New Year’s Day, 1793

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I sat back and closed my eyes contentedly, feeling the warmth of the fire on my face, and the brandy warming my insides. My belly was happily full from a good lunch. Life was good.

“Barnabas, are you going to sit there all day?” smiled my mother. She looked at me intently, as she set down a small tray on the side table.  “You look like the cat who has got the cream.”

“I’m happy mother,” I replied simply.

“I’m glad to hear it”, she smiled back at me. “Would there be any particular reason you feel that way?”

“I don’t quote know,” I mused. “ It can’t be just a good dinner,  a warm fire, this brandy-” I looked into the amber liquid and swirled it round in my glass.

I looked up at her earnestly. “I just have a feeling that this will be a good year for us, perhaps the best one we will ever have.”

“Well I hope you are right.”

“How is Father?”

“Oh his cold is still bothering him, but he will recover soon I’m sure. The hot toddy should help.”

“I hope so,” I said, standing up and going to look out of the window. “How beautiful it looks outside, the snow.”

My mother came to stand by my side. We stood in silent companionship looking at the expanse of white that covered the grounds like a blanket.

“How pure it looks,” I said at last, breaking the silence, “almost as though everything is untainted and new, cleansed almost in readiness for the coming new year.”

 

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“You sound almost poetical Barnabas.” My mother took my hand. “I’m so proud of you. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that but I am.”

“Well-” I said, my face flushing at the sound of pride and love in her voice. “I hope I will always make you feel that way, no matter what happens.”

A sudden chill came over me and I shivered, then in one fleeting moment it was gone.

“Come and sit by the fire again Barnabas, you look a little cold.”

I turned away so that she would not see the confusion on my face. I’d been so happy all afternoon and in a mere moment, something I couldn’t explain had come over me, I was not a man given to bouts of melancholy, so it was all the more puzzling to me.

“Yes,” I said, and walked over to my chair and poured more brandy into my glass, and with perfect timing in walked my Aunt Abigail.

“I hope you don’t plan to finish that bottle, and sit there stupefied all afternoon, Barnabas,” she said in a scolding tone.

“Since when have I been a drunkard?” I retorted. “It’s New Year’s Day, and I for one feel like celebrating it in a pleasant manner, with a couple of glasses of brandy by the fireside. I don’t see what is wrong with that.”

“Well you wouldn’t, so I won’t be the one to spell it out.” With that she opened the Bible she more often than not had in her hands.

I sighed, waiting for her to start quoting me chapters about the evil of “strong drink” when the door opened and in flew little Sarah.

315kl“Barnabas, let’s go out and make a snowman! Oh say you will, look I have a carrot for his nose.”

“You will catch a chill,” Aunt Abigail said, “ You don’t want to be in bed with a fever like your father now do you?”

“No I won’t!” Sarah said,” I have my new grey coat, that will keep me warm, and the mittens you knitted for me.”

My mother moved away from the window, and smiled at Sarah. “I don’t see why you can’t go out with Barnabas Sarah, as long as you wrap up warmly. That’s if he wants to go with you.”  With that she looked at me for my assent.

“Of course,” I said graciously, “ Go and get ready Sarah.”

“Oh good!” She said and handed me the carrot. “Now you take care of the snowman’s nose for me until I come back.”

“I will,” I promised, smiling affectionately at her, amused by her excitement.

My aunt made a harrumph sound and I looked over at her sitting there stiffly in her chair.

She  met my gaze, a frown turning her mouth downwards.

“Those eyes of yours will get you into trouble Barnabas, you mark my words.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said puzzled.

367-1If looks could kill Barnabas!” she exclaimed, looking away momentarily then down at the Bible in her lap.

“Now just what are you talking about Abigail?” My mother’s  voice took on a sharp tone.

Abigail had the grace to look a little guilty, but only for a moment. “Well it was the way he looked at me. That expression just popped into my head. I don’t know exactly what I meant by it.”

“And how did I look at you?”

“I don’t wish to discuss it,” she muttered and stood up. “I think I’ll retire to my room for awhile.”

“As you wish. Oh Sarah, you do look nice and warm, here’s your carrot.”

“Have a nice time,” my mother said.

“We will!” Sarah almost ran to the door. “Look out the window Mother and you can see us make the snowman.”

“I will darling.”

The snowman proved more difficult to make than we imagined, for our hands got very cold and we had to keep blowing warm air from our mouths every so often to ease the stiffness of our fingers. We soon found out wet gloves were an impediment to snowman creation.

A little bird flew down into one of the low branches in the trees and watched us set the carrot into the snowman’s head.

“Oh the bird must be hungry! Let’s go get him some bread from the kitchen Barnabas.”

If there was one thing above all I loved about my sister it was her inherent kindness, her purity of heart.

“All right, you stay there, I won’t be long,” I promised. “I ‘ll get the buttons in your box for the snowman’s eyes too.”

“Then he will be able to see, won’t he? He can look out at the trees and watch the birds.”

“He will,” I said smiling.

When I returned Sarah was playing her flute and the bird was cocking his head, appearing to be listening to the piping sounds.

“I think you’ve made a new friend Sarah.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I do. Now let’s crumble up this bread and put it under his tree.”

As we neared the tree the bird flew up into the next branch watching us, then swooped down to the ground when we moved away.

“Oh he is so hungry Barnabas!”

“I expect he is, with the ground covered by snow, frozen hard with no worms for him to find.”

I took Sarah’s little button box out of my coat pocket and handed it to her. She chose two bright blue buttons for his eyes and I helped her push them into his round face.

“Oh but he has no mouth! What can we make his mouth out of?”

I reached into my pocket again and handed Sarah a piece of thick red thread.

“How about this?”

“Where did you get that?”

I looked down at her and spoke in a hushed conspiratorial tone. “From Aunt Abigail’s sewing box. Now don’t you tell on me! She left it in the drawing room.”

Sarah giggled, enjoying the secret.

“I won’t tell on you.”

We pushed the thread into the snowman’s face and Sarah pulled the thread up at each end.

“Now he’s smiling. That’s better.”

We stood back and looked at our snowman. The being of ice stood there comically, his buttony blue eyes gleaming in the frosty daylight, smiling at us as though he was very glad to have been created.

“I think he’s happy we made him Barnabas.”

“I think he is too. Do you want to give him a name?”

“Adam, like the first man in the Bible.”

“That is blasphemous,” Aunt Abigail said as we came into the drawing room to warm ourselves by the fire and told our mother about our snowman.

“Making snowmen is one thing, but only God gives life and calling a snowman after the first man-”

“Oh Abigail be quiet!” My mother tutted.

“”Well, if I don’t point out their sinful ways who will?” Her voice rose in response to my mother’s annoyance. “ This is a good Christian household, and don’t you forget it.”

“Have you not thought Aunt, that by naming the snowman Adam that we acknowledge God’s creation?” I said in my best soothing and charming manner.

“Well if you put it like that-”

“I do.” I said firmly, “Now let’s not fight on New Year’s day. I want nothing more than peace and happiness in this house.” I smiled at my mother and little Sarah. “And love of course.”

81426771-d990-4484-8fcb-67bf12af3765“You will always have my love,” my mother said warmly.

“And mine too!” Little Sarah hugged me tightly. I wrapped my arms about her warm little body and kissed the top of her head.

“Happy New Year darling,” I said softly into her long brown hair.

Her sweet face lifted up to look into mine. “It will be a happy one won’t it Barnabas?”

“The best,” I said, looking over her head gazing at the snowman stood outside, and watching our bird soar into the sky, his belly full of the bread we had given him. He flew high into the cold still air, and then vanished from my view. I had the  feeling that we would never see him again, which made me feel inexplicably sad. The sun was setting, shadows began to fall around our drawing room and I let go of Sarah in my arms and began the evening ritual of lighting all the candles.

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Sacrifice

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Sacrifice– the word doesn’t even sound nice to one’s ears does it? It is even less pleasant to write about, but write about it I must. For sacrifice has featured many times in my life- I have been both the victim of it, and the cause of it. I sacrificed  the happiness and lives of others for my own selfish desires. Then racked with guilt I spent a few years after that willingly offering myself up as selflessly as I knew how to ensure the safety and happiness of my family and friends. But even then others made their own sacrifices along the way, either through knowing me and working as my allies or getting in the way of our mutual enemies. It seemed that even when I was putting myself last I collected some victims, which caused me great sorrow. Death followed me like a shadow- my curse saw to that.

