Story Telling: Part One.

Barnabas reads.sepia

 

It was a dark stormy night and the frigid air clung round me like death’s hand. I shivered in my nightgown as my hand trembled clutching the candle holder as I walked down the corridor to my bedroom. I had just put my hand on the door knob when the front door opened to the howling wind outside and  a bellowing made me jump almost out of my skin and drop the candle.

Barnabas! Will you come down here please!”

I peered over the banister to see my father’s face red as thunder looking up at me.

“But- but I was just going to bed Father. It’s late—”

“I know very well what time it is my boy, now come down here at once. I want to speak to you!”

Slowly, I made my way down the stairs, trembling with cold and apprehension. I knew I must have angered my father, but I didn’t know why. He’d been away for two days on business and I’d hoped to be in my warm bed asleep before he returned. He often returned in a bad mood when he had to travel in bad weather.

                                                                                   download            

“Did you or did you  not tell that hussy that you are going to marry her one day?”

I wrinkled my face up in confusion. What was a hussy?

“I- I don’t understand,” I managed at last, my voice cracking in a squeak.

My father glared at me.

“Now don’t come all that with me. You know of whom I speak!”

“But I’m just ten years old father! I don’t want to marry anyone!”

“That is may be, but did you or did you not tell that wretched girl in the village that you will marry her one day?”

“I don’t know who you mean father.”

My father snorted  and tossed his head in the air and then looked down at me imperiously.

“Remember who you are speaking to and remember the family name. Be careful how you answer me boy. You know I cannot abide those who tell stories!”

My father was a prideful man who wanted the Collins name to be one of honor and honesty. I understood that, but at this moment I simply had no idea what he was talking about.

“I am sorry Father, but I really don’t know–”

My father raised his hand as though to strike me across the face. Instinctively I stepped back before his hand met my cheek.

“That abominable creature who parades herself around the village dressed up with ribbons and bows and goes about dancing to that dimwit who plays the fiddle! That’s who I am referring to! Word is going round the village that you are going to marry her Barnabas! Oh I know it is ridiculous- as if you would marry that awful girl who is six years older than you are and a common peasant, but I really cannot have such talk about my son in this way. It shames the family!”

“Oh her–” The image of a tawny haired girl who everyone said was a harmless idiot, whose name I wasn’t sure of-  was it Betty, or was it Netty?

“Yes, her – Hetty Hicks! I was told in the inn tonight that she was buying new ribbons for her hair for when you got betrothed! They were all laughing. I never felt so embarrassed in all my life. ”

“Well, I haven’t seen her lately Father, honest!”

“Oh so you admit to talking to her then do you?”

“Only to say good day Father, she smiled at me when the fiddler was playing and I laughed at his antics. He’s funny.”

“The man is a fool!” My father shook his head. “I have no idea why he is allowed to parade about as he does, inciting people to stop their work and to act like imbeciles.”

He looked at me again. “So you deny telling this creature that you will get betrothed to her?”

I nodded my head. “Yes, I honestly did not.  Hetty must have been telling tales! I told you- I’m too young and I don’t want to get married.” A sudden chill made me shiver. “Maybe not even when I’m a man- even then!”

“Then who will carry the family name Barnabas? You are the only child I have left after the twins died.”

I lowered my head thinking of the night my mother lost a boy and girl, so malformed as to be hardly called babies.

“I’m- I’m sorry about them. I wished they had lived.” My lower lip trembled. I had so wanted not to be an only child.

My father waved his finger at me. “Well just you mind who you talk to down at the village. Keep away from those imbeciles. If they can make up tales like that, who knows what else they might say about you and this family.”

“Yes Father,” I replied meekly. “Please may I go to bed now? It’s very cold and I’m tired.”

“Yes, go on with you.”  My father began taking off his coat and muttering to himself about fools, idiots and imbeciles.

I dashed up the stairs not wanting to hear another word of it. Perhaps he was right about those villagers,  but at least they were good natured I thought. I smiled to myself as I got under the blankets and leaned over to the candle and blew it out.

As I lay my head on the pillow the darkness enveloped me and I fell into a dream. A man stood at the edge of a cliff as the wind whipped frantically around him, pulling at his cloak savagely.

The fiddler danced perilously near the edge laughing hysterically.

“She’s gone! She’s gone! Won’t see her again. The rocks have her now!”

The man rounded on him furiously, fire in his eyes.

The fiddler looked back at him terror in his eyes. “Stay away from me!” he shrieked, dropping his fiddle and running as if the Devil himself were after him.

The other man turned to look at the fiddler and then looked down at the rocks below.

“Oh nooooo–” he groaned, his shoulders heaving in deep grief.

