The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire (Chapter XXXII.)
Lucy Carnacki’s Diary. 1 November. Salisbury. — In my coffin, I visited hell in a nightmare so vividly real that it seemed as though my spirit had left my body and traveled there. A cacophony of sound surrounded me as I walked amongst dark, murky pits in a desolate landscape. I had a terrible sense of loss and despair and hopelessness. Ichor tears streamed down my face as I slept. When I awoke, the battle for Stonehenge had already begun. In my nightmare-induced terror, I begged my husband to surrender, to let Lilith win. My words brought tears to his eyes. "I am sorry," he said. I felt ashamed at my lapse and for my weakness at a time when he needed me strong. We could not give up with so much depending on us. "I am sorry, too," I said. But the battle was hopeless. Jacob and Captain Albion fell in quick succession. I rushed to join Adena and Anne as they crouched over the prone men. Jacob was knocked out from a horrific wound across his face. The remains of his left eye dangled on the bridge of his nose. Captain Albion bled from a bullet wound to his chest, but he remained alert and in command. He looked up, raindrops splashing on his face. Anne took his hand right hand in hers. "Adena, is the barrier holding?" the Captain asked. "No, sir," she said. "It cannot hold for much longer." He closed his eyes. "Listen, we do not have much time. Lilith is arrogant to the point she believes she knows better than God does. We must use that against her and catch her in her own trap. Lucy, you must gain her confidence so that she will allow you close enough to strike her when she least expects it. You are our only hope. You have to give her reason to trust you. Hold me aloft and kill me." I began to speak. "No, do not protest," he said. "There is no time and I am dying anyway. You will shorten my life merely by moments. You may even have to kill the others. Do whatever you must. Understood?" Anne shook her head. "Take my revolver and hide it," Albion said, handing it to her. "Now I depart this realm. May we all meet in a better one." Adena, Anne and I exchanged a last, sad, weary, glance. "Strike me first," Anne said. "Spare me from seeing his death." I did as she asked, knocking her to the ground though I held back my full strength. Then I lifted Captain Albion high and ended his brave life. He died defending England and would not have asked for more. I know. I tasted his life flowing into me, warming me and giving me the courage I needed to carry out the deception. I could sense Lilith and her children watching me. I needed to act quickly. I had to render Henry and Thomas defenseless before the barrier fell and Lilith’s minions could descend on them. I struck Henry and glided to Thomas. The barrier gave way as I arrived beside him. He fired at Lilith, but the silver bullets did not pierce her. Fearful of what her minions might do to him, I knocked his gun away and prepared to kill him so that at least his death would come swiftly from one who loved him. I sensed Lilith’s joy at my joining of her fold. She commanded me to spare my beloved’s life. "Let us summon the old gods together," Lilith said. Whilst the ritual distracted her, I attacked. Oh how we fought! I gained strength from the Captain’s blood, but also from the love I felt for Thomas and the others. Lilith’s blood and her spirit flowed into me as I drank. She was invulnerable to mortal weapons, but not to one of her own unearthly children. None had ever sought to challenge her before and I could taste her surprised thoughts in her blood. I drank more than her blood. Her very life entered into my body, leaving her own form an empty shell. As a precaution, I used Thomas’s dagger to decapitate the hollow vessel. Holding his dagger made it seem as though we struck the blow together. Yet even as I did, I could sense Lilith’s presence inside me. The Creatures of the Night sensed her, too, and obeyed my commands. Lilith is a part of me now and I possess her memories and soul. But I remain myself. I knelt beside Thomas as Adena and Anne rushed up to him. We told Thomas and Henry of Albion’s last order to kill him to deceive him. With the knowledge gained from Lilith coursing through me, I closed the rift in the sky, sealing out the ancient ones. Most of the vampires and werewolves had fled, but the handful that rebelled against Lilith remained. When I finished the ritual, I turned to see the last of them shake hands with Henry. Then the vampire looked at me, swept off his hat with a courtly bow, and transformed into a bat to fly off into the night. Jacob surprised us by surviving his grievous wounds. I carried him to the barn and then by wagon we traveled to Salisbury and found a doctor’s office. We pounded on the door until the man appeared. He took a look at the wound and immediately guided us into his surgery. Once he finished with Jacob, he turned to the others. Thomas needed his broken right arm set. Henry’s nose was broken. But another vampire had caused the injury to Anne, who had a slash down her right cheek from a slashing sword. Leaving them, I returned to the field alone and carried away Albion’s body. Lilith’s corpse, as well as the other bodies, had disappeared, either transformed into dust or taken away by her children. But they had left Captain Albion’s remains untouched. On my return flight to Salisbury, I passed a church. For a moment, I thought of trying to enter. Having fought for God, would I be able? I looked at the steeple and the double doors and imagined crossing onto holy ground. I stood for a long time and then walked away. I did not need to test God’s love for me. I already knew the answer. Mr. Carnacki’s story — concluded. "Albion had ordered Lucy to kill