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Of course, some of this was because of my need for blood.charity-gets-bitten I could try and fight the desire for it of course, but ultimately the cravings would get so immense that the thirst overwhelmed me and I could bear it no longer, and I knew that someone would have to offer me their blood so that I would be satisfied. At times, I was offered it almost willingly but it was nearly always to their detriment and I tried to take as little as I could, but once the hot sweetness filled my mouth I often felt crazed for more. Disgusting as this sounds, there was sometimes a special  feeling of intimacy when I felt an emotional bond with the woman I was feeding with: Josette- Roxanne- Vicki, and even to some extent Charity Trask.

For them however, there would always be a price- their life if I continued to accept their offerings to me.  Love often does mean that we make sacrifices- such as putting ourselves out to help our loved ones- perhaps missing a trip to care for them when they are sick, but to die- to die for it— no, it should not come to that. I am aware that some lyrics of popular music express the sentiments “I would die for you, I could die for love” but I strongly suspect that this is being overly dramatic- few of us would  usually equate love with death- this is more the prerogative of Romantic poets.

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Sometimes I didn’t even know whether I was the victim or being victimized such was my confusion during those dark days of 1967. Josette’s spirit left the Old House when I went to live there and I was alone in a strange century with people I didn’t understand and mistrusted their motives.

Those years of 1795-6 were still vivid in my mind- I had vowed only to hate after Josette had fled from me and fallen from Widow’s Hill, all because she didn’t want to pay the sacrifice to be with me.  Even in my anguish I understood and did not blame her for it, but my heart was broken that she was afraid of me. I staggered away from the cliffs, and later vowed before Ben Stokes that I could only hate from this moment on- love had ruined me. The subversion of love if I may call it that- of the witch, twisted into something vile, turned me into something loathsome. I was no longer the person Josette had fallen in love with. With her gone I turned my rage onto those around me in my own strange sense of justice- Nathan Forbes and Reverend Trask.

Reverend Trask despised me; perhaps he sensed that I was in a way a strange subversion of the religion he preached so avidly- his Lord had offered his own blood selflessly so that he may save the souls of others, but here was I taking the blood of others so that I would survive yet another desperate and lonely night.  In the end I snuffed out his life as he took Vicki’s life- he sacrificed her innocence for his own egotistical and misguided ravings, whilst the real witch amongst us gloated. She made fools of us all for a long time and when  I realized what she truly was it was too late.

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My own blood was spilled for a few moments of weakness and ignorance and not only my own life and happiness was sacrificed but that of my dear Josette, my poor little Sarah, my beloved mother- even my father was left a broken man once he discovered the horror of what his son had become.

For one such as I, blood, love and death became blurred- they almost became one and the same- sacrificed, sacrificing-   lusting for blood,  yearning for love, longing for death, trying to escape death,  wanting to live- seeking an end to this cycle. My boundaries became difficult to define, difficult to contain, difficult to understand. I found myself taking on various roles, not even knowing what was real much of the time, such was the depths of the deceptions I created for myself.

Slowly it all began to unravel, and I began to see that through the sacrifices I had made through my foolishness I could turn around some of my curse by using the powers that came with it to fight against evil that came to Collinwood far more than any household should ever have to encounter. The hardest thing was realizing that I could not do this alone, and that those dear to me like Julia also had to risk their own safety to help me. She told me many times that I could not be expected to risk my life for hers if I would wouldn’t accept that she would be prepared to do the same for me.

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I feared losing her more than she ever knew- although she didn’t quite know how much I cared, she trusted me to always be there for her. I couldn’t fully express my gratitude to her, and when I made attempts to she would shrug it off and state that I had helped her many times. I had lost so much, that losing my best friend was unthinkable- this was one sacrifice I was determined not to have to make, even if it meant the loss of my own life.

With sacrifices also come gratitude, or as I have come to believe, from my own experiences it is wise to never lose sight of that-being thankful for the kindnesses our friends show us. I realise that this hasn’t been an easy read, but I wish to finish with something positive, and also an apology for such a difficult subject, but sometimes my memories are melancholy and I can’t seem to help myself, and need to explain what I experienced and felt, and reflect upon it all.

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Suffering

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Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape,
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
But O too fond, when have I answer’d thee?
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye:
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal’d:
I strove against the stream and all in vain:
Let the great river take me to the main:
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield;
Ask me no more.

When we are suffering we may inadvertently create more suffering not only for ourselves but others we hold dear to us. I should never have gone to her that night, I know that now.  But, truth be told I knew it then too, but I could not help myself. To live for eternity without her was an agony I knew I could not bear, yet to live with her meant death- her death. I was already dead, but in a cruel way also alive – and my feelings were intense, more so than when I had been an ordinary man. Now, I was a creature of the night with dark yearnings – cravings so strong that at times I thought I would go mad.

When her tearful eyes gazed into mine and she begged me to take her with me I felt an icy chill seep into my bones, for she had little idea of what this meant.  How could I explain what I had become? That my love for her would bring her suffering then her death? I wanted more than anything to keep her safe, bring her love and joy. When we love someone the last thing we want is to make them suffer. Yet, when the witch had screamed at me that all who loved me would die, that became the only thing I could bring my dear Josette.

I was suffering enormously it is true: tormented by my need for blood each night and disgusted with myself afterwards I would slink into the shadows tears on my blood stained face. 

How could I ask her to love me still? My loyal servant Ben pleaded with me to leave Collinsport for good, but I couldn’t bear to never see her lovely face again. Selfishly, I stayed and visited her of a night through the secret panel in her bedroom, taking her in my arms and loving her in the only way I knew how.

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My plans to make her mine meant that she would live for eternity as I was cursed to do, but it was a living death; I knew Ben Stokes was right when he told me I was wrong to even consider it, but I didn’t know how else I could bear each night otherwise. Centuries of loneliness and suffering stretched out before me, unless I could find someone to end my suffering. Faithful Ben could not bring himself to do it. I longed for him to destroy me – being destroyed at the hands of a friend seemed to me a kindness, laying me to rest in peace, but to have been hunted down like an animal by the authorities was what I faced (it was inevitable) which was worse.  I had left many victims of my blood lust in the short time since I had been cursed to this damned existence – already the inhabitants of Collinwood were gossiping about the  “ blood thirsty beast” in their midst.

We are often told that we should not have regrets, for they are futile as we cannot change what has been. This I find to be false in light of what I am – for if I didn’t have any regrets how could I live with myself? I may not be able to put right many of the wrongs I have done, but I have realized that the experiences I’ve had have taught me to see how precious life really is. We must never waste a moment to show our loved ones how much they mean to us; we must show them that we care. We must. Having too many  regrets eats at our souls and we cannot be at peace. 

With regrets comes forgiveness, which I have talked about before. Forgiving other people is much easier in some ways than forgiving ourselves. I know now that Josette eventually forgave me for that terrible night on Widows Hill. Even now I feel the horror as vividly as I did over 200 years ago as she slipped from my arms down onto the rocks as the wind swept the sea into  a frenzy.

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As the elements claimed her spirit, and her broken body lay below the cliffs, my heart became as hard and as cold as the cruel stones that she lay upon, and for a long time after that I could only feel hate and despair. Many a night I would roam Widows Hill raging at the way it had stolen me from her, claimed her as its own. Her voice mingled with the ghosts of the weeping widows that haunted the place – my suffering was causing me great agony but in a perverse sort of way brought me some comfort, for I felt that one day I might find Josette again as I could often sense her presence  in the wind that whipped my cloak around my legs as if she were angry with me for causing her to die.

In the new century I found myself in Josette’s spirit came to my aid twice when I was in danger and I knew then that she had forgiven me, even if I had not forgiven myself.

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“My darling forgive me for the suffering I brought you,” I told her one night as I sat alone by my fire in the Old House, and outside the wind sighed at  the window. Perhaps I was imagining it, but I felt some peace come over me as though she had heard me.

climbed the stairs to her room and gazed at her portrait, holding a single candle above me which cast a wavering glow on her face.  Her eyes were solemn.

A knock on the door broke me out of my reverie and reluctantly I turned away and went downstairs to open the door.  It was Julia. As she walked into the drawing room she could see that my mood was particularly melancholy but did not press me on it, for I had had enough of an ordeal being bricked up by Trask’s spirit in my basement, and she kindly made a front of putting my mood down to that.

“I deserved it,” I told her simply, “for he was only doing what I did to him.” Trask had suffered and died at my hand and even though he had been a spiteful and vindictive man, his fanaticism bordering on mania, I had acted from the same emotions that he had shown to Victoria Winters – hate. Now we were even – he had got his revenge on me and his spirit lay quiet once again.

Julia turned away, pain reflected in her eyes at my words, for the prospect of losing me was as unbearable to her as losing Josette had been to me – and still was.

“Don’t Barnabas,” she said quietly and I looked down at my hands, understanding her, accepting what I meant to her.  I said no more on the subject, for I knew how much she had worried when I had gone missing and regretted that I yet again had caused her so much upset.