PhotoFunia-1517444416

 

Then there was an almighty bang like thunder, and I sat up, now wide awake.

Voices rose cutting into the darkness, the sound of a vase crashing onto the floor. I lay back down sighing as I heard my mother weeping. I longed to leave my warm bed, and throw my arms round her and tell her it would be allright, but I did not dare. For we both knew it would be  a lie, another story I was telling both myself and my dear Mother. I tried to go back to sleep, but the yelling of my father and my mother’s cries assaulted my ears and heart. I tried to think of a happier time, a time when my father had been away for three months and it was just me and her. Well, there was Aunt Abigail, who often scolded me for taking the last slice of cake, but she was always in her room reading the Bible and sewing stockings for the church to give to the poor.

“Oh Barnabas, you do have a way with words!” My Mother smiled, stroking my hair. “ And such a beautiful voice to do it with too. That was a wonderful story. Wherever did you get that idea from?”

81426771-d990-4484-8fcb-67bf12af3765

“I’m not sure. But I wanted it to have a happy ending, even if it seems improbable.”

“You mean you don’t believe in happy endings dear?”

“I’d like to, but it seems to me that they only happen in stories, which is why I wrote this one just for you Mother.”

“Thank you darling,” she smiled and kissed the top of my head. “You are so thoughtful and clever, such a clever boy. I know that you could be happy one day, no that you will be–”

At that she turned away, so that I didn’t see the tears glistening in her sad eyes. But it was too late- I had already seen them.

I squeezed my eyes tight shut, trying to not to see the images in my dream. Was that a story too? Dreams often seemed like stories to me. I had no idea where this one came from- it was so strange.

Eventually sleep claimed me and I fell into another dream, another story. This time there was a man wearing strange clothes and talking to two women in a big house I’d never seen before. They were dressed strangely too-, but they were pretty. The blonde haired one seemed very scared at the story the man was telling but the other one was listening fascinated.

The man stood in the shadows, so I couldn’t see his face, and I couldn’t hear his story either. But I knew it was a frightening tale.

When I awoke, I had forgotten this dream, this story, and it wasn’t until many many years later that I remembered it. I couldn’t remember the women listening to the man’s story, but the story itself made itself known to me. Perhaps I’d known it all along- after all it had been my dream.

A story or the truth? Maybe it was neither, but I told it all the same.

widowshill2

 

Contrary to my father’s wishes, I became a master storyteller. I shall speak more about this another time.

his signature

Advertisements

The Sun and the Moon.

Barnabas.looking out the window

Winter Solstice has now passed and soon the days will lengthen once again until the hours of daylight are longer than the hours of night time. Of course at the moment this seems and feels very far away. For one such as I the night time is both welcome and unwelcome. Long dark winter nights can make us long for the Sun and its warmth but for one such as I am, it means death.

It must seem strange to  associate the light with death, but that is what my kind exist with- the reverse of the natural order. For it is true I have been made “unnatural” – in human terms at least; for there are animals that are solely nocturnal. So I am now a nocturnal being.

I once talked about the beauty of the night and moonlight to Victoria Winters but to my dismay she preferred the Sun and daylight. I had hoped at the time, her being somewhat of a whimsical romantic, that she might prefer the night and the soft light of the Moon.

screenshotAtUploadCC_1518052480625

 

My heart ached as she spoke enthusiastically about the daylight and the warmth of the Sun, for I could not share this feeling with her, despite yearning to be able to. So, I convinced myself that perhaps the Moon’s beauty was the greater one and hoped to convince the lovely young woman whose face was gently bathed in its light that moonlight was the most beautiful.

screenshotAtUploadCC_1518052175729

 

One thing I learned from our little talk  was that both the Sun and the Moon have a beauty that is of their own- different of course, but equally beautiful. There are many mythologies about these two globes, which I will not go into here, but I will talk about what they mean to me personally.

The Sun brings light and warmth and life- all living things need light to thrive. But not for me. One such as I fears its rays touching me even for a second.

The Moon is not a harbinger of light but ebbs and flows, grows full and then turns  into a mere sliver in the night sky and of course it creates the tides of the Sea.

Yet when it is full it lights up the sky like a lantern. I have good night vision so I can see quite well in the dark, but I have always been glad when the Moon is full when walking at night for it is a strange comfort to me, acting as a substitute for the Sun that would mean my destruction. The Moon becomes a companion to the vampire, for it is the only natural light that he can safely raise his face to. 

in his cloak.edited

 expect that is why I have always been averse to electric lighting- for it is harsh and strong unlike candlelight which is soft and gentle on the eyes. As someone who grew up in the eighteenth century I have a special fondness for candles, although I am often regarded as eccentric for this.

