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 gives 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.
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.
Why 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.
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.
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.
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?”
“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 pleased 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 my 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.