At this moment in time, I was no longer a creature of the night, but it still felt to me that the curse was never far away from me, and my fears that it was laying in wait for me proved to be correct. TKitty and Josettehe Leviathans returned the curse to me (although the witch made an attempt to and would have succeeded if it had not been for Adam). They prevented me from saving Josette’s death a second time, and reliving that agony once again was  one of the worst nights of my life. 

Death has touched me so many times, yet I am still alive- why, I don’t know. I have suffered and brought suffering to many; there are those who say that through suffering we can come to a state of enlightenment, or wisdom or something close to it, but I wish that I hadn’t had to have gone through all that suffering to have learned what I have. I have lost too much, caused too much losses. There must be better ways to learn:  I believe there are better ways to learn, which I will save for another time. 

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*Poem: Ask Me No More, from The Princess by Tennyson.

 

 

Power

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Barnabas.antique oil painting

 

My condition has brought with it certain advantages. For example I possess the ability to shapeshift into a bat and travel to where I want to be much faster than if I were on foot. When I first discovered  I had this ability I found it very strange and somewhat disorientating. My consciousness would shift into another state and I found that I really needed to focus on where I wanted to be, otherwise the form I had taken would fly around aimlessly. If this sounds rather comical to you, imagine how this felt to me. It is somewhat a cliche that my kind have this ability, but I assure you it is one that exists. I have even heard that some ancient native men of America also possessed the ability to change their forms, but I suspect that this was happening on the astral level, rather than physically.

Flying in another form gold houseives one a sense of freedom and a new perspective. On occasions I rather enjoyed  the view I had over the roof of the Old House and Collinwood, the stars seeming nearer to me than they usually were, and the light of the Moon brighter: my guiding light to my next victim.

Yes, my next victim. How I despise using that word! My first forays in this form were used to hunt for fresh blood, my cravings twisting my insides with hunger and darkening my soul further with every encounter.

The dogs would howl piteously; a blood curdling sound to those who were unfortunate to hear them and even more so to those who understood what their cries signified. For it signified that I was hunting, yearning and ruthlessly searching for someone to sate my needs with. Once I had found that person, my powers meant that I usually succeeding in getting what I wanted from them.

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I was well aware of the powers I possessed after a few days of discovering just what I had become. Horrific though it was to me, I was compelled to use what powers I had to my advantage. It wouldn’t have done to have had my latest victim run away from me once they saw me open my mouth and show them what was inside there- my fangs. My eyes held the power to lock into the eyes of the one whose blood I craved and paralyze them; freezing them so that they were unable to run away but submit to my bite.

I learned much later on that I could bite and feed in such a way that the victim would feel little pain, and at times, some kind of pleasure, perverse as this may sound to you. I felt some measure of guilt at this discovery, but I reasoned that perhaps this was better than bringing someone terror and pain as their blood drained into my mouth.

However, this also became a problem, and I found that to satiate myself on someone else’s life force would always be an ethical dilemma- one that always caused me shame and regret. In time, I was able to get a better grip on managing my cravings, and going longer and longer without imbibing blood- when Dr. Lang had me admitted to his hospital after the accident with Vicki, he told me that I’d had very little blood inside my body and he had to give me a transfusion.

dangerous 1967 BarnabasWhy Julia had not tried this with me earlier I can only put down to my antagonistic and uncooperative attitude I was exhibiting towards her. I didn’t trust her for a long time and I didn’t understand why she was risking so much to try and help me. I wasn’t used to anyone accepting my state of being and seeing it as a condition, rather than me being inherently evil. To Julia, my actions were a result of an illness; I had been changed she argued to me, a physical change, which compelled me to act as I did, but the acts themselves she saw as not being who I was. I know I’m not explaining this very well, but after awhile she did give me some things to ponder upon.

Discovering I had heightened senses did not make up for what I had lost. Despite my greater physical strength, sharper night vision, shapeshifting ability and psychic perceptions, I was less than who I had been before this curse had been laid upon me. These powers and abilities of mine were born out of darkness- all a facet of my desire to prey upon the living.

I could bend people’s will to my will, manipulate them with my telepathy, call their name and create an overwhelming desire within them to summon them to my side. I am ashamed to admit that when I felt their mind touch mine and felt their hunger for me, my own hunger for them increased and excitement would course through my whole dark being. I was powerful and almost unstoppable during my first few months in my new century- I have spoken before on what I did to Willie Loomis- he was powerless to stop me.

Power used wrongly. We all have power of some kind- the power to charm others, inspire them with our creativity, amuse them with our sense of humor, and the power to do good. I believed, wrongly, that my powers could never do any good to anyone, and that is why I begged my servant Ben Stokes to destroy me in those desperate moments when I felt I could not live with what I had become, what I was driven to do. I felt I had no choice but to follow this path of darkness that she had bestowed upon me: coming from her own darkness- how could I ever know goodness again?

My lovely Josette feared me, despite her loving me still, for she couldn’t forget the man I had once been, and yet- she could not accept what I had become. I understood this well- for I loathed myself- how could I expect her to understand if I struggled to? I longed for her to help me, yet this was too much for her to cope with, and truth be told, I didn’t know myself any more. What was I? The man I had been seemed so far away, yet deep within me he was still there when in the arms of Josette.

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Being lost in darkness for so long I found a certain sort of satisfaction in my abilities- once Josette was lost to me to the rocks below Widow’s Hill I resolved to follow the path that was now set out for me- satiating my needs. My broken heart could not bear to feel any goodness- I slid deeper and deeper into darkness. Ben watched me in sorrow- faithful to the last.

I’ve spoken about the time I was human once more in 1968- losing the powers that came with the darkness meant that I was an ordinary human once again, and vulnerable. I was glad of it- for it meant my connection to those near and dear to me was equal and real. I was one of them once more, no longer an outsider. Of course  when I was a being of the night I was vulnerable during the day, which was a constant worry to me- the possible discovery of my true nature. I mean true nature in the sense of what my needs were, and not being awake during daylight.

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I came to see after a long time, that my true nature was not to seek the destruction of others, to prey upon them, to manipulate them to do my bidding- the darkness  within me was bestowed upon me- a curse. I cannot fully explain what it means to be under a curse- it creates compulsions that feel at odds with what you know yourself to be, twists the mind to such an extent that you begin to associate yourself with that darkness. I am not excusing myself, so please don’t misunderstand me. I still had choices, but being cursed means that much more effort needs to be made when making choices that don’t hurt others around you. This has become both my challenge and my lesson in life.

When I reverted back to what I was during my time in 1897 I found that some things were different than they had been before. I craved blood still, and was revulsed by needing to satiate myself with it, but found that I had better control over this than I had previously. My fangs were put to use when I needed to find out information that would allow me to learn more about this strange time I found myself in, and all the goings on as Ben Stokes would have described it. The Collins family of 1969 were depending on me to stop David being possessed by Quentin. I was forced to do whatever it took to prevent the death of this innocent child.

I regretfully had to take the innocence of one young woman named Charity in order to achieve my aims.  The daughter of Gregory Trask, a self styled man of the cloth, I have no idea how he could have sired such a sweet creature. Although I did notice upon first meeting her that she was beginning to exhibit some of the negative qualities of her father- judgemental and hypocritical. At once I saw the danger she and her father posed to Rachel Drummond, who so closely resembled Josette. I was falling in love with Rachel and desperate for no harm to come to her. I was struggling not to let myself feel too much for her, for I knew from experience that love for me in my current state was bound up with my darker desires and sooner or later my fangs would find themselves sinking into her soft neck.

Charity gets bitten

Instead I wasted no time in sinking them into Charity’s neck as she lay in her bed, and she became my assistant, coming to me when I needed her, helping me and even hiding me when her loathsome father was looking for me. I regret that I bit Charity, for she liked the experience far too much, and yet she found some new sense of herself despite it- courage, a desire to know more about the world and a realization of her beauty.

“Barnabas, my father told me it is a sin to seek beauty in oneself,” she told me one evening at the Old House, after we had shared the intimacy of feeding.

“ However can anyone think such a thing?” I replied.

Charity looked into my eyes. “You told me I am beautiful. Is this not vanity? Me wanting you to find me beautiful?”

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“I see you,” I smiled down at her. “Beauty is knowing goodness, kindness. Vanity is false beauty- seeking for others to do your bidding simply because they find you pleasing to the eye.” The last, I said with some shame, for I knew what vanity was, having used my charms many times to get what I wanted.

“Oh, “ Charity whispered. “ You know so much Barnabas, I never thought of it like that.”