Yet, I have learned not to fear the Sun any more, nor do I hate it, for I have many memories of enjoying its warmth on my face, spending long summer days on the Collinwood estate as a boy.

beautiful Old House

The memories are bitter sweet of course, but that part of my existence I don’t wish to forget. I even had some time in the twentieth century when I could walk in the daylight again, and it was a great joy to me, even though at the time I was not able to spend as much time savoring the experience as I wished to due to poor Chris Jennings suffering from his werewolf curse.

It was a strange irony to me that he hated and feared the night time when the Moon was full, as it meant he would lose his humanity for the night and transform into something inhuman, when here I was human again and able to walk in both sunlight and moonlight and enjoy both equally. I had not forgotten how this felt, and was always expecting that it would not last, and once again I would become the nocturnal creature I had been for almost two hundred years.

Chris never knew why I felt the compassion for him I did, but nevertheless he accepted that I did and wished to help him find a cure of his affliction. I have spoken before about Chris and my failure to help him, so I won’t go over it again, but I do wish to say that for him, the Moon only brought ugliness and never any beauty.

Many people associate the Moon and night time with romance- it has been in many a love song and poems. Even I tried to find the romance in the night; courting Josette and later Roxanne and as mentioned even Victoria, but it was all hopeless as for it would ultimately have meant they would needed to have become as I am, for my nights were long, and then would become short, always opposite to theirs- Sun and Moon, night and day- opposites and often in opposition.

with Roxanne

Well, that is how I saw it, for how could I hope to exist in such a way all alone yet at the same time be in a state of opposition to my beloved?  I did not want any of them to suffer my affliction and came to see in time, that the only way I could exist and love was to compromise. I did not know it then but things were about to take a very unexpected turn.

Into the old House one night walked a bold and capricious woman, with a very direct manner to which I took immediate offense (although I maintained a polite facade) who would help me see a light in the dark, give me hope.

Her name was Julia Hoffman.

291-dark-shadows-julia-doctor

 

his signature

 

The Journey of Life

51barnabasreflection-1

It is often said that life is a journey. But if that is so- just where are we going? What is the metaphor behind this statement? Of course we all have to go places in everyday life- that is not what I’m talking about. Life itself- a journey. Like all journeys it suggests there is a beginning and an end- to someplace from someplace. When we die does the journey end?

barnabas-in-coffin-1897If one is immortal as I am, then the journey is a never ending one. Perhaps that is neither here nor there, but it has gotten me thinking of what this could mean for one such as I. Can a mortal’s journey be completed as mine never can be?

Is  life then death the beginning and the completion of the journey, or are one’s life experiences, desires, hopes and dreams the real journey? I have seen that many peoples’ lives come to an end with the sense of not having completed what they wished to complete- there was not the opportunity perhaps, or never the time.

Time is something that passes for all of us, yes even I, although I have experienced it in very strange ways- I have gone forwards and back in time many times and found that whilst some thin430-dark-shadows-clock-barnabasgs were very different, some things were very much the same.

 Without exception, everyone I met in every time I found myself in was in some way a reflection of the time they were inhabiting. I am one example of this. Born in the 18th century, no matter how much I tried to fit into the time I was currently inhabiting, I was still of my own time- the late 18th century.

It always felt strange to me during my time travelling with Julia to refer to the late 1960s or early 1970s as going back to “my time” or “our time.” Strange in two ways- firstly, my time was the late 18th century, and secondly we were actually going forward in time ( from 1897 or 1840 and sideways too if you wish to consider 1970 parallel time ). Oh and there was one time when we actually did go “back” to our own time- from 1995. But usually we were going forwards, but Julia and I always referred to “going back” to our own time!

835-dark-shadows-barnabas-astral-door

In some ways I was an orphan of time- no longer living or existing in my own time, except when I briefly went back to 1796 to help Vicki and Peter Bradford ( and also a second time when I followed Kitty Soames to 1796 from 1897). Julia was very afraid for me when I willed myself back there as there was a real risk of myself becoming trapped there. It ilooking-at-portaits quite odd to think of oneself as trapped in a time that they were born in. But fate had brought me to the twentieth century, and despite the trouble that followed me there ( some of it of my own making I admit) it seemed that this was where I belonged. It turned out that the modern Collins family needed me to protect them against many evils and threats to their happiness and safety, so awakening in this new century I became part of their lives and time and the past where I was from, began to seem further and further away.

Yet, the past still drew me back- to the nineteenth century- a time I most definitely did  not feel I belonged in. The same thing happened to Quentin- of this century, he too became immortal due to the portrait painted of him by the artist Tate and one day he turned up in Collinsport in 1970, although he took some time to remember who he was. Once he did, he seemed to seamlessly fit into the twentieth century in a way I never quite managed to do. I don’t quite know how or why he did so- perhaps he wasn’t that fond of the nineteenth century and enjoyed modern life and all the new things that could be found there, and the greater freedoms of this time.