him to get close to Lilith. He knew his wound was mortal and his sacrifice saved mankind. "A Salisbury doctor’s heroic efforts and Jacob’s own strength saved his life though at times we feared. "The doctor also kindly took care of my own minor injuries. Though Lucy apologized again and again for breaking my arm, I had to wonder if her dark nature had taken a wicked delight in it. She can be quite frightful at times. "A few days later Anne, Lucy and I buried Albion at his wife’s ancestral home near Osmotherley. We left Adena and Armitage in Salisbury to look after Jacob, who was too injured to travel. "The day after Albion’s burial, Anne, Lucy and I arrived at London to settle unfinished business there. To our delight we learned that Mr. Griffin had survived after all. He had escaped as the Chief Inspector ordered. The vampires had pursued him until he jumped from London Bridge onto a barge passing below on the Thames. Once on the river, the vampires could not follow. Fearful of the witch’s wrath, they had told her they had killed him. The witch had thought she spoke the truth when Lucy questioned her at Osmotherley. The fall onto the barge had broken his legs and caused a blow to his head that knocked him unconscious. He did not wake until days later in a hospital. "Chief Inspector James’s remains were never found. I like to think his ghost watches protectively over London." Carnacki stood and walked to the window to look outside. The sky was a brilliant red in the east. His story had held us spellbound for the entire night. "It is said God moves in mysterious ways. If Count Dracula had obeyed Lilith, we would have never learned of her plot to restore the Garden of Eden. Was it chance or fate that led Count Dracula to Lucy Westenra? "Many, many good people died — Mrs. Westenra, Lucy Westenra, Rabbi Metzner, Inspector Johnstone, Premkumar Walekar, Chief Inspector James, Elaine Hamilton, Captain Albion, Quincey P. Morris and others we did not know — but we all must pass into eternity eventually though we do not know the hour. Yet there are times, such as now when Europe stands on the brink of war, that I wonder how it might be if Lilith had won. "Mina and Jonathan Harker did not learn for many years that Lucy still walked the Earth. Once you have kept secrets from your friends it becomes harder — not easier — over time to tell them. "In late November of that year, Jacob and Adena traveled with Dr. Seward and Lord Godalming to accompany Mr. Morris’s body home to Texas. I had hopes that more than friendship would develop between Jacob and Adena, but, alas, it did not, though they continue to investigate the supernatural together as partners in America. "Lord Godalming hired Mr. Griffin as his private secretary. Eventually, Lord Godalming settled happily into marriage and he established a charitable trust to fund Adena and Jacob’s work. "In January of 1894, Henry Armitage returned to Miskatonic University. Between donations from Lord Godalming and Lucy, he was able to purchase every book on his library’s list. "Anne MacKenzie remained with Lucy for sometime as a companion and the two traveled across Europe. With time, a relationship developed between Anne and Dr. Seward, who had learned from his experiences and become a better man. They married and live happily with a son they named Edgar. "And Miss Madicott?" I asked. "Soon after Anne MacKenzie visited her, a strange spectral presence haunted Miss Madicott until at last she went to the police and confessed to the murder of Mr. MacKenzie." "And the Police Commissioner?" I asked. "He mysteriously disappeared after the battle at Stonehenge," Carnacki said. "His body was never found. I shall say no more of it." "And Lucy?" I asked. "In November of 1893, Lucy met with Inspector Johnstone’s widow, Mrs. Johnstone. Lucy asked Mrs. Johnstone to move into Hillingham and live there with her children. Mrs. Johnstone agreed." "But what became of Lucy?" I asked. The others, too, leaned forward to hear his answer. Carnacki gazed out the window. "She is somewhere on the Continent." Abruptly, as was his way, Carnacki ushered us to our coats and out the door. As we thanked him for the evening, he promised to have us over again after his return from an investigation in Wales. The four of us walked out together in dawn’s gray light. The walkway was strewn with wet, orange leaves. "So that is why Carnacki remains a bachelor," Taylor said. "What do you mean?" Jessop asked. "Lucy Westenra stole his heart and he pines for her still," Taylor said. Lucy Carnacki’s Diary. 1 November, 1913. London. — I spent the night listening to Thomas recount our meeting to his friends. I sat on a chair listening as I’ve so often done when he holds these gatherings for his friends to tell them of his investigations into the supernatural. They departed and he walked about the rooms straightening furniture and stacking up the glasses on the tray. I wished him a good morning as he entered the bedroom. He gazed at me in surprise. "What happened to your trip to Paris?" he asked with a smile. "Anne and I decided we’d rather stay home with our husbands," I said. "Did you hear any of tonight’s story? I told how we met." "So I heard. You left out a few details." "It was 20 years ago," he said. "I can’t remember everything. But I do know this. You are still as beautiful as that first night I met you in Hillingham." He too is as handsome as then though there are lines around his eyes and his hair is gray at the temples. "I have an investigation for you," I said with a wanton smile. "I know of a haunted room where ghostly moans can be heard and a mysterious force shakes the furniture." "Where is this room?" he asked with a smile of his own. "By Jove! it is this one as soon as I finish writing," I replied.