“You have helped me see that my dear,” I told her, and meaning it. I was feeling a lot of regret that I was using her for my needs, no matter how much she enjoyed the time we spent together. I tried to reconcile this within myself by this knowledge and observing how she was coming into her own as a person, the grasp of her father’s control over her loosening. True, I was also controlling her by my powers, but I needed someone I could trust to help me, and I couldn’t see any other way of doing it. I simply couldn’t risk David’s life over trusting someone who may have betrayed me. Charity’s need to be with me ensured she couldn’t betray me- she longed for me too much.

I tried to apologize to her for what I was doing to her but she stopped me.

“ Don’t Barnabas- I- I wouldn’t change it now. You’ve showed me more of the world. I can see now there’s more than what my father would have had me know at the school.”

I could see that life with her father at the school must have been tedious and limiting. I knew full well the Trask tendency to religious fervor- one of the worst kind- hypocritical, self serving and intolerant. Trask was a man with a powerful presence and used that to his advantage- controlling Judith Collins. That however, is a story for another time.

The darkest power in 1897 lay within Count Petofi, who sought to travel forward to 1969 and escape the gypsies who were seeking him and he stole Quentin’s body for a time. A disgusting man, of whom I don’t wish to talk about quite frankly, as he tried to destroy me also, and caused the death of Rachel Drummond.

I have said before that I wished I had known the extent of his powers and been able to have forced him to use them to my advantage. I myself used my own dark powers to achieve a greater good, although I did some terrible things along the way. It gave me satisfaction to work against my inner darkness and find the glimmer of light that was fighting against it- to use the powers that the darkness gave me to help others. Petofi is one who would have scoffed at such a thing, but I would have loved to have forced him to use his powers to do a kindness for someone against his will. I wonder if this would have instigated some change within him as it started to do for me?

Back in 1967 Jason Maguire was threatening Elizabeth Collins with ruin and forced her to agree to marry him. I was new to the family then, and she was keeping a lot from me, yet I watched from a distance and warned Maguire that I was not plea243-dark-shadows-jason-barnabassed with his behavior. I could not have my own family threatened in this way especially a woman- despite the monster I had become, some sense of honour still existed within me. The darkness within me was unleashed upon Maguire and he was no more under my hands. I felt no remorse over his death, but a smug satisfaction that he would trouble my cousin Elizabeth no more.

Now, of course I see it differently- I needn’t have killed him,  but warned him off- he was leaving Collinsport anyway. His mistake was to come and try to steal from me, and being as I was then- cruel and ruthless if anyone threatened me, and discovered my coffin as he did- they would pay for it with their life. Is it ever necessary to kill? I found myself in so many circumstances that forced me to do so, which I find hard to live with. Darkness in the light, light in the darkness- are they different or one and the same?

I have used myBarnabas-Collins-1970-dark-shadows-28790711-120-90 powers for good and for evil. I have walked in darkness, seeking the light still. If there is one thing I have learned that is in the darkness we discover our potential, what we can be, not necessarily what we ought to be. I  now know what I am, and know what I want to be. Never again shall I let the darkness claim me.

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Ghosts

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I shall never forget meeting her for the first time, her shy smile and light conversation; she was so full of life and promise as many young women are.  Her soft skin glowed with health and youth- how could I ever have known what tragedy would lay before her? That for only a few months after knowing her, loving her, that her life would fade away, as did mine into the darkness, and for thereafter I would know her only as a ghost?

I loved her in life and I loved her in death, and for many years sought ways to cheat time and to change what I had done, change events: but time was stronger than I, and my enemies used it against me. I could not undo that had been done.

josette's ghost

Many people today do not believe in ghosts; that those who are no longer walking this earth are somehow still alive somewhere, or that their memories somehow haunt the places they loved and can be seen and felt by the living.  

It is my observation that more people experience ghosts than is actually realized; that they do not talk about such experiences for fear of being seen as strange or over imaginative. We often fear what we do not understand. If we see a “ghost” what does it mean to us? Why has this occurred? 

That night in 1967 when I first walked through the doors of the Old House after being freed from my coffin by Willie Loomis my past and future rolled into one.  There was an air of timelessness that washed over me as the cobwebs hung over the windows, the fireplace and the face of my beloved Josette. Through the layers of dust the 18th century was more real to me than the 1960s. At any moment I fancied that I would hear the footsteps of little Sarah running down the stairs calling my name. But she was gone, long gone and another child spoke my name instead.

Barnabas in the Old House

Young David Collins, a strange but astute boy spoke to me of seeing ghosts in the Old House and even believed me to be one at first; he was even disappointed to find out that I was not a ghost…but yet…in a way he was correct.

I was “alive”, yet not truly alive, not only in the physical sense but also in a spiritual sense, for this time I found myself in was not my own. I had broken the laws of nature by my very existence and should have been a jumble of bones in my tomb alongside my family. But here I was, living still, walking in the moonlight  of a night, when most normal people were sleeping in their beds. Perhaps I was a living ghost, for I was consumed with the past, vainly attempting to recreate what I had lost, whom I had loved.

ghosts of the past

My preoccupation with the ghosts of my past led me to attempt to turn a living woman into one, which proved disastrous. In my pain and desperation to regain what I had lost, I  was suffering from what I now believe to be some sort of temporary insanity- I was blind to the depths of the suffering I caused Maggie Evans in my efforts to make her become Josette. I needed her to be Josette- in my anguish all I could see was the resemblance to my lost love and that was enough for me at the time.

To my eternal shame and regret after this vivacious young woman lost part of herself and was taken away by Dr. Woodard to Windcliff, I then turned my attentions to Victoria Winters, whom I had always felt an attraction to from the moment we first met. Her innocence and gentleness charmed me, and we shared an interest in the past and a love of literature.

Barnabas and vicki

Much later on, I told her that loving me would have been the greatest mistake of her life, although I wished that hadn’t been true- for by then I was human once more, with a future I felt I could offer her, (although perhaps an uncertain one) and  found that my chance had been snatched away from me in the guise of Jeff Clarke.

I spoke earlier about how I came to help Vicki and Jeff – in actuality he was Peter Bradford, a man from my century, and a ghost of sorts himself. The irony of my efforts to protect Vicki from the worst parts of myself for so long, fighting against the desires that drew me to her, then the genuine love I felt for her ( finally realizing that she didn’t and would never return my love) was not lost on me when her fate seemed to be to love another ghost.

Vicki slipped into the past to be with Peter and I followed them to ensure that this time they would escape the gallows- my curse had cheated me of Josette, but I resolved not to let Vicki suffer the same fate due to the schemings of the one who had cursed me- enough had suffered due to my wrongdoings. Fortunately I was successful, but I had to hurt other people to do it, which I am ashamed of, but I won’t go into that for now.

I still think about Vicki and her preoccupation with ghosts and the past- she was very much taken with Josette for a time and I used this to my advantage and encouraged it. Was I to blame for her travelling back to 1795? I can say with all certainty that this was her undoing- for there she met Peter Bradford, who despite his love for her ( which I could see was as true as mine for Josette) sealed her fate. She would not be swayed from her determination to leave her own time and join him in the past.  I learned much later on, to my great sorrow, that she and Peter had not had long together- the Leviathans saw to that, or more precisely, Jeb Hawkes. Vicki became a ghost herself- falling from Widows Hill.

I considered travelling back to 1796 again and looking for Vicki to prevent her death, but Eliot Stokes and Julia talked me out of it, pointing out to me the inherent dangers of changing events and the risk to myself.

“We have had enough messing around with time Barnabas!” Eliot stated firmly, “Look how close we came to not getting back to 1971- not to mention the dangers you faced in 1897- leave well enough alone.”

Stokes

“He’s right Barnabas,” Julia said, “You can’t save everybody, and it was Vicki’s choice to go back with Peter.”

I paced the room anxiously then went to stand in front of the fireplace, leaning on the mantle.

“I know that! But I can’t help feeling responsible-”

“Oh Barnabas,” Julia sighed, “When will you stop doing this to yourself?”

“Doing what?” I said, turning round and giving her a warning look. Eliot looked at me then Julia curiously.

“You know what,” she replied quietly. Then to my relief she changed the subject, asking Eliot if he had read some medical journal she had lent him. I walked away and sat in my chair and stared into the fire, as images of so many I had loved and lost haunted me.  

“You make the past so beautiful,” Vicki sighed to me her eyes shining wistfully.

“ Don’t leave me Barnabas..” Josette sighed.

“ Barnabas don’t turn away from me..” begged Roxanne.

“Barnabas….Barnabas?” I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was jolted into the present by Julia looking down at me with a concerned look.

“Where’s Eliot?” I asked.

“He left, as he has a lecture to prepare for.” Julia smiled.

I hadn’t even noticed he was gone, so far away I had been.