He was never “old fashioned” in the way that I am. Vicki seemed to like this about me however, and I wish that I’d been able to share with her who I really was and my experiences of the past, the present and how they differed and yet in some ways were similar.  People still yearned to be anywhere than where they were, or who they were, wished they could change their circumstances, felt their dreams slipping away from them until they felt nothing but hopelessness. The Quentin Collins I met in 1840 even built a staircase that he hoped would take him into another time where hoped he’d be happier and have a different life. He never imagined that it would be used against him ( in the accusations of witchcraft)  and that only I, Julia and Professor Stokes would be the ones to walk up and down it into the past and then the future. In that way the staircase could be said to be a success for it worked as Quentin planned it to.

peter-bradford-returns-for-vicki-dark-shadows-23650551-442-368

But Vicki- oh Vicki…she belonged in 1968, yet she followed Peter Bradford back to his time. I could not stop it. She had already been back to the 18th century and nearly lost her life- I simply could not understand why she wanted to go back to such danger. Yes, I know she loved Bradford, but their fate was not a happy one, just as mine and Josette’s never was,  and much as I tried to change that, it proved impossible.  

Josette even tried herself by pulling her future self in the body of Kitty Soames back to 1796 and still Josette died young. The tragedy of that haunted me greatly. Poor Kitty suffered the confusion of her identity and time took her life prematurely from the 1897- the time she belonged in. I see now, it was wrong of me to have tried to get her to remember who she had been, but Josette’s spirit lived in her and was calling to both myself and Kitty, longing for a second chance at life- and my love. Our love. I hoped that I could bring Josette back or forward if you like, to 1897, and then on to 1969 where we could at last be together. But those hideous Leviathans captured me in some strange place between time and Josette was lost to me, in the past.

Kitty and Josette

Of a night in the Old House when Willie had gone to bed, I sometimes would sit on her bed looking at her portrait and imagine how she’d be in the twentieth century- would she feel as I felt? Someone out of time? Or would she have been like Quentin and eased into this new century eagerly? I often think that my out of place feelings were due to Josette not being with me, for she was lost in the mists of time to me, but then Quentin had lost everyone he knew too, and didn’t seem to feel as lost as I often felt.

Before my life took an unfortunate turn, I had never given much thought to the time I lived in- it just was part of who I was- I never gave much thought to the future, what another century might be like- only my own future with Josette was in my thoughts, and the family we hoped to raise. The journey we planned together, was the same as everyone else’s that we knew- marriage, children, growing old together. Instead, Josette’s was cut short and mine altered into something I could never have imagined in my worst nightmares. Yet, here I still am – having experienced travels across two centuries and time bands, hating and loving along the way, meeting people and losing people along the way.

430-dark-shadows-sad-barnabas

All these are reflected in who I am, are part of who I am. My experiences, whilst now are past, belong in the past, still live inside of me. This is true of all of us- who we meet, where we go, what we do- they exist in our minds, in our hearts and our souls. We might not be able to forget them, but giving them that acknowledgement can I have found, bring us to if not quite peace, but a feeling of acceptance.

Regrets, we are often told, should be let go of, and this is often a good thing to do, but some regrets allow us to realise where we went wrong, did wrong and vow never to make those mistakes again. The destination is important, but also the journey to that destination- how we get there is equally so. Life, if we let it, is also a lesson. I have had many lessons, so forgive me if this sounds like I am giving whoever reads this a lesson. All of us, myself included are students in life. It took one little girl to remind me of that in 1967- a very simple lesson- be good, try to be good. I had almost forgotten that. I had taught her that, then she was teaching me- in her innocence and simple beauty I hung my head in shame and regret, my eyes filling with tears as she left me- her own eyes full of sorrow for what I had become. My journey to finding my goodness again was still far away.

 sarah5

his signature

New Year’s Day, 1793

old-house-1793

 

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 quite 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.”

 

the-old-house-snow

“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.

1795-for-his-blog

his signature

Sacrifice

14a3bc93-a5ca-43b0-83d4-86faf447101e

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.

b 1795 8.1.11

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.

Barnabas in the Old House

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.

ill

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.

bj-1

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.

his signature

Suffering

b.gif

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.

Barnabas 1795 in the secret door

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.

looking over J

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.

In the old house

“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. 

his signature

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

 

 

Power

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.

221-dark-shadows-barnabas-window

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.

b 1795 8.1.11

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.

Barnabas.worried

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?”

Barnabas-and-Charity-Trask-dark-shadows-25166758-589-442

“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 McGuire 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 McGuire 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.

his signature