreams, I commit nightmarish acts upon my friends and others. Yet my dreams are not nightmares to me. The vampires allied with Lilith are the enemies of mankind. My friends would be like cattle to them. My dear, sweet friends. I cling to them as I do the last shreds of my own humanity. So much has changed. A month ago, I still lived. I was ill, but I did not know I was about to die. I still hoped to marry Arthur. Tonight I stood outside under the stars alone with Thomas. In the quiet, I imagined what it would be like to give in to my wanton desires. I heard his heart beating and his breathing over the breeze rustling the heather. I wanted to grab him in my arms and kiss his neck and sink my teeth into his flesh. I wanted his blood flowing into my mouth. I wanted his body, his heart, his life! I wanted to feel his hands on my breasts. I wanted to impale myself upon his manhood. I dared not speak for fear my words would betray my ferocious longing. I do not know what stilled his tongue. But we stood in silence for a long time. I despise Dracula for how he despoiled me, taking me after I was powerless to resist him. The memory helped me from doing the same to Thomas. Yet as I find my own lusts increasing, I cannot help but feel sympathy for what it must have been like for Count Dracula. I can barely restrain myself after being a vampire for only a few weeks. He has endured being a vampire for centuries. A month ago, I had been human, an innocent girl daydreaming of her future. But that was a lifetime ago. Mr. Carnacki’s story — continued. "That very night we caught a train and arrived in London at dawn. At the station, we hired two carriages for the day. Walekar took the reins of one and Jacob the other. We strapped Lucy’s crate to the back of Jacob’s carriage and off we went. From a friend, I obtained a necessary address. "I posted Anne and Adena as lookouts on the corners with instructions to blow their whistles to warn us if constables appeared. "Lucy and I sat in Jacob’s carriage and watched the front of the house. Armitage and Albion in Walekar’s carriage were posted in a back alley behind the house. "We did not have long to wait. Chief Inspector James stepped out of his home. He carried a silver-tipped walking stick and wore a top hat and heavy black coat. "Jacob guided the carriage alongside. I waited until the Chief Inspector had walked a short distance and then I jumped out, leaving the door open. ‘Chief Inspector,’ I said to get his attention as I stepped up to him, my hand on my revolver in my right coat pocket. "‘Good, Carnacki, you received my note,’ the Chief Inspector said, looking as if he had expected to find me outside of his door. ‘Good of you to come. Let’s step inside.’ "The Chief Inspector’s request caught me flatfooted. My plan had seemed simple. We would kidnap Chief Inspector James and introduce him to Lucy to prove the existence of vampires. Once convinced of the reality of vampires, he would see the importance of capturing Lilith and the other fiends in London. "However, I had not planned on our intended kidnapping victim inviting me into his house. "‘May I ask someone to come in with me?’ I asked. "‘Certainly,’ he replied. "At the carriage, I held my hand out to Lucy. She wore a black dress, long gloves and a broad hat with a veil covering her face. She also wore dark-tinted glasses to protect her eyes further from the light of the sun. "She took my hand and stepped down. Turning to Jacob, I said, ‘Tell the others what is afoot.’ "He nodded and flicked the reins. "James held the door open. ‘Come in,’ he repeated. He led us into a study and we sat down opposite from him on the other side of a broad oak desk. "The Chief Inspector appeared a decade older since I had last seen him. Gray-blue bags sagged under his eyes. His face had a deep weariness. "‘I owe you an apology, Mr. Carnacki,’ the Chief Inspector said solemnly. ‘I should not have blamed you for Inspector Johnstone’s death. My only excuse is he was a good friend and I was in shock.’ "I nodded, though only in acknowledgment of his words, not at acceptance of them. "‘You were right,’ James said. ‘It was Mrs. Johnstone who really made me dig deeper into his death. She absolutely refused to return to London, saying her husband’s last words to her before he sent her off were to stay away, no matter what happened. We shipped his body to her in Lancaster for burial.’ "The Chief Inspector leaned back in his chair and folded his fingers in front of him. ‘I spoke with Mrs. Johnstone for hours at her sister’s. Mrs. Johnstone told me to believe you. I have known Johnstone and his wife for over 20 years and she told me to trust you as I would him.’ "I do not know if I am worthy of your trust, sir,’ I said. ‘In a way I was to blame for his death. If I had taken the proper precautions, he might still be alive.’ "James rocked back and forth slowly in his chair. ‘Regret is one thing. Blame is another. I too have my regrets. I should have listened to him as you said. But we are not to blame.’ "Suddenly, James reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a set of heavy knuckle-dusters. ‘Mrs. Johnstone wanted you to have this. She said she wanted you to strike a blow for her.’ He slid the brass weapon across the desk and I picked it up and put it in my coat pocket. I had last seen it near her husband’s body. "James leaned forward and addressed himself to Lucy. ‘We have not been introduced. I am Chief Inspector James.’ "‘Miss Westenra is a vampire,’ I said. ‘I have a stethoscope in my pocket should you care to prove to yourself.’ "James resumed rocking in his chair. ‘Not necessary,’ he said. ‘I have noticed for some minutes now that she is not reflected in the mirror behind her.’ "I turned to look. There was an ornate peer glass attached to the wall. "‘Johnstone had mentioned vampires and for the past few days I have been reading up on them,’ James said. "‘We have a plan and we need your help,’ I said. "‘That would be you and the gentlemen you brought with you,’ he said. ‘The three in the back and the man in the carriage with you?’ James said. "I nodded. I had not considered that a man who faced assassination from the Dynamiters and other anarchists would cautiously look out of his windows before venturing out on the street. "‘What is your plan?’ he asked. "I told him of the clinic, of how we had followed the delivery wagon on its rounds. I told him of the property records we found, though I left out our method of obtaining them through burglary. "He sniffed and his mustache twitched. ‘Not much evidence to obtain a warrant,’ he said. ‘When does the address list arrive at the clinic?’ "I thought then answered, ‘I do not know. We plan to —’ "He held up a hand to stop me. ‘If it is illegal, I do not want to know,’ the Chief Inspector said. ‘Bring me the list by 2 o’clock if possible. I will have the constables and detectives ready,’ James said. "‘Thank you, sir,’ I said. "‘Most of the men will be told we are after an anarchist gang,’ James said. ‘It is believable enough after all the trouble we’ve had. I’ll have trusted men armed with crosses and stakes.’ "‘Lilith is the key,’ I said. "He nodded. ‘So Johnstone explained.’ "He gave me a rueful look. ‘These raids will not be official, you understand? We will not have proper warrants. Likely as not, the Commissioner will have our heads once he finds out about this affair or we may all end up in Bedlam as I once threatened you.’ "‘Yes, sir,’ I said. "We stood. Lucy held out her hand and he took it and bowed. I shook hands with him. "We stepped outside. Lucy swayed on my arm and I helped her into the carriage. "‘Are you well?’ I asked. "‘I am tired,’ she answered. ‘I feel weak.’ "Jacob and the others walked up to us. ‘What happened?’ Albion asked. "I explained how the Chief Inspector had invited us into his home and agreed to provide police officers for the raids. "‘Well done,’ Albion said. "We rode to our rented office, leaving our carriages in the back with Walekar. "Armitage and Jacob volunteered to stay with him, but he ordered them inside. "Lucy leaned against my arm. She weighed next to nothing and as I felt her against me my curiosity was aroused as to how to study the contradictory aspects of her corporeal and noncorporeal nature. The laws of the physical world do not apply to the spiritual. There is more of a ghostly nature to vampires than most people realize. "When we arrived at our empty office, I helped Lucy to a chair. Adena and Anne went to her side, each taking a hand. Albion and I gazed out the window at the clinic with Armitage behind us. "A dress swished across the floor and I glanced behind me. Anne had knelt on the floor beside Lucy, who leaned back into Anne’s arm. "Lucy’s dead, unblinking eyes stared vacantly ahead, making her appear as if she had just passed away. Her head rested on Anne’s shoulder. I shuddered and wished Lucy would close her eyes, but she didn’t. "Albion and I looked at each other. Lucy had been an important part of our plan for the raid. "Outside, two dozen scraggly men queued up at the clinic door. A disturbance broke out as two of the men struck the smaller man in front of them. They knocked him to the curb and kicked him until he managed to scramble away, a dazed, hollow stare on his bloody face. The other men jeered at him. "However the men gave way briefly as a bearded man entered the clinic. He opened the door for them at last and the queue of men slowly snaked its way inside. "About two dozen men had entered and exited. As the last man departed, the bearded man glanced out the front door, placed a ‘Closed’ sign in the window, and locked the door. "‘It is time,’ said Albion, motioning Jacob to tell Walekar to join us. "Albion motioned for me to join him. ‘We have to change the plan,’ he said, looking at Lucy. "I agreed and asked what he proposed. "‘Let Anne stay here with her,’ Armitage suggested before Albion could speak. ‘Take Sergeant Walekar with you inside. Adena and I can guard the back.’ "‘Are you sure?’ I asked. "‘Without Lucy, you will need another inside to take her place,’ he said. "I nodded. ‘What do you think, Captain? Either the Doctor has the list with him, or it is not coming until right before the carriage arrives.’ "‘I do not believe a messenger came the last time. The Doctor must have it,’ Albion said. "I nodded again. ‘After the police raid the vampire lairs, we will have to also search the Doctor’s home,’ I said. "‘Right, let’s get started,’ Albion said as Walekar and Jacob entered. "‘Hold,’ Adena said as she took Albion’s hand and Armitage’s on the other. ‘We do not know what we will find inside. Let us make peace with our Creator.’ "We bowed our heads and prayed. "When we finished, Captain Albion and Sergeant Walekar spoke quietly to Anne in a corner of the room. A resolute expression was fixed on her face. "Armitage and I walked over to the two. ‘Do you understand your new orders?’ the Captain asked. "‘Yes, sir,’ she said. "‘If we do not return, I trust your judgment to determine if you should escape with Lucy or attempt a rescue,’ he said. "‘But,’ I added, ‘before whatever you do, send a message to Chief Inspector James informing him of what has transpired.’ "Albion turned to the Sergeant. ‘Have you anything to add, Sergeant Walekar?’ "She is a good soldier,’ Walekar said. ‘I am glad she is in our command.’ "Anne blushed, her freckled nose and cheeks turning scarlet. ‘Thank you, Sergeant,’ said she impulsively standing on her toes and kissing Walekar on his left cheek. "‘That is for luck,’ she said. "Adena stood next to Lucy. ‘You will get accustomed to the sunlight with time,’ Adena told her. "Do you want to go into your coffin?’ "Lucy shook her head. ‘I want to go into the clinic with you.’ Despite her desire, it was obvious she lacked the strength. "Walekar handed Anne a rifle. She opened the bolt to make certain the chamber was loaded. Walekar nodded at her in approval. "We went downstairs to the carriages and collected our other weapons, sliding the assorted revolvers, vials of holy water, crucifixes, daggers, packets of powdered garlic, crushed rose petals and minced wolfsbane, and wooden stakes into pockets and under coats. "Walekar and Albion appeared fearless, but I know Armitage, Adena and I kept our faces blank to mask our fear. Jacob held himself with a casual manner, but he softly whistled a tune. He appeared to be enjoying himself. "Armitage and Adena left to take their positions behind the building. We waited 10 minutes to give them time to get into place, and then we hurried down the alley to the street. "The clinic was edged with black soot and grime like broad black ribbons. The building had once been occupied with offices. Most of the upper floor windows had cracked and broken panes. "We crossed the street and made a beeline for the entrance. Through the grimy window, I could see a lobby with an empty reception desk and an open door to a hallway to the rear. Albion knocked. "The Doctor, in a white laboratory coat, peered around the corner of an inner office. ‘Go away,’ he shouted. ‘We have enough samples for today.’ "He disappeared into the inner office. ‘Sergeant Walekar,’ Albion said and stepped aside. "Bull-shaped Prem leaned his shoulder into the door and it popped open with little exertion of his great strength. "Jacob rushed past him, followed by Albion and myself. "Walekar and Jacob secured the Doctor. "Albion continued down the hall, his revolver in his right hand. "I followed him as we searched the ground floor, finding no one. "We went back to the Doctor. ‘Is anyone else here?’ Albion asked. "The Doctor’s voice was shrill. ‘Who are you people? Get out of here. Now.’ "I kept an eye on the stairs going up and also the front entrance. No one appeared. "I joined the others. Walekar and Jacob each held one of the Doctor’s arms. I frisked the man and in an inner jacket pocket I found a sheet of paper with a list of addresses and an identification card. ‘Dr. George Chamberlain, you have been working with vampires,’ I said. "Chamberlain began to struggle and screamed out for help. "Jacob pressed his revolver against the back of the Doctor’s skull. "Chamberlain’s eyes rolled back in his head and he would have collapsed if they had not held his arms. Albion took a bit of rope from a pocket and tied the Doctor’s hands and gagged him. They lowered him to a chair and Jacob tied Chamberlain to it. "Milk bottles filled with blood sat in wire baskets on a work table amid blood transfusion apparatus and other medical equipment. I began going through a file cabinet. "‘Did you hear something?’ Albion asked suddenly. "We listened. Chamberlain’s eyes brightened. "Albion whispered, ‘Sergeant, bring Miss Metzner and Dr. Armitage in. Be careful they do not shoot you.’ "Jacob, Albion and I listened keenly. I could make out mysterious voices that sounded to come from within the very walls. I tried to discern what words were being said, but could not make them out. "When Walekar, Adena and Armitage entered, Albion held up three fingers and motioned for them to go upstairs. They obeyed with a nod. "We heard the stairs creak as they walked up. "Jacob and I followed Albion to the cellar door. The Captain quickly peeked around the door. "He looked again and held his revolver pointed down the stairs. Jacob moved past him, careful to stay on the side out of the Captain’s direct line of fire. Albion and I followed behind him, stepping slowly and with our revolvers at the ready. "Spider webs broke against my face with a feathery touch. I wiped them off me. Rows of tall storage shelves filled the room. In my keyed-up imagination, I pictured horrible creatures lurking behind each one. "Albion motioned he would go to the right and for us to go left. The beams from our bulls-eye lanterns swept the room and cast long shadows. Jacob and I separated to search on either side of the narrow rows of shelves. I tried to breathe shallowly so that I could hear any sound. "I swallowed, my tongue dry in my mouth. My nerves tightened my chest. My light cut narrow beams in the ink-black darkness. "My face brushed against more cobwebs and a spider landed on my ear. I brushed it off with my hand holding the bulls-eye lantern, the beam flashing wildly. "I inhaled deeply to calm myself. I felt ridiculous at being startled by a spider. I told myself to relax. But as I did, I had the terrible sensation that I was not alone. The hairs on my neck rose. I swung the light to my left. Next to me I saw a demonic face that haunts my nightmares to this day, a face with mottled gray skin, a wide mouth filled with jagged yellow teeth and dull yellow eyes. "Faster than I could react, a brick-hard fist struck the side of my skull. I crashed into a shelf filled with empty bottles. My body broke the boards. My right shin barked cruelly against the wood. Bottles fell and glass shattered on the floor around me. "Quicker than thought, the fiend grabbed me and slammed me down onto the brick floor. My forehead bounced hard and sharp pain tore into my left forearm from a shard of glass. The vampire landed on my back. I smelled the sickly sweet reek of decayed flesh and I nearly retched. I tried to throw the monster off, but the creature’s strength was immense as it held me pinned down. "I heard its teeth gnash directly behind my ears and a shiver tightened the nerves behind my spine. I clenched my eyes shut in terror as I waited to feel those horrible, sharp teeth bite into the flesh at the back of my neck. "The vampire snarled right behind my ear. I twisted my right hand and fired blindly, uncertain if the barrel was pointed at the creature or at my own head, but too desperate not to try. The bang stunned me and the acrid sting of gunpowder masked the foul creature’s odor and burned my eyes. "With a howl of pain, the vampire was off me and I rolled over onto my back. My coat protected me from the worst of the broken glass. "In the flickering light of the flames burning the fuel of my smashed lantern, I saw the creature I had shot with a silver bullet thrash on the floor like a beheaded snake. "I ignored a nearby crash. So intent was my focus on the vampire that had attacked me, it was like I looked through a tunnel and could see nothing else. Blood ran down my face from the gash in my forehead. I pulled the heavy dagger from my sheath and stepped on the foul creature’s chest to hold it down. I swung and the heavy blade made a sickening ‘thunk.’ The severed head rolled into the shadow. The body continued to thrash. I grabbed a broken board and stabbed a jagged section through the vampire’s chest. A wretched smell of corruption erupted as the wood punctured the fiend. "A gun was fired elsewhere in the cellar and in my dazed confusion I could not understand why since I had killed the vampire. "The blow to my skull had left me feeling ill and I bent over with my hands on my knees to allow the dizziness to pass. "As I did, suddenly a dark presence bowled me over like a rugby tackler and I again struck the floor. This time, the back of my skull snapped down on the brick floor causing a bright white light to explode in my head. "I was entangled in a heap with a second vampire, who kicked me desperate to escape. Acting on instinct, I grabbed onto a limb. "‘Hold him!’ Albion called out. "The impact had made me drop my revolver, but my hand went instinctively to my coat pocket and my fingers slid into the knuckle duster given to me by Inspector Johnstone’s widow. With one armed wrapped around the vampire, I punched with the other, the heavy metal hammering at the fiend’s body as I fought with a desperate instinct. "The vampire swung his fist, striking me on the right cheek below the eye. The blow knocked me out.


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