I stood up and realized that now at this very moment at least, there were no ghosts, just the present – in the form of Julia. She at least had never been a ghost to me- dear Julia, always loyal, by my side since I had known her; even when going into the past with me, she had always been of the present.

“Are you- are you alright Barnabas?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “I was just thinking about the past, but perhaps now I must think of the present.”

“Yes, the past always gets you melancholy,” she said pointedly.

“It’s a curious thing to be out of time,” I told her, “I should have died almost two hundred years ago, but here I am. Was this meant to be, like it was for Vicki to leave her own time?”

“I don’t know Barnabas,” Julia said, “I don’t think we’ll ever know.”

I thought about Quentin, perhaps he felt the same confusion and disorientation I often felt. I made a mental note to ask him one evening.

I sat down in my chair again, suddenly feeling tired.

Julia

 

“You look exhausted Barnabas, why don’t you get some rest?” Julia suggested.

She started opening her bag and I knew what that meant.

“No, I don’t want a sedative!”

She pursed her mouth and gave me a guilty look, knowing that I knew her only too well. She had the good grace not to try to deny it.

“Well, it’s getting late, I’ll be going back to Collinwood. Goodnight then Barnabas.”

“Goodnight,” I said. “I’ll be over tomorrow. I shall see you then.”

Sensitive to my need to be alone, knowing me as well as I knew her, she quietly left me sitting by my fireside, alone but for  the ghosts that were as much a part of the Old House as the very bricks, wood and stone that formed its very foundations.

In the old house

I sat silently in contemplation- I could never forget those I had loved and lost, to do so felt like I was not honouring how I had came to be in this time- they were part of my life, my story, but I also came to realize that my story was still yet to continue; this time not with ghosts of the past, but with the living, the people I knew and loved right this moment. There were many new stories awaiting.

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Belonging

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Barnabas in Collinwood

 

Each one of us has the desire to belong; not only to somebody, but somewhere. Our sense of self can be determined from where we came from, and perhaps where we are going. In modern times many people do not reside in the family home, the place they were born in – but another place, and sometimes not even in the same country they originated from.

I am sure you have all heard the “There’s no place like home,” which suggests that home for us is a safe place, one that brings us fond memories.  I awoke in 1967 in the same place- Collinwood, but in a different time from the one I came from, and in a sense I was no longer “at home”. When you have lived a life as long as mine, and travelled through different time periods, home takes on a different meaning.

I was essentially orphaned, for my family were long dead and I found myself with people who bore my name- Collins, but they were strangers to me. So, I invented the story that I was a distant cousin from England- in order to account for my sudden arrival that would not raise too many questions. I was at once a stranger to them, but also a member of the family. Eventually I became part of their family, and loved them dearly.

I needed to belong to them, and them to me, even though I could not tell them the truth of my origins- that I was their ancestor and belonged in Collinwood as much as they did, if not more so.

It may surprise you to know that despite all the terrible things that had happened at Collinwood, I felt a deep connection to it, and many years before my curse was placed upon me I had spent many happy times at The Old House where I was born. Of course we did not call it the Old House back then, it was simply Collinwood, and when the larger mansion was built we called it the New House for a time until my family moved there.

The Old House was to be given to me and Josette for our new home after our marriage, but that was never to be, and I found myself instead living there in a marriage I was forced into by the threat of the murder of my little sister Sarah.

Old House

A house is much more than bricks and mortar, more than shelter; it holds our dreams, reflects who we are, and in some ways reflects back at us what we long to be. It can become a symbol of love, hate, take on our name or even be a place of menace and foreboding. Collinwood was all these things and more besides.  It had a kind of presence to it, which was noticed by everyone who came to live there; it changed people- nobody was ever the same once they had been touched by the spirit of Collinwood.

Collinwoodnight

The Collins families down the centuries had all shown an unusual relationship to  the mansion- fighting for ownership, at times willing to commit murder in order to possess it. I often wondered if the house was possessing them rather than them possessing it. What was it about this house that brought out the worst in those who bore the name Collins? I do admit however, that it wasn’t only those named Collins who also were so affected- Gregory Trask in 1897 was so powerfully led by his desire to own Collinwood that he murdered his own wife and, contrary to what his Christian faith taught him, enlisted the help of the black magician Evan Handley in order to do it.

What drives us to seek this sense of belonging so strongly? In some people the need to belong is less to do with a physical home, but an identification with others they share kinship with. Magda and Sandor Rakosi, the gypsies who lived at The Old House in 1897 were such people. They were travellers, never settling in one place for long, and whilst glad of the shelter the Old House gave them, they had no attachment to it, nor sought it. Their sense of belonging was with their people. In some ways I admired this in them, for they had less to fight about, and Magda and Sandor had a better relationship than those at Collinwood did. When Sandor died I understood Magda’s loss far more than she ever realized- even though I never told her just how much I understood. For the woman I was meant to belong to- Josette- would never be mine, nor me hers.

I speak of “belonging” not in the sense of possession- for we can truly never own another person, and if we seek to possess another only disaster can follow, as I found out and became what I am now. I shall not go into that now, however, but perhaps another time.

The belonging we feel towards  another comes from a sense of sharing, knowing that the other person understands us and accepts us for who we truly are, and brings out the best that is within us.

“What is love but sharing?” Roxanne asked me once, and I found out that she was correct. I was for a time afraid to share what I am with her, and despite her courage and willingness to love me, I felt only fear.

We should never be afraid to love, to belong, to find out who we are, even if it means taking risks, and many risks I have indeed taken- and many of them brought me a lot of trouble.

Elizabeth Collins was one of the most accepting members of my new Collins family, and despite this was not that agreeable at first at my request to live at the Old House. Fortunately for me I was able to persuade her that I could restore it to its former glory. I could not explain fully to her of course why I needed to do this; and it was not only for the reason that I needed a safe place to hide my coffin; but I needed to feel that I had come home.

My heart ached when I first opened the door to my childhood home.

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The air of desolation hit me as the Old House mourned with me- it felt as lonely and bereft as I did. Under the layers of dust and cobwebs the sweet voice of Josette echoed in my ears and heart. Her portrait hung over the fireplace just where I had hung it in 1795 all those years ago, and I felt a strange sense of the past and present mingling. I felt disorientated- almost 200 years had passed since I had hung her portrait there and gazed at her beautiful face, and my wife had been angry that the one I loved would look down upon us, ever present, a shadow reminding us of how we had caused her death. It felt only hours away rather than over a century away.

“Josette…Josette…why won’t you come to me?” I begged as I stood looking at her portrait in 1967. Young David Collins had told me he had seen her ghost many times when playing in the parlor, and he was distressed when he told me that since I had arrived Josette had gone. I once more belonged to the Old House, and would make it my home for the next few years, but Josette did not belong to it; only on a few more occasions did she return from the grave to help me, out of her love for me when I needed her most.

The Old House became my sanctuary, a place of secrets, both of heart and mind. Alone of a night with only my memories as company, I sat by the fire, reliving what I had done, wondering how I could have done things better, my eyes warmed by the flames of my desires, my love, my pain.

Barnabas by the fire

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The Monster Within

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I have spoken before of the darkness that haunted me; terrible things that I have done, that could not be undone and my sorrow and regret of the suffering and pain I caused to others in those lost nights of 1967.

We all contain our shadow side; feelings that stir within us- jealousy, rage and even vindictiveness. However many a time we do not act upon them but bury them within and don’t  let them see the light of day.  We don’t admit even to ourselves, let alone others that we harbor  these shameful feelings and desires.   I know only too well how it is to live  with these feelings and try to keep them secret.  

To my new family at Collinwood I put on an air of charm and for a long time not one of them knew what cruelty lay within me of a night.

My condition meant that the darkness that lay within me rose to the surface more than it does for most people. I do not excuse it; for I had become a monster; craving the blood of the innocent and I became violent in my desperation to hide my needs. My very nature had been changed and I had lost the ability to find the goodness within me. I have spoken before how long it took for me to find myself again; with the help of Julia Hoffman and Dr Lang.

Oh how I despised myself! To go from being a normal human being, (with all the frailties and faults that we all possess of course) to go from what  I considered myself essentially to be- a good man- to go from this to a creature who preyed upon others for his survival, it was like living a continual nightmare.

When I became human once more I resolved to learn to be good once more, and fulfill the promise I had made to little Sarah, my dear sister whose spirit came to me in 1967 and told me that I had forgotten who I was. The shame I felt as I knelt in front of her as she told me I must change was unbearable.

Part of what it means to be human I have learned, is to feel compassion for our fellow human beings.

“Is this what it means to be human?” I asked Julia, when I could not allow Dr Lang to harm Jeff Clark in his experiment to give me permanent humanity. My conscience weighed heavily upon me, and Dr Lang thankfully listened to me and ceased his plan to murder Jeff.werewolf.png

In 1968 there was a series of severe attacks in the woods surrounding Collinwood that appeared to have been done by a very vicious animal. From the descriptions of a “man that walked like a wolf” Julia and I realized that it could only mean one thing- a werewolf lived amongst us.

We found out that it was Chris Jennings, the sister of young Amy who was staying at Collinwood and friend of young David Collins.

Chris was a very reserved young man, and somewhat of a loner, but whether that was his natural character or a result of his condition it is hard to say. He was not an easy person to get to know, and understandably reticent to form close friendships with others. Although he was attracted to Carolyn Stoddard he didn’t want to pursue any long term relationship with her, for he feared harming her- something I understood only too well.

The fear of harming those you love is a terrible thing to live with- fearing that the darkness within you will rise to the surface and overwhelm you to such an extent that you lose the power to stop it. This is what Chris faced every night there was a full moon. He became a monster; out of control, his humanity gone, not even knowing who he was- overtaken by  the desire to kill raging within him.

Those around us were in great fear of this werewolf roaming through the woods at night and the sheriff and his men  were searching for the “animal” and quite rightly, most people would say, determined to find it and destroy it.

I alone, understood the agony Chris was going through. He could not help what he became, and tried many times to stop himself by locking himself in his room, but the wolf within was so strong that it overtook him and broke free.  To make matters even more tragic, Chris had no idea why or how this had happened to him, unlike myself. He had simply transformed into this creature one night without warning.  

(Although the same could be said the same of myself before I died when the bat attacked me, she had screamed at me that I would be “cursed”, so I had had some warning that some terrible fate was in store for me). Chris was going through emotional turmoil- fear, self loathing, confusion and extreme physical pain- the transformation into the werewolf each full moon caused tremendous muscle spasms.

If it had not been for his little sister, who would have been left an orphan and all alone in the world, I believe Chris would have taken his own life; he expressed this to Julia and I after we found out his secret. We decided we had to try and help him, not only for his own sake but for little Amy who needed her big brother.

Chris expressed great surprise as to why I wanted to help him and guard his secret. I showed him the secret room in the Mausoleum (where my coffin had once been) and told him that he could not break free from there and that he would be safe. I could not tell him of course that I understood what he was going through and why I felt such compassion and empathy for him. It filled me with great sorrow.

sorrow for Chris

For when I looked at Chris, I didn’t see a monster, I saw a victim of circumstances that were beyond his control. When people do terrible things, often they are victims themselves and not fully aware of what they are doing. Chris lost awareness of who he was when the werewolf overtook him, so to my mind he was not totally culpable for his actions, much like those who suffer from insanity are  not considered culpable for theirs. Maybe you will not see it this way, but I felt that Chris deserved to be protected from himself and that is why I locked him in the mausoleum. Perhaps only a monster can truly understand another monster.  

I remember one time I visited him at the cottage and he told me:  “You’re a good man Mr Collins.” 

you are a good man mr collins

I looked at him in surprise; for it had been a very long time since anyone had called me good. I had not thought that anyone would ever see me that way again.

good man1 (1) “There have been those who didn’t think so.”  I replied. 

there have been those who didn't think so“Well we know  they’re wrong, very wrong.” Chris said, and I lowered my head, feeling embarrassed but also moved at his gratitude.

He had no idea that his allowing me to try to help him meant that I was finding the goodness within myself again- that he was helping me as much as I was trying to help him.

However, I could not reveal this to him; my own secret had to remain untold.

Chris would ask me often, “Why are you doing this Barnabas? Why are you helping me?” I would reply that little Amy needed him and that he couldn’t help what had happened to him, which was true- but I of course could not tell him how much I understood what it felt like to fear oneself of a night. I told him that Julia and I would find a cure, that there had to be a cure.  

Chris shook his head, “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it is impossible.”

I wished I  could tell him that I had once given up all hope of ever being free of my own curse, and now here I was free to walk in the daylight, and not have to fear what my desires might lead me to do of  a night.

“Trust me Chris,” was all I could say, “if there is a cure Julia and I will find it.”

We spent many hours reading books on lycanthropy to see if there was any clues as to a cure.  We found none, but decided that we would not give up trying.  Then a strange spirit began to haunt Collinwood; eventually we found out his name- Quentin Collins. He was from 1897 and had once been a werewolf.  I suppose it will not surprise you that Quentin and I became good friends when I travelled back to 1897, for he and I shared so many experiences and had made the same mistakes and paid the price for them.  

quentin werewolf 6.24.11

I would like to say that I returned from 1897 with a cure for Chris but I didn’t- his suffering continued.  I have mentioned before how the Leviathans took control of me for awhile which meant that I  lost my empathy for Chris, I am ashamed to say.

He eventually left Collinwood, during the time Julia and I were in parallel time and none of us heard from him again.

I have known so many people that in the end, despite my desire to help them,  I could not help, or failed to. Sometimes it is through carelessness that we miss opportunities to help others or we don’t have the knowledge to help them until it is too late. If  I had known the extent of the powers Count Petofi had possessed I would have forced him to have told me how to use them to cure Chris. It would have given me great satisfaction to have used the darkness that resided in Count Petofi for good. Petofi was thoroughly evil, and it would have been a bitter  yet necessary lesson for him- that the powers of darkness can be transformed into powers of light and goodness.

It may come as a surprise to you that this can be so, yet I have found it to be true. I shall speak more of this another time.

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Awakening.

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Barnabas.1967.photo

When I was released from my coffin in 1967 I was half mad with grief, anger, loneliness and self loathing. Many people have some aspects of themselves they do not like or wish to change, but to to be filled with loathing for oneself, one’s very being is a terrible thing to live with. I knew that I should have been destroyed once I became what I am, not only for my own benefit, but for the benefit and safety of those in Collinsport. Yet, how I longed to live! My need for survival was greater than the desire to die. So it is with all living beings.

And so it was that I lived, although dead of a day, due to the mercy of my father and Ben Stokes,  neither of whom could not bear to have me destroyed. But what life was it to become? Chained within the confines of a coffin, time began to stand still to me for all those years. I cannot explain the torment I felt being in that stifling dark prison, with no room to move, with not one thing to comfort me.  

Alone, my thoughts, my memories attacked me and haunted me during the times I was conscious. My insides clawed deep within me, my hunger for blood a thousand agonies-I was starved. Starved of light, companionship, human touch- all the things we take for granted.

And so when Willie Loomis removed the chains from my coffin and I was freed from my prison I attacked him hungrily. With his life force sustaining me I began my new life. Slumped on the floor, Willie groaned in pain and terror, and, I am ashamed to admit  that I  did not stop to consider the shock this young man was going through but fired questions at him- I had to know what world I had been released into. His clothing was very different to mine; that alone told me that some time must have passed.

“What year is this?” I demanded roughly.

“Y- year? 1967,” he croaked.

My mouth fell open. 1967! So much time had passed; there was much I had to learn about this new time I found myself in. I questioned Willie mercilessly-  was there still anyone living at Collinwood? What changes would I expect to find? Fortunately for me it was night, so I was able to go out from the mausoleum and see for myself if what Willie had told me was true, for he told me all manner of strange things about this new century.

There had been many developments since I had last walked in Collinsport- motor vehicles, telephones, women wearing trousers and short frocks and nauseatingly loud music coming from machines. It was shocking, but the shock of being free at last was the greater one, for I had long given up hope that I would ever be found.  I was certain that my father would have taken the secret of my existence to his grave.

But a few weeks later, I began to wonder if my father had decided to spare me out of hope that one day in the future someone would find me and know how to cure me of my affliction. Despite his disgust and horror at finding out what I had become, he had tried to find a way to have the curse removed, but he had been unable to. With great sorrow he had told me that I must die, and I had hung my head and agreed with him, unable to bear what I had become any longer.

Yet, I had been spared, and here I  was in 1967. I was immortal- time would now either be my friend, or it would become my enemy. I had to become a modern man, or learn to pass as one, so I instructed Willie Loomis to go and get me a suit of clothes and warned him to tell noone about me.

“You know what will happen to you if you tell anyone about me,” I said, “Be here at dusk with the clothes and make sure no one sees you come here.”

Willie nodded, “I- I understand.”

He came at dusk with the clothes as I knew he would, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they looked on me.

“A perfect fit, you have done well Willie.”

BARNABAS  old photo

Dressed in my new 1967 suit I went to Collinwood and introduced myself as a cousin from England. It was surprising how easily they believed me and welcomed me into their home. The Collins family of 1967 were far more welcoming to me than any of their predecessors would be during my travels into the nineteenth century.

Living with them was a young woman named Victoria Winters who was a governess to young David. He was often a troubled child and she showed great patience and kindness towards him. Despite the dark desires I held for her,Concern for Vicki she was innocently drawn to me, and I liked her company for she liked to hear about the Collins family history- my history, although she never found out who I truly was. I was very pleased that she was so interested in Josette.

Victoria became in time, a very important person in my life, but during those troubled times in 1967 at the Old House she became closer to me, and I began to fear myself greatly and what I might do to her. I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, but I began to be stirred by feelings I wished to keep buried- again I speak of friendship and love.

I told myself that my reluctance to fulfil my need with her, despite the intense craving I felt, was to avoid rousing suspicions within the Collins family regarding my true nature. Already I had caused a great deal of trouble and pain to  Maggie Evans and I had to be careful not to place myself in any more danger of being found out for what I was. I will always be grateful to Victoria- for her grace, her gentleness and kindness towards me. By knowing her I slowly began to learn how to control myself better and over the coming year we became closer, and when I was cured of my condition  and human once more I realized that I had fallen in love with her.

Her heart lay with another however, to my sorrow, but Victoria was sensitive towards me in her rejection of my love and gave me a different kind of love- that of a true friend. By knowing her I began to see what love meant, and sometimes it means watching the one you love be happy with another, and accepting it. I empathized with Vicki when she lost Peter Bradford to the mists of time, and  even though Eliot Stokes and Julia tried to dissuade me, I was willing to take whatever risks I might face in order to reunite Vicki with the man she loved. I shall however, save this for another time.

A being such as myself inevitably has many enemies. As much as I loathed myself, others would loathe me more so- and fear me. They had just reasons to fear me, as I had little self control in those first months of my awakening. I make no excuses for my actions; I only seek to explain how I came to be the way I was. Isolation, grief and pain led me to losing most of my humanity and sympathy towards others. How I envied other people their humanity- how simple their daily lives seemed to me!

In those early days in Collinsport I would hide in the shadows of a night and watch people going into the Blue Whale, watch them talking and laughing and my sense of isolation would intensify. I would see people courting and  a pain like a stabbing knife would pierce my heart and Josette’s beautiful face would haunt me. In those moments I would almost wish that someone would come by and know what I was and drive a stake into my aching heart. It was moments like these that drove me to go down to the docks and alleviate my pain by sinking my fangs into the soft flesh of some helpless victim. This was always only a temporary comfort however, and as the warm liquid reached my throat I felt only a brief enjoyment, tainted by self disgust.

I was careful not to feed for too long as I did not wish to kill those I fed from, and with my powers of hypnosis I made some forget that they had ever met me, so that they would never remember what had happened to them.

As my confidence grew through the Collins family accepting me  I began to grow in my arrogance; I began to grow careless and  started to spiral out of control. I faced a crisis. Julia’s treatments  to cure me of this affliction failed and the people in Collinsport were anxious over my violent actions and what I had done to Maggie Evans (although they did not know I was the one who had done these things, soon I knew I would be found out if I carried on as I was). I had to change, find myself again, for I was lost, and even Julia was struggling to help me and critical of my actions.

1967 Barnabas

I was hardened to the sufferings of others; in fulfilling my needs I ignored the pain I caused them. Yet, the very need that I secretly yearned for most, was the one that would release me from much of my troubles and fears. Love. I had lost Josette and everyone I had ever loved, and I feared loving anyone ever again, for I knew what would happen if I opened my heart to love again: destruction.

How can I explain how it feels to fear loving someone? That by loving someone you will condemn them to death, either directly or indirectly?

So now perhaps you can now see why I rejected gentleness, kindness…for they can lead to friendship and love. I thought by remaining cruel, cold hearted and friendless then she would not return. Turning love into an agent of destruction is truly despicable and only she would have thought up a curse so cruel. I was heading towards my own destruction through my actions, as it was only a matter of time that I would be discovered, even though Julia and  Willie protected me and kept my secret.  

I have already spoken about Julia’s loyalty to me and her dedication to seeking to cure me of my condition. Willie, too was loyal though I am ashamed to say that this was not because he liked me- he did not, but because of the power I had over him. As with Julia, I later on sought to seek his forgiveness for how badly I treated him (which I shall talk about some other time).

I was astonished when Julia offered herself to me one evening, seeking to help me fulfil my needs without having to go out of a night and prey on a stranger. I abruptly refused her offer and did not tell her why- the truth is that I was filled with shame, and felt awkward that she would even consider accepting such an act from me.

I did not know it then, but my reluctantly agreeing to work with Julia and take the help she offered me was the beginning of my journey back to finding my humanity; for not only had I to learn what true friendship was, but I had to learn how to trust again. Trust was one of my earliest lessons. This took me a long time, for I lived in fear every night. I feared loving again, I feared friendship and I feared myself.

With the help of Julia (and Vicki although she didn’t know it) I slowly regained my ability to trust, form friendships and to be able to love others again. However, the fear, although it lessened, always remained.

I discovered that I had an innate ability to see what others around me could not see, and I began to use the heightened senses that came with my condition to my advantage in order to help those I cared about. I had to learn to find a way to live with myself. The awakening of my humanity lessened the darker needs that lurked within me, and by other people’s acceptance of me, I began the long journey towards self acceptance.

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Love, friendship and loyalty

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his beautiful eyes - Edited

 

In my world and yours I have seen many acts of hate: people driven by the desire to control others, greedy in their quest for power. I make no excuses for my own acts of wrongdoing, (and I shall talk about that another time), but if you remember, I have said that I’ve had to learn to use my abilities wisely. In certain circumstances I have had to use them in order to help others. Many times I have had to do this-  hate and evil came to Collinwood all too often and it fell mostly to myself to defeat it. It was my responsibility to do so.

I crossed time to save my family from danger, and faced many dangers myself. I did this willingly- I did what had to be done.  I met many powerful and ruthless adversaries during my travels into the past, and one of the worst were the Leviathans.

The Leviathans claimed to be all powerful ancient beings and for a time they had a firm grip on us at Collinwood. Part of their power lay in their lies- they had the ability to sound convincing and their hideous appearance only added to their menace. I have not known as many beings  that had the level of arrogance they did- they acted as if they had a right to  do what they did, and truly believed, it seemed, that they were superior to us. Had I stopped to think that they had needed me to carry out their plans and were fascinated by my ability to traverse time (which they could not), then I might have got out of their grasp sooner than I did. They seized my mind and almost my humanity, but deep within, my soul still carried the love and loyalty I had for all those at Collinwood. I was lost for a time, not only to myself but to my dear ones.

Love broke their control over me. Yes love. I would not and could not betray or hurt those I loved. Their command to kill my closest friend was the beginning of their downfall.  Inside their soulless beings was only endless darkness, cruelty and coldness. They did not  know what love is.

It is my humble observation that many people in my world and yours also do not know what love is, perhaps we are all learning, myself included, so I shall not make this into a lecture.

“Love conquers all” is a saying in your world, said by an ancient poet called Virgil. I would like to believe this is true, however I found many times that it took more than love to conquer evil and hatred. I wish it had not been so. Perhaps you are shocked by this admission- that at times I have had to resort to violence in order to bring peace.

I admire the concept of pacifism in your world and those who do much good towards others by following this philosophy. However in some situations I have faced I was forced to be violent myself or not only would I have been destroyed, but those I loved. It is not something I am proud of.

I have been very fortunate in that I had a friend in Julia Hoffman. She was willing on many occasions to risk her life in order to save mine; her loyalty to me knew no bounds. I will be eternally grateful for this. Julia taught me what true friendship is, and I showed the same loyalty to her.  My love for her was brotherly, yet I could never quite find the words to express this to her, to my eternal regret.

Barnabas-and-Julia-

“Never without you,” I once told her. Without her by my side I think I would truly have been lost.

In 1967 I was full of anger and torment. My heart had been hardened to love and I scornfully saw this as a weakness, a sentimentality that had led to nothing but pain, yet there was a deep scar within myself and when alone I often stood at Josette’s portrait willing her to return to me.

I was ill prepared for the arrival of Julia, who wished to help me. I was cruel to her many times and suspicious of her motives, yet she did not waver in her determination to help me. Perhaps I was cruel to her to test her, to see how far her loyalty would go, and test her I did, and for a time I almost drove her mad with fear.

For a long time we had a very uneasy partnership (I would not call it friendship then), constantly trying to outwit each other. I once tried to allude to our growing friendship as I mistakenly saw it at the time, and Julia replied that I was devious, and she was correct. She understood me well. I am ashamed to admit that she began to be drawn into my devious and questionable activities and became very distressed.

Much later in 1970, I made attempts to apologize for what I had put her through, but she did not wish to hear it.

“Oh Barnabas…don’t…” was all she said to that.

So my words were left unsaid, hanging heavy in the air above us. It was as though she could read me like a book that she had read many times before.

I was left wondering what to do about this. I respected her wishes not to talk of those terrible times in 1967, yet I wished to clear the air, seek her forgiveness. Perhaps there was some element of self indulgence to it, yet I truly wanted to her to know how sorry I was.

I spoke to Quentin about this; if anyone could understand how I felt it was him. He and I shared so  many similar experiences and regrets. We both knew what it was like to live under the constant shadow of a curse and to fear oneself of a night.

And so I went over to Collinwood and found him standing pouring himself brandy into a glass and looking pensive. I wondered if it was the right time to speak to him, as he was much preoccupied at the time with his own problems, and growing distant.

He turned around as I came in.

“Oh Barnabas, it’s you. Care for a brandy?” He gulped down his drink, then poured himself another one.

“No thank you,” I said, thinking that perhaps he’d had enough brandy himself.  

“Quentin, I need your help,” I said, deciding to get to the point.

“Oh?” and he gave one of his little laughs, “Well what can I do for you Barnabas?”

“It’s Julia, well I- you see I haven’t treated her very well in the past, and I want to put things right. I can’t explain it all now Quentin, but you know what it is like to live under a curse and have done things that you wish could be undone.”

“We can’t change the past Barnabas you know that.”

“Yes,” I said looking down at my hands. “I have tried to apologize of course, but she didn’t wish to hear it and changed the subject.”

Quentin fiddled with his brandy glass. “Well I don’t see what else you can do.” He then smiled. “Why don’t you give her a nice gift ?”

“A gift?” I repeated. No gift could ever  make up for what I had done I thought; what on earth could I give her?

“Yes, something to show your appreciation. All women like that sort of thing, I’m sure Julia is no different.”

“Perhaps you are right,” I mused, “but I have no idea what to give her.”

“I’m sure you will think of something Barnabas,” he said setting down his glass on the table, “If you will excuse me, it’s late. I am tired and need to go to bed.”

“Of course,” I said, “Goodnight.”

“Good night Barnabas,” he said and went upstairs.

I stood staring into the fire, wondering what token of my appreciation I could give Julia, the one person who had been by my side through so many difficult times, even when I had been very unkind to her. I knew her so well, yet I had no idea what I could give her.

I lowered my head, realising the one thing she did want from me I could never give her, and felt ashamed that I could not do so. I wished it could be different, but I could not change that. How different she is to Angelique I thought, for Julia accepted how things were, how ever much she wished they could be different. This was one of the things I admired about her.


I put on my cape and picked up my cane to walk back to the Old House.

As I opened the door the night air cooled my hot brow and I looked up at the night sky. I felt a glimmer of the unwelcome craving inside me, and shook my head a little. 

960

No, I will not give into that, I told myself. I walked through the woods telling myself as I had told myself a thousand times I would feel no comfort afterwards, only shame and regret.

Willie was in bed when I got back to the Old House. I did not think he would have been much help to me, so I was glad to be alone with my thoughts.

I sat in my chair by the fire, thinking, and then it came to me.

Of course!” I said out loud.

At dusk I opened the gate of the basement, ascended the stairs and walked into the parlor to find Julia looking at the table.

“Who sent me these?”

“ I did,” I said.

The look of surprise on her face delighted me.  ”You?”

“Well I  had to send Willie to order them as I couldn’t go myself,” I said dryly with a small smile playing on my lips. “But yes, they are from me.”

“Oh Barnabas!” She picked them up, admiring them, and then noticed  the card I had tucked inside. She gave me her quizzical look then read what I had written on it.

Dear Julia, although these flowers will last only a few days, our friendship will bloom for a very long time. Your devoted friend, Barnabas.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

Her smile as our eyes met, showed me she understood what I was trying to say- what had passed between us all those years ago was gone. I could not change what had happened, nor forget it, and neither could she. I had to accept that as she had done. The look in her eyes as she held the flowers I had sent her showed me that I had been forgiven. The gift she gave me in that moment was one I would never forget.

“No, dear friend, thank you.” I said.

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Being human again.

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he sees sunrise

In 1968 I had a brief time of being human again. This was a result of the administrations of Dr Lang- a remarkable man; he succeeded where Julia failed, although I must take the blame partly for this as I was too hasty in my need to be alleviated of my condition, and pushed Julia to give me larger doses of the injections than I should have had. The results were disastrous. I don’t wish to go into that now however, perhaps another time I shall.

I spoke earlier of missing the sunrise; Dr Lang gave me the gift of seeing my first sunrise in almost 200 years, and for that I shall be eternally grateful to him. His death weighs heavily upon me; although I myself did not kill him, his involvement with me led to his murder by the one who caused my affliction so many years ago.

A man of many contradictions, Dr Lang was highly devoted to his work, and some might say his ethics were questionable. So it often is when faced with difficult circumstances, as Julia and I found out when we continued Dr Lang’s experiment and so gave Adam life.

We were ill prepared for the consequences of our actions and Adam became a problem that we could not solve. Fortunately Adam came under the care of Eliot Stokes and eventually made his own way in the world. What became of him after he left Collinsport none of us ever found out. I only hope that Adam found some happiness in his brief life. Because of him I spent a short time walking in the daylight once more and not having to fear myself of a night.

There are many small pleasures humans take for granted; although being what I am grants me many abilities and immortality, I am not as free as you might expect. I have had to learn to accept my being and how to use my abilities wisely.

During those few months of being human at Collinwood I became closer to my family- the twentieth century Collinses. Although my descendents, they became my family- they were as much part of me as I was a part of them. Time did not separate us, nor did my reverting back to my condition break this bond. Not even the influence of the Leviathans could harden my heart against those I loved.

I was glad to be able to accept Elizabeth’s invitations to lunch at Collinwood, although I was not impressed with Mrs Johnson’s cooking. Roger would complain about it to Elizabeth, but I didn’t see any improvements. Julia would laugh about it after I reverted, and say that maybe this was the only thing I would not miss about being human. (I of course, can eat, but have no need to. My needs are of a different kind). I replied drily that it was a small price to pay and that perhaps Willie might make a better chef than Mrs Johnson.

I remember one evening at the Old House in 1968, not long after I was relieved of my condition, when it was still new to me. How could I have forgotten what it felt like? As I hung my cape and cane on the stand I felt a weariness I had not felt since the eighteenth century.

Willie came out into the hallway carrying a tray of coffee and Julia’s favourite cookies.

“Where have you been Barnabas?”

“I was out for a walk,” I said. This was one habit I still had- walking at night,  even though I no longer had the same reasons for doing so.

“Well you missed your dinner Barnabas. I got some cookies here if-”

“No- thank you Willie,” I said with a small smile and moved towards the stairs.

“What’s wrong Barnabas? You don’t look right,” Willie said, concern in his eyes.

Julia got up from her chair at these words to stand and look at me. I did not give her a chance to start questioning me and fussing over me. She had been staying here for a few nights and I had had enough of it already.

“I am just tired Willie, that is all.” I started to climb the stairs. “Good night,” I said to both of my friends and they both replied “Goodnight Barnabas,” looking at each other in that conspiratorial way they often did when they worried about me.

Once in my bedroom I changed into my nightwear and lay down on my bed. How many years had I longed to sleep in the comfort of a soft bed instead of the claustrophobic confines of my coffin! Yet this night sleep eluded me; despite  the heaviness of  my eyelids and my body. Faces of those I had hurt haunted my vision so I got up and stood looking out of the window, trying to clear my mind.

How can I make amends for what I have done?” I asked myself, feeling great torment. I had no answer. I sat down heavily on my bed, my face in my hands and suddenly I found myself weeping. My sobs echoed in my chest and I heard faint footsteps in the hallway. Wilie! I knew those footsteps well. I lay down again and stilled my breathing and swallowed my sobs.

“I don’t know Julia…I thought I heard cries, maybe a cat or somethin’.”

“I expect you’re right Willie.  I wouldn’t worry about it. You did lock the door didn’t you?”

“Yeah, sure I did.”

“Well goodnight Willie, oh and I’ll be going back to Collinwood tomorrow.”

“Allright Julia. Goodnight.”

Once their doors closed I let out my breath in relief. My pain was mine, mine alone. I could not and did not wish to share it, not even with my closest friends.

I lay in the darkness, the shadows on the walls my only companions. As my cold tears dried on my face I had a feeling then that the shadows would follow me even in the daylight and I would never truly be rid of them. They would always be with me and I would have to learn to accept them as I would have to learn to accept the return of my condition once more.

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